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Legislative Update

Warner raises alarm with IRS delays as Virginians wait for economic impact payments and tax returns

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U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) raised concern with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after hearing from an alarming number of Virginians who have yet to receive their second economic impact payment (EIP) or long-awaited tax return. These troubling delays come as millions of Americans find themselves in desperate need of a financial lifeline after continuing to face economic hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“I am deeply appreciative of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) work during the pandemic. The agency has delivered hundreds of millions of EIPs to Americans, all while managing the risks associated with COVID-19 and the need to protect our public servants at the IRS,” wrote Sen. Warner in his letter to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Charles Commissioner Rettig. “However, while the IRS has made an effort to provide timely and updated information on their website, my constituents continue to be frustrated with their inability to navigate some of the issues that are delaying their tax refunds and their second round of EIPs.”

As of November 19, 2020, there were an estimated 3.3 million pieces of unopened mail – including 1.6 million tax returns – at the IRS’s four Submission Processing Centers.

Currently, taxpayers who do not receive their economic impact payment must claim these funds by filing a tax return. This threatens to further delay needed payments and poses a particularly burdensome problem for Social Security recipients and other vulnerable populations, who may be forced to file a tax return despite not normally have a tax filing obligation.

In his letter, Sen. Warner also stressed the IRS’ responsibility to process individual tax returns and issue refunds as quickly as possible. In order to further understand the ongoing situation, Sen. Warner asked for answers to the following series of questions:

1. What is the current IRS backlog of paper tax returns and correspondence specifically at the Kansas City, MO location where Virginians’ tax returns are processed? When does the IRS project it will be finished processing the backlog? Can the IRS commit to providing more frequent updates on the backlog?

2. As the nation continues to work through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, what steps are the agency taking to prepare for the upcoming tax filing season and to process all returns, whether filed electronically or by U.S. Mail, as quickly as possible?

3. For taxpayers who have filed their Forms 1095-A and 8962, when can they expect to have that form processed by the IRS?

4. For the second EIP, how many payments have been successfully delivered? How many payments have been returned to the IRS? Why are some constituents who received the first EIP now having issues accessing the second?

During the COVID-19 crisis, Sen. Warner has been a strong advocate for Virginians, working to ensure that they get the funds to which they are entitled. Last April, he pressed the Treasury Department to ensure that families who are not normally required to file taxes do not need to wait until the following year to receive the additional $500 payment per dependent child that they were promised. He also successfully pushed the Treasury Department to allow Social Security recipients to automatically receive CARES Act direct cash assistance without needing to file a tax return.

Text of the letter is available here and below.

Dear Secretary Yellen and Commissioner Rettig,

I write today to express my concern with the alarming number of my constituents who have not received their long-awaited tax refund or the second economic impact payment (EIP). As you are well aware, millions of Americans are facing economic hardships and are desperately in need of these funds to help make ends meet.

I am deeply appreciative of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) work during the pandemic. The agency has delivered hundreds of millions of EIPs to Americans, all while managing the risks associated with COVID-19 and the need to protect our public servants at the IRS. I applaud your responsiveness to Congress and the agency’s focus on delivering vital assistance to Americans in dire need of support. However, while the IRS has made an effort to provide timely and updated information on their website, my constituents continue to be frustrated with their inability to navigate some of the issues that are delaying their tax refunds and their second round of EIPs.

I understand that as of November 7, 2020, there were approximately 6.8 million individual paper return in various processing stages at the four Submission Processing Centers. Commissioner Rettig stated in his November 19, 2020, letter to my office that there were “an estimated 3.3 million pieces of unopened mail at these four locations, including 1.6 million tax returns.”

Since the November 19, 2020 letter from Commissioner Rettig, I have continued to hear from constituents that still have not had their 2019 tax returns processed or received their refunds. In addition, my constituents report that they have not received their second EIP despite many of these constituents reporting that they received their previous payment via direct deposit, and the agency’s Get My Payment Tool indicates their payment was authorized and mailed on January 6, 2021. Because taxpayers who do not receive their EIP must claim their payment by filing a tax return and claiming the Recovery Rebate Credit, many taxpayers face the possibility of even lengthier waits to receive their payment, including many who do not normally have a tax filing obligation. As you know, this population includes Social Security recipients and the most vulnerable in our county.

In addition, constituents continue to indicate that they are not receiving refunds due to lags in processing Health Insurance Marketplace Statements (Form 1095-A) and Premium Tax Credits (Form 8962), which are required if they receive their healthcare from the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

I appreciate the enormity of the challenges that the agency faces in trying to conduct its work while keeping its workers safe from COVID-19. However, the agency has a responsibility to process individual tax returns and issue all refunds that taxpayers are entitled to as quickly as possible and to be as communicative as possible.

To help me respond adequately to my constituents, please answer the following questions:

1. What is the current IRS backlog of paper tax returns and correspondence specifically at the Kansas City, MO location where Virginians’ tax returns are processed? When does the IRS project it will be finished processing the backlog? Can the IRS commit to providing more frequent updates on the backlog?
2. As the nation continues to work through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, what steps is the agency taking to prepare for the upcoming tax filing season and to process all returns, whether filed electronically or by U.S. Mail, as quickly as possible?
3. For taxpayers who have filed their Forms 1095-A and 8962, when can they expect to have that form processed by the IRS?
4. For the second EIP, how many payments have been successfully delivered? How many payments have been returned to the IRS? Why are some constituents who received the first EIP now having issues accessing the second?

I know the IRS is working diligently to serve the American people, and I welcome our continued collaboration to help Americans across the country. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

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Legislative Update

Warner & Kaine announce recommendations for US Attorney for Eastern and Western Districts of Virginia

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U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) on March 3, 2021, sent a letter to the White House recommending candidates for the U.S. Attorney vacancies in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) and the Western District of Virginia (WDVA). In their letter, the Senators recommended Jessica Aber, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and John Hall, civil litigator at Covington & Burling, for the EDVA position. The Senators recommended Christopher Kavanaugh, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Western District of Virginia, and Erin B. Ashwell, Chief Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia, for the WDVA position.

“Panels of esteemed attorneys from across the Commonwealth interviewed Ms. Aber, Mr. Hall, Mr. Kavanaugh, and Ms. Ashwell, along with many other excellent candidates. After considering the panels’ reviews and conducting our own interviews, we find these four candidates to be exceptionally qualified for the position of U.S. Attorney,” wrote the Senators to President Biden.

The White House will now nominate one individual for each vacancy to be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The nominations are subject to confirmation by the full Senate.

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Mr. President:

As you consider candidates to serve in the two U.S. Attorney positions in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we are pleased to recommend Jessica Aber and John Hall for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA); and, Christopher Kavanaugh and Erin B. Ashwell for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia (WDVA). Panels of esteemed attorneys from across the Commonwealth interviewed Ms. Aber, Mr. Hall, Mr. Kavanaugh, and Ms. Ashwell, along with many other excellent candidates. After considering the panels’ reviews and conducting our own interviews, we find these four candidates to be exceptionally qualified for the position of U.S Attorney.

U.S. Attorney for Eastern District

Jessica Aber is a distinguished attorney with more than a dozen years of criminal justice experience in the EDVA U.S. Attorney’s Office and as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division. She has worked as both a line Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) handling complex financial fraud, violent crime and child exploitation cases and as EDVA’s Deputy Criminal Chief supervising operations across the District’s four divisions. Ms. Aber has lived in Virginia for over 20 years, receiving her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Richmond and her Juris Doctor from the William & Mary Law School.

John Hall is a highly esteemed civil litigator in private practice at Covington & Burling where he serves as chair of the firm’s global litigation practice. In addition to his civil trial practice, Mr. Hall, a former AUSA, represents individuals and companies in white-collar criminal defense and investigations. Many of his civil representations arise out of or involve parallel government enforcement proceedings. He graduated from Harvard College and Harvard Law School and completed two years of post-graduate study in Economics at the University of Sydney (Australia).

U.S. Attorney for Western District

Chris Kavanaugh is an AUSA in the Western District of Virginia. Mr. Kavanaugh is currently serving as Counsel to the United States Attorney, Senior Litigation Counsel, and as the WDVA’s chief national security prosecutor. Mr. Kavanaugh has practiced before every judge in the WDVA and has worked in the U.S. Attorney’s office since 2014, handling a wide variety of federal criminal offenses involving domestic terrorism, civil rights violations, national security and white-collar offenses and violent crimes. Mr. Kavanaugh received his Bachelors of Science from Georgia Tech and his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Erin B. Ashwell currently serves as the Chief Deputy Attorney General for the Commonwealth of Virginia in Richmond, where she supervises legal strategy and operations of over 500 employees, including approximately 290 attorneys. Following law school, she joined the United States Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. as a trial attorney for the tax-civil division. She has substantial ties to the Western District of Virginia and, prior to college, attended Virginia public schools. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude from Harvard University before going on to earn her Juris Doctor cum laude from Harvard Law School.

We believe that any of these candidates would make an excellent U.S. Attorney, and we are honored to be able to recommend them to you.

Sincerely,

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – February 28, 2021

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New cases numbers are declining and vaccination rates are rising, but there are still many across the Sixth District who are hurting from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we work to get our kids back in school and our businesses back open, Congress can and should act to provide help to those hit by the one-two punch of the pandemic and the state shutdowns. I have been proud to support several bipartisan bills over the past year that have provided trillions of dollars in aid to families and small businesses during this unprecedented time. Unfortunately, now that Democrats have gained control of the House, the Senate, and the White House, they have abandoned bipartisanship and pushed through a partisan and pork-laden package designed to pay back their supporters like Planned Parenthood and Big Labor. In fact, the $1.9 trillion bailout package passed at 2 am last Saturday morning spends only 9 cents out of every dollar on actual programs to combat the coronavirus. In addition, only 5% of the $130 billion in education funding in the bill will help schools reopen this year.

While I am disappointed in Speaker Pelosi’s abandonment of the bipartisan spirit that marked previous COVID legislation, I will continue to fight for the people of the Sixth District. This week, I joined a number of Members in introducing the National Right-to-Work Act, ensuring that protections against forced unionism that currently benefit Virginians would apply nationwide. No one in America should be required to join a union to get or to keep a job. I also voted against legislation that would have endangered religious liberty and threatened Title IX protections for women in sports. Additionally, I was pleased to connect with tens of thousands of constituents during my eighth telephone town hall, as well as recognize two local high school basketball teams on the House Floor for winning their respective division state championships. It was a busy week in Washington, and as we head back this Monday for another week of legislative business, I am always thankful for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman.

Biden Bailout:

Our families, our farmers, and our small businesses need our continued support as we navigate this COVID pandemic and work to reopen our economy, but they don’t need a $1.9 trillion package riddled with Democrat pork. While I could support additional relief to help get folks back to work and kids back in school, any further aid must be targeted, temporary, and actually tied to COVID. Not only is this legislation riddled with wasteful spending unrelated to COVID and bailouts for blue states like New York and California, but with more than $1 trillion in previously authorized coronavirus funds still unspent, it is premature. While there could be provisions of this bill that I would support as standalone legislation, H.R. 1319 as a whole is wasteful, partisan, and deeply flawed. For these reasons, I voted no on this bill. A few of the most egregious provisions unrelated to COVID contained in this legislation are listed below:

• $15 minimum wage hike which was ruled out of order in the Senate and will cost 1.4 million American jobs per the nonpartisan CBO.
• $350 billion to bailout blue states that have mismanaged their pensions and other programs for years
• $12 billion in foreign aid
• $1.5 billion for Amtrak
• $112 million for an underground rail system in California
• $50 million in funding for EPA environmental justice grants
• $10 million in grants to preserve Native American languages
• $1.5 million for a bridge connecting the U.S. and Canada

National Right-to-Work Act
Every American deserves the right to create their own success from their own volition – free of the requirement that they join an organization solely to hold a job. Simply put, as our Founding Father and fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” That is why I joined a number of my colleagues in introducing the National Right-to-Work Act. This legislation ensures that no American is forced to join a union to keep a job by erasing automatic-dues clauses in federal statute. Watch the video below.

Equality Act:
I oppose discrimination and have fought to defend our civil rights laws that ensure equal protection under the laws of our Nation. The Democrats’ so-called “Equality Act,” however, would do the exact opposite by discriminating against the religious beliefs of individuals and businesses. It would mandate both public and private schools, churches, hospitals, businesses, and other institutions recognize an individual’s chosen “gender identity” instead of their biological sex. This would force female athletes to compete against biological males, weaken our laws that protect against religious discrimination and compel employers to cover abortions and medical professionals to conduct or assist in performing abortions. This bill forces greater in-equality in the application of the law rather than equality, and I, therefore, voted no on the measure.

Harrisonburg-Rockingham Telephone Town Hall:
Before the Coronavirus pandemic began, I promised to hold in-person town halls throughout the Sixth District. In fact, since being elected, I have hosted 25 in-person town halls – with at least one being held in each locality throughout our region. I hope to continue those sorts of in-person forums in the future, but for now, as restrictions on public gatherings remain in place, virtual town halls remain one of the best and safest options to connect directly with constituents to ensure their voices are heard in Washington. While my previous seven telephone town halls have been District-wide, this week I hosted a regional forum for residents of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. More geographically targeted events like this moving forward will allow me to focus on the unique issues facing each of our individual communities. I look forward to holding similar events like this throughout the District in the future.

State Champions:
It was a great year for high school basketball in the Sixth District with two teams from our area winning state championships this past weekend. I was pleased to take to the House Floor to recognize both Parry McCluer High School’s boys basketball team and Luray High School’s girls basketball team for winning their respective division state titles. It was undoubtedly a year filled with significant obstacles, but both teams overcame them and brought home trophies to Buena Vista and Luray. Our community is incredibly proud of the hard work and resilience these two teams showed, and we congratulate them on this remarkable accomplishment.

COVID-19 and Paycheck Protection Program Update:
As of February 28, 2021, Virginia has had 576,050 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 8,552. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of February 27th, 1,266,983 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 666,970 people are fully vaccinated.

This week, changes were made to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has served as a lifeline to millions of small businesses across the country. From now until March 10, the Small Business Administration will only be accepting PPP applications from businesses with less than 20 employees in an effort to target relief to mom-and-pop shops in need. The program will reopen to larger businesses beginning March 11. The program is set to expire on March 31 and more than $10 billion in funding remains available. To apply for a PPP loan, click here.

Further, there was big news on the vaccine front this week as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency approval of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine. This is the third vaccine that has been approved by the FDA following Pfizer and Moderna. However, unlike the other two vaccines, Johnson & Johnson’s will only require one dose to be effective. Additionally, this vaccine can be stored in a simple refrigerator which should ease any complications with rollout. Johnson & Johnson is prepared to begin distributing nearly 3.9 million vaccines across the country as early as this week. This approval marks a huge step forward in making the COVID-19 vaccine more readily available to the folks across the Commonwealth.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

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Legislative Update

Warner welcomes unemployment insurance fix

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On February 25, 2021, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) welcomed a move by the U.S. Department of Labor to expand the number of workers who are eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program that was created as part of the federal CARES Act. Last week, Sen. Warner and four of his colleagues raised concern with the Department that policy guidance issued to state unemployment offices on Jan. 8 was limiting the ability of workers whose hours have been reduced to access PUA benefits.

“There are workers all over the country who have had their hours reduced or been temporarily laid off due to COVID-19, and they should be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance under the CARES Act,” said Sen. Warner. “I’m glad to see the Department of Labor listened to our concerns and is adjusting their guidance to states to make clear that these workers are eligible for PUA benefits.”

On Feb. 17, Sen. Warner joined Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in calling on the U.S. Department of Labor to issue revised guidance making clear that workers who have had their hours reduced, or who have been temporarily laid off even though their employer remains open, are eligible for PUA.

In the Feb. 17 letter to the Department of Labor, the Senators wrote, “Partial closures are very common for businesses like restaurants that are operating with limited indoor dining capacity, or only offering take-out services, and have resulted in many service workers working reduced hours or being temporarily laid off even though their employer remains open. The recent guidance directs states to deny PUA eligibility to workers who have been impacted by partial closures. This is of particular concern for workers who do not have sufficient qualifying earnings to be considered eligible for state unemployment, including workers who are newly hired. It is clear from the language of the CARES Act that PUA is intended to cover workers who are ‘unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work’, which would include workers affected by partial closures… We ask that the Department clarify that workers impacted by partial closures or their employer scaling back business operations are eligible for PUA, or use its authority under 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I)(kk) of the CARES Act to ensure these workers are eligible. This clarification is vital so that these workers can make ends meet during the pandemic.”

When emergency pandemic unemployment programs were set to expire at the end of last year, Sen. Warner successfully led the fight to include an extension in the $900 billion emergency COVID-19 relief legislation that Congress approved in December. From the start of this crisis, Sen. Warner, a former tech entrepreneur and longtime leader on labor issues affecting contractors and the contingent workforce, has pushed to expand benefits for Americans who have found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own during the pandemic.

In March, Sen. Warner voted in favor of $2 trillion bipartisan legislation that, among other things, expanded access to unemployment benefits for gig workers, contractors, and the self-employed. In the months following the signing of the legislation, Sen. Warner urged states to quickly implement federal provisions easing restrictions on emergency unemployment benefits and called on the Department of Labor (DOL) to issue and clarify state guidance in order to ensure that workers were able to receive benefits. He also introduced legislation to help guarantee that Americans who earn a living through a mix of traditional (W-2) and independent employment income (1099) were able to fully access the financial relief made available under the PUA program.

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Legislative Update

Warner questions Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on need to include broadband funding in next COVID-19 relief bill

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On February 23, 2021, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) participated in a virtual Senate Banking Committee hearing with Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, where he stressed the importance of including robust funding for broadband in any future COVID-19 relief package. According to current estimates, there are approximately 700,000 Virginians who still lack access to high-speed internet, which has become increasingly essential for telecommuting, distance learning, telemedicine, and more amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“I would argue, over the last eleven months, we’ve seen broadband is a necessity. I think it is absolutely COVID-19 related,” said Sen. Warner in questioning with Chairman Powell. “I hope that the current package can be changed to actually include a sizeable investment in broadband as good as our four bipartisan packages have been to date.”

He continued, “Experts like Tom Wheeler and Blair Levin have said somewhere in the $40 to $50 billion range, we can get about 97 percent coverage along with better affordability.”

In response, Chairman Powell said, “I would agree that it is a classic piece of infrastructure for the modern economy, for the service economy, for the technologically advanced economy and having it…as broadly available as possible could be a significant benefit economically.”

As a former governor and now in the Senate, Sen. Warner has long fought for increased access to broadband in the Commonwealth. In December, Sen. Warner negotiated and passed COVID-19 relief legislation that included $7 billion towards broadband, including $3.2 billion for an Emergency Broadband Benefit to help low-income families maintain their internet connections, $285 million to support broadband access in minority communities, and $300 million in broadband grants modeled on bipartisan provisions Sen. Warner drafted with his colleagues. Sen. Warner has also introduced comprehensive broadband infrastructure legislation to expand access to affordable high-speed internet and has also introduced bipartisan legislation with Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott (R-SC) to establish a $10 billion Broadband Development Fund to prioritize funding for areas that currently lack service, support the deployment of advanced technologies in areas where there is the greatest need, and encourage projects that can quickly provide internet service.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), about 21 million Americans do not have access to 25/3 Mbps internet, which is the FCC’s standard for high-speed broadband. Of that 21 million, 16 million live in rural areas, while 5 million live in urban areas.

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Legislative Update

Warner highlights how response to violence was slowed by D.C. status as a non-state

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Today, February 23, 2021, the Senate Rules Committee and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee convened the first congressional hearing examining the security failures that enabled a mob supporting former President Donald Trump to overrun the U.S. Capitol on January 6. At the hearing, senators heard testimony from four officials, three of whom resigned following the attack: former Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Michael Stenger, former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving, former U.S. Capitol Police Chief (USCP) Steven Sund and Robert Contee, acting chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

In the hearing, Sen. Warner – a senior member of the Rules Committee – questioned the witnesses about whether the response to the security breach was delayed due to D.C.’s status as a non-state. While the National Guard in other states and territories can be called up by the governor, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser lacked authority on January 6 to mobilize the D.C. National Guard in defense of the Capitol. Instead, the D.C. National Guard is placed under the authority of the President of the United States. The commander of the D.C. National Guard, Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, has told the press that the Pentagon restricted his authority ahead of the mob invasion, and MPD acting Chief Robert Contee testified today that he was shocked by the administration’s “reluctance” on January 6 to approve the deployment of D.C. National Guard troops to quell the violence – resulting in a delay of several hours before troops arrived at the Capitol to restore order.

“I feel like the long-term discrimination against the District – and we’ve seen it in some of the COVID legislation where they did not receive the same kind of level of support that other states did – we saw it play out in real-time on January 6, the hurdles from the previous administration. I have concerns that deployment of the Guard was affirmatively slowed down,” Sen. Warner said at today’s hearing. “As a supporter of D.C. statehood, I would like to see that move forward. But even short of that, trying to ensure that the mayor has appropriate powers going forward.”

Sen. Warner is an original co-sponsor of the Washington, D.C. Admission Act, legislation to make the District of Columbia the 51st state. He is also an original co-sponsor of the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act, legislation to grant the District of Columbia full control over the D.C. National Guard and the Metropolitan Police Department.

At today’s hearing, the senators also heard a terrifying and moving firsthand account of the January 6 attack from USCP Captain Carneysha Mendoza.

At the hearing, Sen. Warner, the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, also questioned whether the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was adequately sharing threat information with D.C. and Capitol police ahead of January 6. According to press reports, the FBI field office in Norfolk issued a field bulletin on January 5 warning of the potential for violence on January 6, but former USCP chief Sund testified today that he learned of the report only after the attack.

“I had a number of conversations [with the FBI ahead of January 6.] I called Director Wray on Monday the 4th, trying to express concerns that there might be this kind of activity. I never expected this level of violence. I had a number of conversations with senior FBI leadership on the 5th through the 6th. Candidly, I don’t think even the full FBI could have been fully informed of what was going to come to pass – but I felt like the FBI felt that they were in better shape in terms of intel and preparation than what came to be the case,” Sen. Warner said today.

Sen. Warner concluded, “Let me just say that my concern is that, in Virginia, we’ve seen these kind of anti-government extremists take to the streets in Charlottesville in 2017, resulting in the death of Heather Heyer. We’ve seen the same kind of groups come to the forefront on January 6. I think this is an ongoing threat to national security. I feel at times that, while the FBI and others have pointed this out, that it didn’t get the level of serious review that it should have with the prior administration. I know I felt at times that they did not want to take the information that was coming out of the FBI. I hope on a going-forward basis we’re going to be able to be more coordinated in terms of taking on anti-government extremism, whether it comes from the left or the right. This is a real, ongoing threat. I can tell you from our Intelligence Committee, that we’ve seen that many of these groups have connections and ties to anti-government extremist groups in Europe.”

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – February 21, 2021

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As the House prepares to return to Washington this coming week, I have been reviewing the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion COVID-19 spending package that does little to support actual COVID relief programs (only nine percent of the bill’s spending), but instead rewards chronic fiscal mismanagement in cities and states like New York and California. To help us defeat COVID, Congress and the Biden Administration should work to spend funds that have already been allocated and support opening up our schools and our economy. Small businesses are struggling here in Virginia, which is why I also wrote to Governor Northam urging him to support the tax-deductibility of PPP funds sent by Congress. Virginia should be helping small businesses, not tacking on extra tax bills when they can least afford them. I also participated in a hearing in the Appropriations Committee on child care programs to discuss how to best help folks who continue to juggle being parents, teachers, and working professionals during COVID. Additionally, I have continued to meet with constituents and advocacy groups to discuss their legislative priorities and ensure that their voices are being heard in Washington. While our region may have experienced some cold weather over the past few days, I am always thankful to be in Virginia’s beautiful Sixth District connecting with the folks I am honored to represent.

Advocating for Fiscal Responsibility:
Despite the federal government still having $1 trillion in unspent COVID funds sitting in its coffers, Democrats are preparing to pass an additional $1.9 trillion messaging bill. While I could support additional funding to ensure our kids are back in school and our small businesses are back in operation, we should make sure the money we approved last year has been spent before we decide that another dime is needed. Further, if the Majority passes this bloated “aid” package, Congress will have spent $6 trillion in the last year alone on COVID-related “stimulus”. That comes out to more than $17,000 per individual, $69,000 per household, and is larger than the GDP of every country on Earth other than the U.S. and China. This sort of spending is unsustainable and poses a serious threat to the longer-term viability of our economy. Any additional relief must be targeted, temporary, and tied to COVID.

Supporting Small Business:
This week I was joined by Congressmen Wittman and Good, in writing to Governor Northam encouraging him and the General Assembly to fully conform state tax law to the federal government’s recently enacted tax law to allow for full deductibility of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans in order to ensure the recovery of Virginia small businesses. PPP has served as a lifeline to more than 100,000 Virginia small businesses and their employees since the pandemic began, and as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act passed last year, Congress made its intent clear that these loans were to be forgiven and fully deductible due to COVID-19. Failing to conform state tax law with that of the federal government would stick those most in need with a sizable tax bill they did not expect and cannot afford. Governor Northam and the General Assembly must now do their part and support mom-and-pop shops across the Commonwealth. I am confident those serving in Richmond will do the right thing. To read the full letter, click here.

Supporting working Families:
COVID-19 has significantly altered the daily lives of millions of Americans. Families with young children have been stretched thin as they try to juggle being a parent, teacher, and working professional. It is well past time for Congress to step up and provide solutions. The answer in most parents’ minds is simple – we must reopen our schools. As I stated in the Appropriations Committee this week, while relief aid is important, we must ensure that funding is going to where it is truly effective. And at this point, the most effective use of taxpayer dollars to alleviate the stress on parents would be allocating resources to get our kids back in the classroom.

Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council:
The forestry industry brings in nearly $17 billion to Virginia’s economy each year and provides more than $3 billion in recreational opportunities to nearly two thirds of Commonwealth citizens. Further, the forestry industry contributes $345 million back to Virginia landowners for selling their timber and employs 103,000 people throughout the Commonwealth. That is why I was pleased to meet recently with members of the Pulp and Paperworkers Resource Council to discuss their legislative priorities for the 117th Congress. I will remain an advocate for this vital industry both here at home and in Washington.

Port of Virginia:
The Port of Virginia is the third-largest container port on the East Coast and is crucial to the success of various industries. The Port’s mission is to deliver, “opportunity by driving business to, and through, the Commonwealth.” They certainly deliver on their mission as a recent economic impact study shows that the Port, directly and indirectly, supports 390,000 Virginia jobs generating $23 billion in annual compensation and $2.1 billion in state and local taxes. With the Inland Port here in the Sixth District, it was a pleasure to hear from Port officials about how Congress can continue to support their work and ensure they remain a significant economic driver here in the Commonwealth.

COVID-19 Update:
As of February 21, 2021, Virginia has had 564,119 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 7,331. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of February 20th, 1,101,433 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 440,339 people are fully vaccinated.

This week, Virginia announced its launch of a hotline service hoping to streamline the vaccination process throughout the Commonwealth by preregistering those who wish to get the vaccine. The hotline can be reached at 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682), or can be found online at vaccinate.Virginia.gov.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

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Upcoming Events

Mar
9
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 9 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
13
Sat
10:00 am HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
Mar 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
HSWC Polar Plunge @ Culpeper Lake at the 4-H Center
The Humane Society of Warren County “Polar Plunge” delayed from February 20 due to “too-polar” weather here in northwestern Virginia has been rescheduled to Saturday, March 13 – Don’t worry, it will still be a[...]
Mar
16
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 16 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
23
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 23 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Mar
28
Sun
2:00 pm Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 28 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Pictures with the Easter Bunny @ Warren County Community Center
Come join the staff of Warren County Parks and Recreation and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny! Pictures will be taken and printed on site; upon departure you will be given an Easter[...]
Mar
30
Tue
6:30 pm Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
Mar 30 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Dance Fitness Class @ Warren County Community Center
This class is for all fitness levels and anyone who is looking to have fun dancing to a variety of music styles from hip hop to swing to salsa, all while EXERCISING! This class will[...]
Apr
3
Sat
12:00 pm Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 3 @ 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Egg-stravaganza! @ Sky Meadows State Park
Eggs are popping up all over Sky Meadows State Park. Visit our egg-laying free-range chickens by taking our Chicken Walk. Go on an egg-citing Geocache adventure. Kids, use your scavenger hunting skills using clues from[...]
Apr
17
Sat
all-day Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
Apr 17 all-day
Shenandoah Epic @ Caroline Furnace
This tried and true Epic 24-hour AR will test your biking, paddling, trekking, and navigation skills as you explore two state parks (one of them brand new!) and national forest lands. Join soloists and teams[...]
Apr
24
Sat
10:00 am Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
Apr 24 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Earth Day @ Sky Meadows State Park
On this Earth Day, celebrate safely by doing your part to restore our earth and joining the Great Global Cleanup. Stop by one of our tables at the Explorer Outpost, Picnic Area, or Lost Mountain[...]