Happy Friday from the Warner press office! It was another busy week for Sen. Warner as he tackled major infrastructure announcements for electric vehicles and abandoned mining sites, initiatives for SWVA and coastal VA, ongoing developments in Ukraine, and a push towards an omnibus spending bill. He also made announcements about relief for victims of the Buchanan County flooding, participated in a hearing with the Surgeon General, and made national headlines as he builds momentum to help those affected by problems with their joint student loans.
Here’s the recap:
MONEY FOR MINES & MOTORS
Surprise surprise, it was another great week for Virginia to get infrastructure funds. This week, Sen. Warner announced two major funding wins for Virginia thanks to the bipartisan infrastructure law he negotiated.
First, he announced $22 million dollars to reclaim abandoned mine lands – which will go directly towards creating local jobs to clean up defunct mine sites. More specifically, workers will seal dangerous mine shafts, reclaim unstable slopes, and improve local water quality by preventing acid runoff. It’s a move that will curb pollution, support the climate, stop harmful methane emissions AND provide a positive economic boon to Virginia as the restored lands can be used for key energy and economic development projects. Sen. Warner said,
“This investment into Virginia mining communities will not only create good-paying jobs but will also revitalize energy communities by reclaiming abandoned, unsafe lands for new use.”
But the funding didn’t stop there. Sen. Warner also announced a $106 million investment in electric vehicle charging stations for Virginia as part of the BIL. This money – dispersed over 5 years, with an initial investment of $17 million – will go towards expanding the number of EV charging stations across the Commonwealth so they’re more accessible than ever. Sen. Warner said,
“This funding will encourage more Virginians to adopt clean vehicles and help ensure that families have access to reliable charging stations when they travel. Promoting electric vehicles is a critical step to address the climate crisis and protect public health.”
Unfortunately, Sen. Warner also had to sound the alarm this week about an issue that could prevent Virginia from seeing some of its infrastructure funding. With government funding scheduled to run out on Feb. 18, Congress has two options: pass a stopgap measure called a continuing resolution (CR) or pass a full omnibus spending bill. Because CRs fund programs at preexisting levels, much of infrastructure funding won’t be authorized and is instead dependent on passing a full comprehensive omnibus bill. It’s critical that one is passed as soon as possible so Virginia doesn’t miss out on any infrastructure investments.
In addition to urging his colleagues to pass this bill, Sen. Warner also sent a letter to Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget Shalanda Young, seeking information about exactly what projects will lose funding if a CR is passed as opposed to an omnibus spending bill. Sen. Warner said,
“If Congress is unable to come to an agreement on full-year appropriations for the Fiscal Year 2022, Virginia alone could lose approximately $364 million in roads and bridges funding and $53 million in transit funding. This is unacceptable, and I have repeatedly urged my colleagues to come together and pass an omnibus FY 2022 appropriations bill rather than squander these funding opportunities with another CR.”
Sen. Warner continues to monitor the situation in Ukraine, bringing attention to both the national security and economic concerns underpinning the crisis. In his role as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, he led all members in a letter to President Biden requesting full intelligence sharing with Ukraine as they continue to confront the armed build-up from Russia.
“Vladimir Putin is threatening the freedom and security of the Ukrainian people, and they have shown their eagerness to take action to defend their sovereignty, freedom, and democratically elected government. To this end, we request that the United States share intelligence with Ukraine to the fullest extent possible. Russia is the aggressor, and we need to arm Ukraine with critical information needed to defend their country.”
Sen. Warner continues to get briefings on Ukraine and has sponsored a bill aimed at producing targeted sanctions towards Russia to help address the crisis.
TWO IF BY SEA
The weather is warming, the sun is shining and Sen. Warner is looking ahead towards spring. That’s why this week Sen. Warner joined a bipartisan group calling on the Department of Labor to make available an additional 44,716 H-2B visas, ensuring Virginia seafood processors receive necessary visas for seasonal workers.
The H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Visa Program allows U.S. employers to hire seasonal, non-immigrant workers during peak seasons to supplement the existing American workforce. In Virginia, the seafood industry relies on H-2B workers for tough jobs such as shucking oysters and processing crabs.
“American businesses from industries such as tourism and hospitality, landscaping, fairs and carnivals, seafood processing, golf courses, reforestation, contractors and horse racing depend on seasonal employment to meet the demand across many industries Without meaningful H-2B cap relief, many seasonal businesses will be forced to scale back operations, cancel or default on contracts, lay off full-time U.S. workers and, in some cases, close operations completely. By taking action to release and process additional H-2B visas, seasonal businesses and U.S. workers across the country will avoid these harmful consequences and instead help contribute to the American economy.”
Far be it from Sen. Warner to stand in the way of a good seafood meal… he is committed to providing long-term relief for seasonal seafood processors through reform of the H-2B program. The release of these additional visas is an important step in ensuring that seafood processors in Virginia are able to meet their staffing needs in the upcoming season.
Also on the coast this week, the entire Virginia congressional delegation joined together to request $76.9 million in funding for the Norfolk Harbor Widening and Deepening Project be included in President Biden’s FY23 budget request. As a former Virginia governor, Sen. Warner has long advocated for the Norfolk Harbor project noting its importance not only to the region but to the Virginia economy as a whole.
“The Port of Virginia is one of the Commonwealth’s most powerful economic engines. On an annual basis, the Port is responsible for more than 400,000 jobs and $100 billion in spending across our Commonwealth and generates more than eight percent of our Gross State Product. However, the Port’s true reach extends throughout the Mid-Atlantic and into the Midwest and Ohio Valley. The Port maintains a balanced portfolio of container and bulk trade, and it serves a robust rail market to and from the American farmers and manufacturers throughout the Midwest and Ohio Valley.”
Last year, Sen. Warner led the Virginia Congressional Delegation in a letter to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) requesting a New Start designation for the project in the USACE Fiscal Year 2021 Work Plan – a request that was also made in 2020. In December, Sen. Warner led members of the Virginia Congressional Delegation in requesting funding for Norfolk Harbor through the resources made available to USACE by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which was granted by USACE on January 19, 2022.
HELP FOR HURLEY: Sen. Warner announced this week that after his advocacy for more federal support for victims of the flooding in Buchanan County, affected individuals and businesses will be able to apply for assistance through the Small Business Administration.
STUDENT LOANS: Momentum continues to build for Sen. Warner’s bipartisan, bicameral Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act, with an article coming out in NPR this week about those that would be positively impacted by its passage.
HEALTHY HEARINGS: Sen. Warner participated in a hearing with Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and discussed his DETOUR Act, mental health resources during the pandemic, and more.
POSTAL SERVICE: Sen. Warner offered a statement of support of the USPS reform bill that passed the House this week and is headed to the Senate soon.
BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Sen. Warner has been contributing to a thread all month long highlighting the contributions and vibrant history of Black Americans.
Next week, the Senate will be in session and will take up more nominations and hearings, as well as potentially voting to proceed on the USPS bill. Sen. Warner also expects to continue getting briefings on the developing situation in Ukraine.
Warner reintroduces legislation to deliver new VA facilities and modernize infrastructure
U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner joined Sens. Jon Tester (D-MT), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in reintroducing the Build, Utilize, Invest, Learn, and Deliver (BUILD) for Veterans Act of 2023. This legislation would modernize and streamline the delivery of Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities and other infrastructure projects, bolster its workforce, and save taxpayer dollars by expediting the disposal or repurposing of unused and vacant buildings owned by the Department.
Currently, the VA lacks a strategic plan, sufficient infrastructure workforce, and consistent funding to initiate the building or remodeling of facilities identified by the Department. The BUILD for Veterans Act would strengthen the Department’s ability to initiate critical projects to meet better the need of current and future veterans—including women veterans, veterans in need of long-term care services, and veterans with spinal cord injuries and diseases. Among its many provisions, the bill would require the VA to implement a more concrete schedule to eliminate or repurpose unused and vacant buildings, develop and execute a plan to hire construction personnel, examine infrastructure budgeting strategies and identify required reforms, and provide annual budget requirements over a 10-year period.
“Cumbersome bureaucratic processes have long stood in the way of critical VA projects such as the opening and remodeling hospitals, clinics, and benefits offices. As a result, we’ve seen unnecessary challenges in meeting the needs of veterans seeking care and support through the VA,” said Sen. Warner, who successfully spearheaded congressional efforts to approve new VA healthcare projects across the country, including outpatient clinics in Hampton Roads and Fredericksburg. “This legislation builds on recent efforts and will allow us to serve veterans better and cut down on some of these pointless delays by pushing the VA to plan and budget for projected demand more strategically and to improve its capacity to manage current and future infrastructure projects.”
Veterans service organizations, including Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Paralyzed Veterans of America, The American Legion, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, endorse the bill.
This effort builds upon the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, legislation supported by Sen. Warner and signed into law by President Biden to expand health care and resources for toxic-exposed veterans. The law provided $5.5 billion in funding for 31 new facilities across the country – including another outpatient clinic in Hampton Roads – and streamlines the process for the VA to execute new leases, removing bureaucratic hurdles and cutting down on some of the frustrating delays to these facilities’ completion.
In addition to the PACT Act, Sen. Warner spearheaded a bipartisan effort to approve long-overdue leases for more than two dozen VA medical facilities across the country, including two in Virginia. In October 2022, Sen. Warner joined VA officials to break ground on a new VA facility in Chesapeake that will provide primary care, mental health, and eye clinic services and reduce drive times for Hampton Roads’ fast-growing veteran population.
2023 General Assembly Session: Week 2 update
With the conclusion of the second week of the 2023 General Assembly Session, one thing is becoming increasingly clear – Republicans need to retake control of the Virginia Senate! This week, the Democratic leaders in the Senate showed just how partisan they have become and have demonstrated their unwillingness to put good policy ahead of politics.
Last Monday, the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, upon which I sit, considered the repeal of 2021 legislation that ceded to California authority to control the timeline for banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles in Virginia. The liberal elite wants to require working Virginians to spend upwards of $75,000 for an electric vehicle as their next car or truck. Unless repealed, 35% of all new vehicles sold in Virginia by 2026 must be electric vehicles, and it will impose a complete ban on the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2035. In what must have been an accidental moment of candor, one Democrat on the Committee admitted that these goals are aspirational and cannot be met, but on a party-line vote (15 Democrats to 3 Republicans), the Committee rejected this commonsense measure.
Last week, the Privileges and Elections Committee heard multiple election integrity bills. Notwithstanding broad bipartisan support, the Committee refused to reinstate the photo ID mandate. The Committee also rejected a bill that would have ended same-day voter registration – allowing persons to show up on Election Day, register, and vote at the same time. Finally, the Committee killed a bill that would have criminalized intentional efforts to register non-citizens to vote.
As most are aware, I have been working to restore integrity to Virginia’s Parole Board and its operations. The scandal-ridden Northam-appointed Parole Board found itself in the midst of a media firestorm when it was caught releasing convicted murderers, rapists, and kidnappers without properly notifying victims, their families, or law enforcement in the communities where the crimes were committed. On Friday, a Senate committee killed my transparency bill to require Parole Board members to actually show up, and meet in person, require current interviews of inmates and allow victims to offer input via virtual means. Americans are sick and tired of having legislators or government officials not showing up to do their jobs. If a friend or family member of mine were preparing for a parole hearing, I would certainly want parole board members to take it sufficiently seriously that they would actually meet in person, discuss the case and have a current interview of the inmate before making a parole decision. Finally, the bill would have allowed victims to provide input virtually. Nobody testified in opposition to this bill, yet Democrats on the committee killed it on a party-line vote. Attorney General Jason Miyares pledged to investigate the misconduct by the Northam parole board, and I hope that he will get to the bottom of the scandal-ridden conduct of that panel. For the sake of safe communities across Virginia and for the sake of fairness from the perspective of everybody involved in the process, it is essential that integrity and public confidence be restored in the process.
Finally, on Friday, a Senate subcommittee considered bills protecting innocent human life. First was a bill introduced by Senator Travis Hackworth, limiting abortion from conception with exceptions for medical emergencies and rape or incest (before 20 weeks and with a police report). The Governor’s bill, patroned by Steve Newman, would limit abortions after 15 weeks of gestational age with exceptions for medical emergency, rape, or incest. Senator Siobhan Dunnavant introduced a bill that would limit abortions in the third trimester, with exceptions for medical emergencies and nonviable pregnancies. The Senate Education and Health Committee, controlled by Democrats, recommended defeating all those bills. Surveys show that more than 80% of Americans across all racial, ethnic, and political lines oppose late-term abortions, but not a single Democrat on the Committee was willing to vote even for those very limited restrictions. Innocent human life needs to be protected. It is clear that those Senate Democrats want no restrictions whatsoever on abortion.
You can look here for a full list of the bills I am carrying this session. I will endeavor to provide weekly updates on significant developments during the course of Session. If you have opinions (pro or con), questions, or concerns about any legislation before the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to share those with me. I can always be reached by email at email@example.com, and my office can be reached at either 804-698-7526 (Richmond Office) or 540-437-1451 (Harrisonburg District Office.) Should you be in Richmond at any point during the General Assembly Session, please stop by my office (Room 502) and say hello and let us know if we can do anything for you during your visit.
I always enjoy visiting with and meeting with groups and constituents from home. This week was very busy with visits from Second Amendment supporters from the VCDL, local Credit Union leaders, Leadership Harrisonburg/Rockingham Chamber Class, Page County advocates for the Federation of the Blind, EMS representatives, Rappahannock Board of Supervisors members, Virginia Interfaith Council and students from Shenandoah County Central High School’s Y Street program.
Delegate Wiley’s Richmond Roundup: Week 2 – Restoring excellence in education
In the second week of this year’s 46-day General Assembly session, we have been working quickly to advance a legislative package to improve our schools. We have filed legislation that will raise the standards in education. It will also empower teachers to regain control of their own classrooms. Most importantly, the proposals incorporate input from both parents and teachers around the 29th (soon to be 32nd) district and across Virginia.
Empowering Teachers & Listening to Parents
Disruptive classrooms make it harder for teachers to do their jobs. A recent JLARC study underscores the severity of the issue: 56 percent of those surveyed in our schools said behavior is a “very serious issue,” while another 24 percent called it a “serious” problem. It is beyond time for teachers to reestablish the consistency needed to instruct students effectively and without distractions. It’s time to support our teachers with much-needed legislation.
Advocating for School Choice:
We are fighting for school choice and have co-sponsored several pieces of legislation, along with demanding better standards of Education. These include:
- HB 1822 Public school employees; offense involving solicitation of sexual molestation, physical or sexual abuse, or rape of a child; penalty.
- HB 1508 Virginia Education Success Account Program; establishment
- HB 1396 Education Savings Account Program established; Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits
- Addressing Learning Loss & Preparing Students for Success
Recent reports from the Department of Education related to student test scores show a clear and immediate need for more resources for our students to succeed. The General Assembly cannot be idle and hope that students recover from the learning loss brought on by the pandemic and virtual learning – parents and teachers deserve support now.
House Republicans are answering that call by advancing legislation (HB 2269, Greenhalgh) that earmarks specific unspent federal funds to invest in our students and combat learning loss. Moreover, we are promoting legislation (HB 1526, Coyner) that expands proven and effective reading support to more students across Virginia. This legislation received unanimous approval in a House subcommittee and awaits further consideration in the legislative process.
A visit from the Top of Virginia Chamber
Thanks to Literacy Volunteers Winchester Area, Fox Urban Farms, Julia Shaffer, and NW Works for joining us, as well as Cynthia Roberts Schneider, President of the Chamber. Special congrats to John Fox for being inducted into the Virginia Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
VCDL Lobby Day
VCDL Lobby Day was a success, and we hope to have our 2nd Amendment legislation assigned to the committee sometime in the near future. We won’t give up fighting!
Honoring the life of our own, Adrian O’Connor.
With great respect, I will introduce a Memorial Resolution in the General Assembly honoring the life of our community friend, Adrian O’Connor. O’Connor was The Winchester Star’s editorial page editor for 27 years until his retirement in 2020. He passed away peacefully at his Stephens City home early Monday morning at the age of 68.
Upcoming Legislation for our Firefighters
Monday morning, we will be introducing HB2353 Professional Firefighters Pension tax relief bill. We enjoyed a visit from our local representatives to discuss this upcoming legislation.
Governor Youngkin’s State of the Commonwealth Address
Meanwhile, Governor Glenn Youngkin delivered his State of the Commonwealth address last week, highlighting various accomplishments over the past year while stressing a renewed mission to lower taxes, improve our schools, and make our streets safer. House Republicans are delivering on these goals – and you will continue to hear more about them over the next few weeks.
• See 2023 legislation that Delegate Wiley is Chief Patron
• See legislation that Delegate Wiley is Co-Patron on
• See a list of House Committees Delegate Wiley serves on or Chairs
• Other Commission and Committee Appointments in the General Assembly
You can also track any other legislation in the General Assembly here at www.lis.virginia.gov.
Updates on our work in Richmond are shared on my Facebook page daily, Facebook.com/WileyforDelegate
Delegate Bill Wiley, House District 29
Delegate Wiley’s Richmond Roundup: Week 1 – Delivering for all Virginians
As we flip the calendars to a new year, my colleagues and I in the General Assembly have returned to Richmond to build on the past year’s momentum and deliver real results that make Virginia the best place to live, work, and raise a family.
While the session is just getting underway, House Republicans are already hard at work to legislate and advance a budget that serves all Virginians.
Last year, House Republicans successfully worked with Governor Youngkin to deliver much-needed tax relief to Virginians. This year, we are renewing our commitment to provide further tax relief, starting with cutting income taxes to ensure more of your hard-earned money stays in your pocket. Moreover, after significantly cutting taxes on groceries last year, we must finish the fight and eliminate the burdensome tax entirely.
Last year, we were able to cut taxes on military retiree pay for those over 55. This year, we are expanding on this progress and will fight to make all military retiree pay exempt from state taxes. We are committed to taking care of those who fought to protect our freedoms.
This year, I am bringing legislation that will provide tax cuts to our veterans. See links to them here:
Lowering the Cost of Living
Rampant inflation has squeezed Virginians’ wallets for too long. While the General Assembly cannot control the rate of inflation, House Republicans have initiatives in place to alleviate its effects by lowering costs. For instance, legislation has been filed to lower your monthly electric bill while ensuring your lights stay on. We are also committed to disconnecting from California emissions standards to make it easier to purchase a car. In Virginia, we should be writing laws that improve the quality of life for Virginians.
As many Virginians struggle to pay for the high costs of prescription drugs that they need, we are pushing legislation that passes the savings from prescription rebates directly to consumers at the pharmacy counter. This will lower healthcare costs without adding bureaucratic red tape or taxpayer expenses.
In addition to cutting taxes and reducing the cost of living, it is critical to support businesses coming to Virginia to create jobs, spur competition and innovation, and continue to grow Virginia’s economy. That is why investing in acquiring business-ready sites is critical to ensure we have the infrastructure to welcome new businesses to Virginia.
These proposals are just the tip of the iceberg – you can expect updates in the coming weeks on our legislative progress to improve our schools, make our communities safer, and so much more.
See 2023 legislation that Delegate Wiley is Chief Patron on:
See legislation that Delegate Wiley is Co-Patron on:
See a list of House Committees Delegate Wiley serves on or Chairs:
Other Commission and Committee Appointments in the General Assembly:
You can also track any other legislation in the General Assembly here at www.lis.virginia.gov.gards,
Delegate Bill Wiley, House District 29
Rep. Ben Cline introduces bills to improve federal rulemaking process
On January 13, 2023, Rep. Ben Cline (R-VA) introduced two pieces of legislation that would attack waste in our bureaucracy and ensure federal agencies are held accountable to private citizens and small businesses during the rulemaking process: the Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act and the Ensuring Accountability in Agency Rulemaking Act.
“Good governance begins with accountability, and nowhere is this needed more than in our federal bureaucracy,” Rep. Cline said. “These common-sense bills make critical improvements to the rulemaking process by placing a necessary check on agency regulators.”
Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act
The Small Business Regulatory Flexibility Improvement Act would require federal regulators to assess the full economic effects of proposed regulations on small businesses and consider alternative measures to reduce burdens before they act.
Cosponsor: Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL)
Supporters: NFIB, Heritage Action
Ensuring Accountability in Agency Rulemaking Act
The Ensuring Accountability in Agency Rulemaking Act would require all rules proposed by federal agencies, except in limited circumstances, to be signed and issued by an individual appointed by the President and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Cosponsors: Rep. Jared Golden (D-ME), Rep. Mary Miller (R-IL), Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), Rep. Andrew Ogles (R-TN), Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA)
Supporters: Pacific Legal Foundation, FreedomWorks, Heritage Action
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – January 13, 2023
House Republicans are eager to get America back on track and address the damage the Biden administration’s agenda has inflicted on our families and communities. Following the election of Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as the Speaker of the House, we can finally begin to get to work for the American people. Additionally, I am honored to have been chosen to lead the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) Budget and Spending Task Force, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington. Finally, I am pleased to announce the opening of my new Winchester District Office, and I look forward to continuing to serve the people of the Sixth District.
With a Speaker of the House Elected, It’s Time to Get to Work
Early Saturday morning, the 118th Congress elected Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House of Representatives. For House conservatives, this vote was about seizing an opportunity to negotiate much-needed Rules changes to ensure every Member can provide more input in the legislative process. This was the strongest deal on a Rules package in history, restoring transparency and accountability to the People’s House. I won’t stop fighting for families of Virginia’s Sixth District and across the Nation, and I will continue working to ensure that the conservative agenda is the Republican agenda in the 118th Congress. I’m ready to pass legislation strengthening our economy, unleashing American energy independence, securing our borders, and curbing reckless government spending. It’s time to get to work. Click here to read more on the Rules package passed through the House.
Chairman of the Budget and Spending Task Force of the RSC
Also, this week, I was honored to be chosen as Chair of the Republican Study Committee’s (RSC) Budget and Spending Task Force. Founded in 1973, the RSC’s mission is to promote fiscal responsibility and conservatism in the Republican Conference. The caucus has long produced balanced budget proposals, and its members support conservative and free-market principles. For decades and across both parties, Congress has failed to pass balanced budgets. The Pelosi-Schumer era has exacerbated this problem, as our Nation is now in over $31 trillion of debt, inflation is at 7.1%, and interest rates have soared. That is no way to govern. With a new Republican majority, we have an opportunity to make this next budget the one to be used as a blueprint for advancing conservative principles and commonsense policies. With hard work and a clear vision, I am confident we can take the steps necessary to bring fiscal responsibility back to Washington and restore economic prosperity to our Nation. For more information on this task force, click here.
Winchester District Office Open for Service
I’m pleased to announce that my new district office in Winchester is officially open for business and is located at 100 N. Loudoun Street, Suite 120, Winchester, VA 22601. We’re excited to serve the people of Winchester, Frederick, Warren & Clarke counties, so come stop by or call (540) 546-0876. My team is here to help. Visit Cline.House.Gov for more.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.