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Career Opportunity

Residential Counselors

(Youth Service Workers)

 

Job#: 2017-10

If you are interested in making a positive impact on the lives of Virginia’s youth, then we want you to become part of our Team!  Rural Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility located in Jarratt, Virginia seeks positive role models to work directly with adolescent boys and girls in a psychiatric residential treatment program.  The Youth Service Worker is responsible for role-modeling healthy behavior, teaching life skills, administering a trauma informed behavioral support program, and leading youth in and participating in social, cultural, and recreational activities.  This position supervises youth in the residential unit and on off-campus activities and appointments.

Must possess the availability to work weekends, evenings, holidays, and nights.  Supreme flexibility required. 

Seeking candidates with Bachelor’s Degrees in Psychology, Sociology or other Human Services field.   Experience will be considered in lieu of a degree.

Compensation package includes 401(k) retirement plan & employer sponsored health, dental, vision & life insurance.  JBHS is a Drug Free Workplace.  Successful applicants must pass a pre-employment drug screen and criminal background screening.  EOE.  Positions opened until filled.

E-mail cover letter and resume to:

Jackson-Feild Behavioral Health Services
Attn: Chris Thompson
Job # 2017-10
E-mail:careers@jacksonfeild.org

This Paid Political Advertisement does not represent an endorsement by Emporia News. Emporia News does not endorse candidates for any political office.

WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE MORE THAN $1.3MILLION TO SUPPORT FIRE DEPARTMENTS IN VIRGINIA

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,357,959 in federal funding for nine Virginia fire departments through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The funding for nine fire departments in Concord, Chilhowie, Fairfax, Gasburg, Glade Spring, Kenbridge, Lovingston, Newport News, and Norton will be awarded through FEMA’s Assistant to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

“This federal funding will provide fire departments with critical support to enhance training operations and purchase life-saving equipment that will help keep Virginians safe,” the Senators said.

The following Virginia fire departments will receive funding under the AFG program:

  • The Concord Volunteer Fire Department will receive $64,762 to purchase vehicle extrication equipment;
  • The Town of Chilhowie Fire & EMS Department will receive $60, 313 to purchase portable and mobile radios;
  • The City of Fairfax Fire Department will receive $136, 182 to support training operations for firefighters;
  • The Gasburg Volunteer Fire Department will receive $46,116 to purchase an air compressor and fill station equipment;
  • The Glade Spring Volunteer Fire Department will receive $38,096 to purchase an air compressor and fill station equipment.
  • The Kenbridge Fire Department will receive $54,739 to update its source capture exhaust system technology;
  • The Lovingston Volunteer Fire Department will receive $142,381 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment;
  • The City of Newport News Fire Department will receive $404,600 to purchase power lift cots and stretchers and;
  • The City of Norton Fire Department will receive $320,358 to purchase self-contained breathing apparatus equipment and face pieces.

The primary goal of FEMA’s AFG program is to enhance the safety of the public and firefighters by providing direct financial assistance to eligible fire departments, nonaffiliated Emergency Medical Services organizations and State Fire Training Academies for critically-needed resources. 

SEN. WARNER ASKS FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION TO PROBE EQUIFAX DATA, SECURITY PRACTICES & CUSTOMER SERVICE RESPONSE AFTER RECENT HACK

~ Asks FTC to exercise existing authority to probe data breach ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Banking, Budget and Finance committees and cofounder of the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, today asked the Federal Trade Commission to examine the recent cyber hack of credit reporting agency Equifax. Last week, Equifax publically disclosed a breach which exposed sensitive personal information of 143 million Americans.

Sen. Warner requested an FTC investigation into the lapse in Equifax cybersecurity practices, and questioned the company’s widely-panned response to consumers potentially impacted by the breach. His letter asks the FTC to examine whether credit reporting agencies such as Equifax have adequate cybersecurity safeguards in place for “the enormous amounts of sensitive data they collect and commercialize.” 

Sen. Warner has been a leader in calling for better consumer protections from data theft. In the aftermath of the Target breach that exposed the debit and credit card information of 40 million customers, Sen. Warner in 2014 chaired the first congressional hearing on protecting consumer data from the threat posed by hackers targeting retailers’ online systems. Sen. Warner also partnered with the National Retail Federation to establish an information sharing platform that allows the industry to better protect consumer financial information from data breaches.

Sen. Warner has been working to develop bipartisan legislation to create a comprehensive, nationwide and uniform data breach standard requiring timely consumer notification for breaches of financial data and other sensitive information.

The text of the letter may be found here

WARNER, ISAKSON INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO PRESERVE PATIENT ACCESS TO HOME INFUSION SERVICES

~ Bill would create a temporary transitional payment for home infusion services ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), members of the Senate Finance Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation to create a temporary transitional reimbursement structure for Medicare home infusion services.

A version of legislation introduced by Sens. Warner and Isakson last Congress to restructure the way Medicare beneficiaries who need intravenous medication receive their infusion treatments from the comfort of their home was included in the landmark 21st Century Cures Act last year. However, the Cures bill did not properly align the change in payments with the new benefit, leading to a four-year gap during which patients would have challenges securing these life-saving treatments. This legislation ensures that patients receiving home infusion treatments maintain their access to these services until policies from the 21st Century Cures Act are implemented in 2021.

“Home infusion is a safe and effective alternative to inpatient care for many patients,” said Sen. Warner. “This bill expands on the progress made on 21st Century Cures by creating a transitional payment system that will allow Medicare to continue paying accurately for the drugs, while also protecting patients’ access to important services. This commonsense fix will help the Medicare program provide high-quality, lower-cost care, benefiting both patients and taxpayers.”

“Infusion therapy delivered in the home setting is the most desirable, convenient and by far the most cost-effective. We made important progress for modern medicine in the 21st Century Cures Act, and the home infusion therapy legislation that Senator Warner and I included in that bill makes a real difference for patients who need safe and effective treatments,”said Sen. Isakson. “Home infusion technology is a tremendous contribution to quality health care, and this legislation builds on the Cures Act to help ensure home infusion remains accessible.”

The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), David Perdue (R-GA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

“This bill builds upon previous legislation so Medicare beneficiaries can receive infusion treatments at home,”Sen. Grassley said.  “This is an option that Medicare beneficiaries sought, and it’s a common sense, cost-effective way to provide care.  The private sector recognized this long ago.  Medicare should continue to reflect the modern practice of medicine and offer the best way of meeting a medical need at the lowest cost.”

TheMedicare Home Infusion Therapy Access Act of 2017 would create a transitional reimbursement for Medicare home infusion services. Starting in January 2017, the 21st Century Cures Act changed the payment for home infusion drugs, aligning them with payments for other drugs paid under Medicare’s Part B benefit. The 21st Century Cures Act also created a new reimbursement structure for the professional services associated with home infusion, which is set to take effect in 2021. The four-year gap between the January 2017 drug payment change and the implementation of the infusion services payment in 2021 may threaten the accessibility of home-infusion therapy. This bill would help smooth the transition to more accurate payments for home infusions drugs while also protecting patients’ access to these medications until the new home infusion benefit is implemented in 2021.

Sens. Warner, Isakson, Roberts, Grassley, Cardin, Brown, Portman, and Bennet are all members of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare.

The legislation is supported by:Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC),  American Association of Heart Failure Nurses,  American Association for Homecare,  American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN),  Amerita, Inc., American Association for Homecare, Appalachian Home Infusion, ARJ Infusion Services, Best Option Healthcare PR, Inc., Big Sky IV Care, BioScrip, BJC Home Care Services Pharmacy, Brooks Home I.V., Inc., CarePro Health Services, CGH Medical Center, Chartwell Midwest Wisconsin, LLC, Chartwell Pennsylvania, LP, Choice CriticalCare Inc., Consortium of Clinical Immunologists (CIIC), Coram, CVS Specialty Infusion, Services, Druid City Vital Care, EMED Technologies, EMZA USA LLC & DeliverIt Pharmacy Inc., Fairview Health Services, Gates Healthcare Associates, Inc., Grifols, Hobbs Pharmacy, Home Health United Xtra Care Pharmacy, Home Parenteral Services, Horizon Healthcare Services, ICU Medical Inc., Infusion Solutions, Inc., Innovatix, INS, Intra Pump Infusion Systems, Intramed Plus, IV Solutions, LLC, John Hopkins Care Group, Kaup Pharmacy, Inc., Lakeland Home, Infusion, Liberty Medical Specialties, Inc., Medical Accounts Receivable Solutions, Inc. (MARs), Medical Alternatives, MK Infusion Pharmacy, LLC., MSD, Nation's Home Infusion, NuCara IV Services, One Source Homecare Services, OptiMed Infusion Services, Option Care, OptionOne Pharmacy, Paragon Healthcare Inc., Pediatric Home Service, Pharmacare Health Specialists, PharmaScript Inc., Preferred Homecare, Premier Infusion Care, Premier Nursing Group, LLC, Premier Point Home Health, Inc., PromptCare Home Infusion, LLC, Redline Specialty Pharmacy, SBH Medical, Ltd., Sentara Home Infusion Pharmacy, Sentara HealthCare, Simfarose Pharmaceutical Specialty, Smiths Medical, Soleo Health, Spectrum Infusion, Inc., TANYR Healthcare, The Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF), The National Home Infusion Association (NHIA), Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, UnityPoint at Home, University of Iowa Community HomeCare, VGM Group Inc., Vital Care, Inc., and the VNA Home Infusion Therapy Pharmacy.

Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means  (H.R. 3163). The full text of the legislation is available here.

SENS. WARNER, HATCH, WARREN & RUBIO, REPS. PRICE & BYRNE INTRODUCE LEGISLATION PROVIDING RELIEF FOR BORROWERS OF JOINT CONSOLIDATION STUDENT LOANS

~ Bipartisan bill provides remedy for joint consolidation loan quagmire faced by borrowers, including those experiencing domestic or economic abuse ~

 WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), along with U.S. Reps. David Price (D-NC) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL), introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would provide much needed relief to borrowers who previously consolidated their student loan debt with their spouse’s. From 1993 until 2006, the U.S. Department of Education issued joint consolidation loans to married couples. Congress eliminated the program in 2006, but did not provide a means of severing existing loans, even in the event of domestic violence, financial abuse, or an unresponsive partner. As a result, there are borrowers nationwide who remain liable for their abusive or uncommunicative spouse’s consolidated debt with no legal options for relief.

 The Joint Consolidation Loan Separation Act would allow two borrowers to submit a joint application to sever their joint consolidation loan, or allow one borrower to submit a separate application in the event that they are experiencing domestic or economic abuse, or are unable to reasonably reach or access the loan information of the other borrower.

 “I first learned about this issue when one of my constituents in McLean contacted my office for help with a joint consolidation loan following a divorce. Her case showed us a reality faced by many Americans who continue to be responsible for these loans despite difficult, and sometimes dangerous, situations with their partners,” said Sen. Warner. “Congress should not turn a blind eye to this oversight. This legislation is a commonsense fix that provides victims of economic and physical abuse or those dealing with an unresponsive partner with a mechanism to relieve themselves from unjust financial obligations.”

 “I am honored to join my colleagues in working toward fixing a policy oversight that leaves people unduly burdened by an old consolidation program,” said Sen. Hatch. “Over the years, I have met many constituents who were unfairly encumbered with a joint consolidation loan with no path for relief. I gladly support this bill that will give affected individuals a way to relieve themselves from unfair debt.”

 “A federal student loan shouldn't shackle someone to a former spouse—particularly in cases of domestic and economic abuse. Congress made the right call when it ended the joint consolidation loan program in 2006, and I hope Congress will pass this bipartisan bill to help more struggling student loan borrowers move forward with their lives and obtain their financial independence,” said. Sen. Warren.

 “This bill is a direct response to my constituent’s experience with a damaging joint consolidation loan. This carefully crafted bill will provide relief to borrowers who are victims of abusive or uncommunicative spouses and allow them to sever their joint financial responsibility. Congressional action to fix this problem is long overdue,” said Rep. Price.

 “This is an example of an unintended consequence that Congress must address. I'm pleased we are able to come together in a bipartisan manner with my House and Senate colleagues to put forward a solution. This commonsense legislation offers a simple fix that provides relief to some Americans caught in a difficult situation,” said Rep. Byrne.

 

“When survivors escape abuse, they should be able to start over without the debts of their abusers. We applaud this bill for creating a solution for those survivors who consolidated loans either in good faith or under duress and are now rebuilding their lives,” said Monica McLaughlin, Director of Public Policy at the National Network to End Domestic Violence.

 “The Action Alliance is pleased to support these efforts to provide victims of domestic and economic abuse with student loan relief. This bill will make a difference for the people who need it, and we hope Congress will move swiftly to enact it,” said Kristine Hall, Policy Director at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.

 “Many survivors of intimate partner violence in North Carolina find themselves burdened with their abuser’s debt after escaping their abusive partner. The North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence applauds that our state representative, David Price, is sponsoring this bill so that survivors may be truly free to rebuild their lives,” said Dana Mangum, Executive Director of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

 “For far too long, many student loan borrowers have been stuck in joint consolidation loans, and this bill ensures that struggling borrowers, including survivors of domestic and economic abuse who previously consolidated their student loan debts, have the opportunity to regain their financial footing. We applaud the sponsors of this bill for their efforts. This bill would benefit many vulnerable student loan borrowers, and we are proud to support it,” said National Consumer Law Center Attorney Joanna Darcus.

 A summary of the bill is available here. The full text of the bill is available here

SENS. WARNER, BLUNT LEAD BIPARTISAN COALITION TO REINTRODUCE INFRASTRUCTURE LEGISLATION

~Bill would help states and localities leverage private funds to build and repair outdated transportation, water, and energy infrastructure~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) led a bipartisan coalition of Senators in introducing legislation to establish a new infrastructure financing authority to help states and localities better leverage private funds to build and maintain the nation’s outdated infrastructure. The Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act helps to address the nation’s alarming investment shortfall in maintaining and improving our transportation network, water and wastewater systems and energy infrastructure. The legislation would provide additional financing tools for states and localities to create new jobs here at home while also increasing our nation’s economic competitiveness.

“As we mark the 5th annual Infrastructure Week, we must think boldly and make real investments in our nation’s infrastructure rather than kick the can down the road with short-term fixes,” said Sen. Warner. “The BRIDGE Act offers a bold, bipartisan solution to help address our infrastructure needs by incentivizing private investment and pairing it with public resources. This legislation will set a clear framework that will help create jobs, expand U.S. commerce and trade, and keep American businesses competitive.”

“Missouri is a transportation hub, and improving our roads, bridges, and waterways is critical for economic growth in our state and across the nation,” said Sen. Blunt. “This bipartisan bill will provide much-needed resources to strengthen infrastructure and help ensure Missouri’s farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses are able to remain competitive in an increasingly global economy.”

The BRIDGE Act is cosponsored by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Dean Heller (R-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

America currently spends roughly two percent of its GDP on infrastructure– about half what it did 50 years ago. By comparison, Europe spends around 5 percent, and China spends 9 percent of GDP on infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the United States currently ranks 12th among 144 developed countries in overall infrastructure compared to our global competitors. 

The American Society of Civil Engineers latest estimate shows that in order to close the $2.0 trillion 10-year investment gap, meet future need, and restore our global competitive advantage, we must increase investment from all levels of government and the private sector from 2.5% to 3.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. As of 2012, of the more than 600,000 bridges in the U.S., 24.9 percent were either functionally obsolete or structurally deficient. Nationally, our bridges are, on average, 42 years old, and need an estimated $76 billion to repair and replace. Similarly, the average age of the 84,000 dams in the country is 52 years old, and the Association of State Dam Safety Officials estimates that aging and high-hazard dams require an investment of $21 billion to repair.

To help address this funding shortfall for our nation’s transportation, water and energy infrastructure, the BRIDGE Act will establish an independent, nonpartisan financing authority to complement existing U.S. infrastructure funding. The authority would provide loans and loan guarantees to help states and localities fund the most economically viable road, bridge, rail, port, water, sewer, and other significant infrastructure projects.  The authority would receive initial seed funding of up to $10 billion, which could incentivize private sector investment and make possible $300 billion or more in total project investment. The authority is structured in a way to make it self-sustaining over time without requiring additional federal appropriations.

“If we are to improve our nation’s infrastructure, graded a D+ in ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, we can no longer afford to defer needed investment in modernization and maintenance. Under Sen. Warner’s leadership, the BRIDGE Act would make a significant step toward this increased, sustained investment, establishing a new, innovative funding authority designed to attract billions of dollars in private sector investment in our nation’s water, transportation, and energy sectors. Sen. Blunt’s co-sponsorship demonstrates once again that infrastructure is a bipartisan issue that impacts the lives of all Americans. Through the BRIDGE Act, our nation’s infrastructure will receive much-needed additional funding to help narrow the $2 trillion infrastructure investment gap that currently costs every American family $3,400 a year out of their discretionary income,”said Norma Jean Mattei, PH.D., P.E., President, American Society of Civil Engineers

“The 31 national associations and construction trade unions of the Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) applaud your bipartisan efforts in crafting the Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment (BRIDGE) Act. We support your proposal as a means to supplement the core federal transportation investment programs by utilizing an array of financing tools to encourage private sector investment in needed transportation infrastructure improvements. As Congress and the Administration move forward on a rewrite of the nation’s tax code and an encompassing infrastructure package promised by President Trump, the TCC believes a permanent solution to the Highway Trust Fund revenue shortfall should finally be addressed and included in either of these legislative packages. Additionally, all options, including alternative project delivery and finance methods like the BRIDGE Act, to address the nation's infrastructure deficit need to be considered as well. The BRIDGE Act represents an innovative approach that would provide the ability to support nationally and regionally significant infrastructure projects that require innovative financing outside the existing core federal programs,” said the Transportation Construction Coalition, representing 31 national associations and construction trade unions

“Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Mark Warner of Virginia, should be commended for their ongoing effort to strengthen our nation’s investment in critical infrastructure. Their legislation, The Building and Renewing Infrastructure for Development and Growth in Employment Act (The BRIDGE Act), establishes a set of creative tools and incentives to draw private capital off the sidelines and promote effective public private partnerships.  There is at least a $1.4 trillion shortfall in funding needed to adequately support infrastructure needs between now and 2025.  The BRIDGE Act is key to unlocking private investment necessary to support long-term economic growth and a more competitive nation,” said Jason Grumet, President of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

According to ASCE, 42 percent of our major urban highways are congested, which costs the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually. Currently, the Federal Highway Administration estimates that $170 billion in capital investment would be needed on an annual basis to significantly improve conditions and performance. Virginia received a C- on ASCE’s 2015 Infrastructure Report Card, with key regional infrastructure deemed structurally deficient such as Arlington Memorial Bridge in Northern Virginia.  The same report concluded that Virginians spend a cumulative two full work weeks per year just sitting in traffic.

Other individuals and organizations endorsing this legislation include Sean McGarvey, President of the North America's Building Trades Unions; Ed Rendell, Co-Chair of Building America’s Future and former Governor of Pennsylvania; Chris Spear, President and CEO of the American Trucking Association; Kurt J. Nagle, President and CEO of the American Association of Port Authorities; Elaine Nessle, Executive Director of the Coalition for America’s Gateways and Trade Corridors; Jane F. Garvey, North America Chairman of Meridiam Infrastructure and former Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration; Adrea Turner, Director of Transportation for America; and Jennifer Aument, Transurban Group General Manager for North America.

For more information on key provisions of the BRIDGE Act, click here

Joint Statement from Senate Intel Committee Leaders on Special Counsel Appointment

WASHINGTON –Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today made the following statement on the appointment of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel:

“The appointment of former FBI Director and respected lawyer Robert Mueller as special counsel for the Russia investigation is a positive development and will provide some certainty for the American people that the investigation will proceed fairly and free of political influence.

“The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will continue its own investigation and to the extent any deconfliction is required, we will engage with Director Mueller and our expectation is that he will engage with the Committee as well.”

KAINE & WARNER BILL TO GRANT FEDERAL RECOGNITION OF VIRGINIA INDIAN TRIBES MOVES ONE STEP CLOSER TO FINAL PASSAGE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017, a bill reintroduced in March by U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, cleared its first procedural hurdle with unanimous passage out of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.  The legislation would grant federal recognition of six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. These tribes have received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but have not received federal recognition, which would grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. The legislation will now advance to the full Senate for consideration.

“Today’s committee passage brings Virginia’s tribes one step closer to federal recognition,” said Kaine and Warner “Passage of this bill would give these tribes access to educational and health care services and the ability to properly pay respect to their ancestors. We won’t give up until Virginia’s tribes receive the recognition they deserve.”

Federal recognition would allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it would allow tribes to:

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care. 

KAINE & WARNER TO INTRODUCE RESOLUTION COMMEMORATING TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF VIRGINIA TECH TRAGEDY

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark R. Warner will introduce a Senate resolution commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the second deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, which claimed 32 lives and injured 17 others. The resolution honors the victims, offers condolences to their families, and recognizes the resilience of the Virginia Tech community in the decade following the tragedy. Kaine was serving as Governor of Virginia when the tragedy occurred.

“As I told members of the Blacksburg community on April 16th this year, ten years later I continue to be in awe of the strength of these families and the entire Virginia Tech community, “said Kaine. “Virginia Tech has set a powerful example of resilience in the face of tragedy, and this resolution recognizes that perseverance and honors the 32 beautiful lives that were lost that day and the 17 individuals who were injured.”

“On that dark day ten years ago and every day since, these families and the survivors have shown incredible courage in the wake of almost unbearable pain and loss,”said Warner. “This resolution remembers those lives lost and recognizes how, in many ways, the huge Virginia Tech community has grown stronger and even closer in the decade since the tragedy.”

Kaine and Warner have long supported improving mental health policy and passing commonsense measures to curb gun violence, including requiring background record checks prior to gun purchases and improving the number and accuracy of records submitted to the national background check system. Last month, Kaine co-sponsored the CDC Research on Firearms Safety or Gun Violence Prevention Act, a bill that would lift the de facto twenty-year ban on research into firearms safety and gun violence prevention at the CDC. 

Earlier today, the Senate unanimously passed Sens. Kaine and Warner’s resolution recognizing the 10th anniversary of the Virginia Tech tragedy. 

VA MEMBERS URGE CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP TO TAKE ACTION TO PROTECT MINERS BEFORE HEALTHCARE BENEFITS EXPIRE

~ An estimated 10,000 retired coal miners in Virginia are at risk of losing health and retirement benefits in the coming years ~

WASHINGTON – In a letter today, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, and Reps. Gerry Connolly, A. Donald McEachin, and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (all D-VA) urged Congressional leaders to take action to protect retired coal miners who risk losing their healthcare benefits as part of negotiations to keep the government funded before the end of the week. Last year, Congress reached a deal to extend government funding and retired miners’ health care benefits until April 28th. In March, retired coal miners and their families began receiving letters notifying them of the impending termination of their health care coverage. 

“This nation was built on the backs of our workers. Let us not forsake them. We implore you to immediately pass a permanent health care fix for the miners and commit to working with us to finding and passing a solution for the imperiled 1974 Pension Fund,” the members wrote.

Retired miners are facing uncertainty because the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) 1974 Pension Plan is severely underfunded, still reeling from the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis and a series of bankruptcies in the coal industry.

The Virginia Congressional members pressed for the inclusion in negotiations of the Miners Protection Act, bipartisan legislation which would transfer federal funds to shore up the underfunded health insurance and pension plan.

“Anything less is merely an extension of the ongoing uncertainty and agony that these men and women have been carrying for years. Anything less is an unacceptable and tragic failure of this body to keep its word to the men and women who powered our nation to prosperity at the risk of their own health and lives,” the members added.

Full text of the letter can be found here and below.

April 25, 2017

The Honorable Mitch McConnell                              
Senate Majority Leader                                               
The Capitol S-230                                                       
Washington, DC 20510                                              

The Honorable Chuck Schumer

Senate Minority Leader
The Capitol S-221
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan                                          
Speaker of the House of Representatives                   
The Capitol H-232                                                      
Washington, DC 20515                                              

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi  
House Minority Leader
The Capitol H-204
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan, and Leader Pelosi,

As you know, at the expiration of the current continuing resolution, 22,600 of our nation’s retired coal miners will lose their healthcare benefits.  In March, these miners received letters notifying them of this impending termination and, sadly, it is not the first such letter they have received.  

Virginia is home to nearly 10,000 UMWA beneficiaries whose benefits are at risk in the coming years, many of whom will soon suffer the anguish and fear that comes with the loss of these life-saving benefits. 

While the continuing resolution included a four-month extension of benefits, it did so using remaining funds in the existing Voluntary Employee’s Beneficiary Association (VEBA) plans.  The “extension” was essentially a transfer of funds already belonging to these miners.  In fact, it shortened the timeline for 6,500 of these miners who would have otherwise received healthcare benefits through July.  Additionally, the pension fund that these miners and their widows rely on for life’s basic necessities will reach the point of no return this year if Congress does not act to shore it up.

This bill is simple – it is the continuation of a longstanding commitment by our government to lifetime health and retirement benefits for our miners.  The Krug-Lewis Agreement was signed in 1946 at the White House in front of President Truman by UMWA president John L. Lewis and Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug.  While the agreement itself was not drafted in perpetuity, Congress essentially codified the promises made in that agreement by subsequently passing the Coal Act. 

The Coal Act and its 2006 amendments re-committed the government to the health and retirement security of our nation’s miners and their families.  In fact, prior to passage of the 1992 Coal Act, the Dole Commission (appointed by President George H.W. Bush) issued a report stating that, “The UMWA Health and Retirement Funds is as much a creature of government as it is of collective bargaining. There is a line running from the original Boone Report to the present system. In a way, the original Krug-Lewis agreement predisposed, if not predetermined, the system that evolved.” 

The Miners Protection Act is a responsible, bipartisan solution to an immediate problem that is fully offset and has gone through regular order.  As Congress considers a continuing resolution to keep the government running, we fully expect that such a vehicle will include the permanent health care fix for our nation’s retired miners as promised at the end of 2016 and proposed in the Miner’s Protection Act.

Anything less is merely an extension of the ongoing uncertainty and agony that these men and women have been carrying for years.  Anything less is an unacceptable and tragic failure of this body to keep its word to the men and women who powered our nation to prosperity at the risk of their own health and lives. 

This nation was built on the backs of our workers.  Let us not forsake them.  We implore you to immediately pass a permanent health care fix for the miners and commit to working with us to finding and passing a solution for the imperiled 1974 Pension Fund.

Sincerely,                                                                                                                  

Mark R. Warner                                                        
United States Senator            

Tim Kaine
United States Senator

Gerry Connolly
United States Representative

A. Donald McEachin  
United States Representative

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott
United States Representative 

WARNER, COLLINS, SÁNCHEZ, ROE INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL LEGISLATION TO ASSIST SMALL BUSINESSES IN OFFERING RETIREMENT PLANS TO EMPLOYEES

~ Only 22 percent of workers at small firms currently have access to a workplace savings plan or pension ~

WASHINGTON— Bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reduce duplicative filing costs for small businesses looking to offer retirement plans to their employees was introduced today in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee. In the House, the legislation was sponsored by Congresswoman Linda Sánchez (D-CA), a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, and Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN), a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.

“As the nature of work continues to change, increasing access to workplace retirement plans is a crucial step in providing a secure retirement to millions of Americans,” Sen. Warner said. “For smaller employers, offering a retirement plan can be expensive and complex, so we should make it easier and reduce duplicative filing costs for them to offer retirement plans and promote retirement security for all workers.”

“Americans simply aren’t saving enough to be able to afford a comfortable retirement. In fact, there is an estimated $7.7 trillion gap between what Americans have saved for retirement and what they will actually need,” said Senator Collins. “When employers provide their employees with access to retirement plans, approximately 80 percent of them contribute. Our legislation will help promote retirement security by making it easier and less expensive for small businesses to establish retirement plans, increasing their accessibility to employees and helping to ensure that those who worked hard for decades do not spend their retirement in poverty.”

The legislation was unanimously approved by the Senate Finance Committee in the 114th Congress.

“Too many Americans simply aren’t putting enough money away to be able to afford a secure retirement. By helping more small businesses provide workplace retirement plans we can give millions of hardworking families more financial peace of mind,” Congresswoman Sánchez said. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan and bicameral legislation to make it easier and less expensive for small businesses to establish retirement plans for their workers. This common sense legislation will help provide greater retirement security to more Americans.”

“With nearly 40 million working families who haven’t saved a dime for retirement, it is imperative we do all we can to help encourage affordable, accessible retirement savings,” said Congressman Roe. “By alleviating duplicative reporting requirements for plan administrators, we are making it easier for small businesses to provide secure retirement plans to their workers and reducing the costs for small business owners who provide retirement plans.”

A 2016 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that only 22 percent of workers at small firms have access to a workplace savings plan or pension, compared to 74 percent at firms with 500 or more employees. For smaller employers, offering a retirement plan can be expensive and complex.

The bill directs the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Treasury Department to allow employers and sole-proprietors participating in retirement plans administered in the same way to file a single aggregated Form 5500, a required annual return that provides important compliance information to DOL and Treasury.

Under current law, despite sharing a common administrative framework, each individual plan is still required to file a separate Form 5500 to satisfy reporting requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code. Today’s proposal will eliminate duplicative reporting by plan administrators, which will reduce costs for small businesses that maintain retirement plans. To file an aggregated Form 5500, the retirement plans would need to have the same trustee, fiduciary, plan administrator, plan year and investment menu.

The self-employed, including sole proprietors and small business owners, are the most likely to establish a retirement savings plan that would benefit from and meet the requirements necessary to file an aggregated Form 5500. According to 2016 survey findings from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, in collaboration with Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement, only one-third of self-employed respondents indicated that they make sure they are saving for retirement.

To provide DOL and Treasury time to implement this change, the proposal has an effective date of no later than January 1, 2021. A copy of the legislative text is available here.

ON 400TH ANNIVERSARY OF POCAHONTAS’ BURIAL, WARNER & KAINE INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO GRANT FEDERAL RECOGNITION FOR SIX VIRGINIA INDIAN TRIBES

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, on the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ burial, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine introduced legislation to federally recognize six Virginia Indian tribes, which include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. The Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017 would grant the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.

Coinciding with the anniversary, Upper Mattaponi Chief Ken Adams, Chickahominy Chief Stephen Adkins, and Rappahannock Chief Anne Richardson traveled to England to participate in a series of events to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Pocahontas’ death. On Tuesday, there will be a plaque dedication ceremony at the church where Pocahontas is buried.

“Four hundred years after the death of Pocahontas, our country continues to do a disservice to her descendants by failing to recognize the major role Virginia’s tribes have played in American history and the fabric of our nation,” said the Senators. “These six tribes have treaties that predated the United States, but because of this historical quirk and the systematic destruction of their records, they have been denied federal recognition and the services that come along with it. Congress can fix this injustice by passing our bill and granting these tribes the federal recognition they deserve.”

Federal recognition would allow Virginia’s tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government. Further, it would allow tribes to:

  • Compete for educational programs and other grants only open to federally recognized tribes;
  • Repatriate the remains of their ancestors in a respectful manner. Many of these remains reside in the Smithsonian, but without federal status there is no mandate to return the remains; and
  • Provide affordable health care services for elder tribal members who have been unable to access care.

The bill has passed the House of Representatives in two previous Congresses. Kaine and Warner introduced two previous versions of the bill in the 113th and 114th Congress. Both passed out of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs but never were brought to the floor for a vote.

SENS. WARNER, KAINE URGE PRESIDENT TRUMP TO RECONSIDER CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM CUTS

~ Published reports say Trump has proposed 93% Bay funding cut ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) wrote to President Trump today to urge him to reconsider steep budget cuts within the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program. Several recent published reports indicate the Trump Administration will recommend cutting the Bay program from $73 million annually to $5 million. The Senators, both of whom were Virginia governors, each played vital roles managing Virginia’s multi-year, multi-state Bay restoration efforts.   

“The Chesapeake Bay is an essential economic engine in our region, supporting thousands of jobs in the fishery and tourism industries and generating millions in revenue each year. We have worked tirelessly to improve the health of the Bay to ensure that these industries will continue to grow and flourish for years to come,” the Senators wrote. “While we’ve seen real improvements in the health of the Chesapeake Bay in recent years, we are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of such a significant and jarring cut in funding.”

The full text of the letter follows and can be found here.

March 8, 2017

The Honorable Donald J. Trump
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write today to express our deep concerns over recent reports indicating your Administration is proposing significant funding reductions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to published reports, this includes draconian cuts in the Chesapeake Bay Program – a multi-year, multi-state partnership with the federal government to restore the largest estuary in the United States. We believe these cuts would be incredibly shortsighted and would endanger the years of progress that have been made in restoring the health of the Chesapeake Bay.

We are both former Governors of Virginia, and are proud to continue our service in the United States Senate. The Chesapeake Bay is an essential economic engine in our region, supporting thousands of jobs in the fishery and tourism industries and generating millions in revenue each year. We have worked tirelessly to improve the health of the Bay to ensure that these industries will continue to grow and flourish for years to come.

The Chesapeake Bay Program was formed in 1983 in a collaborative effort among Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and the federal government. Since then, New York, West Virginia, and Delaware have joined the effort to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay. Through this program, EPA supports the cleanup of the Bay by fostering collaboration among the regional partners and the federal government and coordinating the science, research, and data collection needed to support such an ambitious project. Two thirds of the funding supported by the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program is distributed directly to the states through grants.

Since the implementation of the Chesapeake Bay Program in 1983, we’ve witnessed tremendous improvements in the health of the Bay. The latest “Bay Barometer” report released earlier this year indicated that years of collaboration, funding, and hard work are paying dividends. Among other highlights, the report stated that underwater grasses in the Bay are at record levels and that the blue crab population has made a remarkable comeback in recent years. Continued funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program is essential to making sure we are able to build on this progress.

While we’ve seen real improvements in the health of the Chesapeake Bay in recent years, we are deeply concerned about the potential consequences of such a significant and jarring cut in funding.  To ensure our goal of restoring the Chesapeake Bay, we urge you to include at least $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program in your Fiscal Year 2018 budget request. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

MARK R. WARNER , United States Senator  

TIM KAINE, United States Senator

WARNER, KAINE REINTRODUCE BILL TO HELP “BLUE WATER” VIETNAM VETERANS

~ Bipartisan legislation would require V-A to provide benefits to veterans exposed to Agent Orange ~

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that thousands of Navy veterans from the Vietnam War – known as “Blue Water” veterans for their service in waters off the coast –are eligible to receive disability and health care benefits they have earned for diseases linked to Agent Orange exposure. The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act would clarify the existing law so that Blue Water veterans, who are currently excluded from receiving these benefits, are covered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) if they served within “territorial seas,” or approximately 12 miles offshore of Vietnam. The bill would also make it easier for the V-A to process these veterans’ claims for service-connected health conditions and alleviate a portion of the V-A’s backlog by extending presumptive coverage of Agent Orange benefits to these veterans.

“Virginia is home to many Vietnam veterans who honorably served their country and paid a high price after being exposed to Agent Orange,” said Sen. Warner. “We should not be discriminating against this group of heroes simply because of how and where they served. They fought just as hard, risked just as much, and deserve to get the benefits they earned.”

“Thousands of Blue Water Navy veterans in Virginia are still facing serious health conditions from exposure to Agent Orange and our country needs to ensure they can access the benefits they deserve,” said Sen. Kaine. “I’m proud to continue my efforts with Senator Warner and a bipartisan group of our colleagues to advocate on behalf of Blue Water veterans and I hope Congress will swiftly pass our bill.”

“VVA strongly supports justice for Blue Water Navy Vietnam veterans! This bill would complete the obligation to those who served in the bays, harbors, and territorial seas of the Republic of Vietnam during the period beginning on January 9, 1962, and ending on May 7, 1975 by recognizing exposure to the toxin Agent Orange and ensuring eligibility for all related Federal benefits that come with such presumption under the Agent Orange Act of 1991,” said John Rowan, National President and CEO of Vietnam Veterans of America.

“The VFW strongly agrees with the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims that it is arbitrary and capricious for veterans who have served aboard ships in the coastal waters of Vietnam to be denied presumptive benefits associated with Agent Orange exposure. For this reason, we support your legislation which would end this injustice and ensure Blue Water Navy veterans receive the care and benefits they deserve,” said Raymond Kelley, Director of VFW National Legislative Service.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. military sprayed approximately 20 million gallons of Agent Orange in Vietnam to remove jungle foliage. This toxic chemical had devastating health effects on millions serving in Vietnam.

In 1991, Congress passed a law requiring the V-A to provide presumptive coverage to Vietnam veterans with illnesses that the Institute of Medicine has directly linked to Agent Orange exposure. However, in 2002, the V-A decided that it would only cover Veterans who could prove that they had orders for “boots on the ground” during the Vietnam War. This exclusion prevents thousands of sailors from receiving benefits even though they had significant Agent Orange exposure from drinking and bathing in contaminated water just offshore.

Sens. Warner and Kaine have been pushing for the V-A to soften its position on benefits for Blue Water veterans. Last year, they wrote to the department requesting the V-A to reconsider the unnecessary burdens it has placed on this group.

In addition to Sens. Warner and Kaine, the legislation is sponsored by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act was previously introduced in the 114th Congress.

KAINE, WARNER, BOOKER & BLUNT REINTRODUCE COMMISSION TO RECOGNIZE 400 YEARS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY

2019 marks 400 years since first documented arrival of Africans to America by way of Point Comfort, Virginia

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Roy Blunt (R-MO) reintroduced the bipartisan 400 Years of African American History Act – legislation that would establish a commission to plan programs and activities in 2019 across the country to recognize the arrival and influence of Africans in America. Kaine and Warner were the lead sponsors in the Senate when a version of this bill was introduced last Congress.

Similar commissions have been established to recognize English & Hispanic heritage, including the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, Virginia and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, Florida. This commission would be charged with recognizing and highlighting the resilience and contribution of Africans and African Americans since 1619, as well as acknowledging the painful impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination have had on our nation’s history.

“I’ve been lucky to be a part of federal commissions that were established to study and celebrate English and Hispanic history, and there is no reason a similar one shouldn’t exist to celebrate the contributions of Africans and African Americans to our history,” said Kaine. “We need to share the stories that explain who we are as a nation.  This commission will help do that and hopefully further enrich our understanding of the journey and history of our country.”

“This commission will mark 400 years of rich African American history, including both the immeasurable contributions of African Americans to our diverse culture and their resilience in the face of injustice during slavery and in the decades of racial discrimination that have ensued,” said Warner. “It is my hope that it will serve as a testament to the lessons in racial diversity that we have learned as a country and bring to light those that we may still need to overcome.” 

“The story of our great nation cannot be fully told without the rich history of African Americans,” said Blunt. “I am proud to support the creation of a commission to celebrate 400 years of African American culture. America is a better nation when all our citizens learn more about our history.”

“African American history is American history; the black experience is the American experience. The commission established by this bill would shed light on the lives, events, atrocities, discoveries, and accomplishments that have shaped that experience and, in doing so, promote a deeper understanding of the beauty and fullness of our nation’s heritage” said Booker. “The commission will also be tasked with highlighting the ongoing struggle to fulfill the promise of liberty and equality on which this nation was founded—a struggle that began four hundred years ago, when the first slaves were brought to Point Comfort, VA.”

Virginia Representatives Bobby Scott and Don Beyer, along with G. K. Butterfield, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, led the introduction of similar legislation that passed the House of Representatives last Congress. The Senate version of the bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources last year, but was not voted on by the full Senate before the end of the 114th Congress.

Virginia Senators React to Confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education

KAINE REACTS TO BETSY DEVOS CONFIRMATION VOTE ON FACEBOOK LIVE

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine reacted to a Senate vote confirming Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education on Facebook Live today shortly after leaving the Senate floor. Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, offered thanks to the tens of thousands of Virginia constituents who called his office, wrote letters and sent emails through his Senate website to express their deep concern about the DeVos nomination over the past few weeks.

“I do want to thank all of you. More people contacted my office about her nomination than any other topic in my four years in the Senate,” Kaine said. “The stories that you shared and your energy will help us in the HELP Committee on oversight to make sure she doesn’t do things that will harm our kids.”

You can watch Kaine’s Facebook video here.

STATEMENT OF U.S. SEN. MARK R. WARNER 

~ On confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be Secretary of Education ~

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) released the below statement after Vice President Mike Pence cast the deciding vote to break a 50-50 tie in the Senate to confirm Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education. Yesterday, Senator Warner spoke on the floor of the U.S. Senate in opposition to the nomination. Video of that speech is available here.Audio is available here.

“The Senate voted today by the most narrow margin in its history to confirm a Secretary of Education who does not demonstrate a firm grasp on even the most basic education policy principles.

“Since Ms. DeVos’ nomination, tens of thousands of my constituents have expressed serious concerns about her focus on charter schools and voucherizing federal education dollars. Educators and parents of students with special needs are rightfully concerned, as am I, about Ms. DeVos’ lack of understanding or even awareness of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

“During her confirmation hearing, she demonstrated a similar lack of awareness of federal education policies related to campus sexual assault and school safety.

“While I did not support Ms. DeVos’ confirmation, I intend to hold her accountable for serving our students’, teachers’, parents’, and school leaders’ best interests, and I look forward to looking for areas of agreement where possible.”

Sen. Warner previously announced he will vote against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions, Health & Human Services Secretary nominee Tom Price, Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin, and OMB Director nominee Mick Mulvaney.

Virginia Senators Respond to Budget Vote Beginning ACA Repeal

The United States Senate has begun the process of repealing the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, that some have called Obamacare. Instead of doing this in the light of day and allowing any form of debate, the Republican led Senate has used the Budget Amendment process to stifle debate and prevent a Democratic filibuster.

Repealing the ACA with no suitable replacement would cause major job losses in every state and contract the economy to the point that, according to some economists, we could be driven back into recession. One study puts the job losses at three million and $1.5 Trillion in lost gross state product.

Virginia job losses are expected to be around 52,000. If the ACA is repealed, Virginia will likely loose $39 Billion in gross state product, $53 Billion in business output and $923 Million in state and local tax revenue. These losses will be on top of what the state has already lost in the last few years when they refused to expand Medicaid.

There is bipartisan support for slowing the repeal process down while alternate plans are developed. Currently the only replacement plan offered by the Republicans is Healthcare Savings Accounts.

Many people who have insurance through the Marketplace can only afford it with the subsidy that they receive. These subsidies have been the catalyst for job growth in the insurance and healthcare industries. Many rural hospitals have only survived because of the ACA and the expansion of Medicaid in some states.

KAINE STATEMENT ON 2017 BUDGET VOTE TO REPEAL AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement on last night’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Resolution vote to begin a fast-track process of repealing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a replacement:  

“Last night, Senate Republicans moved our country one step closer to health care chaos. I voted against the budget resolution because I believe it’s health care malpractice – as well as economic malpractice –  to jumpstart a legislative process that would result in hundreds of thousands of Virginia families being kicked off their insurance coverage with no plan for a replacement in sight. We should be working to fix our health care system, not break it.”

STATEMENT OF U.S. SEN. MARK R. WARNER

~ On Senate vote to proceed with the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a viable replacement~

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued a statement today on the 51-48 FY 2017 Budget Resolution vote by the Senate, which would begin the process of repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without providing a viable replacement:

“Anybody who thinks it is a good idea to repeal the ACA without even the hint of a viable replacement plan does not understand how markets work. The uncertainty created by this flawed, political strategy will fundamentally destabilize the healthcare system. More than 20 million Americans will be left in the lurch, including nearly 700,000 Virginians. There is a smarter way to do this, and I have long advocated for targeted, commonsense improvements to the ACA that will reduce costs and ease requirements on employers. But this “show vote” to repeal it without a plan to replace it is bad for businesses, bad for Virginians, and will bring chaos to the healthcare market.”

SEN. WARNER’S BILL TO HONOR OSS VETERANS SIGNED INTO LAW BY THE PRESIDENT

~ Veterans of the WWII-era Office of Strategic Services will be recognized with the Congressional Gold Medal ~

WASHINGTON – This morning the White House announced that President Obama has signed into law legislation authored by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) to honor veterans of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) with the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of their superior service and major contributions during World War II.

“The members of the OSS were essential to the Allied forces’ victory in World War II, but for many years, their heroic contributions – which included some of the most daring covert operations of the war — remained shrouded in secrecy, their impact largely unknown to the American people. I am pleased that we are finally able to recognize them publicly with the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Sen. Warner, the incoming Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “The members of the OSS are part of the proud tradition of American intelligence professionals who have worked tirelessly and quietly in defense of our nation since its founding. They serve in anonymity,  knowing that their greatest contributions to our safety and security may never be made public. We seldom hear about their successes or their sacrifices, but they allow us to go about our everyday lives free from fear of those who wish to do us harm, and for that, we owe these brave men and women not only respect, but enduring gratitude.”

The OSS conducted critical operations during the war including establishing intelligence networks, training resistance organizations throughout Europe and Asia, and carrying out “mercy missions” at the end of the war to save the lives of thousands of Allied prisoners of war. It was created in 1942 under the leadership of General William J. Donovan to better coordinate and oversee American intelligence operations. At its peak, 13,000 members served in the OSS including notable names such as Julia Child, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., John Ford, and James Donovan, who was depicted in the 2015 movie, “Bridge of Spies.”

Sen. Warner is the incoming Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. This summer, he lead an effort to recognize Virginia OSS veteran Stephanie Rader by posthumously awarding her the Legion of Merit.

The OSS Congressional Gold Medal Act was co-sponsored by 73 Senators, including all 15 members of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

WARNER, KAINE PRAISE FINAL PASSAGE OF BIPARTISAN WATER INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

Legislation authorizes new water infrastructure in Virginia and maintains resiliency efforts in Hampton Roads

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine applauded final passage of the bipartisan Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN Act), also known as the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which authorizes water infrastructure projects across the nation. This bill makes investments in harbor dredging, maintenance of locks and dams, flood control, ecosystem restoration and other water-related priorities. Additionally, the bill includes a package of measures to address the drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, as well as steps to lessen risks for similar communities across the country with aging drinking water infrastructure. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ biennial infrastructure report card gives Virginia an overall grade of C- for the state of its water and transportation infrastructure.

“We voted for this bill because it makes overdue investments in many priorities important to Virginia – dredging and port infrastructure, restoration of important ecosystems like the Chesapeake Bay, and resilience to flooding and sea level rise for large coastal communities like Hampton Roads and small rural ones like Chincoteague. This bill also devotes emergency funding to deal with lead-contaminated drinking water for the people of Flint, Michigan. We appreciate the inclusion of Virginia provisions we authored and applaud the bipartisan vote on this commonsense infrastructure bill,” the Senators said.

The following list includes several provisions for which Warner and Kaine advocated that were included in the final bill:

  • A study of Chincoteague Island evaluating the perennial flooding and erosion challenges facing the region and examining options of how to fix these issues, how much they would cost, and how much the federal cost-share would be. With nearly 2.3 million visitors last year, Assateague Island National Seashore and the adjacent Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge are premiere tourism destinations on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Extreme weather events have occurred frequently in recent years, including last January’s blizzard that caused some $725,000 in damage and nearly destroyed the recreational beach parking lot. 
  • Reauthorization and funding increase for the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration Program, a successful public-private partnership among the Army Corps of Engineers, states, localities, and groups like The Nature Conservancy. This program has helped reverse years of declining oyster populations in the Bay by supporting oyster reef projects in key Virginia locations, such as the Rappahannock, Lafayette and Piankatank Rivers. The additional funds authorized in this provision will help Virginia and other Bay watershed states reach the 2025 pollution reduction goals laid out in the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
  • Section 4013 updates an existing coastal resiliency program to prioritize federal funds for projects in communities threatened by sea level rise while creating an interagency working group to coordinate data on sea level rise across federal agencies. It also requires federal consultation with state organizations working to coordinate resilience investment across federal, state, regional, and local bureaucratic entities. This will promote more informed decision-making about sea level rise planning in key regions like Hampton Roads, while ensuring that resilience-related grants from multiple agencies are serving complementary objectives. This provision will also provide formal federal backing for state-sponsored task forces like the Commonwealth Center for Recurrent Flooding Resiliency – an interagency, cross-jurisdictional clearinghouse for Hampton Roads sea level rise planning co-led by Old Dominion University and William & Mary’s Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

SEN. WARNER INTRODUCES THE FAST VOTING ACT TO HELP STATES IMPROVE ACCESS TO VOTING

~ Legislation would create a competitive grant program to encourage states to implement election reforms ~

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced legislation today to help states make voting faster and more accessible to all voters by making substantial improvements in the administration of their elections. The Fair, Accurate, Secure and Timely (FAST) Voting Act of 2016 would create a competitive grant program in the model of Race to the Top, encouraging states to aggressively pursue election reform. Those states that demonstrate the most comprehensive and promising reform plans will earn a greater portion of the grant funding.

“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. But during this last election, reports indicated that computer problems, long lines, poorly trained poll workers, and outdated equipment all made it harder for voters in some places to cast their ballots,” said Sen. Warner. “The FAST Voting Act addresses these challenges by encouraging and helping states to make voting faster and more accessible through commonsense reforms like reducing long waiting times, expanding early voting opportunities, and eliminating other obstacles that prevent people from exercising their franchise.”

In the 2016 election, long lines and voting-machine problems were reported in well over a dozen states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Utah, Colorado, Ohio, New York, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Montana, Tennessee, Hawaii, Arizona, Rhode Island, and more.  There were also reports of confusionover new voter ID laws in Texas and Wisconsin, improper refusals of voter registrations in West Virginia, delayed absentee ballots in Pennsylvania and Alabama, and an absence of required bilingual support in Arizona and Florida.

The program tasks applicant states with creating a comprehensive and coherent plan to improve their election processes by:

  • Providing flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration;
  • Providing early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election;
  • Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;
  • Providing assistance to voters who do not speak English as a primary language;
  • Providing assistance to voters with disabilities, including visual impairment;
  • Providing effective access to voting for members of the armed services;
  • Providing formal training of election officials, including State and county administrators and volunteers;
  • Auditing and reducing waiting times at polling stations; and
  • Creating contingency plans for voting in the event of a natural or other disaster.

The program also requires an assessment of steps the state has taken to eliminate statutory, regulatory, procedural, and other barriers to expedited voting and accessible voter registration. Sens. Warner and Coons first introduced the legislation in November 2012, just after Election Day, and have reintroduced the bill in subsequent Congresses.

Sen. Warner has long been an advocate for the protection of voting rights and the integrity of the electoral process. He has introduced legislation to restore and advance provisions of the Voting Rights Act that were recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court. Sen. Warner has also cosponsored legislation which would remove partisanship out of the often divisive process of drawing congressional district lines.

WARNER, KAINE URGE ACTION TO AUTHORIZE DELAYED V-A MEDICAL LEASES BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR

~ Delay has kept as many as 11 million veterans from accessing the care they deserve ~

WASHINGTON – Today, Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined 16 of their Senate colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter urging Congressional leaders to authorize leases for 24 Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) medical facilities before the end of the 114th Congress. Congress has not authorized major medical facility leases since 2014, which are necessary to enable the department to deliver vital care and services to veterans in Virginia and across the country. Most of these leases have been pending congressional approval for more than a year.

“Veterans in each of these states deserve the timely and quality health care benefits they have earned through their service. As such, we ask that you work to include authorization for these leases in the December funding bill, or another appropriate vehicle, to be signed into law this year,” the Senators wrote.

Under law, the Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) must receive specific legislative authorization to lease medical facilities with average annual rental payments in excess of $1 million. However, Congress has not, through a regular process, recently authorized any V-A major medical facility leases, hampering the ability of the V-A to provide much-needed health care and services to veterans around the country. Among the leases that are pending is a 155,000 square foot outpatient facility in Hampton Roads, Va., which has one of the fastest-growing veterans populations in the country. Patient visits in Hampton Roads’ service area increased by 30.5 percent from 2011 to September 2014, while the national average across the V-A system was 8.6 percent.

Full list of leases pending authorization include:

  • Ann Arbor, MI - Outpatient Clinic
  • Birmingham, AL - Outpatient Mental Health Clinic
  • Birmingham, AL - Outpatient Specialty Clinic
  • Boston, MA – Research Space
  • Charleston, SC – Research Space
  • Daytona Beach, FL - Outpatient Clinic
  • Denver, CO - Chief Business Office Purchased Care
  • Gainesville, FL - Outpatient Clinic
  • Hampton Roads, VA - Outpatient Clinic
  • Mission Bay, CA – Research Space
  • Missoula, MT - Outpatient Clinic
  • Northern Colorado, CO - Outpatient Clinic
  • Ocala, FL - Outpatient Clinic
  • Oxnard, CA - Outpatient Clinic
  • Pike County, GA - Outpatient Clinic
  • Portland, ME - Outpatient Clinic
  • Raleigh, NC - Outpatient Clinic
  • Santa Rosa, CA - Outpatient Clinic
  • Jacksonville, FL – Outpatient Clinic
  • Pontiac, MI – Outpatient Clinic
  • Rochester, NY – Outpatient Clinic
  • Tampa, FL – Outpatient Clinic
  • Terre Haute, IN – Outpatient Clinic

Other Senators who signed the letter are Sens. Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Steve Daines (R-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

In September, Sens. Warner and Kaine introduced the Providing Veterans Overdue Care Act, which would authorize leases for medical facilities in 15 states.  

A signed PDF of the letter is available here.

WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE LEGISLATION TO EXPAND PETERSBURG NATIONAL BATTLEFIELD EXPECTED TO BECOME LAW

~ Senators, Congressmen applaud inclusion of legislation to triple the size of key Civil War site in must-pass defense authorization bill ~ 

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that legislation to add more than 7,000 acres to the Petersburg National Battlefield is on track to be approved by Congress as soon as next week.

Text of the annual defense authorization bill released by a congressional conference committee includes legislation sponsored by the two Virginia Senators authorizing the National Park Service to acquire additional historic land sites related to the Siege of Petersburg, the longest military event of the Civil War. The National Defense Authorization Act is expected to pass the House of Representatives on Friday, with the Senate projected to follow suit early next week.

“The Petersburg National Battlefield bore witness to the longest sustained siege in our nation’s military history and draws visitors from all across the country, injecting millions of dollars into the local economy every year,” said Sen. Warner. “Expanding the park will encourage tourism to the region while preserving this important piece of American history for future generations. After working on this legislation for several years now, it’s great news that we are so close to seeing it a reality.”

“The NDAA ensures that the Petersburg National Battlefield will become the nation's largest protected battlefield,” Sen. Kaine said. “This hallowed ground bears witness to one of the longest, hardest and most decisive contests of the Civil War.   The stories of all the combatants--including more than 16,000 African-American troops--will now be more accessible to the current generation.  I thank my colleagues for their support and acknowledge the work of my predecessor Jim Webb in getting us to this day.”

“After working for years with my colleagues to secure the expansion of the Petersburg National Battlefield Park, I am proud to be able to say that we have protected these hallowed grounds and ensured that the lands and history of this battlefield will be preserved for future generations,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who introduced the legislation in the House.  

"Having worked toward this goal for years, I am pleased to see this important legislation being made into law during my final weeks in office,” said Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA), who sponsored the House legislation. “The Petersburg area contains so much of history and heritage, and I thank my colleagues in both parties and both chambers for their efforts to protect it.”

The Petersburg National Battlefield – which injects more than $10 million into the local economy annually – currently protects over 2,500 acres of battlefield and historic buildings that were involved in General Ulysses S. Grant’s 10 month Siege of Petersburg, Virginia in 1864-1865. During the Civil War, Petersburg was an important supply post for General Robert E. Lee’s army and the Confederate Capital of Richmond, Virginia. General Grant’s victory over Lee’s army at Petersburg in March of 1865 directly precipitated Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. This was the longest siege in American military history and was an important event for the United States Colored Troops (USCT) as over 16,000 African-American soldiers served in battle.

In 2005, the National Park Service recommended modifying the Petersburg National Battlefield to include 7,238 acres of significant core battlefield land. The land identified for inclusion was the site of 18 major battles during the Civil War and are in danger of being lost to development. These sites are not currently protected within the National Battlefield and have been identified by the Civil War Trust as one of the most endangered group of historic battlefields in the country. The Petersburg National Battlefield Boundary Modification Act does not spend any money, only authorizes the National Park Service to acquire the land. The legislation also authorizes one small land transfer between Fort Lee and the battlefield.

The acquisition – through purchase or donation of the land – would make the Petersburg National Battlefield the largest Civil War historic battlefield in the nation. Several nonprofits, including the Civil War Preservation Trust, already acquired key acreage that will be turned over to the National Park Service to expand the Battlefield.

In August of this year, Sen. Warner joined the National Park Service on a tour of Grant’s Headquarters at the Petersburg National Battlefield. Photos from that visit are available for media use here.

Sen. Kaine’s bill to reauthorize and expand the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program was signed into law in 2014, and his bill to create a National Park Service commission honoring 400 years of African American history has passed out of committee and is before the full Senate.

SENATOR WARNER TO SERVE AS VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE

WASHINGTON – Today it was announced that U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) will serve as the Vice Chairman of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in the 115th Congress.

“With a new administration starting to assemble its national security team, I look forward to fulfilling the Committee’s primary responsibility to provide vigorous and bipartisan oversight,” said Sen. Warner. “One of things I value most about my service on the Intelligence Committee is the tradition of members leaving partisanship at the door when we enter the committee room. In a dangerous world, the responsibilities of the Intelligence Committee are more essential than ever.” 

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was created by the Senate in 1976 to “oversee and make continuing studies of the intelligence activities and programs of the United States Government,” to “submit to the Senate appropriate proposals for legislation and report to the Senate concerning such intelligence activities and programs,” and to “provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.” While all Senators have access to classified intelligence assessments, access to intelligence sources and methods, programs, and budgets is generally limited to the fifteen members of the Intelligence Committee and by law, the President is required to ensure that the Committee is kept “fully and currently informed” of intelligence activities.

Sen. Warner, who  joined the Intelligence Committee in 2012, has been a leader in the Senate on issues surrounding cybersecurity, and co-founded the bipartisan Senate Cybersecurity Caucus earlier this year. He has been a leader in focusing oversight efforts on how the intelligence community plans for, acquires, and operates national security space systems. He is the lead sponsor of annual resolutions marking Intelligence Professionals Day, and currently is urging the U.S. House of Representatives to pass legislation unanimously adopted by the Senate to award the OSS Gold Medal Act before the 114th Congress adjourns.

In addition to serving as the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Senate Democratic Leader-elect Charles E. Schumer announced today that Sen. Warner will continue to hold a leadership role within the Democratic caucus as Vice Chair of the Conference in the 115th Congress.

Honoring surviving OSS members must be a priority for lame-duck Congress

By Senator Bob Dole

The Office of Strategic Services, better known as the OSS, was the World War II predecessor to the CIA, U.S. Special Operations Command and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. It was created after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt believed the war necessitated the creation of a centralized intelligence agency with the capability to conduct unconventional warfare.

Roosevelt chose as its director Army Gen. William “Wild Bill” Donovan, who earned the Medal of Honor fighting with the legendary “Fighting 69th” Infantry Regiment in World War I. Roosevelt called General Donovan his “secret legs.” Donovan was a man of seemingly limitless intelligence, vision and bravery who is considered the founding father of the intelligence and special operations communities.

The OSS Maritime Unit was a predecessor to the Navy SEALs. Its Jedburgh and Operational Groups were predecessors to Army Special Forces. Elements of the Army Air Corps served as the air arm of the OSS and as predecessors to Air Force Special Operations Command. The Marines who served in the OSS were predecessors to the Marines Corps Forces Special Operations Command.

Donovan said OSS personnel performed “some of the bravest acts of the war.” They were  drawn from every branch of the military and the civilian population. Donovan called them his “glorious amateurs”:

  • Army officers including Col. Aaron Bank, considered the “father of Special Forces,” and Maj. William Colby, who would become head of the CIA.
  • Marines including Col. Peter Ortiz, the most highly decorated member of the OSS; Col. William Eddy, who some consider the American “Lawrence of Arabia”; and Sterling Hayden, the famed actor who served under the name John Hamilton and would earn a Silver Star before returning to Hollywood for roles in “The Godfather” and “Dr. Strangelove.”
  • Coast Guard personnel, including Lt. John Booth, served as the OSS’s operational swimmers.
  • Navy Lt. Jack Taylor, a Navy Cross recipient who led one of the deepest parachute missions into occupied Austria and survived captivity in a Nazi concentration camp.
  • Fred Mayer, the real “inglorious bastard” who was nominated for the Medal of Honor.
  • James Donovan, the OSS general counsel who was portrayed by Tom Hanks in “Bridge of Spies”
  • Virginia Hall, the only civilian woman to receive the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II.
  • Ralph Bunche, who would go on in 1950 to become the first African-American to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.

The OSS supported resistance movements around the world. General Eisenhower said the intelligence it gathered before D-Day alone justified its creation, but the OSS played a critical role in other invasions. Its Morale Operations Branch pioneered the use of psychological warfare. It brought leading academics into the war effort to work for its Research and Analysis Branch and created area studies. It led Operation Halyard, one of World War II’s most famed rescue missions. Its Communications, Presentation, and Research and Development Branches created new technologies and devised innovative methodologies. 

OSS personnel went behind enemy lines on the war’s most dangerous missions. Historian Patrick O’Donnell said one would “be very hard-pressed to find a smaller group of individuals who made such a profound difference in the history of modern American warfare."

The Office of Strategic Services Congressional Gold Medal Act will honor the men and women who served in the OSS. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., introduced this bill in the Senate, where it was passed unanimously with 73 co-sponsors earlier this year. The House bill has 320 co-sponsors – nearly 75 percent of the body’s members.

The House has honored many other groups of World War II veterans, including the Doolittle Raiders, the Tuskegee Airmen and the 1st Special Service Force. Under new rules enacted for the 114th Congress, House leadership must issue a waiver to allow passage of Congressional Gold Medal bills that honor groups of people. It granted such a waiver to the only other Gold Medal bill passed in this session of Congress, which honored civil rights marchers. There is no reason a waiver should not be granted for the OSS bill, too.

Time is running out pass this bill before Congress adjourns. If the gavel falls before the bill is passed, some of the greatest and unrecognized heroes of World War II will never be honored for their service. This would be a travesty.

When Donovan died in 1959, President Eisenhower said he was the “last hero.” It is time to honor the “last hero,” and all the heroes of the OSS, with a Congressional Gold Medal.

Bob Dole represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate from 1969-1996. He served as an Army combat infantry officer in Northern Italy during World War II.

BIPARTISAN SENATORS TO JOIN ADVOCATES & SURVIVORS TO RAISE AWARENESS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT ON COLLEGE CAMPUSES

~ Senators will participate in assembling Aftercare Kits that are distributed to hospitals and crisis centers to support victims ~

***Event will also be streamed live on Facebook***

Washington, D.C.On Wednesday, September 21 at 4:30 PM, a bipartisan group of Senators will join survivors and advocates from F2F (Fear 2 Freedom) and RAINN (the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) to draw attention to the continued epidemic of sexual assault on our college campuses.

F2F is a global non-profit organization founded in 2011 by Rosemary Trible, wife of former U.S. Senator Paul Trible (R-VA). Mrs. Trible is a sexual assault survivor and an advocate for bringing empowerment, hope and healing to other survivors of sexual violence. After Mrs. Trible was assaulted, she learned firsthand that when a victim receives a Physical Evidence Recovery Kit (PERK) exam, all of their clothing is kept for evidence. Accordingly, they often leave treatment in disposable, hospital-issued clothing. F2F partners with universities, hospitals, and community organizations to provide Aftercare Kits to survivors of sexual assault. Each Aftercare Kit contains clothing, toiletries, a pen and journal for adults and a toy for children, a list of resources, a stuffed animal that serves as a counseling tool, and a handwritten note of encouragement. To date, F2F has provided over 13,000 F2F Kits to sexual assault survivors.

At the Wednesday event, following a brief speaking program, Senators will participate in a demonstration assembly of Aftercare Kits that will be donated to two local crisis centers for people seeking a PERK exam, and attendees will be invited to pen a note to include in preassembled Aftercare Kits.

Last year, Sen. Warner and a bipartisan coalition of Senators reintroduced the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (S.590), which would reform the way colleges and universities address and report incidents of sexual assault on their campuses in order to improve accountability and protect and empower students, while also protecting the rights of the accused.

Date:               Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Time:               4:30-5:30 PM

Location:        385 Russell Senate Office Building

Who:               U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA)

U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV)

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL)

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA)

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)

Scott Berkowitz, Founder and CEO, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

Rosemary Trible, Founder and President, Fear 2 Freedom

Sexual Assault Survivor Joe Belsterling

WARNER, COLLINS INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO ASSIST SMALL BUSINESSES IN OFFERING RETIREMENT PLANS TO EMPLOYEES

~ Only 22 percent of workers at small firms currently have access to a workplace savings plan or pension ~

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME), the Chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, have introduced bipartisan legislation that would reduce duplicative filing costs for small businesses looking to offer retirement plans to their employees and sole-proprietors.

“Increasing access to workplace retirement plans is a crucial step in providing a secure retirement to millions of Americans,” said Sen. Warner. “When workers have access to a retirement plan through their employer, nearly 80 percent choose to participate – compared to just 10 percent who do without access through their employers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As the nature of work continues to change, I am pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Collins to make it easier for small businesses to offer this important benefit to their employees.”

“Americans simply aren’t saving enough to be able to afford a comfortable retirement. In fact, the Center for Retirement Research estimates that there is an estimated $7.7 trillion gap between what Americans have saved for retirement and what they will actually need,” said Sen. Collins.  “We know that when employers provide their employees with access to retirement plans, approximately 80 percent of them contribute.  Our legislation will help promote retirement security by making it easier and less expensive for small businesses to establish retirement plans, increasing their accessibility to employees and helping to ensure that those who worked hard for decades do not spend their retirement in poverty.”

A 2016 report by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that only 22 percent of workers at small firms have access to a workplace savings plan or pension, compared to 74 percent at firms with 500 or more employees. For smaller employers, offering a retirement plan can be expensive and complex.

S. 3307 directs the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Treasury Department to allow employers and sole-proprietors participating in retirement plans administered the same way to file a single aggregated Form 5500, a required annual return that provides important compliance information to DOL and Treasury.

Under current law, despite sharing a common administrative framework, each individual plan is still required to file a separate Form 5500 to satisfy reporting requirements under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Internal Revenue Code. S. 3307 will eliminate duplicative reporting by plan administrators, which will reduce costs for small businesses that maintain retirement plans. To file an aggregated Form 5500, the retirement plans would need to have the same trustee, fiduciary, plan administrator, plan year and investment menu.

To provide DOL and Treasury time to implement this change, the proposal has an effective date of no later than January 1, 2020. A copy of the legislative text is available here.

SEN. WARNER CELEBRATES VIRGINIA TECH-GOOGLE PARTNERSHIP TO TEST DELIVERY BY UNMANNED AIRCRAFT

~ Google’s ‘Project Wing’ will deliver food using unmanned aerial vehicles during research flights at Virginia Tech  ~

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) celebrated the announcement that Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Project Wing, the aviation division of X, will deliver food using unmanned aerial vehicles during research flights this fall at Virginia Tech.  X is a research and development lab run by Alphabet Inc., which also owns Google.

“The commercial use of drones for package and food delivery in U.S. airspace is rapidly becoming a reality,” said Sen. Warner. “Beyond the commercial applications, this technology will soon provide us with the ability to deliver lifesaving drugs and medical equipment like defibrillators, and deliver food and other emergency relief to remote areas after natural disasters. I am pleased we were able to work with Project Wing and other partners to leverage Virginia Tech’s outstanding research capacity to capitalize on the tremendous potential in unmanned technology. ”

The flights will be Project Wing's first tests involving external users in the U.S., and is its first collaboration with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved unmanned aircraft test site. The current phase of research is taking place at a closed site with a small group of students and employees, and is not open to the public. Extended flight tests at Virginia Tech will yield technical, safety, and user-experience data on food delivery via unmanned aircraft. Virginia Tech and Project Wing will share findings from the research with the FAA.

The Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership was selected by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2013 as one of six national test sites for unmanned aircraft. Since then, researchers have investigated medical supply delivery to remote locations, worked with NASA to research a traffic management research platform for unmanned aircraft, assisted in search and rescue missions, and enabled many other unmanned aircraft applications.

CLICK LINK TO DOWNLOAD BROADCAST QUALITY VIDEO:WARNER_VATECH.mp4

CLICK LINK TO DOWNLOAD BROADCAST QUALITY AUDIO:WARNER_VATECH_1.mp3

Transcription (1 minute 35 seconds):

I am so happy today that, after a lot of work by Virginia Tech, our offices and others, maybe the leading technology company in the world – Google – has announced that they will do their drone testing in Virginia, in partnership with Virginia Tech.

This offers an enormous opportunity to advance this technology; we still have to sort through issues surrounding privacy, but the incredible ability in terms of delivery, bridge inspection, and a whole host of other areas could all come about by the growth of drone technology. Just as nobody fully saw the opportunities thirty years ago of what could come about from the cellphone revolution, and now we find ourselves using these devices in all kinds of areas, the same possibility exists with drone technology.

My hope is that this new partnership between Google and Virginia Tech, and our overall Virginia project, will allow Virginia, and specifically Southwest Virginia, to be the leader in research, development, and ultimately production and manufacturing of these drones. This is a great win for Virginia, a great win for Southwest Virginia, and particularly, a great win for Virginia Tech. So, I want to congratulate everybody involved, and Google, which had the opportunity to do this anywhere in the country, and for that matter, anywhere in the world, but chose Southwest Virginia, and chose to partner with Virginia Tech.

WARNER, KAINE ANNOUNCE NEARLY $9.5 MILLION TO HELP ALLEVIATE VETERAN HOMELESSNESS IN VIRIGINIA

~ Funds will continue effort to assist low-income homeless and at-risk veterans and their families ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V-A) will award $9,476,756 to housing authorities and nonprofit organizations to help ongoing efforts in the Commonwealth to prevent veteran homelessness and provide stable housing for low-income veterans and their families.

“Our country has a duty to honor our commitments to support the men and women who have worn our nation’s uniform, and these federal funds will support state and local agencies and nonprofit organizations,” said Sen. Warner. “This funding also adds additional support to Governor McAuliffe’s successful efforts to end veteran homelessness in Virginia by working to provide shelter, stable housing and employment opportunities before veterans fall through the cracks.”

The following Virginia organizations will receive funding:

United States Veterans Initiative will receive $2,020,000 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Fairfax and Arlington

Friendship Place will receive $2,020,000 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William

Housing Counseling Services will receive $1,036,721 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Fairfax and Arlington

Volunteers of America Chesapeake will receive $824,830 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William

Operation Renewed Hope will receive $476,821 in funding to support the following communities:

o   City of Alexandria; Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William

Virginia Supportive Housing will receive $1,234,458 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Richmond, Petersburg, Colonial Heights, Hopewell, Emporia and Charlottesville; Counties of Henrico, Chesterfield, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan, Charles City, New Kent, Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Surry, Sussex, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Nelson, Greene and Louisa

Total Action Against Poverty In Roanoke Valley will receive $367,781 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Roanoke and Franklin; Counties of Botetourt, Bath, Alleghany, Craig, Rockbridge, Montgomery, Highland, Augusta, Amherst, Appomattox, Bedford, and Campbell

Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation will receive $815,048 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Franklin; Isle of Wight County

Hampton Roads Community Action Program, Inc. will receive $269,185 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Newport News, Hampton and Williamsburg; Counties of James City and York

STOP Incorporated will receive $411,912 in funding to support the following communities:

o   Cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk and Virginia Beach; Counties of Isle of Wight, Southampton, Northampton and Accomack

The organizations receiving these grants will continue to provide eligible veteran families with outreach, case management, and assistance obtaining V-A and other benefits, which may include health care, income support services, financial planning, child care, legal services, transportation, housing counseling, among other services. This funding was made available through the V-A’s Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program, which helps thousands of very low-income veteran families around the nation who are permanently housed or transitioning to permanent housing. More information on this announcement can be found here.

SEN. WARNER URGES PRESIDENT OBAMA TO RAISE FINANCIAL CYBERSECURITY AT UPCOMING G-20 SUMMIT

~ Calls for increased global cooperation to combat cyber-crime at financial institutions ~

WASHINGTON –U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee and co-founder of the bipartisan Cybersecurity Caucus, and five of his colleagues sent a letter to President Obama urging him to prioritize cyber attacks on financial institutions in discussions at the upcoming G-20 summit in September and help develop a global strategy to counter these threats. Last February, hackers stole $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) international financial messaging service.

“If we are to successfully combat sophisticated cyber attacks, members of the international community must work collaboratively given the dispersed nature of both attackers and targets.  Our financial institutions are connected in order to facilitate global commerce, but cyber criminals - whether independent or state-sponsored - imperil this international system in a way few threats have,” wrote the Senators. “We strongly urge you to work with your counterparts and prioritize this discussion at the G-20 leaders level in September.”

In addition to Warner, the letter was signed by Senator Gary Peters (MI), Sherrod Brown (OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Martin Heinrich (NM), and Debbie Stabenow (MI). The Senators also addressed the additional benefits of a long-term, global approach to combating cyber attacks on financial institutions.

“Global coordination on these issues will serve a dual purpose. We will be able to address cyber security vulnerabilities in our shared financial system thereby safeguarding the integrity of our international financial system and the health of our economies,” they wrote. “We will also improve collaboration in and among the international law enforcement and financial regulatory communities and better enable them to pursue counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering agendas.”

The full text of the letter is copied below.

President Barack H. Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama:

We write to urge you to work with your international counterparts to prioritize issues related to cyber security at financial firms in your discussions at the upcoming G-20 Leaders summit. These discussions merit attention not only in finance ministries and central banks, but also in executive leadership circles across the globe. Cyber attacks on financial institutions have accelerated in recent years, creating significant risks for our international financial system and our global economy. It is critical that the global community craft and implement a coordinated strategy to combat cyber-crime at critical financial institutions and to strengthen and accelerate existing efforts. We are hopeful that a robust commitment to these efforts is reflected in any relevant communiques that result from the September G-20 Leaders summit.

In February, hackers fraudulently utilized the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) international financial messaging service to steal $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. In subsequent months, it has been revealed that similar attacks have taken place at financial institutions in other nations. These are only some of the most recent examples of the international threats posed by cyber criminals. It is imperative that we take steps in the near term to erect more robust defenses and collaborative systems to prevent and mitigate the impact of successful attacks.

We are aware that SWIFT has implemented measures to encourage its members to investigate their security protocols. However, these incidents make clear that it is not only SWIFT’s responsibility to respond, but also its stakeholders and their home country financial regulators. In a connected international financial system, we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Global coordination on these issues will serve a dual purpose. We will be able to address cyber security vulnerabilities in our shared financial system thereby safeguarding the integrity of our international financial system and the health of our economies. We will also improve collaboration in and among the international law enforcement and financial regulatory communities and better enable them to pursue counter-terror financing and anti-money laundering agendas.

If we are to successfully combat sophisticated cyber attacks, members of the international community must work collaboratively given the dispersed nature of both attackers and targets.  Our financial institutions are connected in order to facilitate global commerce, but cyber criminals - whether independent or state-sponsored - imperil this international system in a way few threats have. We strongly urge you to work with your counterparts and prioritize this discussion at the G-20 leaders level in September. Thank you for your leadership in addressing these issues. We stand ready to support your future efforts to achieve a more universal measure of security for our financial system and global economy.                                                      

Sincerely,

Roanoke Times Editorial: Warner promotes Capitalism 2.0

The things that worry Mark Warner don’t fit easily on a bumper sticker.

This past week, Virginia’s senior senator has been doing the sort of thing that senators typically do when Congress is in recess. He toured the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Salem. He presided over roundtables with business leaders in Rocky Mount and Martinsville. He took a test drive in a driverless car at a research site near Danville.

In between, he scrunched his lanky frame into a booth at Zorba’s Small World Café in Salem and expounded on his favorite topic — the economy. Specifically, how it’s changing, both for good and for ill.

Up and down the Interstate 81 corridor, Warner sees “new energy” in one small town after another — he name-checks Marion, Wytheville, Pulaski and ticks off some of the specific developments he’s seen in each town. He talks excitedly about the rise of a new wave of entrepreneurship — with shared workspaces, incubators and accelerators springing up in one town after another. He mentions the Grandin Co-Lab in Roanoke, the new Staunton Makerspace in that city.

He expresses the wish that someone — someone other than government, that is — would step forward to create a “statewide backbone” for all these new entrepreneurial spaces, so they could share ideas, back-office resources and even lists of potential angel investors so we “basically make sure we don’t reinvent the wheel” in each community.

All that’s on the plus side. Then there are the things that worry him — basically the fate of capitalism itself.

This is the futuristic side of Mark Warner that appealed so much to Virginians when he was governor, but is harder to see in the context of a partisan U.S. Senate and a gridlocked Washington.

For the past year or more, he’s been digging into an issue that defies a partisan pigeonhole. That’s the rise of the so-called “gig economy” — the idea that more and more Americans are working as “independent contractors,” and not full-time employees. By some estimates perhaps one in three people in the workforce no longer hold a full-time job, but instead move from “gig” to “gig,” trying to piece together multiple streams of income.

For some, that’s an entrepreneurial opportunity; for others, it’s a forced necessity. In any case, the result is the same: They’re not getting benefits through a traditional employer. Warner’s worry is that someday this is all going to come back to the government’s doorstep. All those Etsy merchants and Airbnb hosts and Uber drivers aren’t paying into government unemployment funds — and so when they get sick, or get hurt on the job, they don’t qualify for disability benefits or worker’s comp. Who pays the bill then? Should government do something now to make sure it doesn’t get stuck with a big bill (or a social crisis) later?

A year ago, Warner came to Roanoke for a roundtable with “gig economy” contractors at the CoLab. Since then, he’s joined with scholars at The Aspen Institute to study the issue. Interestingly, that initiative has a Republican co-chairman — Mitch Daniels, the former governor of Indiana and now president of Purdue University. One answer seems easy, Warner says: Portable benefits. The United States is unique in that most benefits flow through specific employers — and therefore don’t move when workers do.

Warner sees this as part of a bigger problem: Is capitalism today working the way it’s supposed to? He thinks not, and rattles off some statistics that he says prove it.

In the pre-Internet 1960s, the average stockholder worked through a broker and held their stocks for eight years and four months. Now, in the world of digital trading, it’s down to just two months. That, Warner says, values short-term profits over long-term investment. He blames so-called “activist investors” — who in some cases might rejuvenate sleepy companies, but often simply cut costs (and workers) to squeeze out an immediate profit for shareholders without regard for the people or communities those decisions impact.

Some more stats: At one time, 50 percent of corporate profits were reinvested in the business. Now, 95 percent of corporate profits are going into stock buy-backs or dividends. Good for shareholders, but not necessarily good for the country. “It’s just a very different capitalism than the capitalism I grew up with in the 1980s,” says Warner, who made his fortune in cellphones before turning to politics “I want to make American capitalism work for everyone.”

He has some ideas on how to change things. On corporate governance: Should long-term shareholders have more voting weight than short-term shareholders? On the nation’s tax code: Why is investing in machinery considered an asset, while investing in people is considered a cost? Companies do a better job training workers than the government does, Warner says, but disincentives in the tax code — not to mention the short-term profit motive — mean companies are foisting that job off on taxpayers.

Warner’s not alone in asking these questions. There are various buzzwords for these kinds of discussions in economic circles: Capitalism 2.0. Conscientious Capitalism. Inclusive Capitalism. Whatever they’re called, Warner senses an opportunity to act on some of them after the election — assuming Hillary Clinton wins. Voters, he says, intuitively understand the nation’s social contract has frayed. “They may not know the data, but they get the idea.”

He says some Republican senators have expressed interest in these ideas, but they’re reluctant to speak up during an election. After the election … well, a new president will probably have ten months to push through an agenda before the next set of elections start to loom. “If it becomes the old Democratic left against the old Republican right,” he says, then nothing will happen even then. But can some of these issues be “re-framed” in a new, non-partisan way? He’s hopeful.

He’s also worried. He sees signs that the economy is about to go through even more upheaval than we’ve already had. “The biggest job in America for males is driving,” he says. “Artificial intelligence could put all of them out of jobs in 20 years.” In other words, those driverless cars like the one he tested near Danville could be the precursor for automated commercial vehicles like tractor trailer trucks. What happens then?

You may read this editorial on the Roanoke Times website here: http://www.roanoke.com/opinion/editorials/editorial-warner-promotes-capitalism/article_610fb194-3b18-5e79-99b9-a45a137c26a3.html

Senator Warner Talks Economic Growth with Local Leaders at Emporia Town Hall

Virginia Senator Mark Warner with officials from the City of Emporia and Greensville County (above) and with officials from Brunswick County (below)

Senator Mark Warner hosted a Town Hall style meeting with local leaders and citizens as part of a 4 day swing through Southside Virginia.

Warner’s comments focused mainly on economic development in the area, but he did remember his first Virginia Pork Festival, commenting that having grown up in the Midwest that he “didn’t know that you could eat pork that many ways.”

Skipping the podium and engaging with those listening to his comments, Warner talked about the changing economy, pointing out that no one will work the same job for 40 years. He also shared that he believes that the best way to “bring jobs to Southside” is to encourage more entrepreneurship. He stressed the need for things like shared work spaces and business incubators, stating that someone in Southside Virginia “with a good idea shouldn’t need to move to Northern Virginia” to make that idea work.

Warner, who worked in technology and cell phones before politics, earned a laugh by telling everyone that he was the only politician who didn’t have a problem with cell phones in the crowd. This proved to be a good segue to his next topic, which was cyber security.  “One of the biggest growth areas is cyber security,” adding that there are two types of companies in the United States: those that know that they have been hacked by the Chinese and those that haven’t been hacked by the Chinese, or Russians, but have.

The Senator also shared that these good paying jobs do not always require four year degrees and spoke of the possibility of having these programs taught at the Commonwealth’s Community Colleges. Later in the program, when a student asked how to get into this field, Warner pointed out the Community College System again and mentioned the program already in place at Germanna Community College.

Sticking with technology, Warner spoke of his experience with a driverless vehicle in Danville. “If I were starting in business today, where would I invest? Unmanned vehicles.” He went on to tell the group about the new Google drone that could deliver a six dollar lunch within a six mile radius.  He ended the conversation about unmanned vehicles and drones by adding “there were one million drones sold last Christmas, and none of them were made in the United States.”

Speaking of his ideas on a portable benefits system, he shared that the new economy jobs “have no social contract,” adding that he did not, as a successful businessman, feel that “Modern American Capitalism was working for enough people.” Where companies used to reinvest profits in their facilities and labor forces, now 95% of corporate profits are paid out as dividends to short term stockholders.

Speaking of his experience as a business person and a former Governor of the Commonwealth, he shared his need that in order to help maintain a balanced budget, we needed to find a better stream of revenue, sharing that “out of 32 industrialized nations, the United States is 31st in tax revenue.” During the conversation about where he felt budget cuts should or should not be made, he shared his concern that Medicare and Social Security might not be sustainable in their current form. “When I was young, there were 16 people working for every retiree, today there are only three.” Among his thoughts was raising the cap on taxable Medicare earnings.  In 2014 only the first $117,000 are subject to FICA taxes, any income over that point is only subject to income tax.

Senator Warner then took questions from the crowd before allowing some photographs and leaving for his next stop.

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