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WARNER, KAINE BILL THAT AWARDS CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL TO FOUR AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN FOR THEIR WORK AT NASA LANGLEY PASSES SENATE

~ Bipartisan legislation will award Congressional Gold Medals to Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Dr. Christine Darden for their groundbreaking contributions ~

WASHINGTON – Today, bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) to award four African American women scientists the Congressional Gold Medal for their work at NASA Langley passed the U.S. Senate with unanimous support. The bill would give this distinction to Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden and posthumously award the medals to Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. It serves to commend these women for their contributions to NASA’s success during the Space Race and highlight their broader impact on society – paving the way for women, especially women of color, in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives, where a companion bill has been introduced.

“These four remarkable women and their contributions to the success of the Space Race remained unacknowledged for far too long,” said the Senators. “We are thrilled that their achievements while at NASA Langley—particularly during a tough period of racial inequality—continue to be brought to light. This recognition will help carve their rightful place in history and inspire a new generation of diverse women to lead the way in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.”

The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the U.S. It is awarded to those who have performed an achievement that has had an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized in the recipient’s field for years to come.

The Hidden Figures Congressional Gold Medal Act will honor:

  • Katherine Johnson, who calculated trajectories for multiple NASA space missions including the first human spaceflight by an American, Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission. She also calculated trajectories for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission to orbit the earth. During her time at NASA, she became the first woman recognized as an author of a report from the Flight Research Division.
  • Dorothy Vaughan, who led the West Area Computing unit for nine years, as the first African American supervisor at National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became NASA. She later became an expert programmer in FORTRAN as a part of NASA’s Analysis and Computation Division.
  • Mary Jackson, who petitioned the City of Hampton to allow her to take graduate-level courses in math and physics at night at the all-white Hampton High School in order to become an engineer at NASA. She was the first female African-American engineer at the agency. Later in her career, she worked to improve the prospects of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers, and scientists as Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager.
  • Dr. Christine Darden, who became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Mary Jackson. She worked to revolutionize aeronautic design, wrote over 50 articles on aeronautics design, and became the first African-American person of any gender to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service at Langley.

The lives and careers of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Christine Darden were featured in the book Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, by Margot Lee Shetterly. That book was adapted into the 2016 film Hidden Figures, which the Senators showed at a Capitol Hill screening for hundreds of Virginia students last year. In addition, Sens. Warner & Kaine honored Johnson, Vaughan, and Jackson by acknowledging their achievements in an official statement that was enshrined in the Congressional Record.

Interior Department to Commemorate Four Hundred Years of African-American History

Fifteen Federal Commission Members Appointed to Lead the Anniversary Commemoration in 2019

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke today announced the appointment of a 15-member commission to coordinate the commemoration of the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans to the English colonies in 1619.

The 400 Years of African-American History Commission, established by Congress on January 8, 2018, will plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities throughout the United States to recognize and highlight 400 years of African-American contributions. The bill had bipartisan support, and included sponsors from 23 States and the District of Columbia.

“I am honored to appoint this group to oversee such an important milestone in African-American history,” said Secretary Zinke. “As with President Trump’s recent designation creating Camp Nelson National Monument, as well as with the five historic sites designated into the African American Civil Rights Network this past year, this commission will help expand the understanding and appreciation of all facets of African-American history and culture.”

Commission members, many of whom are leaders in the African-American history community, are appointed by the Secretary to serve for the life of the commission, through July 1, 2020. The Secretary received recommendations from governors, members of congress, civil rights and historical organizations, and the Smithsonian Institution. Support for the commission will be provided by the National Park Service. The new commission members include:

  • Mr. Terry E. Brown, Superintendent, Fort Monroe National Monument, National Park Service, Virginia
  • Mr. Lonnie Bunch III, Founding Director, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; former President, Chicago Historical Society; Former Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.
  • Mr. Ron Carson, Founder, Appalachian African-American Cultural Center; Black Lung Program Director, Stone Mountain Health Services, Pennington Gap, Virginia
  • Ms. Kenya Cox, NAACP Kansas State President; Executive Director of the Kansas African American Affairs Commission, Office of the Governor, Wichita, Kansas
  • Reverend Nora “Anyanwu” Cox, Minister and Founder, Holy Spirit Healing Ministry; Retired Nurse; Community Advocate and Activist, Wichita, Kansas
  • Dr. Rex Ellis, Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Former Vice President, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Board of Trustees, Fort Monroe Authority, Williamsburg, Virginia
  • Mr. Ted Ellis, Artist and Cultural Historian; Art Ambassador, National Juneteenth Organization, Friendswood, Texas (formerly of New Orleans, Louisiana)
  • Mr. Glenn Freeman, President, Omaha Chapter, Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, a patriotic, civic organization; retired decorated Air Force Chief Master Sergeant; Omaha, Nebraska
  • Dr. Joseph Green, Jr., Pastor, and Co-Founder Antioch Assembly; Founder/CEO, Josiah Generation Ministries; Founder, The 2019 Movement, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
  • Mr. Hannibal Johnson, Attorney, Author, and Independent Consultant specializing in diversity and inclusion/cultural competence issues and non-profit governance, Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • Mr. Kenneth Johnson, CEO, Johnson, Inc., Richmond-based marketing and communications firm;  Board of Trustees, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia
  • Mr. Bob Kendrick, President, Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, Kansas City, Missouri
  • Mr. George Martin, Managing Partner, McGuireWoods law firm, Richmond office; Member, 2019 Commemoration (VA) Steering Committee, Richmond, Virginia
  • Dr. Myron Pope, Vice President for Student Affairs, University of Central Oklahoma; Adjunct Instructor, Department of African and African-American Studies, The University of Oklahoma; Advisory Board Member, Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools, Edmond, Oklahoma

“Fort Monroe plays a significant role as the site of the first arrival of enslaved Africans in English North America and later, a safe haven for freedom seekers during the American Civil War,” said Superintendent Brown. “During this anniversary we are honored to lead the conversation about the resilience and contributions of African Americans, including the impact that slavery and laws that enforced racial discrimination had on the United States.”

The commission is expected to begin meeting later this year and begin to encourage civic, patriotic, historical, educational, artistic, religious, economic, and other organizations to come together to participate in anniversary activities.

TRUMP SIGNS WARNER & KAINE PROVISIONS TO ADDRESS OPIOID CRISIS INTO LAW

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine celebrated key provisions from their bills to address the opioid crisis becoming law. The comprehensive substance abuse treatment bill, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, was just signed into law by President Trump after it passed the Senate 98-2 and the House 393-8. The legislation includes four proposals from Warner that initially passed out of the Senate Finance Committee as part of the Helping to End Addiction and Lessen (HEAL) Substance Use Disorders Act of 2018 and three proposals from Kaine that passed the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee as part of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018.

“This comprehensive legislation takes significant steps to stem the opioid epidemic that has devastated communities across the Commonwealth. By making necessary improvements to substance abuse treatment and recovery services, we can help save lives. That’s why I’m proud to report that this historic package includes several proposals that I championed to expand telehealth services to ensure more families get the addiction treatment they need,” said Warner.

“This bill is the product of a strong bipartisan effort to tackle the addiction crisis that is taking lives in Virginia and across the country. I’m proud the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act includes my proposals to help ensure job training is incorporated into recovery programs and that the kids who are hurt by this crisis get the resources they need. This comprehensive effort aiming to address prevention, treatment, and recovery is an important step toward solving the addiction crisis,” Kaine said.

Warner and Kaine have worked over the years to move legislation forward to combat the substance abuse epidemic, which in 2017 accounted for more than 72,000 deaths nationwide.The final bill included provisions from four Warner bills to:

  • Expand telehealth services for substance abuse treatment.
  • Make clear how Medicaid funds can be used for substance use disorder treatment through telehealth.
  • Help ensure children suffering from substance use disorders receive the assistance they need through telehealth services.
  • Improve data collection on substance use disorders among Medicaid recipients.

The final bill included proposals from three Kaine addiction treatment bills to:

  • Give states the resources and guidelines to ensure recovery homes are effectively helping residents sustain recovery from opioid and substance use disorders.
  • Incorporate job training into drug addiction recovery programs.
  • Afford schools the opportunity to apply for grants to directly offer trauma support services to students impacted by the opioid epidemic.

Last month, Warner and Kaine voted for a FY19 funding bill that increased funding to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support programs related to the opioid crisis, including an additional $3.8 billion for treatment, prevention and research.

Virginia Delegation Calls on President Trump to Issue Federal Emergency Declaration Ahead of Hurricane Florence

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Reps. Rob Wittman (VA-01), Scott Taylor (VA-02), Bobby Scott (VA-03), A. Donald McEachin (VA-04), Tom Garrett (VA-05), Bob Goodlatte (VA-06), Dave Brat (VA-07), Don Beyer (VA-08), Morgan Griffith (VA-09), Barbara Comstock (VA-10), and Gerry Connolly (VA-11), called on President Donald Trump to issue a federal emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Florence, a tropical storm which was recently upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to make landfall somewhere on the southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast Thursday night. Virginia’s congressional delegation wrote to the President in support of a request from Gov. Ralph Northam in advance of the storm’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“The health and well-being of my constituents is my top concern, which is why I joined the entire congressional delegation of Virginia to call on President Trump to give full consideration to Governor Northam’s request to issue a federal emergency,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “If this storm continues as predicted, making federal resources available will help us achieve a speedy recovery.”

“A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence. Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents,” wrote the Virginia Congressional Delegation.

On September 8, 2018, Gov. Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life.

The full text of the letter can be found below.

Dear Mr. President:

We write today to express our support for Governor Ralph S. Northam’s request for a federal emergency declaration in advance of Hurricane Florence’s potentially devastating effects on the Commonwealth of Virginia.

As you may know, on September 8, 2018 Governor Northam declared a state of emergency in Virginia in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is projected to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth in the coming days. It is increasingly likely that Virginia will face damaging winds, heavy rainfall, and potentially life-threating storm surge flooding due to Hurricane Florence. Many localities have already ordered mandatory evacuations to prevent potential physical harm or loss of life.

Governor Northam’s emergency declaration ensures a fully coordinated state response to support local recovery efforts. The Commonwealth has activated the Virginia Evacuation Coordination Team for Operational Response to assess the storm’s potential effects and the Virginia Emergency Operations Center is already coordinating the state’s response with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

A federal emergency declaration would ensure the full availability of federal resources to support the Commonwealth’s efforts to guarantee public safety and rapid recovery from the direct and indirect effects of Hurricane Florence.

Thank you for your consideration of Governor Northam’s request. We look forward to working with you, FEMA, and other relevant federal agencies to ensure that the Commonwealth of Virginia has the resources available to ensure the safety of our constituents.

 

 

During U.S. Open, McEachin, Kaine, Capito, Warner, Scott Commemorate Arthur Ashe on 50th Anniversary of Historic Win

WASHINGTON – Congressmen A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) and Bobby Scott (VA-03) and U.S. Senators Tim Kaine, Shelley Moore Capito, and Mark Warner announced their plans introduce bicameral resolutions to commemorate Arthur Ashe, a Richmond, VA native, on the 50th anniversary of his historic win at the 1968 U.S. Open Tennis Championship. The resolution honors Ashe’s humanitarian contributions to civil rights, education, the movement against apartheid in South Africa, and HIV/AIDS awareness. The 2018 U.S. Open Tennis Championship is currently underway.

“I am so proud to introduce a House Resolution honoring the life, legacy, and leadership of the great Arthur Ashe,” said Congressman Donald McEachin. “Ashe’s contributions to American history continue to make his fellow Richmonders proud – just as we were on the historic day 50 years ago.”

“Virginians will always be proud of what Arthur Ashe accomplished on and off the court,” Kaine said. “He set an example of how to be a leader, and 50 years after his historic win, he deserves this recognition.”

“As an avid tennis player, I’ve always been a fan of Arthur Ashe. Not only was he an incredible athlete, but he was also a great humanitarian and an advocate for many important causes. He built his legacy both on the court and through the many other efforts he championed around the world, and I’m excited to sponsor this resolution honoring that legacy,” Capito said.

“Although most remember Arthur Ashe as a fierce competitor on the tennis court, he was also an activist and an incredible force for racial and social justice,” said Warner. “This much deserved tribute honors him for using his platform to be a champion for all.”

“This bicameral resolution will further solidify the legacy of Arthur Ashe by honoring his legacy both on and off the court. As Virginians and Americans, we are inspired by his achievements,” said Scott.

Arthur Ashe was the first African-American man to win the singles title at the U.S. Open and to be ranked number one in the world. Click here for full text of the resolution.

WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE NEARLY $900,000 TO HELP HOMELESS VIRGINIA VETS RE-ENTER THE WORKFORCE

~ Federal funds will go to community programs in Henrico, Hampton Roads, and Roanoke ~

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that three Virginia organizations will receive $891,303 in federal funds from the U.S. Department of Labor to help homeless veterans re-enter the workforce.

The funds – in the form of three competitive Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Program (HVRP) grants – include $227,263 for Total Action Against Poverty in Roanoke Valley, Inc.; $355,050 for STOP Inc., in Hampton Roads; and $308,990 for River City Comprehensive Counseling Services in Glen Allen, Va.

“Virginia’s veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to fight for our nation. Now, we need to fight for them and help ensure that they have the resources they need to succeed and thrive after completing their service,” said the Senators. “These grants will provide homeless veterans with counseling and a variety of career services in order to help them re-integrate into the workforce.”

HVRP funds are awarded on a competitive basis to state and local workforce investment boards; local public agencies and nonprofit organizations; tribal governments; and faith-based and community organizations. Homeless veterans may receive occupational skills training, apprenticeship opportunities, and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance. Grantees under the HVRP program will coordinate their efforts with other federal programs, such as the Veterans Affairs Supportive Services for Veteran Families program and the Department of Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care program.

Sens. Warner and Kaine both have long records of advocating for the nation’s veterans through the appropriations process and legislation they have championed to reduce veteran homelessness, improve job training opportunities for veterans, and expand access to veterans’ health care.

WARNER & KAINE INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN RESOLUTION DEDICATING THE WEEK OF MAY 6 AS PUBLIC SERVICE RECOGNITION WEEK

~ Virginia is home to one of the highest concentrations of federal employees in the country ~ 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a group of Senators in honoring the critical work of federal, state, county, and local government employees and members of the uniformed services by passing a bipartisan resolution designating May 6-12, 2018 as Public Service Recognition Week. Virginia is home to one of the highest concentrations of federal employees in the country, with more than 170,000 individuals that are part of the federal workforce, along with more than 115,000 additional active duty and reserve military personnel.

“The Commonwealth’s servicemembers and civilian personnel alike are dedicated public servants who so often go above and beyond to ensure our country is operating safely and efficiently,” the Senators said. “We hope this small gesture will help highlight the important work that these exemplary federal employees do every day, often with little recognition, to improve the lives of Americans.”  

“Every day, our nation’s public servants devote themselves to serving their fellow citizens. They include local first responders, uniformed military serving in harm’s way, and federal employees protecting our borders, curing disease and maintaining the integrity of our financial markets,” said Max Stier, President and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “However, the public seldom hears about their successes or the innovative ways in which they are improving service to the American people. This bipartisan resolution is a terrific expression of our thanks and appreciation.”

For over 30 years, Public Service Recognition Week has been hosted by the Public Employees Roundtable to help honor federal, state, county and local government employees who are critical to the day to day success of our communities and nation. This year marks the 34th anniversary of Public Service Recognition Week. Clickhere for more information about events and ways to celebrate Public Service Recognition Week.

Sens. Warner and Kaine were joined in cosponsoring the bipartisan Public Service Recognition Week Resolution by a group of 20 cosponsors, including U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), James Lankford (R-OK), Tom Carper (D-DE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Angus King (I-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Patty Murray (D-WA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

KAINE, MANCHIN, CAPITO INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO CARE FOR CHILDREN IMPACTED BY OPIOID ABUSE

Bristol Virginia Public Schools Superintendent: this bill ‘will equip us to better achieve our vision of enabling all students to thrive’

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the Handle with Care Act to connect children who experience traumatic events, including domestic violence situations, drug raids, overdoses, and more, to school resources that are designed to provide the child with trauma-informed care.

“All too often, traumatic events have a devastating ripple effect across children’s lives. Given the right resources, schools can play a critical support role for kids impacted by trauma and provide them with a safe haven. I’m proud to partner with Senators Manchin and Capito to help ensure students affected by the opioid crisis and other trauma get the resources they need to thrive,” Kaine said.

“Unfortunately, schools are seeing more and more students dealing with trauma outside of the normal school day,” said Dr. Keith Perrigan, Superintendent of Bristol Virginia Public Schools. “Even though we try to keep that in mind in all of our interactions with students, this bill ensures that lines of communication are open between community agencies as we all try to support our most vulnerable students. The Handle with Care Act will equip us to better achieve our vision of enabling all students to thrive, regardless of the obstacles they may face.”

“We are happy to support legislation that makes the Handle with Care initiative a national model for replication. Crittenton Services, Inc., in West Virginia has been a key partner in this initiative and can attest to the difference it makes when schools, law enforcement and their partners work together with a sense of urgency to mitigate the impact of childhood trauma and support healing for children and youth, particularly marginalized girls and young women, across this country,” said Jeannette Pai-Espinosa, President of the National Crittenton Foundation.

The Handle with Care Act of 2018 is important legislation that will boost coordination between law enforcement and school-level personnel to better support students affected by trauma-related events. We must do all we can to ensure these students receive timely interventions to mitigate the impact of trauma so they can focus on learning,” said Dr. L. Earl Franks, Executive Director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

“Nothing offends a principal more than the loss of human potential. Yet every, day, principals see that potential robbed from their students by an opioid epidemic that devastates their schools and their families. With every student who suffers the trauma of opioid abuse, we lose a bit more of our future. I applaud Senators Manchin, Kaine, and Capito for casting a spotlight on this public health crisis and, more important, for championing legislation to battle it,” said Joann Bartoletti, Executive Director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

The Handle with Care program, which originated in West Virginia, is as simple as law enforcement sending a “Handle with Care” alert to the child’s school. While the school does not receive any information other than the child’s name and the alert, it enables the school to exercise the trauma-informed training provided in coordination with the Handle with Care program. The goal of the program is to promote safe schools, and communities, while ensuring that every child is able to thrive in school even when they face trauma at home. 

The Handle with Care Act would authorize $10 million in federal funding to establish 5-year demonstration grants for states to address the impact of substance use related and other trauma on children and youth in public schools by strengthening or building Handle with Care programs. These programs would:

  1. Develop and share evidence-based or evidence-informed training for trauma informed care and provide that training in schools connected to the program.
  2. Connect students who experience trauma at home to those resources in schools via the “Handle with Care” alert from law enforcement.
  3. Require programs to report on the success of the Handle with Care programs in improving student outcomes.

Endorsed By:            

  • National Association of Secondary School Principals
  • AASA – School Superintendents Association
  • American School Counselor Association
  • National Association for School Psychologists
  • National Education Association
  • The National Crittenton Association
  • National Association of Elementary School Principals
  • American Psychological Association
  • West Virginia Center for Children’s Justice

WARNER, KAINE CALL FOR FEDERAL INVESTMENT IN LOCAL PUBLIC SAFETY AND COMMUNITY POLICING

~ Senators ask appropriators to fund federal program that helps local law enforcement bolster community policing ~

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined a group of Senators in a letter to congressional appropriators requesting a minimum of $225.5 million in federal funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program to help local law enforcement bolster community policing efforts. While February’s bipartisan budget agreement established how much money should be provided for local law enforcement efforts, leaders of congressional appropriation committees are ultimately in charge of deciding how that funding is allocated. The Senators requested at least the same level of federal funding as was appropriated for COPS in the last fiscal year.

“The COPS Hiring program represents a fiscally responsible solution to ensure that our communities remain safe….When officers establish a presence on their patrols using community policing principles, they can develop positive relationships with the communities they serve.  In turn, these relationships increase law enforcement’s ability to solve local crimes and resolve public safety problems,” the Senators wrote.  “This program plays an essential role in our federal government’s support for local law enforcement and should therefore receive the highest possible level of funding.”

The COPS program was designed to advance public safety by addressing the full-time officer needs of state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies.  COPS provides funds directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new and/or rehire career law officers, and to increase crime prevention efforts.

Since its inception, the COPS program has been responsible for putting 129,000 additional police officers on the job in 13,000 local communities across the country, including 48 police officers in Virginia in the last five years alone.  

The program has deep support among major law enforcement organizations, including the National Association of Police Organizations, Fraternal Order of Police, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.  

Other Senators joining Sens. Warner and Kaine in signing the letter include Sens. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Doug Jones (D-AL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Senator Moran and Senator Shaheen:

As you consider funding levels for Fiscal Year 2019, we urge you to fund the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program at a minimum of $225.5 million, the amount appropriated for the program in FY 2018.  This program plays an essential role in our federal government’s support for local law enforcement and should therefore receive the highest possible level of funding.

The COPS Hiring program represents a fiscally responsible solution to ensure that our communities remain safe; the Brookings Institution found it to be “one of the most cost-effective options available for fighting crime.” When officers establish a presence on their patrols using community policing principles, they can develop positive relationships with the communities they serve.  In turn, these relationships increase law enforcement’s ability to solve local crimes and resolve public safety problems.  This proactive approach to policing prevents crime from occurring, saving taxpayers the high societal costs associated with crime, incarceration, and services for victims.

Since its creation, the COPS Office has assisted over 13,000 of the nation’s 16,000 jurisdictions with over $14 billion in funding to hire approximately 129,000 additional officers. In FY 2017, the COPS Hiring Program granted over $98 million to 179 law enforcement agencies to hire, preserve, or rehire 802 full-time law enforcement officers.  There were heightened restrictions for funding requests in FY 2017, leading many communities to forego applications, but still over 3,000 officers were requested, representing close to $410 million in funding. The $225.5 million requested is a small fraction of the $1 billion appropriated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and less than the $298 million previously appropriated in FY 2010.

We are supported in this request by law enforcement organizations including the National Association of Police Organizations, Fraternal Order of Police, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and the Major Cities Chiefs Association.  We appreciate the hard work and leadership that you have shown on these issues. Ongoing crime and violence in our cities continue to demonstrate the vital need for increased police protection in our communities.  Therefore, as you determine the funding levels for this program, we ask that you support funding for the COPS Hiring Program at the highest possible level.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.

Sincerely,

KAINE, YOUNG, JONES INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO ENSURE ADDICTION RECOVERY PROGRAMS INCLUDE JOB TRAINING

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Todd Young (R-IN), and Doug Jones (D-AL), members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Jobs Plus Recovery Act to incorporate job training into drug addiction recovery programs. The bipartisan legislation would establish a pilot program that gives individuals impacted by opioid addiction or substance use disorders access to job training and support services to aid in their recovery and lower their likelihood of relapse. Research has shown that having consistent work improves the likelihood that addiction treatment will be successful. The pilot program allows local communities to create partnerships between substance use disorder treatment and recovery providers, as well as job services and training providers. The legislation will help communities in Virginia and across the country where the opioid crisis has had severe consequences on the economy and local workforce.

“The substance abuse epidemic has had a devastating effect on communities across the country, and a lack of job opportunity has exacerbated this crisis,” Kaine said. “We must find a way to address this crisis and to help those who are trying to get back on their feet, stay there. By ensuring that job training is a part of the recovery process, we are investing in better outcomes, which will have a positive impact on the economy, employers, and entire communities.”

“During one of my recent Fair Shot Agenda roundtables, I heard from an Indiana plastics manufacturing firm that took a chance by hiring a Hoosier who had struggled with addiction issues. This week, that same Hoosier is graduating from drug treatment court and serves as a valuable employee. With the Jobs Plus Recovery Act, we can replicate this success story across Indiana and the entire country. This legislation would create pilot programs that help individuals struggling with opioid addition access employment opportunities. Our goal is to give businesses the tools needed to positively impact addiction treatment outcomes, and to change how the nation treats individuals with addiction issues so that they can turn their lives around and meaningfully contribute to the economy,” said Young.

“Across the country and in Alabama, the opioid epidemic has devastated so many families, communities, and local economies. When folks are working hard to recover from opioid addiction, we should make sure they have the support they need to be successful and re-enter their communities fully. Through this job-training initiative, we are taking steps to help them thrive in recovery and break the dangerous cycle of addiction,” Jones said.

In 2014, Congress passed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which provides job training assistance to individuals with a barrier to employment. The Jobs Plus Recovery Act would allow programs funded through WIOA to provide targeted support services to individuals with substance use disorders and consider their needs as part of state and local strategic planning processes to tackle the opioid epidemic.  It would also allow community workforce entities to educate employers about how to hire and retain employees with a history of substance use disorders. This pilot program would be the first to integrate job skills training with addiction treatment and recovery. The program would provide supportive services to ensure participant success in work-based learning that would be divided between three stages: pre-employment, early employment, and continuing employment, which may include peer recovery support services, networking and mentorship opportunities, and other wraparound services.

“This legislation, which NAWB is proud to endorse, will play an important role in combatting America’s opioid epidemic. It builds on the well-established link between recovery and job security. Those suffering from addiction are often in need of opportunities and purpose. This aligns with NAWB’s forty-year history of delivering on economic opportunity for Americans through skills training and job placement. We are partners in the effort to help those affected by this opioid crisis find their purpose through the workforce,” CEO of the National Association of Workforce Boards Richard Painter said.

"Virginia Career Works of the Blue Ridge Region is proud to support the Jobs Plus Recovery Act of 2018. While our region can proclaim strong economic growth and historically low unemployment, opioid abuse is a significant barrier for people still seeking employment or those that have given up hope.  This legislation will make it easier for citizens to access needed addiction treatment, while also helping them create a path towards economic prosperity. It will also grow our workforce to meet the expanding employment needs or our businesses.  Local Workforce Development Boards will be a critical partner in providing hope and opportunity to those most affected by this crisis," Executive Director of Virginia Blue Ridge Works in Roanoke, VA Jake Gilmer said.

Kaine has been a leader in the Senate both on efforts to address the opioid epidemic and to support workforce development programs that prepare Virginians for good-paying, in-demand jobs. In December, Kaine co-sponsored The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tools including hi-tech chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids. Kaine haspushed for funding to support health education initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic in vulnerable communities in Virginia. In October, Kaine introduced the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, which would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids and opioid addiction. 

The Jobs Plus Recovery Act is endorsed by the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), Jobs for the Future (JFF), the National Skills Coalition (NSC), and the National Association of Workforce Boards (NAWB).

Text of the Jobs Plus Recovery Act is available here.

WARNER & KAINE ANNOUNCE FEDERAL FUNDING TO HELP REDUCE VETERAN HOMELESSNESS IN VIRGINIA

~ More than a half million dollars awarded to help reduce veteran homelessness ~

WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-Va.) announced today that the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) are awarding $693,962 in federal funding to Virginia housing authorities to help homeless veterans and their families find affordable and stable housing.

“Those who have worn our nation’s uniform deserve to know that their country will take care of them when they return home,” said the Senators. “These federal dollars will help ensure that these heroes have the support they need to find safe and affordable housing.”

The selected Virginia housing authorities and funding amounts are listed below:

  • Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority—$35,369
  • Chesapeake Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$34,821
  • City of Virginia Beach—$39,161
  • James City Council Office of Housing & Community Development—$29,164
  • Newport News Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$35,663
  • Norfolk Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$39,661
  • Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$6,858
  • Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority—$24,043
  • Virginia Housing Development Authority—$53,293
  • Arlington County Department of Human Services—$161,556
  • Fairfax County Redevelopment & Housing Authority—$121,507
  • Loudoun County Department of Family Services—$56,249
  • Office of Housing Development of Prince William County—$56,617

This funding was granted through the HUD-VASH voucher program, which is a collaborative effort between HUD and the VA that uses targeted vouchers to offer permanent supportive housing opportunities to veterans experiencing homelessness. On March 23, 2018, the Senators voted in favor of the omnibus bill that fully funds homeless prevention programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, including HUD-VASH

WARNER, KAINE ANNOUNCE $1 MILLION IN SCHOLARSHIPS FOR CYBERSECURITY STUDENTS AT ODU

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine announced $1,000,000 in federal funding from the National Science Foundation to support high-achieving students with demonstrated financial need as they pursue the cybersecurity program at Old Dominion University (ODU).
 
“Ensuring students have the support they need to pursue careers in cybersecurity is critical to building our federal workforce and defending the nation’s economic and national security,” the Senators said. “We are thrilled that ODU and the National Science Foundation are partnering to help make that a reality for more students.”  
 
The funding will provide up to 18 scholarships for students in the cybersecurity program as well as additional mentoring and program activities.
 
As Vice Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Warner has been a strong voice for protecting the integrity of our election systems, introducing bipartisan legislation to bring accountability to online political adsand secure our elections. He is also the author of bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would provide states and local government funding to counter cyberattacks. As cofounder of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus, Warner has been a leader in calling for the protection of consumers’ personal information and timely disclosure of data breaches, authoring legislation to hold credit reporting agencies accountable for such breaches.
 
Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also co-chairs the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus and has become a leader in the Senate on policies to prepare students for careers in cybersecurity.  Last year, key provisions of Kaine’s DoD Cyber Scholarship Program Act of 2017, which would improve and expand an existing DoD scholarship program for students pursuing degrees in cybersecurity fields, were included in the committee-passed Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. The DoD Cyber Scholarship Act creates a jobs pipeline from Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) to the Department of Defense.

KAINE-WHITEHOUSE BILL TO HELP FORGIVE STUDENT LOANS FOR PUBLIC SERVICE WORKERS PASSES CONGRESS

Senators’ provisions will assist teachers, social workers, military personnel, and other public servants cancel their student loan debt

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – Included in the omnibus federal spending bill that cleared Congress last night was a version of a bill offered by Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) to fix a glitch in a federal loan forgiveness program that is leaving teachers, soldiers, social workers, and other public servants with massive loan balances they thought would be forgiven.  The provision will help to relieve the financial burden for eligible middle-class families who sought to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, which allows those pursuing public service careers to discharge student loan debt. 

“Americans who honorably serve our communities have earned much-deserved relief from crushing student loan debt in return for their time and commitment.  But unfortunately because of confusion around a provision in the program, we were at risk of breaking that promise to Virginia teachers, social workers, nurses, and military servicemembers.  I’m glad the Senate heard our call and joined Senator Whitehouse and I in moving closer to righting that wrong today,” Kaine said.

“Congress created this program so bright, talented people could use their college education for public service.  But a growing number of them are finding, to their shock, that a glitch is keeping them from getting the relief they were promised.  We need to fix that,” said Whitehouse.  “There’s more to do, but I’m proud that a version of our legislation will help public servants continue their important work.”

Congress established the bipartisan loan forgiveness program in 2007 to help teachers, social workers, military personnel, and other critical public service workers pursue sometimes lower-paying careers serving their communities without facing decades of crippling loan payments.  The program allows borrowers to erase the balance of their student debt if they spend 10 years working for a nonprofit or government employer while making qualifying payments.  Due to a lack of consistent and clear guidance from loan servicers and complicated program requirements, some borrowers believe they are making qualifying payments under the program when they are not. 

Kaine and Whitehouse’s bill would allow loan forgiveness for public service borrowers who ended up in the wrong repayment plan.  If borrowers had been making payments that were as much as they would have paid on a qualifying repayment plan, they would receive full credit for those payments toward loan forgiveness.

The version of the legislation in the spending bill includes $350 million to help borrowers in this situation on a first-come, first-serve basis.  It would also require the Education Department to develop and make available a simple method for borrowers to apply for loan cancellation, and conduct outreach to help borrowers make use of the program.

Kaine and Whitehouse’s bill was endorsed by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

KAINE JOINS COLLEAGUES TO INTRODUCE BILL THAT EXPANDS FUNDING FOR STATES FIGHTING OPIOID EPIDEMIC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to introduce the Opioid Response Enhancement Act to help states better fight the opioid epidemic that has put a strain on communities in Virginia and across the country. This bill would expand a grant program that was created as part of the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act of 2017 and ensure states have access to additional funding for the next five years under this program.
 
“This bill will help expand federal funding for states fighting the opioid epidemic, providing much-needed support for Virginians combatting addiction,” Kaine said. “The federal government has an important role to play in addressing this crisis that is hurting communities across the country.”
 
In 2017, Congress provided $1 billion over two years of additional funding for state efforts to combat the opioid epidemic under the bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act. As the opioid epidemic continues to strain local resources, Congress needs to continue to fund this important program to help communities combat this crisis beyond 2019, so that states, localities and tribal communities have adequate resources to help prevent and treat substance use disorders and addiction.
 
The Opioid Response Enhancement Act would provide an additional investment of $12 billion over five years for the State Targeted Opioid Response (STR) Grant, including a new Enhancement Grant for states that have been hit especially hard by the epidemic, including those with high opioid mortality rates. It would also provide an additional $1.5 billion for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 under new resources made available in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.
 
Kaine has been a leader in the Senate on efforts to address the opioid epidemic and support disease research. In December, Kaine co-sponsored the The International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act to provide U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) tools including hi-tech chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids. Kaine has pushed for funding to support health education initiatives to combat the opioid epidemic in vulnerable communities in Virginia. In October, Kaine introduced the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, which would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids and opioid addiction. 
 
In addition to Kaine, Shaheen, and Baldwin, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Angus King (I-ME), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jon Tester (D-MT), and Tom Udall (D-NM).
 
Specifically, the bill would:
 
  • Provide $10 billion over five years for the current STR Grant program under 21st Century Cures Actbeginning in FY19.
  • Add a new STR Enhancement Grant for $2 billion over five years for at least ten states and tribal entities with high needs, including high opioid mortality rates, to enhance and expand opioid abuse efforts under the STR program.
  • Include Tribal entities as eligible for the STR Grants, funded by a 10 percent set aside.
  • Require the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to provide technical assistance to states and tribes through the Tribal Training and Technical Assistance Center, for application procedures, outreach and support to underserved communities, and data collection.
  • Provide flexibility to allow states and tribes to use some of the funding to help address other substance use issues that are similar or substantial public health threats, in addition to carrying out opioid abuse efforts.
  • ·         Direct states to prioritize providing funding directly to local community organizations and counties to ensure that local leaders have access to critical resources to help them address areas of unmet need.

KAINE CO-SPONSORS BIPARTISAN CHILDHOOD CANCER BILL

Bill complements Kaine’s Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act to further expand pediatric cancer research and treatment 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine, a member of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined a bipartisan group of colleagues as a co-sponsor of the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act. This bipartisan legislation will advance pediatric cancer research and child-focused cancer treatments, while also improving childhood cancer surveillance and providing resources for survivors and those impacted by childhood cancer. 

“While we have made advances and breakthroughs in many fields, childhood cancer treatment has been left behind,” said Senator Kaine. "The Childhood Cancer STAR Act would help us right that wrong so one day we can ensure that no family has to lose a child to this terrible disease.” 

Childhood cancer research has progressed in recent years, but cancer is still the leading cause of death by disease past infancy among children in the United States, according to NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI). In 2017,  NCI estimated that nationwide, more than 10,000 children and adolescents up to 14 years of age would be diagnosed with cancer and that more than 1,190 would die from the disease.

Senator Kaine has consistently supported legislation funding pediatric cancer research. In 2014, he championed the bipartisan Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act to support pediatric medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama. The legislation honors the memory of Leesburg, Virginia’s Gabriella Miller, who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor the size of a walnut at age 9. He also voted for the RACE for Children Act of 2017 to support the development of innovative and promising cancer drugs for children.

The Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act would:  

  • Expand opportunities for childhood cancer research
  • Improve efforts to identify and track childhood cancer incidences
  • Enhance the quality of life for childhood cancer survivors
  • Ensure pediatric expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Expanding Opportunities for Childhood Cancer Research:  Due to the relatively small population of children with cancer and the geographic distance between these children, researching childhood cancer can be challenging.  The Childhood Cancer STAR Act would authorize the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to expand existing efforts to collect biospecimens for childhood cancer patients enrolled in NCI-sponsored clinical trials in order to maintain relevant clinical, biological, and demographic information on all children, adolescents, and young adults with cancer.

Improving Childhood Cancer Surveillance:  Building upon previous efforts, this bill would authorize grants to state cancer registries to identify and track incidences of child, adolescent, and young adult cancer.  This funding would be used to identify and train reporters of childhood cancer cases, secure infrastructure to ensure early the reporting and capture of child cancer incidences, and support the collection of cases into a national childhood cancer registry.

Improving Quality of Life for Childhood Cancer Survivors:  Unfortunately, even after beating cancer, as many as two-thirds of survivors suffer from late effects of their disease or treatment, including secondary cancers and organ damage. This legislation would enhance research on the late effects of childhood cancers, including a study on insurance coverage and payment of care for childhood cancer survivors; improve collaboration among providers so that doctors are better able to care for this population as they age; and establish a new pilot program to begin to explore innovative models of care for childhood cancer survivors. 

Ensuring Pediatric Expertise at the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The Childhood Cancer STAR Act would require the inclusion of at least one pediatric oncologist on the National Cancer Advisory Board and would improve childhood health reporting requirements to include pediatric cancer.

KAINE, WARNER, MCEACHIN, CONNOLLY, BEYER, SCOTT ASK TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO LISTEN TO LOCAL VOICES AGAINST OFFSHORE DRILLING

Legislators: You said “’Local voice matters.’ We couldn’t agree more.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Representatives Donald McEachin, Gerry Connolly, Don Beyer, and Bobby Scott sent a letter to the Trump Administration requesting that Virginia be exempted from its offshore drilling proposal, citing local concerns over the risks to tourism, the watermen’s industry, and the country’s Naval operations.

The Virginia legislators cited Secretary Zinke’s announcement that drilling off the Florida coast was taken “off the table” after listening to “local and state” voices, and asked that the Trump Administration take similar concerns from Virginians just as seriously. Virginia’s coastal leaders -from the Democratic mayor of Norfolk to the Republican mayor of Virginia Beach and the current Governor and Governor-elect of Virginia - have all voiced opposition to drilling off of the Virginia coast.

“As Members of Congress from Virginia, we request you remove the Virginia offshore area from your proposed 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. We note your willingness to listen to local voices in Florida with grave concerns over the risks of offshore drilling there. We ask that you likewise consider local opposition in Virginia’s coastal communities as well as opposition from its Governor, Senators, and House members to a new five-year plan at this point,” the group said.

The full text of the letter appears below.

Dear Secretary Zinke:

As Members of Congress from Virginia, we request you remove the Virginia offshore area from your proposed 2019-2024 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program. We note your willingness to listen to local voices in Florida with grave concerns over the risks of offshore drilling there. We ask that you likewise consider local opposition in Virginia’s coastal communities as well as opposition from its Governor, Senators, and House members to a new five-year plan at this point.

The statement from your office announcing the removal of the Florida offshore stated, “Local voice matters.” We couldn’t agree more.

While many states have long histories of energy production, states like Florida and Virginia have robust economies based on other sectors like tourism, aquaculture, outdoor recreation, deepwater port commerce, and especially Department of Defense infrastructure. Florida is home to some 20 DOD installations, while Virginia’s coastal area alone has more than a dozen across every service branch, including Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval installation. While it is within DOD’s mandate to work with Interior, any look at a map displays vast offshore areas in which drilling could conflict with military activities. In a time of relatively stable prices and booming oil and gas production elsewhere, the risks outweigh the benefits.

Opposition to offshore drilling is an opinion broadly shared by communities on the Virginia coast, including by the Democratic mayor of Norfolk and the Republican mayor of Virginia Beach. In fact, the city council of Virginia Beach (Virginia’s most populous city) actively voted to shift its prior support for offshore drilling from supportive to neutral, then from neutral to opposed.

We hope you will take opposition from Virginia coastal communities as seriously as you took the concerns from Florida residents and elected officials.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

WARNER & KAINE SECURE FINAL PASSAGE OF BILL GRANTING RECOGNITION OF VIRGINIA INDIAN TRIBES

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner secured final passage of the Thomasina E. Jordan Indian Tribes of Virginia Federal Recognition Act of 2017. Once signed by the President, the legislation will grant federal recognition of six Virginia tribes: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. Many of these include descendants of Pocahontas’ Virginia Powhatan tribe. Kaine and Warner worked with Democratic and Republican colleagues to ensure that the bill made it through to final passage. These tribes had received official recognition from the Commonwealth of Virginia, but had not received federal recognition, which will grant the tribes legal standing and status in direct relationships with the U.S. government.

U.S. Senators and members of the House of Representatives from Virginia have pushed for federal recognition since the 1990s, with Senators George Allen and John Warner first introducing this legislation in the Senate in 2002. Kaine and Warner introduced this legislation in the Senate in the 113th and 114th Congresses, and Warner had introduced it in prior Congresses.

“This is about Virginia tribes that were here and encountered the English when they arrived in [Jamestown] in 1607, the tribes of Pocahontas and other wonderful Virginians. They are living tribes, never recognized by the federal government for a series of reasons. . . . It's a fundamental issue of respect, and fairly acknowledging a historical record, and a wonderful story of tribes that are living, thriving and surviving and are a rich part of our heritage. This is a happy day to stand up on their behalf,” Senator Kaine said on the Senate floor ahead of passage.

“We and some of the folks who are in the gallery today were not sure this day would ever come, but even here in the United States Congress and the United States Senate, occasionally we get things right. And boy, oh, boy, this is a day where we get things right on a civil rights basis, on a moral basis, on a fairness basis, and to our friends who are representatives of some of the six tribes who are finally going to be granted federal recognition, we want to say thank you for their patience, their perseverance, their willingness to work with us and others,” Senator Warner said on the Senate floor ahead of passage.

This version, which originated in the House of Representatives and was introduced by Virginia Congressman Rob Wittman, passed in the House unanimously in May.

Congressman Wittman said, “Today we have taken a critical step forward in correcting the Federal Government’s failure to recognize the ‘first contact' tribes of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Decades in the making, federal recognition will acknowledge and protect historical and cultural identities of these tribes for the benefit of all Americans. It will also affirm the government-to-government relationship between the United States and the Virginia tribes, and help create opportunities to enhance and protect the well-being of tribal members. I want to thank Senators Kaine and Warner for their support to give these tribes the recognition they have long deserved.”

Once signed by the President, federal recognition will 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.

These tribal leaders were in attendance in the Senate Gallery for the vote:

  • W. Frank Adams, Chief, Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe
  • Stephen R. Adkins, Chief, Chickahominy Indian Tribe
  • Wayne B. Adkins, Chair of VITAL
  • Dean Branham, Chief, Monacan Nation
  • Lee Lockamy, Chief Nansemond Indian Tribe
  • Frank Richardson, representing Chief Anne Richardson, Rappahannock Tribe
  • Gerald A. Stewart, Assistant Chief, Eastern Chickahominy Indian Tribe

KAINE & COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BILL TO INVEST $45 BILLION TOWARD COMBATING OPIOID CRISIS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions (HELP) Committee, joined U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Ed Markey (D-MA) to introduce the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, which wouldinvest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids and opioid addiction. This legislation would address a number of the critical shortcomings in the approach to combating the opioid epidemic, including the Trump Administration’s unwillingness to make a long-term investment in the fight.

“We need to see real action to back up the promises we’ve heard when it comes to the opioid epidemic. We have seen staggering numbers released recently showing how devastating the crisis is in Virginia, and we must take action to help Virginia communities treat and rehabilitate people suffering with addiction,” Kaine said. “The funding from the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act would go where it’s needed most: to the state and local governmentsthat are on the frontlines fighting this crisis.”

The Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act would:

-      Authorize and appropriate $4,474,800,000 for substance abuse programs for the individual states for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2027.

-      Build upon bipartisanship by adding this funding to the Account for the State Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis, which was created by the 21st Century Cures Act. The 21st Century Cures Act passed the Senate with 94 votes.

-      Expand the use of funding already allowed under 21st Century Cures, so that states may also use this money for detection, surveillance and treatment of co-occurring infections, as well as for surveillance, data collection and reporting on the number of opioid overdose deaths.

-      Promote research on addiction and pain related to substance abuse, and authorizes and appropriates $50,400,000 for each of fiscal years 2018 through 2022. Under the bill, the National Institutes of Health would be responsible for distributing this money.

-      Provide stable, long-term funding, a total of $45 billion over ten years to the states and over five years to research efforts. This is similar to the stable, long-term investment that Senate Republicans proposed as a response to the opioid emergency.

-      Not replace coverage for treatment under Medicaid or the treatment requirements for private insurance in the Affordable Care Act. Both of these remain critical for combating the opioid abuse epidemic.

The Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act has been endorsed by American Psychiatric Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, Coalition to Stop Opioid Overdose,  International Nurses Society on Addictions (IntNSA), National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, National Association of County and City Health Officials, National Association of Social Workers, National Council for Behavioral Health, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, National Safety Council, Treatment Communities of America, and Young People in Recovery.

 

The bill is also co-sponsored by Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (DNH), Al Franken (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and Kamala Harris (D-CA).

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. 

CARPER, KAINE INTRODUCE BILL TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH CARE MARKETPLACE & LOWER PREMIUMS

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act to help stabilize the individual health care marketplace and lower premiums. The Act would provide certainty in the marketplace by creating a permanent reinsurance program for the individual health insurance market, similar to the successful programs used to lower premiums and spur competition in the Medicare Part D program. U.S. Senators Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) are original co-sponsors of the legislation.

This reinsurance program would provide funding to offset larger than expected insurance claims for health insurance companies participating in the state and federal insurance marketplaces, encouraging them to offer more plans in a greater number of markets, improving competition and driving down costs for patients and families. Additionally, the bill would provide $500 million a year  from 2018 to 2020 to help states improve outreach and enrollment for the health insurance marketplaces, drawing in new members and educating the public about the need to be insured.  This outreach funding prioritizes counties where there are limited insurers left in the marketplace.

“The Affordable Care Act has made incredible strides toward ensuring access to high-quality health care for every American, but the law isn’t perfect and Congress must work together across party lines to make it better,” said Carper. "That is why Senator Kaine and I have introduced legislation that would inject more stability into the individual insurance market, and do so by replicating the stabilization efforts that have worked so well in the bipartisan Medicare Part D program. By providing insurers with the certainty they need to participate in the individual insurance markets, this bill will increase competition among insurers and lower premiums for consumers.”

“The only way to get health care right in this country is for both parties to work together on real solutions for all Americans,” Kaine said. “After months of uncertainty, our bill would work to stabilize the individual market through a reinsurance program modeled after the bipartisan Medicare Part D plan. I have long said I was willing to work on ways to improve the Affordable Care Act, and if my colleagues are serious about looking for a way to fulfill President Trump’s promises that no one will pay more and no one will lose coverage, especially those with preexisting conditions, then this is a great place to start. This is just one way to improve affordability and choices for consumers and I look forward to working on additional solutions.”

“We have to focus on finding ways to fix our nation’s health care system, and this bill, which will help reduce premiums for Floridians by as much as 13 percent, is one step in the right direction,” said Nelson.

"The Affordable Care Act isn't perfect but there's no doubt that it's made New Hampshire healthier,” said Shaheen. “This legislation would inject stability into the individual insurance market through a program included in the original ACA, which sunset in 2016, that helps lower premiums and spur competition. I continue to urge colleagues across the aisle to work with Democrats to improve the Affordable Care Act though legislation like this, not wholesale repeal a law that is working."

“We must work together across party lines to help ease the burden of health care costs that are squeezing far too many hard-working Granite Staters and Americans,” Hassan said. “This common-sense legislation will help lower premiums for middle class Americans and stabilize the individual market, which the Trump Administration has been working to sabotage. I continue to stand ready to work with anyone who is serious about improving upon the Affordable Care Act and lowering health care costs for Granite State families, and this bill is an important first step.”

The Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act would:

  • Lower premiums, which would then decrease the cost of Advance Premium tax credits,
  • Increase competition among insurers,
  • Provide funding to states to improve outreach and enrollment in the health insurance marketplaces,
  • And provide additional marketplace stability for insurers, providers, and patients.

The reinsurance program would increase stability in the individual health insurance marketplaces by providing federal funding to cover 80 percent of insurance claims between $50,000 and $500,000 from 2018-2020. Starting in 2021, federal funding would cover 80 percent of insurance claims between $100,000 and $500,000.

View full text of the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, here

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 & TESTER INTRODUCE BILL TO PROTECT FEDERAL STUDENT AID FOR GOLD STAR FAMILIES

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and co-chair of the Senate Military Families Caucus, and Jon Tester (D-MT), ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, introduced the Protect our Gold Star Families’ Education Act, legislation that wouldexpand the Pell Grant program to include the children and dependents of those killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001 to offset their educational expenses.

Currently, students whose parents died as a result of military service in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 are eligible to receive federal student aid for postsecondary education that is equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant award through the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant. However, as a result of sequestration, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter in May 2016 to institutions requiring them to reduce the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant awards by about 7% (or roughly $400 per recipient) for the 2016-2017 award year. The Protect our Gold Star Families’ Education Act would move the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant to the Pell Grant program to stabilize the funding source for these awards and ensure Gold Star families have access to the maximum the grant funding available. 

“Our Gold Star families have made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and ensuring they have access to a quality college education is the right thing to do,” Kaine said. “Moving these grants under the Pell program will provide more security to Gold Star families and help ease the burden of college costs. As more of our post-9/11 Gold Star children are starting to reach college age, now is the right time to improve the grant system.”  

“College should never be out-of-reach for families who have sacrificed so much for our freedom,” said Tester. “This bill is an important token of our appreciation to the Gold Star families who gave everything for this nation.  We owe it to these children to ensure they have access to a quality education that can help them achieve the best possible future.”  

“The American Legion understands the issues that the younger generation of veterans face today,” The American Legion said. “Ensuring that dependents of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are eligible to obtain financial assistance while attending an institution of higher learning is of great importance to this organization. We applaud Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Jon Tester for addressing this issue and support this piece of legislation.”

While Virginia public universities already offer tuition assistance to dependents whose parents were killed in action or were permanently disabled under the state’s Virginia Military Survivors and Dependents Education Program (VMSDEP), these funds could be used to offset tuition at private institutions and could also cover additional expenses, including room and board, books, and supplies. Over 500 Virginians have attended or are currently attending college at public universities with assistance through VMSDEP and would qualify for these Pell Grants as well. 

TOMORROW: KAINE TO CONTINUE DISCUSSION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE CITY OF FRANKLIN AND AT RICHMOND MARINE TERMINAL

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine will travel to the City of Franklin and the Richmond Marine Terminal (Formerly Port of Richmond)  to discuss the importance of investments in workforce development and infrastructure to promote economic growth.

In the morning, Kaine, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee, will join Paul D. Camp Community College President Dr. Dan Lufkin for a roundtable discussion with local community workforce development leaders and campus faculty and staff on the need to increase access to affordable higher education. They will also discuss the importance of workforce training and career and technical education (CTE) programs that help students gain experience and training necessary to prepare them for the high paying jobs of tomorrow.

Later, Kaine will travel to the Richmond Marine Terminal (Formerly Port of Richmond) where he will receive an update on investments to deepen the port to allow larger ships and efforts to increase trade. Deepening the port and expanding access will dramatically bolster the container capacity and economic competitiveness of the terminal.

KAINE LEADS BIPARTISAN BILL TO REDESIGN HIGH SCHOOL WITH GREATER CTE FOCUS

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), founding member of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, led U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), and Todd Young (R-IN) in introducing the CTE Excellence and Equity Act to support re-designing the high school experience to include courses more relevant to the 21st century workforce to better prepare students for future careers. The bill would provide federal funding forpartnerships between school districts, employers, and institutions of higher education in Virginia and other states that integrate high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programs into high schools. These partnerships help students earn industry recognized credentials or credit toward a postsecondary degree or certificate and an understanding of the relevance of coursework in the context of a future career. According to the nonpartisan organization Achieve, nearly 80% of college instructors and 60% of employers indicate that public high schools fall short in preparing students for postsecondary education.

“At schools across Virginia, I’ve seen innovative approaches to deliver high-quality CTE programs to students. This bill would support schools as they redesign coursework to create engaging CTE partnerships between industry and higher education,” said Kaine. “Preparing our students for the careers of tomorrow gives them a better shot at getting hired for good-paying jobs and having the skills needed to excel in them.”

“My top priority in the United States Senate has been to promote policies that help create and foster an environment that leads to job creation and economic growth,” Portman stated.  “Career and Technical Education gives students the opportunity to gain skills and experience to become college and career ready.  The CTE Excellence and Equity Act will benefit millions of high school students across the country by expanding access to high quality CTE programs which lead to college credit, workplace skills, and opportunities for internships and apprenticeship programs.” 

“In Wisconsin, I’ve seen how strong public-private partnerships can meet our workforce readiness challenges effectively and Congress should work across party lines to strengthen these programs,” said Baldwin. “This bipartisan legislation will help us do a better job of supporting career and technical education students so that they are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow.”

“As West Virginia undergoes an economic transition and grapples with high unemployment, it is critical that we take steps to equip our workforce with the right skills for today’s jobs. I’m pleased to join with my colleagues to introduce the CTE Excellence and Equity Act, which supports necessary partnerships between higher education and employers and will improve career and technical training in our high schools,” said Capito.

“Strong CTE programs are a critical part of equipping students with the skills they need today to be able to compete in tomorrow’s workforce,” Young said. “This legislation is a positive step forward in closing the skills gap by supporting high-quality CTE programs that are aligned with the needs of our local communities.”

TheCTE Excellence and Equity Act would provide federal funding through a competitive grant programto support innovative approaches to redesigningthe high school experience for students as schools develop curriculum, assess student performance and teach workplace skills through job shadowing, internships and apprenticeships. The bill would amend the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006.

“The CTE Excellence and Equity Act provides data and research to address funding support for the much-needed redesign of more equitable CTE high school experiences that will help prepare more students to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” said Richmond Public Schools Career and Technical Education Instructional Specialist Jorge Valenzuela. “In order for our students to truly be successful throughout life after high school, CTE must be integrated into the instructional models of school divisions throughout our entire country.”

"Senator Kaine has been a fighter and advocate for the equality and equity of public education his entire career,” said Norfolk Federation of Teachers Thomas Calhoun. “It's no surprise that he is one of the recognized leaders for quality CTE schools in the country!"

“This bipartisan legislation works to address the growing gap between the traditional high school experience and the expectations of higher education and employers by connecting business, school districts, colleges, and others with a stake in the quality of the nation’s high school graduates,” said Bob Wise, President of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former Governor of West Virginia. “It also provides students with an opportunity to learn by doing, making the high school experience more engaging and more relevant to today’s job market while setting students up for individual success—a key component to the nation’s economic growth.”

Kaine, Portman, Baldwin, and Capito introduced an earlier version of this legislation in the 114th Congress.

The CTE Excellence and Equity Act is supported by the Alliance for Excellent Education, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Advance CTE, the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), Committee for Children (CfC), the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), the National Skills Coalition (NSC), Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

A one-page fact sheet on the CTE Excellence and Equity Act can be found here.

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 

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.

Students lobby Kaine’s office over Trump’s budget proposals

By Jessica Nolte, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – After President Donald Trump proposed slashing the budget of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, students with the group Environment Virginia urged Sen. Tim Kaine to fight back.

Trump’s budget would cut funding for the EPA by about a third and eliminate federal funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. The proposed budget cuts followed Trump’s selection of Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt sued the EPA more than a dozen times and has questioned whether humans are responsible for global warming.

About a dozen students from Virginia Commonwealth University visited Kaine’s Richmond office Thursday afternoon to protest the Trump administration’s actions that they say will hurt the environment. The students met with John Knapp, Kaine’s state director.

“There’s a lot of energy out there, and it’s good. It’s exciting, and it’s good for our democracy,” Knapp said.

The students aren’t the only Virginians worried about the impact of Trump’s budget. State Democratic officials also have expressed concerns.

“Eliminating federal support to clean up the Chesapeake Bay, doing away with the Appalachian Regional Commission and slashing investments in community development, affordable housing, home weatherization, and heating assistance will do significant harm to Virginia families and our economy,” Gov. Terry McAuliffe said in a statement Thursday.

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who hopes to succeed McAuliffe as governor, also criticized the budget. “I am particularly disappointed by the total elimination of funding to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. As an Eastern Shore native, I know protecting the bay has both economic and environmental impacts.”

VCU students also are concerned about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which the energy giant Dominion hopes to construct through Virginia. Dominion says the interstate pipeline would transmit natural gas to multiple public utilities and serve the “growing energy needs in Virginia and North Carolina.” McAuliffe supports the project.

During the meeting with Knapp, Crystal Bishop, an intern for McAuliffe in constituent services, said she has received a lot of calls with concerns about the pipeline, which spawned protests in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Charlottesville, Virginia.

Bishop also shared her concerns over the state of recycling in Virginia. She said she comes from Montclair, a community in Prince William County that does not have easy access to recycling. There’s a wide discrepancy in access to recycling across Virginia, Bishop said.

Bishop said her concerns grew after she spent time in Belgium, where even the tiniest piece of trash is recycled.

Knapp encouraged the students to stay active. He said:

  • Individual voices do matter. Knapp urged individuals to call their representatives. Elected officials do listen, he said. A lot of people get discouraged when the phone lines are busy, but that means people care and are making their voices heard. If you cannot get through, email the office, Knapp said.
  • Collective voices matter. Knapp told individuals to find an organization that supports what they believe in.
  • Voting in state elections is crucial. No matter what your opinion or political affiliation, voting in this year legislative, gubernatorial and other elections is sure to send a message to D.C., Knapp said. Only Virginia and New Jersey are holding statewide elections this year.
  • People should run for office or get involved by working for someone with a platform they support.

KAINE LEADS BIPARTISAN EFFORT TO RAISE THE QUALITY OF CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION, HOSTS CAREER TECH FAIR

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Todd Young (R-IN), co-chairs of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, introduced bipartisan legislation to raise the quality of CTE programs at schools in Virginia and across the country. The Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act amends the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act to better meet the needs of a 21st century workforce and ensure students have access to the highest-quality CTE programs. Kaine, who introduced an earlier version of the legislation in the 114th Congress, has traveled across Virginia to visit career and tech education programs. Later today, Kaine will co-host the Senate CTE Caucus’ 3rd annual Career and Technical Education Fair where students from Virginia, Ohio, and Wisconsin will showcase and demonstrate projects that highlight how real-world problem solving skills and CTE are preparing America’s future workforce to meet real-world challenges.

“Programs that give kids the skills in high school to prepare them for post-secondary education and employment can yield benefits after graduation and later in students’ careers,” said Kaine. “This bipartisan bill helps workers and the economy by equipping more students with skills needed to get a job in an in-demand field in their state and ensuring employers have access to a skilled workforce.”

“Career and Technical Education makes our kids job-ready on graduation day, giving them skills that are in demand and a running start on their careers,” said Portman. “Our bipartisan legislation would improve the quality of CTE programs so that these kids get a better education using the equipment and the standards of today’s industry. That’s good for our economy because it would help us keep skilled jobs from going overseas. It’s good for employers, who are looking for skilled workers, but most of all it’s good for thousands kids in Ohio and across the country, because it will help them get good jobs and live out their God-given potential.”

“I’ve heard firsthand from students, businesses and manufacturers in Wisconsin and it’s clear that we need to do more to support career and technical education so people are better equipped for the high-skilled jobs of today and tomorrow,” said Senator Baldwin. “Career and technical education has shown to be one of the most effective ways to respond to our workforce readiness needs and create shared prosperity. Our bipartisan effort will support Wisconsin’s career and technical students and provide companies with the skilled workforce they need to create stronger growth for our economy.”

“Strong CTE programs are a critical part of equipping students with the skills they need in tomorrow’s workforce,” said Young.  With almost half of employers nationwide experiencing a lack of skilled workers, this legislation is a positive step forward in closing the skills gap and addressing the needs of our local communities.”

Kaine, who grew up working in his dad’s ironworking shop and later spearheaded the creation of Governor’s Career and Technical Academies in Virginia – now Governor’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Academies – has made improving and strengthening access to CTE a top priority in the Senate. The Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act would allow states and localities to use Perkins grant funding to establish CTE-focused academies like the Governor’s Academies in Virginia established by then-Governor Kaine. The bill encourages schools to incorporate key elements of high-quality CTE programs and promotes partnerships between local businesses, regional industries and other community stakeholders to create work-based learning opportunities for students.   

Numerous career and education groups support the Educating Tomorrow’s Workforce Act, including the Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE), the National Academy Foundation (NAF), and the National Career Development Association (NCDA).

A full fact sheet on the bill can be found here.

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

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