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Warner requests answers on use and deployment of Ashanto Alert for missing adults | #childabductors | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


WASHINGTON, D.C. – On December 21, 2022, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine announced that they successfully secured over $200 million in federal funding for Virginia in the newly released text of the government funding bills for the Fiscal Year 2023. The bills are expected to be passed by the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives and then signed by President Joe Biden.

“This bill funds critical national priorities, including health care, education, scientific research, and veterans services. It builds on the important progress Congress has made this year to lower costs, fight gun violence, and create good-paying jobs here in the U.S.,” said Warner. “I’m especially proud that we secured $200 million in funding for key projects all over Virginia.”

“Our annual budget has always been an opportunity to secure resources for Virginia priorities, and the budget text released yesterday shows that we are on track to do the same again this year,” said Kaine. “This budget will raise pay for servicemembers, support pediatric disease research, expand internet access, and help our communities stay healthier and safer from gun violence. It will also bring over $200 million back home to Virginia to support essential local projects for everything from improving our water treatment facilities and roads to putting public transportation and substance abuse treatment within reach for more Virginians. The time is now to get this bill across the finish line and signed into law.”

As part of last year’s budget process, the Senate restarted a process that allows members of Congress to work with the communities they represent to request funding for local community projects, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. This process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects.

Through strong advocacy, the senators secured funding in the budget bills for the following projects in Virginia:

  • For projects in Northern Virginia, click here.
  • For projects in Central Virginia, click here.
  • For projects in Southwest Virginia and Southside, click here.
  • For projects in the Shenandoah Valley, click here.
  • For projects in Hampton Roads, click here.
  • For projects that impact communities in multiple regions across the Commonwealth, click here.

In addition, the budget bills include funding for the following Warner and Kaine priorities:

Investing in Kids: Provides $8 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides financial assistance to help low-income families access child care. This is $1.85 billion more than the Fiscal Year 2022, representing a 30 percent increase in funding for the program. The bill also includes $11.996 billion, $960 million more than Fiscal Year 2022, for Head Start, the national school readiness program. Last year, Virginia received more than $120 million through the CCDBG program, and Virginia’s Head Start programs served 15,000 vulnerable children and their families. Increasing funding for the CCDBG program is a core tenant of Kaine’s child care and early childhood education proposal to expand the supply of quality child care facilities, increase child care and Head Start teacher wages, and lower childcare costs for families across the country.

Addressing Americans’ Mental Health Needs: Expands the number of mental health care options available for seniors by ensuring seniors can access marriage and family therapists and licensed professional counselors under Medicare for the first time. This expansion is based on a bill Kaine cosponsored the Mental Health Access Improvement Act. The budget also includes Kaine’s bipartisan Investing in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Act, legislation to support children’s access to mental health care by providing grants to human service agencies or non-profits to develop, maintain, or enhance early intervention mental health programs for children from 0 to 12 years of age.

Increasing Access to Affordable Housing:  Includes $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which will lead to the construction of 10,000 housing units nationally; $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, which cities and counties can use to build affordable housing or for economic and community development projects that benefit low- and moderate-income housing; funding for 11,700 new housing choice vouchers; and dedicated funding to address homelessness, housing for the disabled, and housing for older Americans, among other investments. The budget also establishes a new $85 million competitive grant fund for localities looking to increase housing construction, similar to legislation proposed by Kaine.

Increasing Military Pay and Compensation: Includes $1.5 billion to fully fund a 4.6 percent pay raise for servicemembers that Kaine helped authorize as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which writes the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Also includes $515 million towards military family support programs. Warner, who pushed for this funding, has long stressed the need for increased support for servicemembers through legislation such as the Military Hunger Prevention Act that helps low-income military families put food on the table and through a number of provisions in this year’s defense bill.

Making Our Communities Safer: Provides $50 million for Community Violence Prevention grants to support communities in developing comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs, including efforts to address gang and gun violence through partnerships between community residents, law enforcement, local government agencies, and other community stakeholders. The bill also includes $45 million in funding to a Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program to train police officers in de-escalation, implicit bias, and preventing unlawful force. This funding will also go towards strengthening crisis intervention teams by embedding mental and behavioral health professionals alongside law enforcement officers. Finally, the bill includes $125 million for anti-recidivism programs, helping formally incarcerated individuals re-integrate peacefully into society.

Supporting America’s Veterans: Provides $5 billion to implement the Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act, which Warner and Kaine successfully pushed to pass earlier this year. This legislation expanded health care services and benefits to veterans with conditions related to toxic exposure during their service. The budget also includes $118.7 billion for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care and $2.7 billion to support critical services and housing assistance for veterans and their families experiencing housing insecurity.

Expanding High-Speed Internet Access: Includes $364 million for the USDA’s ReConnect Program to expand access to high-speed broadband to remote underserved areas. As governors and senators, Warner and Kaine have long supported expanding broadband access in Virginia. During the pandemic, they secured significant funding for broadband through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Warner and Kaine also joined a bipartisan letter to Senate leadership requesting this funding earlier this year. Warner also personally secured billions of dollars for broadband expansion in both the American Rescue Planand the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Strengthening the Prescription Drug Pipeline: Includes bipartisan provisions championed by Kaine to strengthen the pipeline and increase transparency for critical medicines, which would lower costs and make it easier for physicians and patients to plan for the future. Kaine first outlined these steps in two bipartisan bills, the Interchangeable Biologics Clarity Act and the Biologics Market Transparency Act.

Boosting Local Economies: Includes $200 million for the Appalachian Regional Commission and $20 million—an increase of $15 million compared to last year’s budget—for the Southwest Crescent Regional Commission (SCRC) to support their work to build economic partnerships, create opportunity, and foster economic development. Kaine and Warner, along with the late Representative A. Donald McEachin, led the push to increase SCRC funding.

Restoring the Chesapeake Bay: Includes $92 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program, which is the leading federal program that coordinates restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Expanding Defense Workforce Training: Includes $830.2 million for the Industrial Base Analysis and Sustainment (IBAS) Program Office, which funds a range of efforts at the Department of Defense to support the defense industrial base, including a pilot program in Danville which is currently training students in machining, welding, metrology and manufacturing for jobs in shipbuilding.

Boosting Scientific Research and Innovation: Includes $1.8 billion in funding to help implement the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. Warner and Kaine led efforts in the Senate to secure funding from the legislation for Virginia, noting in a letter to the Department of Commerce that Virginia has a leading technology workforce and semiconductor manufacturing presence, making the Commonwealth an ideal location for future federal investments in semiconductor research and manufacturing.

Making Higher Education More Affordable: Provides a $500 boost or 7.2 percent increase to the maximum Pell Grant in the 2023-2024 school year, raising the maximum award to $7,395. This is the largest increase in the maximum Pell grant award since the 2009-10 school year and further builds off the $400 increase provided last year. The omnibus also includes $1 billion, an increase of $137 million or 15 percent, for programs to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other Minority Serving Institutions.

Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: Includes the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act, legislation Warner, and Kaine cosponsored to reduce barriers to non-opioid pain management for those enrolled in Medicare. The budget also includes the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, legislation Kaine cosponsored to reduce barriers to accessing medication-assisted treatment for individuals living with substance use disorders.

Fighting Eating Disorders: The bill includes the Anna Westin Legacy Act, legislation cosponsored by Warner to help those affected by eating disorders through improved healthcare professional training and clarity of mental health parity.

Supporting the Direct Care and Family Caregiver Workforce: Includes $2 million for a project to identify new strategies to attract and retain a qualified direct care workforce. A similar provision was included in Kaine’s Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act, legislation designed to address direct care and family caregiver workforce shortages.

Addressing Americans’ Long COVID Needs: Includes $10 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to provide the research needed to ensure those experiencing Long COVID have access to the patient-centered, coordinated care they need. This effort was first outlined in Kaine’s CARE for Long COVID Act.

Extending Telehealth Access: Extends COVID-19-related telehealth flexibilities for two full years through 2024, drawing on legislation introduced by Warner and cosponsored by Kaine to allow more Americans to utilize telehealth services and expand the types of healthcare providers eligible to offer telemedicine.

Keeping Kids Healthy: Extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which provides low- and no-cost health coverage for thousands of low-income children in Virginia, for an additional two years.

Improving Cybersecurity in Health Care: Includes several provisions addressing cybersecurity vulnerabilities across the healthcare sector. Last month, Warner released a policy options paper outlining current cybersecurity threats facing healthcare providers and systems and offering a series of policy solutions to improve cybersecurity across the industry, several of which were included in the bill.

Supporting Miners Suffering from Black Lung Disease: Includes $12.19 million for Black Lung Clinics. Warner and Kaine have actively worked to secure benefits for miners and their families suffering from black lung disease. In August, the Inflation Reduction Act, supported by both Warner and Kaine, permanently extended the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund excise tax at a higher rate, providing more certainty for miners, miner retirees, and their families who rely on the fund to access benefits.

Improving Access to Lifesaving Drugs: Includes significant improvements to the Food and Drug Administration’s Accelerated Approval Pathway, an important regulatory mechanism that provides early access to treatments and cures for patients with serious and life-threatening conditions. Kaine has long advocated for these improvements, which he outlined in his bipartisan Modernizing Accelerated Approvals Act.

Funding for Pediatric Cancer Research: Provides $12.6 million to fund childhood cancer research through the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act—legislation championed by Warner and Kaine and named after a child from Loudoun County who died from a brain tumor in 2013.

Supporting Hospital-Based Nurse Training Programs: Includes a technical correction to protect funding for programs that train nurses and other allied health professionals at hospital-based nursing programs across the country. This provision is based on the Technical Reset to Advance the Instruction of Nurses (TRAIN) Act, legislation Kaine cosponsored.

Addressing Physician Shortages: Provides for the distribution of 200 additional Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) residency positions, with 100 slots specifically dedicated to increasing the number of mental health residencies. Kaine has long-supported expansion of GME residency positions and is a co-sponsor of the Physician Shortage Reduction Act to do so.

Supporting Rural Hospitals: Includes a two-year extension for Medicare payment programs that are vital to rural hospitals: the Medicare Dependent Hospital program and the Low Volume Adjustment Hospital program. Kaine cosponsored legislation in support of this action, the Rural Hospital Support Act. The budget also includes $5 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish an Office of Rural Health, a step first outlined in the Rural Health Equity Act, which was led by the late Congressman A. Donald McEachin in the U.S. House of Representatives and cosponsored by Kaine in the Senate.

Fighting Global Hunger:  Includes over $2 billion in international food aid and to promote U.S. agricultural exports overseas. This funding is critical to combatting global hunger and malnutrition. This funding follows Kaine’s work to highlight and address the threat Russia’s invasion of Ukraine poses to food security around the world and Warner’s support for non-governmental organizations responding to the food crisis. It also includes $154 billion—an increase of $13.4 billion compared to last year’s budget—for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. Last year, 756,600 Virginians, or 9 percent of Virginia’s population, relied on food stamps.

Fighting Pandemics and Promoting Access to Medical Countermeasures: Includes provisions from Kaine’s bipartisan bill, the Promoting Access to Critical Countermeasures by Ensuring Specimen Samples (ACCESS) to Diagnostics Act, to support quicker research and development of medical countermeasures to disease outbreaks and pandemics, including diagnostic tests, vaccines, and therapeutics, in response to emerging infectious diseases. The budget also includes $10.56 billion—a $731 million increase compared to last year’s budget—to support global health and vaccination efforts worldwide. This funding is critical to protecting Virginians from the impacts of disease outbreaks around the world.

Modernizing America’s Health Data Infrastructure: Includes $175 million—an increase of $75 million compared to last year’s budget—to modernize the public health data systems that help support healthy communities throughout America and Virginia. Also included are provisions from Kaine’sImproving Data Accessibility Through Advancements (DATA) in Public Health Act to increase timely and accurate information sharing between local, state, and federal public health departments to improve preparedness for emerging public health threats and create a grant program to strengthen the quality and completeness of demographic data collection used by public health entities.

Strengthening Transportation and Recreation Infrastructure: Provides $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, in addition to $45 million for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which will support multi-purpose trails across Virginia.

Supporting Key Missing Persons Program: Includes $1 million to help with the nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert system. In 2018, Warner secured unanimous Senate passage of the Ashanti Alert Act, legislation that created a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18-64. The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018.

Supporting Economic Growth for Underserved Communities: Provides $324 million for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund, which supports businesses’ economic growth in underserved communities. The successful push by Warner and Kaine follows Warner’s efforts to support CDFIs through legislation, including the Jobs and Neighborhood Investment Actand the creation of the bipartisan Senate Community Development Finance Caucus.

Protecting Democracy:  Includes provisions to ensure that electoral votes tallied by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for president and provides specific guidelines for the point at which candidates elected president and vice president can receive the resources provided for their transition into office. Warner and Kaine have long called for legislation to safeguard future elections, and Warner was among the bipartisan group of senators who negotiated these proposals.

Assisting Ukraine in the Fight Against Russia’s Illegal Invasion: Provides $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to support the Ukrainian people, to strengthen our NATO allies, and to defend global democracy in response to Russian aggression.

Supporting Our Afghan Allies: Provides funding to help eliminate processing backlogs and expedite adjudications of Afghan Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) cases. Virginia is home to one of the largest Afghan diaspora populations in the United States and led the U.S. in resettling Afghan allies following the U.S. withdrawal.

Supporting Order and Safety at Our Border: Includes funding to support 19,855 Border Patrol agents, 300 more agents compared to last year’s budget, in addition to $800 million to support Customs and Border Patrol’s management of migrant processing facilities. The budget also provides resources for various programs to help improve the conditions that drive migration from Central America, including programs focused on counter-narcotics efforts and economic development. As Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Kaine has long advocated for efforts to address the root causes of migration.

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