Opening Statement of Ranking Member Capito for Hearing on Water Resources Projects

Source: United States Senator for West Virginia Shelley Moore Capito


Click here or the image above to watch Ranking Member Capito’s opening remarks.

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing entitled, “The Role of Natural and Nature-Based Features in Water Resources Projects.”

 

Below is the opening statement of Ranking Member Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), as prepared for delivery:

 

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I want to welcome to our witnesses.

 

“The timing and focus of this hearing are appropriate as it has been over a year since we advanced the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) out of this committee.

 

“In the WRDA legislation, Congress authorizes water resources projects and sets national policies for the Civil Works Program for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

 

“From navigation to flood risk management, these projects are critical to the economic opportunity and safety of millions of Americans.

 

“I look forward to building on the bipartisan consensus that we have already achieved on infrastructure policy in this committee by staying on the biannual schedule of moving WRDA legislation to enactment.

 

“The role of natural and nature-based features—or natural infrastructure—in water resources projects has been discussed by this committee for years, and incorporated into previous legislation.

 

“Most significantly, in 2016, with the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act.

 

“In that legislation, Congress defined natural and nature-based features and included them among other measures to be considered in the Corps’ feasibility study process for flood risk management, storm damage reduction, and ecosystem restoration projects.

 

“This was in recognition of the role natural infrastructure can play in achieving the Corps’ mission areas while producing other benefits. 

 

“For example, a wetland in coastal Louisiana may help protect communities from hurricane damage, as well as provide ecological habitat.

 

“A levee setback on the Missouri River can reconnect the floodplain to the river, while lessening flood risk to the surrounding community.

 

“In the 2016 bill, Congress also reiterated the essential partnership between the Corps and non-federal sponsors in undertaking such projects, requiring that natural and nature-based features be considered with the consent of the non-federal sponsor.

 

“This is the crux of what we are discussing here today.

 

“Natural infrastructure is an important tool in our toolbox that ought to be available for consideration and application in water resources projects where practicable, cost-effective, and with the buy-in of those communities partnering with the Corps.

 

“It is not a panacea on its own, however, as we all know.

 

“Natural infrastructure often works in concert with traditional infrastructure.

 

“In some cases, structural solutions alone may be the only viable solution to a water resources infrastructure issue.

 

“Take my home state of West Virginia.

 

“While we have a history of terrible floods, our topography is not naturally conducive to implementation of many of the frequently cited examples of natural infrastructure.

 

“That is why the work being done by the Corps, the non-federal sponsors, and other stakeholders to advance our understanding of natural infrastructure through research and real-world experience is so very important.

 

“The ‘Engineering with Nature Initiative’ the Corps is leading is one example.

 

“The initiative’s work is informed by research being performed at the U.S. Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center and in collaboration with partners across the globe in both the public and private sectors.

 

“The collection, summation, and dissemination of natural infrastructure best practices on an international scale will inform our decisions as policymakers and provide communities with the knowledge necessary to decide what works best for them.

 

“Private industry is also lending its expertise.

 

“In April 2019, the chairman and I hosted a briefing featuring both Dr. Bridges and representatives from the Natural Infrastructure Initiative, a partnership between various public and private stakeholders, regarding the work that is already underway.

 

“It is important that as policymakers we continue to broaden our understanding through these and other efforts.

 

“We need to better understand the benefits and costs of incorporating natural and nature-based features in Corps projects, both in the short-term and over the life of a project.

 

“This includes the effect of these approaches on operations and maintenance.

 

“We also need to better understand where it makes sense to incorporate these features. 

 

“It may not make sense in every project.

 

“Furthering our conceptual and practical knowledge of natural infrastructure will help us make smart investments in water resources projects that yield multiple benefits.

 

“The missions of the Corps are as important today as at any time in our nation’s history.

 

“I look forward to hearing from our witnesses about how we many continue to support these missions using every tool available. 

 

“Thank you for being with us today.”

 

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Sen. Cramer, Colleagues Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Improve Carbon Capture Tax Credit by Increasing Credit Value, Eliminating Annual Threshold

Source: United States Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee member, joined Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and John Barrasso (R-WY) in introducing the Coordinated Action to Capture Harmful (CATCH) Emissions Act, a bipartisan bill to improve the 45Q carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) tax credit by increasing the credit value for carbon capture projects and by eliminating the annual carbon capture thresholds.

 

“North Dakota is at the forefront of carbon capture and establishing itself as a world leader in the development of clean, reliable energy by applying these technologies to lignite, oil, and ethanol facilities,” said Senator Cramer. “Our bill would encourage further utilization of the carbon capture tax credit for projects of all sizes and increase the value of the credit for capture and use, both of which would lead to more investment, more innovation, and a responsibly reduced carbon footprint.” 

The CATCH Act would build on the Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Tax Credit Amendments Act, a bipartisan bill Senator Cramer helped introduce earlier this year which would extend the commence construction window for CCUS projects and allow for direct payment of the tax credit. If passed, the CATCH Act would:

  • Increase the 45Q credit value for CCUS projects at industrial facilities and power plants to incentivize wider adoption, and
  • Eliminate the annual CO2 capture thresholds to enable more facilities and industries to participate and qualify for the credit.

Efforts in North Dakota to utilize the 45Q tax credit include Project Tundra, a project led by Minnkota Power Cooperative, in partnership with the University of North Dakota’s (UND) Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC), to retrofit the Milton R. Young Station with carbon capture technology. Senator Cramer, a strong supporter of Project Tundra, recently hosted a working breakfast in Bismarck with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan where project leaders could brief him on their efforts. Learn more here.

 

Mac McLennan, President and CEO of Minnkota Power Cooperative, endorsed the CATCH Act and thanked Senator Cramer for his support of the bill.

“As the energy industry faces rapid change, Senator Cramer’s leadership on preserving reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible electricity is more important than ever,” said McLennan. “Carbon capture technologies, like the Minnkota-led Project Tundra, remain critical to answering our nation’s call for a lower carbon footprint, while retaining the resilient generators that provide irreplaceable stability to the electric grid. The CATCH Act is an important policy support enhancement that would bring Project Tundra and many other visionary projects a step closer toward commercialization.”

Senators Cramer, Lujan, and Barrasso are joined on the bill by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

Sen. Cramer, Colleagues Reintroduce Prevent Diabetes Act

Source: United States Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND) joined Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and Mark Warner (D-VA) in reintroducing the PREVENT DIABETES Act, legislation to increase access to the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) Expanded Model by allowing CDC-recognized virtual suppliers to participate in the program.

 

“Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented if people have access to proper care,” said Senator Cramer. “Our legislation makes treatment more accessible for Americans living in rural areas or medically underserved communities.”

 

The PREVENT DIABETES Act would provide access to virtual programs under the MDPP to help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. The MDPP Expanded Model leverages evidence-based interventions to prevent the full onset of type 2 diabetes in at-risk Medicare beneficiaries. Unfortunately, the existing MDPP Expanded Model is only available through in-person sessions, making it more difficult for individuals in rural or medically underserved areas to participate in the program.

 

Senators Cramer, Scott, and Warner are joined on the bill by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Tina Smith (D-MN). The legislation is endorsed by 26 health organizations. 

Learn more here.

Portman, Booker Applaud Senate Committee Passage of S.1061, the Israel Relations Normalization Act

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman

June 24, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Cory Booker (D-NJ), both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, applauded the passage of the Israel Relations Normalization Act out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bill builds upon the Abraham Accords, the peace and normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, by stating that U.S. policy is to strengthen and expand these normalization agreements. The bill was introduced earlier this year by Senator Portman, co-sponsored by Senators Booker, Jim Risch (R-ID), Todd Young (R-IN), and Ben Cardin (D-MD). This bill has overwhelming bipartisan support with over 50 of their Senate colleagues serving as co-sponsors.

“I am pleased that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has passed this important bipartisan legislation. In my visits to the Middle East, I’ve seen the deep and abiding friendships that exist, and the potential for long-term peace and stability,” said Senator Portman. “This bill will encourage normalization of relations between Israel and other countries in the region, which will help build on the success of the Abraham Accords, support our ally Israel, and enshrine the longstanding U.S. policy that encourages Arab League states to normalize relations with Israel. Finally, Congress has an opportunity to act in a bipartisan way with this bill, sending an important signal of unity and solidarity to the international community, which is more vital than ever given the ongoing aggression of Iran and other malign actors.”

“Today, I applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for advancing this bipartisan legislation out of committee. Building on the Abraham Accords to strengthen the relationship between Israel and its neighbors is not only a vital U.S. security interest but is also important for peace and economic prosperity in the region,” said Senator Booker. “Our bipartisan bill leverages American diplomacy to foster momentum to enable the Abraham Accords to reach their full potential, while reaffirming U.S. policy to support a two state solution. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues across the aisle to continue the strong bipartisan commitment to Israel’s long term security and look forward to a larger vote on the Senate floor.”

Specifically, the Israel Relations Normalization Act would:

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Portman, Manchin Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill To Finish Appalachian Development Highway System

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman

June 24, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Finish the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) Act, which would provide $1.75 billion in dedicated funding over five years for the network of transportation corridors across Appalachia for the first time since 2012. Ohio stands to receive $122.1 million in funding through this legislation.

“Since its creation in 1965, the Appalachian Development Highway System has created thousands of miles of highway, creating jobs and bringing important economic development to rural parts of Ohio and the rest of Appalachia. Unfortunately, the portion that remains incomplete is difficult to build and expensive,” said Senator Portman. “I am pleased to be introducing this bipartisan legislation with Senator Manchin, so that the System may finally be completed and hardtoreach places in Appalachia are no longer hard to reach.” 

“West Virginia was recently ranked as one of the worst states for our interstate roads and bridges – it’s clear our infrastructure needs an investment. Since I served as Governor of West Virginia, we have worked hard to complete Corridor H, our last remaining section of the Appalachian Development Highway System, including directing nearly $165 million in federal funding over the past three years, but we can’t do it alone,” said Senator Manchin. “Our bipartisan legislation would return the ADHS funding to its pre-2012 levels to ensure that the highway system can be completed soon to connect Appalachia to the east coast and the rest of the nation. President Biden has made infrastructure investments a cornerstone of his presidential agenda, and this is the perfect opportunity to make good on the promise made to Appalachia so many years ago.”

Senators Portman, Manchin, and Casey were joined by Representatives David Trone (D-MD) and Gary Palmer (R-AL).

In the 1960s, one in three Appalachians lived in poverty, with per capita income 23 percent lower than the U.S. average at the time. At the time, Appalachia was isolated from much of the country, having been largely bypassed by the Interstate Highway System. The ADHS was signed into law in 1965 by President Johnson to build 3,090 miles of highway. As of FY 2021, 91.1 percent of the system is under construction or open to traffic, with only 276 miles left to go. According to the ARC, the full cost of completion for the ADHS is roughly $9.7 billion. Its completion would create 47,000 jobs and facilitate billions more in goods and services throughout Appalachia. Every $1 invested in the ADHS yields an estimated return of $7.10.

Since its inception in 1965, the ADHS has generally received specifically dedicated funding for its construction from Congress on a yearly basis. However, in 2012, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) and its successor, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, no longer provided dedicated ADHS funds to States’ Departments of Transportation, and many projects languished. States were permitted to build and complete ADHS corridors at their own discretion per a more general federal allocation. Unfortunately, states focused on less costly, more immediate projects. The purpose of ADHS was to build in isolated areas in Appalachia – places that were difficult, expensive, and hard to reach. Dedicated federal funding is the only viable solution to finishing the last few portions of this critical network.

Bill text can be found here.

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Portman, Young, Duckworth, Hassan Introduce Bill to Provide TSA Precheck to Disabled Veterans

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman

June 24, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Todd Young (R-IN), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced their bipartisan legislation to provide certain severely disabled veterans access to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Pre√® at no cost. TSA Pre√® is already offered to active duty, reserves, and National Guard service members and the Veterans Expedited TSA Screening (VETS) Safe Travel Act expands this program to include veterans who are amputees, paralyzed, or blind. There are approximately 70,000 amputee veterans, 100,000 paralyzed, and 130,000 blind veterans in the United States currently. When traveling, passing through airport security with prosthetics, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids presents a challenge.  

“Our disabled veterans have served our country honorably, and as a result of their injuries, have to live with daily challenges. Getting through airport security screening should not be one of them,” said Senator Portman. “The least we can do for our most disabled veterans is make it easier and less invasive to get through airports. Making TSA PreCheck available at no cost is one way of doing just that.”

“As a Marine, I swore always to remain faithful to those serving by my side. That includes ensuring our veterans receive the care and respect they are due after they return home. As we return to travel, some veterans with disabilities dread the airport because of the indignities they will endure at security checkpoints,” said Senator Young. “My VETS Safe Travel Act has the potential to help the 70,000 amputee, 100,000 paralyzed, and 130,000 blind veterans currently subjected to a rigorous and demeaning screening process when traveling by providing them PreCheck benefits.”

“Millions of Veterans have sacrificed a great deal in service to our nation and returned home with service-connected disabilities. For those of us who rely on prosthetics and wheelchairs for mobility, air travel and passing through airport security can be a challenge,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senator Young in re-introducing this bipartisan legislation to make TSA PreCheck available at no cost to these Veterans and make flying and passing through airports a little easier and less intrusive.”

“No one likes the hassle of airport security, but for some veterans with disabilities, waiting in long security lines and following physically challenging protocols can be a significant barrier to air travel,” said Senator Hassan. “Veterans make tremendous sacrifices to keep us safe, secure, and free, and this is one commonsense way that we can honor their service.”

Under the VETS Safe Travel Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs would be required to certify that a veteran is eligible. The TSA would then process the veteran’s application, granting access to TSA Pre√® at no cost provided they successfully pass the background check and interview process. Additionally, TSA advises that these veterans can use TSA Pre√® in conjunction with calling the TSA Cares hotline 72-hours prior to departure to ensure expedited screening.  

The legislation is supported by the Wounded Warrior Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Honor Flight Network, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American, VetsFirst, and The American Legion. 

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Portman Praises EDA $1.9 Million Federal Grant to Support the Youngstown Business Incubator

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman

June 24, 2021 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) praised the $1.9 million CARES Act Recovery Assistance grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to the Youngstown Edison Incubator Corporation (Youngstown Business Incubator). According to the EDA, the grant funding will go towards renovating a 65,000 square foot building and further enhance the organization’s capacity to spur entrepreneurship and innovation in the Youngstown region. This EDA grant, to be matched with $475,795 in local funds, is expected to create or retain nearly 70 jobs and generate $4.5 million in private investment.

This grant comes from funds accessible thanks to the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which Portman supported and was signed into law last year.

“This is exciting news for the Youngstown Edison Incubator Corporation. I’m pleased to see this $1.9 million federal grant go towards helping to spur entrepreneurship and innovation in the Youngstown region,” said Portman“This grant, provided through the CARES Act, will help provide assistance to entrepreneurs and is expected to create jobs while spurring millions in additional private investment. I was proud to support the bipartisan CARES Act last year, and I am glad to see that it continues to help local communities in our state return to normalcy as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

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On CNBC, Portman Discusses Bipartisan Infrastructure Negotiations

Source: United States Senator for Ohio Rob Portman

June 24, 2021 | Portman Difference

In an interview this morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Senator Portman provided an update on the ongoing bipartisan infrastructure negotiations ahead of his meeting with President Biden later today. Portman stressed the importance of focusing on core infrastructure upgrades without increasing individual or corporate taxes, which would hurt hard-working American families and negatively impact American businesses.

The transcript of the interview can be found below and you can watch the interview here.

PORTMAN ON WHERE INFRASTRUCTURE NEGOTIATIONS STAND:

“We’ll see what the president says. But I will tell you, we’ve worked very closely with White House negotiators all through this process, as well as working with Josh and his team over in the House. So we’ve tried to keep this as broad as possible. We now will be going out to our colleagues on both sides of the aisle talking about the specifics.

“You and I have talked about this before, but this is about long-term capital investments to help the economy, make it more efficient, make it more productive. It’s going to have a positive effect on the economy. It doesn’t affect inflation because, in effect, it’s adding to the supply side rather than the demand side, which is the issue with short-term stimulus spending. So I think this is a good thing for the economy right now. It’s consistent with what every president over the last four or five have been asking for but haven’t been able to get done.

“President Trump, as you recall, had an ambitious $2 trillion infrastructure package. This is about $1 trillion over the same period of time, $559 billion over the five-year period of new infrastructure. So I’m hopeful we can get a positive response from the White House today. And most importantly, it’s good for America.”

PORTMAN DETAILS DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE BIDEN PROPOSAL AND THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE PROPOSAL: 

“Well, we’ll see. I mean, we started off, as you know, with a proposal from President Biden, which was $2.65 trillion, again, as compared to our package, which is about $1 trillion. It also included a lot of non-infrastructure-related items. In fact, most of it had nothing to do with the kind of hard infrastructure that Josh was just talking about. It also had huge tax increases. Over $2 trillion of income tax increases on the corporate side, primarily. 

“None of that’s in this package. This is core infrastructure and no new income taxes, corporate or individual. And that was our goal, as Republicans and Democrats, to try to pull together and do something in a bipartisan way. So my hope is we can keep that group together and move forward on that basis. In terms of reconciliation, I’ll let Josh talk to that, but Democrats were going to move forward with a broad reconciliation bill with a lot of tax increases, in fact, the most in the history of our country regardless. My sense is that infrastructure, if we can get this done separately, being pulled out of it, makes it a less attractive package for a lot of the more moderate Democrats.”

PORTMAN EXPLAINS HIS OPPOSITION TO TAX INCREASES:

“So my hope is that for Democrats, they focus on what’s good for the economy. And raising taxes right now, particularly, making our country less competitive at a time when we finally have a tax rate for, not so much corporations, is what I’m concerned about, but the workers, because most of the benefit of the tax cuts went to the workers, based on the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and other economic analysis – we’ve talked about that on this show before. When you raise those taxes, particularly raising them five times higher than we cut them in 2017, it’s going to really hurt our workers in terms of wages, benefits, and competitiveness.”

“Well, the issue you’re talking about, Joe, is probably one where Republicans and Democrats could talk about, because it’s about people not having any income taxes, but rather relying on either borrowing against their assets or in some cases capital gains taxes. But Joe, here’s the focus that I hope we will have going forward, which is, let’s not put our small businesses and our farms and ranches in a position where they literally can’t be passed on from generation to generation by not allowing step-up in basis and by increasing the estate tax so high, because that’s what’s going on here in combination with much higher capital gains taxes. It would be harmful to the very backbone of our economy.

“So that’s what I’m concerned about from what I hear about what’s in the Sanders package. We’ll see. But you don’t want to go there, because again, Josh said it well, we’re coming out of a pandemic. We finally see a nice economic recovery. We’ve got to deal with the inflation issue. We’ve got to focus on the supply side, which is what, by the way, more infrastructure is all about. And we’ve got to focus on ensuring that we’re not doing the wrong thing now so that we get off track. Before the pandemic, remember, we had rising wages. We had the lowest poverty rate in the history of the country. We had low unemployment, historically low for Blacks and Hispanics. So we had a lot of good stuff going on. We need to get back to that.”

AFTER LEADING THE CHARGE TO SAVE UPSTATE NY STAGES, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES $403K FOR STANELY THEATRE IN UTICA; MOHAWK VALLEY’S HISTORIC THEATER RECEIVES LIFESAVING GRANT ENSURING UTICA SHOWS WILL GO ON

Source: United States Senator for New York Charles E Schumer

06.24.21

Schumer Led The Charge For Dedicated Fed Assistance That Would Provide Long-Term, Flexible Relief For Upstate NY Venues And Theaters, Including Stanley Theatre, Impacted by COVID Shutdown 

Senator Says $403K For Stanley Theatre Will Keep Lights, Camera, And Action On For Historic Utica Cultural Center 

Schumer: Utica Shows Will Go On!

After successfully leading the national effort to secure designated funding for Upstate New York’s independent live venue operators, independent movie theaters, and cultural institutions in the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (previously known as the Save our Stages Act), U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced a $403,192.06 federal grant for Stanley Theatre in Utica New York. The funding is designed to provide 6 months of financial support that can be used to keep employees and Stanley Theatre open for business as New York recovers from the pandemic.

“Independent movie theaters like Stanley Theatre are the beating heart of New York’s cultural life and a driving force in the local economy,” said Senator Schumer. “These local businesses were among the first to shut down at the start of the pandemic and will be among the last to fully recover. I am proud to deliver this vital federal funding for Stanley Theatre that recognizes its critical cultural and economic impact on Utica.”

Schumer added, “Stanley Theatre, specifically, has been around for nearly a century, and the dedicated Save Our Stages federal assistance I fought hard to include in COVID relief packages ensures that this Utica institution will be around for future generations to enjoy. Today’s funding will keeps the lights, camera, action, going on in Utica.”

Schumer said live venues were among the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, and today’s dedicated federal assistance will help Stanley Theatre deal with the tremendous hit to their bottom-line caused by COVID-19, and fully recover as the economy opens back up. It is estimated that in 2020, live venues and theaters across the country lost $9 billion in ticket sales alone.

Independent movie theaters were folded into the Save Our Stages bill following Schumer’s effort to include them in a small business relief package, the Heroes Small Business Lifeline Act, that he led last October. Schumer then successfully led the fight to pass the Save Our Stages Act and $15 billion in emergency relief into law as part of last December’s COVID package. He also fought to include an additional $1.25 billion in funding for the Save Our Stages program in the American Rescue Plan passed in March. Schumer estimated that without the SOS relief, 70% of the independent movie theaters in the country could have filed for bankruptcy or close permanently by the end of 2020, and more than 70,000 jobs could have been lost permanently.

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Young, Duckworth, Hassan, Portman Reintroduce Bill to Provide TSA Precheck to Disabled Veterans

Source: United States Senator for Indiana Todd Young

June 24, 2021

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.), Tammy Duckworth’s (D-Ill.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today reintroduced their bipartisan legislation to provide disabled veterans TSA Pre√®.  

TSA Pre√® is already offered to active duty, reserves, and National Guard service members at no cost. The Veterans Expedited TSA Screening (VETS) Safe Travel Act will expand this program to include veterans who are amputees, paralyzed, or blind. There are approximately 70,000 amputee veterans, 100,000 paralyzed, and 130,000 blind veterans in the United States currently. When traveling, passing through airport security with prosthetics, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids presents a challenge.  

“As a Marine, I swore always to remain faithful to those serving by my side. That includes ensuring our veterans receive the care and respect they are due after they return home. As we return to travel, some veterans with disabilities dread the airport because of the indignities they will endure at security checkpoints,” said Senator Young. “My VETS Safe Travel Act has the potential to help the 70,000 amputee, 100,000 paralyzed, and 130,000 blind veterans currently subjected to a rigorous and demeaning screening process when traveling by providing them PreCheck benefits.”

“Millions of Veterans have sacrificed a great deal in service to our nation and returned home with service-connected disabilities. For those of us who rely on prosthetics and wheelchairs for mobility, air travel and passing through airport security can be a challenge,” said Senator Duckworth. “I’m proud to join Senator Young in re-introducing this bipartisan legislation to make TSA PreCheck available at no cost to these Veterans and make flying and passing through airports a little easier and less intrusive.”

“No one likes the hassle of airport security, but for some veterans with disabilities, waiting in long security lines and following physically challenging protocols can be a significant barrier to air travel,” said Senator Hassan. “Veterans make tremendous sacrifices to keep us safe, secure, and free, and this is one commonsense way that we can honor their service.”

“Our disabled veterans have served our country honorably, and as a result of their injuries, have to live with daily challenges. Getting through airport security screening should not be one of them,”said Senator Portman. “The least we can do for our most disabled veterans is make it easier and less invasive to get through airports. Making TSA PreCheck available at no cost is one way of doing just that.”

Under the VETS Safe Travel Act, the Department of Veterans Affairs would be required to certify that a veteran is eligible. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) would then process the veteran’s application, granting access to TSA Pre√® at no cost provided they successfully pass the background check and interview process. Additionally, TSA advises that these veterans use TSA Pre√® in conjunction with calling the TSA Cares hotline 72-hours prior to departure to ensure expedited screening.  

The legislation is supported by the Wounded Warrior Project, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Honor Flight Network, Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of American, VetsFirst, and the American Legion.