Update focuses on work related to reports of Russian bounties on Americans in Afghanistan and availability of COVID-19 emergency aid to small businesses Source: July 10, 2020 email I have several updates regarding legislation focused on the 2001 AUMF, my committee work related to the reports of Russian bounties on the heads of Americans in Afghanistan, and loans available to small businesses who are still in need of COVID-19 emergency aid. Please keep reading for a quick recap of the week's work. If you have a neighbor or friend who doesn't regularly receive this wrap-up at the end of each week, ***click here and send them this link to make sure they never miss an update.*** IN VIRGINIA'S 7TH DISTRICT Since swearing in on 1/3/2019, my office has * Attended 945 events across our district * Responded to 93,918 emails and letters * Closed 1,291 cases for constituents * Returned $2,367,620 to VA-07 taxpayers The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) has been extended. If you are a small business owner who has not yet received a PPP loan, you have until August 8 to apply. READ MORE COVID-19 has thrown daily life upside down for many families in Virginia's 7th District. Since the pandemic began, my team has helped track down stimulus checks, secure IRS refunds for working families, and brought constituents home after they were stranded abroad. We are here to help you too. To get assistance with the IRS, the VA, Social Security, Medicare, or any other part of the federal government, click here to start a case.
WHAT I'M WORKING ON On Wednesday, I held another call with nursing home administrators from across Central Virginia. We covered local concerns like slow turnaround on test results and reopening guidelines. I was also disturbed to hear that once again, our long-term care facilities are beginning to run out of PPE. The health and safety of our parents, grandparents, and senior neighbors should be just as much of a priority now as it was four months ago, and I will continue pushing for increased PPE production and distribution via the Defense Production Act — as well as strong federal support to states.
No matter what political party we belong to, all Americans should be united on the issue of keeping our men and women in uniform safe. On Tuesday and Thursday, I participated in Foreign Affairs Committee hearings on the reports that the Russian government is offering bounties to the Taliban and its affiliates for the murder of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. These reports sicken me, as they should every American, and the United States should make clear that we will not accept the continued Russian escalations, let alone those that target U.S. servicemembers. I remain deeply disappointed by the White House's unwillingness to stand up to Russia and the president's continued pattern of treating a dangerous adversary like a trusted ally.
Today, I introduced a bipartisan bill that would provide refurbished computers to veterans, seniors, and students in need. As COVID-19 has shut down schools, offices, and libraries, the necessity of access to a computer at home has been thrown into sharp relief. Without a computer at home, many Americans are cut off from educational opportunities, updated public information, and the job opportunities they need to provide for their families. My bill would help close the gap and partner with nonprofits to bring computers that would otherwise be wasted to the veterans, seniors, and low-income students who need them. I was proud to introduce this bill alongside fellow Virginians Rep. Luria, Rep. Wittman, and Rep. Riggleman, and I look forward to pushing this bill until it is on the president's desk. READ MORE
This week, I introduced bipartisan legislation to establish limits on the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF.) After decades of conflict overseas with almost no congressional oversight, it's time for Congress to reclaim its constitutional responsibility of debating and approving military engagement abroad. Our current process is broken, and we owe it to every American servicemember and military family to have a full, thoughtful debate before sending troops into harm's way. By halting future use of the 2001 AUMF to justify new hostilities, we are taking the first step toward ensuring that Congress must be accountable with their votes for authorizing future conflicts. READ MORE
No matter the adversary, be it a hostile foreign government or a deadly disease, the first responsibility of all elected officials is to help keep Americans safe from harm. I will continue working to protect our families and communities in Central Virginia, and support you however I can during this difficult time. If you have questions or are in need of assistance, don't hesitate to call my office at (202) 225-2815 or (804) 401-4110. With gratitude, Abigail
Newest Update: Protecting Americans with Pre-Existing Conditions, Lowering Premiums on ACA Plans Source: July 3, 2020 email Many things have changed for our communities in recent months, but one thing that hasn't is my commitment to keeping you informed about our work on the top issues that matter to Central Virginia. I hope you find this week's update informative.
If you don't regularly receive my legislative wrap-up at the end of each week, click here to make sure you never miss an update. WHAT I'M WORKING ON On Monday, I voted to pass bipartisan legislation that would protect coverage for Americans with pre-existing conditions and help lower monthly premiums on ACA plans for middle class families. Supported by both Republicans and Democrats, the bill fights back against the latest efforts to strip coverage from Americans living with pre-existing conditions like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. It also lowers the maximum monthly premium that a middle class family would have to pay for plans in the ACA marketplace. This could mean thousands of dollars in savings per year for working families.
For example, a 40-year-old couple with two kids in Henrico County making $103,258 per year currently pays $1,594 per month for a silver plan. Under this bill, they would pay $731 per month — a savings of $10,351 per year. A 50-year-old couple with a 25-year-old adult child making $85,533 per year currently pays $1,793 per month in premiums. Under this bill, they would pay $606 per month — a savings of $14,246 a year.
If there are problems in our healthcare system, we should fix them. But for thousands of our neighbors here in Virginia, the existing healthcare law is their only lifeline to care they can afford. I want to strengthen and improve our system — not tear it down. READ MORE
On Tuesday, I went to the White House for a briefing on recent reports that Russia has been placing a bounty on American soldiers in Afghanistan. First and foremost — the safety of our troops should never be politicized. After working as a case officer in the intelligence community, I know firsthand how urgent and credible information has to be to get included in the President's Daily Brief. Whether the president read these reports in his daily brief or not, we all know now the situation — my question is, what are we going to do next to protect the lives of Central Virginians and other Americans deployed in harm's way? WATCH MORE
This week, I was encouraged to see the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis recognize the agriculture and forestry industries as collaborative partners in the fight against climate change. On my Conservation & Forestry subcommittee, I've heard from many farmers and foresters who have long been champions of practices that both improve our climate and boost their bottom line. I look forward to continuing this conversation and finding areas of common ground on important issues like voluntary private land conservation, precision agriculture, soil health, national forests, and more. READ MORE
This week, the House passed my amendment to the Moving America Forward Act. This legislation includes landmark funding to expand rural broadband access, and my amendment would work to ensure that the FCC is investing in networks that will last us for years to come. We must make sure that federal dollars are going toward projects that have the upload and download speeds that our rural businesses, farms, and students need to compete — especially as many people continue to work from home. ***Sign up to receive a brief legislative update each week*** IN VIRGINIA'S 7TH DISTRICT Since swearing in on 1/3/2019, my office has * Attended 937 events across our district * Responded to 92,115 emails and letters * Closed 1,236 cases for constituents * Returned $2,312,171 to VA-07 taxpayers Read our updated guide for small businesses Read our updated guide to reopening Read our updated guide to food assistance
COVID-19 has thrown daily life upside down for many families in Virginia's 7th District. Since the pandemic began, my team has helped secure stimulus checks and IRS refunds for working families, provided guidance on food assistance and how to file for unemployment, and brought constituents home after they were stranded abroad due to travel lock downs.
We are here to help you too. To get assistance with the IRS, the VA, Social Security, Medicare, or any other part of the federal government, click here to start a case.
As we navigate the ongoing health crisis, the worsening economic downturn, and the phased reopening of our Commonwealth, I will be working hard to make sure that no Central Virginian is left behind. If we can help during this difficult time, don't hesitate to call my office at (202) 225-2815 or (804) 401-4110.
Phase Two Reopening in Virginia (Copied from email sent June 9, 2020) Most areas of Virginia began Phase Two of reopening on Friday, June 5. My office has received many questions about how the rules have changed since Phase One. Please keep reading for an overview of the adjusted restrictions, and don't hesitate to call us at (804) 401-4110 with questions or concerns.
Are there exceptions to Phase Two? For most of Virginia, the Phase Two reopening rules took effect on June 5. The exceptions are the Northern Virginia Region and the City of Richmond.Those two localities will remain in Phase One for the time being, due to less encouraging health data and a continued need to sharply curb the spread of new cases.
An end date for Phase Two has not yet been announced. That decision will be made at the state level by Virginia’s elected officials and public health experts.
Why are we moving to Phase Two? Since restrictions were first put in place in March, Commonwealth officials and public health experts have been monitoring metrics like testing availability, personal protective equipment supply, hospital bed capacity, percentage of positive tests, and hospitalizations. State officials have seen improvement in those metrics in recent weeks, indicating that it's now safe for most Virginians to begin Phase Two.
Restaurants, Bars, Wineries, Breweries, Food Courts Dining and beverage establishments may open for delivery, take-out, indoor seating, and outdoor seating. They must limit occupancy to 50% of the max, position parties of customers at least six feet apart, and close areas where customers may congregate (bar seating, lounge areas, etc.)
No self-service of food (except beverages), including condiments and buffets.
Businesses must thoroughly clean frequently touched surfaces every 60 minutes during operation, and clean tabletops, chairs, and credit card folders between every party of customers.
Retail Stores Open with occupancy limited to 50% of the max. Businesses must install sneeze guards at check-out points whenever possible. They must also use floor markers and a flow plan to ensure that customers continue distancing and move quickly through the store.
Religious Services Open with occupancy limited to 50% of the max. Attendees who are not members of the same household must remain six feet apart, and may not pass items between groups. Any containers used to distribute food or beverages must be single-use and discarded.
Frequently touched surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned prior to and following each service.
Gyms, Fitness Studios Open with occupancy limited to 30% of the max OR 50 people (whichever is fewer.) Customers and employees must remain ten feet apart.
Outdoor and indoor swimming pools may be used for lap swimming, exercise, and instruction, but swimmers must maintain ten feet of distance and limit to no more than three people per lane. Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, and other aquatic recreational areas must be closed.
Businesses must clean shared equipment after each use and provide hand washing or sanitizing stations throughout the facility. Any equipment that can't be cleaned regularly (ex. climbing wall or rope, exercise bands, etc.) is prohibited.
Hair Salons, Nail Salons, Barbershops Open with occupancy limited to 50% of the max. Businesses must provide face coverings for customers or require that all customers wear their own, and services must be limited to those that can be completed without removing a face covering.
All tools must be cleaned after each use. Frequently touched surfaces must be cleaned every 60 minutes during operation.
Beaches Visitors must remain six feet apart and groups are limited to 50 people or fewer. Concerts, group sports, tents, and other forms of entertainment that generate crowding are prohibited. Common areas like gazebos, piers, and playgrounds remain closed (except for fishing piers.)
Frequently touched surfaces (ex. benches) and public restrooms must be cleaned every two hours.
Schools Provided higher education institutions can comply with the general guidelines outlined for businesses, they may hold in-person classes and labs. However, schools and students are still strongly encouraged to use distance learning whenever possible.
Still Closed Indoor recreation and entertainment businesses (art venues, movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades, etc.) remain closed. Overnight summer camps are also still closed. Social gatherings, whether they're indoors or outdoors, must be limited to 50 people or fewer.
Are we required to wear masks? The Governor of Virginia issued an executive order on May 29 requiring all patrons of personal care and beauty businesses, retail stores, restaurants and beverage venues, entertainment and recreation businesses, train stations, bus stations, public transportation stations, and government buildings to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth while spending time inside.
Notable exceptions: children under the age of nine are not required to wear face coverings in those public spaces and face coverings may be removed while eating and to participate in religious rituals. No end date has been announced yet regarding this rule.
What's next for Virginia? We don't yet know when Virginia will move from Phase Two to Phase Three. That decision will be made at the state level, based on the trends that experts are seeing across our Commonwealth.
Even as measurements continue to steadily improve, many Central Virginia families are still hurting. In the weeks and months to come, my office will keep doing everything in our power to serve the 7th District.
If you need assistance with a federal agency, have a story or opinion to share, or simply don't know what your next step should be, we are here to listen.
You can always contact us by calling (202) 225-2815 or (804) 401-4110, or by visiting spanberger.house.gov. Stay safe, Abigail
Latest Update from Congresswoman Spanberger Issued via email May 23, 2020
I hope you and your family are staying healthy and safe. I’m writing today to give you a brief update on what I’ve been working on this month. Expanding Broadband Infrastructure One issue that unites Democrats and Republicans in the rural counties of central Virginia is the need for fast, affordable broadband services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m focused on procuring results for the people of VA-07 which means pushing for real, bipartisan solutions.
I’ve led an effort of more than 70 Representatives — Democrats and Republicans — from across the country calling for a historic investment in expanding our nation’s broadband infrastructure. We are all adapting to this crisis, and there is no singular, direct path forward. But the only way we’re going to address our challenges is by working together.
IRS Customer Service I’ve heard from hundreds of Central Virginians expressing frustration that they’ve been unable to reach Internal Revenue Service (IRS) customer service representatives to ask important questions. Earlier this month,I led a multi-member effort calling on the IRS to improve their customer service for taxpayers with questions about their stimulus checks.
On Monday, the IRS announced it will add 3,500 telephone operators to answer Americans’ questions about the status of their stimulus checks. I’m encouraged by this development, but I’ll keep pressing the IRS to improve its telework capabilities and provide faster answers to Central Virginians.
Nursing Homes Here in Central Virginia, we’ve seen the devastating and fatal effects of COVID-19 on residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities. As these facilities and their staff struggle on the front lines to care for the most vulnerable people in our communities, it is unacceptable that the support they need has been so delayed.
I’ve led multiple efforts calling for more funding and better supply distribution at nursing homes and long-term care facilities for weeks. The facilities need testing supplies, personal protective gear and staff support, and the American people need clarity on what supply distribution issues or decision-making processes have caused delays. I promise to keep pushing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide answers and deliver long overdue support. We can’t keep losing our neighbors this way. Lugar Bipartisanship Ranking The Lugar Center has released its annual ranking of legislators, based on their commitment to coalition-building and bipartisanship. I am proud to be ranked as: The 5th most bipartisan House Democrat and the most bipartisan Member of the Virginia delegation.
The bipartisan index measures how often House Members introduce bills that succeed in attracting cosponsors from the opposite political party and how often they cosponsor a bill introduced by a Member of the other party. I am proud to have a bipartisanship score that demonstrates my strong commitment to working across the aisle on legislative solutions that can expand opportunity for all Central Virginians.
Thank you for supporting my campaign. Although we can’t be together right now, please connect with me on my campaign Facebook and Twitter pages — that’s where you’ll find the most up-to-date information. If you would like to get involved in my campaign, please visit my campaign website.
Thank you, Abigail
Resources for veterans (Copied from email of March 24, 2020)
Hello everyone, I wanted to make sure you saw some relevant updates and resources for 7th District veterans. The coronavirus pandemic is upending everyone's daily life, and I want to ensure no one is left behind – including the Central Virginia men and women who have served to keep us safe.
RESOURCES FOR VETERANS CLICK HERE to learn about calling ahead and other safety procedures you should expect when you arrive for your appointment at a VA clinic or facility.
CLICK HERE to visit the VA's telehealth page. You may be able to get assistance without leaving your home.
CLICK HERE to read the Department of Veterans Affairs' FAQ page on the coronavirus pandemic.
CLICK HERE to learn more about what the Department of Veterans Affairs is doing to respond to the outbreak.
CLICK HERE to locate a VA healthcare facility near you.
RELIABLE INFORMATION This rapidly-changing situation can feel quite chaotic, and it's important to know which sources of information you can trust. I encourage everyone to stay up to date on the CDC's recommendations for keeping you and your family safe during this pandemic. CLICK HERE
You can also find reliable information and updates on the Virginia Department of Health's website. CLICK HERE
My own office has put together a coronavirus pandemic page on my website, and we will continue to update it often with new information. CLICK HERE
Finally, please follow @RepSpanberger on Twitter and Facebook to receive my quickest updates on how we are responding to this crisis at the local, state, and federal level. I will be doing regular posts and video updates to keep you informed. CLICK HERE and HERE
CLOSURES AND DELAYS All local Virginia Department of Veteran Services offices are currently closed for in-person service. Service will still be provided during normal business hours via phone and email. CLICK HERE to find contact information for your local office.
The Central Virginia VA Health Care System is currently screening all visitors and employees at select entrances across the McGuire VA Medical Center facility and community clinics. All patients coming for an appointment should plan to arrive approximately one hour early, as we expect some delays in entry to the facility.
This is a challenging time. If you want to speak to my team and me about a question, casework issue, or any other concerns on your mind, we are here to listen.
You can call us at (804) 401-4110 and (202) 225-2815. We will help however we can.
Coronavirus Updates: SBA Emergency Loans (Copied from email of March 20, 2020)
Hello everyone, The coronavirus pandemic situation continues to evolve quickly. I want to keep you updated on how we responded this week, and ask for your input during this challenging time.
ALERT: SMALL BUSINESSES Important update before we go further – Virginia was approved yesterday for the Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. Small businesses can apply for relief by visiting http://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/. If anyone cannot apply online, please call 1‐800‐659‐2955 for help.
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN VA-07 Today, I took a virtual tour of VCU Health and spoke with workers there about the challenges they're encountering on the frontlines of this crisis. Many of you have called and written to my office to raise concerns about health workers experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). I'm closely monitoring the flow of supplies in our district, and I've been in touch with state labs, regional hospitals, and the Department of Health and Human Services regarding the distribution of supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. I've also raised this concern directly with Governor Northam.
Yesterday, I held a call with local business owners and chambers of commerce from across Central Virginia. I gathered their direct feedback and suggestions for what help they want to see in the next legislative package from Congress. More details on the Small Business Administration's emergency loan program below.
This week, I've held many other individual calls with local doctors, nurses, hospital workers, elected officials, school administrators, first responders, food banks, chambers of commerce, and the Governor of Virginia. I'm checking in with leaders in our communities every day to stay informed on what they're seeing, what they need, and how we can work together to serve Central Virginians during this time.
I'm working to make sure that the Department of Education has a plan for our students who can't access schoolwork due to lack of broadband internet connectivity. No child should be left behind during this crisis because of their zip code. READ MORE
WHAT'S HAPPENING IN CONGRESS This week, the Senate passed the second package of coronavirus-related legislation and the president signed it into law. Widely supported by both Republicans and Democrats, this set of initiatives will: - Ensure that COVID-19 tests are free, without a copay or deductible. - Expand nutrition assistance for our nation's children who are out of school. - Provide emergency paid sick leave for an estimated 22 million American workers.
Is a third package of legislation coming? Additional steps need to be taken, and I am in continued conversations with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. I'm also collecting as much information as I can from you, Central Virginians, about what we need to include in a third package of legislation to help our health workers, people who have lost their jobs during this time, small businesses struggling to stay open, and others who need our immediate help. READ MORE
What else has been done so far? The House and Senate passed the first package of coronavirus legislation earlier this month. The first package includes measures to support rapid vaccine development, help for small businesses that are taking a financial hit during the crisis, and reimbursements for local and state health departments that are shouldering rising costs.
RESOURCES I've set up a coronavirus pandemic page on my website. We will continue to update this space often with new information. We are working on a resource guide for Central Virginians who many need help with nutrition and other immediate needs. Please stay tuned. CLICK HERE
I encourage everyone to stay up to date on the CDC's recommendations for keeping you and your family safe during this pandemic. CLICK HERE
You can also find reliable information and updates on the Virginia Department of Health's website. CLICK HERE
Please follow @RepSpanberger on Twitter and Facebook to receive my quickest, most current updates on this rapidly-shifting situation. I will be doing regular posts and video updates to keep you informed. CLICK HERE and HERE
ONE MORE NOTE We have a lot more work to do before this pandemic is over. I am committed to doing everything I possibly can to keep Central Virginians safe, prepared, and well-informed. I'll continue working across the aisle with my House colleagues to pass legislation that gets help into the hands of those who need it fast.
This week, I've heard incredible examples of courage and selflessness from the healthcare workers and others on the front lines of this crisis across Virginia's 7th District. As we grapple with the anxiety and uncertainty this crisis has brought, I'm so thankful for the compassion and unity we are seeing play out in hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, and grocery stores across the Commonwealth and the country.
Before we are Republicans or Democrats, we are Americans. We will get through this together.
If you have any questions we could help with or concerns you want to share, my office is here to listen and help however we can. Even as we work remotely, you can call us at (202) 225-2815 or (804) 401-4110. We are here to serve you and your family. Sincerely, Abigail