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Hampton Roads Forum

Aug 17 2015

Senator Warner kicked-off several Virginia events and town hall meetings on Monday, with public events and constituent meetings in Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Newport News. 

He was joined by Senator Tim Kaine for a Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce luncheon and town hall at the Founders Inn in Virginia Beach. There, both Senators delivered brief remarks on congressional priorities, and then took questions from constituents and news reporters.

In his remarks, Senator Warner stressed how critically important it is for Congress to come together in a bipartisan way on the budget before the fiscal year ends on September 30th.

“If Congress doesn’t agree on a budget by October 1,” Senator Warner warned, “we’ll see the return of these mindless, across-the-board sequester cuts. Continued sequestration would be devastating for Virginia and for Hampton Roads, which relies so heavily on defense spending.”

Added Senator Warner, “It would cut back key military investments at a time when our nation is engaged in conflict in Afghanistan and supporting efforts to defeat the terrorists of ISIL. It also would cut back our investments in things like veterans care, education, highways, and R&D.”

Senator Warner stressed the need for both sides to be willing to negotiate on a bipartisan spending package of new revenues and entitlement reforms, noting, “Everything must be on the table in order to come up with a long-term solution – that’s how negotiations work.” 

"If we have the return of sequestration, it's going to be even worse than it was a couple of years ago, because every agency, particularly he Defense Department, has cleared out most of their coffers," Senator Warner told WVEC-TV13's Mike Gooding.  "So that's why they've got to get rid of sequestration and those negotiations need to be starting now, and not wait until the end of September."

In his remarks to the Hampton Roads business leaders, Senator Warner also highlighted the work he has been doing over several months to make the 21st century economy work better for more people. He highlighted multiple meetings he’ll be convening later this week with Virginians who are part of the “on-demand” workforce, creating opportunities and generating revenue through digital platforms like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and the craft platform Etsy, among others.  

And Senator Warner encouraged local leaders to make sure that Hampton Roads stays on the vanguard when it comes to transformative new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and the commercial space industry anchored at NASA's Wallops Island launch facility on the Eastern Shore. "Each of these areas will be critically important to generating additional investment and job creation” for the Commonwealth, the Senator said.

After handing the podium over to Senator Kaine for remarks, both Senators retook the stage and answered questions from the audience.

Answering a question about the wait times at the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, both Senators noted that while they are encouraged by the progress Hampton has made in getting primary care wait times down below 10 days, there is still much work to be done to ensure that veterans get the care they have earned. Senator Warner has visited the Hampton VA four times since last Fall  to highlight the top priority he has placed on improving the facility's service to the region's veterans.

The Senators also fielded questions about the nuclear agreement with Iran, cybersecurity, and the OPM data breach, among other topics.

Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which Senator Warner supported, Congress has a period of 60 days – until September 17 – to consider the agreement. Senator Warner noted that the deal with Iran is “one of the most important issues” he will vote on as Senator, and that he is using that time to carefully review the deal in great detail and meet with a wide range of experts. Senator Warner also observed that, in more than six years in the Senate, he had rarely seen his colleagues take such a thoughtful and deliberative approach to a single issue.

In response to a question from a victim of the OPM hack that exposed the personal information of more than 22 million people, Senator Warner said he  joined Senator Kaine, along with Maryland Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, in efforts to extend lifetime credit monitoring for the victims of the breach. But he also noted that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, stressing how critical it is for the federal government and the private sector to take cybersecurity and the growing threat of data breaches more seriously -- and to make more effort to work together to share information to prevent future attacks.