Press Releases

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the House-Senate Budget Conference Committee, made the following comments in a floor speech prior to this afternoon’s Senate passage of the Bipartisan Budget Agreement, which the Senator supported. The legislation passed by a vote of 64 to 36.   

“My hope is this afternoon we'll vote on a budget agreement for two years that is not as grand or as comprehensive as I would have liked. But we'll demonstrate to the American people that up here perhaps we have to crawl before we can walk before we can run… [This bipartisan compromise] says for at least the balance of this fiscal year and for the next, let's take the threat of another shutdown … and unprecedented furloughs off the table. Let's not relax our focus on deficit reduction. Let's not add to the debt. Let's actually do a little bit more, about $20 billion more, in deficit reduction, but let's show that our institutions can actually put country ahead of partisan interests.

“Now, in this compromise, not everyone got what they wanted. I would have argued strongly that the ‘big enchilada’ remains, how do we really take on in a major way that $17 trillion debt that clicks up about $4 billion a night? And that means both political parties have to give on their sacred cows. It means we've got to generate additional revenues through meaningful reform of a completely disastrous tax code, and, yes, it means for folks on my side, we’ve got to make sure that the promise of Medicare and Social Security and other entitlements are here 20 and 30 years from now. But some of those challenges will have to be put off to another day. There are many of us in this body, on both sides of the aisle, who may have a chance to surprise some folks next year in laying out some specific ideas on how we can move to that bigger bargain. But we should not underestimate what we do today.

“I've spent a longer time in business than I have in elective office, and what this country is yearning for, what consumers are yearning for, what business leaders are yearning for, is just a little bit of predictability. The single best thing we can do is make sure that we remove the cloud of further disruption caused by Washington. So what we do today is a small step, but it’s a step that we shouldn't underestimate. So I look forward to supporting this bipartisan agreement.

“I’ll vote for this compromise, but there are particular provisions of this compromise that I would not have agreed to and that I do not support. And that is a component that I believe unfairly singles out our military families. Our military families over the last two decade-plus have fought two wars. They have made unprecedented sacrifices. Oftentimes they are the only Americans making sacrifices through many of the last decades. And Virginia is home to the nation's largest concentration of active duty and retired military personnel, and I consider it an honor to represent them here in Congress. And the component of the budget compromise that singles out these military retirees for a decrease in their cost-of-living increase I think was not an appropriate component.

“But rather than saying, let's flush the whole deal down, I will vote for this deal… I've got a fix that I have proposed to replace this component going forward. I've been joined in this effort by my friend, the Senator from Virginia as well, Senator Kaine, and my good friend, former governor as well, Senator Shaheen.  We introduced legislation that would eliminate this $6 billion hit on our military retirees. Our legislation doesn't add to the debt or deficit. Our legislation would replace this unfair hit to our military retirees by closing certain corporate tax loopholes that generate sufficient revenue to make sure that our military families will not be unfairly affected.”