In his first speech on the floor of the Senate Wednesday, Tim Kaine said the recent passage of a transportation bill in the Virginia General Assembly is a model Washington should follow.
While it’s not a “precise analog as to what we’re wrestling with here, it’s pretty close,” Kaine said.
“The lesson from what happened in Richmond is the economy benefits from a balanced approach, and an imbalanced approach is not going to be the way that we get to a solution that’s good for the economy and good for people.”
He warned that the automatic across-the-board federal budget cuts through sequestration puts 200,000 jobs in Virginia at risk and could mean 90,000 furloughs of federal employees.
During his remarks, Kaine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, reported on his four-day statewide listening tour last week.
“I went to the places where Virginians work every day, doing ship repairs at private shipyards, active duty on naval bases, as DOD civilians working as nurses in army hospitals, as young officer candidates training in ROTC programs, at VA hospitals,” Kaine said.
Kaine described a conversation he had with a wounded veteran and his wife at Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. “’My husband’s nurses are all DOD civilians and while the sequester protects active duty, it doesn’t protect the civilians … What’s it going to mean to my husband’s medical treatment as he comes back from being wounded, injuring this nation if the nurses and health professionals at this hospital are furloughed one day a week,’” he quoted her as saying.
“We are drifting toward something that is very bad, something that Members of Congress believed strongly when the bill was first put in place should not happen and would harm people and would harm our economy,” said Kaine. “The decision is, do we allow ourselves to drift in a way that hurts people? Or do we choose a balanced approach that will help people, that will strengthen the economy, that will strengthen our budget, that will strengthen our ability to create jobs and will strengthen the reputation of this body?”