NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia’s senators faced tough questions Monday from local business leaders during a Q&A forum hosted by the Hampton Roads Chamber.
From questions about recently passed legislation, to issues like internet privacy, nothing was off of the table.
An omnibus spending bill looms and a lot of questions remain in Washington regarding how much can be passed before the end of this current Congressional Session.
Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine answered questions from attendees and giving their thoughts on this most recent session of congress.
“These past two years have been, I’d argue, maybe the most productive since I’ve been in Congress,” said Warner. “I would argue that even over the first couple years of the Obama Administration. A group of us in a bipartisan fashion came together.”
Both senators discussed the impacts recently passed legislation has had and will have on Hampton Roads including legislation like American Rescue Plan and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
But as they discuss legislative successes, many continue to feel the impacts from inflation, especially right around the holidays. Still, Warner believes there may be an end in sight to high prices in 2023.
“It doesn’t get you through Christmas, but I do think help will be a bit on the way. And I hope a lot of the focus will now move to the state. The state is sitting on $3 billion of surplus,” said Warner.
Another topic of discussion – whether Congress would pass new spending and defense bills, two pieces of legislation with major impacts in Virginia if passed.
“Our defense bill would be a great shot in the arm for Hampton Roads in terms of some new construction, additional ship construction, pay raise for our military, additional help in terms of military housing,” said Warner.
The legislation would also help expand one of the largest economic drivers of Hampton Roads.
“We have $30 million for Craney Island expansion, which will enable the Port of Virginia to pursue its path of being the most active port on the East Coast,” said Kaine. “And we have $25 million to save Tangier Island.”
Even with a lot on their legislative agenda and less and less time to tackle it, both senators say they’re optimistic they can pass both bills through the chamber.
“I think that by the time we’re getting ready to leave for Christmas, […] we’ll have it done,” said Senator Kaine. “It is a really solid spending bill for our country, for our national defense, and especially for Hampton Roads.”
Senators also answered questions about internet privacy, immigration, health care, resources for veterans and gun control.