Name: Tim Kaine
Biography: Sen. Tim Kaine is a Harvard Law School graduate who worked as a civil rights attorney in Richmond for 17 years. He was first elected to political office in 1994 as a Richmond City Council member and has served as the city’s mayor, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia and the Governor of Virginia. He has been a United States Senator since 2013.
Related Video: WAVY News 10 sat down with Sen. Tim Kaine at our studios. Here are his replies on the following topics.
1. Why should Virginians re-elect you to the U.S. Senate?
My campaign is about those last two words in the Pledge of Allegiance – “for all.” I’m working every day to build a Virginia that works for all. That means leaving no region, no community, and no person behind as we fight for good jobs, health care, education and security for everyone in this Commonwealth. I’ve always been focused on bringing people together – from fighting crime and growing our economy as Mayor of Richmond to steering Virginia through the worst recession in decades and winning recognition for our business climate as Governor – I’ve been committed to reaching across the aisle to get things done. In the Senate, I’ve never hesitated to stand up to divisive attacks or policies that would hurt Virginians – but from passing legislation to reduce veterans’ unemployment to expanding career and technical education, I’ve always worked to find common ground in order to keep moving Virginia forward.
2. What is the most important issue facing Virginians, and how would you address it?
I grew up in a middle class family, and worked in my dad’s ironworking shop growing up. Creating economic opportunity for all Virginians is my top priority in the Senate, and I know that our economy is strongest when workers and families access to good paying jobs, higher wages, and the skills to succeed and get ahead. I’ve passed legislation to help veterans transition to civilian jobs and expand and improve career and technical education for young people, and I support legislation to raise the minimum wage and ensure equal pay. In a global economy, it is more important than ever that we invest in our people, value our diversity, and grow the talented and educated workforce that Virginia needs.
3. If you could propose a piece of legislation that would unanimously pass to improve the lives of Virginians, what would it be?
April 16, 2007, was the worst day of my life. I was Governor when the Virginia Tech shooting happened, claiming 33 lives. In the aftermath, I met [and] grieved with families who lost their loved ones and thanked the first responders who had seen unforgettable horrors – and also worked to strengthen the background check system and improve mental health services in the Commonwealth. I still have deep bonds with the families and advocates who pushed for these important changes. But there is still work to be done.
I know it’s a strange thing to say, but I had hoped that Virginia Tech would be the biggest mass shooting our country would face. But since then, so many tragedies have occurred – from Sandy Hook to Orlando to Las Vegas to Parkland and to many, many more. I continue to be moved by the advocacy of survivors, families, and especially recently, young people who have stood up to speak out against the scourge of gun violence in our schools and in our communities. Despite their brave advocacy, efforts to implement universal background checks – a common sense measure broadly supported by the public – have failed thus far. If I could implement one law unanimously, I’d pass a system of universal background checks.
4. What changes would you make to the existing healthcare system in America?
I’m fighting to make sure quality, affordable health care is accessible to all. When President Trump and Republicans in Congress tried to repeal the Affordable Care Act – threatening the health insurance of tens of millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Virginians – I fought back. More than 400,000 Virginians have gained health insurance because of the ACA. Even more Virginians with pre-existing conditions now do not have to worry about being discriminated against by insurance companies because of the ACA.
But I know that we have to do more to improve health care in America. That’s why I introduced a plan called Medicare X, which would give all Virginians the ability to purchase a plan similar to Medicare. This public option would give more Virginians a real choice when it comes to health insurance, at a lower cost. In addition, I will continue to defend programs like Medicare and the Children’s Health Insurance Program from cuts while fighting to expand funding for priorities such as combating the opioid epidemic and mental health care.
5. What are the top three challenges facing the Department of Defense, and how would you address them?
As the father of a Marine, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and a Senator for the state that is home to every branch of the military and the world’s largest naval station, I understand the challenges the Department of Defense faces in the 21st century. The rise of non-state actors like ISIL has raised unique questions about how we wage wars – that’s why I’ve been pushing to update legislation expand the role of Congress on matters of foreign policy, as well as improve the way Congress and the President consult on matters of war and the initiation of U.S. military action. Secondly, we need to formulate a strong cyber doctrine that will allow our nation to respond to cybersecurity threats, and evaluate and address vulnerabilities that currently exist. As part of that effort, I’ve worked to secure $1 million in funding to for students studying cybersecurity to help expand the cybersecurity workforce pipeline, as called for by many national security experts. Finally, climate change is also a serious issue of national security. Sea level rise and flooding presents a unique threat to not just homes in our coastal communities, but to our local military installations in the area as well. That’s why I introduced the BUILD Resilience Act, which would spur investments in resilient infrastructure to reduce the risk of climate effects like flooding and extreme storms to communities like Hampton Roads.
6. In the face of a government shutdown, is it more important to make sure the budget passes or that your legislative aims are achieved? How would you apply your answer to the most recent shutdown threat?
Government shutdowns are incredibly painful, and should be avoided – they cause harm and anxiety for hundreds of thousands of federal employees, veterans and military families living in Virginia, and millions who rely on Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, Pell Grants, special education, the Affordable Care Act and other critical government services. I’ve been outspoken about the negative impact crisis-to-crisis budgeting and the President’s repeated attempts to shut down the government have had on our nation’s economy because I believe fiscal policy should not be undermined by partisan brinkmanship. I will continue to push for two-year budgeting instead, a process I used as Governor, because it helps businesses and agencies plan ahead and save money.