PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Republicans are trying to flip a key congressional district in Hampton Roads. Virginia’s redrawn Second District includes eight different localities, stretching from the Eastern Shore through Virginia Beach and out to Franklin.
Rep. Elaine Luria (D) is seeking re-election, and her profile has only gotten higher on the national stage with her participation in the Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack on the U.S. Capitol. We covered a number of topics, including one important to thousands of young people in Hampton Roads, where she disagrees with President Joe Biden.
With gas prices about 33 cents above where they were a year ago (as of Oct. 6), Luria says inflation and consumer spending remain most important to Virginia voters. “We’re working on solutions for that. In Washington we’ve passed legislation to try to keep the cost of gas down, and we’ve seen it go down progressively over the past many weeks and to help with those consumer goods costs.”
In the second district, Luria sees climate issues and their relationship to defense as top priorities.
“If you look at this week alone, there’s a lot of specific issues based on our geography and sea level rise and the current flooding, the things that continue to make this a viable community for the future and tying that in, it’s really tied into a national defense issue,” she said. “So many people are deploying on those ships and are working with our NATO partners. They’re building the aircraft carriers and submarines.”
Luria gives the Trump administration credit for launching the response to the pandemic, and says Congress has helped.
“The last administration was very aggressive in getting a vaccine developed, and the continuation of getting that vaccine out to people has really changed the landscape,” Luria said, but adds that Congress and the Biden administration continued the progress.
“We’ve provided many resources to small businesses, and I can’t tell you how many small business owners around Hampton Roads have told me that if it weren’t for the Payroll Protection Program, they wouldn’t have been able to keep their lights on.”
Luria departs from President Biden when it comes to forgiving student loans, a package estimated to cost the government more than $300 billion in total over the next 10 years.
“It’s not what I would have done,” Luria says.
She’s working on a more narrow bipartisan plan with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) to address the interest borrowers pay.
“(Students should have) the ability to renegotiate their student loans, consolidate them and actually eliminate interest from their loans. Because as time goes on, the interest is mounting up and causing this to be such a financial burden, so I would have gone about it a different way.”
As vice-chair of the House Armed Services Committee, Luria says she’s still waiting on the investigation report concerning suicide in the military, especially after the crew deaths on USS George Washington.
“That kind of information is very valuable to us in crafting the defense bill every year and making sure we can provide those resources to the services.”
On abortion, Luria says a woman’s right to choose is a deeply personal decision between a woman, her health care provider and her faith.
“We need to enshrine reproductive freedom protections into federal law to protect Americans from government overreach and restore the rights of women across the country. I will continue to be an advocate in Congress for women and fight to protect the rights of all Americans, including the right to choose.”