Home Coronavirus Video: Senators Warner, Kaine Hold FB Town Hall, Rip McConnell’s “Political,” Box-Checking...

Video: Senators Warner, Kaine Hold FB Town Hall, Rip McConnell’s “Political,” Box-Checking Exercise” on COVID-19 Relief Package

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Earlier this evening, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine held a virtual town hall on Facebook (see video, below) to answer questions about coronavirus relief, the new school year, small business and unemployment relief, etc. Sen. Warner also commented on what happened in the Senate today, calling it “a bit of a disappointment,” as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) allowed coronavirus relief programs expire on July 31st, then let the Senate take a long break in August, then failed to do another recovery package:

“[Un]fortunately…the Republican Majority Leader came out with a plan that was literally only 1/3 of what President Trump had proposed…no money for broadband…for state and local government…for additional healthcare…it really was more of a political exercise than anything.”

Sen. Warner said he looks forward to restarting “the more serious conversations with the White House” next week “to make sure that we provide the kind of relief really targeted to those…most in need, who are struggling.”

Sen. Kaine talked about he and Sen. Warner have been “very close friends” for over 40 years, that he’s like Ed McMahon to Johnny Carson. Heh. Sen. Kaine agreed with Sen. Warner that today was a “disappointment” but “doesn’t have to be the end of the discussion.” “We’ll see whether the Republicans view this vote [as the start of real negotiations] or whether they just consider it as a box-checking exercise where they now want to leave everyone to fend for themselves.” Kaine added that he couldn’t vote for the Republican proposal, because it had “no housing aid… no food aid…no state and local government aid…no childcare aid…and it provided this weird and unnecessary protection for businesses” where workers would have “no right” to “meaningfully challenge” “unsafe practices when they come back to work.”

There’s a lot more on other topics…check it out, below, and make sure you vote to reelect Sen. Warner on 11/3!

UPDATE: See below for some key excerpts, courtesy of Sen. Warner’s office…

On High Speed Broadband and Telehealth: “One of the things that, in many ways, this Covid virus accelerated was the move towards a technology or digital driven economy. It moved it, in many ways, 10 years in 6 months. And there was a lot of bad things on that, but one of the good things was we’re now using telehealth, whether it’s in nursing homes or doctors, if you live in rural Virginia, you’ve got to drive 45 minutes in Southwest to get to a doc, and then that doc is not the specialist you have to go another hour, so, telehealth, we’ve made dramatic changes, it’s up like 4000% across Virginia. But if we’re going to maintain that telehealth, we’ve got to make sure that everyone in this Commonwealth and this country has access to high speed, affordable broadband, and that ought to be a huge priority going forward. So, really appreciate the question.”

On Covid Testing and Drug Prices: “Let me just add, I know this has, you know, been a lot of questions but I want to add two more things to what Tim just said, and he’s done some great work in this area. One is, and again, one of the reasons why the next Covid package, we’ve got to make sure that we really make Covid testing free. You know people should not have to feel like if they go get a Covid test — I’m still seeing folks, especially on some of these rapid tests, being charged $400, $500. That is going to hurt us all, because if people that might be exposed aren’t getting tested, that hurts them but it also hurts others because they may be exposing others. And one of the things that I’ve been also been working on, and I know Tim’s been supportive of as well, and I’ve tried to make this case in talking to folks around Virginia: if we’re going to make healthcare more affordable, one piece of this is we’ve got to bring down drug prices. I’ve got a daughter with Type 1 diabetes and we were able to afford the cost of her insulin, but for a whole lot of folks, particularly around diabetes, people who need constant refills of medicine, you know, we pay 4, 5 10 times more in America. It’s about time that we gave the government the ability to negotiate drug prices, at least, you know, doesn’t mean we’re going to get cheaper than Canada or cheaper than the Europeans, but we ought to be able to get the same kind of bargains through the market system of negotiation that these other countries get. So, just wanted to add that one in before we get to the next question.”

On Voting Rights: “This is an area where Tim has been a great expert. I agree with what he said, and I think at the end of the day, isn’t everybody’s faith in our democracy going to be greater if more people participate? I’ve just never understood the notion that we should be trying to restrict or cut back on voting rights. As we’ve seen repeatedly, these claims of voter fraud, 98% of them are frankly fraudulent in nature, the claim itself. There’s not widespread voter fraud. Every independent group has made that determination. And in a moment when so many people feel so polarized, I actually don’t think we’re as polarized as sometimes the media represents, but gosh, if we got up to 70, 80, 90% voter participation, I think our country would be doing a lot better.”