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Video: Sen. Mark Warner Says He’s “Really Proud” of the Senators Who Worked Out the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal; Calls Reconciliation Infrastructure Bill the Next “Herculean Task” That Needs To Get Done

Sen. Warner also says "our patience is wearing thin with those who choose not to get vaccinated," that "you don't have a right to put others at risk"

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It’s been very busy in the U.S. Senate, and Sen. Mark Warner’s been at the center of much of it.  That includes, in particular, negotiations the past few weeks on the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which now appears to be moving forward. This morning, Sen. Warner spoke to the press, and had some interesting things to say about what he called “an extraordinarily intense last four-plus weeks.” Check out the video, as well as highlights below the video.

  • Sen. Warner called last night’s vote in favor of moving the debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill “a very strong vote.” He added that this will be a “once in 30 year investment in infrastructure – $550 billion in new infrastructure spending that will create literally 10s of 1000s of jobs…allow people to communicate better on broadband…make sure that we make investments in next-generation industries like electric buses…”
  • Sen. Warner added that he’s “really proud of this group of ten…along with the White House to hammer out this deal,” especially given that “a lot of folks don’t believe that Washington can get anything done,” and that it’s important “to demonstrate…to the whole world that American democracy can still function.”
  • Sen. Warner talked about the impact of this bill on different parts of Virginia, including putting money into climate resiliency in the Hampton Roads area. Sen. Warner also noted funding for rail in south Hampton Roads and the peninsula; keeping the Port of Virginia competitive; finishing I-64; fixing bridges across Virginia; additional funding for the Richmond bus transit system; a long-term reauthorization for Metro funding; expansion of VRE service to Manassas; Route 1 improvements in Alexandria; major improvements on I-81; rail to Christiansburg, Blacksburg, hopefully even to Bristol; money for broadband access everywhere in Virginia; record investments in clean drinking water; etc.
  • Sen. Warner said he thinks this bill will get passed with bipartisan support, that it’s been “a long time coming” and will make a big difference for the better.
  • Sen. Warner said he strongly supports getting Afghan translators and others who have worked with our forces are not “left to be massacred by the Taliban.” Sen. Warner said we can not let what happened under Trump with our Kurdish allies – a “stain on America’s treatment of allies.” Some of these individuals will be taken to Ft. Lee (about 2,500) in the next couple days.
  • Sen. Warner mentioned his legislation to bring down drug prices for kids.
  • “Lots going on, we’re going to be in for the next few days, or potentially for the foreseeable future as we try to get this infrastructure bill done, and then we move to the broader bill around budget reconciliation.”
  • On the chances of both infrastructure packages getting past the finish line, Sen. Warner said that “it will be a herculean task” to get the reconciliation bill done, “that will require dramatic reforms in our tax code,” including the wealthiest individuals and corporations paying “their fair share,” etc. “Unfortunately, I think [the reconciliation infrastructure bill] will probably be done just by the Democrats…[but] I’m not giving up on bipartisanship.”
  • On a mask policy for COVID-19, Sen. Warner said he trusts Gov. Northam, “he is the only doctor who is a governor in the whole country…I know he’s looking at the data and if the variant goes up enough, I think he will put in place what’s appropriate driven by science.” Sen. Warner noted that we’re seeing “major companies across the country,” and also the V.A., putting in place requirements to either get vaccinated or show that you’ve been regularly tested.
  • Sen. Warner stressed that we have voluminous data on the COVID-19 vaccines, and that it’s “both effective and safe.” He added that “our patience is wearing thin with those who choose not to get vaccinated – you’ve got a right not to get vaccinated, I agree with that, but you don’t have a right to put others at risk.” He added that he thinks “things are starting to turn,” with yesterday showing the highest number of new vaccinations since the beginning of July. This should NOT be used a “political football” – and get vaccinated!
  • Sen. Warner said he’s very disappointed the infrastructure bank was taken out of the bipartisan infrastructure bill, but if not then he hopes to get it into the reconciliation bill.
  • Surprisingly, Sen. Warner wasn’t asked about – nor did he bring up – the absolutely crucial issue of voting rights and democracy protection. To my mind, as important as infrastructure is, by FAR the most important things – existential, really – are 1) dealing with the climate crisis and environmental crisis more broadly; 2) protecting our democracy from the assault it’s under by Republicans…
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