Home Tim Kaine Blue Virginia Interview with Sen. Tim Kaine: Marriage Equality Vote After Midterms;...

Blue Virginia Interview with Sen. Tim Kaine: Marriage Equality Vote After Midterms; Anger at “Power-Mad Tyrant” DeSantis; Filibuster Reform if Dems Get to 52 in Senate; Dobbs’ “Gruesome Results”; the Crucial Importance of November’s Elections; etc.

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This morning, I had a chance to catch up with Sen. Tim Kaine. Thanks to him for his time, and see below for a highlights from the interview!

  • Sen. Kaine is very excited that he’ll be playing harmonica tomorrow evening at Merriweather Post Pavilion with Willie Nelson. Very cool!
  • Sen. Kaine said he plans to go out on his canoe on the James River and check out the sturgeon, which once were thought to be extinct but “have come back strong,” as they spawn and jump out of the water. Apparently, the sturgeon are “massive fish” (“up to 600 or 800 pounds”), so we were joking about not getting killed by one of those things!
  • Sen. Kaine said he’s “back in the Senate in session after a month of traveling around Virginia, and never in 10 years in the Senate had a better state tour in this sense – everywhere I went I could say, hey here’s something the infrastructure bill is doing for your community…for a community organization…seniors, they’re going to get relief on prescription drug prices…our permanent fix of the black lung benefit program…doing roundtables in communities that have been affected by gun violence, talking about the gun violence bill...I had never done one of these tours where I just had so much to kind of tell and deliver everywhere I stopped…and it really, really felt good…Other dynamics in play are turning what people thought was going to be an awful midterm into much greater opportunity. I’m not on the ballot, but I’m trying to help a whole lot of people who are. And I just see a real up in optimism about both getting results and the results translating into some real political wins…And particularly in Virginia some of these bills – infrastructure, CHIPS, gun safety, the PACT Act/the veterans bill – they are called bipartisan, when with the exception of the none of the Virginia Republicans voted for ANY of the bipartisan bills, and it is important to make that clear.”
  • “My only complaint, I mean frankly if you look at the accomplishments of the last two years, and add that together with things the administration has done – loan forgiveness, historic appointees like Ketanji Brown Jackson – it’s been a very momentous two years. I kind of wish we had done one good thing every two months , rather than space them out and then jam them in. But still, life doesn’t work by math…but I feel very very good about what we’ve gotten done, and I’m also really mindful of the things that remain to be done.”
  • We will cast a vote on the marriage equality bill. It will be after the midterm, and the reason for this, in dialog with the activist community, they would rather have a big win than a narrow win. If we did it right now, we could get a narrow win – and we would get one, we’d 60 [votes]…but if we do it after the midterms, we’re going to get a significant win in both Houses…in November, December…There’s been a sense of, if we could wait two months and get a bigger margin, let’s do that.”
  • We’re setting up for a showdown set of votes, possibly…sometime later this year, possibly next year, about a federal codification of Roe v Wade – kind of the Dem version, my bipartisan version, and now there’s the Lindsey Graham [national ban] – and we’re kind of on a collision course where we’re going to have to take these up, because the gruesome results of the Dobbs decision are playing out in state after state…I don’t think that will happen this year, I think it’s likely to happen next year that we’ll have to grappled with that.”
  • “And then the other big thing on my to-do list that we haven’t really addressed at all is immigration reform…And that is a tremendous need, particularly with the unemployment rate being so low and the labor market…we should do this…I’m very focused on that…People do include me on immigration reform…because of my background in Honduras and my…immigration reform [expertise]…”
  • On DeSantis sending immigrants from Venezuela to Martha’s Vineyard: “I can’t tell you how mad I am. You know that I’m a pretty easygoing person, it takes a lot to  make me angry. But I’ve been to the Venezuelan border, and I know what these people are fleeing – it’s one of the worst dictatorships in the world, it’s brutal. And for them to flee a power-mad tyrant and then fall into the hands of another one, DeSantis…going to Texas to [draft?] Venezuelans, lie to them, and then drop them off there as some kind of a political stunt, I’ve never seen anything so craven and without conscience.
  • On democracy protection, including the courts, electoral reform: “We have a chance to get that Electoral Reform Act done by year end, I think that is doable. On the courts, we’re racing to match Trump in terms of the people we’re putting on…but we still have to do more to counter the Trump influence…[The Supreme Court’s extremism] has kind of inspired the Democrats in Congress, if we can have a good midterm…to not say, you know, the Supreme Court will protect our civil liberties. For a long time, when I went to law school…you looked up to the Supreme Court, well the Supreme Court will protect us. We have no illusions, they’re not going to protect us….One of the aspects of the Inflation Reduction Act was fixing the thing that the Supreme Court struck down in that EPA case...the Supreme Court being so unreliable, or the opposite of reliable – we know we can rely on them to do the bad things – that puts on us, we can’t expect somebody else to stand up for progressive values if not us. If we can get to 52 in the Senate, we will reform the filibuster in ways that will enable us to get legislation passed with a majority…Now, I’m a little nervous about the cruel irony that we could, on the same day we have a good election day [for Senate], we could also find out we don’t have the House….But our chances of holding the House are much better than 90 days ago….In Virginia, we have to do our best for our three Democratic Congresswomen, and Mark [Warner] and I are doing everything we can…Anyway, November is a big deal.…Even if we were to lose the House, getting more in the Senate would protect our ability to fill a Supreme Court vacancy…[confirm] Article II judges…If we can hold on to the Senate, we can incrementally fix the courts…I want to have a next two years as productive as the two we just had, and that depends on holding both Houses.
  • According to Sen. Kaine, women are energized due to the “steady drumbeat” of “horror stor[ies]” coming out post-Dobbs: “people are being reminded of it every single day.” Also, Sen. Kaine noted, Democrats have gotten a lot done, such as on student loan forgiveness.
  • We chatted a bit about the Mountain Valley Pipeline and Sen. Manchin’s side deal. For more on Sen. Kaine’s views on that subject, see this article, which quotes Kaine: “I don’t know exactly what the final outcome of that is going to be, but I would have deep concern about stripping jurisdiction away from the 4th Circuit on this or any other manner.” The article adds, “[Kaine] was scheduled to receive a briefing Thursday afternoon to get a better feel for what is contained in the actual language of the proposed permitting reform bill. He also said he’s discussed his concerns with Schumer and wants to talk with Manchin in the future.
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