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Video: Sen. Mark Warner Calls on Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to Keep Senate in Session Until There’s an Agreement on Funding for Ukraine

"I can't think of a more historic mistake than for America to desert Ukraine at this moment of need."

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In his press availability earlier today, Sen. Mark Warner had a lot of interesting things to say (see video and transcript, below the video), including:

  • When we dealt with at least the budget challenges until January and February, I think many of us had hope than expected that we might be able to go into the holiday season without all of these end of intercession antics. But unfortunately, that’s not the case.”
  • “First and foremost, the decision that the Congress has to make about Ukraine: I can’t think of a more historic mistake than for America to desert Ukraine at this moment of need. The Ukrainians in 21 months, the surprise of the world, have held Russians at bay. They’ve literally destroyed close to half of Russia’s military capabilities without the loss of a single American or NATO’s soldier’s life. At the same time, if we were to walk away at this point, I question whether any nation-state would ever trust America again. And alliances like NATO’s would be seriously undermined – a NATO that has expanded with Sweden and Finland because of the Russian threat as well. That, you know, I hear the absurdity of some of my friends who say, well, I don’t care about Putin, but I care about President Xi and China. Well, if you don’t get the fact that if Putin gets a green card in Ukraine, that that gives a green card to President Xi’s activities in Asia, then you’ve flunked Geopolitics 101My Republican friends have brought up a precondition, a precondition that they never put in place under President Trump, under President Obama, under President Bush in terms of assistance to our allies, in terms of border security. Listen, I realize the challenges on the border are immense. They’ve been immense for decades. One of the things the president’s already proposed is close to $14 billion on increasing border security, processing these individuals on a faster basis. My hope, though, is that there needs to be policy changes. That’s what my Republican friends have asked for. I support policy changes. We have to get our border under better control. I’m glad to see the president yesterday saying he’s anxious to do policy changes as well. But we need to bring this to a head and it requires the president and Leader  McConnell to sit in a room or their teams to sit in a room, whatever it takes to get this agreement in place so we can say to the world, and most importantly to the brave Ukrainians that we’re going to keep our promise, we’re going to keep our obligation, that we’re not going to give a green light to Putin or autocratic regimes in China, North Korea, Iran or anywhere in the world. So that has been enormously challenging.”
  • This morning, our congressional delegation, along with the governor, were able to announce $729 million for the rebuilding and reconstruction of what’s called Long Bridge. Long Bridge will more than double the passenger rail capacity on Amtrak that takes our rail passengers not only to Richmond and further south, but this will increase rail traffic to Hampton Roads, It’ll increase rail traffic to Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and ultimately to Blacksburg and beyond. But we’ve got to have that federal financing. And that only came about that, that $729 million, because of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. As one of the folks that was in the gang that put that bill together, I was extraordinarily proud. This is the kind of real change, the real movement forward to really provide an alternative to simply car traffic. Passenger rail is extraordinarily important, gives people a different alternative, VRE, in terms of transit, the added capacity is huge. This choke point of Long Bridge that literally goes back to a bridge that was in the revolutionary time originally built of wood. This has been a choke point for decades. We’re going to finally be able to get it done. So great news for the commonwealth and frankly, for the folks to the south and west of us who want to ride the rails.”
  • Asked, “Given what is at stake with Ukraine and Israel, do you think Majority Leader Schumer should keep the Senate in session beyond next week’s scheduled break until there’s an agreement?”, Sen. Warner responded: “I do. Now. I know if my colleagues say this, they’re going to say, hey, that’s easy for you, Warner, you live close. And I do. I actually probably live closer to the Capitol and than any member of the House or Senate. To quote Sarah Palin, I could see the Capitol from the third floor of my house in Alexandria. But I can’t think, if honoring our commitment to our Ukrainian allies who fought with such vigor for 21 months against all the odds, walking away because as the administration has pointed out, you know, the funding and additional artillery shells and tools for them to conduct the war, if that disappears, then Vladimir Putin is going to be able to dictate the balance of the war. So if that’s not a national emergency, if that’s not something that should keep us in, I don’t know candidly, what it is now. I still think we were we were close enough last week, where literally there were a dozen Democrats who said they might not vote for the bill because there were such policy changes. Those policy changes weren’t in the the legislation that was put forward yesterday, it just had the money for the border. But that shows to me that we were getting close in terms of meaningful policy changes with sufficient resources to make sure that we can stop the flow of folks who are coming into the country inappropriately. You know, like, for example, by raising the standards on which you can claim asylum, I mean, the vast majority of people who claim asylum, by the time they actually get litigated, they don’t meet the criteria. So raising that standard so you can actually preclude people from coming in if they don’t meet that higher standard is a policy change that I think the vast majority of us would support. I fear that there are a lot of folks who are the loudest voices on on the border, who are the ones who will never vote for Ukraine aid under any circumstance. I think it’s disingenuous. I think that many of them are following the lead of former President Trump in this kind of wanting to walk back America’s  commitments around the world. And I think that is a both short term and long term mistake. If if we see Putin successful on Ukraine in a year or two from now, Putin moves on a NATO nation, Poland or the Baltic states and American troops are some then engaged, that would be a disaster. Let’s stop this authoritarian land grab right now. And again, as we said,
    the Ukrainians are doing the fighting not just for themselves, but for the rest of Europe and frankly, for democracies all around the world.
  • On support for a ceasefire in Gaza, Sen. Warner said: “Well,
    I can’t think of a conflict since, again, I’ve been in elective  office that is more heartbreaking than what’s what’s happened in Israel and Gaza. You know, it started and I think we should not forget with the brutal terrorist attack by Hamas. I’ve met with some of those families. I met with one family that grew up in Virginia and that moved Israel, that their son lost his arm in the attack at the music festival. I’ve seen the images of Hirsch being thrown in the truck with his arm profusely bleeding. I’ve also met with from both the Richmond area and Northern Virginia, many of our Muslim Americans who live in who are Virginians. And I’ve met with particularly a number of Palestinian Americans, and their horror stories are equally as heart wrenching. One individual lost 35 members of his family, 32 of which were women and children. It’s horrific. So I strongly support an additional pause. We are making progress. I do think the fact that Hamas did not continue to bring hostages over in exchange for the pause in hostilities was a huge mistake. There are still women and children, at least women that could be released. There are people like Hirsh who grievously wounded that could be exchanged as well. But I also think we need to keep more pressure on the Israeli government. One thing that I worry about is as chairman of the Intelligence Committee is the Israeli government has not provided the tax revenues they collect for the folks who work for the Palestinian Authority. The PA has had problems. But the Palestinian Authority security services are the only thing keeping the lid on what could be a second front in this war in terms of violence in the West Bank. So we have to keep the pressure on the Israelis. I think a great sign would be payment of to these Palestinian Authority workers and the security services in particular. And I think we’re going to continue to see the Biden administration and frankly, many of us in the Congress, to saying you’ve got a right to defend yourself, Israel. And clearly, Hamas cannot govern Gaza on a going forward basis. But, you know…one of the challenges is if Hamas becomes an idea, not a set of individuals, then it becomes even harder to eradicate. So I think we do need to see, I’d love to see a resumption of the pause with hostage exchange and cessation of violence. I do think we need to make sure we get those numbers on humanitarian trucks back up towards 200 trucks a day. And I think the Israeli  government needs to go ahead and put out those payments to the P.A. It’s in their own self-interest. Or we could have a second front in the West Bank.”
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