Home Mark Warner Video: Sen. Mark Warner Comments on Defense Budget, the U.S. Honoring Its...

Video: Sen. Mark Warner Comments on Defense Budget, the U.S. Honoring Its Commitment to Ukraine, Israel/Gaza, Border Security, the Caps/Wizards Arena and the US Postal Service

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In his weekly press availability, Sen. Mark Warner had a LOT of interesting things to say on a wide variety of topics. See below for video and highlights; bolding added by me for emphasis of some of the most interesting comments!

  • “This is a challenging week – there’s been some good news, some to-be-determined news and then some things that are just playing pretty crummy.”
  • On the good news standpoint, yesterday by an overwhelming vote – I think it was north of 80 votes -the Senate sent back to the House our defense authorization bill, this is one of the bills that gets done every year, year in and year out, although even on the NDAA it gets pushed later and later and later…There’s I think north of 20 construction  projects across Virginia that will be implemented by the defense bill, and at $988 billion, I think is the total top line, the highest defense budget we’ve had…because obviously um we live in a a very dangerous world.”
  • “The issue that I am most focused on at this moment in time, and that is whether our nation is going to honor its commitment to Ukraine…I know some Americans are saying well hey, this has been a war that’s close to two years long, but let’s be clear with the facts. Ukraine with great loss of life, with our support and NATO countries’ support, have literally cut back Russia’s military capability by over 50%. In terms of actual Russian army troops deployed, they’ve cut back by over 80%. They’ve done that without the loss of a single American soldier or a single NATO soldier. And for us to be thinking about deserting them now would be a  stain on our country’s honor, it would show that we are not dependable. And the ramifications it would have for any of our alliances, particularly NATO, it would say that America’s word’s not worth very much, since we repeatedly and both political parties have said no, we want to be with Ukraine. Matter of fact, we had President Zelenskyy came in and talked to the Senate two days ago and every senator who spoke – didn’t matter which party – said we want you to help you Ukraine. Well, we’ve now got to put our money where our mouth is.”
  • “We are in the midst of of what’s called the supplemental. The big piece of it is Ukraine aid, but there is also aid for Israel in there in terms of their fight against Hamas. There’s  humanitarian aid. And you may say, well, why should we take on that responsibility? The challenge is in the with the war in the Middle East, the war in Israel and Gaza has basically put a hold on the economy of so many of the surrounding nations. One of our strongest allies historically in the region has been Jordan. Jordan’s economy is teetering at this point. They derive a lot from tourism from a historic site named Petra. Not a lot of tourists going to Jordan with the conflict in the region. And if we don’t get this humanitarian aid both into Gaza and into other surrounding nations, you will literally have thousands of people die from starvation, you will have potentially unrest and and overthrowing of governments that have been friendly to the United States. So this package of aid for Israel humanitarian aid and then the most important, the one that is most immediately needed, which is the aid for Ukraine, we’re in the final stages of negotiations. I mean we need to prove that Vladimir Putin was wrong…his belief is that the West would simply get tired of Ukraine and give up. Well, if Vladimir Putin wins in Ukraine, you will have NATO nations next coming under potential assault from Russia. And you will also be giving a green light to President Xi in China in terms of his expansionist opportunities in Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia.”
  • “Now the issue here that’s being negotiated is getting the border under control. I don’t think initially they should have been linked, but they are linked, that’s the reality. And the crisis at the border is a crisis…there have been some days 12,000 people have passed through the border. That is unsustainable. I think the negotiations now, and it’s taken the White House to get very serious on this, will dramatically cut back on those border crossings uh in a fair and appropriate way, to make sure that people aren’t simply claiming asylum and then disappearing for multiple years, when chances are they would not have be granted asylum in the first place. There will be meaningful changes in border policy being put forward that will upset some folks on my side of the aisle, but I think it’s needed, and frankly if we get this through it will have to be bipartisan, and and the extremes in both parties will probably be a little bit unhappy. What I’m concerned about as well on this issue is that you we don’t have time to punt this again the way we punted our budget…The idea that we would punt this Ukraine aid, this is THE critical moment in time; the Europeans are going through some of their discussions real time today. If we don’t step, up I’m afraid the Europeans won’t step up, and Ukraine could go into the new year in a greatly weakened position. So we got Ukraine, we’ve got Israel, we’ve got the overall challenges of the Middle East in the region, we’ve got the the necessity of doing something on the border. My hope and prayer, and I’ve made this appeal to the  Democratic leader and the Republican leader, is we need to stay at work and get this done before Christmas in a way that allows us to enjoy the holidays, but also allows our allies to feel secure that America will honor its commitments.”
  • ” I was with the governor and the leadership of Alexandria yesterday when there was the initial announcement of the effort to bring the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals to a new home in Alexandria, Virginia. I know the folks at Monumental, I think they are – unlike some other professional sports team owners – these are owners that honor their commitment, that are involved and engaged in the community. As somebody who was a business guy before I was governor or senator, I think the deal structure, which doesn’t require the state to put up any money upfront, but instead we absorb the tax revenues for for this entertainment district, I think it’s a good structure. And I think we’re only able to do that because of competent long-term fiscal management in Virginia. We’ve kept that AAA bond rating, something I was proud to protect when I was governor.  That means that the debt that’s borrowed against these future taxes is borrowed at a lower rate, because…the Commonwealth would provide the backstop. I believe that that AAA bond rating will not be affected by this deal. The challenge will be twofold though. We’ve got to make sure there is a bolder and frankly more money put in for some of the  transportation infrastructure needs. You’ve got not only Amazon, you’ve got the Virginia Tech campus and now you might have this Monumental Sports facility. We’ve got to have a broader vision coming from the state on what the transportation improvements would look like. And then secondly, as somebody who’s lived in Alexandria for most of my adult life, Alexandria community neighbors are strong, vocal…Del Ray community in particular. I think the state and the city probably should have done more outreach in those neighborhood communities, because they will have to be assured that their quality of life is not going to be dramatically upset, that there’s going to be appropriate parking restrictions so that their neighborhoods are not flooded with fans parking in non-designated areas…that there are going to be adequate protections so that you don’t have any uptick in any kind of crime. I think those goals can be met, but there will be a lot of questions that will need to be answered by both the city and the Commonwealth if this project is to go forward.”
  • Remember, we wouldn’t be having any of these  transportation improvements if there had not been the bipartisan infrastructure law which I was proud to be one of the key authors of, we wouldn’t even be in the game [for the Potomac Yard arena]. And there are challenges at Metro, I’ve been worried for some time how they went to such a big deficit even when you take out the downturn from COVID. And the truth is if there is not a Metro that runs in the evening – and there have been some threats by Metro they might have to cut back on evening traffic – if we don’t have a Metro station that runs until after these games are over, this project’s not going to work. So I think the state is going to have to – the state, the other jurisdictions local and frankly I’m trying to get the feds to kick in more on Metro – so that’s number one. Number two is Route 1…that’s been a challenge. I’m old enough to  remember when then-Governor Wilder and Jack Kent Cooke were going to bring then the Redskins to this facility, and people were concerned, and they ended up instead with a strip center there that has a lot more traffic than anything that…a 10 times or 12-times-a-year stadium would have created back in the 90s. Now let me be clear; this facility with the Caps and the Wizards and a music venue, a concert venue, this is going to be active 200+ nights a year. So I think the area that we  need to see dramatic improvements on is transportation – part of it Metro, part of it is frankly a new vision for Route 1, and that’s going to take capital.”
  • On mail delivery issues, Sen. Warner said: “Postmaster General DeJoy, who I used to think was not doing a very good job, my mind has changed, I think he’s trying to right the ship. But I frankly believe we need to allow the Postal Service to offer other services beyond postal at their operations, so they can make some more revenue, and that will allow them to hopefully pay a little bit higher salary so we can get more folks into the service. The thing I’ve heard repeatedly from Virginians is, their local mailman or mail woman, you know they’re happy with, they know these folks are working their tail off and many of the people at the post office are working their tail off, we just need more folks.”

 

 

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