Home Mark Warner Video: Sen. Mark Warner Comments on Ukraine Aid, Immigration Reforms, AI, Metro,...

Video: Sen. Mark Warner Comments on Ukraine Aid, Immigration Reforms, AI, Metro, the Colorado Supreme Court Ruling on Trump, the Proposed Wizards/Caps Arena, etc.

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See below for video of this week’s media availability with Sen. Mark Warner. A few topics covered include: the urgent need for more aid to Ukraine; talks on immigration reforms; artificial intelligence; Metro’s financial challenges; the Colorado Supreme Court ruling on Donald Trump’s eligibility to be on that state’s ballot; the possibility of a new Wizards/Caps arena at Potomac Yard in Alexandria; etc. See below for some quotes, after the video…

  • The issue that has been taking the vast amount of my time, even though I’ve not been in the exact room, are these negotiations on the supplemental. And to remind everybody, this was really a almost a five-part series of investments. One was providing absolutely necessary support for Ukraine as we come down to the United States providing the last installment of our already existing aid literally in the next week. I think one of the things that concerns me is that the person…having the best Christmas is going to be Vladimir Putin, because he said he thought he could outwait the United States and the West in terms of their support for Ukraine and at least as we go into the end of 2023, that is a possiblility, and that is not good news for democracies anywhere around the world. And one of the things that we were able to get declassified was literally how significant the Ukrainians’ effort has been against the Russians. Recently released information indicates that over 80% of Russia’s ground forces pre-Ukrainian invasion have been either killed or wounded, that over 60% of Russia’s tanks have been taken out during this war, literally almost 40% of its armored personnel carrier, about 100 helicopters have been taken down. And I remind folks that this has taken one of our primary adversaries and literally set Russia’s military modernization efforts back about 15 years. All that for the cost of not a single American life lost, not a single NATO soldier lost. And literally in terms of actual defense aid given, less than about 5% of our annual defense spending. And the fact that it’s still on hiatus is huge concern to me.”
  • “But the supplemental included more. It included $14 billion for our ally Israel in its efforts to eliminate Hamas as a terrorist organization in the region. It included $10 billion in humanitarian assistance for innocent Palestinians in Gaza, but also for other nation states in that region whose economies are teetering now in light of the of of the war – Jordan, Lebanon are two examples. It included key dollars as well for shoring up efforts around Taiwan, because if Vladimir Putin…gives a green card to president Xi in terms of his ambitions in Asia, specifically with Taiwan.”
  • “And it also includes $14 billion of additional funding for the border, and the border is a mess at this point. We need additional capacity at the border. We need to make sure more people are processed. We need to make sure that people are not kind of released into the country, sometimes for years before they have a hearing. And there are a series of other changes to our immigration laws that are being actively negotiated. The bad news is that we didn’t come up with a framework on that border negotiation before the end of the year and the other component parts that would travel along along with that legislation. The good news is – and this is not just trying to be wishful Christmas thinking – is that the negotiations have finally gotten serious. Yesterday, Leader Schumer and Leader McConnell put out a bipartisan letter saying they think we’re on the path to getting this done and that we’ll be able to vote on this in early January. I think it is absolutely essential. I’m again disappointed we didn’t get here already. I frankly I think both leader McConnell and the White House needed to be more seriously engaged on the border negotiations three weeks ago or two weeks ago; it only recently got serious over the last weekend. But we are where we are.”
  • “And again back to my main point around Ukraine. This is in America’s interest to stand by Ukraine. It is in all democracies’ interest. And if we don’t stand by Ukraine, while even though the Europeans are trying to offer Ukraine membership in the EU, they’ve got some challenges as well, when the leader of Hungary is trying to hold up um some of the $50 billion in additional uh Ukraine aid from our European allies. So I can’t think of a more geopolitically significant event than making sure that Putin is not successful in his illegal, unprovoked invasion in Ukraine.”
  • “Another matter…artificial intelligence…while there have been lots of efforts to educate a large numbers of senators on this issue, I think we’re still a ways away from comprensive  legislation. So what I’ve been working on are some of the bite-sized pieces where we can put some markers down and also make sure we protect ourselves against some of the downside of artificial intelligence. AI tools I think can greatly increase productivity…but one area where artificial intelligence without even further iteration could cause enormous harm is disruption and undermining public trust in our in our public markets…we’ve talked about in the past deep fakes and how that could affect elections. We’ve already seen some of this manipulation in political advertising. But the ability to create through the use of deep fakes a fake image of a CEO or the ability to generate false reports of consumer product challenges or even false filings with governmental agencies could dramatically change the stock price of a company. There have been some reports of this kind of market-wide when there was a fake picture of the burning of the Pentagon. But I’m in many ways amazed that we’ve not seen more of this stock manipulation. So I’ve introduced with Senator John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, a targeted bill at making sure that we protect the integrity of our markets and protect against the misuse of these artificial intelligence tools.”
  • “Finally, closer to home, we’ve all read about a number of the financial challenges that Metro has. So joining with Tim Kane and our our Maryland Senators, we’ve appealed to the president to go ahead and include on an annual basis an additional $30 million in funding from the federal government for WMATA, for Metro. Right now the federal government funds at about $150 million/year. That additional 30 million would be for security issues around Metro, because being the nation’s capital, whether it’s protests or whether it’s other events, there’s enormous national security issues that our subway system has that other Subway networks around the country don’t have, and we think it’s only fair that the federal government steps in and takes at least some of that burden. That doesn’t solve the whole funding gap that the head of Metro is described as close to $750 million, but if we can increase that funding from the federal government, I think increases our ability to go back to the three local jurisdictions – the District, Maryland and Virginia – and say hey, you guys got to chip in as well.”
  • “There was a press report earlier that this has been one of the least productive Congresses in in modern history. And I felt that. This year, we saw an unprecedented multi-week time when the House of Representatives didn’t even have a Speaker. And while it was a different party and a different body, you know that was frankly  embarrassing to anybody who serves in Congress and I think undermines the public trust…And we go into next year with not only the challenges around Ukraine and the border and Israel and humanitarian aid funding, but also not one but two potential budget disasters or government shutdowns, one in January and one in February…a lot of things that make you kind of scratch your head. What gives me a little bit of hope is that 2023 has been one of our least productive years, I got to remind myself and hopefully remind you guys that just two years ago in 2021 was probably the most productive year legislatively since I’ve been in the Senate when we put forward and these were all bills that I was actively engaged in…a bipartisan group of senators about 8 to 10 of us came and passed the infrastructure bill – we passed the CHIPS bill, we passed the Electoral Count act, we passed additional assistance for veterans, we took small actions on guns and another dozen plus pieces of legislation. So what keeps me hopeful as we go on Christmas and the New Year is that while 2023 I’m ready to turn the page on and hopeful for 2024, I do think back to as recently as 2021 when we were very productive.”
  • “Of course I’m worried [about possible government shutdowns], but also…we can’t have it both ways; we can’t have people like me who say if we don’t stand by Ukraine or Israel we frankly weaken America’s position in the world and if we walk away from Ukraine why would anyone trust us ever again in terms of our alliances, and that also speaks to the issue in Taiwan, and my Republican colleagues – and on this I agree – what’s happening on the border is a crisis…I think we had yesterday over 12,000 people, the highest  number ever, and what we’re seeing is these coyotes who encourage people are saying, hey, the border’s going to change, come over now. We can’t say that Ukraine’s a crisis, Israel’s a crisis, the border’s a crisis, and then not do our job… I do know that this is complicated, particularly on the border issues, we’re basically going to be dramatically changing not only border policy but in many ways immigration laws in this package. And getting agreement and writing it takes some time and then recognizing that you don’t want all the details to hang out completely over the holidays so that the left and the right can attack it…If we get this through, it will clearly have to be broadly bipartisan…I commend the negotiators; they were here all last weekend, they were going to be working through Christmas, into the New Year, but they will have the time to get it done. And the sooner we can vote on this, the better.”
  • I went to law school, but I would never claim to be a legal expert. I do think the case that Jack Smith has brought about what happened on January 6th; I was in the Capitol, I believe it was an insurrection, clearly then-President Trump encouraged the crowd. But I also know that  charge against President Trump hasn’t gone to trial yet. So I don’t know how It feels like the Colorado Supreme Court realized they were dealing with a very challenging issue and it was a close decision, four to three, and there was a strong dissent. My hope is that the Supreme Court will will take this up and you know this is a challenging time for our democracy. At the end of the day, should President Trump be the Republican nominee, I think the majority of Americans will reject him as they have not only in 2020 but in elections even prior in 2018 and 2022 and to a degree I think even in 2023 in Virginia. And this kind of rhetoric – and again you saw that kind of hateful rhetoric that echoed frankly Adolf Hitler just in the last few days, and even Republican Senators running from that – I think that’s not where the American people are at.”
  • I think there were things about the [Wizards/Caps Potomac Yard arena] deal structure that frankly were well put together. I think some of the characterization of this as being the largest public subsidy quite honestly aren’t fully accurate. I mean, you know, the revenues that would come from the tax district would go to pay down these bonds, and if Monumental doesn’t come, there’s not going to be those taxes because there’s not going to be that revenue. But I’ve also been an Alexandria resident for 40 years, and I have real memories of in the early 90s when then-Governor Wilder and Jack Kent Cooke said they were going to bring a football stadium, and the very same neighborhoods like Del Ray didn’t feel consulted. I think the challenge for the proposal will be to engage the neighborhoods to make sure there’s not going to be parking constraints, there’s not going to be challenges with the quality of life in those neighborhoods. And I do think…even the advocates for the proposal will acknowledge that the transportation plan, not only Route One but how we could use Metro, VRE, Amtrak, other modes for this to work, have got some work to do. And I think, you know, as the governor tries to make the case to the legislature, I think that transportation component will be huge if they’re going to be successful.”
  • I will be glad to turn the page on a lot of the dysfunction that took place in 2023, because at the end of the day I think that undermines people’s faith in democracy. And when we’ve got some figures running for president next year with such non-traditional, anti-democratic voices and trends, we all have to be in support of the tenents of good government, in democracy.” 
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