Sens. Warner and Kaine Share Insights on Sequestration and Budget Negotiations at NVTC Members-Only Event

On Friday, Feb. 8, U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine spoke to a group of more than 150 NVTC attendees at a members-only forum at Sprint in Reston. During the event, Sens. Warner and Kaine shared their insights on sequestration, the current status of debt and budget negotiations, and other issues of interest to the region’s technology community. Both senators think that it is likely that sequestration will actually take place, if only for a short period of time and they shared honest insights on the chance of avoiding its worst aspects.

Senator Mark Warner
Senator Mark Warner addresses NVTC members at the Feb. 8 forum.

In his remarks, Sen. Warner described the intersection of sequestration and the end of the current continuing resolution as “worse than you can imagine.” He argued that sequestration-based uncertainty and cuts will actually cost taxpayers money as government customers lose out on multi-year contract pricing. Sen. Warner outlined several potential solutions to sequestration, while stating his belief that any solution would have to include a mix of cuts and revenue. He also explained that it is unlikely anything will be solved before March 1.

Sen. Warner concluded his remarks by highlighting the need for immigration reform, including H1-B visas, green cards for graduates with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and a new entrepreneurship visa for immigrants who have the financing to start a new business that will hire American workers.

Senator Tim Kaine
Senator Tim Kaine speaks to the members-only audience at the Feb. 8 NVTC forum.

After offering his perspective on being new to the Senate, Sen. Kaine expressed his belief that the current dysfunction in the Senate is based partly on ideology and partly on poor interpersonal relationships. He quoted Sec. of Defense Panetta in calling the current budget uncertainty “the single biggest threat to our national security,” and argued that national security priorities should drive budget decisions, not the other way around. Sen. Kaine also worried that, in addition to immediate impacts, sequestration could have longer term consequences if soldiers opt out of a military career because of uncertainty in the Defense budget.

Sen. Kaine concluded his remarks by noting the importance of building our talent and global connections in order to be economically competitive and stated that we should harvest the value of the government’s investment in our troops by giving them civilian credentials for military skills developed while they’re in service.

During a Q&A session with the audience following their remarks, both senators elaborated on sequestration, the debt and immigration. They also discussed internet sales tax and comprehensive tax reform.

Click here to read media coverage from the forum.