“The Virginia delegation works extraordinarily well together. We believe what’s best for Virginia is best for the nation,” said Congressman Rob Wittman. This sentiment was echoed in the opening remarks by all four Congressmen. The Hampton Roads Chamber is proud to bring all four sitting Congressmen representing Southeastern Virginia together for an informative session with our members. Congressmen Bobby Scott, Rob Wittman, Donald McEachin, and Scott Taylor each took the stage at the Chamber’s Congressional Forum on August 20, 2018 to address the issues that matter to the business community of Hampton Roads.
Chamber President & CEO, Bryan K. Stephens said, “Of the more than 150 events we have each year, this is one of the most important things we do. These 4 congressmen truly love this region.” The congressmen approached the stage in order of seniority and provided comments on current issues, ongoing projects and goals.
Congressman Bobby Scott discussed his work to bring a new submarine to Norfolk. “It’s a fight against Connecticut, but we’re going to win this battle.” Scott was vocal in his displeasure of the $1.5 trillion passed tax cut. “If that money went towards infrastructure and creating roads and bridges, it could have created even more jobs. In addition to the passing of the budget, we also have to deal with healthcare and I was delighted to see Medicaid expansion get passed,” Scott said. As the Ranking Member on the Committee on Education and Workforce, Scott discussed he importance of education beyond high school. “Not necessarily the need for a four year degree, but training, certification and vocation that secures the workforce of the future,” Scott said.
Congressman Rob Wittman is Co-Chair of the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus and discussed the importance of ensuring the U.S. Navy is the best in the world and operating with an optimal fleet of 350 ships. “The good news is we have the authorization and appropriations agreement to build more ships and we are on track to do so. The bad news is that it would take until 2050 to reach that number as the ships that were built in the 1980’s are retiring. This region needs to be the leader in ship repair to get at our goal by 2030. Hampton Roads is the key to this,” Wittman said. Speaking to education and workforce development, Wittman said, “for Hampton Roads and Virginia to be at the forefront of where it needs to be you must have people who are properly trained in the STEM fields and are in a pipeline to receive certification, training and vocational apprenticeship. 60% of future jobs will require the technical training. Diversification of this economy comes from emphasizing technical and vocational skills.”
Serving his first term representing Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District, Congressman Donald McEachin said of the Virginia delegation, “We find the common ground to move things forward to advance Virginia’s interests. We don’t mind standing up to the administration, no matter who is at the helm to advance Virginia.” As a member of the Armed Services Committee, McEachin said, “We have to send a signal to the industry that Hampton Roads is the future of shipbuilding.” McEachin also addressed the ongoing issue with sea level rise in the region. “We have to come to grips with it. You see it here, we see it, and we are making sure D.C. sees it. We are doing everything we can to combat sea-level rise and ensure the stability of our naval bases.”
Serving on the House Appropriations Committee and Military Construction/Veterans Affairs Committee, Congressman Scott Taylor discussed the three major issues he advocates for including a stronger military, veterans issues and economic growth and stability. “Rebuilding our military is my strongest priority as well as veteran’s issues. We have the fastest growing population of veterans and I am working to get a Veteran’s Administration care center on the Southside. We have to deal with PTSD and TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) issues.” Taylor also discussed the sea level rise concerns for Hampton Roads. “We are working on designating centers of excellence in sea level rise which would allow the area’s universities to receive research and development money and export the research around the country,” Taylor said.
All congressmen agreed the ongoing cycle of sequestration and continuing resolutions is no way to run the government. “Continuing resolutions are a bad way to do business and it demoralizes the workforce,” Scott said. Congressman Wittman said, “It’s time that members of Congress have to suffer the consequences of inaction and indecision. No budget equals no pay. This would make them stay on schedule to have all appropriation bills move forward. Members of Congress need to put their paychecks on the line.” Congressmen Taylor said, “We are broken in that way and we need to fix it. Our office is being impactful and we are working for you.”
The congressmen all agreed it was a privilege to serve Virginia and to work together. The Hampton Roads Chamber works as an impactful advocate for our members. This annual event bringing all four Congressman together is a superior opportunity to learn first-hand what our representatives are doing for us in Washington and to help shape the policies they will fight for on our behalf. Just as the congressmen pride themselves in their bi-partisan unity and working for what is best for Virginia, the Chamber works for what is best for the Hampton Roads region as a whole and bettering the business community for the success of the Commonwealth.
Thank you to our sponsors for the 2018 Congressional Forum:
Presenting Sponsor: COX
Gold Sponsor: The Port of Virginia, The Main
Silver Sponsor: Newport News Shipbuilding
Bronze Sponsor: STIHL, VHCA, Troutman Sander
Platinum Legislative Affairs Partner: Bon Secours
Gold Legislative Affairs Partner: Chesapeake Regional Healthcare
Silver Legislative Affairs Partner: Clark Nexsen
Radio Sponsor: Sinclair Communications