“Chambers represent their members, advocate for policy and think regionally.” Senator Tim Kaine praised the Hampton Roads Chamber at the 2019 Senatorial Forum. “This is the only event during the year where both the U.S. senators are together,” said Bryan K. Stephens, President and CEO of the Hampton Roads Chamber.
The annual Senatorial Forum on August 23 brings together business leaders and members of the community to discuss various issues that impact the region, the Commonwealth, and the nation. The Hampton Roads Chamber’s mission is to serve as an impactful advocate, powerful economic partner, inspiring ignitor and regional collaborator, and the Senatorial Forum allows the Chamber to do just that.
Senator Mark Warner began by addressing the ongoing need for improved clinics and health care facilities for veterans. Warner discussed the large 155,000 square foot facility he has envisioned in South Hampton Roads to service veterans throughout the region. This facility would eliminate the need for veterans living in Norfolk and Virginia Beach to travel back and forth to the facility in Hampton. “We’ve been looking for an additional facility here on the south side to take care of our veterans,” said Senator Warner. He went on to say that during the past two years, he has continued to advocate for a veterans facility in South Hampton Roads, and happily announced that legislation will be moving forward to build the proposed veteran facilities in South Hampton Roads.
Warner went on to discuss two defense issues affecting both Hampton Roads and nation. First was the recent refueling of the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) in April 2019. “The USS Truman will be refueled and maintain a part of our fleet and obviously that’s critically important here in Hampton Roads,” Warner said. Secondly, regarding defense intelligence, Warner strongly advocated for improved cybersecurity throughout the nation. “The cybersecurity challenges we face as a nation are only growing,” Warner said. He went on to mention the growing need for cybersecurity in Hampton Roads to support the strong military presence as well as the business community.
The final remarks from Senator Warner focused on the commemoration of the 400 year mark of slave ships from Africa arriving in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619. “The paradox that Virginia is both the birthplace of American democracy but also the birthplace of America’s original sin, in terms of slavery,” said Warner. “This is a story that has to be told. It’s quintessentially important as Virginians to hear this story and as Americans I hope we can move forward.”
Senator Tim Kaine began by addressing the mass shooting tragedy in Virginia Beach in May 2019. “A wonderful thing about human beings is that we will rally together in times of tragedy. We have demonstrated beyond all doubt that human beings can come together after a tragedy and rally together to support each other,” said Kaine. “But what we need to be able to demonstrate is that we’re willing to do something to prevent tragedy.” He went on to stress the need for support and change around our gun laws and coming together to make a collective change in times of tragedy.
The Senator championed the strength of the U.S. military and the support of the military throughout the Commonwealth. “There is no state that’s connected to the military mission like we are,” Kaine said. There is widespread involvement in the military across the Commonwealth stretching from military installations at the Pentagon, to Appomattox, to Hampton Roads. “We are so connected,” said Senator Kaine.
Regarding trade Kaine addressed the ongoing tariffs and trade war with China, arguing that the power to impose trade sanctions should first go through a Congressional vote. “We shouldn’t be in a trade war without votes in Congress,” Kaine said.
Kaine echoed Senator Warner’s final remarks about the 400th anniversary of the slave ships arriving in Virginia and said, “2019 is 400 years from two things happening in Virginia: the birth of legislative democracy and the birth of slavery in our country.” Looking to the future of the country and evaluating the effects of the nation’s history, Kaine went on to say that despite the tragedies of our past, America has overcome the struggles of tragedy. “It’s good to be in a place where our history sort of forces us to confront stuff if we’re willing to confront it,” Kaine said.
There was a brief Q&A period where Senator Warner and Senator Kaine answered questions on the mental health crisis revolving around opioid addiction as well as the ways to make the Veterans Administration more effective and efficient for veterans. “The challenges around addiction in this country aren’t going to go away,” said Kaine. “We need to have long term dedicated commitment to help all communities facing this crisis.”
In closing, Moore Hallmark and Ken Johnson from the US Chamber of Commerce presented Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine with the prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award. This award is given annually to members of Congress who support the US Chamber’s pro-growth policies. Senator Warner and Senator Kaine were both awarded during the Chamber’s Senatorial Forum.
Thank you to our 2019 Hampton Roads Senatorial Forum sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, Cox; Member Spotlight Sponsors, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Dominion Energy, Virginia Natural Gas; Platinum Sponsor, Wilbanks Smith & Thomas; Gold Sponsors, The Port of Virginia, Virginia Maritime Association; Host Sponsor, Hilton Norfolk| The Main; Radio Sponsors, Sinclair Communications, 96 X, 93.7 BOB FM, 106.1 Americas Country, Sports Radio 850 AM, 96.5 FM; Bronze Sponsors, Entercom Norfolk, Newport News Shipbuilding, PRA Group; Platinum Legislative Affairs Sponsor, Bon Secours; Gold Legislative Affairs Partners, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, Sentara; and Silver Legislative Affairs Sponsor, Clark Nexsen.
Join us for the 2019 Legislative Reception on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, and Congressional Forum on November 25, 2019. To register or sponsor go to events/hamptonroadschamber.com.