After brief introductions and opening remarks, the congressional panel fielded questions from the audience, including inquiries about the Department of Labor’s proposed fiduciary standard for retirement account advisors, and the Iran nuclear deal.
Chamber members in attendance submitted numerous questions. The main areas of concern were the U.S. military and international security, education reform, labor and energy, the national budget and changes in Congress.
Congressman Forbes passionately emphasized the importance of maintaining core principles and declared that all four congressmen were proud to work together as a team despite differing opinions on some issues.
The overarching theme of unity came through loud and clear to those in attendance, including event moderator and presenting sponsor, Charles Henderson, Bank of America, Hampton Roads Market President, who remarked, “I enjoyed the interaction between Congress members. There are a lot of differences throughout, but there is a lot of commonality. In the end, I know they will work together to do the right thing for the nation and for the Commonwealth.”
One issue all four agreed on was the negative impact a BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure Commission) would have on the Hampton Roads area, and their united efforts to prevent the closures of important military bases and installations throughout the region. Congressmen Rigell, Chariman of a subcommittee of the Armed Services Committee which oversees military readiness, training, logistics, installations and the BRAC process, spoke of his commitment to preventing another BRAC, and has previously spoken about the apparent lack of savings resulting from the 2005 BRAC.
A hot-button issue was the Iran nuclear deal. An energetic discussion began after an audience member posed a question regarding the soundness of the deal. Congressman Forbes stated that the deal showed a lack of American leadership in the world, snubbing one of America’s greatest allies and supplying billions of dollars in assets to one of America’s greatest enemies. Congressmen Wittman and Rigell agreed with Forbes on this issue and offered comments to the same effect, while Congressman Scott disagreed, stating that a deal was necessary in what he viewed as a “deal or no deal” situation. Supporters of the deal, Scott said, believe that Iran would receive the funding through some means, and thought it best to impose some sanctions even if it required unfavorable negotiation.
Congressman Rigell spoke directly to local business leaders, encouraging them to utilize their influence for innovation and progress in the region.
Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bryan K. Stephens states, “The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce was honored again this year to host our four U.S. Congressmen. We thank our U.S. Congressmen for their substantive discussion of the issues impacting the Nation, the Commonwealth and our region and their candid answers to our member’s questions. As always, we thank our many sponsors for this amazing event.”
The Chamber wishes to thank Presenting Sponsor Bank of America, as well as Legislative Affairs Platinum Partner Bon Secours Virginia Health System anSilver Partner Clark Nexsen for their sponsorship of this event.