Government & Politics
11:38 am
Thu February 28, 2013

Sen. Tim Kaine Takes the Floor

Virginia’s newest U-S senator, Tim Kaine, delivered his maiden speech on the Senate floor this week. His first address to his colleagues came much earlier than expected.

The Senate floor is viewed by many as a sacred space. That’s why most freshmen lawmakers wait months before addressing their peers in the austere chamber. But with billions of dollars in budget cuts slated to rip through his state on Friday, Senator Kaine broke unwritten Senate protocol and spoke on the floor before even finishing his second month in office.

“I am speaking a bit earlier than I would have thought likely when I took the oath of office on the 3rd of January, but I am speaking in particular because we are not in normal times.”  Kaine is urging his colleagues to protect Virginia’s defense industry from the cuts, which he says is not only for economic reasons.

"The map of Virginia is a map of the military history of this country: Yorktown, where the Revolutionary War ended; Appomattox, where the Civil War ended; the Pentagon, where we were attacked on 9/11. We are the most connected state to the military of any," said Sen. Kaine.

The Democrat says sequestration will go beyond the defense sector too, impacting everyone from educators to low-income families. Kaine and other Virginia lawmakers have been railing against the pending cuts for months, but it doesn’t look as if the speeches are working. With negotiations at a standstill on Capitol Hill, people across the state  are bracing for the cuts to be triggered Friday.

Matt Laslo reports from Washington, D.C.