Senator Tim Kaine toured the Children’s Hospital at UVA today and met with parents who are worried about the failure of Congress to fund CHIP – a federal program that pays for children’s healthcare. He told them he’s confident lawmakers will come through.
“It was a bi-partisan program when it was passed in 1997," he explained. "The main Republican sponsor, Orin Hatch, says it’s the most important piece of legislation he’s ever worked on. The bill in the Senate came out of the finance committee unanimously in October. “
And, Kaine says, every governor in the nation, regardless of party affiliation, has called on Congress to re-authorize CHIP. He is also hopeful about a deal to protect dreamers.
President Trump has said he will not sign off on protection for the dreamers unless Congress funds his proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico – now expected to cost $18 billion. Kaine is hopeful a fix can be found:
“We are closer to a compromise deal than we ever have been,” he told reporters, but he added that Democrats in Congress oppose building a barrier for two big reasons.
“What our border security professionals are telling us is, ‘What you need is underground sensors and drones, and you need more border agents,” that wall would be like wasting money, and then the second thing is President Trump told the American public Mexico’s going to pay for the while.”
If that’s not the case, Kaine says, he feels no obligation to help Trump break a campaign promise.
Virginia's junior U.S. senator expressed concerns about Donald Trump's mental health. “I’m worrying about his instability around North Korea," he said. "His provocations in my view raise the risk of unnecessary war.”
Kaine said Trump’s tendency to tweet had damaged the nation’s diplomatic efforts and made us irrelevant in current talks between North and South Korea.
And, finally, he offered an update of sorts on two planned pipelines which would carry natural gas from the fracking fields of West Virginia, across some of this state's most scenic lands, to North and South Carolina. Kaine is pressing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take another look at plans for the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines. He’s hopeful two new appointees might oppose those projects.
When FERC voted to approve two controversial gas pipelines through Virginia, there were three people on the commission, and one of them voiced strong opposition.
“And the dissent, to be specific, was not, ‘I don’t agree with the route,’ Kaine explained. "The dissent was, ‘I don’t even think there’s a need for these pipelines.’”
He notes that two vacancies on the commission have since been filled, creating a panel of five and a need to reconsider.
“It may be that the two new people would agree with the dissenter, and so the actual ruling would be a three-two decision against the pipelines," Kaine says . "I think the public is entitled to a ruling on a controversial matter like this by the full FERC commission, and they ought to re-hear it.”
Pipeline opponents agree and have filed a formal request with FERC.