NORFOLK, Va. - At a table in front of hundreds of local business leaders, two Republicans and two Democrats sat side-by-side on Monday afternoon at The Main.
Reps. Scott Taylor, Rob Wittman, Bobby Scott and Donald McEachin told the crowd it's not about party. It's about Hampton Roads. "While we disagree on of course many things, and that's okay, we in Virginia have monthly bicameral, bipartisan lunches," Taylor said. "We discuss issues that we need to come together on for Virginia."
Among those disagreements: the new tax law, but they say they come together for issues related to the military. "We definitely come together for the greater good of Virginia to go against other parts of the nation, who maybe want to take assets away and stuff like that," Taylor said.
Congress continues to make a push towards a 355 ship Navy. Rep. Wittman believes it could happen by 2030. "I think it's very realistic," he said. The about 70 ship increase is needed quickly because countries like China and Russia are ramping up their own productions, he added. "If we don't have this ability to have presence in those areas, then we're going to fall far behind," Wittman said.
On the military, Rep. McEachin worries the continued effects of sea-level rise and flooding could put local military assets in jeopardy. "I think we have an advantage where the military doesn't want to leave," he said. "It would be more of a situation where they had to leave." He says there are steps Congress can take now to prevent that from ever happening. "We need to make our bases resilient. We're working on that," he said. "We need to actually have a conversation about how climate change is adversely impacting the planet."
Congressman Bobby Scott warned the group another budget showdown could be happening this fall. The federal budget year ends Sept. 30.