Members of Virginia Congressional delegation discuss priorities in new administration

Biden Inauguration
Posted at 2:48 PM, Jan 20, 2021

NORFOLK, Va. - Newly sworn-in President Joe Biden delivered a message of unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the Hampton Roads Congressional delegation say they can help unite the nation. "There is a lot of work to bridge very large differences between people, but I think it's showing as legislators our goal is truly to work together and work for the common good," said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-2nd District).

"Listen, this is not going to be easy. People hold deep passions and emotions on all the things that have transpired. I think it's our job to get passed that. I think it's our job to get the ideas from people," said Rep. Rob Wittman (R-1st District).

Working with the new administration, the lawmakers say COVID-19 relief is an area where they can find common ground, along with an issue like infrastructure.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) said confirming Biden's cabinet picks is his top priority in the short term followed by COVID-19 relief. "The main goal right now is to start off this administration with the best footing possible," he said.

The new make-up of the federal government could lead to an opening for Democrats to pass initiatives that didn't advance during the Trump administration. Kaine cited immigration reform and increasing the federal minimum wage as issues that could see new life.

Democrats control the House, Senate, and White House. Still, rules in the Senate would require Republican approval on many pieces of legislation.

"I actually think it will maybe start to tear down some of these walls of division if people feel like Congress is getting results for them," said Kaine.

The Senate appears to be moving forward with an impeachment trial against now former President Donald Trump. Local lawmakers have a split opinion on the best path forward.

"I think it's imperative that President Trump be held accountable for his role in inciting a violent riot at the Capitol," said Luria.

"I think we need to be focusing on where we go into the future," said Wittman. "Obviously, that process is going to be deeply divisive. I believe we need to do everything we can to move this nation forward."

Looking ahead to the next federal election in 2022, Democrats remain optimistic despite historical trends showing the majority party generally struggles following a Presidential election. "If we do the right thing and we do good work for our district and help the most people possible, the results will turn out in our favor," said Luria.

"The idea about any election for me is produce results for people and it's going to go better for you," said Kaine, who's not up for re-election until 2024.

For now, lawmakers are remaining optimistic. "As much as passions and emotions are high today, I want to remind folks that our process works because we take time to listen to everyone," said Wittman.

"I think there are strong prospects in the first year of a Biden administration for people to feel better about their health, people feeling better about the economy, people feeling better about their ability to interact with each other. That's going to have a psychological uplift that I think can be powerful," said Kaine.