Mark Warner, Tim Kaine react to President Obama budget proposal

congressU.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both members of the Senate Budget Committee, released statements on President Obama’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2015.

Sen. Warner said: “The President’s FY2015 budget lays out his priorities for the coming years, including the repeal of at least a portion of future sequester cuts and some elements of tax reform. In many ways, this builds on the progress we’ve seen in recent weeks, where we have begun to see encouraging signs of bipartisan cooperation on budget matters. In December, for example, Congress adopted a bipartisan two-year budget compromise which temporarily relieves the worst impacts of sequester — but doesn’t provide a permanent fix for our debt. I continue to believe the best thing we could do to strengthen our nation’s economic recovery is to put in place a responsible, bipartisan plan that begins to address our long-term deficits and debt.”

Sen. Kaine said: “Coming on the heels of our strong, bipartisan two-year budget deal, the President’s FY2015 budgetsets the right tone for our nation’s economic future by prioritizing investments in education, job training programs, and infrastructure. It also expands the Earned Income Tax Credit – a bipartisan proposal which would benefit up to 312,000 Virginians and help bring millions of families out of poverty.

“The President’s budget also echoes what I’ve been advocating since my first day in office, and what Congress boldly said, in a bipartisan way, last December –sequestration cuts need to be pulled back. The budget is simply unworkable without additional sequester relief, and this proposal shows how those cuts would manifest themselves – in reduced readiness in our military, and risks to our national security. The Department of Defense alone is prepared to absorb more than half of the level of these original cuts, a sign that the Department is serious about reducing spending in these challenging times. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I look forward to asking Secretary Hagel about these efforts tomorrow, as well as the greater impact of the FY15 budget on our defense priorities.”

The following list includes other provisions in the President’s FY2015 budget that would benefit Virginia:

Chesapeake Bay Program: The budget requests approximately $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay Program, up $3 million from the FY2014 levels.

American Opportunity Tax Credit: Under the President’s budget, this tax credit is made permanent and provides up to $2,500 in tuition tax credits; the current tax credit expires in 2017.

Pell Grants: $22.8 billion in discretionary funding for Pell grants which will make the maximum award per student $5,830.

Veterans Affairs Funding: The Budget continues to address the VA claims backlog by investing $138.7 million in the Veterans Claims Intake Program, continuing to implement the paperless claims system, and undertaking additional efforts to provide faster and more accurate benefits claims processing and improve veterans’ access to benefits information.

Infrastructure Improvements: Targeted funding of over $300 billion in critically-needed infrastructure projects.

American Battlefield Protection Program: The budget proposes $8.5 million for the American Battlefield Protection Program. Last May, Kaine introduced the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act with Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi that would reauthorize this program, which offers competitive federal grants to match non-federal and private donations to preserve Civil War battlefields.

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