Tim Kaine, Mark Warner urge congressional budget conferees to do job

U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine called on his colleagues on the bipartisan Budget Conference Committee to “surprise the cynics” to compromise and agree on a federal budget for 2013-2014.

congressSenate colleague Mark Warner, also a member of the 29-member committee, said at the body’s first meeting on Wednesday that he wants to end the recent fiscal practice of lurching from crisis to crisis, find a way to replace the damaging, across-the-board spending cuts mandated by sequester, and look for opportunities to make responsible investments that will strengthen the economic recovery and promote American competitiveness.

Negotiators have until Dec. 13 to find a budget compromise.

“The budgetary dysfunction has hurt us dramatically in Virginia,” Kaine said Wednesday. “The combination of shutdown and sequester, hurting defense, hurting other key priorities, we feel it. We haven’t done a budget conference in true regular budget order in many years. Isn’t this an embarrassment that we here should resolve to put behind us? Are state legislatures more talented or more public spirited than members of Congress? Let’s surprise the cynics who say we can’t do this. I know we can.”

Warner hit the point on how “a lot of us around this table like to cite our business experience.”

“I am proud that I have been a business guy longer than I have been a political guy,” Warner said. “My time in business was mostly spent as an investor. When you are an investor looking at a business plan, you look at the company’s plan for its workforce, its investments in plant and equipment, and how they plan to stay ahead of their competition. Countries have a business plan, too: it’s called the federal budget. We have those three items, too: ‘workforce’ is called education and training – ‘plant and equipment’ is infrastructure – and ‘staying ahead of the competition’ is research and development.

The next meeting of the committee will take place on Nov. 13.

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