Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine was among 12 new U.S. Senators who took the oath of office Thursday, and he is optimistic about what the 113th Congress can accomplish.
In spite of the gloom left by the fiscal cliff mess, Kaine is armed with a sense that as a former budget-cutting governor, he can contribute.
“I had to govern at a time when we were actually reducing the size of the state budget in Virginia because of the recession and I had to make a lot of painful decisions about spending with shredding the safety net and without hurting the Virginia economy,” he said.
Kaine said he especially takes heart in the fact that with 11 other new senators joining and another three to be added soon, there’s enough new blood to perhaps change the atmosphere.
“In a body of 100, 15 newcomers, that’s a lot of fresh air coming in to the situation, and I hope that it might lead to a more cooperative spirit,” he said. “That’s what Virginians want to see from their elected officials, and I think Americans do, too.”
Kaine's move to the Senate also reunites him with U.S. Sen. Mark Warner. The two have known each other for more than three decades since their law school days at Harvard, and Kaine served as lieutenant governor under Warner.
Virginia's senior senator admitted the fiscal cliff debacle is discouraging, but he too has renewed hope for the 113th Congress.
“My hope is that with 15 new members, there will be a group that will join those of us that have been stirring the pot, and hopefully we can get some stuff done,” Warner said.
As for getting stuff done, former Sen. Jim Webb leaves a signature accomplishment behind: His push to extend the GI bill has helped thousands of war veterans go to college.