Virginia’s Senior Senator, Jim Webb’s Memorial Day Recess Update

Senator Jim Webb
1. National Criminal Justice Commission Act.

The Senator’s National Criminal Justice Commission Act has gained momentum in past weeks with the House introduction of the legislation, led by Reps. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), both active Judiciary Committee members.

In addition to strong bipartisan support in the Senate with 34 cosponsors, the Senator’s bill has garnered support from across the political spectrum. As he said recently: “I want you to ask yourself the last time you saw a piece of criminal justice legislation that was supported universally by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Marijuana Policy Institute, the NAACP, the ACLU and the American Bar Association.”

The bill, which would create a blue-ribbon commission charged with comprehensively reviewing the nation’s criminal justice system and offering concrete recommendations for reform, passed out of the Judiciary Committee earlier this year.  The bill is strongly supported by Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate leadership, and we expect that it will come before the full Senate in the coming weeks. We will keep you updated with movement.

Some notable editorials of the past month:

2. Bringing Jobs to Virginia .

  • Cobham Industries = 200 Jobs for Suffolk , VA

On May 3, Senator Webb traveled to Suffolk , VA for the official opening of the Cobham Composite Products’ new state-of-the-art, energy efficient manufacturing facility. An estimated 200 new jobs are expected to be created in the first five years. Webb was an early and consistent supporter of Cobham’s move to the Suffolk area.  In FY 2010, he secured $1.6 million for production of the U.S. Air Force’s Miniature Air-Launched Decoy fuselage at the facility.

The 73,500-sq. ft. facility will manufacture advanced aircraft engine components, aircraft and rotorcraft structural products, unmanned aerial vehicle components, as well as missile and munitions products for the U.S. aerospace and defense industry.

  • EcomNets = 160 New Jobs for Danville , VA

Senator Webb and our staff worked with Fairfax-based EcomNets to connect the company with the City of Danville .  The information technology company will establish a computer manufacturing facility in Danville , creating an estimated 160 jobs. EcomNets expects to locate the facility in the Airside Industrial Park , east of Danville ’s airport. The company will produce “Verdio PCs,” energy-efficient computers constructed from recyclable materials.

  • Stimulus Funding for VA Communities

Virginia has received more than $2 billion in stimulus funds, and state officials report these funds have supported nearly 8,000 education jobs so far this year. In the past month, the following projects have been funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA):

–  $2 million to expand clean energy workforce in Hampton and Christiansburg

–  $324.6 million to support public education

–  $3.7 million for Portsmouth ’s Lakeview Elementary School to improve air quality and energy efficiency

$19 million in funding to bring affordable high-speed internet services to the cities of Emporia and Franklin

$15 Million to Protect Water Quality in City of Norton and Buckingham County

–  $59.8 million to turn around Virginia ’s persistently lowest achieving schools through the School Improvement Grants (SIG) program

3. Restoring Fairness to Our Financial System.

Invoking Andrew Jackson’s principles of economic fairness, Senator Webb voted to pass the Senate financial reform bill, which could be an important step forward in reining in some of the worst abuses of recent years and bringing enhanced oversight and transparency to our financial system.  He specifically fought for the following provisions:

  • Executive compensation. Webb introduced his Taxpayer Fairness Act as an amendment to give American taxpayers an upside in the recovery of our economic system, which became possible only because their tax dollars saved it.  If passed, it would have placed a one-time windfall tax on bonuses paid in 2010 to executives of the thirteen financial institutions that received $5 billion or more of taxpayer support under TARP or the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008. He will continue to make this legislation a priority.
  • Bad banks. Webb cosponsored an amendment to put reasonable limits on the size of financial institutions and an amendment to prevent banks from engaging in some of the riskiest behavior—proprietary trading for their own benefit—to the detriment of their own clients and depositors.
  • Consumer protection. Webb cosponsored two amendments that would crack down on outrageous credit card rates, by allowing states to regulate interest rates within their own borders—as they could prior to 1978—and by capping the maximum allowable rate at 15%. He also voted to preserve a strong, independent consumer protection agency that will have the ability to conduct meaningful oversight, while exempting smaller banks and other businesses from potentially onerous regulations.
  • Transparency. Senator Webb cosponsored an amendment that would require an audit of the Federal Reserve, in order to determine the extent of the taxpayer assistance that was provided to these private companies.

For more on Senator Webb’s fight for economic fairness, please see: http://webb.senate.gov/issuesandlegislation/economyworkforceandtrade/index.cfm

Read Senator Webb’s Washington Post Op-Ed: “We helped the bankers. Now it’s their turn,” March 21, 2010

4. Strong U.S. Engagement in Asia .

Senator Webb—who serves at chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations—is traveling home today from a week-long visit to Thailand and Korea to underscore the importance of economic and diplomatic engagement in East Asia. His trip was timely, considering the great unrest in the region (ie. the North Korean torpedo attack on a South Korean vessel, violent protests in Thailand and provocations from the Burmese regime).  As he said before leaving:  “Recent events have underscored the need for the United States to step up its commitment to the region.”

He postponed a third stop in Burma due to new allegations that the Burmese government has been working with North Korea to develop a nuclear program. A defecting officer from the Burmese military claims direct knowledge of such plans, and reportedly has furnished documents to corroborate his claims. Assist. Sec. of State Kurt Campbell recently accused Burma of violating a UN Security Council Resolution, with respect to a suspected shipment of arms from North Korea .  Given the unresolved claims related to activities of serious concern between these two countries, Webb said yesterday in a statement: “Until there is further clarification on these matters, I believe it would be unwise and potentially counterproductive for me to visit Burma .”

Senator Webb has expressed frustration in recent months about the lack of resources that the United States has committed to the region. “If we are serious about crafting proactive, smart foreign policy, we must begin by providing our diplomats with the necessary tools and resources.”  He has also cautioned about China ’s rapidly growing influence throughout Asia .  He has said that it’s time for the United States , together with our allies and partners, to call on China to act in a responsible way that improves the stability and prosperity of the region.

Senator Webb was interviewed on MSNBC’s Chris Matthews Show last Wednesday about the growing unrest in the region: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036697/vp/37365285#37365285

5. Travels Around the Commonwealth.

Senator Webb completed an extremely busy Spring work period that saw him travel to almost every corner of Virginia .

Some of the highlights of Senator Webb’s travel schedule during this period included:

  • Touring the Applied Felts Martinsville facility and meeting with Virginia’s Philpott Manufacturing Extension Partnership
  • Meeting with students, administrators and community leaders involved in the New College Institute in Martinsville
  • Participating in a GI Bill event at Tidewater Community College to celebrate the school’s 2,300 GI Bill recipients, the second highest enrollment in the country
  • Ribbon-cutting at the grand opening of the Cobham Composite Products facility in Suffolk , VA —estimated to bring 200 jobs to the region
  • Touring Danville’s Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) with community leaders
  • Meeting with administrators and employees of the Goodyear Tire Danville plant
  • Speaking to the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce
  • Keynoting the Charlottesville Committee on Foreign Relations luncheon
  • Guest-lecturing Prof. Larry Sabato’s class at UVA

Senator Webb delivered 3 commencement addresses in as many weeks, serving as the Commencement speaker at:

  • Ferrum College , Southside VA —Saturday, May 8
  • George Mason University , Fairfax , VA —Saturday, May 15
  • Patrick County Education Foundation (GED commencement), Southwest VA —Friday, May 21

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