By Sen. Mark Warner
The Senate now has joined the House in closing-out 2013 and adjourning for the holidays. We already are seeing news stories about what a remarkably unproductive year it’s been for Congress, but I am encouraged by the recent flurry of bipartisan agreements here in the final days of the session.
First, the House and Senate both adopted a bipartisan short-term budget deal that will, for the next two years, minimize the impact of across-the-board budget cuts known as the sequester. That’s good news for the federal workforce, because it eliminates the prospect of any more employee furloughs or government shutdowns. It’s good news for Virginia’s large role in national defense, because it gives shipyards and other private-sector businesses more predictability. And it’s good for Virginia businesses and consumers, because the bipartisan budget agreement ends, for now, Washington’s recent habit of lurching from crisis to crisis.
Second, the Senate and the House agreed on a Pentagon spending plan. I am especially pleased this House-Senate agreement adopted my proposals to strengthen protections for military whistleblowers. This will strengthen a process that allows our military men and women to report wrongdoing when they see it, whether it’s fraud, sexual abuse or other misconduct.
And finally, I am happy to report progress on my other priorities, including more transparency and accountability in federal spending, new tools to allow smart infrastructure investments, and a reform of the federal government’s role in housing finance to better protect taxpayers.
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Over the course of 2013, we also worked to help thousands of Virginians successfully navigate the federal bureaucracy. We responded to almost 315,000 emails and letters from Virginians. I most enjoyed getting out of Washington to hear from people across Virginia at more than 125 public events, including almost 60 roundtable discussions and town hall meetings.
As the year draws to a close, I want to thank you for the honor of representing you in Congress, and wish you and your family a safe and enjoyable holiday season.