Senator Tim Kaine Shares Congressional Insight With Young Democrats Club.

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By Abi Baker , Editor In Chief

When Rohini Kudva (23) and I invited Senator Tim Kaine to speak to the Young Democrats Club, we were surprised by his willingness to schedule a time to meet. The conversation was honest, and his insights were a compelling comparison to what often gets construed by the media. Club sponsor and history teacher, Elizabeth Anderson, remarked that  “Senator Kaine was strikingly open and candid about his stances on a wide variety of issues facing the country today, which is refreshing in the current environment where many politicians seem interested in creating content for their Twitter feeds.” Kaine discussed the nuances of ongoing political issues such as the filibuster and outlined his predictions of the war in Ukraine, as well as what he believes will make a popular Republican candidate for the 2024 Presidential Election. 

Although the interview was held prior to Putin’s official declaration of war on Ukraine, Kaine’s position on the Foreign Relations Committee allowed him to share a unique perspective of how the conflict may proceed. Kaine stressed the complexities of any response by President Biden and other leaders, “There could not be more at stake internationally and domestically.” Each day as Putin advances, his army continues to deploy airstrikes and displace Ukrainians from their homes and into neighboring countries. Senator Kaine promised that the sanctions imposed on the Russian economy and on Putin himself will be “extremely punishing.” 

The major domestic debate in Congress is the issue of the filibuster. The filibuster is an archaic method used to stall legislation from going to a vote. It has notably been used as a tool to derail the Civil Rights Bill, and delay Obama’s Supreme Court nominees. The filibuster, amongst other things, is the reason why so much of President Biden’s legislation has been hindered in Congress. Kaine wants filibuster reform, not its abolishment. Instead, he wants to return it to the Senate’s previous rule of a “talking” filibuster. This would require the filibustering minority to stand on the floor and “tell the American public why they felt entitled to block a majority vote”. That minority he referred to are his Democratic colleagues, Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. Both Senators often vote with Republicans and have ardently opposed a rewrite to the Senate’s rules on the filibuster. The two senators are publicly outspoken on the topic, but Kaine admittedly revealed even in his private conversations “[he] could not convince Senators Manchin or Sinema.”  

Each day as Kaine goes to work in the Capitol he witnesses the effects of extremism and polarization which culminated in the January 6th insurrection. There are still members in Congress who played an active role in aiding and abetting the insurrectionists which impede his abilities to proactively seek out bipartisanship. Immediately following the insurrection Kaine “took an unusual step” and filed a Senate ethics complaint against a few of his colleagues. 

Kaine’s lifetime of political experience in Virginia has allowed him to witness firsthand the voting electorate develop. This is why Glenn Youngkin’s gubernatorial win doesn’t deter him. Although he admits Governor Youngkin ran “the perfect race” against Terry McAuliffe, the fact that he only won by 1.8%, does not “scare” him. Kaine can see that former President Trump’s stronghold over the Republicans is weakening, but he still remains the arbiter of the party. This is why in the future someone like Liz Cheney will “remain unpopular” among the base, but a Glenn Youngkin type who has successfully won whilst separating himself from Trump could be the new blueprint of the Republican party. In regards to 2024 election predictions, “[his] gut tells [him] Trump will flirt with running in 2024 up until the last minute.”