Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential pick, has legislative and executive experience representing an important swing state with a large population of federal employees, service members, and veterans.
Since Kaine was elected to the Senate in 2012, he has supported proposals to protect the compensation and benefits of federal workers and military families, as well as to increase veterans’ access to health care and job training. Most recently, he sponsored efforts to prevent the Defense Department from privatizing military commissaries until further study, and signed onto the Veterans First Act, a major reform bill that would change how the Veterans Affairs Department hires and fires its workforce.
The former Virginia governor and lieutenant governor also worked last year to obtain more credit monitoring and identity theft protection for federal workers and others affected by the massive Office of Personnel Management security breaches. During the 2013 government shutdown, Kaine – along with the other lawmakers from Virginia and Maryland – shepherded legislation that would ensure furloughed workers would be paid when the government reopened.
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That same year during negotiations over a deficit reduction deal, he urged lawmakers not to further target federal employees’ compensation to save money. Kaine, like several Washington, D.C.-area lawmakers, argued that feds already had contributed to the fiscal belt-tightening effort through the three-year civilian pay freeze and furloughs resulting from sequestration and the 16-day government shutdown.
J. David Cox Sr., national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, called Kaine “a vocal advocate for government workers and the programs we deliver to the American public.”
Kaine's support for federal employees is "needed now more than ever given the unfortunate attacks against federal workers by the current and recent past Congresses," said Matt Biggs, legislative director of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, in a statement. "It was not that long ago that he was one of a handful of lawmakers fighting against any cuts to federal pay and benefits as a part of the deals on the budget and avoiding sequestration cuts. It certainly is a positive that there could be someone at the highest level of the next administration that is not only a strong advocate, but also a person who is intimately familiar with the recent history of the sacrifices in pay and pension made by civil servants."
During his 2012 Senate campaign, Kaine talked about the importance of the federal workforce to Virginia’s economy, saying during an August 2012 campaign event that the state “has a more significant federal population than virtually any other state, so if you become a senator, it’s part of your job description.”
Kaine, however, has supported legislation that makes it easier to fire senior executives at the VA, namely the 2014 Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act and the Veterans First Act. The Justice Department recently announced it would not enforce a key accountability provision in the Choice Act because of constitutional concerns.
The Democrat, who did missionary work in Honduras and is fluent in Spanish, sits on four Senate committees: Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations, and the special panel on Aging.