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Virginia Congressional Delegation - Year in Review

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By Matt Laslo

Virginia lawmakers had a busy year. They worked to revive the U.S. economy, and some of them also worked on human rights issues overseas.

It's not since the sixties that both of Virginia's senators were Democrats. And in the last election three GOP House seats turned blue. Freshman Gerry Connolly says the White House has needed the reinforcements.

"Really listening to the rhetoric on the floor, it's always Alice in Wonderland," says Connolly. "You'd never know there was a major election with a huge shift and clear mandate."

Virginia Democrats helped pass the stimulus bill and credit card reforms. Senator Mark Warner also voted to give the Food and Drug Administration authority over cigarettes.

"Tobacco we all know can cause illness and death," says Warner.

Tobacco is still big in Virginia, and many farmers weren't happy with the bill.

Then there are global issues. Senator Jim Webb emerged as a leading voice on U.S. policy towards Burma, also known as Myanmar. He helped secure the release of a U.S. prisoner there and met with the country's prime minister.

"Almost everyone in the West and inside Burma share the objective of a Democratic, stable, prosperous Burma," says Webb. "The question for us is how do we make progress towards that goal."

In April, Republican Frank Wolf lashed out members of the Congressional Black Caucus for going to Cuba.

"Every time any member who wants to go down there to meet with the families, to go into the prisons to meet with the dissidents -- we're denied," says Wolf. "Anyone who favors trade gets to go and has their great meetings."

Senator Warner has worked to get a bi-partisan agreement on financial reforms. He says Washington makes him miss Richmond.

"I came from a state where we found common ground," says Warner. "And that's probably my single biggest disappointment that too many folks seem to view theses issues as team sports."

Financial reforms, health care, cap and trade. Those are just a few of the big issues remaining.


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