In a break from Senate tradition, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) delivered his maiden address to his colleagues Wednesday afternoon. The speech came much earlier than usual, before the senator had even finished his second month in office.
Because the Senate floor is viewed by many as a sacred space, most freshmen lawmakers wait months before addressing their peers in the austere chamber.
But with billions of dollars in automatic, across-the-board spending cuts slated to hit Virginia on Friday, Kaine broke unwritten protocol when he addressed the Senate.
"I am speaking a bit earlier than I would have thought likely when I took the oath of office on the third of January, but I am speaking in particular because we are not in normal times," Kaine said.
Kaine urged his colleagues to protect the state's defense industry from sequester cuts, not only for economic reasons but also for Virginia's rich military history. He noted that the Revolutionary War ended in Yorktown, Va., the Civil War ended in Appomattox, Va., and the Sept. 11 hijackers attacked the Pentagon in Arlington, Va.,
"We are the most connected state to the military of any," Kaine added.
The Democrat said sequestration will go beyond the defense sector, impacting everyone from educators to low-income families.
Kaine and other Virginia lawmakers have been railing against the pending cuts for months, but it doesn't look as if the speeches are working. With negotiations at a standstill on Capitol Hill, people across the region are bracing for the cuts to be triggered Friday.