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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Sen. Tim Kaine Talks ISIL, other National Concerns at ODU

At Old Dominion University on April 10, Sen. Tim Kaine repeated his frustration over Congress' refusal to endorse the limited war authorization against terror group ISIL, he introduced last fall.

Kaine's comments were made at the start of a lively 90-minute conversation and question-answer session that covered pressing issues such as military budget sequestration, preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, sexual assault in the military, jobs and benefits for veterans as well as the threat of sea-level rise to military installations.

Kaine called Old Dominion, "a national center for excellence" for the study of climate change and sea-level rise. The University's Center for Sea Level Rise is home to an Intergovernmental pilot project funded by the White House.

"This is the third time Sen. Kaine has been here this year to talk to us," President John R. Broderick said, in his introductory remarks, noting that a quarter of the University's student body has military ties. "That says far more about his commitment to military issues than anything in his bio."

The discussion, which was held at the Webb University Center, included about 50 military veterans, active duty service members and Old Dominion ROTC students

"I have been a very loud voice challenging the White House and my colleagues now that we're in this war against ISIL," the Virginia Democrat said.

Kaine told the group he backed President Obama's decision last August to allow airstrikes against ISIL as a matter of defense. But Kaine added, the Constitution requires congressional approval to escalate military action, such as a ground war.

"I don't think it's fair to the men and women who serve and are risking their lives that we, in Congress, won't do the hard job of debating and then saying this is a mission that's worth it," said Kaine, who is a member of committees on armed services and foreign relations.

"If we won't say the mission is worth it, then we don't have the right to ask people to risk their lives for it," he added.

Kaine, who sits on the congressional budget committee, also referenced the amendment he introduced to replace across-the-board sequester cuts, which are due to return in full Oct. 1, with a targeted package of reductions. The amendment was passed last month by a 50-48 vote.

As for Iran, Kaine said, "it is incredibly important that we find a way, a diplomatic way if possible, to curtail Iran's nuclear-weapons ambitions."

He then added, that failure to do so would trigger a nuclear-arms race in the Middle East - "the last thing the world needs right now."