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Tim was elected to the Senate in 2012 and serves on the Armed Services, Budget, Foreign Relations and Aging Committees. He is also Ranking Member of the Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. During his first term in the Senate, Tim has successfully fought against the sequestration cuts that were harming Virginia’s economy, supported reforms that strengthen our education system, and advocated a U.S. foreign policy that protects American families while staying true to our nation’s values.
In order to get things done for the people of Virginia, Tim has made working across the aisle and finding common ground a top priority. Tim has partnered with Republicans to help address issues as wide-ranging as unemployment among veterans, campus sexual assault, sea level rise, drug abuse, and K-12 education reform. Since June of 2014, Tim has been the leading voice calling on Congress to uphold its constitutional duty and vote to authorize the war against ISIL. Tim partnered with Republican Senator Jeff Flake to introduce the only bipartisan authorization proposal to show America’s enemies, allies, and troops that the nation is united in this fight.
As a lifelong supporter of career and technical education, Tim has championed CTE in the Senate, co-founding the bipartisan CTE Caucus and introducing legislation that would improve students’ access to skills-based learning that prepares them for the careers of the 21st century. Through high-quality, affordable education and training, Tim believes the United States can continue to grow the world’s most talented workforce and help families climb the economic ladder to success. While Tim is always working to find common ground with his Republican colleagues, he is also a proud Democrat who isn’t afraid to stand up for what he believes in, from protecting a women’s right to make her own healthcare choices, to ensuring equal pay for equal work, to supporting commonsense policies to prevent gun violence.
Tim grew up working in his father’s ironworking shop in Kansas City. He was educated at the University of Missouri and Harvard Law School and started his public service career by taking a year off from Harvard to run a technical school founded by Jesuit missionaries in Honduras. After law school, he practiced law in Richmond for 17 years, specializing in the representation of people who had been denied housing due to their race or disability. He also began teaching part-time at the University of Richmond in 1987.
Tim was first elected to office in 1994, serving as a city councilmember and then Mayor of Richmond. He became Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 2002 and was inaugurated as Virginia’s 70th Governor in 2006. Despite serving during the worst recession in 70 years, Tim led the state to national recognition. Under Tim’s leadership, Virginia was named the best managed state in America, the Best State for Business, and the Best State to Raise a Child. The Commonwealth maintained its Triple A bond rating for fiscal management -- an honor shared by only 7 states -- and had one of the nation's lowest unemployment rates and highest median incomes.
Tim is married to Anne Holton, who currently serves as Virginia’s Secretary of Education. Tim and Anne revel in the adventures of their three grown children and live in the same Northside Richmond neighborhood where they moved as newlyweds more than 30 years ago. Tim loves reading, being outdoors and playing harmonica with bluegrass bands throughout Virginia.
Tim was elected to the Senate as a bipartisan bridge builder, and he’s stayed true to that promise by working closely with Republicans on a number of fronts. In the foreign policy arena, Tim has worked with Senator John McCain to rewrite the 1973 War Powers Resolution and partnered with Senator Jeff Flake to draft a compromise proposal for authorizing the war against ISIL. He also worked with Senator Bob Corker to co-author the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which set up a constructive process for Congressional review of the final nuclear agreement with Iran. On military and defense issues, Tim joined with former Senator Saxby Chambliss to introduce his first bill – the Troop Talent Act – to help reduce unemployment among veterans following their transition from active duty to civilian life. Tim has worked with Senator Shelley Moore Capito to combat the opioid abuse epidemic that’s impacting Virginia and West Virginia by introducing legislation to help prevent overdose deaths. On education issues, Senator Kaine has worked with Senator Rob Portman to strengthen career and technical education in schools. In 2015, Senator Lamar Alexander sought Tim’s input as a former Governor while rewriting the No Child Left Behind Act, and many of Tim’s provisions were included in the final bill to replace it. He and Senator Mark Warner have worked with a number of Republicans, including Senators Deb Fischer and Mike Enzi, to push Congress to adopt two-year budgeting to give businesses and communities more certainty. He also works across the aisle with Senator Susan Collins on the Aging Committee to help protect senior citizens from fraud and abuse.
Tim continues to be a strong supporter of Medicare and Social Security and is committed to making these critical programs work for today’s seniors and future generations. On the 49th anniversary of the signing of Medicare, Tim spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of the program, calling it “one of the best programs that this nation has ever embraced” and praising reforms included in the Affordable Care Act that helped improve the solvency of Medicare. Tim believes Congress should focus on finding ways to make Medicare work better for seniors while saving costs, which is why he supports efforts to lower prescription drug costs that are impacting patients, health care providers, and American taxpayers. As a member of the Senate Aging Committee, Tim has focused on issues impacting seniors across Virginia, including protection from scams and abuse. Tim recently held a roundtable discussion with seniors in the Richmond area living with Alzheimer’s as well as their family members and caregivers to discuss how the government can improve support for those impacted by the disease.
Tim is proud of President Obama’s work to rebuild the American economy and believes Congress can build on that work by equipping Americans with the tools to climb the economic ladder. One of Tim’s top priorities in the Senate has been reversing the harmful, across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration that are hurting Virginia businesses and their workers. As a member of the Budget Committee, Tim supported the two-year bipartisan budget deals passed in 2013 and 2015 that provided relief from sequester cuts and restored certainty to the defense community, businesses, and families across the country. He continues to press Congress to permanently adopt two-year budgeting to give businesses and communities more flexibility to plan ahead. Tim supports policies that help America continue to grow the world’s most talented workforce. He believes access to an affordable, high-quality education is key to economic success, and that career and technical training is an important tool for preparing workers for the in-demand jobs of this century. Tim has introduced legislation that would allow students to use federal loans and grants for short-term workforce training programs, receiving endorsements from nonpartisan education organizations and praise from the Roanoke Times editorial board. Tim has also worked across the aisle to support projects that would create jobs in Virginia, including the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre in Henry County and a U.S. embassy security training center at Fort Pickett.
One of Tim’s favorite parts about serving in the Senate is getting to represent Virginia on the Armed Services Committee. Virginia is home to the world’s largest naval base, more than 25 military installations, thousands of servicemembers and their families, and our nation’s best shipbuilders and defense contractors. Tim came to the Senate determined to help reduce unemployment among our nation’s veterans. His first bill, the Troop Talent Act, made improvements to credentialing to ease the transition from active duty service to civilian careers. The idea for the legislation came from Tim’s conversations with veterans who had encountered private sector employers who were unfamiliar with the skills they had developed during military training and how they would translate to the civilian workforce. One of the few Senators with a child serving in the military, Tim is a consistent advocate for military families on the Armed Services Committee. He partnered with Senator John Cornyn to ensure servicemembers and their families’ preferences were being taken into account as a Department of Defense panel considered changes that would impact their pay and benefits. Tim also played a key role in securing funding for the refueling and overhaul of the Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which is key to our nation’s defense and the economy of Hampton Roads. Tim has also pushed for significant reforms to military procedure that would tackle the serious and longstanding problem of sexual assault in the military. In 2014, he championed passage of the bipartisan Victims Protection Act that banned the “good Soldier” defense for servicemembers accused of assault and gave survivors a path to provide formal input in whether their case is tried in military or civilian court.
As Governor during the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, Tim understands the unbearable pain gun violence causes in communities across the country. Tim has called on his colleagues in Congress to stand up to the gun lobby that no longer represents the views of gun owners in our country and finally pass reforms that the American people support to curb gun violence. This includes strengthened background checks, increased resources to enforce gun laws, and improved mental health treatment.
As Tim works to combat the epidemic of opioid addiction that is hurting Virginia, he has spoken with law enforcement across the state about spikes in crime related to drug abuse. Tim strongly supports providing communities with additional tools to prevent and treat drug addiction, including through education, drug courts, and resources for law enforcement. He also introduced legislation to help prevent opioid overdose deaths through increased access to the life-saving drug naloxone.
As a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees, Tim has supported policies that keep Americans safe from terrorist threats, including improvements to the visa waiver system and increased investments in cybersecurity. Tim also worked with the Virginia delegation to successfully advocate for the new Air Force Cyber Operations Squadron to be located at Joint Base Langley-Eustis (JBLE).
Tim has been a strong advocate in the Senate for investing in education – from expanding access to preschool, to ensuring students develop skills that prepare them for the careers of the 21st century. As the son of a welder who took a year off during law school to teach welding and carpentry in El Progreso, Honduras, Tim has a lifelong appreciation for the power of career and technical education. In the Senate, he reached across the aisle to form the bipartisan Senate CTE Caucus and worked with Republican and Democratic committee leaders to ensure the legislation to replace No Child Left Behind helped strengthen CTE and career counseling in K-12 schools. Tim believes we must do more to prevent sexual assault on and off our college campuses. Thanks to passage of a key provision of Tim’s Teach Safe Relationships Act, federal funding can now be used for teaching safe relationship behavior among students as a strategy for preventing sexual assault and dating violence. Tim is married to Anne Holton, a former juvenile court judge who has advocated on behalf of foster children and currently serves as Virginia’s Secretary of Education.
As a member of the Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees, Tim has helped shape federal policy on issues impacting our nation’s military and foreign policy. Since June 2014, Tim has been the leading voice calling on Congress to debate and authorize the war against ISIL to show our troops, allies, and enemies that we’re united in this fight. While others claimed a bipartisan authorization wasn’t within reach, Tim joined Republican Senator Jeff Flake to introduce a compromise proposal that has received support from Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. Tim’s long-term goal is for Congress to pass a rewrite of the 1973 War Powers Resolution to better reflect the realities of war in the 21st century. Tim also co-authored the bipartisan Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to set up a constructive process for Congressional review of the final nuclear agreement with Iran, a deal which Tim believes is a “dramatic improvement over the status quo” that will greatly improve global security. As a fluent Spanish speaker,Tim has also worked to strengthen partnerships with Latin America. In 2015, he and Senator John Cornyn traveled to Mexico, Colombia, and Honduras focused on political, economic, and security issues. In Honduras, Tim returned to El Progreso to visit the technical school where he worked with Jesuit missionaries in 1980.
Tim is an avid outdoorsman who will always work to protect our air, water and land. In the Senate, Tim has been a strong supporter of efforts to reduce the carbon pollution responsible for climate change and ensure our energy production is cleaner tomorrow than it is today. From his opposition to the Keystone pipeline to his support for the President’s historic Clean Power Plan, Tim has advocated policies that will protect our planet and strengthen our economy. He has become a leader on the issue of combating sea level rise, which is already impacting our defense community and Virginians’ daily lives through flooded roads and skyrocketing flood insurance costs. Despite the unfortunate partisanship on climate change issues, Tim was able to break through the gridlock and organize a forum on sea level rise with Democratic and Republican members of Congress and local leaders alongside scientists at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
Tim has fought for policies that would help close the gender pay gap and ensure women are receiving equal pay for equal work. He’s concerned by the adverse impact that wage discrimination continues to have on families and the U.S. economy by providing working families with less income to spend at local businesses and hurting their ability to save for retirement. In the Senate, Tim has co-sponsored legislation to protect female workers and expand access to affordable health care for women. Tim will continue fighting to protect women’s right to make their own choices about their reproductive health. He supports increased access to contraception and introduced legislation to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Tim supports the Department of Defense’s decision to open all combat roles to women. He made news in 2015 by publicly highlighting the unacceptable lack of women on a panel focused on military compensation, arguing that women must be at the leadership table for policy discussions that impact servicemembers and their families.