Photo courtesy of Kaine’s Senate office

After the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, many were rightfully worried about our ability to have a peaceful transfer of power and get to work on accomplishing critical legislative priorities. But in the weeks since, I’ve been determined to engage with Virginians around the Commonwealth, especially young Virginians like those at Mason, to get things done for the betterment of our country.

Here are some of my top priorities for this Congress: 

  • COVID-19 relief: My number-one priority is working with the Biden-Harris administration to pass comprehensive COVID-19 relief including rental assistance, an extension of unemployment insurance and another round of stimulus checks.
  • Education: Now more than ever, Congress needs to help ensure more students have the opportunity to pursue an education. That’s why I’m working on passing the Coronavirus Child Care and Education Relief Act, legislation that would increase funds for higher education and provide emergency financial aid grants to students, as well as my bipartisan PREP Act to ensure there are enough teachers and principals with the right skills and tools to prepare students for the future.
  • Strengthening our workforce: As Americans struggle with employment and young people begin to enter the workforce, legislation like raising the minimum wage is critical to empowering workers and would begin phasing out the subminimum wage for tipped workers, youth workers and workers with disabilities.
  • Expanding health care: Rather than having to constantly defend health care access from being stripped away, we can now focus on expanding and improving access to affordable, quality insurance, as I plan to do with my Medicare-X legislation, which would establish a public plan to offer Americans more quality and affordable options.
  • Racial justice: It’s long past time that Congress meaningfully addressed the racial inequality and injustice across our institutions, which is why I’m pushing to pass bills like the Justice in Policing Act and the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act, two pieces of legislation that would hold law enforcement accountable for their actions and prohibit discriminatory profiling by officers.
  • Transportation: Senator Warner and I recently championed a provision in the latest government funding bill to support construction of a new Long Bridge on the Potomac River, which will double the capacity of the rail crossing between Washington and Virginia. I’ll continue focusing on WMATA and other priorities for commuters, which have enormous impacts on Virginians’ ability to get to work or school.

Congress is focusing on these priorities now in large part thanks to the outstanding advocacy we’ve seen from young Americans over the past year. Given how much activism is being driven and led by young people, I’m even more excited to see what we can accomplish in the coming year if we continue to work together. I’m thrilled to get straight to work with both the Biden-Harris administration and my congressional colleagues on behalf of all Virginians to deliver the meaningful legislation our communities deserve.

Tim Kaine is the junior United States Senator from Virginia and a member of the Democratic Party.