Two months after it convened, the historic 110th Congress is off to a fast start, fulfilling its promise to improve accountability in government and restore economic fairness to the American people. The Congress is also working to advocate policies that enhance our national security and standing in the international community.
In the Senate, our first two bills involved issues that were central to the American people last fall. First, with respect to accountability, I am a strong believer that government should be open, honest, and responsive to the people it serves. Thats why in my first week in the Senate, I became an original co-sponsor of ethics reform legislation to clean up Congress and restore Americans faith in government. I have actively participated in oversight hearings to ensure that our government serves the people, not the powerful lobbyists in Washington, and spends your taxpayer dollars properly.
Second, with respect to economic fairness, I was proud to co-sponsor legislation to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25 an hour, providing hardworking Virginians making minimum wage, their first raise in a decade. As corporate profits and the cost of living continue to rise, it is my belief that raising the minimum wage is the first step in reversing a growing disparity between working Americans and those at the highest end of our society. Improving and making education and healthcare more affordable and available will also help address this issue of disparity and I am committed to working on these issues for Virginians.
As someone who is proud to have served in our military, along with many other family members, our national security and the care of our men and women in uniform are very important to me. I have supported the implementation of the 9/11 Commission recommendations, and co-sponsored an amendment to provide top-of-the-line training to rural police officers to help make these Virginia communities safer. Additionally on my first day in the Senate, I introduced a G.I. Bill that would provide returning service members from Iraq and Afghanistan with a level of educational benefits identical to those provided to returning veterans at the end of World War II. Our veterans deserve support transitioning from active duty to civilian life and this bill provides the training and educational foundation to do just that.
Finally, we have been working on the issue of Iraq and developing policies that serve in the best interests of our country, the military, and the international community.
As we address these and other issues, I will continue to fight for Virginias interests in the United States Senate to move our country forward and fulfill the promises that Ive made for you.
Jim Webb is the junior United States Senator from Virginia.