Congresswoman Elaine Luria held an open house Cape Charles Saturday and was met with capacity crowd at the town civic center.
After brief opening remarks, Luria entertained questions from the audience that ranged from health care, the environment, military readiness, climate change, and education.
Luria told the audience that during her time in Washington, she has made Veteran’s Healthcare a priority, especially helping local vets such as William Dyas get help resolving claims and payments. The Congresswoman admitted that the VA system is sluggish and frustrating to work with, and has been vocal about streamlining the process for vets.
When asked if she supported a Medicaid-for-All plan, which is being touted by candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Luria told the audience she was not in favor, “There are some lofty goals, but I just don’t see how we would actually pay for it,” Luria said. Luria did say that she supported some form of Medicare buy in plan, where younger people could purchase Medicare at a lower rate. This would add more people to the overall pool, and younger, healthier people, which would hopefully alleviate some of the medical and financial burdens.
Luria noted that the health of the Chesapeake Bay is big priority, and she has reached across the aisle to sponsor the Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act which is a bipartisan bill that would fully fund the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program by authorizing an injection of $455 million into the Program over the next five years. The Chesapeake Bay Program Reauthorization Act also provides funding for local projects.
The Congresswoman made it a point tell the audience that she has been a vocal advocate for our local aquaculture industry.
“Now matter which meetings I attend that agriculture is mentioned, I’m the loud one in the room that is pushing for aquaculture to be part of it. In the past, it seems aquaculture is kind of overlooked. I’m trying to be sure it gets included in all conversations around agriculture,” Luria said.
Climate change and sea-level rise are also top concerns. While she said she supports green technology, she also said that any real progress in reducing carbon output would require a re-investment in modern nuclear power. As part of this, she introduced the Nuclear Energy Leadership Act, a bipartisan bill that would encourage further development of advanced nuclear energy programs. Such programs are poised to create high-quality jobs, strengthen national security, reduce foreign energy dependence, and promote emissions-free energy.
“As an engineer who operated nuclear reactors on aircraft carriers, I know that ensuring a thriving civilian nuclear industry is vital not only for our economy, but for our national security,” Congresswoman Luria said. “Nuclear energy must be part of any solution to transitioning to a clean energy…even now, 30% our state’s energy comes nuclear plants at Surrey and North Anna.”
When asked about teacher’s salaries, Luria told the audience that while the Federal Government only provides about 10% of school funding, things like the National School Lunch Program cold be leveraged to help allow States to shuffle the budget…she also noted that with the Democrats taking over both the house and senate in Virginia, it might be easier to get more money for teachers into the budget, “Look, teachers, that is one of the most important careers we have,” Luria said.
The Mirror had a chance to sit down with Congresswoman Luria to discuss the Navy’s Fleet Readiness, and the maintenance problems that our carriers have been having. Luria, who served as a nuclear officer on carriers such as the USS Kitty Hawk told the Mirror that many of the problems we are facing are age related, “A lot of the shipyards were built in the early part of the century, and we need to look at modernizations and upgrades. The goal of 355 ships, if we are going to meet that goal, will require the will and the funding to make the necessary modernizations.”