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Some Virginia Congressional Leaders Are Beyond Ready to Shift Focus From Impeachment

Rog Cogswell / Creative Commons

Members of the Virginia congressional delegation are glad that impeachment has moved out of the House, because it distracted from many of their priorities last year.

Last year Virginians sent three new Democrats and two freshly minted Republicans to Washington, and at times it felt like impeachment was the only thing happening in the Capitol. While that was never the case, many bipartisan proposals went untouched by one chamber or another, like addressing the opioid crisis and keeping insurance companies from slapping patients with surprise medical bills.

Freshman Virginia Republican Denver Riggleman is excited to move past impeachment in the New Year.

“I mean, there's a lot to do and I mean, my goodness at some point we got to go for the American people and stop this ridiculousness," Riggleman says. "We really do.”

It’s not just Republicans. Virginia Democrat Bobby Scott chairs the Education and Workforce Committee in the House. Last year there was an intense week where Scott led his committee in fine-tuning a bill to make student loans more affordable, cracking down on predatory colleges and providing two years of free community college:

“Not a word was written about it because down the hall they were doing impeachment,” Scott explains. 

Scott’s committee has also been tackling bigger items, like anti-discrimination legislation and increasing the minimum wage, though they always seem to get drowned out by a presidential tweet. Scott says House Democrats are not deterred by President Trump's attempts to drown out his party's work:

“We're relegated to just telling the truth," he says. "And if you just explain it, some people are going to listen and some won't, but that's all we can do.”

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.