Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2011 Annual Report


Dear Friend,

Since arriving in the U.S. Senate, I have remained committed to the three principle themes of re-orienting our nation’s foreign and national security policies, restoring accountability to our government, and promoting economic fairness and social justice for all Americans. In addition to my advocacy on behalf of Virginians from across the Commonwealth, these three themes continue to guide my actions in the Senate today.

Please take a few moments to read my Annual Report, which highlights the past year’s accomplishments for Virginia and our nation. For a more complete review of my activities, legislative priorities and travels around Virginia, please visit my website at

As always, if you need assistance with a federal matter or have thoughts on a legislative issue, don’t hesitate to contact one of my offices. My staff and I look forward to continuing to serve you in the year ahead.


Jim Webb

In This Report:

Re-orienting Foreign and National Security Policies

Holding Government Accountable

Fighting for Economic Fairness and Social Justice

Working for Virginia

Re-orienting Foreign and National Security Policies

Strategic Engagement in East and Southeast Asia In 2011, the United States announced a major foreign policy change to refocus on what I have long described as our country’s most important strategic interest: the stability and continued growth of the Asia-Pacific region. As chairman of the Foreign Relations East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee, I have met with the heads of state of every mainland country along the Southeast Asian rim, as well as Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, to strengthen our relations and demonstrate America’s commitment to the region.  In 2011, I visited Korea, Vietnam, Guam, Tinian, Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan, meeting with diplomats, military commanders and political and business leaders to discuss economic opportunities for U.S. trade and to seek resolution of ongoing diplomatic disputes.

China’s increased military intimidation—particularly in disputed areas of the South China Sea—is a grave concern. The United States has a clear strategic interest in facilitating a multilateral, peaceful approach toward resolving these disputes and ensuring open access for commerce and adherence to international law. Learn more.
Bringing Burma Back into the World Community In 2011, the world witnessed historic steps in the political transition of Burma, which I first visited in 2001 and then again as the first senior U.S. official in more than a decade in 2009.  In the past two years I have met with key leaders from Burma, the United States, and numerous other countries, and have consistently called for the United States to adjust its policies toward Burma as part of a wider strategy of reinvigorating our relations in East Asia. In December, the United States announced it would resume full diplomatic ties with Burma.

At a press conference on restoring full diplomatic relations with Burma, a U.S. State Department official said, “Senator Webb has pioneered many of these actions. He was one of the first senators on the ground pushing for the release of political prisoners, asking for the United States to engage actively. The Secretary wanted me to underscore our gratitude for his service not only in the Senate but basically as a diplomat in the Senate, and that has been significant.”
Our ultimate goal should be to encourage Burma to become a responsible member of the world community, so that its people can live in economic prosperity, under an open, democratic political system.
Resolving Military Basing Disputes in Japan
The success of America’s diplomatic, economic, and military relationships in Asia is guaranteed by the stability our forward-deployed military forces provide and by our continuing close alliances with Japan and South Korea. The failure to resolve a 15-year dispute surrounding U.S. military bases in Okinawa has resulted in a volatile political debate in Japan. It is in our national interest that this matter be resolved both quickly and smartly, for the well-being of our alliance and the stability of the region.
I have been examining variants of this issue since the 1970s when I worked as a military planner on Guam. To address these concerns, I visited Okinawa and Guam twice in the past 20 months, and drafted alternative basing recommendations included in the final Defense Authorization Act. Read my observations and recommendations here.
Bringing Our Military Home from Iraq and Afghanistan

Before the invasion of Iraq, I cautioned that it was not in our nation’s strategic interest to become an occupying force in that region. For this reason, I strongly supported the removal of our military forces from Iraq at the end of 2011, which was negotiated during the Bush administration as a result of the Strategic Framework Agreement and the Status of Forces Agreement.

In Afghanistan, while legitimate issues in terms of international terrorism initiated our involvement, we have more recently assumed the risk and expense of nation building. We should be clarifying the ultimate objective, in terms of long-term advantage, of our ground forces and costly infrastructure programs in Afghanistan and should decide upon clear parameters that would allow our withdrawal from combat in that country.  In a June hearing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I warned against committing the United States to long-term security agreements with Afghanistan without the full participation of the Congress.

Holding Government Accountable

Combating Waste in Wartime Contracting Commission on Wartime Contracting, established by legislation I introduced with Senator Claire McCaskill, recently completed its three-year investigation of the extent of waste, fraud, and mismanagement of wartime contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Commission found that $31-60 billion has been lost to contracting waste and fraud. The waste of billions of taxpayer dollars described by the Commission is outrageous and intolerable. I was acutely disappointed when the co-chairs of this Commission decided to classify their detailed findings and I am now calling for those findings to be released. The Administration and Congress must do their part to enact the Commission’s recommendations to reform wartime contracting. Learn more.

Defining Presidential War Powers

After the 60-day War Powers Act deadline passed for authorization of military operations in Libya, I introduced legislation concerning the very disturbing precedent for the use of force set by the U.S. intervention there. The United States was not under attack, we were not under a threat of an attack, we were not implementing a treaty, we were not rescuing American citizens, and we were not responding directly to an incident. The question still remains as to whether a President – any President – can unilaterally begin, and continue, a military campaign for reasons that he alone defines as meeting the demanding standards worthy of risking American lives and expending billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money.

Preventing Taxpayer-Funded Technology Transfers to China

Many American companies are required to transfer their intellectual property and proprietary technology to China in order to do business there. Because some of these technologies were developed with the assistance of U.S. tax dollars, I proposed legislation to prohibit this practice if tax-funded technology is involved. When taxpayers support the development of a technology, they own a piece of it and it cannot just be given away.  Federal dollars that go toward research and development funding, loan guarantees, and public-private partnerships are intended to develop the next generation of technologies here in America—not in China. Learn more.

Fighting for Economic Fairness and Social Justice
Leading the Fight for Criminal Justice Reform In February, I reintroduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, which would initiate a top-to-bottom review of our nation’s criminal justice system and offer recommendations for reform. In October, Senate Republicans filibustered the bill despite support from the National Sheriffs’ Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Sentencing Project, the ACLU, the NAACP, Prison Fellowship and many others. Consequently, although the legislation received a clear majority of votes in the Senate (57-43), it was not adopted. A rigorous review of our own criminal justice system should not be a political question; it is a leadership challenge that affects every community in the country and calls for us to act.

I am committed to seeing this important legislation enacted. We can be smarter about whom we incarcerate, improve public safety outcomes, make better use of taxpayer dollars, and bring greater fairness to our justice system.

National Editorials: “Senate Negligence” on criminal justice bill “An Absolute Scandal”

Hundreds of Thousands Go to College on Post-9/11 G.I. Bill I introduced the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill my first day in office to provide those who have served since 9/11 the most comprehensive educational benefits since World War II. We began with a simple concept: if we continue to call these men and women the next “Greatest Generation,” then we should express our appreciation by giving them the same educational benefits as those who served during World War II.

Against strong opposition, we were able to pass this historic legislation 16 months later. By the end of 2011, Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits were awarded to more than 650,000 veterans.

College-educated veterans have an easier transition and readjustment experience, and also boast higher income levels, which in the long run increases tax revenues. For every dollar our nation invested in the World War II G.I. Bill, seven dollars were generated back, because of increased professional skills. Our reward is going to be twenty years from now when we see the contributions of those who have become successful because of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.
Making Taxes Fair
During my time in the Senate, I have repeatedly warned against the drift toward greater income inequality in our country. My views have remained constant: taxes should not be raised on ordinary, earned income, but we should increase revenues by closing loopholes, ending special subsidies, and raising rates on passive income such as capital gains. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service found that changes in capital gains from investments and dividends were the largest contributor to the increase in overall income inequality over the last decade. To address this, I have supported numerous proposals to close tax loopholes, have argued against raising taxes on earned income, and have supported raising the rates on capital gains and dividends.

The average American should have an equal chance to succeed financially in an ever-diverging society. To that end, we should ensure that we are not placing the burden of higher taxes on those who make their living through regular, earned income while protecting the wealthiest investors and fund managers. Learn more.

Working for Virginia

Improving Virginia's Transportation and Infrastructure

With increasing traffic congestion throughout much of Virginia, I am acutely aware of the need to invest in transportation and infrastructure projects to improve Virginians’ quality of life.  Over the past year, I worked with others in our delegation to secure $180 million for BRAC-related traffic congestion and a parking cap at Alexandria’s Mark Center. I also supported more than $1.5 billion to improve passenger rail service by Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express trains, which experienced record ridership last year in communities such as Danville, Lynchburg, Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Northern Virginia. Learn more.
Fighting Drug Trafficking in Virginia
For more than two years, I have worked to extend the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) to include several Southwest Virginia counties to help them fight the proliferation of trafficking throughout the region. In September, shortly after I met with local law enforcement in Southwest Virginia, three of the counties received HIDTA designation. I am continuing to press for all the counties to be included. Learn more.
Hampton Roads and the Global Economy The Port of Virginia is a gateway for international commerce and is one of thirteen U.S. strategic ports that support the mobilization and readiness of our national defense. More than 14,000 businesses from all contiguous 48 states move cargo through Virginia.

In a January 2011 speech at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, I highlighted the importance of Hampton Roads’ rail links and port. I discussed trends in global security and trade, and the unique role Hampton Roads can play in America’s economic resurgence.

The Port of Virginia is the only East Coast port currently suited to handle the larger ships able to pass through the Panama Canal in 2014. Coupled with the Heartland Corridor railway, we have the opportunity to position Hampton Roads at the very center of the future trade growth of our country.

In 2011, I helped secure $26.85 million for the expansion of Craney Island. This will generate more than 1,100 jobs immediately and 54,000 sustainable jobs after construction, and allows the Virginia Port Authority to nearly double its marine terminal capacity to meet the anticipated increase in shipped goods to and from international ports.
Constituent Services for 45,000 Virginians
By the end of 2011, my office had given personal assistance to nearly 45,000 Virginians with individual difficulties relating to the federal government, such as Social Security and Medicare benefits, veterans’ benefits, legal immigration, federal student loans, military service, and other matters. You are always welcome to contact my regional offices for assistance.
Historic Judicial Confirmation for Virginia

I am very proud of the high quality men and women that Senator Mark Warner and I have recommended for nomination to the federal district courts and Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. In May 2011, the Hon. Arenda Wright Allen became the “first African-American female appointed federal district judge in Virginia” when she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Judge Wright Allen, whom I recommended, received the highest ratings from Virginia’s bar associations and has a wide breadth of experience, including her service as a Navy JAG officer and chief federal public defender in Norfolk.

I also recommended the Hon. Michael Urbanski, who was confirmed in May 2011, to serve the Western District of Virginia. Judge Urbanski graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1981, and received widespread support from attorneys throughout Virginia as well as the highest number of ‘highly qualified’ votes from the Virginia State Bar’s nominating committee.

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