U.S. Sen. Warner Takes Questions at Orbital ATK

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) on Thursday held a town hall for employees of Orbital ATK, Loudoun’s flagship space business.

Orbital ATK employees peppered him with political questions. He addressed their frustration with congressional inaction.

“I know you want to throw a shoe at the TV set,” Warner said. “I feel the same, and I’m inside the TV set.”

Employees’ questions mostly hit on hot button political issues, giving Warner a platform for some of his goals in the legislature. He said speaking as a professed capitalist—Warner is a former venture capitalist, co-founder of Nextel, and one of the wealthiest U.S. senators—“modern American capitalism is not working for enough people.”

“Is there a capitalism 2.0?” Warner wondered. “What’s it going to look like?”

Warner also touched on heavy student loan debt, which he said discourages taking chances like he did as a venture capitalist. He said the three biggest threats to national security are “balance sheet issues” such as funding education, international terrorism, and cybersecurity. He said, in the “short term, these are where we’re most vulnerable in terms of potential for enormous structural damage.”

Warner said there is a window of opportunity for moving the budget process away from continuing resolutions—short-term spending bills—after the next presidential election.

“There’s been lots of talk about regular order lately, but it does always seem to be talk,” Warner said.

He opined that the two main challenges returning to a normal budget process will be reining in “the so-called ‘Freedom Caucus’ in the House that wants to renege on the deal” and debating “social value arguments” such as immigration somewhere outside of “a frickin’ appropriations bill. That’s a technical term.”