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During a recent debate, Republican Corey Stewart criticized incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine for his frequent opposition to President Donald Trump.
As evidence, Stewart said Kaine voted against Trump’s proposal for a bolstered military budget.
"He has the nerve to say that he supports our military," Stewart said. "President Trump proposed the increase to $700 billion to our military budget, which included the 355-ship navy, which included a military pay increase, a modest one, which included, an yet even more modest housing allowance, but yet he even voted against giving more money to our men and women who are in the military service and against our housing allowance."
Stewart repeated similar versions of the same claim five more times during the debate.
"Earlier this year President Trump and the Republicans have proposed legislation for a 355-ship Navy, they proposed legislation that would've included another $7.1 billion of veterans care, they proposed legislation that would have increased the salaries for our military personnel, and increased the housing allowance," Stewart said later. "He voted against all of it."
Ian Sams, communications director for the Kaine campaign, said Stewart has been repeating the accusation for months.
"I support the military with my own flesh and blood," Kaine, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, responded. "My boy is an infantry commander in the Marine Corps."
Kaine added that "the record will show" Stewart’s claims to be made-up. We decided to check the record for ourselves.
When contacted for comment, Stewart campaign spokesman Noel Fritsch said Kaine voted against a short-term government spending bill on Jan. 19, 2018. "This spending bill included all of the items Corey mentioned," Fritsch wrote in an email.
Kaine did vote against that bill, a continuing resolution that would have kept the government funded through Feb. 16, 2018. Ultimately, the measure fell 10 votes short of passing and resulted in a government shutdown through Jan. 22.
Before voting, Kaine issued a joint statement with fellow Virginia Sen. Mark Warner detailing his opposition to a bill that would mean "punt(ing) budget discussions until mid-February."
"Congress should remain in session with no recess until we work out a long-term bipartisan budget deal that addresses all issues," Kaine and Warner said.
In a second statement after the vote, Kaine and Warner explained that Virginians wanted "a bill that funds our military, education and health care programs, extends the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and protects Dreamers."
Despite opposing the short-term resolution, Kaine was one of 65 Senators who voted in favor of the omnibus spending bill — a bill packaging many smaller appropriations bills into one — that Congress approved on March 23 to fund the remainder of the fiscal year through Sept. 30.
That bill, a 2,232-page document formally titled the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, authorized $1.3 billion in spending. Trump signed it into effect the same day Congress approved it, despite a last-minute veto threat on Twitter.
In response to Trump’s Twitter post, Kaine blasted the president for displaying "the Art of the Deal-Wrecker." After Trump signed the bill, Kaine applauded the legislation as a "long list of wins for Virginia."
"It will help rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, spur economic growth, combat the opioid epidemic, support shipbuilding and ship repair, boost defense funding, allow us to continue to protect the Chesapeake Bay, deliver affordable child care, increase accessibility to cyber scholarships, expand access to higher education, and more," Kaine said in a statement.
Among its many provisions, the omnibus spending bill allocated $700 billion for military spending, boosted military hardware, added funding for veterans care, authorized an expansion of the Navy’s fleet, raised pay for military personnel by 2.4 percent and increased funding for military housing.
Ironically, Sams, the Kaine campaign’s communications director, noted that Stewart himself said he would have preferred to see the bill vetoed.
"I wish the president had vetoed it," Stewart said March 26, 2018, during a radio interview on the John Fredericks Show. "I don't know what his calculation was … they gave him a bad bill, one in which he didn’t feel that he had any choice but to sign it."
Stewart called the bill "an absolute nightmare and a disaster" due to its high spending totals, lack of funding for the border wall, and provisions covering Obamacare, sanctuary cities, gun control and "a sweetheart project that (Senate Minority Leader Chuck) Schumer has going up in his district."
Sams said Kaine has advocated for proposals to improve the military since Trump took office, including the Navy’s plans to boost its ship count from 280 to 355 over the next few decades. Kaine was an original co-sponsor for a 2017 act declaring that "it shall be the policy of the United States to have available, as soon as practicable, at least 355 battle force ships."
In May, for example, Kaine said he hoped Congress would "maintain forward motion towards a 355-ship Navy." A month prior, Kaine said the Navy’s potential expansion to 355 ships could benefit workers.
"We talk about what 355 means for the budget, and there are a whole series of issues there, but there is a real work force need," Kaine said at a meeting of the Senate Armed Services sea power panel. "Folks who are going to be building these ships are in pre-K right now."
Kaine’s campaign also pointed to several instances where Kaine showed support for the military, including when he defended increased military spending, applauded the Navy’s purchase of aircraft carriers and sponsored an amendment providing $12.3 billion for Virginia shipbuilding.
Stewart said, "President Trump proposed the increase to $700 billion to our military budget, which included the 355-ship Navy, which included a military pay increase, a modest one, which included, a yet even more modest housing allowance, but yet (Kaine) even voted against giving more money to our men and women who are in the military service and against our housing allowance."
Kaine did vote no on a short-term government spending bill, which included several of the military-related provisions Stewart cited, in order to signal his disapproval for another short-term budget resolution. However, Kaine eventually voted in favor of those same provisions when he said yes to the omnibus spending bill on March 23, and he has taken other actions and made other statements in support of those provisions.
We rate Stewart’s statement Mostly False.
PBS NewsHour on YouTube, "WATCH LIVE: Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart meet for first U.S. Senate debate in Virginia," July 21, 2018
United States House of Representatives, RULES COMMITTEE PRINT 115–66 TEXT OF THE HOUSE AMENDMENT TO THE SENATE AMENDMENT TO H.R. 1625, March 23, 2018
Congress.gov, H.R.1625 - Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, March 23, 2018
United States Senate, "Roll Call Vote 115th Congress - 2nd Session," March 23, 2018
Government Publishing Office, H.R. 195, accessed July 24, 2018
Govtrack, "Motion to Invoke Cloture: House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 195," January 19, 2018
The Office of Sen. Tim Kaine, "Warner & Kaine Statement On House Continuing Resolution," January 18, 2019
The Office of Sen. Tim Kaine, "Warner & Kaine Statement On Republicans Forcing A Government Shutdown," January 20, 2018
The Office of Sen. Tim Kaine, "Warner & Kaine Statement On Passage Of The Omnibus Spending Bill," March 23, 2018
Tim Kaine on Twitter, March 23, 2018
Donald Trump on Twitter, March 23, 2018
JohnFredericksShow on YouTube, "Candidate for U.S. Senate, Corey Stewart: Gov. Spending Bill, Campaign Update & More…," March 26, 2018
ABC13 News Now, "Senator Kaine vows to fight for military veterans, spouses," May 22, 2018
Daily Press, "Kaine: Skilled workers, not just money, needed to expand the Navy fleet," July 25, 2018
The Virginian-Pilot, "In first debate, Sen. Kaine and GOP opponent Stewart don't agree on much," July 21, 2018
Vox, "Congress’s new $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill, explained," March 23, 2018
Military.com, "Here's What the Military Gets in $1.3 Trillion Omnibus Spending Bill," March 22, 2018
The Washington Post, "Trump signs $1.3 trillion spending bill despite veto threat on Twitter," March 23, 2018
Email interview with Ian Sams, communications director for the Kaine campaign, July 23, 2018
Email interview with Noel Fritsch, spokesman for the Stewart campaign, July 24, 2018
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