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Wittman's Weekly: 2020 in Photos
Washington, January 16, 2021
Before we look at the highlights of 2020, I first want to address the rocky start that has so far been 2021. What happened on January 6th is completely unacceptable, undemocratic, un-American, and criminal, and I condemn - in the strongest terms possible - the attack against the US Capitol and the United States system of government. This was a senseless attack perpetrated by misguided individuals who were led to believe that something could have been done that day that would have changed the outcome of the election. January 6th was a day that will be remembered as one of the most shameful in our Nation’s recent history.
Now is the time to turn the page. Joe Biden will be President of the United States and Kamala Harris will be our Vice President. The peaceful transition of power will occur on January 20th, just as it has every four years since 1792. I wish President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris the blessings of good health and sound judgement as our Nation navigates these unprecedented times. I am focused on working with their Administration to improve the lives of my constituents and all Americans.
To say 2020 was unprecedented is an understatement. It is safe to say that there is not a single person in the United States whose life has not been impacted in some way by the Coronavirus or the economic impacts resulting from the global pandemic.
Even though it was one of the most difficult years in recent memory, I wanted to take a moment to highlight the incredible people of the First District and all that we were able to accomplish as neighbors together. These accomplishments are our accomplishments. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve you and look forward to all that we can accomplish in the 117th Congress.
As we look towards 2021, I will continue doing all I can to unite our region and our people together as we work towards a complete recovery and stronger nation. I firmly believe that we will come through these times stronger than ever.
Please, if you or your family needs any assistance through these times, please do not hesitate to contact my office today, we are standing by to help.
I look forward to working together in 2021 for a brighter future for all.
In January, before the pandemic, I had the opportunity to join a group of my colleagues during at-sea operations in the Atlantic Ocean onboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). We experienced carrier aviation first-hand and met with Naval leadership who highlighted the unique capabilities and role of aircraft carriers to our national defense. During our embark on “Ike,” we observed flight operations, interacted with Sailors from our respective districts, and received a briefing on overall carrier strike group capabilities, readiness, and operations. It was an honor to meet with the men and women of our Navy who keep us safe both at home and abroad, and it was great to talk with folks from right here in Virginia’s First District who are serving our nation.
In February, also before the pandemic, I toured the cutting-edge Fab Lab at Northern Virginia Community College to learn more about the incredible STEM education going on there and to talk about my work to promote CTE and STEM education in Congress to prepare students for jobs of the future. And lastly, I toured the facilities at SES O3b Networks Global Operations Center in Manassas to talk about their incredible technology that is driving innovation in both the defense and private sectors.
Just before our nation went into lockdown in order to limit the spread of COVID-19, I was privileged to join my colleagues to promote a new bill to protect our environment: The Trillion Trees Act. This is the first of many steps to achieve a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment. We know we can achieve this goal alongside a strong economy that employs more of our citizens and keeps energy prices low. We know this because this is the story of America’s energy renaissance today.
This Trillion Trees Initiative is a forward-thinking approach that works with the private sector to reduce carbon across the planet to protect our environment. These are the types of solutions that deliver real results for the American people. I will continue to pursue legislation just like this in 2021 and in the 117th Congress.
As our lives drastically changed and we adjusted to the “new normal,” at the end of April, I was honored to participate in the Gloucester area food distribution with area churches. Over 15 churches came together to pack and deliver bags of non-perishables to those that were home-bound. We started our morning with a prayer and began to pack bags of food to take to those who were unable to or should not be out of the house in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. In addition to the food, included in the bags was health information with important phone numbers and a word of encouragement. The fight against COVID-19 is won by communities coming together to help each other.
In early May, I participated in the Dar Al-Noor Islamic Center food distribution in Manassas, a program they hosted each night to serve hot meals during the month of Ramadan. The free, hot food distribution was open to all in the Prince William County community, done drive-through style, to help those who have been impacted by the Coronavirus and to celebrate the Holy month. Now more than ever, our communities are coming together in support of each other. The only way we will get through these trying and difficult times is by coming together as one nation. I was honored to participate in Dal Al-Noor’s outreach and fellowship program, and I appreciate the work being done by all faith communities as we trust in God to see us through these times.
In June, I hosted a virtual Fireside Chat with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and local government leaders, tribal leaders, and key Virginia broadband stakeholders to discuss the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) work on rural broadband buildout, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), and what the FCC is doing during to help communities during the Coronavirus pandemic.
My leadership on the issue of rural broadband dates back more than 20 years, and in Congress I have led key initiatives to expand broadband access through programs such as the First District Broadband Task Force and as a Co-Chair of the House Rural Broadband Caucus. The Coronavirus pandemic has emphasized the need for high-speed broadband to rural America, with students accessing educational material online, patients seeking medical care via reliable telehealth, and millions of Americans working from home. Throughout the pandemic response, the FCC has initiated many key initiatives to help Americans cope.
I was invited to participate in the Community Peace Walk in June with the Potomac Shores community in Dumfries to honor the memories of Ahmad Arbury, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and many others, as well as to show our support for the community. We can and must do better to ensure equality, equity, and equal treatment for all. We must extinguish underlying racism in our society, and we do that by taking the time to listen, understand, and respect each other. It is my hope that we can continue to address these atrocities with positive actions. Everyone from the local, state, and national levels must work together to achieve positive change in our communities.
At the start of July, I joined my colleagues in Washington to debate the FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the House Armed Services Committee. As Ranking Member of the Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, I will continue to support measures that enhance our undersea strike capabilities, recapitalize our sealift and airlift capabilities, and provide necessary congressional oversight. Many of the provisions in the FY21NDAA support hardworking Virginians across the Commonwealth as they work to support our nation’s warfighters and the systems and programs they use to execute their missions around the globe. The FY 2021 defense bill became law at the end of December.
In August, I safely visited several locations across our region to hear from hardworking Americans about the issues that matter most to you during our economic recovery and provide updates on my work in Washington to help you. I visited a few locations in the Manassas and Woodbridge area: Zeiders Enterprises, Inc., is a veteran-owned government contractor providing human services solutions to support Military and Veteran communities. Interstate Batteries of Northern Virginia in Woodbridge is keeping our nation’s trucks, ambulances, and service vehicles running as they deliver the goods, PPE, and services we need throughout the ongoing pandemic. Thanks to Anthony and everyone who hosted me, and thank you for keeping our nation running.
I was honored in August to present Army veteran Bill Cline with the Bronze Star with V device for his heroic actions serving our nation in Vietnam. I am glad our office was able to help in the awarding of this medal, and I want to say on behalf of a grateful nation: thank you.
In September, I had the great opportunity to speak at the Caroline County Habitat for Humanity Self-Help Dedication ceremony for five new homes here in the heart of Virginia’s First District. I was so glad to be on hand for this ceremony as I was there almost one year earlier for the ground-breaking of these homes. The ability to access affordable housing in a caring community is something many people take for granted. As someone with a life-long love of construction and working with my hands, I know the incredible demands of building a forever home. The mission of Habitat of Caroline says it all: “Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.”
I am proud to support the work of Caroline County Habitat in Congress through the efforts of my office. In 2018, I was pleased to help write the letter of support for Caroline County Habitat as they applied for these USDA assistance programs, in 2019 I was proud to be on hand for the ground-breaking, and in 2020 I was privileged to help dedicate these homes. I can’t wait to see the great work they will accomplish in 2021.
I was honored in October to receive the NFIB Guardian of Small Business Award at Fredericksburg Motor Sports. One of my top priorities in ensuring our small businesses are provided for through the pandemic, and I will continue to work to provide additional relief to businesses impacted by the effects of COVID-19. Thank you again to NFIB and Fredericksburg Motor Sports for this great opportunity, and I will strive to achieve even greater results for small businesses in 2021.
In November, I provided an update to the Gloucester County School Board on my work on behalf of area schools. Earlier in 2020, I championed an expansion of the Summer Meals program from the USDA to help hungry children and struggling families through the end of next Summer. I also have worked with area leaders to ensure our localities are provided with the PPE needed to see us through these times.
Safely meeting with and updating our local Boards is one of the most important things I can do as your Representative in Washington, as it allows me the chance to hear from local officials on ways I can better serve you in Congress and let them know about federal programs, grants, and agencies that are able to assist them, especially during these difficult times.
At the end of 2020, I had the great opportunity to join the folks at the Stafford Toys for Tots as they worked to help area children and their families during this holiday season. 2020 was a difficult year for many, and the work of Toys for Tots does an immeasurable amount of good for children, families, and our communities, especially in dark times. Even though 2020 was one of the roughest years in recent memory, the light of the holiday season still brings joy to many. Thank you to Toys for Tots for hosting me. Thank you for all you do!