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Event Takeaways: Punchbowl News Conversation with Sen. Mark Warner
Thank you so much for joining our Punchbowl News event at Hawk ‘n’ Dove with Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) yesterday.
Warner discussed 5G, the midterms and the lame duck session. Afterwards, Dr. Ali Mehrizi-Sani, associate professor of electrical engineering at Virginia Tech, and Nick Ludlum, senior vice president and chief communications officer at CTIA, joined us for a fireside chat. The conversation was presented by the CTIA.
Here are the key takeaways from the conversation with Sen. Warner:
Warner said there is “a high expectation” that the Electoral Count Reform Act will be included in an end-of-year spending package.
Republican and Democratic senators joined forces to write the bill aimed at avoiding a repeat of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. The House has its own version of electoral reform legislation, but Senate negotiators have said they want their bill to be the final product. Warner greeted the Senate effort as “another example” of bipartisanship producing results in the Senate.
Warner also hailed how senators have worked together on a bipartisan basis this Congress on the issues of infrastructure, CHIPS, guns and veterans.
The Virginia Democrat also said he “would love to see the debt ceiling dealt with” in the lame duck. He described the situation as “the equivalent of a political hand grenade.”
Warner warned that U.S. companies needed to respond to Huawei’s dominance of 5G technology.
“If you do an overlay of where our ICBM missile locations are located, completely open in the Midwest, and you look at where Huawei systems are sold, it’s almost a 100% match. So this was like a jaw dropping revelation,” Warner said.
Warner hailed that Democrats overperformed what many prognosticators and political journalists expected in last week’s midterm elections. In Virginia, two of the three vulnerable Democratic House incumbents — Reps. Jennifer Wexton and Abigail Spanberger — won reelection. Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.) lost to her Republican challenger, Jen Kiggans, but Warner said she ran an impressive campaign.
“I had a long chat with [Luria] last night. I think she, while disappointed, feels very comfortable about how she ran that race and I was really proud of her,” Warner said. “She really got the deck stacked very much against her from redistricting and it’s my strong hope that Elaine Luria has still got a bright future in public office in one form or another.”
Warner said it was too early to determine culpability for a missile strike that killed two people in Poland on Tuesday. While initial reports claimed Russian forces fired the missile, U.S. intelligence have said they cannot confirm this.
“It’s really important we don’t jump to conclusions,” Warner said. “But none of this would have happened if Putin hadn’t launched an unjust war.”
Warner serves as the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, so his words here carry a good deal of weight. Leaders from Poland and NATO said Wednesday the strike likely was unintentional and came from Ukraine, not Russia.
Warner said Congress will likely approve more aid for Ukraine in the lame duck session. As we previously reported, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has said any request for increased Ukraine aid would be more difficult to obtain in a House GOP majority.
“Regardless of what Kevin McCarthy said ahead of time, I strongly hope in the end-of-the-year package there will be additional resources for Ukraine,” Warner said.
Takeaways from Dr. Ali Mehrizi-Sani, associate professor of electrical engineering at Virginia Tech:
Mehrizi-Sani said mass implementation of 5G will have a dramatic impact on the United States’ power grid with regards to climate change.
“[5G] can help us achieve this vision of having a U.S. grid that works with much higher renewables,” Mehrizi-Sani said.
Mehrizi-Sani mentioned how 5G can provide a more reliable communication network for climate change initiatives. He added the technology will help facilitate the executive order President Joe Biden signed last December which pledges to achieve a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035.
Additional takeaways from Nick Ludlum, senior vice president and chief communications officer at CTIA:
Here’s Ludlum on the key to scaling up 5G implementation:
“The wireless industry needs to build and grow its networks, and the key to that is exclusive use license… More spectrum, more exclusive license spectrum allows us to build better networks and allows us to bring these things online.”
Ludlum also said 5G will have a positive impact on renewable energy and climate change.
“[5G] allows you to turn on those wind farms, those solar panels…waterpower stations, whatever it may be and incorporate those into the gridded scale,” Ludlum said.
Watch the full conversation here.
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