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by Chris Teale July 28, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

After the U.S. Senate failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Arlington’s congressional representatives said Republicans and Democrats should now work together to fix the law.

On Twitter, Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in the House of Representatives, said lawmakers must work to make health care “better together.”

A so-called “skinny repeal” fell short of the votes required to pass after GOP Sens. John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski voted against it, defeating the measure 49-51.

Previous bills, one which would have repealed Obamacare and another that would have repealed and replaced it with a House-approved plan earlier this year both fell short too.

The “skinny repeal” bill would have removed requirements that most Americans have health insurance, and that companies with more than 50 employees must offer health benefits. But the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would lead to 16 million more people without insurance in the space of a decade.

After the bill’s failure, U.S. Sen Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said in a statement that the process to improve health care must be more open and bipartisan.

“Thanks to the help of countless Americans who shared their stories and made their voices heard, we were able to stop a bill that would have taken health care away from millions of people,” Kaine said. “There is a better way. Let the public into the process. We shouldn’t be kicking millions off of their health insurance or increasing families’ health care costs. Tonight we put people over politics, and going forward we all need to work together to improve health care for all Americans.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) thanked the American people for raising their concerns about Obamacare repeal, and agreed with Kaine that improvements must be made in an open way.

“Thank you to all Americans who made their voices heard. You did this,” Warner said in a statement. “It’s time to drop this partisan repeal process for good and work together on ways to improve health care for all Americans.”

by ARLnow.com July 26, 2017 at 4:35 pm 0

The following Letter to the Editor was written by Aaron Wajsgras, who serves on Arlington Public Schools’ Budget Advisory Council and its Career, Technical and Adult Education Citizens Advisory Committee.

It’s no secret that workforce needs are changing. From coding to manufacturing, industry is pining for a STEM workforce that can think critically and creatively. No longer are the times of the switch board operator or the repetitive assembly line worker.

So, exposing students to rigorous, hands-on learning where they can apply content knowledge to promote higher-order thinking skills is necessary for the future workforce. And, at the rate technology is changing, “the future” could be just a few years away.

According to the NOVA Workforce labor market dashboard, over 6,800 positions in management, science, technical consulting and computer systems design and related services were posted between April and June of this year. Additionally, across the country, skills gaps (what’s available versus what’s needed) exist in manufacturing, healthcare and other major industries to the tune of 5 million unfilled jobs by 2020, according to Georgetown University.

The skilled and creative future workforce has been a hot-topic for the last handful of years. Consequently, the Congressional STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) Caucus and the CTE (Career and Technical Education) Caucus held a joint briefing to discuss opportunities to incorporate arts and design into in-demand CTE and STEM curriculum; and Arlington Public Schools represented half the panel last week.

In addition to perspectives from General Electric and the Rhode Island School of Design, Danielle Meyer, the technology and engineering teacher at Washington & Lee, along with Daniel Grumbles, a recent graduate of W&L and a student of Meyer’s, were invited to discuss W&L’s engineering and technology program.

Danielle teaches several courses focused on engineering and technological design (the “A” in STEAM) and shared testimony about the importance of the aesthetics in her field. “We talk about the design process with our projects. The students create sketches and drawings and then use software to add dimensions, and we redesign and test when necessary.”

“Creativity is difficult,” she exclaimed, and uses the question “Would you buy that?” to keep students focused on the importance of the “consumers” of the projects. Giving the student perspective, Daniel highlighted his gratefulness for the collaborative nature of Danielle’s courses, the improvement of his technological literacy, and expansion of his creativity that he “did not always get to use in his mainstream courses.” All necessary skill-building for Daniel’s future career.

Of note, Daniel discussed the generous resources that APS has provided towards engineering courses to purchase items like 3D printers. Hoping students in other schools across the country can get the opportunity that he had, he stated, “It was not simply to provide the technology, but to facilitate the integration of it into the classroom.”

The value of skills in STEM and CTE fields are currently, and will continue to be, critical for the future workforce. However, the importance of creativity and higher-order thinking combined with in-demand skills helps to create our leaders of tomorrow.

ARLnow.com occasionally publishes thoughtful letters to the editor about issues of local interest. To submit a letter to the editor for consideration, please email it to [email protected]. Letters may be edited for content and brevity.

Pictured: Danielle Meyer, Technology and Engineering Teacher, Washington-Lee High School; Daniel Grumbles, Class of 2017, Washington-Lee High School; Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), STEAM Caucus co-chair. Photo by Aaron Wajsgras.

by Chris Teale July 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm 0

Local representatives in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives sharply criticized the Senate’s vote Tuesday (July 25) to begin debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

The Senate voted 51-50 — with Vice President Mike Pence called on as a tie-breaker vote — to open debate on repeal, with three possible plans to be discussed in the coming days.

Those plans are the Senate’s own plan to repeal and replace Obamacare; a 2015 House bill that would have repealed the law; and a bill that passed the House earlier this year.

U.S. Sens Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) both released statements strongly condemning the vote on the Senate floor.

Kaine said:

“As one of my colleagues has said, not a single one of us came to the United States Senate to hurt people, but that is exactly what Republicans have set in motion with today’s forced vote on a secret bill. For many of my constituents in Virginia and millions of people across America, this bill likely means losing insurance or paying much more for health care.

“I spent Friday volunteering at the RAM Clinic in Wise County, where thousands of people had traveled far from their homes–many of them sleeping in their cars and outside in the heat–to get care. The magnitude of the need was heartbreaking, and the message from these families was clear: ‘help us, don’t hurt us.’ As the wealthiest and most compassionate nation in the world, we must make our health care system better, not worse, for these families. We have to do our jobs to protect the health care of the kids whose parents who have been writing to me and asking Congress to stop this heartless bill.

“This is about what’s right and wrong. This is about who we are as Senators. This is about what thinking, feeling, breathing, believing human beings in positions of leadership will do to help people, not hurt them. Americans–healthy and sick–need us to get this right, but Republican Senators got it wrong with today’s vote. In the coming days, I hope we’ll change course, move to a more open process, and get back to helping people.”

Warner added:

“Today’s vote will have very real and disastrous consequences for millions of Americans. The only question is how many people will be harmed, since Senate Republicans voted to move forward on a bill no one has yet seen but which we already know will raise costs and kick millions off their health insurance, including millions of children, elderly and disabled Americans who depend on Medicaid.

“There is still time for reasonable Republican senators to abandon this partisan process. It is long past time for Republicans to sit down with Democrats and work on a bipartisan solution that actually improves our healthcare system.”

U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D), who represents Arlington in the House, had not released a written statement as of the time of writing. On Twitter, Beyer also criticized the vote, and the uncertainty surrounding the Senate’s next steps.

by ARLnow.com June 23, 2017 at 9:10 am 0

Widening of W&OD Trail Studied — The Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority is considering a proposal to widen the W&OD Trail in parts of Arlington, Falls Church and Fairfax County. The proposal also calls for separating pedestrians and cyclists along the widened portions of trail. [The Wash Cycle]

Stormy Weather Expected Over the Next 24 Hours — The remnants of Tropical Storm Cindy are expected to bring heavy rain and scattered storms to the area between now and Saturday morning. Most of the rain is expected to fall early Saturday. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Lawmakers Confronted at DCA — Protesters confronted lawmakers returning home to their districts at Reagan National Airport yesterday. They were protesting against the proposed GOP health care bill, holding signs like “don’t take away our healthcare” and “Medicaid matters.” [The Hill]

Middle School Students Burning Books — Yesterday, on the last day of middle school in Arlington, the fire department was called for a report of middle school students burning books in a field. An ACFD spokesperson could not be reached for additional information. [Twitter]

Last Day of School — High school is already out and the Class of 2017 has held its graduation ceremonies. Middle school ended yesterday. Today elementary students will have their last half-day before Arlington Public Schools is officially on summer break until Tuesday, Sept. 5. [Arlington Public Schools]

by ARLnow.com June 14, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

Northam, Gillespie Win Va. Primary — Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Ed Gillespie, establishment figures in the state Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, beat back party insurgents to win the nomination for Virginia governor on Tuesday. The primary was a test of the “Trump effect,” according to political analysts. [Washington Post, Washington Post, Politico]

Python Found in Apartment Hallway — An Arlington animal control officer recovered a python from an apartment hallway Tuesday morning, prompting an article in by the Washington Post’s Martin Weil. In his signature style, Weil notes that “matters appeared to end satisfactorily.” [Washington Post, Twitter]

Developer, 91, Wants to Move Into New Building — Longtime local developer Marvin Weissberg is enthusiastic about the 24-story, 407-unit residential tower he’s proposing to replace the RCA building in Rosslyn. So enthusiastic is Weissberg, 91, that he says he wants to move in when it’s completed. [Washington Business Journal]

Nearby: Shooting at Congressional Baseball Practice — A gunman opened fire at a Republican congressional baseball practice in Alexandria this morning, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, a number of congressional aides and two police officers. The gunman was reportedly shot by U.S. Capitol Police. [Fox News, Twitter]

by ARLnow.com June 8, 2017 at 9:25 am 0

D.C. isn’t the only wonky place with bars and restaurants opening early, offering specials and putting today’s James Comey testimony on the TVs. Some in Arlington are also getting in on the action.

The most hotly-anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in recent memory is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. Though the lack of a spectacular new revelation in Comey’s prepared remarks may be tamping down the enthusiasm a bit, many are still eager to hear what Comey has to say about President Trump — and, on Twitter, vice versa.

Here in Arlington, Liberty Tavern will be opening early, at 10 a.m., and putting the hearing on its five large TVs.

“We will serve free covfefe! And White Russians and Stoli and grapefruits during the hearing will be $5,”a rep for the Clarendon restaurant once visited by President Obama told ARLnow.com. “Lastly, we’ll offer all of our 12-inch wood-oven specialty pizzas for $10, including our popular brunch pizza that features our homemade breakfast sausage, house cured bacon, fried eggs, tomatoes, cheddar and sage.”

Also hosting hearing watchers is Ballston watering hole A-Town Bar and Grill, which will open at 10 a.m. and put the proceedings on its many TVs.

In Courthouse, Ireland’s Four Courts will be open for lunch and have hearing coverage on its TVs with the volume on. The pub will also offer lunch specials during the hearing.

by ARLnow.com Sponsor June 6, 2017 at 6:00 am 0

Click here to register for the event.

Is there a “coming-of-age crisis” in America?

Yes, according to Sen. Ben Sasse’s new book “The Vanishing American Adult.” In the book, the Nebraska Senator makes the case that many young people in America are stuck in a state of perpetual youth, lacking in self-discipline and purpose. This phenomenon, according to Sasse, poses an existential threat to America’s future, as a country without functioning, responsible adults will be susceptible to political demagogues.

This is one of the many topics that Sen. Sasse and George Mason economist Tyler Cowen will discuss during their one-on-one dialogue on Wednesday, June 14, from 6:30-8 p.m., at GMU’s Arlington campus (3351 Fairfax Drive).

The conversation is part of the Mercatus Center’s Conversations with Tyler series, and will be open to the public free of charge.

Sasse is especially qualified to observe millennial trends as he served as president of Midland University from 2010 to 2015. He’s also known for his ability to communicate with Americans of all generations in original ways — whether it’s through his refreshingly candid tweets or his part-time Uber charity gig.

But there is more to Sasse than politics and tweets. A historian by training, Sasse has earned four advanced degrees, including a Ph.D. from Yale. Dubbing him “Washington’s Most Interesting Egghead,” the Atlantic noted that his experience in academia, corporate consulting, and past government appointments have given him one of the Senate’s most varied resumes.

This makes him a natural fit for Conversations with Tyler, a discussion series that engages today’s top thinkers in one-on-one conversations about everything and anything with economist Tyler Cowen. Past guests include tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, renowned academic Camille Paglia, and author Malcolm Gladwell.

Guests should come prepared for a lively conversation about the unique challenges this country faces and how parents, young people, and all Americans can be a part of the solution.

Click here to register for the event.

by ARLnow.com May 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm 0

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) is weighing in on the widening scandal over fired FBI director James Comey’s memo, which alleged that President Trump asked him to end the bureau’s investigation of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

Beyer, who represents Arlington in Congress, is calling for a special prosecutor in the larger investigation into Trump and his presidential campaign’s ties to Russia.

He issued the following statement this afternoon.

Congress must seek answers and all available evidence of reports that Donald Trump dissuaded former FBI Director James Comey from pursuing an investigation into Michael Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials. We also urgently need a special prosecutor to find the truth of the larger Trump-Russia story.

What tapes of the exchange detailed in the Comey memo exist? Who at the Department of Justice, including AG Sessions, knew of the memo and possible obstruction attempt? What are the contents of the conversations with Donald Trump detailed in the other Comey memos which are reported to exist? These are questions we must ask, and the public has a right to the answers.

If Donald Trump did indeed ask James Comey to “let” the Flynn investigation “go,” that would be a clear case of obstruction of justice. The FBI is not the President’s personal police force, and his reported request that the FBI “lock up” journalists should underscore the deep peril facing our democracy if he is allowed to treat it as such.

Comey has been invited to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next week.

by ARLnow.com May 5, 2017 at 10:45 am 0

Arlington Taking Roadwork Suggestions — “Arlington’s Neighborhood Complete Streets Program is asking residents to nominate neighborhood streets they believe could be made safer and more comfortable for all users for potential improvement projects. If you know a neighborhood street that is missing a section of sidewalk, needs an accessible curb ramp or better street lighting, consider nominating it. The County is accepting submissions through Friday, June 16.” [Arlington County]

Commuting Habits in Arlington — Arlington County’s new “Profile 2017” data packet has a surprising statistic on community habits: more Fairfax County residents commute into Arlington each day than Arlington residents commute into D.C. [Twitter]

Candidates Dither on Exotic Pet Ban — Three out of four of the Democratic candidates for County Board would not give a straight answer to the question of whether they support a proposed ban on wild and exotic pets. [InsideNova]

Metro 29 Named Best Diner in Va. — A new list of the best diner in all 50 states lists Metro 29 diner on Lee Highway as the best in Virginia. [Mental Floss]

Beyer on House Healthcare Bill — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) says yesterday’s narrow passage of the GOP healthcare bill is “a dark stain on the history of the House of Representatives.” [Rep. Don Beyer]

Comment Ads Turned Off — To improve the user experience, we’ve turned off those semi-trashy tile ads below the comments. They’re prevalent on lots of websites, especially news websites, and they generate decent revenue, but we could not longer stand having them associated with our site. Replacing the ads are links to previous ARLnow.com articles.

by ARLnow.com May 4, 2017 at 10:00 am 0

Police Warn of Fraud Scheme — The Arlington County Police Department is warning that home repair and tree service fraud schemes become more prevalent in the spring. Police say to be wary of would-be service providers who approach or knock on your door unannounced, pressure you to make an immediate decision, claim to have leftover materials or to be working in the area, and only accept cash payment. [Arlington County]

Arlington Restaurant Makes Sietsema’s Top 10Ambar in Clarendon has been included in restaurant critic Tom Sietsema’s list of the top 10 new restaurants in Washington. It is the only Virginia restaurant on the list. [Washington Post]

Beyer Supports Budget Bill — Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) says that while it’s not perfect, he supports the compromise omnibus funding bill that passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. Beyer says the bill contained key environmental protections and funding for scientific research. [Rep. Don Beyer]

No Endorsement from Garvey — County Board member Libby Garvey says she will vote in the upcoming Democratic caucus, but so far she is not endorsing any candidate for County Board. [InsideNova]

ACDC Candidate Forum — The Arlington County Democratic Committee held its candidate forum/debate last night, with all four candidates for County Board weighing in on topics from affordable housing to WMATA and transit to diversity in county government. [Blue Virginia]

Trustify’s Swanky Digs — Arlington-based startup Trustify’s new 8,000 square foot office in Crystal City has “a view that arguably is one of the dreamiest” among local startups. The design of the office was “‘film noir’-inspired.” [DC Inno]

by ARLnow.com April 25, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Federal employees should be guaranteed back pay in the event of a government shutdown, says Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.).

Beyer and a fellow Virginia congressman, Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), have proposed the “Federal Employee Retroactive Pay Fairness Act.”

The bill “would guarantee back pay for all furloughed workers if Congress and the White House are unable to come to a funding agreement.” Currently, back pay must be approved by Congress and is not guaranteed.

“Shutting down the federal government threatens the livelihood of federal workers who carry out the nation’s vital missions,” Beyer said in a statement. “It’s inexcusable to play politics with their pay and the well-being of their households.”

While a government shutdown at the end of the week is possible, it’s looking increasingly likely that a deal will be reached to continue funding the government.

Twenty-two percent of employment in Arlington is classified as government employment.

The full press release about the bill, after the jump.

(more…)

by Chris Teale April 7, 2017 at 11:00 am 0

With residents still worried about the impacts of noise and increased air traffic around Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, the region’s congressional representatives are pushing for change.

Yesterday, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) joined other D.C. metro area legislators in writing to members of the House Appropriations Committee to support airplane noise mitigation provisions in the fiscal year Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill.

Beyer is a member of the Congressional Quiet Skies Caucus, and urged the committee to fund health studies on the effects of airplane noise. The legislators cited past studies that have linked excessive exposure to noise with hypertension and learning difficulties.

Beyer requested that appropriators include language directing the Federal Aviation Administration to expedite its review of current noise standards.

“Airplane noise is a pervasive problem around the United States, but especially in Northern Virginia neighborhoods below ever-shifting flight paths in and out of DCA,” said Beyer in a statement. “To date, the FAA has not satisfactorily addressed the situation, while the problem has worsened in many communities. It is past time for Congress to take action, and I hope my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee heed our call.”

Legislators also signed a bipartisan letter urging the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority — which operates Reagan National and Dulles International Airport — not to add more flight traffic at DCA.

They point out that Reagan National has experienced six consecutive years of passenger growth and outpaced passenger volume at Dulles in both 2015 and 2016. In fact, they say domestic commercial passenger traffic since 2000 has increased by 50 percent at Reagan, but it decreased by 9 percent at Dulles.

Congress is preparing to work on legislation to reauthorize the FAA for this year. The delegation said that maintaining the current rules will allow Dulles and BWI to continue to grow and serve long-haul destinations, while also not subjecting National to additional traffic.

“Our airports enable Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia to access the global economy in ways that create jobs and opportunities for the region,” the letter reads. “Part of the rationale for the relocation of major corporate headquarters such as SAIC, Hilton Hotels, Nestle USA and Volkswagen of America is the connectivity our regional aviation system provides.”

Both the House and Senate are expected to consider FAA reauthorization proposals in the coming months. The current FAA authorization expires at the end of September.

by ARLnow.com March 24, 2017 at 6:20 pm 0

After one last blast of cold weather this week, it appears that old man winter has taken his last bow for the season, according to our friends at the Capital Weather Gang.

Also bowing out: the Republican effort to pass a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. A number of local lawmakers and Democratic political candidates have issued statements on the bill’s failure this afternoon, including Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

Also this afternoon, a grinning Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, was spotted taking a flight out of Reagan National Airport in Arlington.

While the healthcare bill has received much of the national media attention this week, it was also a busy local news week. Here are some of the week’s most-read articles.

Feel free to discuss the return of spring-like weather, the healthcare brouhaha on Capitol Hill or any other topic of local interest in the comments.

by ARLnow.com December 8, 2016 at 10:20 am 0

Snow man painted on a restaurant window in Shirlington

W-L Student Pens Open Letter on Boundary Changes — The boundary changes approved by the School Board on Dec. 1 will decrease socio-economic diversity at Arlington’s high schools, despite diversity being a stated “core value” at Arlington Public Schools. That’s the argument made by a Washington-Lee student in an open letter to the School Board, published by the Crossed Sabres student newspaper. The article has been widely shared online and, we’re told, has broken traffic records on the newspaper’s website. [Crossed Sabres]

Rollover Crash Last Night — A crash involving an SUV that flipped on its roof was reported near the intersection of Little Falls Road and N. Glebe Road just before 8 p.m. last night. Another crash, involving a person potentially trapped in a vehicle, was reported on Old Dominion Drive just over the border in McLean, around 6 p.m. [Twitter, Twitter]

AFAC Collecting Lots of Donated Food — Holiday-time food collections are bolstering supplies at the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Just yesterday AFAC said it had received around 3,900 lbs of food from property owner Vornado and 1,900 lbs from apartment operator Dittmar. Dittmar says its total holiday food drive goal this year is 5,500 lbs. Other organizations collecting food for AFAC include local real estate agents that have formed a group called Arlington Realtors Care. [Instagram]

More Special Needs Students at APS — The percentage of special needs students at Arlington’s public schools has remained steady, but due to enrollment growth the number of special needs students has increased, presenting budgetary and instructional challenges. [InsideNova]

Cruz and Cornyn’s Queso Comes from Ballston — When Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn needed some authentic Texas-style queso to square off in a taste test against cheese dip from Arkansas, they went to Uncle Julio’s Mexican Restaurant in Ballston. (The restaurant chain is based in Texas.) Unfortunately, the Arkansas cheese won the competition. [Roll Call]

by ARLnow.com December 5, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

U.S. government helicopter flying overhead (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a conference report for the National Defense Authorization Act, pushing an amendment on helicopter noise from Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) closer to becoming law.

The amendment was proposed by Beyer in response to frequent complaints from Northern Virginia residents about excess noise from military helicopters. It directs the Dept. of Defense to work with the Federal Aviation Administration “to study changes to the region’s helicopter flight routes, operating procedures, and even the types of helicopters flown in the national capital airspace to mitigate the effect of noise on the region’s neighborhoods.”

With Friday’s 375-34 House vote, the measure is now set to be voted on by the Senate this week, prior to heading to the president’s desk to become law.

Beyer said the language in the bill will force the DoD to take responsibility for its role in creating noise that affects quality of life in local neighborhoods.

“My constituents understand and appreciate the military’s mission in the National Capital Region, but that does not absolve the Pentagon’s responsibility to minimize helicopter flights over residential neighborhoods,” Beyer told ARLnow.com Friday, in a statement. “I offered this amendment out of frustration after Department officials rebuffed my attempts to work together to quiet the noise. Today’s vote ensures the DoD will work with the FAA and local community groups to find ways to reduce the din.”

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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