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Kaine joins a growing roster of former governors who have transitioned from chief executive to one of 100 in the Senate.
It's a list that includes his home-state colleague, Democrat Mark Warner.
Most recently the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Kaine told voters that he would like to focus his efforts on education, defense and foreign policy.
Kaine hopes to tackle the first of those three issues through a seat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Kaine has highlighted his work on expanded financing for higher education facility upgrades in Virginia, including in an interview with George Mason University's student-run election guide.
"As governor, I led passage of an additional $1.4 billion bond package in 2008 to construct state of the art classrooms and labs. I also allocated millions to need-based tuition assistance for Virginia's students," Kaine told Mason Votes.
"As senator, I will work to increase access to higher education and preserve programs that increase the affordability of higher education, like the Pell Grant program."
On foreign policy, Kaine has a long-standing interest in Latin America. He spent a year in Honduras working with Jesuit missionaries. He might be a good fit for an opening on the Foreign Relations Committee.
Kaine reportedly told a gathering of federal workers he would be interested in serving on the Appropriations Committee. Those seats are always in high demand, despite the typical breakdown in the annual appropriations process, and rarely go to freshmen. Kaine wants to serve on the spending panel's Defense Subcommittee, reported Government Executive magazine.
Kaine is more likely to get a seat on the Armed Services Committee, which authorizes defense spending. Retiring Democrat Jim Webb, the senator whom Kaine is succeeding, served on that panel; the defense industry is critical to the economy in Virginia, home to coastal military facilities as well as inland bases.
Kaine favors allowing the George W. Bush-era tax cuts to expire for households making more that $500,000 per year.
Speaking with business groups in Hampton, he said the additional revenue could offset some of the defense spending reductions required by the $1.2 trillion budget sequester that is set to go into effect in January.
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