Suhas Subramanyam becomes the first Indian American Hindu State Senator in Virginia

Suhas Subramanyam receiving a standing ovation from VA State Senators after being sworn in on January 10, 2024, in Richmond, Virginia. PHOTO: Suhas Subramanyam

Suhas Subramanyam became the first Indian American Hindu to be sworn in as a Virginia State Senator January 10, 2024, in Richmond, Virginia.

Subramanyam, who served as a VA State Delegate since 2019, got elected to the State Senate on November 7, 2023. A week after his election, he announced his Congressional bid from VA’s 10th district to succeed Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, who announced she’ll step down due to health reasons.

Subramanyam told News India Times, in an exclusive interview at his residence on January 4, in Brambleton, Virginia, “I wasn’t expecting it, but our member of Congress had a sudden health issue and had to announce she would be retiring,” he said, adding, “When there’s an issue in the community, I always step up. When there’s an opportunity to serve the community in a way [that] makes the community feel more empowered, I always step up.” In the Virginia State Senate, he ran when incumbent VA State Senator, John Bell,  stepped down due to health reasons.

“I feel like people have lost faith in Congress in the US,” Subramanyam said explaining his rationale for announcing his bid for Capitol Hill. “It’s the most unproductive Congress ever. This year, it’s also been the most unpopular as well,” he added. “And I think a lot of that is a byproduct of people just losing trust in Congress and the people that we are sending there have either been there too long or have completely lost faith in the process. So, I want to be part of the solution.” He wants to focus on “restoring trust” and “taking on tough fights” including the “threat of government shutdown” which impacts the Northern Virginia community hard.

Suhas Subramanyam along with his wife Miranda Pena Subramanyam and daughters Maya and Nina at their house on January 4, 2024, in Brambleton, Virginia. PHOTO: T. Vishnudatta Jayaraman, News India Times

“I think we have to come up with rules that prevent shutdowns by automatically funding the government every year. That’s the first thing that I would want to do in Congress. Another thing I want to do [is to fix] our budget process,” he said adding, “I want to make sure that we get our fair share of funding for transportation and infrastructure projects in Northern Virginia for metro and toll roads.”

In Congress, he vows to protect women’s reproductive rights, address climate change issues, and fix the broken immigration system. “When I say we need to fix government services, immigration is a big part of that [effort]. I think we need to make sure that our visa system is also modernized, and immigration laws updated.”

Recalling his work as a State Delegate, he said he went to Richmond to give the “community a voice and take on the toughest fights.” As such, he introduced his first bill to stop utility companies from overcharging and eliminating loopholes. But it wasn’t an easy battle for Subramanyam. “No one gave me a shot at passing that bill. Even the people who helped me write the bill told me it wouldn’t pass. But, I talked to 100 legislators and dozens of activist groups around, and we were able to pass and sign it into law.” As a result, Virginia got refunded $400 million back, and people got checks in the mail for being overcharged, he noted.

He also introduced bills making it harder for toll road companies to increase tolls, and to help lower costs of prescription drugs. He helped pass those laws, again with much difficulty.

Another issue very important to him is gun violence and he will work to make it difficult for people to get assault weapons. Now as a State Senator he believes he has a stronger platform to address this issue.

Recalling his time as White House advisor to President Obama, Subramanyam said, “My job was to fix broken parts of government using technology [and] using innovation. And I want to be able to bring that same kind of mentality to all of our government services so that people will trust the government services that they interact with.”

About Virginia, he said “We have a diverse state, and it’s a microcosm of the globe” adding that Loudoun County is “one of the most diverse parts of Virginia” where hundreds of languages are spoken and that he would like to ensure fair representation of everyone regardless of background.

Subramanyam’s parents, Dr. Kalyanam Subramanyam, and Dr. Geetha Subramanyam, both physicians, moved to Virginia from southern India in the late ’70s. “The Dulles Airport was their Ellis Island, and they came here for a better life,” he said. “My family is the most important thing. And a lot of what I do is with my family in mind. When I legislate, I understand paid family leave is important because it affects me directly… cost of childcare increases is important because it affects me and my wife.”

Stressing that he would like to make a difference among legislators, he noted, “I worry sometimes that legislators govern for the next three to five years, but not next 30 to 50 years. And that’s going to leave all the problems to our next generations and that’s not what I want.”



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