WASHINGTON – Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) announced that as of his official swearing-in on January 3, he has completed the hiring of staff for his Washington and District offices.
Cline, who was sworn in on January 3, had previously announced the hiring of his top staff on December 7 with Matt Miller named as Chief of Staff, Debbie Garrett as District Director, Nicole Manley as Legislative Director, and Ryan Saylor as Communications Director. The hiring of all staff prior to his swearing-in is in keeping with his commitment to hit the ground running and ensure continuity of services for the constituents of the 6th District.
“The men and women who have signed up to serve Virginia’s 6th District as members of my team are all extremely well-qualified individuals,” the Congressman said. “Their experience and commitment to service will benefit all citizens of our part of Virginia.”
• Field Representative Tyler Adams is a native of Louisa County and is based in the Harrisonburg office. A 2015 graduate of James Madison University, Adams has worked for Cline’s legislative and campaign offices in varying roles, most recently as Northern Political Director for Cline’s congressional campaign.
• Field Representative Christine Broughton is a naturalized U.S. citizen who previously worked as former Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Political Administrator in 2011. Later, she began serving on his Congressional staff as a District Representative. Broughton is based in Cline’s Roanoke office.
• District Representative Kjersten Croke moved to Salem, Virginia, in 2004 with her husband and four children. She served in former Congressman Bob Goodlatte’s Roanoke office for the last five years in a similar role. Croke also worked for Delegate Greg Habeeb as a Community Outreach Representative and Legislative Assistant. She is based in Cline’s Roanoke office.
• District Scheduler Jennifer Faulkner is a graduate of William Byrd High School in Vinton, Virginia, and a 1996 Graduate of Virginia Tech with Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and Political Science. Faulkner previously worked for former Congressman Bob Goodlatte in his Roanoke District Office for just over 22 years. She is based in Cline’s Roanoke office.
• Field Representative Kathy Hayden was previously a political consultant prior to working in the Roanoke Office of the Attorney General. She served as the Office Manager/Community Outreach Coordinator under four different attorneys general. Hayden left the OAG to serve in Governor Bob McDonald’s Administration in Richmond as his Director of Community Relations. After retiring from the Governor’s administration, she served in the Virginia General Assembly during two sessions as Delegate Ben Cline’s legislative assistant. More recently, she worked on the political campaigns of John Adams for Attorney General and Ben Cline for Congress. Hayden is based in Cline’s Roanoke office.
• District Representative Emilee Loope is from Roanoke, Virginia. She went to James Madison University, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sports Communication. She also completed a master’s degree in Strategic Communications at Liberty University. Emilee began serving in Virginia’s 6th District on the staff of former Congressman Bob Goodlatte in July 2016. She has also worked for the Boston Red Sox Class A Advanced Affiliate, the Salem Red Sox, and interned for the Washington Redskins for three years. Loope is based in Cline’s Harrisonburg office.
• District Representative Aaron Van Allen is originally from Danville, Virginia. He graduated from Hampden-Sydney College in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in Government and from Liberty University in 2013 with a Master of Arts in Public Policy. Van Allen worked for former Congressman Bob Goodlatte from June 2013 – January 2019. He is based in Cline’s Lynchburg office.
• Emily Wicht is a District Representative in Cline’s Harrisonburg office. She graduated from Emory & Henry College in 2008. After graduation, Wicht served two years in AmeriCorps. She has worked for nonprofits and different levels of government, including Habitat for Humanity, a local homeless shelter called Open Doors, the federal Workforce Investment Act, and the Virginia Comprehensive Services Act. She worked for former Congressman Bob Goodlatte before joining Cline’s staff.
• Eric Bagwell of Forest, Virginia, joins Cline’s office as a Senior Legislative Assistant. Bagwell previously served as Legislative Director for former Congressman Bob Goodlatte. Prior to joining his personal office, Bagwell worked for Goodlatte on the House Judiciary Committee and in his Harrisonburg district office. He is a graduate of Jefferson Forest High School and James Madison University.
• Melanie Davis is Systems Administrator. She previously served in a similar role for former Congressman Bob Goodlatte.
• Matthew Hanrahan serves as Legislative Correspondent for Cline’s office. Following his graduation from The Catholic University of America, Hanrahan served as the Political Director for U.S. Senate candidate Dan Carter in 2016. Hanrahan worked as a Staff Assistant and then Legislative Correspondent for Congressman Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania. Most recently, he served Congressman Tom Garrett of Virginia as a Legislative Correspondent and Legislative Assistant.
• Tyler Hook serves as Staff Assistant. A 2017 graduate of Newberry College, he has previously worked on numerous campaigns in Virginia and South Carolina. Hook moved to Lexington, Virginia, upon graduation where he worked as grassroots director for the Republican Party of Virginia. In 2018, he worked as State Field Director for South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson before joining Cline’s campaign for Congress.
• Beth Kaczmarek is Congressman Cline’s Washington Scheduler and Office Manager. She has served the Virginia delegation for the past eight years. A shared employee, Kaczmarek also handles office finances for Rep. Jack Bergman of Michigan and Vicky Hartzler of Missouri.
• Hallie Pence grew up on a farm in Rockingham County, Virginia, and joins Cline’s office as a Senior Legislative Assistant. She served as former Congressman Tom Garrett’s Legislative Director during the 115th Congress. Prior to working for him, Pence worked for former Congressman Robert Hurt as his Scheduler and Office Administrator. Hallie is a graduate of the University of Virginia and double majored in Philosophy and Political Theory.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – August 24, 2019
I recently had the honor of participating in a bipartisan visit to Israel and the West Bank alongside over 50 Democratic and 30 Republican Members. There, we met with political and military officials from Israel and the Palestinian Authority. I gained a deeper understanding of the security threat faced by Israelis and remain steadfast in my support of America’s closest ally.
Since taking office in January, I have been committed to the continued viability of the Jewish State and have cosponsored and voted in favor of several pieces of legislation to that end. One such resolution I signed onto was H. Res. 246 – Opposing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the Global Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement targeting Israel. For those who might not know what the BDS Movement is, it is a global campaign led by Palestine intended to economically harm Israel through international sanctions, pressuring companies to cut ties with Israel, and pushing individuals around the world to boycott businesses who support the nation-state. These targeted attacks are designed to promote the destruction of the state of Israel, and is why I was proud to join 397 of my colleagues in passing this bill in the House.
I also cosponsored H.R. 1837 – the United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act. Israel is under constant threat from its neighbors, and the United States must stand with the greatest stabilizing force in the Middle-East. H.R. 1837 authorizes increased security assistants to Israel, which includes the transfer of reserve stock weapons and boosts defense funding over the next five years. Legislation such as this is important to ensuring the continued security of our strategic partner in the region.
Anniversary of the 19th Amendment
This week began with the celebration of the 99th anniversary of the enactment of the 19th Amendment, and it is important to remember the women and men whose forward thinking made for a stronger and more unified country.
In July 1848, the first Women’s Rights Convention was convened in Seneca Falls, New York. There, a Declaration of Sentiments was brought forth and signed by 68 women and 32 men in support of equal rights for women, most notably the right to vote. After decades of trials and tribulations, Congress voted to approve the 19th Amendment in the Summer of 1919. One year later, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women the right to vote.
On this 99th anniversary, I am proud to recognize the many notable Virginia suffragists who fought for their God given right to equality. Most notably was Mary Johnston, a distinguished author from Buchanan and founding member of the Equal Suffrage League of Virginia. A Bath County native, Ms. Johnston believed that women were wholly capable of achieving any successes in which they aspired to.
As an outspoken woman ahead of her time, Mary Johnston had multiple articles published in the Equal Suffrage League’s monthly paper, the Virginia Suffrage News. She helped further the goals of the women’s suffrage movement in a positive and expeditious fashion. Today, and every day, I am thankful for women like Mary who advocate for their equal and unalienable rights in this nation. We are stronger because of them.
If you follow my column weekly, then you are certainly aware of the Small Business Reorganization Act. I am proud to announce that this bill, which I authored, was signed into law by the President this week. While it is my hope small business owners will never need to use the provisions of this bill, I am pleased that they now will have the necessary resources to make successful the businesses that they have worked so hard to build.
For more information regarding this bill, I encourage you to read last week’s column at: https://cline.house.gov/sixth-district-perspectives
It is an honor to serve you and all people of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District. If my office can ever be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to reach out. I also encourage you to like my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages to stay up to date on legislative initiatives and District happenings.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – August 18, 2019
In the eight months since becoming your representative in Congress, the office has been busy serving the people of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District. We have received and answered over 41,000 pieces of mail from constituents, and have also successfully closed 562 casework inquiries related to federal agencies. While providing reliable and timely constituent services is a top priority as your representative, I have also cast more than 400 votes on the House floor, and I have jumped into my assignments on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Education and Labor Committee with vigor.
At times, I have been on the opposite side of tough debates with my Democratic colleagues. However, much of my work has been in a bipartisan spirit as well. Of the 50 bills I have co-sponsored, 19 of them have a Democratic lead and 35 of them have a Democratic co-sponsor.
This week, two bills I authored and championed through the House and Senate are on the President’s desk awaiting his signature. H.R. 3311 – the Small Business Reorganization Act – and H.R. 3304 – the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act of 2019 – both passed the chambers of Congress by large margins and are examples of the work taking place behind the scenes.
As you may know, the Small Business Reorganization Act is a bill which opens a portion of the bankruptcy code to small business owners so they can restructure in much the same way as small family farmers. Instead of shutting down and auctioning bits and pieces of a business in order to only pay back a portion of debt, this bill allows companies with otherwise sound business models to keep the doors open and employees on payroll as they renegotiate with lenders. It gives the opportunity for small businesses to regroup and make their debtors whole at the same time. This legislation is a win-win for local economies where community banks are often the ones providing funding for the region’s small businesses.
The National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act is a piece of legislation many may not be familiar with but is just as important. All of us know citizen service-members who serve in the reserves or the National Guard. Often, this commitment means our nation’s guardsmen and reservists are recalled to active duty with little lead time resulting in personal finances and other responsibilities being placed on he back-burner. When a member of the Guard or a reservist returns from active duty, there can be a lot of time and effort rebuilding their personal lives, including personal finances. This legislation extends a law already on the books that allows these American heroes the ability to streamline the restructuring of their finances.
I am proud that these bills will be signed into law, much as I have been honored to see other bills I have sponsored and co-sponsored be signed into law. These include bills which would designate the National George C. Marshal Museum and Library at Virginia Military Institute; establish a permanent 9/11 Victim’s Compensation Fund to aid those impacted from their service at Ground Zero; expand the jurisdictional waters for veterans impacted by Agent Orange exposure during the Vietnam War; and of course the LEGION Act which opens membership to the American Legion for all those who honorably served.
Be sure to keep up to date on my work in Congress by visiting cline.house.gov and clicking on the “Votes & Bills” tab at the top of the page. You may also visit Congress.gov to research any of the bills I have co-sponsored so far this Congress.
White House Christmas
While it may seem early to start thinking about Christmas, the White House has already begun to plan for the holiday season. The First Lady and her team are seeking volunteers to assist in their efforts, and I wanted to be sure that constituents of the Sixth District have the opportunity to participate. The White House is looking for individuals not only to help decorate the hallowed halls of the President’s home, but is also in need of greeters to welcome guests during the Holiday Open Houses. Further, the White House is hoping to find musicians, high school bands, and other holiday themed entertainers to preform throughout the Christmas season. This is an exciting opportunity, and I hope you have the chance to assist our President and be a part of history.
Individuals interested in decorating the White House or serving as a greeter at the Holiday Open Houses may apply HERE. The application will close on August 27, 2019. Please note each person must sign-up individually, as no group sign-ups will be accepted. Applicants may outline specific requests and previous, relatable work experience using the online form. Applicants will be notified by September 25, 2019.
Musicians – either individuals or groups – may apply HERE through September 10, 2019. Please note the form allows applicants to select a range of dates during the month of December. All confirmed applicants will be assigned a particular date and time for their performance. Additional requests or requirements may be outlined using the online form. Applicants will be notified by October 2, 2019.
All questions should be directed to email@example.com.
It is an honor to serve you and all people of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District. If my office can ever be of assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (540) 885-3861. I also encourage you to like my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages to stay up to date on legislative initiatives and District happenings.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – August 10, 2019
Tragedy and Terrorism
This week, our nation was struck by tragedy as two assailants took the lives of at least 31 people in El Paso and Dayton. We must call these events what they are – terrorism. When an individual commits heinous acts of mass violence to further a cause based in racial, religious, or political hatred, no other word fits the bill. Hate of any kind has no place in America. We must continue to call out this evil if we are to ultimately defeat it.
Over the last seven months, I have worked with my colleagues to offer realistic solutions to address the issue of violence in America. One piece of legislation I have co-sponsored is H.R. 1339, the Mass Violence Prevention Act. If passed, the legislation would address the challenges underlying repeated tragedies, including failures in law enforcement coordination and response. Further, it gives law enforcement the resources necessary to prevent and deter gun violence by prosecuting criminals for firearm-related crimes and reducing the flow of firearms into the black market. Another bill, the Threat Assessment, Prevention, and Safety Act would provide states the resources needed to establish multidisciplinary behavioral threat assessment units within law enforcement agencies to root out potential threats.
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to travel to McAllen, Texas, to see for myself the conditions of migrant men, women, and children who have been detained after illegally crossing our southern border. While hundreds of these migrants are entering the U.S. at official ports of entry, many thousands more are crossing our border illegally before claiming asylum.
Some of the individuals I encountered may have been facing immediate danger from war or religious persecution, but most of them are simply seeking better lives for themselves and their families here in America. While wanting to live in America is certainly understandable, and I am happy to assist those individuals who want to apply for citizenship through our legal immigration process, it is not a reason to enter the country illegally or to be granted asylum. For these individuals, it is important that they receive quick consideration by immigration officials and are returned to their home countries as soon as possible.
While there, I was pleased to see that conditions at the Customs and Border Patrol detention and processing centers are much different than those portrayed by some of my Democratic colleagues. Families are kept together, and migrants are provided with immediate medical care, evaluated for sickness and disease, provided with hot showers, clothing, shoes, blankets, and meals. I saw children with crackers, granola bars, juice boxes, and amenities like cartoons, books, and soccer balls. The conditions in the holding facilities are not the picture some of my colleagues and the mainstream media want you to believe.
I was also pleased to visit with the brave men and women of Customs and Border Patrol. Understaffed and underfunded, the officials at CBP have a nearly impossible task. They cannot turn anyone away, and they must address the humanitarian needs of those coming into the country, but that leaves too few to actually do their primary job: patrol the border. They face dangerous surroundings with Mexican cartels just across the Rio Grande river, and they must use their limited resources to prevent drugs, gangs, and criminals engaged in human trafficking and sex trafficking from crossing the river. I was given a boat ride by CBP along the Rio Grande and saw individuals entering the river from the Mexican side. Each day, these brave CBP officers risk their lives to keep us safe here at home from the dangers coming across our border.
Mobile Office Hours
For those in need of constituent services, my staff has already begun to host August Casework Staff Mobile Office Hours. Staff members will be available to meet with citizens to assist with problems they might have with a federal agency and hear their views on current issues before Congress. Mobile office hours may be found at http://cline.house.gov/about/events and there you can locate the Casework Staff Mobile Office Hours near you. If you cannot attend a mobile office hour, my office can always be reached at (540) 857-2672.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – August 4, 2019
Tuesday was a special day for veterans across America as President Donald Trump signed into law the LEGION Act. If you read this column regularly, you have heard about this important legislation which would expand American Legion eligibility to men and women who served during conflicts which were not previously classified as wars. This means veterans of conflicts ranging from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan have the opportunity to join the Legion, connect with veterans, and have an organization to advocate on their behalf.
I was honored to join veterans and fellow lawmakers in the Oval Office on Tuesday when this legislation was signed into law. I co-authored this bill with Democratic Congressman Lou Correa in the House, while a bipartisan group pushed this bill through the Senate. It is an example of how we can work together to get things done.
Another example of working across the aisle occurred in the Senate this week, where the Small Business Reorganization Act passed the Senate and is now on its way to President Trump for his signature. I authored this legislation which Democratic Congressmen David Cicilline and Steve Cohen. House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Doug Collins also co-sponsored this legislation, which provides a legal avenue for businesses with less than $2.5 million in debt to file for bankruptcy in a timelier and more cost-effective manner. While in bankruptcy reorganization, a small business would be able to negotiate with creditors while keeping the doors open, employees on payroll, and suppliers and vendors paid.
The legislation works much like a provision in Chapter 12 of the bankruptcy code which helps family farms restructure while continuing to operate. I am excited that the House and Senate have both agreed with me that this option should be available to small businesses which have had a rough year but have an otherwise sound business. Another bill passed last week which I co-authored is an extension of the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Act, which gives guardsmen and reservists who served active duty since 9/11 a streamlined process for restructuring their debt and rebuild their financial life. I am excited for these bills to land on the president’s desk, where I expect him to sign it into law.
I am excited that we have worked this year to pass laws benefiting veterans and small business owners. At the same time, we have been hard at work on legislation which will help all Americans who are dealing with the deluge of robocalls. You and I all have experienced a robocall. Not only are they annoying, but often the calls are from fraudsters trying to cheat you out of your hard-earned money. Laws on the books right now are not only preventing the calls but as I noted in an email to Attorney General William Barr, enforcement against bad actors have collected less than $7,000 of the more than $200 million in fines issued by the FCC.
That is why I was proud to co-sponsor H.R. 3375, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which passed the House last week. The bill mandates efforts to stop these calls before bad actors can hit the “Send” button, including free robocall blocking provided by phone service providers and technology to prevent spoofing (using a fake caller ID phone number). The Senate has passed similar legislation, a sign to the American people that we will not stop working on this important issue that impacts each and every one of us.
Thank you for the opportunity to work on veterans issues, small business legislation, and ways to prevent robocalls. If you have an issue that needs to be addressed legislatively, I ask you to call my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Senate passes Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019; sent to President to sign
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today following the Senate passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019, a two-year bipartisan budget deal that would suspend the debt ceiling until July 2021:
“Today I voted to preserve the full faith and credit of the United States and steer us away from another harmful government shutdown in the fall. By suspending the debt ceiling for two years, the bipartisan budget agreement guarantees that the United States will continue to pay our bills, while also preventing harmful sequester cuts that would hurt our military and jeopardize important programs that serve our veterans, prepare our children for the future, and rebuild our crumbling roads and bridges.
“Even with this deal, overall spending on education, research and development, homeland security, and other important investments will still be near historic lows as a percent of the economy. Our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges are real, but they are primarily due to declining tax revenue and a failure to reform our mandatory spending programs. It is disappointing that congressional and White House negotiators chose to pay for only a fraction of this deal, with fee increases and cuts to spending, when there are more sustainable and equitable ways we could have paid for this must-pass legislation. We should be asking large corporations and the wealthiest among us to contribute more—not putting $2 trillion in tax breaks that disproportionately benefit them on the nation’s credit cards. I continue to believe that we must do more to strengthen our nation’s balance sheet, so it is strong enough to sustain continued economic growth for the long term, and I urge my colleagues from both parties to more seriously address our financial challenges in the future.”
The legislation, which passed the House of Representatives on July 25 by a vote of 284 – 149, now heads to the President’s desk for approval.
President Trump signs Cline’s LEGION Act into law
WASHINGTON – President Donald J. Trump signed the LEGION Act into law Tuesday, July 30. Congressman Ben Cline, who co-authored the bipartisan House bill with Congressman Lou Correa (CA-46), attended the bill signing at the White House. The legislation, which would expand American Legion membership criteria to include all honorably discharged veterans who served during unrecognized times of war, was also co-sponsored by Congressman Gil Cisneros (CA-39).
“This is a momentous occasion for all veterans who have honorably served in the United States Armed Forces,” Cline said. “I thank President Trump for signing the LEGION Act into law and expanding the reach of the American Legion to even more of our nation’s heroes. This is the type of bipartisan work I am proud to do in Congress. I will continue to join with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to best serve the people of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District as we tackle the challenges facing our nation.”
Cline and Correa’s House version of the bill had 108 co-sponsors from both parties.