Congressman Ben Cline testified before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee May 1, 2019 advocating for improvements to Interstate 81. Each year there are nearly 2,000 crashes on I-81, with over 25% involving heavy trucks, and over 45 major crashes a year causing delays greater than four hours.
Current conditions are not only a frustration, but a grave public safety concern. People are dying on this road and the failure to keep America’s infrastructure up to par is costing lives. Cline say that Congress must act to get America’s roads moving again with public safety at the forefront of our agenda.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline: May 11th, 2019
Not everything in Washington is partisan politics. On Thursday in the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Members had the opportunity to question Andrei Iancu, Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It was a wonderful opportunity to address a concern residents of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District grapple with each time they fill a prescription.
It is no secret that prescription drug prices are at record highs and experts do not expect prices to fall back to Earth anytime soon. In fact, a recent study found prescription prices rose 3.3 percent in 2018, are protected to grow 4.6 percent this year, and could average 6.1 percent per year through 2027. With prices continuing to rise, Congress must ensure that the marketplace includes timely access for citizens to affordable generic drugs.
On the floor this week, we passed bills that reaffirm long-standing relations with Taiwan and promote American business diplomacy abroad.
H.Res. 273 not only reaffirms the U.S. relationship with Taiwan but encourages strengthened relations with one of Asia’s most mature and stable democracies. America’s friendship with Taiwan is as vital now as it was 40 years ago. I support increased relations and was proud to support this bill.
H.R. 1704, the Championing American Business Through Diplomacy Act of 2019, would require American ambassadors to promote American economic interests in the nations where they are based. Ambassadors and their staffs would receive training on economic diplomacy, which would promote the export of American goods and services. This has the potential to grow the American manufacturing sector and further strengthen our nation’s already impressive economic growth and record employment figures.
As I have discussed in previous columns, the nation’s economy continues to show strength. Just this week, Hershey announced a $104 million expansion in Stuarts Draft which will add 65 new jobs. Last week, Merck announced a $1 billion expansion in Elkton which will add dozens of jobs paying high wages. These are just a few examples of how tax cuts and a reduction in Washington red tape has led to investment in our communities and its citizens. I believe the economy can continue to charge forward if Congress identifies and cuts areas of the federal bureaucracy which are impeding growth. I am committed to protecting Virginia jobs and growing our economy. This is how job creators will invest in expansion and add more people to the payroll, allowing more Virginians to achieve the American dream.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve as your representative in Congress. Please reach out with questions or if you need assistance with a federal agency by calling (202) 225-5431 or visiting cline.house.gov.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline: May 4, 2019
It was a special week in the U.S. House of Representatives, where on Thursday Rev. Jonathan Falwell of Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg served as guest chaplain and opened the day’s proceedings in prayer. It meant a lot to have an esteemed Christian leader from Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District begin the day’s proceedings with a call to God for forgiveness, wisdom, and blessings on the National Day of Prayer.
This week started with votes of bipartisanship on a variety of suspension bills, including H.Res. 327 and H.Res. 328, bills to encourage greater public-private sector collaboration to promote financial literacy for seniors and young adults. Both the elderly and young people need an understanding of basic financial services such as banking and student loans, as well as the potential fraudsters out to steal their hard-earned life savings and how to prevent such illegal acts. I thank leaders on both sides for their efforts to bring these bills to the floor.
This week also brought Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta to the House Committee on Education and Labor. With economic growth at 3.2% in the first quarter of this year and unemployment at its lowest level in 50 years, I was encouraged to have Secretary Acosta before the committee discussing the positive economic environment for American workers. The Department of Labor has encouraged economic growth in the private sector by cutting red tape, which opens the door for job creators to expand with less government interference.
One area we touched on during my questions was the important principle of right to work, a law that protects the rights of workers to get or keep a job without being forced to join a labor union. States with right to work laws are typically economically strong and growing, which is just where the Commonwealth of Virginia finds itself. We are competitive with surrounding states and often land new businesses and jobs due to our friendly business environment. It is imperative that the U.S. protects the rights of states like Virginia to maintain their right to work laws if we are to maintain a healthy, growing economy.
On Thursday, I took to the floor to once again request a vote on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (H.R. 962). As you may know, this is the 36th time House Democrats have refused to go on the record and once and for all say murder of a child who survives an abortion is wrong. For the 36th time, they have refused to stand for life and against infanticide. I stand with Republican Whip Steve Scalise and my 197 other colleagues who have signed a discharge petition which would force a vote. I believe we will secure the final 19 signatures necessary to finally force a vote and put all Members of the House on record.
The week concluded with my signing another discharge petition, which would force a vote on the Green New Deal. This misguided legislation would hurt the U.S. Economy, Virginia agriculture, and put our farmers and ranchers out of business. Just as with the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, I believe it is time for Democrats to put their beliefs on the record with a vote on the Green New Deal and when it fails, hopefully we can meet and work on true solutions with an all of the above energy policy for the United States.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. If you need assistance with a federal agency, please call my office at (202) 225-5431. And feel free to like @RepBenCline on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and follow my YouTube channel.
Warner meets with the 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) met with the National Teacher of the Year, Rodney Robinson, at Sen. Warner’s office in Washington, D.C. Robinson, a social studies teacher in Richmond, Va., was recently named the 2019 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). He teaches at Virgie Binford Education Center, a school inside the Richmond Juvenile Justice Center.
“It’s clear that Mr. Robinson has devoted his career not just to teaching, but to making meaningful change in the lives of students who need it the most,” said Sen. Warner. “By designing a unique curriculum focused on understanding the history of prison and the juvenile justice system, Mr. Robinson is working to redirect justice-involved students and equip them with the educational opportunity they need to empower themselves. I am proud that teachers in Virginia and all across our nation can look to Mr. Robinson as an example of an educator who uses his classroom to actively tackle a larger structural issue in our society.”
“Our kids need more – they need more specialized curriculum, more specialized courses,” said Robinson. “I’ve noticed that the kids that have the lowest recidivism rates are the ones we help set up with job or mentorship programs to get them in some sort of positive activity where they can make something out of their lives.”
Robinson has worked for Richmond Public Schools for 19 years, and has been teaching at Virgie Binford Education Center since 2015. In the meeting, Sen. Warner and Robinson discussed the importance of providing students with the resources and opportunities they need to learn technical skills and earn industry certifications that will allow them to make a living in the future.
The National Teacher of the Year Program is managed by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Each year, the nation’s top teacher is selected from among state teachers of the year representing the 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and the Department of Defense Education Activity.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline: April 20th, 2019
This week was the first of our two-week district work period. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous for Speaker Pelosi to recess the House for two weeks when her party can’t even pass a Budget plan as required by the Constitution. Nevertheless, I am glad to be home for Easter with my family and back in the Shenandoah Valley to catch up on the latest news. Additionally, in between all the meetings, events, and briefings, I was able to take a brief two-day trip to the Gulf Coast to see how we can use some of the exploration industry’s best practices to help lower energy costs for Virginia families.
As my colleagues and I stood atop an oil rig 100 miles off the coast of Louisiana, I was impressed with the efforts in place to ensure oil is extracted safely with a focus on the protection of fragile sea life and ecosystems. Witnessing the hard work that goes into protecting our environment while at the same time extracting oil leads me to believe the same could be done off the coast of the Commonwealth. The hundreds of thousands of good paying jobs in the oil industry could further improve Virginia’s economy and open new opportunities for our citizens. All of this is possible while also protecting the ecosystems off our coast. It would truly be a win-win.
I went on this fact-finding mission to see firsthand the work being done off the Gulf Coast and push for the same off the coast of the Commonwealth. Any energy policy must be an all-in approach. As we saw this week, America can pursue energy independence while ensuring that important protections for the environment are in place.
On Thursday, Attorney General William Barr made public the redacted Mueller Report. I voted last month to make the entire Mueller Report public, and I look forward to the Department of Justice making the full un-redacted Report available to all members of the House Judiciary Committee in accordance with Federal laws. In the meantime, I am taking the Easter weekend to read the redacted version of the Report.
While the talking heads in the media continue to chatter about what they think the Report means or doesn’t mean, I am more interested in the facts. As a former prosecutor, I refuse to rely on opinion, supposition, or jumping to conclusions.
Of course, I would prefer that the House move on to pressing issues like addressing the failure of Obamacare to lower health insurance premiums, the failure of our highway and infrastructure system to keep up with the booming US economy, and the failure of our Congressional leaders to stop the wave of illegal immigration that is flowing across our borders. But it appears that the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, on which I serve, now wants to investigate the two-year long Mueller investigation. Chairman Nadler has subpoenaed all evidence collected over the course of the Mueller investigation. I am confident that Mueller did a thorough job of investigating the attempt by Russia to interfere with our elections. However, if the Chairman deems it necessary, I welcome the testimony of both Attorney General Barr and Special Counsel Mueller before the Judiciary Committee in the coming weeks. As I consider the Mueller investigation, the Report, and its findings, I pledge to uphold the oath I gave on Day One of this job to support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline: April 13th, 2019
Last November, I was honored to be sent to Congress by the voters of Virginia’s Sixth District. A majority of voters supported my plans to stand up for our common-sense conservative values and cut through the bureaucratic red tape that paralyzes our Federal government. During my first 100 days in office, I have found a House of Representatives in worse shape than even the most skeptical critic would expect. It is rudderless, inefficient, and gridlocked in partisan trench warfare. Despite the problems, however, I have also found reason for optimism as I find others who want to work on bipartisan solutions that can make a difference for folks here in Virginia and across our Nation.
In Congress, the debates over issues like ending illegal immigration often degenerate into the gridlock for which Washington is known. But one ray of hope during my first 100 days in office was when dozens of Democrats joined with Republicans and voted in favor of language similar to a bill I introduced, the Notify ICE Act. My bill would require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) be notified if an illegal immigrant failed a firearms background check due to his or her immigration status. It was added to another bill through a legislative procedure called the motion to recommit. It took a lot of work and my colleagues and I suffered several setbacks throughout the process, but the floor vote was a rare show of bipartisanship when the motion passed the House with 29 Democrats joining Republicans to support this bill.
A piece of legislation important to the Sixth Congressional District was also recently signed into law by President Donald Trump. My bill designating the National George C. Marshall Library and Museum at Virginia Military Institute puts Lexington on the map for World War II scholars and lovers of history, honoring the life of one of VMI’s most celebrated and accomplished graduates. This legislation brings a renewed focus on the life of the man who is credited with the plan to rebuild Europe after the war, and it will help attract needed tourist dollars to the region and enhance the regional economy.
Since becoming the 35th congressman from the Sixth Congressional District on January 3, I have not only introduced the aforementioned two bills, but I have also co-sponsored 15 more which will benefit all Virginians. One of these bills, the Death Tax Repeal Act, is a bill which would benefit farmers and ranchers across the Sixth Congressional District. The men and women who raise our cattle, plant our crops, and feed America know how harmful the death tax has been to families in the agriculture industry. A repeal of this tax allows our working farm families to maintain their small businesses across generations.
Constituent services are another important part of representing the Sixth District, and nearly 450 constituent requests for assistance with a Federal agency have arrived at my office in the first 100 days of this congressional term. By far, the largest number involved the Veterans Administration, Social Security, and Medicare. I am pleased to report that almost 50 percent of these have already been completed. In addition, nearly 10,000 constituents have received responses to letters they have written to my office.
Communication with constituents helps to inform my votes in Congress and the legislation I introduce. In addition to written correspondence, I have been visiting communities all across the Sixth Congressional District. Since the November election, I have held seven town halls and listening sessions, beginning in Roanoke City and continuing across the Sixth District, from Lynchburg up to Front Royal. My staff has also hosted 66 mobile office hours, and I have spoken to students at 11 schools and at different events in cities and towns across the Sixth Congressional District.
I have been privileged to meet with thousands of constituents, introduce several bills, and cut through red tape in my first 100 days in office, but there is much more to do. In one of my first speeches after being sworn in, I reintroduced four words to Congress that Washington needs to hear again and again: we can’t afford it. I will continue to stand for fiscal responsibility and our Constitutional liberties as this session of Congress continues. I can’t do this without hearing from you. Visit cline.house.gov to make your voice heard or call me at (202) 225-5631.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – April 6th
Perhaps the most interesting conversations on policy and the role of government occur when I am afforded the opportunity to meet one on one with constituents from across the Sixth Congressional District, hearing their thoughts on legislation, how government overreach is impacting their families, or how I can help them navigate government red tape. This week started with a meeting at Luray High School, where I spoke with Mrs. Baldwin’s senior government class and fielded a wide range of questions on the Constitution, items in the news, and the work we are doing in Congress.
Over the last three months, I have been privileged to answer questions from hundreds of students in all parts of the Sixth. While questions vary, there has been a consistent theme – hope for a brighter future. Students in the Sixth Congressional District are the same as Americans from all walks of life. They want the opportunity to graduate, possibly attend college or trade school, raise a family, and achieve the American dream. I tell each class with whom I meet that our job in Congress is to protect their liberties, remove the barriers that would hold them back, and allow them the opportunity to succeed.
Just as America has flourished since World War II, growing the economy and making the American dream accessible to a growing number of our citizens, individuals in other parts of the world want the same opportunities, as well. In the years following the end of World War II, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, better known as NATO, was formed as a military alliance among member states. Citizens of NATO member states strive for the same economic freedom we enjoy in America. That is why NATO is so important, standing as a defense against hostile adversaries.
This week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addressed a Joint Session of Congress and spoke of NATO’s positive impact 70 years after its formation. He also noted the challenges facing NATO, which has grown from 12 to 29 member states. Stoltenberg said President Donald Trump’s mission to increase defense spending by member states “is having a real impact.” Each member nation is obligated to contribute 2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) to defense spending. A report from NATO last month showed only seven nations were meeting such targets, including the United States at 3.9% of GDP, though the numbers have started to shift. Stoltenberg said just last month that member nations have increased spending by nearly 4%, adding $41 billion in defense spending as a result of President Trump’s calls for member states to meet their obligations. Stoltenberg expects that number to increase to $100 billion “by the end of next year.”
It was encouraging to hear from the NATO Secretary General and see President Trump’s pressure result in more countries meeting their goals. I voted to protect the President’s ability to pressure NATO members earlier this year, because NATO must remain a strong alliance for the security of the United States and its allies. In times of war, our NATO partners have played important roles in our victories. We must continue to hold our allies to their obligations in order for NATO to continue to be an effective tool for peace in our world.
In addition to hearing from the NATO chief, we took action on other items in Congress. I joined many of my House colleagues Tuesday to sign a discharge petition aimed at demanding a vote on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The bill extends legal protections to infants who survive an abortion procedure, including the right to receive medical care. We have seen a concerted effort this year to expand abortion up to and beyond the point of birth in the Commonwealth and other states. Twenty-five times this year, Republicans have asked for a vote on the Born Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has denied each of our requests. That is why I joined Whip Scalise, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, and many of my colleagues Tuesday to call on a vote through the discharge petition and declare that we are a nation that stands against infanticide.
Representing the Sixth Congressional District is a responsibility I take very seriously. Thank you for the opportunity to stand for the rule of law, fight partisan overreach, and stand for life as your representative in Congress.