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Legislative Update

Goodlatte speaks in support of Balanced Budget Amendment

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) today issued the following remarks in support of his proposed Balanced Budget Amendment (H.J.Res. 2). Click here to view a video of the remarks.

Congressman Goodlatte: March 2, 1995, was a pivotal day in the history of our country.  On that day, the U.S. Senate failed by one vote to send a balanced budget constitutional amendment to the states for ratification.  The amendment had passed the House by the required two-thirds majority and the Senate vote was the last legislative hurdle before ratification by the states.

If Congress had listened to the American people and sent that amendment to the states for ratification, we would not be facing the fiscal crisis we are today.  Rather, balancing the federal budget would have been the norm, instead of the exception over the past 20 years and we would have nothing like the annual deficits and skyrocketing debt we currently face.

In 1995, when the balanced budget amendment came within one vote of passing, the gross federal debt stood at $4.9 trillion; today it stands at over $20 trillion.  The federal debt held by the public is rising as well and is increasing rapidly as a percentage of the country’s economic output.  Unlike the past, when the debt spiked to pay for wars of finite duration and then was reduced gradually after hostilities ended—more recently, the debt has risen as a result of having to pay for entitlement programs that are of indefinite duration and difficult to reduce over time.

As John Cogan of the Hoover Institute at Stanford wrote recently, “all of the increase in federal spending relative to GDP over the past seven decades is attributable to entitlement spending.  Since the late 1940s, entitlement claims on the nation’s output of goods and services have risen from less than 4% to 14%.  Surprising as it may seem, the share of GDP that is spent on national defense and non-defense discretionary programs combined is no higher today than it was seven decades ago.”

As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has observed, “such high and rising debt [will] have serious negative consequences … interest rates [will] increase considerably … productivity and wages [will be] lower … [and] high debt increases the risk of a financial crisis.”

What is particularly troubling is that the debts we are incurring under entitlement programs will burden multiple future generations.  Indeed, a few years ago a cross-national study found that the United States ranked worst among 29 advanced countries in the degree to which it imposes unfair debt burdens on future generations.

University of Virginia philosophy professor Loren Lomasky has written, “Theorists have devoted considerable attention to injustices committed across lines of race [and] gender …  Far less attended are concerns of inter-generational fairness.  That omission is serious.  Measures that have done very well by the Baby Boomers are much less generous to their children and worse still for their grandchildren … [T]he single greatest unsolved problem of justice in the developed world today is trans-generational plunder.”  It’s time for Congress to stop saddling future generations with the burden of crushing debts to pay for current spending.  We should not pass on to our children and grandchildren the bleak fiscal future that our unsustainable spending is creating.

The only way to ensure that Congress acts with fiscal restraint over the long term is to pass a balanced budget amendment.  Experience has proved time and again that Congress cannot for any significant length of time rein in excessive spending.  Annual deficits and the resulting debt continue to grow due to political pressures that the Constitution’s structure no longer serves to restrain.

In order for Congress to be able to consistently make the tough decisions necessary to sustain fiscal responsibility, Congress must have the external pressure of a balanced budget requirement to force it to do so.  Constitutional principle will prevail where political promises have not.

The Framers of the Constitution were familiar with the need for constitutional restrictions on deficit spending.  When the Constitution was ratified, it was the states that had exhibited out-of-control fiscal mismanagement by issuing “bills of credit” to effectively print money to pay for projects and service debt.  As a result of that lack of fiscal discipline, Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution specifically deprives states of the power to issue bills of credit.  Over two hundred years later, it is the federal government that has proved its inability to adopt sound fiscal policies and it’s now time to adopt a constitutional restraint on federal fiscal mismanagement.

Several versions of the balanced budget amendment have been introduced this Congress, including two I introduced this Congress as I have every Congress for the last decade.  H.J. Res. 2−the version we are debating today is nearly identical to text that passed the House in 1995 and failed in the Senate by one vote.  It requires that total annual outlays not exceed total annual receipts.  It also requires a true majority of each chamber to pass tax increases and a three-fifths majority to raise the debt limit.

Today is the day we can turn proposals into legislative action.  Our extraordinary fiscal crisis demands an extraordinary solution.  We must rise above partisanship and join together to send a balanced budget amendment to the states for ratification.

I urge all my colleagues to join me in supporting this amendment and in freeing our children and grandchildren from the burden of a crippling debt they had no hand in creating, so they can be free to chart their own futures for themselves and for their own posterity.

Legislative Update

Congressman Ben Cline named to Education and Labor, Judiciary Committees

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WASHINGTON –  (VA-06) announced today (January 17) that he has been named to the House Committee on Education and Labor and the for the 116th Congress. The House Committee on Education and Labor oversees federal education policy for higher and secondary education, as well as federal labor laws and workforce training. The House Judiciary Committee oversees the federal courts and intellectual property policy, law enforcement, the Constitution, and immigration policy.

“Appointment to the House Committee on Education and Labor and the Committee on Judiciary will enable me to provide strong representation for the people of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District,” Cline said. “The Sixth is home to more than 20 colleges and universities, more than almost any other district in Congress. My work on Education and Labor will be informed by our district’s thriving higher education sector and close relationships with educators and administrators across the region. I am also honored to join the House Judiciary Committee, where I will bring my experience as a prosecutor, a private attorney with experience in criminal and estate law, and as a fighter for justice in the Virginia House of Delegates.”

Cline was an Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County from 2007 to 2013, then opened his own law practice. He was previously Chair of the Militia, Police, and Public Safety Committee in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he also served on the Courts of Justice, Finance, and Commerce and Labor Committees.

Cline became the 35th Congressman to represent the Sixth District of Virginia in 2019. He served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002 to 2018. Cline lives in Rockbridge County with his wife and twin daughters.

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Legislative Update

Warner and Kaine introduce bill to pay back federal contract workers after shutdown

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Senators Warner and Kaine introduced a bill that would secure back pay for federal contractor service employees./ File photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine on Wednesday joined Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in introducing legislation to secure back pay for the federal contractor service employees who continue to go without pay during the government shutdown.

The bill—the Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act—aims to help low-wage federal contractor employees—including janitorial, food, and security services workers—who have been furloughed or forced to accept reduced work hours as a result of the government shutdown.

“Thousands of people across the Commonwealth are out of a job right now because of President Trump’s unnecessary, destructive shutdown. Right now many low- and middle-wage federal contractors – whose paychecks often depend on the number of hours they work – are worrying about how they’ll afford to keep the lights on or pay their rent. Congress has already passed legislation to secure back pay for federal workers. Federal contractors – especially those who are already working paycheck to paycheck – deserve some peace of mind too. This important bill will ensure that federal service contractors, who work side-by-side with federal employees, get the pay they missed out on because of President Trump’s reckless shutdown,” Warner said.

“Just like federal employees, federal contractors work hard to keep our government running. So many of these workers live paycheck-to-paycheck and this painful shutdown has meant that many of them can’t afford to pay their bills. This legislation is an effort to ensure that these contractors who have been denied pay during a shutdown they had no role in causing receive the pay they deserve,” Kaine said.

The Fair Compensation for Low-Wage Contractor Employees Act would provide financial relief for eligible federal service contractors missing pay during the shutdown by:
· Completely replacing missed wages for workers making less than $50,200 per year (twice the poverty level for a family of four.)
· Compensating workers earning more than $50,200 per year up to the $50,200 threshold ($965 per week.)
· Restoring paid leave for workers who were required by the contractor to use it.

The bill appropriates funding for federal agencies to adjust the price accordingly of any contracts impacted by the shutdown. By building on existing contract review and approval processes, the bill provides financial relief for lower-wage workers without creating new administrative or financial burdens for contractors.

Eligible employees include those covered under the Service Contract Act (which governs federal service contracts) and the Davis-Bacon Act (which governs federally-funded construction projects). Although the Service Contract Act does not apply to “executive, administrative, or professional” employees, they would be eligible for back pay under the bill.

The bill is also supported by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Doug Jones (D-AL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tom Udall (D-NM), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Angus King (I-ME), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).

Read a summary of the bill HERE.

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Legislative Update

Rep. Ben Cline applauds re-opening of Farm Service Agency offices in Virginia

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Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building, Washington, D.C., June 8, 2017. USDA photo by Preston Keres. (Photo/ USDA Flickr)

WASHINGTON – Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) applauded U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue’s announcement today (January 16) that 40 Farm Service Agency offices in Virginia, including several serving the Sixth District, will temporarily re-open to provide essential services.

“Agri-businesses in the Sixth Congressional District depend on access to capital to manage their operations and keep their businesses running without disruption,” Cline said. “Secretary Perdue and the Trump Administration have made the right decision to provide essential services that will minimize the impact on our producers with existing farm loans. FSA offices will be open for three days to assist farmers with processing certain payments, servicing loans, and to provide other specific services.”

USDA announced today that FSA offices will re-open on January 17, 18, and 22 to provide certain services. Offices that will be open serving the Sixth District include:

• Augusta Service Center, 70 Dick Huff Lane, Verona, VA 24482 (540) 248-6218

• Bedford Service Center, 1031 Turnpike Rd., Bedford, VA 24523 (540) 586-9646
• Bonsack Service Center, 36 Executive Circle, Roanoke, VA 24012 (540) 977-2698
• Harrisonburg Service Center, 1934 Deyerle Ave., Harrisonburg, VA 22801 (540) 433-9126
• Lexington Service Center, 40 Magnolia Sq., Ste 5, Lexington, VA 24450 (540) 463-7124
• Rockingham Service Center, 1934 Dyerle Ave. Suite C, Harrisonburg, VA 22801 (540) 433-9126
• Shenandoah Service Center, 722-A East Queen St., Strasburg, VA 22657 (540) 465-2424

A full list of offices reopening is available here.

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Legislative Update

Cline Announces Completion of Staff Hires on Day One

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Congressman Ben Cline holds a press conference via phone with reporters from the 6th district of Virginia. (Photo: Provided Office of Congressman Ben Cline)

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.”

District Staff

• 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.

Washington 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.

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Legislative Update

Congressman Ben Cline sworn in today

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WASHINGTON – Ben Cline was sworn in Thursday (January 3) as the 35th Congressman to represent the 6th Congressional District of Virginia.

A resident of Rockbridge County, Cline was elected in November 2018 to fill the seat of retiring Congressman Bob Goodlatte, who had held the seat since 1993. Cline previously served the 24th District in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2002-2018, where he chaired the Conservative Caucus and the Committee on Militia, Police, and Public Safety.

“I am humbled to go to work today as the new representative for the people of the 6th Congressional District of Virginia,” Cline said. “My constituents sent me to Washington to be their voice on issues important to the Blue Ridge and Shenandoah Valley. As congressman, I will stand up for the middle class, the Constitution, and our rights and liberties that we are responsible for defending.”

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Legislative Update

Goodlatte and Gowdy release transcript of interview with former Director Comey

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WASHINGTON, DC – House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) today released the transcript of the second day of former FBI Director James Comey’s interview before the Committees.

The transcript of Mr. Comey’s interview can be found HERE.

Background: In October 2017, the House Judiciary Committee and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee opened a joint investigation into decisions made by the Justice Department in 2016 and 2017. To date, the Committees have interviewed many key witnesses and have reviewed thousands of pages of documents.

Editors note: Royal Examiner thought this may be on interest to our readers.

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