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Legislative Update

Our freedom is not free

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“Where liberty dwells, there is my country.” This simple quote, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, is in a sense the very essence of what our Armed Forces have fought for throughout America’s history. Americans enjoy rights and freedoms unmatched by any other nation in the world. As we mark Memorial Day and remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our liberty, we must also ensure that today’s men and women in uniform have the resources they need to perform their duties.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was passed by the House of Representatives just days ago. It lays out a plan for military funding for the coming fiscal year. This strongly bipartisan measure will help strengthen and rebuild America’s military and reform the Pentagon. Our Armed Forces cannot operate effectively if the appropriate infrastructure is not in place. The NDAA specifically addresses improving readiness, and contains increased funding for training, rehabilitating and replacing worn out equipment, and getting more aircraft in the air. It also includes a 2.6 percent pay raise for our troops, the largest in nine years. I look forward to seeing this bill make its way through the Senate and to the President’s desk.

Part of providing for our troops is ensuring that our veterans have access to quality care. Earlier this month, both the House and Senate passed the VA MISSION Act, which is now on its way to becoming law. The bipartisan VA MISSION Act builds off the work done by Congress over the past several years to right the ship after serious failures within in the VA system were revealed. By streamlining the VA’s community care programs into one comprehensive operation, implementing a process for reviewing the VA’s assets to ensure veterans can access the care they have earned, strengthening the VA’s workforce through modernization and recruitment, and expanding the Family Caregiver Program to pre-9/11 veterans, we can ensure our nation’s heroes have access to high-quality health care in every community in the United States. Our veterans faithfully served us, and it’s time we serve them by providing the care they deserve.

The lives of the men and women we honor on Memorial Day were given in defense of our country. We remember the families they leave behind, and the sacrifices they have made. To all who serve, and have served, thank you. Protecting our freedoms is not an easy job, and we are truly grateful. May we never forget that our freedom is not free.

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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