As I crisscrossed the Sixth District this week listening and talking with constituents, I was consistently reminded of the hard work and resilience of those I am honored to represent in Congress. Once again, I visited the City of Staunton to see the rebuilding following the devastating flooding in the Queen City two weeks ago. In an effort to obtain federal FEMA assistance for affected residents, I wrote to the Governor requesting an expedited Emergency Declaration from the Commonwealth to get the folks in the area back on their feet in a timely manner. Also, I introduced a third bipartisan government reform initiative with my colleague Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN-03), and the Speaker called us back to Washington to vote on a politically motivated bill affecting the Postal Service.
48-Hour Bill Review Resolution:
One of the most basic principles of representative government is transparency. That’s why this week, Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN-03) and I introduced H. Res. 1086 – the 48-Hour Bill Review Resolution. H. Res. 1086 would require that in addition to the 72-hour notice for bill introduction, the actual text to be voted on must be published at least 48-hours before the vote. Adding this rule strengthens the current 72-hour rule by providing an additional layer of protection for the legislative text being considered, thus closing a loophole used far too frequently in Congress. Further, the 48-Hour Bill Review Resolution would require the House to pass an altogether separate resolution in order to waive the waiting period required under H. Res. 1086. This resolution would promote greater transparency and accountability in the legislative process. This is the third government reform bill Congressman Phillips and I introduced this month. In the past few weeks we have also introduced H.R. 7949, the SMART Government Act and H.R. 8022, the Lobbying Disclosure Reform Act.
Politicization of the USPS:
The United States Postal Service provides a vital national service, especially for those in rural areas. With many self-quarantining due to COVID-19, the reliance on the post office for delivery of things like medicine and daily household goods has become even more important. Both parties and past Presidential Administrations realize this and have made bipartisan efforts to reform and strengthen the current postal system.
Unfortunately, this bipartisan tradition has been put in danger by Speaker Pelosi in an effort to score political points. Congress was called into session this week to vote on legislation that would prohibit any further reforms to the USPS, require a rollback of any reforms made after January 1, 2020, and allocate an additional $25 billion to fund the USPS, even though Congress provided an extra $10 billion line of credit as part of the CARES Act enacted earlier this year, and even though the Postmaster General recently announced that he would delay the implementation of any further reforms until after November.
For decades there has been an understanding that the USPS required reforms to meet changing landscapes and competition. Whether President Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump, the consistent message has been that in order to ensure financial viability, the USPS needed to continue to reform its operations. Speaker Pelosi could have had the support of most Republicans, including myself, if she had left politics out of the bill and focused on improving USPS operations. Unfortunately, House Democrats placed politics above policy and ended up with a bill that has little chance of actually being signed into law.
Fighting for Staunton:
On August 8, heavy rain and flooding wreaked havoc in downtown Staunton and caused more than $3.1 million in damages to property. Soon after, the City of Staunton provided the necessary data to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and requested an Emergency Declaration but two weeks after the flooding, the State has yet to act. This designation is necessary because state designation helps a locality qualify for Federal Disaster Aid through FEMA. Knowing this is an already difficult time for businesses and area residents, I wrote to the Governor urging swift approval of Staunton’s request for an Emergency Declaration to ensure that the Queen City can quickly begin to rebuild what was lost.
Emergency Relief Check Filing Deadline Extended:
The IRS has extended its deadline to September 30, 2020, for people to provide information to the agency using its Non-Filer Tool. Click here if you have not yet received your Economic Impact Payment and meet any of the criteria below.
• Receive Social Security retirement, survivors, or disability benefits, or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments
• Did not file a 2019 or 2018 tax return
• Have a qualifying child under age 17
• Did not already enter information in the IRS’ Non-Filer Tool for yourself and at least one child
With school-aged children of my own, I am aware of the uncertainty that surrounds sending kids back to school. To help clarify school plans, over the last few weeks, I have tried to provide you with the most up-to-date reopening information on school districts across the Sixth District. The below schools are slated to begin instruction next week.
Bath County Schools: Schools will open on August 26th
• 4 days/week (Monday-Thursday) and 1-day remote learning (Friday), however, parents may select 100% virtual learning for their children when registering.
• Information on the virtual learning option is included in the plan. If you have additional questions, contact your child’s school principal.
Botetourt County Schools: School is set to start August 24th
• The Botetourt County school board approved a plan for fall in which students in grades 3-12 will have two days of in-person class and then three remote days of learning. The younger students will be in school five days a week.
• Students in grades 3-12 will be assigned to either Group A or Group B and will go to school on Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday and will learn remotely the other three days of the week. Then, starting on Wednesday, Oct. 21, students will learn in person on Wednesdays too. Wednesdays will alternate between Group A and B days.
• Students can alternatively choose to take all their classes remotely. They will not be considered homeschooled, so they will still be eligible to participate in athletics.
Lynchburg Schools: Lynchburg City Schools will start 100% virtual on August 24th
• Students will begin the year with virtual learning, then transition to in-person learning. As originally presented, this option calls for the transition to in-person learning to happen after the first nine weeks of school, however, the specifics of how often classes would meet will be determined by whatever data is available at that time.
• No decision has been made regarding the future of athletics.
Page County Schools: School will reopen on August 24th
• High school students (grades 9-12) will be learning remotely this fall.
• Pre-K through second grade will attend in-person four days a week.
• Grades 3 through 8 will attend in-person twice a week.
• Wednesdays will be used as a remote learning day for all students, giving time to deep clean schools and for teachers to plan.
Roanoke County Schools: First day of school pushed back to August 24th
• Parents can still choose to have their students receive 100% online instruction if desired.
• There will be reduced class sizes for the students in K-2 who attend school in person five days a week. School leaders said some areas of the school, such as libraries and cafeterias, have been converted into classroom spaces.
• Students in grades 3-12 will be split into two groups and will attend school in person two days a week spread out in classroom spaces.
Staunton Schools: First day pushed back from August 18th to August 25th
• Virtual-only learning for the first semester of the school year.
• The hybrid model will no longer be used and the plan for virtual learning can be found at the link below when a plan is published.
COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker:
While vaccines typically take years to produce, the world’s leading scientists and researchers are hard at work to develop an effective vaccine at record speeds. There are currently more than 165 variations of a vaccine being developed – 32 of which are already in human trials. Of those 32, 8 are in Phase 3 meaning they are currently undergoing large-scale efficacy testing, and 2 have even been approved for early and limited use. The medical community is hopeful that we can have a large-scale vaccine approved by early next year. To learn more, click here.
Virginia’s Small Businesses Brace for Impending Shutdown
Senators Warner & Kaine Sound the Alarm on Funding Delays and Business Impact.
As the clock ticks down with only a day left to the government funding deadline, Virginia’s small business sector stands on the edge, looking at a precarious future. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine have voiced their concern, emphasizing the potential derailment of businesses in Virginia if the government fails to reach a consensus on its budget.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our communities and economy, and many of these businesses rely on support from the Small Business Administration to operate. Every day the government is shut down, critical access to capital provided by the Small Business Administration will be delayed, forcing Virginia small businesses that rely on this funding to make tough decisions about how they’re going to continue to stay open. The only reason we’re in this position is because of a small but loud group of members in the House who are refusing to fund the government if they don’t get everything they want. We remain committed to working in a bipartisan way to fund the government as quickly as possible.”
The primary concern remains the inability of the Small Business Administration (SBA) to greenlight new loans or alter existing ones through their 7(a) and 504 programs during a shutdown. Breaking down the numbers reveals the gravity of the situation: an estimated financing delay of $2,122,200 daily for Virginia’s small businesses.
This year, the positive momentum was evident as the SBA approved 955 loans, amassing a value of over $488 million, propelling Virginia businesses through their 7(a) program. But this momentum is at risk of being stalled.
The Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Voices Survey underscores the sentiments of the business owners. A staggering 91% believe it’s paramount for the federal government to circumvent a shutdown. Moreover, 70% of these owners foresee a negative impact on their establishments if the shutdown ensues. Drilling further into the data, 93% anticipate revenue reduction, while 67% predict a drop in customer demand, attributing it to the ensuing economic uncertainty and instability.
While policy decisions and political wrangling continue, the real impact cascades down to the businesses and, by extension, the people of Virginia. As Senator Warner and Kaine reiterated, “We remain committed to working in a bipartisan way to fund the government as quickly as possible.” Time will tell if their efforts and the voices of the business community will resonate within the halls of Congress.
Virginia Airports to Receive Over $17.2 Million for Vital Upgrades
Investments Aim to Bolster Safety, Infrastructure, and Economic Potential.
Virginia’s skies are about to become safer and more efficient. Today, U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine disclosed a significant grant of $17,259,239 aimed at enhancing several airports across the state.
This hearty financial injection comes courtesy of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s 2023 Airport Improvement Program (AIP) Grant Program. An initiative of the U.S. Department of Transportation, the AIP focuses on the crucial infrastructural elements of our airports. These range from primary aspects like runways and taxiways to the details of lighting, signage, and markings that ensure efficient and safe airport operations.
The latest allocation is a continuation of the ongoing support, with Virginia’s regional airports having benefited from an impressive $56,828,185 through the AIP just this year.
Speaking about this financial boost, the senators jointly expressed, “Our regional airports are pivotal for economic growth in our communities. We’re excited that these funds will enhance safety and reliability by upgrading infrastructure at various airports across the Commonwealth.”
Here’s a breakdown of the allocation:
- Winchester Regional Airport receives $4,875,000 to refresh its apron.
- Leesburg Executive Airport gets $4,018,500 for its apron rehabilitation, a project Senator Kaine highlighted in a recent visit.
- Danville Regional Airport is set to use $3,401,884 to revamp its apron.
- Manassas Regional Airport obtains $3,348,877 for taxiway reconstruction.
- Accomack County Airport in Melfa will use $951,500 to build a taxiway and manage obstructions in its airspace.
- Lee County Airport in Jonesville receives $600,748, focusing on navigation aids and runway upgrades.
- Finally, Mountain Empire Airport in Smyth County gets $62,730 for equipment housing repairs related to airfield lighting systems.
In addition to their most recent announcement, both Warner and Kaine have a history of staunchly backing Virginia’s airports. Just earlier this year, the senators heralded grants totaling over $50 million combined, aimed at amplifying airport safety and capacity. Kaine’s endeavors seek to remedy aviation workforce gaps, laying a roadmap for the education and nurturing of pilots, aviation maintenance staff, and aerospace manufacturing professionals.
In the grand tapestry of modern infrastructure, airports serve as pivotal nodes connecting communities and spurring economic growth. With this latest financial commitment, Virginia’s future in the aviation domain seems to be on an assured upward trajectory.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 2, 2023
House Republicans have hit the ground running during the District Work Period, highlighting how the new House Republican Majority continues to deliver on our Commitment to America. We ensured our Veterans, our service members, and their families have the resources they deserve. Combatting illegal immigration and restoring America’s sovereignty is a central pillar of our Commitment, and the passage of the Secure the Border Act fulfills that promise. We’ve also held the Biden Administration and federal agencies, like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), accountable to the American people and brought transparency back to how our country is governed. As your Representative, I’ll fight for your values and interests in Washington as Congress returns this fall and help protect the safety, security, and freedom for the people of the Sixth District.
Keeping Our Promise to Our Nation’s Veterans
Congress has a duty to fund the core functions of the federal government responsibly, providing for important programs that help take care of those who have taken care of us. At the top of the list are our Veterans, our service members, and their families. Our Nation’s heroes have sacrificed to give us the cherished freedoms that we have today, and we made a promise to ensure they have the support and resources they deserve.
House Republicans delivered on that promise recently by passing the Fiscal Year 2024 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act — funding that is so important to those who selflessly serve to defend our freedom and protect our homeland. Rest assured, our Nation’s heroes will always have the unwavering support of their Representative in the Sixth District of Virginia. Read more in my op-ed in the Roanoke Times here.
Biden’s Border Crisis Rages On
President Biden and the Far Left’s open border policies have created the worst border crisis on record. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, there were 183,503 illegal border crossings in July, a 27% increase from June. Even more troubling, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has now admitted that 40% of illegal migrants caught and released into our communities have disappeared, with no way to track them.
A secure Nation requires a secure border, which is why earlier this year, House Republicans passed the Secure The Border Act – the strongest border security legislation that Congress has ever considered. While President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have no plans to get this chaos under control or take any responsibility, we’re fighting to stop it.
Demanding Answers on CCP-Linked Money Going to NIH Employees
It’s no secret that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) remains one of the biggest threats to our country and will do whatever it takes to gain an advantage in its quest for world domination. According to a recent report, National Institutes of Health (NIH) employees – including Dr. Anthony Fauci – took $325 million in payments from companies directly linked to the CCP, posing a risk to our national security.
The American people deserve to know that their public health officials follow the science and make decisions based purely on objective information, not personal financial motives, which is why I joined my colleagues in demanding answers from the NIH on this concerning report. House Republicans will continue working to hold the Big Bureaucracy accountable and ensure our national security is protected from those who wish us harm. Read our letter here.
National Aviation Week
120 years ago, Orville and Wilbur Wright took their first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Decades later, in commemoration of National Aviation Week, we celebrate the many aviation trailblazers who paved the way and innovative businesses shaping today’s industry, such as Dynamic Aviation in the Sixth District, which have helped our Nation be the leader in aviation that it is today.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.
Congressman Cline Announces Mobile Office Hours in Front Royal
A Direct Link Between Constituents and their Representative.
In a bid to foster open communication and transparency, Congressman Ben Cline has announced the next Mobile Office Hours.in Warren County. This program emphasizes the congressman’s commitment to ensuring his constituents have direct access to their elected representative’s office.
At the heart of democracy is the dialogue between elected officials and the people they represent. Recognizing this pivotal connection, Congressman Cline’s office has been organizing Mobile Office Hours throughout his district. These events aim to provide a platform for constituents to directly communicate their concerns, particularly when dealing with federal agencies.
Navigating the labyrinth of federal bureaucracies like the Social Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, or the Internal Revenue Service can be daunting. Oftentimes, individuals find themselves entangled in red tape, struggling to get their concerns heard. With the Mobile Office Hours initiative, constituents can bypass these hurdles, as they will be given the opportunity to discuss their issues with a knowledgeable member of Congressman Cline’s staff.
The upcoming session in Front Royal promises to be an essential event for those seeking guidance or assistance. Details of the event are as follows:
- Date: September 12th, 2023
- Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
- Venue: Samuels Public Library, specifically in the Baxter-Bowling Conference Room
- Address: 330 East Criser Road, Front Royal, VA 22630
Given the direct impact such sessions can have on resolving issues related to federal agencies, a strong turnout is anticipated. These office hours underline the essence of public service and representative democracy, making sure the voices of the district’s constituents are not just heard but also acted upon.
The cornerstone of effective representation lies in understanding the concerns of one’s constituents. Through Mobile Office Hours, Congressman Ben Cline exemplifies his dedication to bridging the gap between his office and the people he serves. By bringing his office directly to the constituents, he reaffirms his commitment to open dialogue and transparent governance. Residents of Front Royal and the surrounding areas are encouraged to leverage this opportunity to address any challenges they might be facing with federal agencies.
Warner Calls on AI Companies to Ramp Up Safety & Security Measures
Letters raise the urgent need for companies to expand and deepen their commitments to safeguard against misuse.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today urged several artificial intelligence (AI) companies to take additional action to promote safety and prevent malicious misuse of their products. In a series of letters, Sen. Warner applauded certain companies for publicly joining voluntary commitments proposed by the Biden administration but encouraged them to broaden their efforts and called on companies that have not taken this public step to commit to making their products more secure.
As AI is rolled out more broadly, researchers have repeatedly demonstrated a number of concerning, exploitable weaknesses in prominent products, including abilities to generate credible-seeming misinformation, develop malware, and craft sophisticated phishing techniques. In July, the Biden administration announced that several AI companies had agreed to a series of voluntary commitments that would promote greater security and transparency. However, the commitments were not fully comprehensive in scope or in participation, with many companies not publicly participating and several exploitable aspects of the technology left untouched by the commitments.
In a series of letters sent today, Sen. Warner pushed directly on companies that did not participate, including Apple, Midjourney, Mistral AI, Databricks, Scale AI, and Stability AI, requesting a response detailing the steps they plan to take to increase the security of their products and prioritize transparency. Sen. Warner additionally sent letters to companies that were involved in the Biden administration’s commitments, including Amazon, Anthropic, Google, Inflection AI, Meta, Microsoft, and OpenAI, asking that they extend commitments to less capable models and also develop consumer-facing commitments – such as development and monitoring practices – to prevent the most serious forms of misuse.
“While representing an important improvement upon the status quo, the voluntary commitments announced in July can be bolstered in key ways through additional commitments,” Sen. Warner wrote.
Sen. Warner also called specific attention to the urgent need for all AI companies to make additional commitments to safeguard against a few highly sensitive potential misuses, including non-consensual intimate image generation (including child sexual abuse material), social-scoring, real-time facial recognition, and proliferation activity in the context of malicious cyber activity or the production of biological or chemical agents.
The letters follow up on Sen. Warner’s previous efforts to engage directly with AI companies to push for responsible development and deployment. In April, Sen. Warner directly called on AI CEOs to develop practices that would ensure that their products and systems are secure. In July, he also pushed on the Biden administration to keep working with AI companies to expand the scope of the voluntary commitments.
Additionally, Sen. Warner wrote to Google last week to raise concerns about their testing of new AI technology in real medical settings. Separately, he urged the CEOs of several AI companies to address a concerning report that generative chatbots were producing instructions on how to exacerbate an eating disorder. Additionally, he has introduced several pieces of legislation aimed at making tech safer and more humane, including the RESTRICT Act, which would comprehensively address the ongoing threat posed by technology from foreign adversaries; the SAFE TECH Act, which would reform Section 230 and allow social media companies to be held accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, online harassment, and discrimination on social media platforms; and the Honest Ads Act, which would require online political advertisements to adhere to the same disclaimer requirements as TV, radio, and print ads.
Copies of each of the letters can be found here.
Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – August 8, 2023
It was great to be back home in the Sixth District and hear directly from folks up and down the Valley about the issues most important to them and their families. Unfortunately, this week we received another reminder that “Bidenomics” is crushing our economy, and the American people are paying the price. On a brighter note, we celebrated the 233rd birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard and hosted “Coffee With Your Congressman” town hall events in Rockingham County and Rockbridge County. We also spoke with and thanked law enforcement officers in our community during National Night Out, and I congratulated the new graduates of the Roanoke Police Academy and Roanoke County Criminal Justice Academy. As I continue my travels across the community during the District Work Period, I look forward to meeting with more constituents and businesses across the Valley.
Celebrating the Coast Guard On Their 233rd Birthday
As we celebrated the 233rd birthday of the United States Coast Guard this week, we honored, cherished, remembered, and thanked its members for their service and sacrifice. Since 1790, its members have met the challenging mission of keeping the Nation’s waterways safe and playing a critical role in national security. Semper Paratus!
Fitch Downgrades Credit Rating
This past week, the American people received another sad reminder that “Bidenomics” is not working for them. Fitch, an American credit rating agency, downgraded the United States credit rating for the first time since 1994 due to rising government deficits, significant increases to our federal debt, and higher interest rates. The worst part? Fitch also projected a Q4 recession.
The Biden Administration and the Democrats’ reckless government spending has contributed to this financial crisis, and the American people are suffering as credit card bills and mortgage rates skyrocket. That’s why House Republicans are continuing to fight to rein in spending and restore fiscal responsibility in Washington to get our economy back on track so hardworking families can thrive.
Watch my interview on Fox Business discussing the downgrading of the credit rating.
The Long Blue Line Continues
I was honored to congratulate the graduates of the 85th Roanoke Police Academy and the 66th Roanoke County Criminal Justice Academy. Thank you to all of the young men and women wearing the badge for courageously answering the call and undertaking this most strenuous but utterly essential job of enforcing our laws and serving on the front lines of justice.
Coffee With Your Congressman
One of the best ways to stay in tune with Sixth District Residents is to hear directly from them on issues of concern or matters regarding the federal government. This week I held “Coffee With Your Congressman” events in Rockbridge and Rockingham Counties. I found attendees questions to be insightful and valuable to my work as their representative in Washington. Stay tuned for the next event coming to an area near you!
National Night Out
It was great to join folks in Bridgewater at one of the many events across the Sixth District for the National Night Out. We salute all our friends who serve in law enforcement, in public safety, and as first responders for all, they do to keep our communities safe.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.