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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline: Honoring our Nation’s Veterans

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Honoring our Nation’s Veterans
On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns of World War I finally fell silent, and the armistice with Germany went into effect. Out of the ashes of this day rose what was originally called Armistice Day but since 1954 has been recognized and set aside as Veterans Day.

On this Veterans Day, we recognize the roughly 20 million veterans who have served this country in both war and peace, and as a Nation, we extend a hand of gratitude to all our veterans who put their lives on the line daily to protect freedom on our soil and around the globe.

As a Member of Congress, advocating for our veterans and their families is a top priority. My district offices in Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, Roanoke, and Staunton help veterans with their claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and in Washington, I am always looking for new ways to do more to support those who have supported us.

Over the past year, my colleagues and I have strived to honor veterans by advocating for and passing legislation, some of which the president has signed into law, concerning burn pits, suicide prevention, veteran healthcare options, Blue Water Navy, the widow’s tax, Reserve and National Guard bankruptcy, and opening up membership into the American Legion for previously disqualified veterans.

Couple that with some good employment and economic news: The 2018 veteran unemployment rate of 3.5 percent was the lowest since 2000, meaning that the unemployment compensation payments to veterans fell to $178 million in 2018 from a high of almost $1 billion in 2011.

Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act:
Passing the House in March, H.R. 1381, the Burn Pit Registry Enhancement Act, would strengthen and expand the VA’s registry of service members who were exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes from burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. This measure currently awaits further action in the U.S. Senate.


Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act:
In June, the president signed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act. For decades, tens of thousands of veterans suffering from diseases caused by Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and their families have been denied their earned benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991. While it was long past due, the House voted unanimously to correct the injustice done to Blue Water Navy veterans. Under the bill’s provisions, veterans who served in specified offshore areas near Vietnam from January 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975 will be given the presumption of Agent Orange exposure, thus allowing them to receive medical care and disability compensation.

VA MISSION Act:
Also in June, a new VA program went into effect. Titled the VA Maintaining Internal Systems and Strengthen Integrated Outside Networks (MISSION) Act, this legislation overhauled VA care programs by allowing veterans to seek medical treatment outside of the VA system. While the VA offers overwhelming support to our nation’s veterans, those who wish to seek health services outside the system should have the right to do so. This bill does not force any veteran out of the VA system, but simply ensures that our service members have access to the quality and timely care they have earned. As the VA continues to implement the changes laid out in the MISSION Act, you may rest assured that my colleagues and I in Congress will continue to hold the agency accountable to protect against any veteran falling victim to a broken system.

LEGION Act:
On July 30, I joined the President in the Oval Office as he signed H.R. 1641, the Let Everyone Get Involved in Opportunities for National Service (LEGION) Act. This legislation expands American Legion membership criteria to include all honorably discharged veterans who served their country. The passage of this legislation means that our heroes who have served in times of unrecognized conflicts will finally be eligible to join the American Legion. Passing this bipartisan bill was the right thing to show our gratitude for those military members who honorably served and for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during unrecognized periods of conflict.

National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act:
In August, the President signed another one of my bills, H.R. 3304, the National Guard and Reservists Debt Relief Extension Act into law. Under the new law, certain members of the National Guard and Reserves who fall on hard economic times after returning from active duty deployment will continue to obtain relief without having to fill out the substantial paperwork required by the so-called “means test” under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code. This bipartisan legislation allowed us to extend the commonsense measure of relieving our veterans of burdensome paperwork for four years.

Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act:
Additionally, I was pleased to also support legislation aimed at ending the “widow’s tax” and to expand the burn pit registry program. Impacting an estimated 67,000 military survivors, I was proud to cosponsor H.R. 553, the Military Surviving Spouses Equity Act. If passed, this legislation would allow the survivors of deceased servicemen and women to keep their Military Survivor Benefit Plan payments when they are awarded the VA’s Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. Dubbed the “widow’s tax,” current law calls for an offsetting of these two payments, in some cases wiping out most or all the Benefit Plan payments.

Improve Act:
It is a national shame that 20 veterans a day die by suicide, and 14 out of these 20 veterans are not under the care of the VA and are outside the system. After 15 years and billions of dollars spent on VA mental health programs, the statistic has remained virtually unchanged.

To address this ongoing problem, I cosponsored H.R. 3495, the Improve Well-Being for Veterans Act, which if passed, would create a grant program that would allow the VA to tap into the nationwide network of organizations, including state and local organizations, already providing lifesaving services to local veterans, especially those the VA has not been able to reach before. It is my hope that this much needed legislation reaches the House floor soon and that its intended purpose saves the lives of our service men and women who suffer from the unseen costs of war.

If you or someone you know is struggling, please call the Veterans Crisis Line below for help:

More Work To Be Done:
While Congress has done much since January, there must be continued focus on the veteran suicide rate, as well as improvement on the quality and timeliness of healthcare treatment, female veterans, veteran homelessness, and military spouse hiring.

Females are the fastest-growing segment of the veteran population. They are also most at risk for becoming homeless. The VA must continue to improve on their healthcare delivery for female veterans. There must be uniform and consistent care in the VA system that meets the unique needs of all female veterans at every hospital within the VA system.

After a decade of reduction in veteran homelessness, the number of veterans on the street has ticked up slightly, with housing prices in cities like New York and Los Angeles being the leading cause. Although we spend billions on helping the homeless, we must ensure that there are jobs that can provide the means to support them and their families. We must not rest until every veteran who wants to work has a job, and every veteran who is homeless is housed.

For over 250 years, our nation has produced individuals who came before us in the fights for freedom and democracy. Our republic has been blessed that there are those for whom service above self is more than a saying but a way of life.

On Veterans Day we honor your courage and sacrifice, and we salute you and your family for service to our nation.

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.

For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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Legislative Update

May & June Election Clarification from Congressman Ben Cline

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There has been a lot of misinformation spread regarding the effect of Gov. Northam’s stay-at-home order and how it will affect the upcoming local elections on May 5th and primary elections on June 9th. It is important that you know how to participate in Virginia’s elections, that is why I would like to share with you some information compiled by my office.

While the Governor’s order lasts until June 10th, in-person voting will still occur at normal polling locations on May 5th and June 9th. A spokesperson for the Governor’s office stated the order does not apply to “the operation of government,” which includes operating and participating in elections.

Additionally, absentee voting has been expanded to allow anyone with COVID-19 safety concerns to select “illness or disability” and receive a mail-in ballot. You can request your absentee ballot by clicking here.

Nothing in our democracy could be more important than transparent elections. It is your right to be fully informed about where and how to vote. I encourage you to forward this message to your friends and family who may be in the dark about the election process in the coming months.

As always, please be encouraged to reach out to my office if I can ever be of assistance

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Legislative Update

Important updates from Congressman Ben Cline – April 3, 2020

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Since last week’s passage of H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, federal agencies have issued guidelines for how this bill will be implemented. This important bill will utilize new resources to fight on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic in America and will inject funding into the economy to help American workers, families, small businesses, and industries so that our country can not only survive this crisis but thrive when we do.

Day by day, more details continue to be made available about both the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses and the Economic Impact Payments available to individuals, which are provisions of the CARES Act designed to provide key relief to the American people in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus. For an overview of action the U.S. Department of the Treasury has taken since the bill’s passage, please visit treasury.gov/cares.

The Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force, which is being run by FEMA and focused on meeting the demand for critical medical resources and supplies, published a fact sheet detailing its four-pronged approach to address issues related to critical protective and life-saving equipment: Preservation, Acceleration, Expansion, and Allocation.

 

To learn more about the Economic Impact Payments available to individuals through the CARES Act, please visit irs.gov. There, you will find information about who is eligible to receive payments and whether you need to take any action in order to receive the payments, among other helpful information. The IRS has said it will begin distributing the checks in the next three weeks.

 

For business owners struggling to keep their doors open and their employees’ taken care of during this difficult time, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has two loan programs. First, the recently passed CARES Act created the Paycheck Protection Program, an initiative that provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to help small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.

Secondly, the SBA has now approved Virginia for its Economic Injury Disaster Program. The SBA will work directly with state governors to provide targeted, low-interest loans to small businesses and non-profits that have been severely impacted. Please visit sba.gov/coronavirus for more information on the two loan programs.

This week, the President announced that the CDC’s nationwide guidance to slow the spread of the virus, which was published 15 days ago, will be extended until at least April 30th. As Dr. Fauci said, “The reason why we feel so strongly about the necessity of the additional 30 days is that now is the time, whenever you’re having an effect, not to take your foot off the accelerator.”

 

Additionally, during one of this week’s briefings, Dr. Fauci said that vaccine trials are, “right on target for the year to year and a half.” On the subject of treating the virus, Dr. Birx announced that a coronavirus antibody test could be available within this month. Such a test could help identify those who have had the virus and recovered.

As of March 30, the U.S. Navy’s gigantic floating hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, arrived in New York City where it has been sent to help relieve the pressure on the city’s hospitals that are overwhelmed with coronavirus patients. The Comfort’s 1,000 beds and 12 operating rooms will largely be used for non-coronavirus patients, freeing up much-needed space at the city’s overtaxed hospitals. Likewise, the USNS Mercy sits on the shores of Los Angeles.

 

Rest assured, I will continue to keep you informed, monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country, and work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this disease. Please visit cline.house.gov/covid-19 for additional resources.

If you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resources:

General CDC Information

How to Protect Yourself

Symptoms and Testing

If You Are at Higher Risk

If You Are Sick

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow @CDCgov on Twitter

Resources for Business:

Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

Paycheck Protection Program FAQs for Small Businesses

Other:

Governor Orders Closure of Non-Essential Businesses and Schools

How could the coronavirus affect my visit to Washington, DC?

State Corporation Commission suspends service disconnections for 60 days

Virginia Employment Commission waives the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits

Virginia DMV Closed – Driver and vehicle credentials have been extended 60 days

How to aid the relief effort

FDA Warns of Fraudulent Home Testing Kits

CDC Urges Americans to Limit Non-Essential Travel

Trust Your Sources

Tax Day Moved to July 15th

Salem VA Medical Center Postpone All Non-Essential Procedures

 

 

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Legislative Update

Important updates from Congressman Ben Cline – March 28, 2020

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Our Nation is facing a historic crisis. In the last month, COVID-19 has infected over 85,000 Americans, more than any other nation on Earth. Over 1200 of our fellow Americans have perished, and we are making every effort to stop the virus from taking from us thousands more of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. The first Virginian was infected only three weeks ago, and since then we have seen life as we know it across our Commonwealth come to a screeching halt.

The crisis created by this virus is twofold. It is first and foremost a health crisis, made worse by the stealth with which the virus spreads. Often those infected feel no symptoms and unsuspectingly pass the virus on to weaker and more vulnerable targets. And it takes advantage of the very characteristics that make us a great Nation, preying on our love of freedom, our love of social interaction, and our love of community. As the government has sought to eliminate the virus, it has urged practices that contradict many of these characteristics that make America great. Who would’ve thought that in America we would be advised not to gather in groups, eat out at a restaurant, or attend a graduation program, music concert, or church service?

The second crisis created by COVID-19 is economic, and the combination of the virus itself and the actions taken to fight the virus has brought our economy to its knees. As lock-downs are announced and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people enforced, the impact of our economy has been pronounced. The stock market has lost a third of its value, main streets across America are empty, and sporting events and other celebrations have been canceled. Just this week, it was announced that over 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, shattering the old record of 665,000 in March 2009. We cannot lose sight of the need to beat the virus on both the health front and the economic front.

Fortunately, Congress acted this week to address both the health crisis and the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19 bypassing the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides resources to hospitals and health care workers while supporting American workers and small businesses through this challenging time. While I did not agree with all of the provisions, I was pleased that the Senate rejected Speaker Pelosi’s progressive wish list and was proud to vote in favor of this legislation. It provides much-needed assistance to Sixth District residents and businesses and gives our hospitals and health care providers the best fighting chance to contain COVID-19 and rid it from our Nation.

 

On Tuesday, I hosted a special telephone town hall focusing on the coronavirus. I was joined by Dr. Laura Kornegay, Health Director of Central Shenandoah Health District, and Delegate Chris Head, who sits on the Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee in the Virginia General Assembly. To listen to the audio recording, please click here.

 

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Governor Northam has issued an executive order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. He has discouraged all gatherings of more than 10 people statewide. This does not include gatherings for purposes of providing healthcare or medical services, access to essential services for low-income Virginians, law enforcement operations, or government operations.

Recreation and Entertainment Businesses:
As of March 24, the following business is considered non-essential and must close to the public:

• Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;

• Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities;

• Beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain six feet apart;

• Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities;

• Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

Restaurants & Bars:
The following establishments must be closed to the public but may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services:

• Restaurants;

• Dining establishments;

• Food courts;

• Farmers markets;

• Breweries;

• Microbreweries;

• Distilleries;

• Wineries; and

• Tasting rooms.

Retail Businesses:
The Governor has issued specific guidance for retail businesses. The following retail businesses are considered essential and may remain open during normal business hours:

• Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;

• Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;

• Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;

• Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;

• Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;

• Lawn and garden equipment retailers;

• Beer, wine, and liquor stores;

• Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;

• Retail located within healthcare facilities;

• Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;

• Pet stores and feed stores;

• Printing and office supply stores; and

• Laundromats and dry cleaners.

All essential retail establishments must, to the extent possible, adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.

Schools:
The Governor has also closed all public schools through the end of the academic year. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will issue guidance to help divisions execute plans to continue instruction, while ensuring students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English learner status, or special needs. This includes options for additional instruction through summer programming, integrating instruction into coursework next year, and allowing students to make up the content. VDOE will submit a waiver to the federal government to lift end-of-year testing requirements and is exploring options to waive state-mandated tests.

Students who are in need of meals can still access them. To learn more about meals, text “FOOD” or “COMIDA” to 877877.

Guidance for Small Business Owners:
Small business owners who are struggling amidst this crisis should look into the Small Business Administration Loan Program. Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information and download applications at sba.gov. Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.

At cline.house.gov, you can access further information about the coronavirus pandemic, including administrative, congressional, and state action that has been taken to curb the spread of the virus, resources for businesses, and information from the CDC on how to keep you and your families healthy. While Congress works on legislation and the CDC works toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:

• Practice social distancing, and avoid close contact with other people.

• Stay home if you are sick.

• Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” Rest assured, I will continue to keep you informed, monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country, and work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this disease.

If you experience symptoms or have been exposed to someone recently diagnosed with COVID-19, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Resources:

General CDC Information

How to Protect Yourself

Symptoms and Testing

If You Are at Higher Risk

If You Are Sick

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow @CDCgov on Twitter

Resources for Business:

Small Business Guidance & Loan Resources

Other:

Governor Orders Closure of Non-Essential Businesses and Schools

How could the coronavirus affect my visit to Washington, DC?

State Corporation Commission suspends service disconnections for 60 days

Virginia Employment Commission waives the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits

Virginia DMV Closed – Driver and vehicle credentials have been extended 60 days

How to aid the relief effort

FDA Warns of Fraudulent Home Testing Kits

CDC Urges Americans to Limit Non-Essential Travel

Trust Your Sources

Tax Day Moved to July 15th

Salem VA Medical Center Postpone All Non-Essential Procedures

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Legislative Update

Congressman Ben Cline issues statement on H.R. 748 – the CARES Act

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WASHINGTON – Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) released the below statement following the House passage of H.R. 748 – the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“Our Nation is facing a historic crisis. In the last month, COVID-19 has infected over 85,000 Americans, more than any other nation on Earth. Over 1200 of our fellow Americans have perished, and we are making every effort to stop the virus from taking from us thousands more of our neighbors, our friends, and our family members. The first Virginian was infected only three weeks ago, and since then we have seen life as we know it across our Commonwealth come to a screeching halt.”

“The crisis created by this virus is twofold. It is first and foremost a health crisis, made worse by the stealth with which the virus spreads. Often those infected feel no symptoms and unsuspectingly pass the virus on to weaker and more vulnerable targets. And it takes advantage of the very characteristics that make us a great Nation, preying on our love of freedom, our love of social interaction, and our love of community. As the government has sought to eliminate the virus, it has urged practices that contradict many of these characteristics that make America great. Who would’ve thought that in America we would be advised not to gather in groups, eat out at a restaurant, or attend a graduation program, music concert, or church service?”

“The second crisis created by COVID-19 is economic, and the combination of the virus itself and the actions taken to fight the virus has brought our economy to its knees. As lock-downs are announced and bans on gatherings of more than 10 people enforced, the impact of our economy has been pronounced. The stock market has lost a third of its value, main streets across America are empty, and sporting events and other celebrations have been canceled. Just this week, it was announced that over 3 million people filed for unemployment last week, shattering the old record of 665,000 in March 2009. We cannot lose sight of the need to beat the virus on both the health front and the economic front.”

“With the passage of the CARES Act, Congress has acted to address both the health crisis and the economic crisis surrounding COVID-19, providing resources to hospitals and health care workers while supporting American workers and small businesses through this challenging time. While I did not agree with all of the provisions, I was pleased the Senate rejected Speaker Pelosi’s progressive wish list and proud to vote in favor of this legislation. It provides much-needed assistance to Sixth District residents and businesses and gives our hospitals and health care providers the best fighting chance to contain COVID-19 and rid it from our Nation.”

 

To read a more detailed summary of the bill, please click here.

For more information regarding the coronavirus, please visit cdc.gov, vdh.virginia.gov, or cline.house.gov/COVID-19.

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Legislative Update

Kaine releases statement on Senate passage of Coronavirus Economic Relief Package

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Senator Tim Kaine. File Photo by Gage Skidmore

U.S. Senator Tim Kaine released the following statement after the Senate approved a bipartisan coronavirus (COVID-19) economic relief package. The legislation includes Kaine’s priorities to provide direct payments to Americans, protect small businesses, expand access to child care, provide much-needed assistance to state and local governments, strengthen our health care system, ensure that funding for larger businesses is used to protect their employees, fund improvements to the nation’s public health data systems, help manufacturers affected by this crisis, expand unemployment assistance, put a temporary moratorium on evictions and foreclosures, support schools, strengthen America’s medical supply chain, increase nonprofit funding for maternal health, and increase funding for community action agencies.

“I’m so proud that Senate Democrats stood together and made sure that the bill we passed today will backstop the American economy by protecting workers and their families. Compared to the partisan proposal that the GOP hoped to jam through, this bill is far better for working people and the small businesses that make up the heart of our economy. It makes sure that funds to large businesses cannot be used to raise executive pay or for stock buybacks and guarantees transparency so that all Americans can know immediately who is receiving help. Finally, it is a Marshall Plan for the American health care system as it deals with a pandemic.

“These gains for regular Americans and our health care system would not have occurred had Democrats just gone along with the GOP proposal. There was enormous pressure to simply vote on a bill and be done, but we stayed on task until we got the details right.

“We now have to make sure the three bills we have passed in recent weeks are implemented promptly and fairly. And we need to keep our eye on our number one priority: getting through this health crisis by following science-based guidance. We lost 6-8 weeks at the front end of this pandemic due to the President choosing to downplay the threat of COVID-19 even as other nations like South Korea and Australia were ramping up testing and production of critical medical supplies. We cannot waste any more time on foolishly denying the scope of the problem.

“For America to get back to work, and for Americans to get past their natural fears and anxieties, we have to be smart from this point forward as we battle this virus. All people have a role to play in this by practicing social distancing to protect one another. I have confidence that Virginians and all Americans will meet this challenge.”

The following Kaine priorities were included in the package:

Direct payments to Americans: The legislation includes direct cash payments to all low- and middle-income Americans: $1,200 per single filer and $2,400 for joint filers, with an additional $500 per minor dependent. Kaine and his Democratic colleagues successfully called for cash relief that does not leave out America’s most vulnerable families, while the initial Republican proposal provided insufficient relief for these households.

Small business funding: The legislation provides nearly $350 billion in funding for forgivable small business loans. Funding will be provided through local banks and can be used to cover payroll, rent, mortgage interest, utilities, and other expenses. The portion that is forgiven will be scaled related to how many workers the business retains through the crisis.

Expand access to child care: The legislation includes Senator Kaine’s proposal with Senator Todd Young to increase funding, flexibility, and eligibility for the Child Care & Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to help ensure health care providers and other essential workers have access to child care during the pandemic.

State and local coronavirus relief fund: The legislation includes a $150 billion fund to support state, local, and tribal area efforts to address COVID-19. Funding will be provided directly to states, counties, and tribal areas.

Historic investment in the health care system: Democrats fought for and secured a $150 billion Marshall Plan for the health care system to support hospitals and other health care providers impacted by COVID-19 with necessary personal protective equipment, testing supplies, infrastructure, and more.

Guardrails for large business assistance: Democrats were able to secure additional guardrails on loans made to larger businesses, including restrictions on stock buybacks and protections that will lead to more workers being maintained on the payroll. Additionally, funding provided under this section will be subject to strict transparency and accountability requirements, including the establishment of a new Inspector General to oversee distribution, usage, and repayment of funds.

Data modernization: The legislation includes $500 million for public health data modernization, which Sen. Kaine has long championed. Last year, he introduced with Senators Isakson and King the Saving Lives Through Better Data Act, bipartisan legislation to modernize public health data infrastructure so clinicians, state health departments, and the CDC can work together more quickly and seamlessly to identify and respond to health threats like the coronavirus.

Help for American manufacturers: The legislation includes key provisions of bipartisan legislation Kaine introduced with Senator Chris Coons to help Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) centers, including the Commonwealth’s MEP affiliate Virginia GENEDGE, stay open during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. MEP centers provide critical resources for small and medium manufacturers.

Expand unemployment assistance: The legislation includes key provisions of legislation Kaine cosponsored to provide federally-funded unemployment assistance to those affected by the coronavirus. Under the agreement, unemployment insurance would be provided to workers impacted by the coronavirus, including gig workers and freelancers.

Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures: The legislation implements temporary moratoriums on eviction and foreclosure proceedings. Single- and multi-family property owners in mortgages backed by federal agencies will be given the option for forbearance – allowing them to defer payments and add to the end of the loan. Renters in buildings covered by the Fair Housing Act or backed by federal funding will be protected against evictions for 120 days. Last week, Senator Kaine urged Senate leaders to place a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and defaults for families and businesses during this national emergency.

Support for schools: The legislation provides $30.75 billion for grants to provide emergency support to local school systems and higher education institutions to continue to provide educational services to their students and support the on-going functionality of school districts and institutions. Last week, Kaine joined Senator Casey in urging Senator leaders to address concerns he has heard from Virginia institutions of higher education like providing stable housing and issues accessing technology needed for online learning.

Strengthen America’s supply chain: The legislation includes elements of the Strengthening America’s Supply Chain and National Security Act, bipartisan legislation Kaine introduced with Senator Rubio to combat vulnerabilities in America’s pharmaceutical supply chain.

Increase nonprofit funding for maternal health: The legislation includes Kaine’s bill to smooth pension funding for March of Dimes, based in Arlington, Virginia, allowing the organization to boost its public health work at this critical time.

Increase funding for community action agencies: The legislation includes $1 billion for Community Service Block Grants (CSBG) to support local community-based organizations providing social services and emergency assistance to those most in need. Last week, Kaine joined Senator Collins in calling for appropriators to include robust funding for CSBG to help address on-the-ground challenges that communities are facing.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – March 22, 2020

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Coronavirus Update.

As the coronavirus continues to dominate the news cycles, I want to take a moment to ensure that you have all the latest updates about the virus and information about how to protect yourself during this evolving situation.

Across our Nation, there is a great deal of fear and confusion regarding this virus, and that is why I have been working hard both from the District and Washington, DC to ensure Sixth District residents are informed.

First, I have created a new page on my website that provides the latest updates and resources from the CDC and across the Federal Government. I’ve also been sharing a great deal of information you may find useful on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

Further, I have continued to pass on information gathered from numerous conference calls I participate in each day, including calls with the Administration, Governor’s Office, state and federal health officials, and my colleagues in the House and Senate.

Additionally, I am looking forward to hearing from constituents during my coronavirus telephone town hall this coming Tuesday at 2:00 pm. If you would like to sign up for this event, please click here. The contact information for each of my offices can be found at the bottom of this page. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or require assistance.

I’ve also been out and about in the community hearing from local businesses about how this situation has impacted them. I have assured them that there are resources available to help their business get through this difficult time.

 

Rep. Cline supports a local Roanoke restaurant by ordering takeout. Click to watch report from Channel 13 News.

 

In addition to keeping constituents informed, my colleagues and I in Congress, in conjunction with federal, state, and local officials, have been working to curb the virus from spreading to more of our Nation’s citizens. As demonstrated below, our goal is to “flatten the curve.” That is, we should slow the spread of COVID-19 so that as more cases arise, our healthcare system has time to adapt to meet demand, and medical professionals and scientists have time to develop vaccines and cures.

 

On March 4, I voted for and Congress passed $8.3 billion in emergency coronavirus funding for our public health agencies, which the President subsequently signed into law. New funding of $7.8 billion will be used to address this public health crisis, while $500 million will be used to replenish reserve funds that have been depleted over the past several weeks.

Additionally, this emergency funding invests over four billion dollars to make diagnostic kits more available. It allocates nearly one billion to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) exclusively for state and local response efforts. And it allows for billions in low-interest loans to small businesses, limiting the economic impact of the disease.

Further, Congress most recently passed a second bill mandating paid leave for employees of some small businesses, appropriating additional funds for state unemployment and Medicaid programs, and providing for free coronavirus testing. While there were several provisions in the second coronavirus bill with which I agree, I could not support the flawed and rushed process by which it was considered.

Currently, Congress is working on the third piece of coronavirus legislation that would make direct payments to certain individuals, provide assistance to small businesses, and supports some of our largest transportation and financial entities to help them remain solvent. It is expected that the Senate will pass the bill early next week, and I look forward to reviewing the legislation when it is sent over to the House for consideration.

Finally, in addition to these pieces of legislation, I have signed onto several letters to House Leadership and various Administration officials urging them to support policies that help combat this crisis and keep our Nation financially strong. Among them are letters promoting telemedicine in rural communities, ensuring our farms have the needed workforce to provide an adequate food supply and urging Speaker Pelosi to keep the House in session to effectively manage this crisis.

The Administration has taken a government-wide approach and initiated a $50 billion economic assistance package to support small businesses and workers harmed by the outbreak, as well as expanding loans to businesses, deferring tax payments for certain businesses and individuals negatively impacted, and calling on Congress to pass payroll tax relief.

On March 13, the President declared a State of Emergency, thus allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to exercise the authority under the National Emergencies Act to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

To protect the health of Americans, the Administration is bringing together government and private industry in a collaborative process to expand testing capacity and access to pharmaceuticals, general-use face masks, therapeutics, and vaccines.

Further, testing is now available in every state lab in the country, and commercial labs are now deploying tests to localities, which will help generate a dramatic increase in availability.

This week, the Trump Administration announced expanded Medicare telehealth coverage that will enable beneficiaries to receive a wider range of healthcare services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. Medicare will now temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for beneficiaries across the entire country.

In an effort to better understand and fight COVID-19, I have included two resources that provide valuable information that you may find beneficial from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC. While the CDC is working toward vaccines and cures, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and others from infection:

Graphic released by the CDC on March 16, 2020. For more information, please visit coronavirus.gov.

 

By taking these simple steps in your day-to-day life, you are helping “flatten the curve.”

As U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said, “Caution is appropriate, preparedness is appropriate, panic is not.” If you experience symptoms or have been to an area where coronavirus is spreading, contact your doctor immediately to determine if you need screening.

Rest assured, I will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country and will work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this insidious and deadly virus.
CDC Resources:

How to Protect Yourself

Symptoms and Testing

If You Are at Higher Risk

If You Are Sick

Frequently Asked Questions

• Follow @CDCgov on Twitter

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.

For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

 

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Upcoming Events

Apr
7
Tue
10:00 am Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Focus on Health Employment & Edu... @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Apr 7 @ 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Focus on Health Employment & Education Fair @ LFCC | Science and Health Professions Building
Two sessions: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. Different vendors at each session. Held in the Science and Health Professions Building at LFCC’s Middletown Campus. Contact Taylor Luther for more[...]
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 7 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
8
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10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 8 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
9
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 9 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
10
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 10 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr
13
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10:00 am Ask a Master Gardener @ Warren County Extension Office
Ask a Master Gardener @ Warren County Extension Office
Apr 13 @ 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Ask a Master Gardener @ Warren County Extension Office
Answers to your gardening questions and problems! E-mail questions and pictures to greenhelpline.warrenco@gmail.com Mondays from 10:00am -1:00pm, April-October (except holidays) Come in or call 540-635-4549 *in-person and phone help available after corona virus emergency*
Apr
14
Tue
4:30 pm Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 14 @ 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Novel Ideas @ Samuels Public Library
Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! Tuesday, March 17 –  Children will explore popular books and book series through S.T.E.M. activities, games, food, and more! This[...]
Apr
15
Wed
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 15 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
16
Thu
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Apr 16 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, March 18 and Thursday, March 19: Our stories, songs, and craft this week will be about friends! Come to story time and see your friends,[...]
Apr
17
Fri
6:00 pm Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club
Apr 17 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Fire Pit Fridays @ Shenandoah Valley Golf Club