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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – May 17, 2020; survey results

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The damage of the coronavirus is twofold. It is both a health crisis and an economic crisis. It has led to tragedy for families across our Nation and wreaked havoc on the global economy, putting millions out of work in the U.S. alone. We must work to address both of these problems, keeping our Nation’s citizens healthy without infringing on their constitutional rights and God-given freedoms.

As conceived in our great Constitution, our system of government is a federalist one, in which power is split between the federal government and the states. The President has unveiled Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts to guide state and local officials in their efforts to safely return their states and localities to normalcy. States all across the Union are now issuing guidelines for opening a business within their borders, including right here in our part of Virginia.

As your Representative, it is my top priority right now to provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding Congress’s response to the pandemic, as well as hear your thoughts so that I can best represent you.

One-On-One With ABC 13:
I recently joined ABC 13 to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and the resources that are available to help individuals and small businesses. As our Nation gets back to work, we can ensure that the American people have the tools they need to triumph over this evolving crisis.

Click the image to view the interview on ABC 13

Emergency Relief Checks:
If you have questions regarding your Emergency Relief Check authorized through the CARES Act, I encourage you to visit the IRS’s FAQ page at irs.gov/coronavirus.

H.R. 6800:
Since the coronavirus outbreak in the United States began, the federal government has acted to address the needs of Americans. The CARES Act, which the President signed in late March, mobilized new resources to fight on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and injected 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. While I did not agree with every provision of the CARES Act, I put my differences with my colleagues aside and supported the bill because I believed it provided much-needed assistance to the American people, while targeting that assistance to address the spreading coronavirus. The same cannot be said for H.R. 6800, which passed in the House on Friday.

While there are a few provisions in this bill that I could support and, in fact, have supported in the past, this specific bill is primarily an 1800-page wish-list of liberal policies along with billions of dollars of taxpayer funding for programs entirely unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic. It is a massive overstep and expansion of the size and scope of the federal government.

While the CARES Act provided billions in assistance to Virginia and other states, it focused that funding toward those costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic. It did not allow states to put federal funding toward any program they wanted, especially those unrelated to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, H.R. 6800 has no such protections. An open-ended $500 billion for states and $375 billion for localities would send a message to these officials that they are not interested in pursuing fiscal responsibility. H.R. 6800 is an open door for states and localities to spend recklessly and get a handout from struggling federal taxpayers for past fiscal mismanagement.

Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Congress has spent trillions of dollars to help struggling families and businesses. Now, instead of swiftly, directly, and specifically helping those hurting the most, Democrats in the House are using the pandemic as a pretext to accomplish their longstanding political goals. In addition to extending Medicaid coverage to illegal aliens, H.R. 6800 removes voter ID requirements and expands mandates on employers. Further, it provides millions to the National Endowment for the Arts, authorizes the release of federal prisoners, and repeals work requirements for welfare. Congressional leadership should focus on helping the households hit the hardest by this catastrophe, instead of pushing pet projects and pork-barrel spending.

Veteran Resources:
In an effort to help civilians and veterans deal with the stresses of daily life caused by the coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a mobile app called COVID Coach. To learn more and to find available resources, please visit mobile.va.gov

Further, the Under Secretary of the Veterans Benefits Administration will be hosting a telephone town hall this Thursday at 4 pm to answer service members’ questions regarding the benefits they have earned.

May 2, 2020, Survey Results:
Two weeks ago, you received a survey, requesting your opinions on reopening the economy. For those who took the time to fill it out, thank you for the opportunity to hear from you. Below you can view the results.

Based on what you know and have heard, when do you think Virginia should begin to allow “nonessential” businesses to reopen?

2,164 (37.79%) Immediately, but with public health safeguards in place

710 (12.57%) 2 or 3 weeks from now, but with public health safeguards in place

2,394 (41.82%) Not until the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Virginia declines for 14 days in a row

458 (7.99%) Other Answers

Should the Governor implement a plan to reopen Virginia on a regional basis, allowing areas that have fewer reported cases of COVID-19 to reopen first, or should he wait until the entire Commonwealth has met the federal standards for reopening?

3,380 (60.08%) Open areas with fewer COVID-19 rates first

1,787 (31.76%) Wait until entire Commonwealth has met federal standards to reopen

458 (8.14%) Unsure

Should Virginia public K-12 schools, colleges, and universities open this fall for classes, even if there are still new cases of COVID-19 being reported?

2,655 (46.71%) Yes

1,401 (24.64%) No

1,628 (28.64%) Unsure

With health care professionals, first responders, and other front-line workers reporting to duty every day, should Congress also return to Washington to get back to work?

4,452 (79.58%) Yes, but with appropriate health safeguards in place

916 (16.37%) No, not until there are fewer health risks

266 (4.75%) Unsure

According to reports, China knew about the spread of COVID-19 earlier than first reported but suppressed information and denied access to U.S. health officials. Should Americans be allowed to sue the Chinese government for monetary damages sustained as a result of the spread of COVID-19?

3,025 (47.29%) Yes

2,068 (32.33%) No

1,303 (20.37%) Unsure

At cline.house.gov/covid-19, 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. Rest assured, I will continue to 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.

Centers for Disease Control Resources:
Centers for Disease Control
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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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – July 26, 2020

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The House was busy with activity this week and addressed a number of issues regarding the funding of both our government agencies and our military. Members also began unofficial discussions as to what a future coronavirus relief package might look like. And while nothing is set in stone, there are several priorities my colleagues and I would like to see included in any additional COVID-19 related bill. I also had the privilege this week to honor a member of the Virginia National Guard on the House Floor and had the opportunity to discuss some troubling developments surrounding the investigation by the Justice Department into abuses in the FBI and FISA Court process. No matter the issue, I will continue working to represent the values of the Sixth District and its residents.

National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA):
Ensuring that our service members have the necessary resources to do their jobs safely and effectively has always been a priority of mine. But in its current form, the FY2021 NDAA passed in the House this week circumvents the executive branch and limits the President’s authority to protect our national security interests both domestically and abroad. Further, Democrats included language in this bill that could strip military personnel of their Second Amendment Rights, while violating due process and limiting soldiers’ ability to protect themselves and their families. And further, the bill creates bureaucratic hoops that the Secretary of Defense must jump through in order to provide assistance to U.S. Customs and Border Protection in their ongoing efforts to secure the Southern Border. And while I could not vote for the House version of this legislation, I look forward to working with my colleagues, following Senate action, to pass a bill that makes certain our military has all that is needed to protect them, secure the Nation’s defense, and could actually be signed into law.

Honoring Captain Candice Bowen:
This week, I took to the House Floor to recognize Captain Candice Bowen who became the first woman to assume command of a Virginia National Guard infantry unit. She will lead the Woodstock-based Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. This command is well-deserved and her superiors say she has, “demonstrated the absolute ability to lead Soldiers in close combat.” I wish Captain Bowen the best of luck in this new role and know the soldiers in Bravo Company are in good hands.

The Horowitz Report:
The Horowitz Report found 17 significant errors and omissions by the FBI in their FISA warrant applications during the Crossfire Hurricane investigation. Further, the report confirms that the Bureau knew much of the information contained in the now-debunked ‘Steele Dossier’ “could not be corroborated; that certain allegations were inaccurate or inconsistent with information gathered by the Crossfire Hurricane team; and that the limited information that was corroborated related to time, location, and title information was publicly available.” Yet still, the FBI used this politically biased opposition research document to obtain warrants to surveil American citizens and a presidential campaign. Therefore, it is absurd that former FBI Director James Comey plans to release a book entitled ‘Saving Justice’. If he cared at all about justice and the Rule of Law, he would never have offered dubious evidence in the form of the Steele Dossier to the FISA Court.

Appropriations:
This week, the House began its annual appropriations process to fund our government’s various federal agencies. On Friday, we voted on a roughly 700-page bill specifically to fund the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, State, and Veterans Affairs. While there were certain aspects of the legislation I could support, unfortunately, the bill contained numerous provisions that were either unacceptable or wholly unrelated to the agencies at hand. To start, the bill passed in the House jeopardizes our national security by prohibiting funds from being used to continue building the wall along our Southern Border and restricts the President’s ability to transfer funds to address the illegal immigration crisis. Further, the legislation overturns the Administration’s Mexico City Policy, which would allow international organizations to receive funding even if they perform abortions. Additionally, it removes conditions that promote transparency and accountability within organizations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization. And finally, the legislation hinders the United States’ ability to pursue true energy independence and places burdensome reporting regulations on farmers relating to greenhouse gasses. These are just a few of the reasons why I could not vote in favor of passing this bill.

COVID-19 Relief:
As Congress begins to discuss an additional COVID-19 relief package, there is not yet a clear consensus as to what would be included in such a bill. However, what is clear is that Congress must encourage small business growth and increased employment to ensure the long-term success and viability of our economy. Further, it is my hope that any future coronavirus related bill will include liability protection for businesses. With so many mom-and-pop shops already struggling, the last thing they should have to worry about as they reopen are frivolous lawsuits. Additionally, Congress must continue to make available the necessary resources to increase testing capabilities. And finally, we need to begin looking at ways to safely and securely reopen our schools in the fall. While remote learning was an acceptable alternative in the height of the pandemic, it is not suitable for our kids as a long-term option.

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

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – July 19, 2020

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As Virginia continues its phased reopening, it has been a pleasure to continue connecting with constituents both in-person and virtually. Listening to constituents will always be one of my greatest priorities, and that is why this week I not only hosted a telephone town hall with thousands of seniors but also asked for legislative input from folks across the District via an online survey. Further, I traveled to Luray this week to hear from business leaders about the importance of supporting pro-growth, pro-business policies in Congress. It is always a pleasure to be home in Virginia, but whether I am here in Sixth District or in Washington, know that my staff and I stand ready to advocate on your behalf.

Seniors Telephone Town Hall:
Even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, I remain committed to being accessible to my constituents and providing them with information and resources they may find useful. To that end, this week, I hosted my fifth telephone town hall since March. The conversation was geared toward seniors to discuss the pressing issues facing older Americans. I was pleased to have Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Regional Administrator Sharon Graham and Sheriff Eric Orange, Roanoke County Sheriff, join me on this call. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from Sixth District seniors and discuss issues like Social Security, telemarketing and internet scams, Medicare and Medicaid, and more. To listen to a recording of the event, please click here.

Spirit of Enterprise:
Throughout my time as a public servant, I have always been an advocate for pro-growth, pro-business policies. With nearly 50 percent of the country’s population employed by small businesses, I know that the success of our local mom and pop shops means the overall success and prosperity of our Nation. And this week, I was honored to accept the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ Award in Luray. This award recognizes legislators with a track record of standing up for the small business community, and I look forward to earning this distinction in the future.

Your Opinion Matters:
This weekly e-newsletter regularly provides updates on my work both in Washington and from across the Sixth District. However, as your representative, hearing from you is equally important to me. As Congress continues to address issues related to the coronavirus, I’d like to know what other topics you believe the House should be focusing on. Click the image to take the survey below and let me know!

Census Reminder:
Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that a census be taken every ten years. Participating in the Census is critical because the data collected makes certain that our part of Virginia receives its fair share of federal funding. It only takes ten minutes to help ensure that your hard-earned tax dollars are invested here in the Sixth District. To complete the Census, please click here.

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

Cline named ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ award recipient by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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This week, Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) accepted the 2020 ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ Award from the United States Chamber of Commerce. The award was presented by the local Luray-Page County Chamber during their ‘Business After Hours’ event at Shawnee Farms Estate.

The ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ Award recognizes Members of Congress who are committed to supporting pro-business legislation, bipartisan leadership, and constructive governing.

Congressman Ben Cline said, “I am proud to have worked during my first term to enact laws that help small businesses and their employees, and I will continue fighting for pro-growth policies that help rather than hinder the prosperity of our business community.”

Thomas J. Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said, “In these uncertain times with daunting economic and social challenges facing our nation, it is imperative that leaders in Washington are focused on propelling American businesses forward to create jobs and economic growth from California to Maine. As we rebuild our economy, legislators must lead by pursuing bipartisan solutions that create jobs and promote a free enterprise system. I’m proud to recognize these members of Congress for their commitment to driving opportunity and prosperity in America’s workforce and on Main Streets across the nation.

This is the 32nd year in which the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has named ‘Spirit of Enterprise’ Award recipients.

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Legislative Update

Cline to hold telephone Town Hall dedicated to issues facing seniors on July 16th

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Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) announced that he will host a Telephone Town Hall dedicated to issues facing seniors and those approaching retirement. Cline will be joined on this call by Sharon Graham, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Regional Administrator, and Sheriff Eric Orange, Roanoke County Sheriff.

The telephone town hall will take place Thursday, July 16, 2020, from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Constituents planning to participate should register at cline.house.gov/live or dial (855) 933-0825 during the time of the call.

“Seniors face a number of issues concerning healthcare, scams, and more that younger generations deal with far less frequently,” Cline said. “For this reason, I am excited to host a telephone town hall specifically geared toward older constituents in the Sixth District. This event will give me the opportunity to hear directly from seniors about the issues most important to them and allow me to provide updates and resources they may find particularly useful.”

This event will mark the fifth telephone town hall held by Congressman Cline since March.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – July 12, 2020

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It was great to be home in the Sixth District this week connecting with constituents both in person and on the phone. I not only had the privilege of joining the dedicated staff of Harmony Day Support in Forest for a ribbon-cutting ceremony but also had the opportunity to visit Sweet Briar College in Amherst County. Further, thousands of constituents joined me for a Coronavirus Telephone Town Hall where they were provided the latest updates on both the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. As your representative, I will continue to make myself available to ensure your voices are heard in Washington.

Harmony Day Support:
This week I had the pleasure of joining the team at Harmony Day Support in Forest as they cut the ribbon on their new handicap accessible bus. Harmony is a tremendous non-profit that is dedicated to providing adolescents and adults with developmental disabilities with the tools and support necessary for them to lead fulfilling and independent lives. The vehicle was a generous gift from Forest River Bus as part of their National Bus Giveaway, and their donation will allow Harmony to continue its mission of serving those in need.

Sweet Briar College Visit:
Virginia’s Sixth District is home to more colleges and universities than nearly any other congressional district in the country. Throughout the past year and a half, I have enjoyed the opportunity to visit most of these schools and see first-hand the work these institutions are engaged in. This week, I toured Sweet Briar College in Amherst County and always was impressed by the exciting and diverse areas of study they offer. I was pleased that many of their courses pertain directly to industries that are prevalent within our region. I was briefed on the school’s agriculture and forestry activities as well as toured their vineyard, equestrian center, and greenhouse. Sweet Briar College is truly indicative of the abundance of educational opportunities the Sixth District offers students from across the country.


Coronavirus Update Telephone Town Hall:

Being accessible to my constituents and providing them the most up-to-date information on the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus is vital to help control its spread. As such, on July 9, I hosted the third Coronavirus Update Telephone Town Hall and was joined by Dr. Laura Kornegay, the Health Director of Central Shenandoah Health at the Virginia Department of Health and Steve Bulger, the Acting Regional Administrator for Mid-Atlantic Region III of the Small Business Administration.

During the conversation, we fielded questions about schools reopening, safety precautions for reopening businesses, the PPP and EIDL programs, and other federal efforts to mitigate the damages of this pandemic. A recording of the event can be found here.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) recently launched a new application portal to the federal PEUC benefits program. As you may know, this program provides up to an additional 13 weeks of regular/traditional unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have already exhausted their regular Unemployment Insurance benefits. This program applies to claims by individuals whose benefit year ended on July 6, 2019, or after. Payments to recipients are scheduled to start next week. Payments will be retroactive; the first payable week for qualifying applicants under PEUC is the week ending April 4, 2020. The final payable week for extended benefits in the week ending December 26, 2020. The final payable week for supplemental $600 weekly payment is the week ending July 25, 2020. To apply for PEUC benefits visit the VEC website here and click “Apply Online Now.”

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

Cline to hold Coronavirus Update Telephone Town Hall July 9th

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Congressman Ben Cline (VA-06) announced that he will host a Coronavirus Update Telephone Town Hall. Cline will be joined on this call by Dr. Laura Kornegay, the Health Director of Central Shenandoah Health District at the Virginia Department of Health, and Steve Bulger, the Acting Regional Administrator for Mid-Atlantic Region III of the Small Business Administration.

The telephone town hall will take place Thursday, July 9, 2020, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Constituents planning to participate should register at cline.house.gov/live or dial (855) 933-0825 during the time of the call.

“I look forward to hearing from constituents from across the Sixth District this week,” Cline said. “This telephone town hall will not only give me the opportunity to engage directly with those I represent but will also allow me to provide them with the latest information regarding the health and economic implications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

This event will mark the third coronavirus telephone town hall held by Congressman Cline since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic.

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