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Legislative Update

Special Report: Biden’s First 100 Days

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Regardless of party, the American people expect Congress to act on their behalf, and I have made it a practice to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to address many of the critical issues facing our Nation. Bipartisanship must be the goal in moving the country forward, and I was hopeful that following President Biden’s calls for unity in his inauguration speech he would govern in a productive and positive manner. But sadly, the President has abandoned his pledges of unity and bipartisanship and has completely ceded to the left-wing base of his party. In his first 100 days, he has created a dangerous crisis at the southern border that threatens our national and health security, refused to lead the way in reopening our schools and our businesses, gutted thousands of jobs, bailed out failed liberal states and cities with taxpayer dollars, made moves to raise taxes on American families, and proposed or spent nearly $6 trillion in an effort to fundamentally alter our economy and push our Nation further into the abyss financially. This Administration and the Democrat Party no longer think in terms of millions or billions of dollars, but rather trillions and American workers and families will soon pay the price for the runaway deficit spending we’ve seen over the past few months.

Border Crisis:
Through promises of amnesty and open borders, the Biden Administration has created an out-of-control surge of illegal immigrants and drugs along the U.S.-Mexico border. According to Customs and Border Protection, there has been more than a 400 percent increase in the number of migrants apprehended in March 2021 compared to March 2020, and there has been a 233 percent increase in fentanyl seizures at the border.

President Biden refuses to take responsibility for his actions, and Vice President Harris, who has been tasked with handling this crisis, has yet to visit the southern border. This crisis is only getting worse, and with nearly 520,000 migrants have already crossed the border since January, we are on track to hit more than 2 million illegal crossings by the end of this fiscal year.

As holding facilities continue to exceed capacity, the Biden Administration has even gone so far as to sign a six-month, $86 million contract to put illegal aliens up in hotels, which is ridiculous considering our homeless veterans don’t even get this kind of treatment. Further, 40 percent of Border Patrol agents are being pulled away from their national security duties to help manage the humanitarian issues in holding facilities – meaning there is less manpower at the border. This crisis is the result of failed border policies this Administration has implemented since President Biden took office.


• Halted construction of the border wall

• Reduced immigration enforcement

• Reimplemented “Catch and Release”

• Ended “Remain in Mexico” policy

• Promised citizenship for millions causing caravans to race to the border

• Canceled asylum agreements with our Central and South American partners

Election Payback in Disguise:
We all agree that we must improve our crumbling roads and bridges, and fixing our Nation’s infrastructure should be a bipartisan issue. However, sadly, the Biden Administration has found a way to ensure that it is not. The recently proposed $2.25 trillion packages offered by the President and Speaker Pelosi fails to prioritize traditional infrastructure needs. Instead, it includes $174 billion to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations, $213 billion for sustainable housing, $35 billion for climate science research, $45 billion for the EPA, $10 billion for a Civilian Climate Corps, and $27 billion for a National Green Bank.

To make matters worse, the Biden Administration plans to pass the largest tax increase in more than 30 years to help pay for it. I stand ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help revitalize our Nation’s infrastructure such as I-81. But any plan must be fiscally responsible, a true transportation bill and not climate legislation, and address the needs of rural communities like ours.

 

 

Court Packing:
The Democrat Majority has shown their willingness to fundamentally alter our National institutions simply to consolidate their power, including taking action to pack the Supreme Court. President Biden has launched a commission to study expanding the Supreme Court, and House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler has introduced legislation to increase the number of Justices from 9 to 13. Packing the Supreme Court simply because one party doesn’t like the current makeup or is seeking revenge for past appointments is reckless and the epitome of partisanship.

The idea of packing the court has been viewed as nonsensical even by prominent members of the Democrat Party and the High Court’s most liberal Justices. Hopefully, the House Majority and this Administration will listen to the words of those that came before them.

• When President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose portrait is prominently displayed above the fireplace in President Biden’s Oval Office, attempted to pack the Supreme Court to push his political agenda, Democrats in 1937 argued this plan should be so “emphatically rejected that its parallel will never again be presented”.

• Then-Senator Joe Biden warned in 1983 that court-packing could “put in question, if for an entire decade, the independence of the most significant body…in this country, the Supreme Court of the United States of America.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said: “There are some people on the Democratic side who would like to increase the number of judges. I think that was a bad idea…if anything would make the court appear partisan.”

Justice Steven Breyer said recently: “Structural alteration [to the Court] motivated by the perception of political influence can only feed that perception, further eroding that trust.”

DC Statehood:
Not caring that a majority of Americans do not support DC statehood, House Democrats recently jammed through H.R. 51, which would make the District of Columbia a state and effectively add two new Democrats to the Senate. While the Founders never intended for the Capital to be a state, I recognize that every American deserves to have an equal voice in Congress. That is why I support the DC-Maryland Reunion Act, which would transfer the residential portions of DC back to Maryland, which is what had previously been done with Arlington and Virginia. This bill would give current DC residents full voting rights as new Maryland residents, avoiding any need for a 51st state.

 

Green New Deal:
Rather than continue Trump-era policies that had our Nation on track toward energy independence and allowed the U.S. to export more crude and petroleum products than we imported for the first time since 1991, the Biden Administration launched an all-out assault on this country’s energy industry through executive orders. Among his first major acts, President Biden canceled the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement, and suspended new oil and gas leasing on federal land. These moves made it clear that he plans to prioritize a Green New Deal Agenda rather than working to secure America’s energy independence and ensure our national security. These actions are a threat to millions of American jobs, which makes Biden’s approach toward energy policy all the more concerning.

Further, this Administration and Congressional Democrats have fully embraced the Green New Deal, which was recently reintroduced. If somehow the policy initiatives called for in the resolution were to be implemented, it could cost $93 trillion over the next ten years, which is more money than the Federal Government has spent combined since 1979. In the name of “climate justice,” this outrageous proposal would crush jobs, cost an average American household nearly $700,000 through 2029, provide paychecks for people unwilling to work, abolish airplanes, fossil fuels, and would require the rebuilding or retrofitting of “all existing buildings” in America. Moreover, it calls for a ban on affordable energy that heats our homes and the elimination of 99% of cars that aren’t “zero-emission vehicle[s].” The resolution is a plan that even Speaker Pelosi has called, “the green dream or whatever they call it.”

While most recognize this plan will never actually come to fruition, it highlights the belief that rather than seeking energy independence through non-government innovation and the free-market, it plans to continue looking to the government as opposed to the private sector to address our Nation’s energy needs. I am a supporter of an “all of the above” energy strategy to meet the current global energy need. Wind, solar, nuclear, hydro, natural gas, renewable nanotechnologies, and fossil fuel usage should all be encouraged, and I am optimistic that consumers will have clean, safe, and reliable choices well into the future. The Green New Deal is a distraction to the discussion of envisioning a 21st Century America that is energy independent, leading in clean energy through private sector innovation, with a prosperous free-market economy offering opportunity for all.

 

Second Amendment:
President Biden has made clear his disdain for the Second Amendment and the House Majority has, in turn, sought to restrict the constitutional rights of Americans. Two bills that the Administration has supported and the House passed this year are H.R. 8 and H.R. 1446. These bills continue the systematic and coordinated attempt by the Democrat Party to undermine our Second Amendment rights. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle claim that these bills will save lives. However, nothing in them would have stopped any of the recent mass casualty shootings that have occurred in our country. Rather than go after criminals who break the law, Democrats want to create a false narrative that will criminalize private gun ownership. Democrats will tell you that these bills close loopholes.

However, the loophole that they believe exists is that law-abiding Americans are able to own guns. The sole objective of this gun control package and other anti-firearm initiatives pushed by this Administration is to remove constitutional safeguards and put in place criminal penalties that would unjustly go after responsible gun owners. The Second Amendment is crystal clear that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed. Our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution to protect us from the government and gave individuals the Second Amendment to protect themselves and their families. I voted no on these two bills and will continue to defend the Second Amendment as the Administration and Speaker Pelosi continue their efforts to undermine our constitutional rights.

 

Stifling Workers’ Rights:
Since taking office, President Biden has prioritized big labor unions rather than actual workers. Recently, the Democrat-controlled House, with the Administration’s support, passed the PRO Act. This bill would more appropriately be titled the PRO Union Bosses Act because it is nothing more than a political gift to labor unions at the expense of workers, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers. H.R. 842 would wipe out right-to-work laws in 27 states, including here in Virginia. This bill undermines worker rights, traps employers in unrelated labor disputes, wreaks havoc on the economy, and forces Americans to join a union. No one should ever be forced to join a union simply to hold a job or be required to pay dues toward an organization that doesn’t share their values.

This country was founded on the principle that every American deserves the right to create their own success from their own hard work, but at its core, this bill strips citizens of their liberty. As our Founding Father and fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.” I will continue to stand with American workers, which is why I introduced the National Right-to-Work Act with my GOP colleagues. This legislation ensures that no American is forced to join a union to keep a job by erasing automatic-dues clauses in federal statute.

Weakening Election Security:
The Constitution vests primary responsibility in state legislatures to set the “times, places, and manner” of congressional elections, allowing states and localities to determine how best to conduct elections that suit the needs of voters in their communities. However, the Biden Administration supported H.R. 1, which passed in the House in early March. This bill reverses the longstanding history of state control over the electoral process and makes unconstitutional changes to our election laws through a top-down federal power grab. Further, rather than strengthening the election process by working with Republicans to find bipartisan solutions, this bill was written without any input from Republican Members.

A few of the most ridiculous provisions embraced by President Biden included in this bill are listed below:

• Allows politicians to line their campaign coffers with taxpayer funds

• Nullifies state voter ID laws

• Mandates that states allow ballot harvesting

• Mandates same-day registration in all 50 states

• Abolishes the signature/notarization requirements for mail-in ballots

• Mandates that absentee ballots be accepted up to 10 days after Election Day

 

 

Executive Orders:
On the campaign trail, President Biden said, “You can’t [legislate] by the executive order unless you’re a dictator… We need consensus.” 100 days later President Biden — loving his dictatorial pen and forgetting the need for consensus — has smashed modern records for executive actions in his first 100 days, signing nearly double that of Presidents Trump and Obama in the same time frame. Biden’s orders include halting construction of the border wall thus opening the gates for the current border crisis, lifting the travel ban on terrorist-ravaged countries, stopping the U.S. from withdrawing from the WHO, and ruining women’s sports by allowing biological men to compete against them.

Worse yet, his orders took thousands of jobs away from hardworking Americans by canceling the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and subjugating the U.S. to energy standards China and India won’t follow, and suspending new oil and gas leasing on federal land. This is a far cry from the “consensus” in governance Joe Biden has preached about. Having been in Washington for 50 years, President Biden should know what regular order is – we must get back to Congress doing the legislating and the Executive enforcing it.

During his inauguration speech, President Biden talked about unity and bipartisanship. His first 100 days have had little of both. Instead, his term has been hijacked by Speaker Pelosi and the Squad, leading to a far-left tax and spend government knows best policy approach that will push our country further into debt. His policy proposals will fundamentally change the role government plays in citizen’s lives from cradle to grave. The United States is headed down a slippery slope, and I will stop this degression by fighting for less government, more self-reliance, energy independence, and protecting the most innocent among – the unborn. The President has a choice – reverse course before it’s too late or preside over a Nation that is no longer the “Shining City Upon a Hill” highlighted by President Reagan.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your congressman. Follow me on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 21, 2021

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As the District Work Period comes to an end and the House prepares to return to Washington, there is much work to be done. While Democrats plan to push a massive tax and spend agenda, I will continue to advocate for the issues most concerning to the American people like securing our southern border, fighting inflation, rescuing stranded Americans in Afghanistan, and combating crime in our cities. Congress must also address potential misconduct by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. If the reports of him circumventing the civilian Chain of Command are true, action must be taken. While I enjoyed traveling the Sixth District this past week meeting with constituents, I am prepared to address these pressing issues in Washington.

Democrats’ Tax Plan:
This week, Democrats began floating almost $3 trillion in tax increases, the largest tax increase since 1968. This crippling tax hike comes at a time when American families are dealing with a stagnant economy, skyrocketing inflation, and higher prices triggered by Democrats’ out-of-control spending. This proposal, particularly the corporate tax increase, will be shouldered by the middle-class and small businesses, send jobs and businesses fleeing overseas, and gives America’s competitors an advantage.

Middle-class families will undoubtedly bear the burden of Democrats’ corporate income tax hike from 21 percent to 26.5 percent. The Joint Committee on Taxation found that over 66 percent of the tax increase will be borne by middle- and lower-income earners. This would come in the form of wages, employment, and higher utility bills. Further, the tax plan will be detrimental to more than 21 million mom-and-pop shops because of the elimination of the Small Business Deduction, which allows small business owners to deduct 20 percent of their income.

Additionally, Democrats are planning to expand the death tax. This supercharged second death tax will force family-owned businesses to sell off assets in order to pay a massive tax bill to the IRS. Eventually, these tax changes will cost one million jobs over the long term. The Biden Administration has claimed that the majority of small businesses will be exempt from his tax hikes – but the Tax Foundation has said that’s “misleading.” In fact, almost 900,000 small businesses could be hit with Democrats’ limitation of the passthrough deduction based on 2018 IRS data. To add insult to injury, the House Democrats’ proposal provides $80 billion over the next ten years for the Internal Revenue Service to hire 87,000 new agents, which will go after American families and businesses.


The plan would also increase our corporate taxes rates to higher levels than even Communist China with a combined state-federal rate of 30.9 percent. American companies would pay this higher global minimum tax for operating abroad while also paying Democrats’ higher corporate rate for operating at home—making America even less competitive and driving jobs, manufacturing, research, and investment overseas. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the Biden Administration’s global minimum tax would destroy up to one million U.S. jobs.

And finally, this proposal would offer a slew of special tax breaks that only the wealthiest Americans can afford. This is a bad plan for working families and a bad plan for America.

• $12,500 tax credit – Tesla model 3 ($49,990 MSRP)
• $12,500 tax credit – Tesla Model Y ($60,990 MSRP)
• $1,350 tax credit – “home energy audit,” (designer doors and windows)
• $18,000 tax credit – hydrogen fuel cell system for home ($60,000 cost)
• $10,000 tax credit – geothermal heat system for a home ($30,000 cost)
• $52,550 tax savings – additional deduction by restoring the SALT tax shelter

Border Crisis:
President Biden inherited a southern border from President Trump that was secure. Unfortunately, since taking office, the Biden Administration has worked to open the border, not secure it. Our communities are less safe because the President has stopped building the wall, brought back Catch and Release, and got rid of the Remain in Mexico policy until the courts ordered it be reimplemented. It’s simple, border security is national security, and this Administration is dropping the ball. Recently, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced 208,887 border apprehensions at the southern border in August. That is a 317 percent increase from last August and the latest sign that President Biden and the Democrats’ open border policies have created one of the worst border crises in history.

• There were 208,887 border apprehensions in August – a 317 percent INCREASE from last year.
• Border apprehensions remain at a 21-year high in August.
• August was the second straight month with over 200,000 apprehensions.
• Over 1,200,000 illegal aliens have been apprehended at the border since February 1.
• In August, Joe Biden released 43,941 illegal immigrants into the U.S. In President Trump’s last full month in office, only 17 illegal immigrants were released into the U.S.

 

Rep. Cline during a previous trip to the US-Mexico border.

General Milley Concerns:
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley’s mismanagement of the Afghan withdrawal was nothing short of a disaster. This, coupled with new allegations that he went outside the civilian Chain of Command, further erode confidence in his leadership and could place him in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. According to a new book authored by journalist Bob Woodward, General Milley allegedly spoke with Chinese military leadership and undermined the authority of the President. Given that these anecdotes have not been independently corroborated, my colleagues and I wrote to Secretary of Defense Austin urging him to launch a formal investigation to determine their veracity. The full letter can be found here.

 



The Week Ahead:

These past few weeks I’ve had the chance to travel throughout the Sixth District and meet with individual constituents in my offices, tour countless small businesses and manufacturing facilities, and participate in dozens of community events. It was so great to hear from folks and connect, and as I prepare to head back to DC next week, rest assured that I’ll voice residents’ concerns in Washington.

Unfortunately, what awaits me in DC is record levels of spending, historic tax increases, a bill that doesn’t truly address traditional infrastructure needs, and a potential increase in the debt limit. First and foremost, the $1 trillion infrastructure package that the Speaker has promised to bring to the Floor by September 27th allocates only a ridiculously small portion of funds for roads and bridges. The rest of the bill is chock-full of pork-barrel provisions added by Senators, including $50 million to combat ‘invasive plants,’ $12.7 million for ‘recreational boating safety,’ and the creation of a commission to improve gender diversity in the trucking industry, among many others. Further, the Democrats are still attempting to tie this $1 trillion bill to the larger $3.5 trillion “human infrastructure” package that does nothing but create even more big government programs. I have long advocated for the need to repair and expand our roadways across the Sixth District, including Interstate 81, but Green New Deal initiatives, universal pre-K, extensions to the child tax credit, and free community college are not infrastructure.

And how do Democrats plan to “pay” for these measures? First, they want to raise the debt limit so that they can borrow more money, which is incredibly irresponsible considering that the national debt stands around $29 trillion. This is nothing more than delaying the need to rein in spending and get our fiscal house in order. Perhaps even worse, however, is the fact that the left is now floating a massive, new $3 trillion tax plan as mentioned earlier. As we emerge from the crippling effects of COVID, forcing a corporate tax rate on the American people that is higher than even that of Communist China would be devastating to businesses and families alike.

These are just a few of the issues that will be addressed in the House in the coming weeks. But there’s much more work to be done, and rest assured I will continue to sound the alarm about the issues most important to the Sixth District. We must address the worsening crisis at our border, take steps to drive down inflation, continue working to rescue stranded Americans in Afghanistan, and combat the crime wave in our Nation’s cities. My Republican colleagues and I will not allow Speaker Pelosi to let these issues fall by the wayside.

Constituent Meetings:
As this District Work Period comes to an end, I very much enjoyed the opportunity to travel throughout the Sixth District this week meeting with folks across our region.

Rockingham County Farm Bureau 70th Annual Membership Dinner (Harrisonburg)

 

Massanutten Indoor WaterPark (Massanutten)

 

Virginia Sheriffs’ Association Annual Conference (Roanoke)

 

Roanoke Catholic School

COVID-19 Update:
As of September 19, 2021, Virginia has had 836,140 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 12,312. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of September 19th, 5,806,630 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 5,019,175 people are fully vaccinated.

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.

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Legislative Update

Statement of U.S. Sen. Mark Warner – On 20th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement commemorating the 20th anniversary of 9/11:

“On the 20th anniversary of September 11th, we remember the lives lost at the Pentagon in Northern Virginia, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Twin Towers in New York City. We come together to grieve for those who were lost, the family and friends left behind, and remember all those impacted by the tragic events of 20 years ago.  May also remember the heroics that our nation’s first responders and everyday Americans displayed that day and every day since. Their sacrifices must never be forgotten. To our servicemen and women, the intelligence community, and those who have sacrificed their lives and dedicated their careers to defeating the scourge of radical terrorism, we remember and honor you.”

 

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – September 6, 2021

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Special Report: Surrender of Afghanistan

The consequences of ill planning became clear as we surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban, leaving an untold number of American citizens behind. America also saw the compassion of its people in relief efforts throughout Virginia and the country to those families who made it to safety. While the mission has moved to Qatar, the goal of making sure every single American is rescued and that no one is left behind must become our focus. Anything short of this will be unacceptable. When books are written and military strategy is taught about the catastrophic withdrawal of Afghanistan, those lessons will, unfortunately, include a focus on its failures and mistakes. There will also be a reckoning for those responsible, beginning with President Biden. I urge Speaker Pelosi to begin an immediate investigation into the failures of this Administration’s plan and into the civilian and military leadership who carried it out. We owe this to every American taxpayer and especially to those families impacted by this war and its conclusion.

Catastrophic Withdrawal:
Despite increasing Taliban violence in the first three months of 2021 and intelligence that the Taliban and al-Qaida were maintaining close ties, on April 14, 2021, President Biden announced a full United States troop withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. During this announcement, the President said, ‘‘We will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit’’ and, ‘‘We’ll do it responsibly, deliberately, and safely.’’ This was despite the assessments from his own intelligence community about prospects for the fall of the government in Kabul.

Matters were made worse on July 6, when the US military was withdrawn from Bagram Air Base, reportedly without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander. Further, on July 12, President Biden ordered 4-star General Austin Miller, Commander of NATO’s Resolute Support Mission and United States Forces-Afghanistan, to relinquish his position and depart Afghanistan, leaving the remaining United States presence without a seasoned leader in the face of a growing Taliban offensive. Additionally, despite the President saying, “there’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan,” and that, “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,” the situation still rapidly devolved.


On August 6, the first Provincial capital, Zaranj, fell to the Taliban and led to a violent onslaught of offensives throughout other Provinces. By August 15, the United States Embassy in Kabul was evacuated and Taliban fighters soon stood outside chanting ‘‘Death to America.’’ From there, the stories of devastation only got worse. Americans and our Afghan partners struggled desperately to get to the airport for evacuation – many of which never made it – billions of dollars of US military equipment fell into the hands of the Taliban to now be used against our troops in the region, violence erupted in the streets, women, and girls had their freedoms stripped from them, and of course, worst of all, 13 brave US service members lost their lives following two cowardly suicide bombings outside of Hamid Karzai Airport. Each of these tragedies was preventable. Bad decision after bad decision from this Administration, compounded in an utter failure that has resulted in the loss of Afghanistan for generations. Those responsible must be held accountable for this disaster.

Leave No One Behind:
On August 19, President Biden told ABC News unequivocally that the US would not leave any Americans stranded. He said, “If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out.” As the August 31 deadline came and went, President Biden broke his promise. He caved to the Taliban’s demands, abandoned his fellow Americans in a hostile country, and left thousands of Afghan partners to be hunted and slaughtered by the Taliban. In a matter of just a few weeks, the mantra of the United States military went from, “leave no one behind,” to, “we’re content leaving some of you behind.”

President Biden has claimed that the overwhelming majority of Americans left in Afghanistan wanted to stay. But this notion was undercut by his own military leadership. General Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said Monday that Americans tried to get to the Kabul airport for the final evacuations but couldn’t. He said, “We maintained the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure, but we were not able to bring any Americans out. That activity ended probably about 12 hours before our exit, although we continued the outreach and would have been prepared to bring them on until the very last minute. But none of them made it to the airport, and were able to be accommodated.” At the current time, the State Department estimates that there are at least 100 to 200 Americans still stranded in the country. This is on top of the thousands of Afghan allies who aided the war effort and protected American troops. This President failed our people and neglected the promises we made to our allies.

Refugees:
The United States owes a debt of gratitude to Afghan citizens who aided the war effort in various capacities over the past 20 years. We must honor our commitments to those who put their lives on the line to protect American soldiers, and they deserve to be given refuge from the brutality of the Taliban as they were promised. However, the hurried evacuation of more than 100,000 Afghan nationals over the past several weeks raises serious concerns about the vetting process that has been done for those evacuees. On August 29, 2021, President Biden directed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to serve as the lead agency to coordinate the federal government’s efforts to resettle Afghans in the United States.

This announcement follows a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security to US Customs and Border Protection on August 23, 2021, indicating that the agency found it appropriate to exercise discretionary authority to parole certain Afghan nationals into the United States. Since then, there have been multiple media reports of individuals with criminal records or potential ties to terrorist organizations being evacuated from Afghanistan. For example, the Washington Times has reported that an individual who was, “convicted of rape and deported from the US was allowed to board an Afghan evacuation flight and reach America.” Further, according to multiple media accounts, a US government official warned that as many as 100 Afghan evacuees flown out of Afghanistan are on government watch lists. These reports are extremely troubling, and we must ensure that anyone being brought to the United States has been fully vetted. That is why this week I joined my colleagues in writing to Secretary Mayorkas seeking answers to several key questions regarding the vetting process. That letter can be found here.

 

More than 600 people crammed into the hold of a US Air Force cargo plane that was leaving Kabul on August 15, 2021 (Photo: Defense One)

 

Office Available to Help:
From the very onset of this humanitarian crisis, my office heard from concerned constituents across the Sixth District, as well as from families who had loved ones and fellow American citizens stranded in Afghanistan. My office exhausted every possible resource and worked with the State Department to provide folks with the necessary tools to get to the airport before US forces left this week. Fortunately, we were successful in several cases in assisting the State Department in evacuating folks from the country. However, there is more work to be done. My office continues to process requests and will continue working the proper channels to aid those still in need to the best of our ability. Please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my District offices listed at the bottom of the page if you or someone you know needs assistance. For the latest resources from the State Department, click here.


Resources for Veterans:

Veterans who answered the call to serve our Nation – including over the last two decades in Afghanistan – deserve our thanks and respect. They also need to know they are not alone. Listed below are resources available to Veterans, provided through the US Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations. For emergency mental health care, Veterans can also go directly to their local VA medical center 24/7 regardless of discharge status or enrollment in other VA health care. September is Suicide Prevention Month. If you are experiencing depression or thoughts of suicide, please know that there is help available.

• Veterans Crisis Line

• Make the Connection

• VA Website – Mental Health Suicide Prevention

• Lifeline

• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA)

• Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC)

• American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Knowledge Network

• American Association of Suicidology

• Means Matter Website Launched

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.

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Legislative Update

US Senator Mark Warner urges passing bipartisan legislation to fund new semiconductor production in the United States

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) issued the following statement in response to reports that General Motors plans to halt production temporarily at nearly all North American plants due to the shortage of semiconductor chips:

“The continuing impact of the chip shortage – epitomized most recently in the news that GM will be forced to idle plants across North America – speaks to the urgency of passing bipartisan legislation to fund new semiconductor production in the United States. While the impact of this funding will not solve the global semiconductor shortage overnight, the longer we wait, the worse this supply chain crunch will become. I would urge my House colleagues to pass the legislation funding my bill as soon as possible.”

Sen. Warner, the co-chair of the Senate Cybersecurity Caucus and former technology entrepreneur, has long sounded the alarm about the importance of investing in domestic semiconductor manufacturing. In June, he applauded the Senate passage of the United States Innovation and Competition Act, bipartisan legislation that includes Warner-led provisions to shore up American leadership in the microelectronics industry.

The United States Innovation and Competition Act – also known by an earlier name, the Endless Frontier Act – would help invest in domestic semiconductor manufacturing, packaging and advanced research and development by investing $52 billion to implement the CHIPS for America Act, a bipartisan law championed by Sen. Warner to help restore semiconductor manufacturing back to American soil.


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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – August 31, 2021

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Amazingly, despite the current crisis in Afghanistan, an open southern border, soaring crime in our cities, and rising inflation rates, the Speaker saw fit to call Congress back into session last week solely to pass the framework for a $3.5 trillion socialist spending spree, as well as a misguided bill that would nationalize control of our elections and effectively ban protections like photo ID. The actions of the Speaker and this Administration this week highlighted just how truly out of touch they are with the American people. I will continue to fight for the best interests of Sixth District residents and will strive to advance policies that move this Nation forward.

Tragedy in Afghanistan:
The past week has been filled with shock, anger, and sorrow, as we watched the poorly planned withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan by the current Administration result in the preventable deaths of 13 American soldiers who were killed Friday by cowardly ISIS-K terrorists in a pair of suicide bombings. These killings, and the wounding of hundreds of Americans and Afghan civilians, cannot be allowed to stand. I strongly support aggressive military action to destroy those in ISIS-K responsible for this heinous act.

We must also demand answers from the current Administration about why the evacuation of American citizens and Afghan partners is being handled so poorly. This is not a partisan issue, as Members of Congress from both parties including Virginia Senator Mark Warner are calling for further investigation. It would be most productive if Speaker Pelosi brought the House back into immediate session, so we could investigate and hold accountable those whose mishandling of the evacuation created the conditions for this catastrophe. This includes the misguided promise to the Taliban by the Biden Administration that they will leave by August 31, an arbitrary deadline made by President Biden that ignores current conditions on the ground in Kabul. We must also demand answers as to why the Administration would endanger Americans and Afghan partners by sharing information about their identities with the Taliban. Already we are seeing the Taliban resume random door-to-door searches of homes in Kabul searching for those who helped U.S. forces. We cannot leave a single American behind, and we must protect those Afghan partners who have been loyal to our efforts over the last 20 years.

In order to do everything possible to protect those still stranded in Afghanistan, I am calling on the Administration to declare the Taliban in violation of their evacuation agreement with American forces, declare the evacuation date of August 31 null and void, and inform the Taliban that American troops will remain in Afghanistan for as long as is necessary to ensure that every American, every piece of American military equipment, and every Afghan partner who qualifies is safely evacuated. The American people deserve answers, and the 13 American heroes who lost their lives yesterday deserve strong and decisive action from a grateful Nation that honors their memory and their sacrifices for freedom.


Bernie’s Budget Giveaway:
The obvious issue Congress should have been addressing this week is the debacle in Afghanistan. However, instead, the Speaker called the House back into session to take up the Left’s number one priority – a decades-long wish list that is anything but traditional infrastructure. The passage of Bernie’s Budget resolution marked the first step to enact President Biden’s reckless $3.5 trillion tax and spending spree. Make no mistake about it, this is a trojan horse filled with Far-Left Democrats’ socialist dreams. It will kill American jobs, increase taxes on families, increase inflation, provide amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants, eliminate right-to-work protections, expand government control of healthcare, and so much more. I joined my colleagues at a press conference this week highlighting the disastrous provisions included in this bill.

The budget calls for the highest sustained federal spending levels in American history and proposes $68 trillion in total spending over the next ten years, $16.3 trillion of total deficit spending over ten years, and increases the national debt by $17 trillion, growing to $45 trillion by 2031. This level of spending is reckless with inflation already at a 13-year high and real hourly wages have fallen 2.7 percent in the last quarter. Further, this week a key inflation indicator, the Core Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index rose by 3.6% from last month, marking the highest jump in 30 years (May 1991). This is on top of the Producer Price Inflation (PPI) index rising 7.8% and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rising 5.4% over the last twelve months – both record numbers. Americans are already paying more for everyday products, and legislation like this will only exacerbate the problem.

• Car rentals are UP 73.5%

• Gas is UP 41.8%

• Hotels are UP 24.1%

• Airfare is UP 19%

• Fish is UP 8.5%

• Sports equipment is UP 7.2%

“Remain in Mexico” Policy:
One of the many Trump immigration policies that the Biden Administration reversed which led to the crisis at our border was the Migrant Protection Protocols – more commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. This policy requires many asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while they await hearings on their requests for safe haven in the U.S. Following the implementation of this policy by the Trump Administration, illegal crossings plummeted and more than 60,000 illegal immigrants were returned to Mexico in a 13-month period. President Biden’s reversal of this policy, along with canceling asylum agreements with our regional partners and halting border wall construction, led to record-breaking numbers of illegal crossings. My colleagues and I had written to the Department of Homeland Security expressing our concern with this policy reversal, but our concerns were ignored. Fortunately, this week, the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that the “Remain in Mexico” policy must be reimplemented. Hopefully, this ruling can help slow the crisis at our border.

Politicizing Our Elections:
The Constitution reserves to the States the primary role in establishing, “the Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.” Yet, H.R. 4 would give President Biden’s Department of Justice and federal courts the power to exert considerable control over state and local election laws. Further, H.R. 4 would give the Biden Administration authority to veto states’ voter ID laws, despite a recent survey finding that 81 percent of Americans support voter identification laws. Further, this bill seeks to politicize voting and pushes a false narrative that there is a crisis in voting rights, when in fact there was record turnout amongst all demographics in the last election. Republicans support expanding access to voting, but this legislation was nothing more than a Pelosi power grab attempting to ensure Democratic control of the House.

PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act:
As many as 20% of Veterans who return from combat suffer from PTSD, and on average, 20 Veterans die a day from suicide. Congress must find solutions to combat this growing crisis, which is why I was pleased to support and see the PAWS for Veterans Therapy Act signed into law. This bill creates a pilot program that will expand opportunities for Veterans to get involved with training and adopting service dogs. Studies show that service animals can help reduce depression, anxiety, anger, and alcohol and substance abuse, as well as fewer sleep disturbances. Further, properly trained service dogs can alert Veterans to PTSD triggers, such as crowded areas or unanticipated risks, and provide security and a calming effect to alleviate anxiety. Supporting commonsense bills like this is just one of the ways in which we can support those who have given so much to our country.

Honoring VFW Post 7814:
I recently honored the 75th anniversary of the Thomas-Fields Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7814, which was founded on July 11, 1946. This week I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the Post’s leadership and present them with a copy of the Congressional Record. I applaud the Thomas-Fields VFW Post for their tremendous work in our community and their efforts to aid those who served.

When African American Veterans of World War II returned to their homes in the Staunton-Augusta area, they were unfortunately excluded from their local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post. Following their denied admittance, a group of forty-two Veterans then applied for a charter to organize their own post, which would carry the namesakes of Charles Thomas and Glenwood Fields, two African Americans from Staunton who died while serving their country in World War II. Since its formation, the Thomas-Fields Post has been an active civic organization in the African American community of Staunton and Augusta County, as well as played an active and significant role in local Veterans’ activities. While the Post welcomes all Veterans, it continues to highlight the heritage of African American and minority Veterans who have served our Nation. Recently, Post 7814 was recognized as a Meritorious Post by the State VFW Federation for its outstanding work over the past five years and was also named an All-American Post by the National VFW Council for the first time in its history.

COVID-19 Update:
As of August 29, 2021, Virginia has had 754,652 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 11,769. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of August 29th, 5,557,112 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 4,868,886 people are fully vaccinated.

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.

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Legislative Update

Statement of Senate Intel Chair Mark R. Warner on unclassified summary of assessment on COVID-19 origins

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U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the statement below, following the release of an unclassified report on the origins of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19:

“This report underscores the need for China to stop stonewalling international investigations into a global pandemic that has cost so many lives and livelihoods around the world. It is disheartening that the Chinese Communist Party remains unwilling to cooperate with an investigation of this magnitude, even as the world mourns the deaths of 4.5 million people and counting. At the same time, I would urge Americans around the country to denounce hateful rhetoric and discrimination against our AAPI (Asia/Asian Pacific Islands) friends and neighbors, many of whom have suffered racist attacks throughout the period of this crisis.”

Precautionary viral preventive masks were still prominent, especially during informal mingling during Senate Intel Committee Chair Mark Warner’s Aug. 23, 2021, visit to Inland Port in Warren County for a Roundtable on Infrastructure Act funding options. Four days later, he released a statement on the U.S. Intelligence community’s unclassified analysis of the COVID-19 Coronavirus’s origins. That unclassified report is both linked in Warner’s statement and printed out in its entirety below it. Royal Examiner File Photos by Roger Bianchini



UNCLASSIFIED REPORT – from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence


Key Takeaways

The IC assesses that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, probably emerged and infected humans through an initial small-scale exposure that occurred no later than November 2019 with the first known cluster of COVID-19 cases arising in Wuhan, China in December 2019. In addition, the IC was able to reach broad agreement on several other key issues. We judge the virus was not developed as a biological weapon. Most agencies also assess with low confidence that SARS-CoV-2 probably was not genetically engineered; however, two agencies believe there was not sufficient evidence to make an assessment either way. Finally, the IC assesses China’s officials did not have foreknowledge of the virus before the initial outbreak of COVID-19 emerged.

After examining all available intelligence reporting and other information, though, the IC remains divided on the most likely origin of COVID-19. All agencies assess that two hypotheses are plausible: natural exposure to an infected animal and a laboratory-associated incident.

• Four IC elements and the National Intelligence Council assess with low confidence that the initial SARS-CoV-2 infection was most likely caused by natural exposure to an animal infected with it or a close progenitor virus—a virus that probably would be more than 99 percent similar to SARS-CoV-2. These analysts give weight to China’s officials’ lack of foreknowledge, the numerous vectors for natural exposure, and other factors.

• One IC element assesses with moderate confidence that the first human infection with SARS-CoV-2 most likely was the result of a laboratory-associated incident, probably involving experimentation, animal handling, or sampling by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. These analysts give weight to the inherently risky nature of work on coronaviruses.

• Analysts at three IC elements remain unable to coalesce around either explanation without additional information, with some analysts favoring natural origin, others a laboratory origin, and some seeing the hypotheses as equally likely.

• Variations in analytic views largely stem from differences in how agencies weigh intelligence reporting and scientific publications, and intelligence and scientific gaps.

The IC judges they will be unable to provide a more definitive explanation for the origin of COVID-19 unless new information allows them to determine the specific pathway for initial natural contact with an animal or to determine that a laboratory in Wuhan was handling SARS CoV-2 or a close progenitor virus before COVID-19 emerged.

• The IC—and the global scientific community—lacks clinical samples or a complete understanding of epidemiological data from the earliest COVID-19 cases. If we obtain information on the earliest cases that identified a location of interest or occupational exposure, it may alter our evaluation of hypotheses.

China’s cooperation most likely would be needed to reach a conclusive assessment of the origins of COVID-19. Beijing, however, continues to hinder the global investigation, resist sharing information and blame other countries, including the United States. These actions reflect, in part, China’s government’s own uncertainty about where an investigation could lead as well as its frustration the international community is using the issue to exert political pressure on China.

 

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Dominion Ridge Academy is proud to host this free community event for parents featuring international speaker, author, and comedian Christopher O’Shaughnessy. Come enjoy an evening of laughter and inspiration as Chris addresses the themes of[...]
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Oktoberfest: Family Fun Day @ Wakefield Country Day School
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Meets behind Mount Bleak. Our evenings begin with a half-hour children’s “Junior Astronomer” program, followed by a discussion about the importance of dark skies and light conservation. Then join NASA Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) Ambassadors[...]
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6th Annual Wine Pull @ Front Royal Golf Club
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6th Annual Wine Pull @ Front Royal Golf Club
Last year we did not get to hold our annual Wine Pull due to COVID. We are so excited that we are able to have this fun fundraising event this year, so be sure to[...]
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Fort Valley Museum Fall Craft Festival – Annual Fundraiser October 30 & 31, 2021 | Saturday 1-4pm, Sunday 2-5pm Come by and support the Fort Valley Museum at our annual Fall Craft Festival (formerly “Christmas[...]
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Fort Valley Museum Fall Craft Festival – Annual Fundraiser October 30 & 31, 2021 | Saturday 1-4pm, Sunday 2-5pm Come by and support the Fort Valley Museum at our annual Fall Craft Festival (formerly “Christmas[...]
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Historic Area. Follow your nose to the Log House to see what tasty treats are cooking on the hearth. Watch as a Sky Meadows volunteer or ranger dons historic clothing and cooks delicious dishes using[...]