News From Congressman Ben Cline
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Sixth District Perspectives
with Congressman Ben Cline

    With only one week remaining on the legislative calendar for the 116th Congress, I was disappointed that Speaker Pelosi chose to focus on marijuana legalization and protecting exotic cats rather than on the issues most important to the American people, such as COVID-19 relief. Fortunately, despite Democrat inaction on this issue, it appears as though there is some positive news on the coronavirus front as it is likely that both Pfizer and Moderna will be able to begin the distribution of their vaccines in the coming month. Further, this week I had the opportunity to recognize an Amherst County legend on the House Floor, as well as met virtually with various constituent groups from across the District. While it was a busy few days in Washington, I hope the House will focus on some of the more pressing matters still before the Chamber. 

COVID-19 Update:

     As cases of the coronavirus continue to rise throughout the country, I encourage you to follow recommended CDC safety guidelines such as wearing a mask, practicing social distancing, and washing your hands frequently. However, please know that COVID-19 testing is readily available throughout the Sixth District should you need it. To find a testing location near you, please click here

    Fortunately, it appears there is a light at the end of the tunnel in the not so distant future. Following Pfizer and Moderna’s development of COVID-19 vaccines that demonstrated an efficacy rate of over 90% in phase three trials, both companies have now applied for Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. On “CBS This Morning” earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that the FDA’s outside advisors would meet on December 10th to consider authorizing Pfizer’s vaccine candidate and approval of Moderna’s candidate would follow one week behind that, he added. 



    It is unfortunate that with such little time remaining in the 116th Congress, Speaker Pelosi chose to consider the MORE Act, legislation pushing for the legalization of marijuana, rather than prioritize passing COVID-19 relief for struggling Americans and small businesses. To make matters worse, this could have been a bipartisan effort instead of one that has no chance of passing the Senate. If this bill had simply rescheduled marijuana and removed it from the highest category on the Controlled Substances Act, many Republicans, including myself, could have supported it. Sadly, this legislation included multiple partisan riders like the creation of three unnecessary grant programs and a new 5% tax. Further, this legislation offers the expungement of criminal records for those with federal marijuana related convictions, which sets a dangerous precedent. As a former member of the Virginia House of Delegates, I sponsored and passed legislation to allow physicians to recommend cannabidiol oil to their patients, create legal dispensaries, and to create an affirmative defense for possession of cannabidiol oil for medicinal use. I am open to reform on this issue and hope actual bipartisan legislation on the topic can be passed in the next Congress.


Protecting the Integrity of Elections:

     America’s representative democracy is the longest lasting such system of government in history because of the faith citizens have in the electoral process. Unfortunately, that faith was tested in the most recent election and reforms are clearly necessary to restore the American people’s trust in our country’s voting system. This is not a Republican nor Democrat issue - this is an American issue. And in order to ensure the integrity of this election and confidence in future elections, I joined 30 of my colleagues in writing to the Attorney General on November 6 to inquire about actions he was taking to ensure that federal election laws were followed and complaints of fraud were investigated. Disappointingly, despite his agency's investigating election fraud, there has yet to be a detailed report back to Congress on its findings. The American people deserve an answer, and I joined several of my colleagues this week in publicly calling for the Department of Justice's investigation results to be made public. Transparency is paramount as we continue to navigate this process. To read the initial letter I sent to AG Barr, click here


Remembering Pearl Harbor:

     Seventy-nine years ago tomorrow, on December 7th at 7:48am Hawaii time, residents awoke to a changed world and an America at war. In two waves from six aircraft carriers, Naval Base Pearl Harbor was attacked, resulting in 2,403 Americans killed, 1,178 others wounded, and four battleships sunk with multiple others damaged. As that day’s events grow more distant, we must never forget the sacrifices paid by those who gave their last full measure and always remember those who fought and perished in the coming battles in the Pacific and Atlantic fronts. The doomed USS battleship Arizona and the adjacent memorial is a constant reminder that freedom is not free and that the waters of Pearl Harbor and other places of battle are hallowed ground and serve as the eternal resting place for those who died in service to our Nation. 


Honoring Mary Woodruff:

     Last week, the one and only Mrs. Mary Woodruff turned 104 years young. Born and raised in Amherst County, Mrs. Woodruff and her husband of 63 years built their iconic country store in 1952 with their own two hands. After serving the community for decades, this multigenerational family business was reinvented as Woodruff’s Café and Pie Shop by Mary’s youngest daughter in 1998. Since then business has been booming – attracting patrons from far and wide to try their delicious pies, including a visit from Al Roker and the Today Show. To this day, nearly 70 years after opening the country store’s doors, the 104-year-old Mary Woodruff still works at the shop and “holds court” at the back table where she greets customers and tells stories. Mrs. Woodruff, her family, and their pies are truly a blessing to our community. It was a pleasure to recognize Mrs. Woodruff on the House Floor this week, and I wish her a very happy birthday.


AARP of Virginia:

     I was pleased to hear from staff and volunteers of AARP Virginia this week to discuss their legislative priorities for the upcoming Congress. We also chatted about COVID-19 and its impact on issues relating to food security, nursing homes, and Social Security. As the 117th Congress approaches, rest assured that I will remain an advocate for older Americans across the Sixth District. 

Image     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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