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

     It was a great week here at home in Virginia's Sixth District, and I enjoyed the opportunity to meet folks throughout our region, particularly at the 1000th gathering at Monument Terrace in Lynchburg to honor veterans. And while the House was not in session this week, that certainly does not mean the legislative work stops. Not only did I write to President Biden to express my concerns regarding his approach toward energy policy, but I was also pleased to be appointed by House leadership to the House Committee on the Budget. Further, my office was honored to announce this year's nominations of Sixth District students to the various U.S. Service Academies. It was a productive week, and I will continue to advocate for constituents both here at home and in Washington.  

Executive Orders:

     Regardless of the party in power, executive orders are no way to govern a country that prides itself on the separation of powers. President Biden even said previously in an interview with George Stephanopoulos that there are things, "you can't do by executive order unless you're a dictator, and we're a democracy." If he believes this, then why has he signed more executive orders in his first two weeks than any other President in history? His actions are reckless and divisive, and his orders roll back provisions that have kept our country strong, safe, and thriving over the past four years. These actions set a dangerous precedent and are worrisome this early in his term. 

     On the immigration front, via Executive Order, the President has halted construction of the border wall, reduced immigration enforcement, and ordered non-citizens to be included in the Census. Further, he has lifted the travel ban on terror prone countries, stopped the United States from withdrawing from the World Health Organization, and ignored science to permit biological men and boys to compete against our daughters in sports. Additionally, the Biden Administration has launched an all-out assault on this country’s energy independence through executive orders and made us more reliant on our adversaries overseas. With the cancelation of the Keystone XL Pipeline, rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement, and suspending new oil and gas leasing on federal land, President Biden has 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 also pose a threat to millions of American jobs, and that is why I joined my colleagues in writing a letter to the President to express our concerns with his approach toward energy policy thus far in his term. These orders as a whole are a blatant overstep, and I would urge the President to reconsider such actions if he actually wants to unite the county.  

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COVID 19 Relief:

     There has been a lot of talk from the left about unity these past few weeks, but sadly, it would appear this is simply a talking point for the cameras rather than a sincere gesture. The House is preparing, without hearings or input, to fast track President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus bill this coming week. There is no denying that some citizens and businesses are still in need of aid as we navigate the pandemic, but relief needs to be targeted and directed toward those most in need. Our Nation will eventually come out the other side of this pandemic, which is why we need to ensure the long-term viability of our economy - and passing multiple trillion-dollar packages works against that goal. I would hope that as the text of this bill is finalized the Speaker would reign in the spending and focus tax payer dollars on those still struggling, getting kids back into the classroom, and on more efficient and effective vaccination production and distribution.   

Honoring Our Veterans:

     Come rain or shine, snow or sleet, nothing stands in the way of veterans gathering at Monument Terrace in Lynchburg every Friday to honor and support our troops. This weekly gathering, which began nearly 20 years ago following the attacks on September 11, has become a staple within the community. The commitment to this endeavor has been unwavering, and this week marked the 1000th consecutive week that folks have come together at Monument Terrace to express their appreciation for our servicemembers. I was honored to join the group this week for this momentous occasion. I commend these folks for their dedication to their cause and have no doubt that in another 20 years they will be celebrating their 2000th week of coming together in downtown Lynchburg.  

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School Choice Week:

     This week, we celebrated National School Choice Week, a movement that seeks to recognize not only traditional K-12 public schooling, but innovative and advanced options for all students, like public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling. Children should not have to be subjected to failing schools simply because of where they reside. Parents should have the option to send their children to the school in which they believe will give their kids the greatest chance for success, whether that be a thriving public school with exceptional teachers or a variety of other options. I stand in defense of school choice because competition serves the American education system well. Our future leaders of the next generations deserve choice, competition, and innovation in attaining the best possible education. 

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Service Academy Nominations:

     One of the most important responsibilities I have as the Representative for Virginia's Sixth District is the nomination of high school seniors and others to one of four United States Service Academies. Understanding this, I spent the past several months meeting individually with each interested applicant. The passion for service and love of country that these students exuded was truly inspiring, and I was pleased to announce this week the names of those I nominated to each Academy. I offer these students my sincere congratulations and wish them the best of luck throughout the rest of the admissions process. For a full list of nominations, click here.   

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Social Security Scams:

    The Social Security Administration is warning older Americans of the increased threat of Social Security scams targeting senior citizens. These scams primarily come in the form of a live phone call or robo-call in which the individual claims to be a federal employee wanting to discuss identity theft or another problem such as one's Social Security Number, account, or benefits. Scammers may threaten arrest or other legal action, or may offer to increase benefits, protect assets, or resolve identity theft. They often demand payment via retail gift cards, wire transfers, pre-paid debit cards, internet currency, or mailing cash. Please know that Social Security Administration officials will never threaten individuals for information or promise a benefit in exchange for personal information or money. Please be vigilant should you receive a suspicious phone call. To learn more about Social Security scams, click here. To learn about fraud prevention and reporting, click here

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COVID 19 Update:

     As of today, January 31, Virginia has had 504,779 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The Virginia Department of Health reports a 11.8% 7-day positivity rate for total testing encounters, and a 12.3% 7-day positivity rate for PCR tests. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 6,464. Further, according to the VDH's COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of January 31, 688,561 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 117,134 people are fully vaccinated. 1,166,600 total vaccine doses have been distributed throughout the state. For more information, please read an article from WHSV here

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     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 and across the Sixth District, please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages.

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