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

     It was a busy time in Washington as the House Democrat Majority rammed through legislation that would weaken our electoral systems and hinder the ability of our Nation's police departments to do their jobs effectively. Also last week, I wrote to the Governor urging him to modify an Executive Order so that our high school athletes can safely be cheered on by more of their friends and family at outdoor sporting events. Additionally, I met with a number of constituent groups to discuss issues that matter most to them to ensure their voices are heard in DC. As the House heads back into session for another week of legislative business, I will continue to advocate on behalf of Sixth District residents.

Honoring Officer Winum:

    Last week I took to the House Floor to honor the life of Stanley Police Officer Nick Winum who was tragically killed in the line of duty on February 26. Originally a farmer on the Eastern Shore, Officer Winum followed his calling to serve others and joined the Virginia State Police. After working for more than a decade as a State Trooper, Officer Winum transitioned into the Stanley Police Department in 2016, where he served until his passing. For the last fifteen years of his life he put the well-being of his neighbors above his own, and our community is forever grateful for the sacrifice he made while keeping our streets safe. Officer Winum is survived by the love of his life Kara, his children Jedediah, Aubrey, Jackson, and Nicki, his granddaughter Willa, as well as his parents, siblings, and 24 nieces and nephews. He is remembered as a man of honor and principle who loved the Lord, his family, and his country. To honor this patriot, those who knew him will continue to carry on his legacy of kindness, compassion, and service to others. I join the Stanley community and his law enforcement colleagues in mourning his passing and extend my deepest condolences to his family.

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Supporting High School Students:

     Governor Northam recently modified Executive Order 72 mandating, “For sports played outdoors the total number of spectators cannot exceed the lesser of 30 percent of the occupancy load of the certificate of occupancy for the venue or 250 spectators per field. Spectators must wear masks over their nose and mouth in accordance with section II. Ten feet of physical distance must be maintained between spectators who are not Family members.” 

     Every student-athlete deserves the opportunity to play the sport he or she loves while being safely cheered on by their family and friends, especially during a time that has taken a significant mental toll on our Nation’s youth. Governor Northam’s decision to require 10-foot distancing and allow no more than 250 fans at an outdoor stadium that potentially holds thousands is insufficient. Last week, I wrote to the Governor strongly urging him to revise his Executive Order to increase attendance capacity at outdoor high school sporting events to 50 percent capacity or 500 people, whichever is greater, as well as called for him to follow the CDC’s social distancing guidance of six feet instead of ten. Precautions are still necessary, but they must also be reasonable. To read the full letter, click here

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Protecting Our Elections:

     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. But H.R. 1, which passed in the House last week, 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 egregious provisions included in this bill are listed below and are just a handful of the reasons why I voted against this legislation.

  • 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
  • Mandates that states send ballots in the mail proactively, whether the voter wants it or not.
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Police Reform:

     Unfortunately, instead of working with Republicans to find a bipartisan solution to address police reform, the Democrat Majority passed a partisan bill through the House last week called the Justice in Policing Act, which aims to defund and dismantle our police departments across the country. Not only does it eliminate qualified immunity which would cause officers to second guess themselves in a life and death situation, but it also strips them of necessary resources and tactics that allow good police officers to do their jobs. Further, the bill was rushed to the Floor without any Committee markup and without an amendment process. This is simply not how Congress should operate.

     While I could not support the proposal mentioned above, I am a cosponsor of the JUSTICE Act, which offers real solutions to increase transparency, accountability, and training within our Nation’s police departments. This bill supports our police and strengthens relationships that ensure the safety and security of all communities. Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Improve law enforcement transparency through additional reporting including annual reporting on the use of force and reporting on no-knock warrants.
  • Ensure law enforcement agencies and officers are held accountable by developing accessible disciplinary records systems.
  • Provide $500 million for state and local law enforcement agencies to equip all officers with body cameras, improve the use of body cameras, and store and retain footage.
  • Ban the use of chokeholds except for when the use of deadly force is permitted under law.
  • Improve officer training by directing the Attorney General to develop curricula related to the duty to intervene and de-escalation tactics. 
  • Includes the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, making lynching a federal crime.
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Meeting with Constituents:

     Regardless of whether I'm in Washington or home in the Sixth District, I always make time to meet with constituents. Unfortunately, visitors are still not allowed in the Capitol due to the coronavirus pandemic, so I have been utilizing virtual options to connect with those I am honored to represent. Last week I met with a number of Sixth District residents to discuss several health care related initiatives. Among the many groups I met with last week were the Tourette Association of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Adult Congenital Heart Association, Rare Disease Legislative Associates, and the National Hemophilia Association. If you would like to schedule a meeting with me or my staff, please do not hesitate to reach out to one of my offices listed at the bottom of this page. 

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Adult Congenital Heart Association
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National Hemophilia Association
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 Paralyzed Veterans of America
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Rare Disease Legislative Associates

COVID-19 Update:

     As of March 8, 2021, Virginia has had 586,592 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 9,683. Further, according to the VDH's COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of March 8th, 1,491,065 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 823,887 people are fully vaccinated. 

     Good news for Veterans who use the Martinsburg VA Medical Center. Recently, the Center announced that it has expanded its eligibility requirement for the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine following the guidance of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Veterans who are 55 and older or Veterans who are essential personnel as defined by the CDC are qualified to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Call their COVID Vaccine Call Center at 304-579-2550, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to schedule your appointment.

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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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