Cline’s “under the radar” votes

Last week Congressman Cline cast three votes in the House of Representatives which– in the rush of other news– most of his constituents missed, but which deserve attention and follow-up inquiries from residents of the Sixth District.

Cline voted “no” on three measures approved by the House majority. They are:

• HR 4344: The Investor Protection and Capital Markets Fairness Act. This bill would “help the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hold criminals accountable and help Main Street investors who are victims of fraud recover their financial losses.”

Republican Congressman Bill Huizenga, one of the bill’s sponsors, said it “strikes a delicate balance to solve this by ensuring the SEC has the necessary tools to go after bad actors and prevent these sophisticated fraudsters from keeping the money they have stolen from our teachers, military service personnel, seniors, and religious-affiliated groups.”

• HR 737: The Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act. This bill would “prohibit the sale, purchase, and possession of shark fins in the United States, helping to curb an inhumane global trade that claims the lives of 73 million sharks each year.”

Shark finning is a cruel practice that entails cutting off a shark’s fins—often while the shark is still alive—and throwing the mutilated body in the ocean, where the helplessly immobile shark will suffocate, bleed to death, or succumb to an attack by a predator.

Combined with Cline’s vote against a measure aimed at eliminating the cruel practice of soring horses, this raises serious doubts about his commitment to animal welfare.

• HR 1309: The Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act. This bill would “provide employers one year to develop a provisional plan for protecting health care workers, and 42 months to develop and implement a final plan for investigating incidents of violence, educating staff on risk management, meeting specific recording requirements, and creating a safe space for health care workers to report acts of violence or threats.”

The measure followed rising attention to the dangers many health professionals face just by showing up at work. Over 75 percent of the 25,000 workplace assaults reported annually in the United States took place in hospitals and other health care and social services settings, according to data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The average health care worker was 20 percent more likely to experience violence at work than the average employee, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey, while the American Nurses Association reported that 1 in 4 nurses had been physically assaulted by a patient or a patient’s family member.

I have written to Congressman Cline asking why he voted against these important protections. I will report any response I receive.

Cline’s clueless response on elder care

WSET TV in Lynchburg recently featured the heart-wrenching story of Randy Harlow, a 68-year-old man trying to find suitable care and accommodations for his 90-year-old mother.

“Mom is totally dependent at this point for everything, her clothing her bathing her eating,” says Harlow.

Harlow’s mother depends on Medicare, and her condition has made it extremely difficult for Harlow to find affordable options to meet her special needs.

“We know there are tons of gaps were are seeing, or cracks in the system and a lot of people are falling through that,” says Denise Scruggs, the director of the Beard Center on Aging at the University of Lynchburg. “We’re seeing either you have the money to pay or you have nothing, or most of us, which I think is going to be the bulk of us, are going to be right in between where we don’t make enough to provide the care that I need or that our loved one needs, but we don’t qualify in either way to be able to handle that,” says Scruggs.

When WSET asked local members of Congress for their reactions to the report, Congressman Cline responded:

“When we have limited dollars being spread to able-bodied working adults like Medicaid expansion it’s a problem so we do need to reform health care, the Republicans do have a plan that we are unveiling through the republican study committee.”

What is Cline trying to say? That Medicaid expansion– by making it possible for hundreds of thousands of low-income working Virginians without health insurance to finally obtain it– is the reason that people like Randy Harlow struggle to find decent care for elderly parents?

As for the Republican plan, it has already been released and is basically a repackaged version of the GOP’s 2017 health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act which Congress failed to pass– a bill which would have reduced the number of insured by 24 million.

Cline goes with the “hearsay” defense

Fortune magazine reports:

House Democrats held their first public hearing in the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump Wednesday, with acting ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor telling a live television audience that Trump asked about Ukraine’s “investigations” into the Bidens during a phone call with Gordon Sondland, U.S. ambassador to the European Union.

Taylor further testified that Trump cared more about “the investigations” that the diplomat said were pushed by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, than Ukraine. Taylor said that he was told about the call by a member of his staff.


Meanwhile, several Republicans dismissed the revelation without answering to the substance of Taylor’s revelation. “In court that would be called hearsay, and that’s pretty much what most of the testimony in intelligence has been, is second-and third-degree hearsay,” Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) told Fortune, referring to the House Intelligence Committee. 

For Republicans, however, the “hearsay” defense will likely only last for so long. Sondland is scheduled to testify on November 20. And during the hearing Wednesday, House investigators called the aide who overheard the call, David Holmes, to testify behind closed doors on Friday. Both witnesses will almost certainly be asked about the call and what they heard Trump say, should they testify as scheduled.

As Cline surely knows, the rules for a Congressional hearing are not the same as for a criminal trial.

And if Cline is so concerned about “second-and third-degree hearsay,” shouldn’t he be demanding testimony from some of the people with first-hand information– including Mick Mulvaney, Mike Pompeo, John Bolton and Trump himself?

But OK, Congressman. Let’s imagine for a moment that the phone call occurred as Ambassador Taylor described, and that future witnesses confirm it.

Will you then finally address the substance of what Taylor and the other witnesses have testified to?

Cline votes “No” on extending ERA ratification time limit

The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to remove the previous time limit for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Now that– following the November election– Democrats control the General Assembly as well as the Governor’s Mansion, this would allow Virginia to become the 38th and deciding state to ratify the ERA.

Our Congressman Ben Cline joined the other Republicans on the committee to vote “No.” The vote in favor was 21 to 11.

In a video posted on his Facebook page, Cline complained about having to attend a Judiciary Committee hearing instead of attending the House impeachment inquiry on President Trump. He didn’t mention that the hearing was on the ERA, or that he had voted against the time extension.

Of course if Cline wants to catch up on the impeachment-related testimony he missed, he can easily obtain video or transcripts.