Back in Washington after paying homage to former President Trump at the CPAC conference in Orlando (he participated in a panel praising Trump’s trade policies), Congressman Cline joined every other House Republican to vote no on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.
At a time when many of his Sixth District constituents are dealing with unemployment, eviction and hunger, and local governments are scrambling to maintain essential services, here are some of the items in the bill which Cline opposed despite overwhelming support by Americans :
- $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, on top of the $600 payments issued through the stimulus bill passed in December. (Cline endorsed $2,000 checks when Trump proposed them, but mysteriously voted against a bill to provide them.)
- Expanded unemployment insurance and child tax credits.
- $85 billion for COVID-19 contact tracing and testing, increasing the size of the public health workforce and vaccine distribution and supply chains
- Aid to state and local governments facing deep budget shortfalls due to COVID. (Cline likes to suggest that all this aid will go to “bail out” states like New York and California, when in fact it will be distributed to governments all over the country, including in Virginia’s Sixth District.)
- $130 billion for schools and child care, enabling safe in-person learning by improving ventilation systems, reducing class sizes, buying personal protective equipment and implementing social distancing.
- Further assistance for child nutrition and help with rent and mortgages.
- Grants for restaurants and bars that have lost business due to the pandemic and additional funding for paycheck protection programs.
- Reduced health care premiums for low- and middle-income families through the Affordable Care Act.
Remember: Cline will deserve no credit for any of these things that will help tens of millions of Americans, including thousands of the people he purports to represent.
But the congressman wasn’t quite finished disdaining struggling working families in the Sixth. He reaffirmed his longstanding hatred for organized labor by supporting a bill in Congress to impose an anti-union right-to-work-for-less law on the entire country.
Cline may want to take into account the opinions of his constituents in the Sixth District. In 2016 Virginia voters rejected a Republican effort led by, among others, then-delegate Ben Cline to enshrine Virginia’s anti-union “right to work” law in the Commonwealth’s Constitution. Opposition to the ballot measure came not just from traditionally Democratic urban areas but from rural Republican-leaning parts of the Commonwealth. The overwhelming majority of those voting “no” were not union members.
In fact voters in much of the Sixth District — including majorities in Republican-leaning Augusta, Bath, Highland, Page and Rockbridge Counties, as well as Buena Vista and Waynesboro — opposed Cline’s “right to work” amendment in 2016.
It seems most of the people Cline represents in Congress don’t hate unions as much as he and other Republican politicians think they should.