One member of Virginia’s congressional delegation is working across party lines to help head off the next pandemic.
It should surprise no one to learn that the member is not Congressman Cline.
“Diseases do not stop at national borders,” says Congressman Gerry Connolly, a Democrat who represents Fairfax County in Congress.
This week, the House passed his Global Health Security Act, which re-establishes a position dedicated to preparing for pandemics on the National Security Council — a position established by Barack Obama and eliminated by Donald Trump.
“Global health crises are ongoing and increasing, and they affect national security,” Connolly says. “Saving lives for the next global pandemic starts now by investing in preparedness before it strikes.”
The bill creates an international fund for pandemic preparedness and requires a global health security strategy. Now, Connolly worked with several prominent conservative Republicans, including the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Mike McCaul.
“COVID-19 has proven viruses know no borders,” McCaul says. “It’s imperative that the United States works to prevent future pandemics and be prepared to respond to diseases with pandemic potential.”
About half of the House Republicans voted for the bill, although all four of Virginia’s Republican House members voted against it.
And of course one of those four was our own Ben Cline– who may (or, more likely, may not) be glad to explain his vote to any journalist or constituent who asks.
Alison Cutler of the Staunton News Leader reports:
Representative Ben Cline, along with three other Virginian representatives, voted no on a House resolution that had to do with establishing Juneteenth as a national holiday.
Hours later, he voted in support of the bill that made Juneteenth a federal holiday, and posted online that he was proud to participate in the creation of the holiday.
The two votes, one in support of Juneteenth’s national recognition and one in opposition of considering it, seem to directly contradict each other — and Cline, along with the three Virginian congressman, weren’t the only ones to vote that way.
The first was House Resolution 479, which provided for the consideration of Bill 475, which proposed Juneteenth National Independence Day as a legal public holiday.
The News Leader contacted Cline’s office for comment several times and has not yet received a response on why he voted no to consider Juneteenth as a national holiday last week, but voted yes when the resolution went through anyway. The News Leader’s first inquiry for Cline was submitted on June 17.
Cline did recognize Juneteenth on his public facebook page. “I was proud to support the creation of Juneteenth as a federal holiday to celebrate this important date in African-American history,” he said.
So as I understand it (and Cline should feel free to correct me if I’m wrong), he voted AGAINST bringing the bill up for a vote but then voted FOR the bill after he and other Republicans failed to block it. And then he said he was proud to support it.
And now, as he often does, he refuses to explain to his constituents why he voted the way he did.
The bill on which Cline voted AYE passed the House in the last session of Congress, but was not acted on in the Senate. So the House sponsors reintroduced it this year.
But when the bill came up for a vote in the current session, as I reported, Cline voted NO.
What I didn’t realize until now is that that the bill Cline voted for in September 2020 and the bill he voted against in May 2021 are word-for-word exactly the same.
See for yourself: Here is the text of the 2020 Pregnant Workers Fairness Act which Cline supported. Here is the text of the 2021 Pregnant Workers Fairness Act which Cline opposed.
The bill would require private-sector employers with 15 or more workers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant employees. Those accommodations could come in the form of water and bathroom breaks, stools, or a reduction in lifting requirements.
The bill would also protect workers from retaliation after making those requests and from being forced into taking unpaid leave.
So why, between September and May, did Cline change his mind and decide that he didn’t want to protect the rights of pregnant workers after all?
A smoother ride on the Blue Ridge Parkway, a better bridge to the Roaring Run Recreation Area and improvements to the Virginia Creeper Trail are on the list of regional projects to be funded by the federal government.
Nearly $1.5 million for projects in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests is proposed under the Great American Outdoors Act in the coming fiscal year, the U.S. Forest Service said Friday.
Another $32.8 million will go to repave a 24-mile stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway from near Bedford to just south of Roanoke Mountain. A construction timeline will not be known until a contact is awarded, according to parkway spokeswoman Leesa Brandon.
Let’s make sure that every resident of the Sixth District who enjoys these amenities, every business owner who benefits from the increase in visitors, every worker who is gainfully employed on these projects, knows that Congressman Cline voted NO.