Civility?

Last year, during the Red Hen restaurant controversy, Congressman Cline posted the following on his Twitter account:

Congressman Cummings was not the only Democrat who said that regardless of deep political differences, the Red Hen should have served Sarah Sanders.

In this case Cline was pleased to praise civility. But like virtually every other Republican in Congress, he is willing to remain silent in the face of behavior that goes far beyond incivility.

No political disagreements, no matter how profound, justify such racist and xenophobic language.

It’s easy for Cline to denounce what he considers bad behavior by Democrats. He does it all the time. The real test of courage is a willingness to denounce, when necessary, his fellow Republicans– up to and including the President of the United States.

I can find no evidence that Cline has ever dared to say a critical word about the hateful, divisive abuse that President Trump spews on a daily basis.

Please, Congressman: Until you are prepared to call out your own side, no more pious talk about “civility.”

 

“We can’t afford it” watch

“In one of my first speeches after being sworn in, I reintroduced four words to Congress that Washington needs to hear again and again: we can’t afford it.”
–Congressman Ben Cline, The Roanoke Times

“I will continue to vote against wasteful spending and demand fiscal responsibility in Washington in all areas. If we can find ways to balance our state budgets and our family budgets, I believe it is time for the federal government to follow suit.”
–Congressman Ben Cline, Sixth District Perspectives

So the entrance fees that National Parks visitors pay in the expectation that their money will be used to maintain and improve the parks will instead be used to feed Donald Trump’s gargantuan ego.

And no one should be surprised if the final price tag for this boondoggle is far more than $2.5 million.

Congressman Cline: I know your outrage about fiscal irresponsibility is extremely selective. But is this the kind of spending we can afford?

Cline will hold town hall July 9 in Augusta County

Congressman Cline has announced plans to hold a town hall meeting (register here) on Tuesday July 9 from 12-1:30 p.m. (an inconvenient time for most working people) at Stuarts Draft Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9339, 3251 Stuarts Draft Highway, Stuarts Draft, VA.

According to the announcement:

Citizens of Augusta County will be given priority regarding comments during the town hall. Signs and noisemakers are prohibited.

Perhaps some of our Augusta County readers can take the opportunity to ask Cline about some of the things he has said and done, as chronicled here and elsewhere, since he was sworn in as our representative in Washington.

Cline plunges into the swamp

If anyone thought Congressman Cline was serious when he talked about “draining the swamp” in Washington, here’s the latest:

The campaign of Virginia GOP Rep. Ben Cline [held] a financial services industry breakfast Tuesday. Cline is not on the House Financial Services panel, but Republican Rep. Sean P. Duffy of Wisconsin is, and he’s promised as a special guest at the breakfast. House Financial Services has a markup scheduled this week on a bill to overhaul the U.S. Export Finance Agency and a measure to require carbon monoxide detectors in some federal housing.

You won’t read anything about it on Cline’s website, Facebook page or Twitter feed, but the invitation for the breakfast on Capitol Hill asked for donations from political action committees of $1,000 or $2,500, and from individuals of $500 or $1,500 to Ben Cline for Congress Inc. The arrangements were handled by Republican fundraising consultant Laura Kilgore McMenamin of Alexandria, who also helped raise money for former Congressman Bob Goodlatte. For her services, she has received $148,248 from Goodlatte and $77,568 from Cline.

We’ll probably have to wait until after the Federal Election Commission’s June 30 filing deadline, but it will be interesting to see who attended the breakfast and how much they gave.

In the meantime I have emailed Cline asking for that information, and about the legislation that was discussed.

According to OpenSecrets.org:

The financial sector is far and away the largest source of campaign contributions to federal candidates and parties, with insurance companies, securities and investment firms, real estate interests and commercial banks providing the bulk of that money.

The sector contributed generous sums to both parties until 2010 when donations began to heavily bias Republicans, which likely reflects the finance industry’s interest in overturning the financial regulations from the Dodd-Frank Act, implemented to protect consumers from predatory lending practices and risky financial decisions from the industry. In 2014, the industry as a whole contributed half a billion dollars to candidate and party committees, PACs as well as outside spending groups; 62 percent of the funds given to candidates and parties went to Republicans. In 2012, the giving was even higher (as is the trend with presidential cycles) at $687,000; nearly 70 percent of the candidate and party gifts went to the GOP.

For Cline’s 2018 campaign for Congress, banking and financial interests were among the most generous donors, including:

–American Bankers Association ($2,500)

–Wells Fargo ($2,500)

–Genworth Financial ($1,000)

–Capital One ($1,000)

As a member of the House of Delegates, Cline was pleased to receive more than $27,000 in donations from predatory payday and car-title loan companies that exploit the financially desperate, including TitleMax and Check into Cash.

 

Cline’s claim about gang members and green cards rated mostly false

Congressman Cline is one of several Congressional Republicans who are spreading falsehoods about the the Dream and Promise Act passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

Also known as H.R. 6, the Democratic legislation would open up a path to a green card for nearly 2.7 million undocumented immigrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The bill covers “dreamers” — a term for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children — and smaller groups of noncitizens who were eligible for temporary protected status or “deferred enforced departure” before the Trump administration announced it would curb those programs.
…..
As MPI noted in this analysis, the bill covers “unauthorized immigrants, regardless of age, who entered the United States before age 18 and at least four years before enactment of the legislation, and who have a high school diploma or GED, or are enrolled in a high school, GED program, or an apprenticeship program.”
…..
“This bill will certainly give green cards to gang members,” Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) said during the floor debate. Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) said “H.R. 6 also provides green cards to gang members.”

But according to The Washington Post Fact Checker:

The Dream and Promise Act says it doesn’t cover immigrants who “knowingly, willfully, and voluntarily participated in offenses committed by a criminal street gang” at any point in the five years before their application for a green card. This provision does not seem to require a conviction of any kind, only proof of participation in a crime gang.

However, the bill also says “allegations of gang membership obtained from a State or Federal in-house or local database, or a network of databases used for the purpose of recording and sharing activities of alleged gang members across law enforcement agencies, shall not establish the participation.”

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California made a key point:

“If we had wanted to prevent the Department of Homeland Security from using or referring to gang databases, we would have said so,” Lofgren said on the House floor. “The bill would clearly state that DHS could not use, rely on, or refer to gang databases. That is not what the bill says. The bill says ‘it shall not establish disqualifying gang participation.’ It can be evidence, but it can’t be the establishment of that fact.”

She continued: “Now, why would that be the case? We value our law enforcement community. They keep us safe. They are hard-working. But these databases are populated by people way beyond law enforcement, people in school police, school security. They can result in people being mistakenly tagged as gang members when they are not. I will give an example. There was an audit done of California’s gang database, CalGang. When the auditors went through, they found out there were 42 individuals who were under the age of 1 year old who had allegedly self-reported that they were part of a gang. Obviously, that was incorrect. So we would not want to make that the determining factor.”

The Fact Checker concludes:

Republicans are making sweeping and factually flawed claims that H.R. 6 would give legal status to gang members and smugglers. We give them Three Pinocchios.

Under The Post’s rating system, Three Pinocchios signifies

Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions. This gets into the realm of “mostly false.”

Cline, like President Trump and many other Republicans, is all too willing to engage in phony scaremongering on immigration-related issues. It’s easier and perhaps less politically risky than doing the hard work of fixing a broken immigration system.

Cline will hold town hall June 17 in Rockingham County

Congressman Cline has announced plans to hold a town hall meeting (register here) on Monday June 17 from 5:30-7 p.m. at Linville-Edom Ruritan Club, 3752 Linville Edom Road, Linville, VA.

According to the announcement:

Citizens of Rockingham County will be given priority regarding comments during the town hall. Signs and noisemakers are prohibited.

Perhaps some of our Rockingham County readers can take the opportunity to ask Cline about some of the things he has said and done, as chronicled here and elsewhere, since he was sworn in as our representative in Washington.

Fiscal irresponsibility watch

“In one of my first speeches after being sworn in, I reintroduced four words to Congress that Washington needs to hear again and again: we can’t afford it.”
–Congressman Ben Cline, The Roanoke Times

“I will continue to vote against wasteful spending and demand fiscal responsibility in Washington in all areas. If we can find ways to balance our state budgets and our family budgets, I believe it is time for the federal government to follow suit.”
–Congressman Ben Cline, Sixth District Perspectives

Meanwhile, and so far unmentioned by Congressman Cline:

Happy to bring this to your attention, Congressman.