Now can you find the political courage to say something about this?
If not, your pious words mean nothing.
In his final days in Congress, Bob Goodlatte distinguished himself– but not in a good way.
As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Goodlatte single-handedly blocked Congressional approval of Savanna’s Act, a bill to protect Native American women from violence. The bill had been passed in the Senate by unanimous consent.
Now it seems Ben Cline, Goodlatte’s successor as representative for Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District, has decided to follow Goodlatte’s shamefully insensitive example when it comes to the violence that Native American women suffer.
House Republicans on Wednesday quietly tried to repeal a major provision in the Violence Against Women Act that helps tribes respond to horrific levels of violence directed at Native American women by non-Native men on tribal lands.
During a House Judiciary Committee markup on the 2019 bill to reauthorize the law, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) offered an amendment to repeal provisions in the 2013 law that give tribes jurisdiction over non-Native people who commit crimes of domestic violence, dating violence or who violate a protection order against a victim on tribal land.
He claimed that non-Native domestic abusers’ constitutional rights might not be upheld if they harm a Native woman on tribal land and have to go before a tribal court. His amendment would have also stripped out new language in the 2019 bill to expand tribes’ jurisdiction over non-Native abusers who commit crimes of sex trafficking, stalking and violence against law enforcement officers on tribal land.
Tribes fought hard to add this provision to the Violence Against Women Act ― they nearly lost ― because, prior to 2013, jurisdiction over non-Native abusers on tribal land fell to federal or state law enforcement, who are often hours away from reservations and lack the resources to respond. That meant non-Native abusers on tribal lands were essentially immune from punishment and could keep being violent. Thanks to the provision, tribal law enforcement now has the ability to intervene.
Native women on reservations experience violence at appallingly high rates. More than 84 percent of indigenous women experience violence in their lifetime, and the vast majority of Native victims of violence ― 96 percent of women and 89 percent of men ― report being victimized by a non-Native person. Native women are also mysteriously going missing and being murdered.
The Judiciary Committee defeated Sensenbrenner’s amendment along party lines; among the nine Republicans voting for it was Congressman Cline.
Richard Sneed, principal chief of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, said he’s happy to talk to any lawmakers about why the tribal provision in the Violence Against Women Act is vital.
“We are very concerned that members of the House Judiciary Committee tried to take away our sovereign right to prosecute domestic and dating violence perpetrators in the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act,” Sneed said in a statement. “Leaders from Tribes have fought for years to protect our Native women and children through strengthening our Tribal courts. VAWA was an integral component of exercising our tribal sovereignty to protect the most vulnerable amongst us.”
Perhaps Cline should have a word with Mr. Sneed. He might learn something.
Congressman Cline joined all but a few principled Republicans to oppose a resolution nullifying President Trump’s declaration of a “national emergency” on the southern border.
Nevertheless a majority of the House of Representatives approved the resolution and sent it to the Senate.
After Congress refused to appropriate all the money Trump wanted for a border wall, the president declared the emergency in an effort divert other funds for the project without Congressional approval.
Cline told Roanoke Times columnist Dan Casey of his plans last week:
“I support [Trump’s] declaration of an emergency,” he said. “My reading of the statute is that [Trump] has a very limited authority to redirect the money to construction projects [provided] those projects are a military activity.”
As Senator Tim Kaine noted in a letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, Trump wants to use his emergency declaration to reallocate $3.5 billion from the military construction budget already approved by Congress. Kaine asked from which projects the Department of Defense plans to divert funds. There has been no answer to Kaine’s question.
And when Trump said “I didn’t need to do this,” he admitted it was not an emergency.
When he was running for Congress in 2018, Cline declared:
I am sick and tired of our elected officials and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. trampling all over our Constitution and the Republic it set forth.
There is a reason I actually carry around a Constitution wherever I go.
Going forward, Congress must reestablish the supremacy of the Constitution and protect our Constitutional rights. The status quo, perpetuated by the special interests and swamp monsters that have invaded Washington, must be upended.
We must elect a Congressman who will fight to ensure neither the Judicial nor Executive branches take over powers from the Legislative branch…
Cline might want to pull that Constitution out of his pocket and look up Article I, Section 9.
“No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law”
Before the House vote, conservative columnist George Will wrote:
Every Republican who supports the president in this trashing of the Constitution… thereby violates his or her sworn oath to defend it and to “bear true faith and allegiance” to it. Voters should expel all of them from public life.
Congressman Cline: What is your breaking point? What will it take for you to put the interests of your constituents and the nation ahead of the interests of your party and the president?
Congressman Cline’s accusation that the “progressive left” embraces “infanticide” is as ridiculous as President Trump’s claim that the “Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth….”
But this is not just harmless political grandstanding; it’s dangerous. Events in recent decades have taught us that inflammatory language about “baby killing” can move some people to act in criminal and even murderous ways.
Cline and Trump reacted after Senate Democrats blocked a Republican-backed measure called the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.
Virginia’s Democratic Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine were among the Senators opposing the bill. As Warner posted on Twitter:
And Kaine noted:
Congressman Cline has announced plans to hold a town hall meeting on Thursday February 21 in Lynchburg at the Marine Corps League Detachment 759, 1908 Old Forest Road. The meeting is scheduled for 4:30 to 6 p.m., unfortunately an inconvenient time for many people.
According to the announcement:
Constituents planning to attend should register on Eventbright. Citizens of Lynchburg will be given priority with regard to comments during the town hall.
Perhaps some of our Lynchburg 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.
Congressman Cline joined other Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday to oppose a bill to bolster background checks for firearms purchases.
The main bill [H.R. 8] was approved, 23-15, along party lines, sending it to the House floor. It would expand required background checks to all firearm sales, aimed at covering sales at gun shows, online or in other private settings.
During the vote, several Democratic members went to hug Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath, whose son was killed in gun violence, as she wiped away tears. Democratic Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon and Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania also had tears in their eyes during the vote.
Democrats are expected to have enough support to pass both measures in the House, but Senate Republicans are likely to let the legislation stall.
By opposing universal background checks, Cline and other Republicans are defying the vast majority of Americans, including those of their own party and gun owners.
The Pew Research Center found in October that 91 percent of Democrats and 79 percent of Republicans favor background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows.
Another poll last year found:
Among NRA members, 69% support comprehensive background checks. Slightly, but not significantly, more gun owners who are not NRA members support required background checks for all firearms purchasers (78%).
Nonetheless the NRA opposes the background check bill. And Cline– a recipient of NRA campaign contributions as a candidate for House of Delegates and for Congress— was pleased to record a spot for the NRA toeing their line.
In the latest edition of his weekly newsletter, Congressman Cline writes:
Cline was referring to the Raise the Wage Act, which would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024.
Writing in The Atlantic, James Kwak noted:
Looking at historical experience, there is no obvious relationship between the minimum wage and unemployment: adjusted for inflation, the federal minimum was highest from 1967 through 1969, when the unemployment rate was below 4 percent—a historically low level.
And low-wage workers are the victims of inflation, not the cause of it.
America’s lowest-paid workers have lost nearly a full year’s pay since Congress last raised the federal minimum wage a decade ago. Every day, these workers’ losses continue to mount. Inflation has steadily eroded their pay, and as a result, a full-time, year-round worker earning $7.25 per hour will take an effective pay cut of $2,578 this year alone. Over the past 10 years, lawmakers’ refusal to act has cost America’s lowest-paid workers a total of nearly $13,330—just shy of the $15,080 that a full-time worker earning $7.25 per hour takes home annually.
But what’s hardest to take is Cline’s position that the minimum wage should be left to states like Virginia, which currently pegs its minimum wage to the federal level of $7.25 an hour– a poverty income that requires workers and their families to depend on food stamps, Medicaid and other programs that Cline wants to slash.
As a member of the House of Delegates in 2015, Cline joined with other Republicans on the Commerce and Labor Committee to kill a bill that would have increased Virginia’s minimum wage to a modest $10 an hour by 2017.