Cline’s embarrassing CPAC speech

By all accounts, the recently-concluded Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, featured an appalling array of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and lies about the deadly pro-Trump insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6– most notably from the Big Liar himself.

One of the many lowlights was a truly awful speech by Congressman Cline– awful in delivery as well as in content. Even when it comes to rousing a crowd primed to agree with him, Cline is a failure.

See for yourself and be prepared to cringe. (I almost feel embarrassed for him. But then I remember it’s Ben Cline.):

The theme of the CPAC conference was “America UnCanceled,” so Cline began by proclaiming that Virginians like Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Patrick Henry were “the original fighters against cancel culture.”

Well, maybe, although I doubt they and the other Founding Fathers saw the American Revolution in quite that way.

Moving to the present day, Cline asserted:

Virginia is controlled by a one-party liberal group, fighting to cancel freedom, to cancel liberty, to cancel those of us who are fighting each and every day for family and freedom.

If any group is trying to cancel anything in Virginia these days, it’s Republicans. The ginned-up frenzy over “critical race theory” is largely an effort to cancel teaching about the racial history of the US that might make anyone uncomfortable. The chair of the Republican Party of Virginia wants to investigate a professor at the University of Virginia for writing mean things about Donald Trump.

Meanwhile Cline and other House Republicans have done their best to cancel Congresswoman Liz Cheney– a featured speaker at CPAC 2020– for daring to speak the truth about Donald Trump and the 2020 election.

Cline congratulated Texas for delivering its votes last year “for our great president Donald J. Trump.”

Just two points, Congressman.

  1. Donald J. Trump is no longer president.
  2. Even when he was president, he wasn’t at all “great.” And he isn’t great now.

Cline then moved on to one of his favorite subjects: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the rest of the so-called “squad.”

Here is where he really took leave of reality.

We know who really calls the shots in the House of Representatives. It’s the squad. It’s the liberal agenda of AOC and the squad that we are fighting against.

Surely even Cline knows that six relatively new Democratic members of the House, none of whom are in leadership positions and who don’t always agree among themselves, do not set the agenda for the other 217 Democrats.

But he wasn’t through.

They are trying to cancel family. They are trying to cancel faith. They are even trying to cancel the American flag.

I did find a photo of one member of the squad, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, with an American flag. But it didn’t look like she was trying to cancel it.

Rep. Ilhan Omar  holding a miniature American flag smiling and clapping

And she didn’t slobber all over it in an embarrassing and phony display of patriotism.

Cline then asked his obviously bored audience: “Are you going to let them cancel our American flag?”

After a smattering of half-hearted “No”s, Cline soon ended his speech– and probably his chance to become a leading figure of an increasingly radicalized “conservative” movement.

Cline again shows whose side he isn’t on

Congressman Cline’s first impulse is always to side with employers over employees. This tendency has led him to be a longtime hater of labor unions, among other protections for workers.

In a recent series of Facebook posts, Cline again revealed his contempt for everyday working people– suggesting that temporary unemployment payments make them too lazy to take any undesirable low-wage jobs on offer.

On June 15, Cline wrote:

As the economy rebounds from the pandemic, businesses are struggling to hire employees as a result of extended unemployment benefits from the Federal government. With 9.3 million open jobs in America, it’s time to get government out of the way and truly kickstart a long-term recovery.

And on June 24, he insisted:

The restaurant industry struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic because of government-mandated lockdowns, and now they’re struggling to keep their doors open because they can’t hire enough employees. This is the danger of extended Federal benefits.

On June 28, he linked to an article in The Wall Street Journal and claimed:

States that have discontinued enhanced federal unemployment benefits are seeing folks reentering the workforce at higher rates than states continuing them. I urge Governor Northam to help folks get back to work by opting the Commonwealth out of extended federal benefits.

In fact the Journal article said no such thing. The New York Times reported:

Work-force development officials [in Missouri] said they had seen virtually no uptick in applicants since the governor’s announcement, which ended a $300 weekly supplement to other benefits. And the online job site Indeed found that in states that have abandoned the federal benefits, clicks on job postings were below the national average.

So what produced the big increase in payrolls in June? It turns out to be something completely predictable that Cline has been loath to mention: higher wages.

President Biden grasps what Ben Cline misses: that carrots work better than sticks when it comes to creating an economy that works for workers.

Cline rejects bill to prepare for future pandemics

Virginia Public Radio reports:

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.

Cline’s contrasting votes on Juneteenth holiday

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.

Cline votes against older workers (again) and veterans

In contrast to his recent vote against protecting pregnant workers, Congressman Cline displayed his usual consistency by voting NO on the Protecting Older Workers from Discrimination Act.

Nearly 40 percent of the people in Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District are 50 years or older.

The bill is a long-delayed response to a 2009 Supreme Court decision that weakened protections against age discrimination.

The ruling in Gross v. FBL Financial Services Inc. mandated that plaintiffs of age discrimination demonstrate age was the sole motivating factor for the employer’s action.

Cline voted against the same bill last year, when it passed the House but died in the Senate.

Also Thursday, Cline joined most House Republicans to vote NO on the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act, which would provide women veterans access to contraceptive care without co-pays, which civilian and active-duty women already receive.

Cline’s mysterious flip-flop on pregnant workers’ rights

I don’t compliment Congressman Cline here very often, but I did give him credit last September for voting in the House for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Never mind. I take it back.

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?

Ask him. Please.

Guess who voted NO?

The Roanoke Times reports:

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.

Cline’s phony bipartisanship

In my previous Cline Watch post, I noted that Congressman Cline had offered no explanation for his vote against a bipartisan commission to examine the violent pro-Trump January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol.

Since then, Justin Faulconer of The Amherst New Era-Progress had a chance to ask Cline about his vote after a meeting of the Amherst County Republican Committee:

Cline recently voted against legislation to create an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol when a mob of supporters of former President Trump stormed the building to stop congressional affirmation of Biden’s win. All 217 Democrats in the House backed the measure and 35 Republicans joined in supporting the bill.

In a brief interview, Cline said he supports a commission “that is fair, balanced and nonpartisan” and he does not trust the bill Pelosi and Democrats pushed through.

“If another [bill] comes up that is, I would be happy to vote for a fair, balanced, nonpartisan commission,” Cline said. “… It was not a non-partisan proposal and that’s why I voted against it. But I would support a fair and nonpartisan commission.”

So as I understand it, Cline would support a fair, balanced and nonpartisan commission.

Unfortunately he didn’t explain why he thought the commission he opposed was unfair, imbalanced and partisan. I hope a member of the local media will press him for more details.

In fact the legislation he voted against was the product of an agreement between Republican Congressman John Katko and Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson– not “Pelosi and the Democrats.” It was “fair, balanced and nonpartisan” enough for 35 of Cline’s fellow House Republicans to vote for it.

Cline, a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, voted against the commission despite the endorsement of the caucus– which suggests he is more interested in posing as bipartisan than in being bipartisan.

(Despite a majority vote in the Senate and the support of six Republicans, the commission was blocked by a filibuster in the Senate.)

If Cline is so eager for a fair, balanced and nonpartisan commission, maybe he should introduce his own legislation. But I doubt his idea of “nonpartisan” would match that of even the most moderate and accommodating Democrat.

Or perhaps– just perhaps– he isn’t really interested in getting to the truth about the awful events of January 6 at all.

Cline’s anti-police vote

Congressman Cline claims to be a staunch friend of law enforcement.

Just last week he recognized National Police Week, writing on his Facebook page:

[W]e lift all of our law enforcement officers up, show them the respect they have earned and deserve, and thank them for their overwhelming contributions to our society.

That was last week. This week, instead of lifting our our law enforcement officers up, he let them down by voting against a bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, modeled after the commission that investigated the 9/11 attacks. (Not known for his courage or independence, Cline joined all but 35 principled House Republicans to vote NO.)

I don’t know if Cline read this before he voted, but I doubt it would have made any difference.

Relatives of a U.S. Capitol Police officer who died by suicide following the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection said they support a commission to investigate the day’s events.

U.S. Capitol Police Officer Howie Liebengood, a 15-year police veteran, was one of two officers who died by suicide days after the deadly attack on the Capitol that left several dead and 140 officers injured. Liebengood’s death “was a direct result of the trauma and strain from the January 6th attack on the Capitol and the around-the-clock shifts in the subsequent days,” his family said.

…..

“We believe a thorough, non-partisan investigation into the root causes of and the response to the January 6th riot is essential for our nation to move forward,” the family said in a statement. “Howie’s death was an immediate outgrowth of those events.”

If anyone deserves a full accounting of the circumstances leading up to January 6, and the events of that day, it’s the brave officers of the Capitol and Washington, DC, police who put their lives and safety on the line to protect Cline and his fellow members of Congress.

As Congressman Tim Ryan told Cline and the other Republican opponents, “This is a slap in the face to every rank-and-file cop in the United States.”

Although Cline has denounced the violence at the Capitol, and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice, he has never been willing to identify them as a pro-Trump mob or discuss his role in enabling the Big Lie of a stolen Presidential election. And unlike some Republicans, he has never called out Trump for inciting the insurrection at the Capitol.

Cline is a member of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus in the House, which endorsed the January 6 commission. Now that Cline has demonstrated his lack of interest in bipartisanship on such a vital matter, he should have the decency to resign.

So far Cline has offered no explanation for his vote.