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.

“Pro-life” Cline votes against pregnant workers

By a vote of 315 to 101, the House of Representatives Friday approved the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.

Although almost half of Republicans voted YES, the “pro-life,” “pro-family” Congressman Cline vote NO.

Cline claims to care deeply about the unborn. So why would he oppose a law that protects the unborn as well as expectant mothers?

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.

Similar to the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers are not required to make an accommodation if it imposes an undue hardship on an employer’s business.

Cline mum on Cheney vote, but drops strong clue

I phoned Congressman Ben Cline’s office Wednesday morning to find out how he voted on removing Liz Cheney from the House Republican leadership for daring to tell the truth about Donald Trump and the Big Lie about “stolen” 2020 election. (Cheney was ousted by an unrecorded voice vote of the House GOP caucus.)

I was told that Cline has chosen not to release that information, but the staffer who answered the phone took my name and said she would let the Congressman know of my interest.

Aside from cowardice, I have no idea why Cline wouldn’t want to tell his constituents how he voted. But I urge others to call his office (202-225-5431) and make the same request.

However I believe it’s possible to ascertain how he voted from the following quote in The Hill:

With Wednesday’s vote, Republicans are now “very unified,” Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) told The Hill. “We have a diverse conference with diverse views; we celebrate that. And we look to our leadership for our messaging, and we don’t want to distract from that message.”

That is to say, he almost certainly voted with the majority to dump Cheney. And while he claims that Republicans celebrate “diverse views,” the vote to oust Cheney tells precisely the opposite story.

So while Cline has joined in the usual Republican complaints about “cancel culture,” he apparently decided Cheney had to be canceled for refusing to keep quiet about Trump’s danger to democracy. (As Republican Senator Joni Ernst said about the ouster, “cancel culture is cancel culture no matter how you look at it.”)

Interestingly Cline expressed rather garbled doubts about replacing Cheney with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, as Trump advocated. Before she became a sycophantic Trump loyalist, Stefanik actually voted against Trump on a number of issues, including immigration, the border wall, tariffs and taxes.

“The lack of any challenger [to Stefanik] doesn’t remove any questions I have about her voting record and whether her positions are going to interfere with our ability to look to message for the conference,” Cline said.

Cline’s hesitation to support Stefanik is especially remarkable because in 2019 he emailed his supporters asking them to donate to her election campaign. If they knew about it, I wonder what those supporters would be thinking now.

$700,000 per household? Wrong.

The PolitiFact website has fact-checked a recent claim by Congressman Cline and found it lacking in facts.

As PolitiFact explains:

The Green New Deal is a set of goals, not detailed policies attached to specific taxes. The $700,000 number comes from a brief that its author, the right-of-center American Action Forum, acknowledges is a preliminary and rough estimate. The analysis did not say an average household would pay an extra $700,000 in taxes. Instead, it estimated a range of possible costs under different scenarios over 10 years and Cline took the highest number.

It’s possible the resolution will eventually lead to specific legislation that can be formally analyzed for potential costs, but at this point, the proposals are murky.

So, we rate Cline’s statement False.

Of course it’s not the first lie Cline has told on the House floor. And it likely won’t be the last.

After review, Toyota donates to Cline

After the bloody pro-Trump insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, a number of corporations announced plans to suspend contributions to members of Congress who– like Congressman Cline– shrugged off the outrage and voted against formally certifying the election of Joe Biden as president.

Other companies simply paused political contributions entirely.

Toyota Motor Corp. said it was reviewing its campaign contribution policies.

“Given the recent events and the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol, we are assessing our future PAC criteria,” Toyota said in a statement.

The review is over. Automotive News reported on April 1:

Toyota Motor Corp., which had been reviewing its political contributions since January, said it “supports candidates based on their position on issues that are important to the auto industry and the company.”

“We do not believe it is appropriate to judge members of Congress solely based on their votes on the electoral certification,” the Japanese automaker said in a statement. “However, we have decided against giving to some members who — through their statements and actions — undermine the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”

And so on March 31, 2021– less than three months after the insurrection– Cline’s campaign received a $1,000 donation from the Toyota Motor North America Inc. Political Action Committee.

By Toyota’s standards, it seems, Cline’s support for his friend Sidney Powell’s crazed conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election did not undermine “the legitimacy of our elections and institutions.”

Some of us would disagree.

Cline’s benefactor Matt Gaetz

Lately Florida Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz has been in a “spot of bother,” as the Brits say.

On Tuesday The New York Times reported that Gaetz is under investigation by the Justice Department for alleged sex trafficking involving a 17-year-old girl.

Now CNN reports:

Gaetz allegedly showed off to other lawmakers photos and videos of nude women he said he had slept with, the sources told CNN, including while on the House floor. The sources, including two people directly shown the material, said Gaetz displayed the images of women on his phone and talked about having sex with them. One of the videos showed a naked woman with a hula hoop, according to one source.”

It was a point of pride,” one of the sources said of Gaetz.

Based on available evidence, it’s reasonable to conclude that Gaetz is an utter sleazeball whom no decent human being would want anything to do with.

So– at a minimum– I hope Congressman Cline will (1) call for Gaetz’s ouster from the House Freedom Caucus, of which they are both members, (2) resign from the caucus if Gaetz remains a member and (3) return the generous $2,000 campaign contribution he received from Gaetz’s campaign committee on September 17, 2020.