“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.

Cline’s lie-filled speech

Before joining every other House Republican to vote against the For the People Act (HR1), to protect and expand voting rights for all Americans, Congressman Cline spoke on the House floor in opposition to the bill for one minute and twenty seconds.

In that brief time, Cline managed to lie about three things and misrepresent something else while calling into question the basis of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Cline’s Lie: HR1 forces “taxpayers to pay politicians to campaign for office.”

Fact: “H.R.1 does not spend any taxpayer funds on public financing. Rather, it imposes a 2.75 percent surcharge on certain criminal fines and civil and administrative penalties collected by the federal government, primarily from corporate defendants and their executive officers.” While Cline opposes any form of public financing of political campaigns, he raises no objections to corporate financing of campaigns, and is in fact pleased to accept corporate money for his own campaigns. He supports the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, allowing unlimited private money in election campaigns.

Cline’s Lie: HR1 mandates “that states send ballots in the mail proactively.”

Fact: “The Democrats’ bill does not require states to send out ballots that voters have not explicitly solicited. Rather, the bill requires states to give all voters the option of requesting a mail-in ballot without an excuse.”

Cline’s Lie: HR1 abolishes “the signature requirement for mail-in ballots.”

Fact: HR1 would “prohibit states from requiring voters casting a ballot by mail to provide identification aside from a signature, and require signature discrepancy issues to be resolved by at least two trained election officials; require states to make a good faith effort to notify voters of apparent signature discrepancies and provide an opportunity to cure any issues within ten days.”

Cline’s Misrepresentation: HR1 mandates “that states accept mail-in ballot up to 10 days after election day.”

Fact: The bill only refers to ballots mailed on or before election day. Ballots mailed after election day will not be accepted.

(My impression is that Cline simply grabs onto Republican talking points without bothering to fact-check them.)

Cline began his remarks by calling HR1 a “top-down federal power grab” that would block states from setting their own election rules. But that was the same reason white Southerners in Congress gave for opposing the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which eliminated literacy tests and enabled millions of African-Americans to vote for the first time. Last July Cline paid a handsome tribute to his late colleague John Lewis, who marched and bled and went to jail to achieve that law– which also empowered the federal government to override state election procedures.

Does the congressman understand the irony?

Cline opposes COVID relief, backs anti-union bill

Back in Washington after paying homage to former President Trump at the CPAC conference in Orlando (he participated in a panel praising Trump’s trade policies), Congressman Cline joined every other House Republican to vote no on President Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

At a time when many of his Sixth District constituents are dealing with unemployment, eviction and hunger, and local governments are scrambling to maintain essential services, here are some of the items in the bill which Cline opposed despite overwhelming support by Americans :

  • $1,400 stimulus checks for most Americans, on top of the $600 payments issued through the stimulus bill passed in December. (Cline endorsed $2,000 checks when Trump proposed them, but mysteriously voted against a bill to provide them.)
  • Expanded unemployment insurance and child tax credits.
  • $85 billion for COVID-19 contact tracing and testing, increasing the size of the public health workforce and vaccine distribution and supply chains
  • Aid to state and local governments facing deep budget shortfalls due to COVID. (Cline likes to suggest that all this aid will go to “bail out” states like New York and California, when in fact it will be distributed to governments all over the country, including in Virginia’s Sixth District.)
  • $130 billion for schools and child care, enabling safe in-person learning by improving ventilation systems, reducing class sizes, buying personal protective equipment and implementing social distancing.
  • Further assistance for child nutrition and help with rent and mortgages.
  • Grants for restaurants and bars that have lost business due to the pandemic and additional funding for paycheck protection programs.
  • Reduced health care premiums for low- and middle-income families through the Affordable Care Act.

Remember: Cline will deserve no credit for any of these things that will help tens of millions of Americans, including thousands of the people he purports to represent.

But the congressman wasn’t quite finished disdaining struggling working families in the Sixth. He reaffirmed his longstanding hatred for organized labor by supporting a bill in Congress to impose an anti-union right-to-work-for-less law on the entire country.

Cline may want to take into account the opinions of his constituents in the Sixth District. In 2016 Virginia voters rejected a Republican effort led by, among others, then-delegate Ben Cline to enshrine Virginia’s anti-union “right to work” law in the Commonwealth’s Constitution. Opposition to the ballot measure came not just from traditionally Democratic urban areas but from rural Republican-leaning parts of the Commonwealth. The overwhelming majority of those voting “no” were not union members.

In fact voters in much of the Sixth District — including majorities in Republican-leaning Augusta, Bath, Highland, Page and Rockbridge Counties, as well as Buena Vista and Waynesboro — opposed Cline’s “right to work” amendment in 2016.

It seems most of the people Cline represents in Congress don’t hate unions as much as he and other Republican politicians think they should.

Cline: Senate trial of Trump was a waste of time

Following last week’s Senate trial of former president Trump, with harrowing accounts of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob, this is all Congressman Cline could bring himself to say:

That’s it.

Nothing about Trump’s incitement of his supporters for months before the attack. Nothing about the Capitol police officer murdered and the 140 other officers injured by the mob. (Blue Lives Matter? Really?) Nothing about Trump’s phone call with House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy during the insurrection, in which Trump expressed no concern for the safety of members of Congress or Vice President Pence or anyone else, but said, “Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” And of course nothing about Cline’s own role in encouraging the false notion of massive fraud in the 2020 Presidential election, which Trump used to incite his die-hard supporters.

And still no explanation about Cline’s own whereabouts and experiences during the insurrection, or about the mysterious timing of a Facebook post just minutes before rioters breached police lines and entered the Capitol.

Is there any doubt that if Cline had (Heaven forbid!) been a member of the Senate, he would have ignored the overwhelming evidence of Trump’s complicity and voted with a clear conscience to acquit? Cline has never once called Trump to account for anything. Why would he start now? Out of fear or loyalty or both, he is behaving exactly how the dominant pro-Trump majority of his party demands he behave. More than 70 years ago, George Orwell had him and his colleagues pegged.