What are you suggesting, Congressman?

I really hope that by posting this on his campaign Facebook page, Congressman Cline is not suggesting that local law enforcement officials in Virginia counties that have adopted “Second Amendment sanctuary” resolutions have the right to determine which laws are Constitutional and which laws they will enforce. (Watch the interview between Fox News’s Tucker Carlson and Page County Sheriff Chad Cubbage here.)

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I can only hope that as a lawyer and a former prosecutor, Cline understands how lawless that position is.

As one commenter wrote:

We already have some gun control this Sheriff (and all the others) are already enforcing: they serve protective orders which remove the right to have a firearm, they search homes felony probationers and take guns, they take weapons from kids who bring them to school.

All these “infringe” on an individual right to bear arms, and no one (but the most oddly extreme) oppose these measures already in place. I’m frustrated with the narrative that the GOP is all about zero gun control, because it’s not true.

Instead of enabling Fox News scaremongering, Cline should be helping to enable a dialogue about common-sense rules on guns that a majority of gunowners and non-gunowners can agree on. But of course he has no interest in endangering his support from the NRA and the Virginia Citizens Defense League by doing so.

The Cline-Putin convergence on impeachment

At a town hall meeting in Botetourt County in April, Congressman Cline made clear that he is not a fan of Vladimir Putin’s regime.

“Russia is not our friend, we all need to recognize that,” he said. “The first volume of the Mueller Report should lay bare to everyone just how much Russia is not our friend.”

He characterized Russia’s attack on elections as “real,” adding that actions need to be taken to ensure the sanctity of the country’s elections.

So it should disturb Cline at least a little that he employs some of the same talking points as Putin when he justifies his down-the-line support for President Trump during the impeachment process.

Both Cline and Putin see the impeachment as nothing more than an effort by Democrats to reverse the result of the 2016 election.

And both claim that House Democrats decided on a Ukraine-related impeachment of Trump not because he did anything wrong, but only because they failed to find enough evidence of collusion with Russia.

Here is Cline on December 13:

“[T]he only abuse of power I have seen is by Speaker Pelosi and her caucus as they try to remove the duly elected President from office and overturn the will of 60 million Americans.”

Here he is on September 25:

“House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has caved to those on the far-left of her party who are demanding an official impeachment inquiry. She knows there is not enough support in the full House to pass a formal resolution of impeachment [wrong, as it turned out], so she has thrown her support behind the embarrassing spectacle of hearings that have been going on for months in the Judiciary Committee. As a member of the Judiciary Committee, I have watched as the Democrats have failed repeatedly to build a case for impeaching the President, from hearings about nonexistent Trump-Russian collusion to the flop that was the Mueller Report.”

And here is Putin on December 19:

“This is just the continuation of the internal political battle, one party that lost the elections, the Democrats, and are now trying to find new ways by accusing Trump of collusion with Russia. But then it turns out there was no collusion, this can’t be the basis for the impeachment. Now they came up with some pressure on Ukraine, I don’t know what is the [pressure] but this is up to your congressmen.”

Another thing Cline and Putin have in common is that both have earned appreciative tweets from Trump.

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Cline responds on “under the radar” votes

Because he usually ignores my messages to him, I was rather surprised to receive a letter from Congressman Cline responding to an email I wrote to him about his three recent “under the radar” votes against common-sense bills approved by the House majority.

Perhaps enough other constituents contacted him about these votes that he felt compelled to produce a form-letter response. (If anyone else received the same letter, please let me know.)

Thank you for contacting my office regarding several bills that recently passed the House of Representatives. I appreciate hearing from you on these important topics.

As you may know, H.R. 4344 would increase the time during which the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could recover illegal profits from defendants from five years to 14 years after an alleged securities violation. This bill would drastically expand the power of the SEC and would retroactively change limitations in the law. This bill passed the House on November 19, 2019 and has been received in the Senate for further consideration.

What’s wrong with extending the power of the SEC to go after people who commit fraud against ordinary investors? Some of those investors might be your constituents.

H.R. 737 would place a federal ban on the buying and selling of shark fins in the United States. The shark fishing industry is already heavily regulated, and the practice of shark finning is already explicitly outlawed in U.S. territorial waters. On November 21, 2019, H.R. 737 passed the House, and it now awaits further consideration in the Senate.

So sharks outside US territorial waters don’t deserve to be protected from mutilation and needless death?

H.R. 1309 would require healthcare and social service employers to implement a workplace violence prevention plan. The bill mandates one-size-fits-all regulation based on a California policy that does not account for the individuality of states, communities, and individual workplaces. This bill passed the House on November 21, 2019 and has been received in the Senate.

Protecting healthcare and social service workers from workplace violence is vital regardless of “the individuality of states, communities, and individual workplaces.” Violence is violence anywhere, and it needs to be taken equally seriously everywhere.

It is an honor to represent you and all of Virginia’s Sixth Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance. To receive the latest updates from my office, I encourage you to sign up for my e-newsletter at cline.house.gov or like my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Sincerely,

Ben Cline
Member of Congress

Congressman, it may or may not be an honor to represent me, but having followed your activities closely since you were sworn in as my representative in January, I can’t say it’s an honor to be represented by you.

Cline opposes bill to cut prescription drug prices

Taking a break from repeating dubious Republican talking points and finally voting “no” in the House Judiciary Committee on both articles of impeachment against President Trump , Congressman Cline joined almost all Republicans to vote once again against the interests of his constituents.

Sharpening their 2020 election message, House Democrats on Thursday pushed through legislation that would empower Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and offer new benefits for seniors. The vote comes as the House Judiciary Committee considers articles of impeachment against the president.

The vote along party lines was 230 to 192. Two Republicans supported the bill.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s bill would cap Medicare recipients’ out-of-pocket costs for medicines at $2,000 a year. It would use about $360 billion of its projected 10-year savings from lower drug costs to establish Medicare coverage for dental care, hearing, and vision, filling major gaps for seniors.

According to the the Department of Health and Human Services, the bill would save consumers $158 billion over 10 years.

The bill is strongly opposed by the pharmaceutical industry, which donates huge amounts to the Congressional campaigns of both Democrats and Republicans– although Republicans get more.

Big Pharma claims that requiring companies to negotiate prices (something that President Trump was for before he was against it) will stifle innovation of new drugs.

But as a New York Times editorial notes:

[T]hese fatal predictions ignore some obvious facts. First, innovation is already being thwarted under the current system, which skews heavily toward some types of drug development and away from others. For example, there are huge incentives to bring certain new cancer drugs to market, even when those drugs have little impact on survival rates, but comparatively few incentives to develop antibiotics or treatments for diseases that predominantly affect low-income communities — both of which are urgently needed.

Second, drug companies that are concerned about their research budgets dwindling have options. They might consider trimming the generally outsize amount of money they spend on advertising. Or they could look to the generous tax breaks they have secured in recent years — as Axios and others have reported, much of the pharmaceutical industry’s 2017 windfall went to stock dividends and share buybacks, not research and development. Even the Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, a former pharmaceutical executive, has called the drug industry’s projections of innovation loss “mathematically unbelievable.

I hope Congressman Cline will have a chance to explain his vote to the thousands of low-income seniors and others in the Sixth District who struggle with prescription drug costs and would benefit from an expansion of Medicare to cover dental, hearing and vision services.

“You’re no Caldwell Butler”

Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, updates for another deficient Republican the famous comeback by Lloyd Bentsen to Dan Quayle in the 1988 Vice Presidential candidates’ debate.

Congressman Cline has sometimes cited one of his Sixth District predecessors, Republican Caldwell Butler, while neglecting to mention that Butler had the courage and integrity to support impeachment of Richard Nixon, a president of his own party.

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A respondent adds a relevant quote from Butler which ought to make Cline pause and think but, of course, won’t.

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Garcia schools Cline

Congressman Cline again embarrassed himself and his constituents with his effort to downplay the overwhelming evidence against President Trump at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on impeachment Monday.

Fortunately he was followed immediately by Democratic Congresswoman Sylvia Garcia of Texas, a former judge, who helped to systematically refute everything Cline had to say about “hearsay” and lack of “direct evidence.”

Cline whines at impeachment hearing

You can watch Congressman Cline’s petulant performance at Wednesday’s House Judiciary Committee impeachment hearing below. It’s another reminder that he is putting blind loyalty to President Trump above any effort to uncover or deal with actual facts.

As usual, Cline refuses to address the massive evidence of Trump’s abuse of power, but rather complains about the supposed lack of evidence– some of which might be remedied by Trump allowing the release of subpoenaed documents and the testimony of subpoenaed witnesses.

Cline seems to suggest that impeachment of a president is never justified under any circumstances, because there is always another election. This raises the question of why the Founding Fathers included it in the Constitution in the first place.

Cline claims to carry a copy of the Constitution with him at all times. He might want to pull it out some time and read Article 1, Section 2, which gives the House of Representatives “the sole power of impeachment” and Article 2, Section 4, which says: “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Finally, Cline doesn’t even bother to question any of the witnesses and instead yields to another Republican congressman.

A poor show all around, Congressman.