News From Congressman Ben Cline
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 Sixth District Perspectives
with Congressman Ben Cline

     The damage of the coronavirus is twofold. It is both a health crisis and an economic crisis. It has led to tragedy for families across our Nation and wreaked havoc on the global economy, putting millions out of work in the U.S. alone. We must work to address both of these problems, keeping our Nation’s citizens healthy without infringing on their constitutional rights and God-given freedoms.

     As conceived in our great Constitution, our system of government is a federalist one, in which power is split between the federal government and the states. The President has unveiled Guidelines for Opening Up America Again, a three-phased approach based on the advice of public health experts to guide state and local officials in their efforts to safely return their states and localities to normalcy. States all across the Union are now issuing guidelines for opening business within their borders, including right here in our part of Virginia.

     As your Representative, it is my top priority right now to provide you with the most up-to-date information regarding Congress’s response to the pandemic, as well as hear your thoughts so that I can best represent you.

One-On-One With ABC 13:

     I recently joined ABC 13 to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and the resources that are available to help individuals and small businesses. As our Nation gets back to work, we can ensure that the American people have the tools they need to triumph over this evolving crisis.

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Emergency Relief Checks:

     If you have questions regarding your Emergency Relief Check authorized through the CARES Act, I encourage you to visit the IRS’s FAQ page at irs.gov/coronavirus.

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H.R. 6800:

     Since the coronavirus outbreak in the United States began, the federal government has acted to address the needs of Americans. The CARES Act, which the President signed in late March, mobilized new resources to fight on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic and injected funding into the economy to help American workers, families, small businesses, and industries so that our country can not only survive this crisis but thrive when we do. While I did not agree with every provision of the CARES Act, I put my differences with my colleagues aside and supported the bill because I believed it provided much needed assistance to the American people, while targeting that assistance to address the spreading coronavirus. The same cannot be said for H.R. 6800, which passed in the House on Friday.

     While there are a few provisions in this bill that I could support and, in fact, have supported in the past, this specific bill is primarily an 1800-page wish-list of liberal policies along with billions of dollars of taxpayer funding for programs entirely unrelated to the coronavirus pandemic. It is a massive overstep and expansion of the size and scope of the federal government.

     While the CARES Act provided billions in assistance to Virginia and other states, it focused that funding toward those costs associated with the coronavirus pandemic. It did not allow states to put the federal funding toward any program they wanted, especially those unrelated to the coronavirus. Unfortunately, H.R. 6800 has no such protections. An open-ended $500 billion for states and $375 billion for localities would send a message to these officials that they are not interested in pursuing fiscal responsibility. H.R. 6800 is an open door for states and localities to spend recklessly and get a handout from struggling federal taxpayers for past fiscal mismanagement.

     Since the start of the coronavirus crisis, Congress has spent trillions of dollars to help struggling families and businesses. Now, instead of swiftly, directly, and specifically helping those hurting the most, Democrats in the House are using the pandemic as a pretext to accomplish their longstanding political goals. In addition to extending Medicaid coverage to illegal aliens, H.R. 6800 removes voter ID requirements and expands mandates on employers. Further, it provides millions to the National Endowment for the Arts, authorizes the release of federal prisoners, and repeals work requirements for welfare. Congressional leadership should focus on helping the households hit hardest by this catastrophe, instead of pushing pet projects and pork-barrel spending.

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Veteran Resources:

     In an effort to help civilians and veterans deal with the stresses of daily life caused by the coronavirus, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a mobile app called COVID Coach. To learn more and to find available resources, please visit mobile.va.gov.

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     Further, the Under Secretary of the Veterans Benefits Administration will be hosting a telephone town hall this Thursday at 4pm to answer service members’ questions regarding the benefits they have earned. 

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May 2, 2020 Survey Results:

     Two weeks ago, you received a survey, requesting your opinions on reopening the economy. For those who took the time to fill it out, thank you for the opportunity to hear from you. Below you can view the results.

Based on what you know and have heard, when do you think Virginia should begin to allow “nonessential” businesses to reopen?

2,164     (37.79%)     Immediately, but with public health safeguards in place

710         (12.57%)    2 or 3 weeks from now, but with public health safeguards in place

2,394     (41.82%)     Not until the number of new cases of COVID-19 in Virginia declines for 14 days in a row

458        (7.99%)       Other Answers

 
Should the Governor implement a plan to reopen Virginia on a regional basis, allowing areas that have fewer reported cases of COVID-19 to reopen first, or should he wait until the entire Commonwealth has met the federal standards for reopening?

3,380     (60.08%)       Open areas with fewer COVID-19 rates first

1,787     (31.76%)       Wait until entire Commonwealth has met federal standards to reopen

458        (8.14%)         Unsure

 
Should Virginia public K-12 schools, colleges, and universities open this fall for classes, even if there are still new cases of COVID-19 being reported?

2,655      (46.71%)     Yes

1,401      (24.64%)     No

1,628      (28.64%)     Unsure

 
With health care professionals, first responders, and other front-line workers reporting to duty every day, should Congress also return to Washington to get back to work?

4,452     (79.58%)      Yes, but with appropriate health safeguards in place

916        (16.37%)      No, not until there are fewer health risks

266        (4.75%)        Unsure 

 
According to reports, China knew about the spread of COVID-19 earlier than first reported but suppressed information and denied access to U.S. health officials. Should Americans be allowed to sue the Chinese government for monetary damages sustained as a result of the spread of COVID-19?

3,025    (47.29%)      Yes

2,068    (32.33%)      No

1,303    (20.37%)      Unsure

     At cline.house.gov/covid-19, you can access further information about the coronavirus pandemic, including administrative, congressional, and state action that has been taken to curb the spread of the virus, resources for businesses, and information from the CDC on how to keep you and your families healthy. Rest assured, I will continue to monitor the situation in Virginia and around the country and work with my colleagues to ensure the full, coordinated force of the federal government is behind our efforts to stop the spread of this disease.

Centers for Disease Control Resources:

Centers for Disease Control

How to Protect Yourself

Symptoms and Testing

If You Are at Higher Risk

If You Are Sick

Frequently Asked Questions

Follow @CDCgov on Twitter

     Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431. 

     For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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