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

     Amid honoring the life of Congressman John Lewis last week, the House continued to vote on bills to fund our government and other timely pieces of legislation. Further, there was some excitement within the committees I serve, including questioning Attorney General Barr in the Judiciary Committee and being named Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. I also had the opportunity to connect with constituents during my sixth telephone town hall. And finally, as school districts begin issuing guidance on what their fall terms will look like, I wanted to provide you the latest information on school reopenings from across our region.  While last week was productive, I am glad to be spending a few days home in the Sixth District.  

Civil Rights and Human Services Subcommittee:

     Last week, I was honored to be named Ranking Member of the House Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. The subcommittee has jurisdiction over issues relating to employment, welfare reform programs, human services programs, Community Services Block Grants, nutrition programs, child abuse and domestic violence issues, and civil rights among other areas of focus. As the only freshman Republican to serve as a Ranking Member on the Education and Labor Committee, I appreciate the confidence my colleagues have in me.

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Appropriations:

     When I was elected to Congress, I vowed to fight against business as usual. Unfortunately, the so called “mini-bus” bill put forth by the Democrats last week was simply more of the same wasteful spending that got our country into the fiscal crisis it currently faces. This legislation flew under the radar despite having a price tag of a whopping $1.3 trillion, which accounts for a 13.9 percent increase from the currently enacted budget. To make matter worse, this has been pushed through Floor consideration in about 24 hours, giving Members little time to debate spending more than a trillion dollars of American’s hard-earned tax dollars. This legislation shows a complete disregard for fiscal responsibility through market interference, increased entitlements, Green New Deal provisions, and additional bureaucratic red tape - all while lacking proper funding for border security and school choice programs. Further, the bill includes steps to defund police, measures to reverse religious freedom protections, and would implement provisions that slow economic recovery. It would have been reckless and irresponsible to support legislation such as this.

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Questioning Attorney General Barr:

     Last week, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee continued to participate in partisan political theater rather than serious policy discussions. When called to testify, Attorney General Barr stood firm in defense of our Constitution and the President’s Rule of Law policies while withstanding a barrage of badgering attacks and misleading questions from Committee Democrats. I took this opportunity to ask the Attorney General about his thoughts on Governor Northam’s overreach in suppressing Virginian’s civil rights in regard to the expression of their religious faith.  

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Telephone Town Hall:

     Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, I had been committed to holding in-person town halls throughout the Sixth District. In fact, since being elected, I have hosted 25 town halls – with at least one being held in each locality throughout the District. I hope to continue those sorts of in-person forums in the future, but for now, virtual events remain the best option to connect directly with constituents on a larger scale and ensure that their voices are heard in Washington. Last week, I enjoyed hosting my sixth telephone town hall and listening to folks from across the District. And moving forward, I will continue to make myself available as your representative.  

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Schools Reopening:

     As we approach the beginning of the school year, school districts across the Sixth District are releasing information for the fall term. Here is a sampling of some school districts plans as of August 3, 2020. Please keep in mind, this information may change as warranted.

Amherst County Schools: School will begin September 9

  • All elementary school students will be in school Monday through Thursday with block scheduling
  • For middle and high school students, they will split into groups. One group will go to school Mondays and Wednesdays, the other on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with both groups doing at-home instruction on Fridays

Augusta County Schools: School year will begin on August 18

  • All students will have combination of in-person and at-home learning with proper distancing for in-person learning
  • Parents who are concerned with sending their children to school also have the option to choose 100 percent at-home learning

Bedford County Schools: Students will start back on three different dates

  • Pre-k to 3rd Grade (and 4th for those still housed in elementary schools) will start on August 19
  • 4th Grade housed in middle schools through 6th Grade will start August 20
  • 7th Grade through 12th Grade will begin August 24

Roanoke County Schools: School year will begin August 24

  • Parents can choose to have their students receive 100 percent online instruction
  • There will be reduced class sizes for the students in K-2 who attend school in person five days a week
  • 3rd Grade through 12th Grade will be split into two groups and will attend school in person two days a week with proper distancing

Rockingham County Schools: School year will begin September 10

  • All grade levels will transition from distant learning to in-person learning with proper social distancing

Shenandoah County Schools: School year will begin August 17

  • Pre-kindergarten through 5th Grade to be in class four days a week with virtual learning one day a week
  • 6th Grade through 12th Grade students will do virtual learning four days a week and be in class one day a week
  • Parents who are concerned with sending their children to school also have the option to choose 100 percent at-home learning

     A full list of Sixth District public schools reopening plans can be found here.

     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 and across the Sixth District, please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages.

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