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

     It was another beautiful fall week here in Virginia’s Sixth District. I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with constituents across the region both in person like at Sweet Briar College and virtually. This week we also saw some excitement out of Washington as the Senate Judiciary Committee began the confirmation process of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Further, while negotiations for another coronavirus aid package between the White House and Speaker continue, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the significant relief this Administration has provided to the people of the Commonwealth. And finally, as the deadline for nomination applications to the U.S. Service Academies approaches, be sure to find more information below if you or someone you know is interested in applying. As the House continues its District Work Period, I look forward to another week of meeting folks across the District. 

Expansion at Sweet Briar:

     It was a pleasure to join President Woo and other Sweet Briar College faculty to tour the school’s new state-of-the-art health clinic this week. In partnership with Centra Health and Horizon Behavioral Health, this facility will enable the college to expand COVID-19 testing and other wellness activities on campus. The clinic is part of Sweet Briar’s commitment to keeping their campus safe at this challenging time. The college currently has no active COVID-19 cases among students, faculty, or staff members, and have mindfully managed the few cases that have occurred since the onset of classes seven weeks ago. Sweet Briar has taken to heart public health recommendations and developed protocols to navigate the pandemic, including individual behaviors and institutional operations. SBC should serve as a shining example to other institutions of higher education as to how to safely reopen. 

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Confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett:

     This week the Senate Judiciary Committee began to hold confirmation hearings on the President’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Based on her record and testimony thus far in front of the committee, I am confident that Judge Amy Coney Barrett will make a tremendous Supreme Court Justice. Her experience serving on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals shows that she is a true Constitutionalist who understands that a Justice is meant to interpret the laws, not make them. Because Judge Barrett is an outstanding jurist who is eminently qualified to be on the Supreme Court, Democrats have instead decided to attack her faith and are pushing the falsehood that she will strip healthcare away from the American people. This is despite the fact that the American Bar Association – an organization repeatedly called the “gold standard” by Senator Schumer – has deemed Judge Barrett “well qualified”. Even commentators on CNN said that if this were a different time and Judge Barrett was appointed by a different President, she would be confirmed with 70+ votes because of her credentials. It is time Democrats stop playing politics with this confirmation process and consider Judge Barrett’s merits when voting on her nomination.

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COVID-19 Update:

     Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, government at every level has been working vigorously to provide individuals, businesses, schools, and healthcare facilities with the resources they need to navigate these trying times. Aside from the five pieces of coronavirus relief legislation already signed into law, this Administration has also been dedicated to providing aid directly to the states. Below please find just a few of the many examples of how the federal government has provided direct relief to the Commonwealth of Virginia.

  • This year, over 2.9 M N-95 masks, 25.7 M surgical & procedural masks, 1.1 M eye and face shields, 8.1 M isolation & surgical gowns, and 630.8 M medical gloves have been shipped to Virginia through private sector, State, and Federal collaboration.
  •  The Federal government has directly supported 35 community-based testing sites in Virginia and will be providing 295,000 swabs to support state testing needs in the month of October. Through October 7, the Federal government has provided 1,527,980 swabs.
  • On September 28th, President Trump announced the Administration will send 100 million BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care tests to States free of charge. 2,570,000 BinaxNOW tests have been allocated for distribution to Virginia with 363,200 tests delivered to date.
  • Medical facilities and providers in the Commonwealth of Virginia have received over $3 B in COVID19 related allocations from HHS. This includes more than $2.5 B from the CARES Act Provider Relief Fund to support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue attributable to COVID-19 and ensures uninsured Americans can get testing and treatment for COVID-19.
  • In Virginia, the Small Business Administration (SBA) issued over $12.5 B in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans to 114,570 small businesses as well as $3.8 B in Economic Injury Disaster Loans to 71,437 small businesses. The U.S. Department of the Treasury has made 3.9 M Economic Impact Payments totaling more than $6.6 B to hardworking taxpayers of Virginia.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture provided Virginia agriculture producers with $97 M in financial assistance for price declines and additional marketing costs due to COVID-19.

(B = Billion, M = Million, K = Thousand)
Data as of October 9, 2020

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Service Academy Nominations:

     One of the greatest honors I have serving as the Representative for Virginia’s Sixth District is the privilege of nominating individuals to one of four United States Service Academies. Applicants to the U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy, and U.S. Merchant Marine Academy require a recommendation from a Member of Congress or another nominating authority. Those interested in a nomination must have their application postmarked by October 23. For more information and to find the required application packet, please click here.

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Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans:

     In June of 2019, the president signed H.R. 299, the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act, of which I was a proud cosponsor. For decades, tens of thousands of veterans suffering from diseases caused by Agent Orange in the Vietnam War and their families had been denied their earned benefits under the Agent Orange Act of 1991.  However, the provisions in this new law ensure veterans who served in specified offshore areas near Vietnam from January 9, 1962, through May 7, 1975 are now given the presumption of Agent Orange exposure, thus allowing them to receive medical care and disability compensation. Since becoming law, the National Archives and Records Administration and the Veterans Affairs Administration have digitized more than 1,800 vessels’ deck logs, which are critical in determining qualifying ship locations in accordance with the law. Since January, the VA has approved 22,524 claims of sailors exposed to Agent Orange and have identified at least 420,000 others who may qualify. If you were in the Navy or Coast Guard serving off the shores of Vietnam during the war, please click here to file a claim or to learn about your eligibility to do so. 

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     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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