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Sixth District Perspectives With Ben Cline

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Twenty years ago on September 11, the world changed forever as terrorists attacked our nation, shattering some of our nation’s most identifiable landmarks but not the will and determination of the American people.

We pay humble tribute to the 3,000 innocent civilians and first responders lost on 9/11, as well as to the nearly 7,000 service members who fell in the Global War on Terror in the years that followed. These men and women paid the last full measure to stamp out terror around the world and ensure the safety and security of Americans at home.

We are forever grateful for their sacrifice, and we honor the memory of all who were lost. Lest we never forget.

As we remember those who perished on that day 20, let us be mindful that freedom is not free and has been paid for with the blood and treasure of Americans both civilian and military since the inception of our country. In three separate incidents, the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and in a field outside Shanksville, Pa., our nation and its institutions were maliciously attacked, ushering in feelings of anger, disbelief, and a desire to find and destroy those who perpetrated this act.

Since that day, America’s best, its sons and daughters, husbands and wives, and loved ones have answered when called and defended and advanced the American Ideal to oppressed people whose only desire is to ensure their family is safe, provide for them, and to live by the dictates of their beliefs.

America’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines were sent to places few will know, all to squash the terrorist network and provide the population with the safety and security necessary for needed reforms to take hold. The cost for this effort? Nearly 2,500 service members were killed in action and 20,000 wounded in Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the recent takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has caused some veterans to question their sacrifices in the country. The haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan has left the country in peril, and the gains made by the United States, particularly in regard to the human rights of women and girls, likely have been lost.

However, we must reinforce the truth that their efforts made a tremendous difference in hindering terrorism’s reach for twenty years and kept Americans safe at home and abroad. For them, the United States must continue to stamp out terror around the world.

Time has a way of sticking to our memories and helps shape who we are. Life events such as September 11th is just one example of this. Twenty years have now passed, yet when I walk by the Capitol or drive by the Pentagon or see pictures of the 9/11 Memorial, I am reminded that out of devastation comes resolve and out of anger comes unity.

We came together as a nation on that day and in the months that followed. We rallied around what unites us as Americans and demonstrated to the world and to those who meant us harm, that Americans always have and always will rise to the occasion when warranted, and we will fight evil whenever and wherever it exists.

In the words of President George W. Bush, “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America.”

In a blatant abuse of power, President Biden announced new vaccine mandates that will affect more than 100 million Americans. While I am vaccinated and encourage people to make the decision that’s right for them, the federal government has no right to trample on workers’ rights, medical freedom, and individual liberty. Further, this mandate is likely unconstitutional and will certainly be challenged in the courts.

The mandate will require all executive branch employees and federal contractors to be vaccinated with no testing or opt-out option. Further, it will require health care workers who work at facilities that receive funds for Medicare and Medicaid patients to be vaccinated.

This in and of itself will affect about 17 million health care professionals. And finally, the mandate will require all businesses with 100-plus employees to have their employees vaccinated or require them to show proof of a negative COVID test once a week. Worse yet, businesses will be responsible for paying for testing out of their own pockets, despite many still recovering from the negative economic impact caused by the lockdowns.

The government’s duty is to present the facts, then trust the people to make their own decision. An American’s ability to work and earn a living should not be threatened by an authoritarian federal government. No one should face fines or termination simply for not getting vaccinated and statements made by the president such as, “this is not about freedom, it’s not about personal choice,”

Our efforts to protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans were successful this week, as President Biden was forced to withdraw the nomination of radical gun control advocate David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms (ATF).

Throughout his career, Mr. Chipman made clear that he opposed the Second Amendment and had proposed banning one of the most popular rifles in the United States, made false claims about suppressors, and is on the record having made entirely false statements regarding the tragedy in Waco, Texas – a case in which he was involved. He was the entirely wrong person to lead the ATF, and this week I was pleased that the White House withdrew his nomination following bipartisan opposition.

Earlier in the year, my colleagues and I wrote a letter to Senate leadership urging them to oppose his nomination.

Further, on June 10, 2021, the ATF published a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (“NPRM”) in the Federal Register, entitled “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached ‘Stabilizing Braces.’ The proposed rule would make firearms with stabilizing braces subject to unjust taxation and registration requirements.

Stabilizing braces are attachments that were first created to meet the needs of disabled combat Veterans who are no longer able to hold or stabilize heavy firearms for recreational shooting without assistance. This tax unfairly targets disabled citizens, many of whom are veterans, and infringes upon constitutionally protected rights.

Should this rule go into effect, law-abiding citizens will become felons overnight unless they turn in or destroy the firearm, destroy the brace, or pay a $200 tax.

I joined my colleagues in June in writing to the ATF urging the agency to withdraw this proposed rule. The letter can be found here. This week, my colleagues and I in the Second Amendment Caucus also submitted our formal comments to the agency expressing our concern.

Those comments can be found here. I have always been a staunch defender of the Second Amendment and will continue to advocate for its protection here in Congress.

Every American deserves the right to create their own success from their own volition – free of the requirement that they join an organization solely to hold a job.

Simply put, as our Founding Father and fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves is sinful and tyrannical.”

One way that we promote this is through policies and laws that allow people the Right-to-Work. These laws ensure that no one is forced to join a union and pay dues to keep or get a job, which leads to more opportunities and better jobs for workers.

Thankfully, our commonwealth is a Right-to-Work state, and because of this, Virginia is regularly ranked as one of the best states in which to do business. As we celebrated Labor Day and our Nation’s workforce this week, I cosponsored a resolution that reaffirms the need to support and protect Right-to-Work laws.

As of September 12, 2021, Virginia has had 811,079 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The current death toll in the Commonwealth stands at 12,089. Further, according to the VDH’s COVID-19 vaccine data dashboard, as of September 12, 5,574,015 people have been vaccinated with at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 4,940,262 people are fully vaccinated.

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.

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