Editor:

In a floor vote on Jan. 22, the House of Representatives passed The NATO Support Act (HR 676) by a 357-22 margin. All 22 "no" votes were cast by Republicans, including our very own Rep. Ben Cline, Virginia-Sixth District. Cline has the dubious distinction of joining fellow Virginia Republican Morgan Griffin, Ninth District, in this renegade group. Note that 149 Republicans voted for the measure, and of its 19 co-sponsors, eight are Republicans.

HR 676 states that it is U.S. policy to remain a member of NATO and prohibits funds from being used to withdraw from the alliance (which President Trump threatened to do, more than once, in 2018).

On Jan. 23, I submitted an online e-mail to Rep. Cline asking what role he thinks NATO plays in our national security strategy, how important he thinks NATO is to the nations that were formerly satellites of the Soviet Union, and why he aligned himself with a small minority of "nay" voters in his own Republican caucus.

As of Monday, I have yet to receive a reply.

The first point in the forward of the "Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community," issued Jan. 29, is:

"China and Russia are more aligned than at any point since the mid-1950s, and the relationship is likely to strengthen in the coming year as some of their interests and threat perceptions converge, particularly regarding perceived U.S. unilateralism and interventionism and Western promotion of democratic values and human rights."

On page 38, under the subsection, "Russia and Its Neighbors," the Threat Assessment states,

"The Kremlin will seek to maintain and, where possible, expand its influence throughout the former Soviet Union countries, which it asserts are within its sphere of influence."

This situation generates two primary questions: what does our young, rookie Rep. Cline understand about the threat of Russia and importance of NATO to our national security?, and, why is he unwilling to respond to a constituent's request for information on his "no" vote on HR 676?

Dennis Atwood, Maurertown