Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 09/22/19

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46 mins read
Graphic by Kelly Pollock.

This is a 100% volunteer effort brought to you by a handful of progressive Democrats and Independents who share a vision of an informed electorate and a desire to make the process of getting legislative news easier!  We want to offer thanks to the Pennsylvania Together and Pennsylvania Statewide Indivisible organizations who host our report and help us share it out to the residents of our Commonwealth!

Tracking Congress in the Age of Trump

The lower the number, the more the legislator votes in opposition to the Trump agenda.

Member of Congress This week’s score Change before recess
Senator Bob Casey (D) 29.2%  0.0%
Senator Pat Toomey (R) 88.2%  0.0%
PA-01 Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R) 69.0% +0.2%
PA-02 Rep. Brendan Boyle (D) 14.3% -0.1%
PA-03 Rep. Dwight Evans (D) 12.9%  0.0%
PA-04 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D) 2.2%  0.0%
PA-05 Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D) 6.1% -0.2%
PA-06 Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D) 4.3% -0.1%
PA-07 Rep. Susan Wild (D) 8.2% -0.1%
PA-08 Rep. Matt Cartwright (D) 22.6% -0.2%
PA-09 Rep. Dan Meuser (R) 97.8% +0.1%
PA-10 Rep. Scott Perry (R) 88.6% +0.1%
PA-11 Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R) 95.7%  0.0%
PA-12 Rep. Fred Keller (R) 94.1%  0.0%
PA-13 Rep. John Joyce (R) 97.8%  0.0%
PA-14 Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R) 95.7% +0.1%
PA-15 Rep. Glenn W. Thompson (R) 98.6%  0.0%
PA-16 Rep. Mike Kelly (R) 96.5% +0.1%
PA-17 Rep. Conor Lamb (D) 28.2% -0.4%
PA-18 Rep. Mike Doyle (D) 16.5% -0.2%

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website assesses the voting records of our MoCs to provide this index, by reviewing any bills where President Trump has stated a position, and comparing the vote of our legislators to that opinion. Only one bill was scored this week, House legislation that bans companies from requiring dispute resolution through arbitration.

Want to see exactly what votes went into giving your MoC the numbers above?  Click on the name of any legislator and you will be brought to their 538 webpage, where all of the positions that went into the index are listed in an easy-to-read format.

Words From Our Founders

“Our new Constitution is now established, everything seems to promise it will be durable; but, in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes.”

Benjamin Franklin, 1789

Happy -belated- Constitution Day, celebrated each September 17th

Votes of Interest

The House votes to end mandatory arbitration

House Vote on H.R. 1423 – the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act or FAIR Act

This is a bill that was introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). The legislation had 222 cosponsors (221 D, 1R), including all 8 of PA’s Democratic MoCs.  The Allentown Morning Call recapped this measure as:

…a bill that would make mandatory-arbitration clauses unenforceable in federal employment, consumer, antitrust and civil rights disputes. The measure would effectively eliminate from employee-employer agreements as well as from purchase and rental contracts between customers and corporations the increasingly common requirement that aggrieved parties pursue relief through closed mediation rather than openly in court. They still could choose to submit disputes to binding arbitration. This bill could influence the treatment of mandatory arbitration in state courts. Many employers and companies require mandatory arbitration as a condition of employment or doing business. Employees and customers must agree in advance to relinquish their right to sue and, instead, to allow a mediator typically chosen by the company to settle the dispute. Mandatory arbitration usually limits discovery, precludes appeals, disregards rules of civil procedure and applies permanent secrecy to the proceedings and often to the outcome. Under federal law, arbitration clauses can be used to prohibit customers from filing class-action lawsuits.

With that understanding in mind, one can simply view the votes on this bill as siding with either workers/consumers (YES) or with corporations (NO).

The FAIR Act came to the floor of the House for a vote on Friday, September 20, 2019.  The measure passed 225-186. Two members of each party crossed lines to vote with the other side, but in Pennsylvania, the vote was on pure party lines with the exceptions of one MoC who opted not to vote.

No R Fitzpatrick, Brian PA 1st   No R Perry, Scott PA 10th
Aye D Boyle, Brendan PA 2nd   No R Smucker, Lloyd PA 11th
Aye D Evans, Dwight PA 3rd   no vote R Keller, Fred PA 12th
Aye D Dean, Madeleine PA 4th   No R Joyce, John PA 13th
Aye D Scanlon, Mary PA 5th   No R Reschenthaler, Guy PA 14th
Aye D Houlahan, Chrissy PA 6th   No R Thompson, Glenn PA 15th
Aye D Wild, Susan PA 7th   No R Kelly, Mike PA 16th
Aye D Cartwright, Matthew PA 8th   Aye D Lamb, Conor PA 17th
No R Meuser, Daniel PA 9th   Aye D Doyle, Mike PA 18th

The House passes a Continuing resolution to avoid shutdown

House Vote on H.R. 4378 – the Continuing Appropriations Act of 2020

You may remember that just before the August recess, both the House and Senate passed a two year budget and debt ceiling agreement. That was a bill that provided a framework for overall spending until well after the next presidential election.  The bill that passed this week, a continuing resolution (CR) that leaves funding at existing levels for seven weeks, allows more time for the Congress to work out the specifics. So what passed during the summer was a framework for the big picture,while this CR needed to be passed because the parties couldn’t come to an agreement over the details.

One of the key details that has delayed an agreement is President Trump’s program to pay farmers being hurt by his trade war with China. Roll Call reports:

…outstanding issues include how to draft language that would provide adequate reimbursement to the Commodity Credit Corporation for payments made under Trump’s tariff relief program. The CCC is approaching its $30 billion borrowing cap and without the appropriations “anomaly” White House officials say they’d have to stop making payments to eligible farmers and ranchers… A House Democratic aide close to the talks added the issues surround how to write the bill in a way that doesn’t give the administration a “blank check for excessive funding.” The aide said disagreement also remains over transparency provisions Democrats want to include… Democrats want to require disclosure of payments broken out by specific commodity, as well as state-by-state information. They also want to require release of data on where and why farmers are suffering losses stemming from the trade war.

The Federal News Network points out that that another less expensive but troubling issue compounded by this appropriations disagreement relates to budget overruns by the Office of Personnel Management. That department is going to run out of funds on October 1st, primarily because the Trump Administration decided to shuffle certain tasks between branches of the bureaucracy, which added unbudgeted costs:

Notably, the CR includes an additional $48 million for the Office of Personnel Management, which faces a funding shortfall on Oct. 1 when the National Background Investigations Bureau and the governmentwide security clearance portfolio transfers to the Pentagon. The Trump administration has said the security clearance transfer will create a $70 million gap for OPM, which relied on the revenue it received by processing background investigations and other security credentials to fund other entities within the agency.

If this CR does not pass both houses, the government faced another shutdown on September 30th. CBS News quoted House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey on that looming deadline. She observed, “It is critical that we avoid another government shutdown, which would harm our economy and hardworking Americans. Once the CR is enacted and the Senate advances their appropriations process, Democrats will negotiate responsible spending bills that uphold our values and give working families a better chance at a better life.”

The continuing resolution came to the floor of the House for a vote on Thursday, September 19, 2019, and it passed 301-123.  The Pennsylvania votes broke down in an atypical manner:

Aye R Fitzpatrick, Brian PA 1st   No R Perry, Scott PA 10th
Aye D Boyle, Brendan PA 2nd   No R Smucker, Lloyd PA 11th
Aye D Evans, Dwight PA 3rd   No R Keller, Fred PA 12th
Aye D Dean, Madeleine PA 4th   No R Joyce, John PA 13th
Aye D Scanlon, Mary PA 5th   Aye R Reschenthaler, Guy PA 14th
Aye D Houlahan, Chrissy PA 6th   Aye R Thompson, Glenn PA 15th
Aye D Wild, Susan PA 7th   No R Kelly, Mike PA 16th
Aye D Cartwright, Matthew PA 8th   Aye D Lamb, Conor PA 17th
Aye R Meuser, Daniel PA 9th   Aye D Doyle, Mike PA 18th

Trump Administration finally fills a key Human Rights role, but…

Senate Vote on Robert A. Destro to be Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor

The Trump Administration has left open this key State Department human rights position for years. Now it has been filled by an awful nominee. The Catholic News Agency detailed Robert Destro’s resume, including his time as a professor at Catholic University, his stint as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and his work with the State Department’s Working Group on Religion in Foreign Affairs. But none of that touched upon the views that the nominee has previously espoused that make him unsuited to fill the position as the nation’s foremost Human Rights advocate.

The Council for Global Equality wrote a letter imploring senators to vote against Mr. Destro’s confirmation.  They noted:

To serve effectively, there can be no doubt that the person in that position fully and credibly embraces the equal respect, dignity, and protection due to all people.  These principles, core to American belief, are embodied not only in U.S. law, but in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other human rights conventions. To his discredit, Mr. Destro has a long history of inflammatory statements that denigrate the rights of LGBTI people in this country.  To wit:

* He has suggested that transgender gender identity is a “hotly disputed proposition,” and has asked whether someone who disagrees with transgender gender identity is obliged to treat a person according to his or her identity.  How might this position impact Destro’s stewardship of DRL policies and programs aimed at challenging transgender stereotypes and affirming related sexual orientation and gender identity rights?

* He has asserted the right of Catholics not only to think like Catholics, but to act like Catholics by discriminating against LGBTI people as a religious precept.  How can this not impact his own embrace and advocacy, as Assistant Secretary, for the fair and equal treatment of LGBTI people?

The Human Rights Campaign voiced similar concerns in their own letter to senators. They pointed out that the nominee opposed the Equality Act, and:

…he has asked “What exactly is the obligation of someone who doesn’t buy” the existence of transgender people? He also asked, “Do people have to treat it as a norm and treat people according to their gender identity?” he has also deliberately and repeatedly misgendered a prominent transgender woman in a public forum… Mr. Destro’s record of disrespect to ward the LGBTQ community disqualifies him from being appointed to lead our efforts to protect the human rights of LGBTQ people and others around the world.”

Despite these objections, Mr. Destro was confirmed in a vote taken on Wednesday, September 18, 2019.  The final vote was 49-44. All of the Democrats voted NO, and they were joined by Republican Susan Collins of Maine.  Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES.

A pair of Treasury positions filled by controversial nominees

Senate Vote on Brent James McIntosh to be an Under Secretary of the Treasury

Senate Vote on Brian Callanan to be General Counsel for the Department of the Treasury

The Hill wrote a piece on this pair of confirmations, but since Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon did such a good job of recapping the objections to this pair of nominees, we’ll let him spell it out in full:

Brent McIntosh and Brian Callanan have been central to the most controversial, legally-suspect Treasury Department actions during the Trump administration. They do not deserve promotions.

Both Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Callanan played major roles in the department’s decision to defy a lawful congressional request for Donald Trump’s tax returns under section 6103 of the tax code.

They also played major roles in the department’s efforts to open the floodgates to foreign and dark money pouring into our elections. The rule they pushed was overturned by a federal district court, making clear that the department broke the law in attempting to allow groups like the NRA to pump millions of anonymous dollars into our electoral system.

Mr. McIntosh and Mr. Callanan have put Republican political interests ahead of upholding the rule of law. They should not be confirmed.

Unfortunately they were both confirmed in votes taken on Wednesday, September 18, 2019. Mr. McIntosh received a 54-38 vote. Four Democrats joined with the Republicans to achieve that tally. Mr. Callahan’s vote was 55-39, with six Democrats voting along with the GOP, and one Republican (Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky) voting no. For both of these nominees, Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES.

We have a new Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates

Senate Vote on the nomination of John Rakolta to be Ambassador

The Senate confirmed John Rakolta, head of an international construction/engineering company and major Trump donor to a diplomatic post in the United Arab Emirates.  The Detroit News reports that Mr. Rakolta, an uncle-by-marriage of Republican National Committee Chair Ronna Romney McDaniel, “…was a top donor to Trump’s 2017 inauguration, giving $250,000, and his family gave over $275,000 to Trump’s 2016 campaign.”

Newsweek consulted with several former diplomats in their coverage of this confirmation. Rick Olson, ambassador to the UAE from 2008 to 2011 pointed out that all previous ambassadors appointed to serve in the UAE were “without exception have been career foreign service officers, most of whom have had extensive experience in the Arab world.” Former diplomat James Bruno went even further, noting:

Washington has traditionally taken the volatile Middle East very seriously in its national security planning and diplomacy. And Middle East capitals have been off limits to unqualified campaign contributors as U.S. ambassadors. Unfortunately, nothing is off limits to the Trump administration.

Mr. Rakolta’s confirmation vote was taken on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 and he was confirmed, 63-30. He received votes from all Republicans present, 11 Democrats and 1 Independent. Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES.

We have a new Ambassador to Sweden

Senate Vote on the nomination of Kenneth A. Howery to be Ambassador

After leaving the position unfilled for thirty months, the Trump Administration finally has an Ambassador to Sweden in Ken Howery, a hedge fund manager and co-founder of Paypal. Mr. Howery has no previous State Department or public sector experience.

Mr. Howery is, however, a partner of Peter Thiel, former PayPal chief executive officer. Bloomberg reports that a number of people in Peter Thiel’s orbit have transitioned into the Trump Administration. “After the 2016 election, Founders Fund partner Trae Stephens was on Trump’s transition team for the Defense Department. Last year, Trump chose Thiel Capital Chief of Staff Michael Kratsios as deputy U.S. chief technology officer.”  Now Mr. Howery can be added to that list.

The vote to confirm Mr. Howery was taken on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 and he was confirmed, 62-32. He received unanimous support from the Republicans, as well as 10 Democratic and 1 Independent vote. Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES.

Special topic – what happened with that election security funding situation?

Earlier this week, news outlets reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was acceding to demands for additional election security funding.  Examples of this can be found in Politico’sMcConnell backs election security amendment after facing criticism” and NPR’s McConnell, Decried As ‘Moscow Mitch,’ Approves Election Security Money.”

Several Democratic senators were out doing press in celebration of this achievement.  Vermont’s Patrick Leahy said “these funds are critical to our national security,” while Delaware’s Chris Coons said “I’m pleased that, on a bipartisan basis, the Senate Appropriations Committee came to an agreement to provide $250 million in election security grants that will allow states to replace outdated election machinery and invest in cybersecurity.”

But everyone needs to hold off on pulling out that ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner. Let’s turn the microphone over to attorney and election security advocate Jennifer Cohn. These are excerpts from her Twitter thread on this issue. Some modifications have been made to fill in abbreviated phrases and convert acronyms into full names:

McConnell’s funding bill will make things WORSE because it has “no strings,” enabling corrupt officials to buy whatever hackable un-auditable voting machines they want. McConnell is conning everyone by calling it “election security” funding. This is what happened with the Help America Vote Act of 2002…

Funding without election-security requirements is how we landed in this abyss in the 1st place. We are repeating the mistakes of the Help America Vote Act. We don’t even know who owns the two vendors accounting for 80% of US election equipment, which will be the main beneficiaries of the new funding.

Ms. Cohn also quotes Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon in her thread.  Senator Wyden wrote, “This money can be used for anything relating to elections. Including giving states taxpayer dollars to buy insecure voting machines. This isn’t election security, it’s a sham.”

If you are wondering what you can do about this, the answer is simple and involves two courses of action:

  1. Jennifer Cohn advocates calling senators to ask them to “kill McConnell’s SHAM election-security funding bill…  because it enables corrupt officials to buy more un-auditable voting machines. “
  2. MoCTrack suggests you follow that by contacting ALL of your state and federal representatives and senators and tell them that you demand an election security package on both the state and federal level that mandates the use of “HAND MARKED PAPER BALLOTS.”

MoC Twitter Action…

…is brought to you by the wonderful Helen, aka @ElastigirlVotes. Follow her for all the best is resistance tweets!

Twitter Action – Whistleblower/ corruption

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 9/20/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 9/19/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 9/17/19:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 9/16/19:

Twitter Action – Climate

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 09/19/19:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrndanBoyle, 9/20/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 9/20/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 9/20/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 9/18/19:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 9/20/19:

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 9/19/19:

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 9/16/19:

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 9/20/19:

Tweet of the Week

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 09/19/19:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 9/19/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 9/18/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 9/17/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 9/17/19:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 9/20/19:

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 9/19/19:

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 9/20/19:

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 9/20/19:

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 9/19/19:

Casey in the News

Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk

“Why should we wait for the president to give us the high sign about what he will sign into law? This chamber should not wait for any other official. We should debate and vote and see where things are. The American people will sort it out after we vote, and they will know who is on the record voting which way”

— from an article in the Trib Live titled “Sen. Bob Casey cites Tree of Life massacre as he calls for gun bills vote

“Far too many women, children and seniors are victims of crime in our society… We must all work together to protect and support individuals who are vulnerable to abuse. That’s why I’m thankful for organizations, like NOVA, which provide vital prevention services to children and adults who are at-risk of abuse or have experienced trauma. I will continue to work with local, state and federal leaders to ensure that everyone can live safely in our communities.

— from an article in Patch Warminster titled “Senator Bob Casey Visits NOVA’s Jamison Office

“Congratulations to The American Waterways Operators on 75 years of important advocacy. AWO has been a crucial ally in working to advance policies such as the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act that improve our nation’s water infrastructure and transportation systems and I look forward to working together in the years ahead.”

—from an article in the Maritime Executive titled “Video Highlights Importance of US Tugboat, Towboat and Barge Industry

Toomey in the News

Courtesy of contributor Elayne Baker

“I think it would be wildly inappropriate for an American president to invite a foreign country’s leader to get engaged in an American presidential election. That strikes me as entirely inappropriate...[per article ‘But Toomey sought to clarify later’ in the interview]… I’m not acknowledging or alleging the president did that, I have no idea what the president said to anybody. I’m just making a general point.”

— from an article in SF Gate titled “Republicans echo Trump in suggesting whistleblower complaint is politically motivated

“It’s not surprising that [President Obama] would have that well-defined set of views. Whereas President Trump hasn’t spent a lot of time in a legislative role.”

— from an article in Politico titled “The Senate surrenders gun legislating to Trump

“It’s a constructive, thoughtful way that we can absolutely minimize inconvenience to law-abiding citizens and at the same time increase the chances that we can keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people.” 

— from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Amid lack of consensus on background checks in Washington, Toomey says AG’s new ideas could move needle.”

For context, the Inquirer says that the Attorney General’s proposal “…would be less restrictive than both the background-check bill passed by the House in February and the bill Toomey and Manchin attempted to pass in 2013 and 2015. The attorney general’s plan would expand background checks while aiming to appease conservative opponents by weakening documentation requirements and making it easier for people living in rural areas to obtain checks.” 

With the success of this week’s climate strikes, and the current United Nations Climate Action Summit, it seems like a perfect time to revisit the following MoCTrack segments on the Green New Deal. We do not have long to convince our government that it is imperative to take aggressive action to save our burning planet.

Legislation of Interest – the Green New Deal

Courtesy of Andrea Wittchen, Partner, iSpring

H.Res. 109, a resolution “recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal,” was introduced on February 7, 2019, into the House by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY14) and into the Senate by Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass).  Unfortunately, the roll-out of the resolution was seriously compromised by the posting of a list of misleading, inaccurate and, to quote the NY Times, “pugnacious”1 FAQs to Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s website the same day.  While the list was immediately disavowed and taken down, it nevertheless provided ammunition for critics of the Green New Deal (GND) to make false and inflammatory statements about the GND’s content.

Given all that, what actually is H.Res. 109 and the Green New Deal?  The best way to understand it is to read the actual 14-page resolution which is written in clear and precise language, accessible to the average citizen.  It is also important to understand that this is a non-binding resolution, not a proposed law.  This is explicitly stated in the first line of the resolution, “Resolved, that it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—.” The resolution is a statement designed to describe what the House of Representatives’ current understanding is regarding the climate crisis and to outline a framework on which to build a response.

The resolution was drafted in direct reaction to two important reports from late 2018.  The first was the October 2018 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations entitled “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5° C.” The other was the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment by the U.S. Government. The first sections of the GND outline the direct threats facing the United States as identified in those two reports. Importantly, those threats are not just defined as environmental, but also as economic, social and security.

The original concept of a Green New Deal was actually proposed by Thomas Friedman in a New York Times column in January 20072.  In it, he posited a massive national project that he called the “Green New Deal” to supercharge the development of every form of non-fossil fuel and the implementation of nationwide conservation efforts to combat climate change.

Building on those concepts, H.Res. 109 outlines a “10 year national mobilization” focused on five GND goals:

  • “Achieve Net Zero Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions”
  • Create millions of “high wage jobs and ensure prosperity and economic security for all people of the United States”
  • Invest in infrastructure and industry
  • Secure for now and the future “clean air and water, climate and community resiliency, healthy food, access to nature and a sustainable environment, and
  • Promote justice and equity”

The remainder of the resolution outlines in more detail the specific goals and projects that will need to be accomplished in order to meet those five top level goals.  These are called the “Green New Deal mobilization” and include fourteen broad areas where action is needed.

The Green New Deal also calls out specifically the necessity of its development “through transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia and businesses.”

The GND then goes on to outline the policy requirements needed to implement the projects in the Green New Deal mobilization, such as

  • adequate capital and ROI,
  • comprehensive accounting for the cost of externalities,
  • provision of resources, training and higher education,
  • public investment in R&D in clean and renewable energy,
  • participatory decision-making
  • enforcement of trade rules
  • protection of public lands,
  • enforcement of workplace safety, anti-discrimination and wage and hour laws
  • and many, many more

These speak directly to the concept of a sustainable future defined not just by the environment but also by social and economic justice.  It also outlines a framework that can easily be perceived to create millions of good quality, high wage jobs in its implementation.

The boldness of this resolution is in its vision of the interconnectedness of all aspects of life.  Fighting climate change, creating jobs, protecting the environment, educating and training workers, maintaining a healthy work force and citizenry, supporting innovation and research, protecting frontline and vulnerable communities, sharing equally in the rewards and benefits of an improved economy – leave any one of these out of the equation and the net result will always be “less than” – less than we are capable of.  As Naomi Klein has described it, the Green New Deal is our opportunity to prove that we are capable of multi-tasking, of tackling multiple overlapping crises.

Comparisons to the original New Deal, the moonshot, the interstate highway system, and World War II are all apt.  In all those cases, we did not know exactly how to accomplish the goal, only that the goal was necessary and the time was now.  There has been much pushback against the resolution from the predictable naysayers on, sadly, both sides of the aisle.  Cries of “how will you pay for it” or “it’s too disruptive” are intended to stall us at the status quo.  This resolution plants a target in the future and says we need to figure out the answers to the questions, not ignore the questions.  Its value is in elevating the discussion to the top of the agenda.

It is important that progressives familiarize themselves with the details of the GND and get out in front of what will be an ugly pushback from entrenched industries and constituencies.  We need to be able to define the GND as a framework, not as established law, and be sure that citizens understand how it helps everyone.  For anyone with a stake in the future of this country, it should be a bright shining vision of what we can accomplish. And our lawmakers should be happy to sign on to support it.  At this point the “how” is immaterial.  Stating the direction and the goal is what we need and what GND does.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated that he will allow the resolution to be voted on in the Senate.  He sees it as a “gotcha” moment for Democrats in precarious seats.  We need to be sure that the messaging about what the GND does and doesn’t do stays accurate so that all Democrats can feel comfortable in both chambers voting in support of GND.

If you want to keep apprised of developments around the Green New Deal, you can sign up for email and text messages from Indivisible here.

1NY Times, “The Green New Deal Is Better than our Climate Nightmare”, February 23, 2019.

2NY Times, “A Warning from the Garden,” January 19, 2007.

Call to Action – Support this Bill!

H. Res. 109/S. Res. 59 – A resolution recognizing the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal

Andrea did a amazing job breaking down what the Green New Deal is.  Now we need to let our legislators know that we support the goals of this resolution. The Senate version of the resolution has 12 co-sponsors (11D, 1I), but Senator Casey is not on that list.  As for the House of Representatives, there are 89 Democrats already co-sponsoring this bill… but that list of 95 only includes one Pennsylvanian MoC – PA-02’s Brendan Boyle. If you live in PA-02, please consider calling Rep. Boyle to thank him. 

As for the rest of us, we should call our MoCs of both parties to express our support for this resolution. Indivisible was kind enough to provide this sample script:

Caller: Hi! My name is [NAME], and I’m calling from [part of state]. I’m calling because I want to urge [MoC] to co-sponsor [H.Res.109/S.Res.59] in support of a Green New Deal.

If MoC is already a co-sponsor/says they will sign on:

Staffer: Thanks for calling! [MoC] agrees that we need bold solutions like a Green New Deal to address the threat posed by the climate crisis.

Caller: Great! I’m glad to hear it—I hope [MoC] will talk to their colleagues, especially from our state’s delegation, about signing on in support of the Green New Deal.

If MoC does not support the Green New Deal:

Staffer: Thanks for calling. [MoC] agrees with you that climate change is an urgent issue to address. But he/she doesn’t think this is the right way to go about it. We need solutions that can win bipartisan support if we’re going to address as serious as climate change, and the Green New Deal isn’t that.

Caller: I’m disappointed to hear that. Climate change is the most urgent challenge of our time, and supporting the Green New Deal would demonstrate that [MoC] understands the kind of action we need to take to prevent catastrophic levels of global warming. We don’t have time to waste trying to get climate deniers on board; I expect [MoC] to reconsider their position.

Let’s get calling, emailing and tweeting in support of the Green New Deal! There is no better time to support this than the week following the Climate Strike when millions of people took to the streets to show support for dealing with our climate crisis.

Thanks for reading up on what our Pennsylvania Members of Congress have been doing this past week.  We’re delighted to have you as a reader.  If you liked what you read here and think others need to keep up with our MoCs, please share our website – www.patogether.org/congress.html  Or you can head over to Twitter and search for #MoCTrack and retweet what you see there.

This report brought to you by the Pennsylvania MoCTrack team…

Elayne Baker
Gary Garb
Helen a.k.a @ElastigirlVotes
Linda Houk
Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo

Are you an introvert activist looking for ways to help a progressive effort that don’t involve phone calls, door knocking, or leaving your house? We are always seeking additional assistance. Our Congresspeople are always busy and there is always more for us to cover — tasks big (example – what traditional media is saying about your MoC) and small (example – what’s your MoC tweeting about) to fit any level of time commitment or experience. Can you help us out?  Please email KierstynPZ@gmail.com and put “MoCTrack Help” in the subject. Thanks!


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