Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 10/20/19

67 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.  We want to offer a big thank you to the Pennsylvania Together, Pennsylvania Statewide Indivisible and Demcast 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 CongressThis week’s scoreChange from last report
Senator Bob Casey (D)28.4%-0.3%
Senator Pat Toomey (R)87.6%+0.1%
PA-01 Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)68.3%-0.2%
PA-02 Rep. Brendan Boyle (D)14.0%-0.2%
PA-03 Rep. Dwight Evans (D)12.6%-0.2%
PA-04 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)2.0%-0.1%
PA-05 Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D)5.8%-0.2%
PA-06 Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D)4.1%-0.2%
PA-07 Rep. Susan Wild (D)7.7%-0.3%
PA-08 Rep. Matt Cartwright (D)22.1%-0.4%
PA-09 Rep. Dan Meuser (R)97.9%+0.1%
PA-10 Rep. Scott Perry (R)88.0%-0.7%
PA-11 Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R)95.1%-0.6%
PA-12 Rep. Fred Keller (R)90.0%-4.4%
PA-13 Rep. John Joyce (R)98.0%+0.1%
PA-14 Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R)93.9%-1.8%
PA-15 Rep. Glenn W. Thompson (R)97.9%-0.7%
PA-16 Rep. Mike Kelly (R)95.8%-0.7%
PA-17 Rep. Conor Lamb (D)27.0%-0.8%
PA-18 Rep. Mike Doyle (D)16.2%-0.2%

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website assesses the voting records of our MoCs to provide this index, by comparing any legislation where President Trump has stated a position, and comparing the vote of each MoC to the President’s opinion. One Senate vote was scored this week, related to the EPA; while  two House votes were included, on Syria and investor disclosures.

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

Benjamin Franklin’s 1783 letter to Jonathan Shipley

Votes of Interest 

House votes to reject the president’s actions on Turkey, Syria and the Kurds

House Vote on H.J.Res. 77: Opposing the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria.

This resolution is constructed in the traditional manner, with a selection of ‘whereas’ statements that lay out the facts of the situation, followed by a series of resolutions that define the position of the Congress and the actions that they want to see going forward.  It begins by explaining the level of support that Syrian Kurds provided to United States armed forces in our fight against ISIS. That is followed by a series of quotes from respected experts (like then-Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, Special Envoy James Jeffrey and  the Lead Inspector General for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve) who had made statements earlier this year about the situation on the ground, and the attempts of an ISIS resurgence that was being held in check by the Kurds. The ‘whereas’ section concludes with this statement of facts:

Whereas, on October 6, 2019, President Trump conducted a call with President Erdogan in which, according to the official White House press release, they discussed the upcoming Turkish incursion, and soon after this call, a White House press release announced the withdrawal of the United States military from the immediate area, which was completed within hours; and

Whereas an abrupt withdrawal of United States military personnel from certain parts of Northeast Syria is beneficial to adversaries of the United States government, including Syria, Iran, and Russia.

Then the resolution lays out the five conclusions and actions.  Those are paraphrased below, unless otherwise indicated:

  1. Congress opposes the withdrawal of US troops that had prevented a Turkish attack
  2. Congress calls on Turkey to stop their attacks
  3. Congress calls on the US to support Kurish communities, including helping displaced people
  4. Congress wants our foreign services to “ensure that the Turkish military acts with restraint and respects existing agreements”
  5. Congress “calls on the White House to present a clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat of ISIS”

The resolution was introduced by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.  He made a floor statement in support of this effort that is worth reading in its entirety. The closing of that speech is excerpted here:

At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low and American foreign policy has become nothing more than a tool to advance his own interests.  Today we make clear that the Congress is a coequal branch of government, and we want nothing to do with this disastrous policy. …I say to our colleagues—it is on us. It is on us to uphold our country’s values, to strengthen our national security, to defend America’s standing in the world. I call on all members on both sides of the aisle to support this resolution and make it clear where we stand.

The House voted on this resolution on Wednesday, October 16, 2019.  They did so under a suspension of the rules, meaning that a ⅔ supermajority was needed to pass the measure. The final vote was 354-60, surpassing that supermajority threshold by a considerable margin. The Democrats were unified in their support of the resolution, and they were joined by 129 Republicans.  In addition to the 60 Republicans who voted NO, there were also three who voted “Present”, and they were joined by Independent Rep. Amash. This is how our PA MoCs voted:

AyeRFitzpatrick, BrianPA 1st
AyeRPerry, ScottPA 10th
AyeDBoyle, BrendanPA 2nd
AyeRSmucker, LloydPA 11th
AyeDEvans, DwightPA 3rd
AyeRKeller, FredPA 12th
AyeDDean, MadeleinePA 4th
NoRJoyce, JohnPA 13th
AyeDScanlon, MaryPA 5th
AyeRReschenthaler, GuyPA 14th
AyeDHoulahan, ChrissyPA 6th
AyeRThompson, GlennPA 15th
AyeDWild, SusanPA 7th
AyeRKelly, MikePA 16th
AyeDCartwright, MatthewPA 8th
AyeDLamb, ConorPA 17th
NoRMeuser, DanielPA 9th
AyeDDoyle, MikePA 18th

On the same day he placed his NO vote, 🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser issued a statement on Syria policy that noted, “…until more is learned from the U.S. delegation’s meetings with the Turkish government, I will not support legislation or offer statements that would tie the hands of American diplomats actively engaged in critical negotiations. This is about negotiating from a position of American strength, not scoring political points.” 🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, who placed Pennsylvania’s other NO vote, did not provide an explanation or comment on Facebook, Twitter or his official website. He did, however, issue this statement in an email to the Altoona Mirror, “President Trump and his administration are holding Turkey accountable for its actions while protecting our men and women in uniform.”

It was this vote and resolution that prompted the heated meeting in the White House that results in the new infamous image of Speaker Pelosi across a table from the president. The New York Times reports:

It enraged the president, who lashed out at Democratic congressional leaders at the White House shortly afterward at a meeting called to discuss the incursion, which devolved into a bitter confrontation in which he hurled insults at Speaker Nancy Pelosi after she pointedly mentioned the devastating vote tally.  “He was shaken up by it,” Ms. Pelosi said of the resounding support, including by Republicans, for the resolution.

This is a quickly evolving situation.  In the time since the vote on this resolution the President announced a cease fire, which Turkey quickly clarified was merely a “pause” in hostilities. And even that pause appears to not reflect reality, with reports of ongoing shelling and use of chemical weapons.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer attempted to bring this resolution up in the Senate via unanimous consent, but was blocked by Sen. Rand Paul. And, just as this report was wrapping for the week, news dropped that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a bipartisan delegation of House members to Jordan to “discuss the fallout from Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from neighbouring Syria,” according to The Guardian. There were no Pennsylvania MoCs in the delegation. 

Next week’s report will no doubt contain more legislative response to the situation with Turkey, Syria and the Kurds.  CNN Politics reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch MoConnell said he was “encouraged” to see the bipartisan action in the House, but then added:

As the Senate debates our Middle East policy and contemplates what action to take, I believe it is important that we make a strong, forward-looking, strategic statement… My preference would be for something even stronger than the resolution the House passed yesterday, which has some serious weaknesses. It is so narrowly drafted that it fails to address the plight of imperiled Sunni Arab and minority Christian communities in Syria. It is backward-looking. And it is curiously silent on the issue of whether to actually sustain a US military presence in Syria, perhaps to spare Democrats from having to go on the record on this key question.

Expect a lot more debate and legislation, perhaps including a sanctions package, in the coming weeks.

The House moves to assess Securities and Exchange Commission rules on disclosures

House Vote on H.R. 1815: SEC Disclosure Effectiveness Testing Act

This is a bill that seeks to address the problem of corporate disclosures to retail investors.  There are any number of rules about what information companies need to provide to their stockholders.  However, most such statements are so laden with jargon and small print that they are all but useless to everyone but corporate attorneys and industry professionals.

In a statement made supporting the bill, sponsor Rep. Sean Casten (D-Ill.). said:

Whether it is buying a house, sending your kids to college, investing in your retirement, or just saving for a rainy day, the American dream depends on our ability to invest in our future. This bill protects Americans by doing basic market research to ensure that legally required disclosures can be understood by the average investor.

This bill was supported by the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), a coalition of hundreds of non-profit consumer groups that “advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.”  The CFA issued a letter in support of this measure that explains the nature of the issue the bill seeks to address:

The sad reality is that the disclosures investors receive when choosing investment professionals or evaluating investment options often do a poor job of conveying critically important information in a way that typical retail investors can understand. This includes cost disclosures that don’t clearly convey costs, risk disclosures that don’t clearly convey risks, and conflict of interest disclosure that do not clearly convey the nature or impact of those conflicts. 

Then, the CFA  noted that this new bill would require the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to “incorporate qualitative disclosure effectiveness testing in the development of new disclosures designed for retail investors.”  This bill would not simply affect new disclosures, but also tasks the SEC “to develop a plan for testing existing retail disclosures.”

Investment News reports that “When Mr. Casten’s bill was debated by the House committee, Republicans opposed it, saying that it would slow the SEC’s consideration of advice reform, the centerpiece of which is Regulation Best Interest for brokers.” However, in light of how many of our Pennsylvania GOP MoCs have website statements that use typical Republican talking points about “burdensome regulations,” there is little doubt that the party line vote belies their unwillingness to promote research that may reveal a need to change existing business practices. 

This vote was taken on Thursday, October 17, 2019.  It passed, 229-186, along purely party lines. Independent Rep. Amash joined the GOP for this vote.

NoRFitzpatrick, BrianPA 1st
NoRPerry, ScottPA 10th
AyeDBoyle, BrendanPA 2nd
NoRSmucker, LloydPA 11th
AyeDEvans, DwightPA 3rd
NoRKeller, FredPA 12th
AyeDDean, MadeleinePA 4th
NoRJoyce, JohnPA 13th
AyeDScanlon, MaryPA 5th
NoRReschenthaler, GuyPA 14th
AyeDHoulahan, ChrissyPA 6th
NoRThompson, GlennPA 15th
AyeDWild, SusanPA 7th
NoRKelly, MikePA 16th
AyeDCartwright, MatthewPA 8th
AyeDLamb, ConorPA 17th
NoRMeuser, DanielPA 9th
AyeDDoyle, MikePA 18th

The House demands transparency on corporate outsourcing

House Vote on H.R. 3624: Outsourcing Accountability Act of 2019

The House took on another aspect of corporate disclosures by considering legislation that would require companies to reveal their outsourcing practices. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Cynthia Axne (D-Iowa), explained the measure in a letter to her colleagues:

H.R. 3624 would inform investors and the public of public companies’ outsourcing practices by requiring them to annually disclose the total number of employees they employ in each state and foreign country, as well as the percentage change from the previous year…  Companies frequently go to great lengths to hide when they cut American jobs to save money in other countries, since the only information they are required to report is their total number of employees. H.R. 3624 would address this informational barrier and help investors, the public, and policymakers understand the true magnitude of the problem of outsourcing by requiring public companies to include in their public, annual reports the number of employees they and their subsidiaries have in each state and country. 

In their reporting on this legislation, industry periodical HR Policy noted that opposition to this effort from the Republicans could be summed up in the statement of Rep. Bill Huizenga (R – Mich.), who questioned the value to shareholders and the public, of Congress adding “another reporting requirement to an already vast list of information public companies must disclose.” That same article noted that the Senate companion bill, S. 1843 introduced by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), has not made it out of committee.  That may be of interest to us in Pennsylvania, as our own Sen. Pat Toomey is on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee where the Senate version is stalled. 

The vote on H.R. 3624 took place on Friday, October 18, 2019. The legislation passed 226-184. All Democrats present voted in favor of the measure, and they were joined by two Republicans (Chris Smith of N.J. and David McKinley of W.V.).  The Pennsylvania delegation voted on party lines:

NoRFitzpatrick, BrianPA 1st
NoRPerry, ScottPA 10th
AyeDBoyle, BrendanPA 2nd
NoRSmucker, LloydPA 11th
AyeDEvans, DwightPA 3rd
NoRKeller, FredPA 12th
AyeDDean, MadeleinePA 4th
NoRJoyce, JohnPA 13th
AyeDScanlon, MaryPA 5th
NoRReschenthaler, GuyPA 14th
AyeDHoulahan, ChrissyPA 6th
NoRThompson, GlennPA 15th
AyeDWild, SusanPA 7th
NoRKelly, MikePA 16th
AyeDCartwright, MatthewPA 8th
AyeDLamb, ConorPA 17th
NoRMeuser, DanielPA 9th
AyeDDoyle, MikePA 18th

The Senate fails to overturn a Trump rule to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency 

Senate Vote on S.J. Res. 53: providing for congressional disapproval of the rule submitted by the Environmental Protection Agency relating to “Repeal of the Clean Power Plan”

The Congressional Review Act is a mechanism that can be used to overturn the rules of bureaucratic agencies.  Vox explains that it “gives Congress extensive power to invalidate rules established by federal agencies and, in doing so, making it more difficult for any future administrations to resurrect the policies that lawmakers have struck down.” The 115th Congress used the CRA to invalidate many Obama-era rules, like when the majority GOP Congress repealed a rule that made it harder for severely mentally ill people to get guns (H.J. Res. 40 – 115th)… or when they repealed a rule that forbade internet service providers from selling your browser history to third parties (S.J. Res. 34 – 115th)… or when they repealed a rule that, according to NBC News, “prohibited from shooting or trapping wolves while at their dens with cubs, using airplanes to scout for potential grizzly bear targets, trapping bears with wire snares and luring bears with food to get a point-blank kill” (H.J. Res. 69 – 115th). 

This week the Senate Democrats used the provisions of the CRA to force a bill to the floor to object to President Trump’s efforts to weaken power plant emissions regulations.  E&E News, an excellent source for information related to energy and the environment, explains that  the Trump Administration released the Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) Plan to replace the Obama-era Clean Power Plan.  ACE “repealed the statewide emissions caps of the Clean Power Plan and replaced it with a less stringent regulation focused on upgrades at individual power plants.”  E&E News also reports that “in some cases, the ACE rule’s focus on heat-rate efficiency improvements could lead coal-fired power plants to run more frequently, thus increasing pollution, according to EPA’s analysis.”

The Hill explains how Democrats used provisions in the CRA to force a floor vote on this policy:

Democrats were able to bring the vote to the floor through the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a seldom-used legal maneuver that requires the signature of just 30 senators. The CRA allows Congress to review and overturn rules implemented by the executive branch within 60 days after they have been finalized. The so-called disapproval resolution needs only a majority vote to pass.

The vote on this joint resolution was taken on Thursday, October 17, 2019. The final vote was 41-53, so the measure failed.  Thirty-nine Democrats were joined by Republican Susan Collins (Maine) and Independent Angus King (Maine) in voting YES. Fifty Republicans voted NO, and they were joined by Democrats Doug Jones (Ala.), Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.).  Presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, and Bernie Sanders did not vote. Casey voted YES and Toomey voted NO.

Our senior senator had something to say in the wake of this vote:

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 10/17/19:

“I stand in opposition to Trump’s so called Affordable Clean Energy Rule because this Administration’s continued rollbacks of our bedrock environmental protections are a reckless abandonment of our communities and future generations who depend on us to combat the climate crisis. The climate crisis is here now and we have a responsibility to take immediate action. The ACE Rule is nothing more than a scam by corporate polluters that drastically limits our ability to cut carbon pollution and meaningfully tackle the climate crisis. This is yet another decision by the Trump Administration to favor corporate interests over the health of our kids and communities. I will continue to oppose this Administration’s continued rollbacks of environmental protections and demand meaningful action on climate change.”

The Senate fails to overturn the president’s veto on the fake national emergency, take two

Senate Vote on S.J. Res. 54: relating to a national emergency declared by the President.

Under the provisions of the 1976 National Emergencies Act, the Congress can take votes to end a president’s national emergency declaration once every six months.  The President has the opportunity to veto such a vote, and then both houses would have to overcome the veto with a ⅔ supermajority for the emergency to end. This process played out in February and March, with majorities in each house voting to end the emergency, but without enough votes to overturn the veto.

Six months later, in late September, majorities in both houses voted again to end the emergency that the President is using to raid already-appropriated funds to pay for his border wall. During the recess at the start of October, President Trump again vetoed the attempt to end his fake national emergency. 

The Senate attempted to overcome this veto in a vote on Thursday, October 17, 2019.  The final vote was 53-36, and the veto was sustained.  This vote tally looks quite different from the 59-41 vote from March, but no one changed their position. The difference in numbers reflects 11 senators placing “no vote” when they had previously placed YES or NO votes.  Casey voted YES (to overturn the veto) and Toomey voted YES as well.

If you’d like a refresher on the history of presidential emergency powers and the National Emergencies Act of 1976 so that you are ready when this action repeats itself for a third time next February, please see this Learning About Legislation segment from earlier this year.

Judicial confirmation of another white, male, Federalist Society member

Senate Vote on Charles Eskridge’s nomination to the US District Court in Texas

This week the Senate considered the nomination of Charles Eskridge to a position on the federal bench in Texas.  Mr. Eskridge has considerable legal experience, but his political entanglements invite questions about his ability to be impartial.

Eskridge started his career as an attorney by clerking first for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, and then for Supreme Court Justice Byron White, n appointee of President Kennedy.  Once he entered private practice, Mr. Eskridge spent over twenty years at the same Houston firm, Susman Godfrey LLP, where he became a partner in 1997. In reporting on his confirmation, the Houston Chronicle noted that “Eskridge has also represented captains of industry, including Lehman Brothers International in Europe in the wake of the financial crisis.” Eskridge’s profile on the Federalist Society  website, where he is a member, notes that he represented “the interests of the London Insurance Market during the asbestos bankruptcy crisis.”  And, according to the Vetting Room, the nominee has been representing offshore drilling corporations since 2015, when he joined a new firm.

Mr. Eskridge does have experience handling cases with a more progressive bent. The Houston Chronicle article notes that “…he worked pro bono on behalf of Anthony Graves, a former death row inmate who was exonerated after 18 years in prison, to get the prosecutor on the case disbarred for ethical and professional rule violations.” And the Federalist Society piece cited his work for “an operating system technology company in groundbreaking antitrust action against Microsoft.”

The biggest concerns about the nominee come from both his involvement with the Federalist Society and his advocacy on behalf of many Republican candidates in Texas over the past decades.  The Vetting Room reports:

Eskridge has been very active in the Texas Republican Party for many years, including volunteering for the campaigns of Cornyn, Cruz, and former Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.  In addition, Eskridge was a prolific donor to Republicans, giving over $100,000 since 2000… Eskridge has donated more money than almost every other judicial candidate put forward by the Trump Administration.

The confirmation vote on Charles Eskridge took place on Wednesday, October 16, 2019.  He was confirmed 61-31. He had unanimous support of the GOP majority in the Senate, and received ten YES votes from Democrats. Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES.

We have a new Air Force Secretary

Senate Vote on Barbara McConnell Barrett to be Secretary of the Air Force.

On Wednesday the Senate confirmed Barbara McConnell Barrett to be the new Secretary of the Air Force, a position that has been filled in an acting capacity since the departure of the last secretary in May. The industry site Space Policy Online provided the following recap of  Secretary Barrett’s career:

Barrett, 68, is owner of the Triple Creek Ranch, a luxury ranch resort, in Darby, Montana, but has served in a several government positions over the decades.  She was deputy administrator of the FAA (1987-1988) and vice chairman of the Civil Aeronautics Board (1982-1985) under President Reagan, and was U.S Ambassador to Finland from 2008-2009.

She is a member of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which operates the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA, and of the RAND Corporation. She is also a Life Director of the Space Foundation.

An instrument-rated pilot, she is the first civilian woman to land an F/A-18 Hornet on an aircraft carrier according to a June 2018 profile in Arizona’s Chamber Business News.  She was inducted into the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame in 2013.

While the new secretary received the support of most of the Senate, her nomination was held up over concerns that she is unwilling to curb some of President Trump’s more egregious policies.  In addition to being a full supporter of the President’s Space Force plan, Air Force Times reports that Barrett was unwilling to provide assurance the Senate that she would stop President Trump’s practice of using military overnight stays at Trump private properties to bolster his business profits:

Her nomination was put on hold for several weeks by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who was seeking her assurances that airmen would no longer stay at properties owned by President Donald Trump.

Over the past four or five years, the Air Force has increasingly used Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland as a stopover for aircrews transiting the globe, and airmen have on occasion stayed at Trump Turnberry golf resort, about 45 miles away. As of September, the Pentagon had spent almost $200,000 for lodgings at the resort.

Barrett did not provide those assurances, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was ultimately forced to hold procedural votes to get to Barrett’s confirmation vote.

The vote on Barrett’s nomination was taken on Wednesday, October 16, 2019.  She was confirmed with a 85-7 vote. The seven NO votes were all from Democrats (Richard Blumenthal of Conn., Tammy Duckworth of Ill., Ed Markey of Mass., Tina Smith of Minn., Kirsten Gillibrand of N.Y., and Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden of Ore.).  Casey voted YES and Toomey voted YES

Our MoCs respond to the passing of Representative Elijah Cummings

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @DwightEvansPA, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 10/17/19:

The following Pennsylvnia lawmakers had no comment on the passing of Congressman Cummings on their Facebook, Twitter or official website presences:

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey 🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser     🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly

Our MoCs’ latest commentary on the Impeachment Inquiry

None of our lawmakers have changed their positions on the inquiry, but some have shared some additional thoughts since our last report.

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey:

The Senator does not have any new content on his social media related to impeachment. However, his pinned tweet is one from 09/25/19 that reads:

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick:

None of the MoC’s online presences have any acknowledgement of the existence of the impeachment inquiry.  This quote is from a 10/18/19 article in the Allentown Morning Call. “I think everybody has demonstrated poor judgment in this whole Ukraine situation.Do I think anyone committed a crime? I haven’t seen evidence of that.”

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @CongBoyle, 10/09/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @DwightEvansPA, 10/18/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 10/15/19:

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 10/16/19:

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 10/18/19:

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, from his official website, 10/09/19:

An impeachment inquiry cannot be conducted solely by ruthless authority from Speaker Pelosi. Before anything else, the full House must vote to authorize an investigation. This sham inquisition is wrong, and I support the White House in fighting the Democrats’ partisan antics.

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, via his Facebook presence, 10/16/19:

Fitzpatrick, Ukraine and Impeachment 

Over the past few weeks, 🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has received increasing levels of media attention for his time in the Ukraine on behalf of an FBI anti-corruption effort. His time there overlaps with events cited in Trump Administration talking points. Below you will find links to audio interviews with Rep. Fitzpatrick and news coverage about him in relation to the Impeachment Inquiry. Perhaps those of you in other Congressional districts can take a peek at these articles, and join your voices with those of us in PA-01 who are trying to push Rep. Fitzpatrick to be more forthcoming and open about how his lived experience debunks his party’s talking points?

  1. Levittown Now article titled “Congressman Fitzpatrick Talks About Time In Ukraine Amid President Trump Scandal” – this article provides an outline of the Congressman’s involvement in Ukraine, and has some of his feedback about the current Congressional actions. 
  2. NPR Weekend Edition Sunday audio piece titled “Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick In Unique Position On Ukraine” – this is a four minute piece that lays out the basics of Fitzpatrick’s assignment in Ukraine, and includes constituent feedback (including a quote from a MoCTrack editor) critiquing the Congressman’s reticence to back the impeachment inquiry
  3. Lancaster Online’s article originally titled “These two PA congressmen received campaign contributions from Giuliani’s arrested associates” – unfortunately this article, which has since had it’s titled updated, is now behind a paywall.  But it provides information about the political donations of Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Guiliani/Trump cronies, who funnelled illegal foreign donations into the coffers of Rep. Fitzpatrick and Rep. Smuckers’ campaigns
  4. Levittown Now’s article titled “Congressman To Donate Contribution From Man Indicted In Campaign Finance Scheme” – this covers much the same content as the Lancaster Online article. 
  5. Allentown Morning Calls’s article titled “How Pennsylvania congressman’s short FBI stint in Ukraine shapes his view of Trump impeachment probe” – this piece reiterates many of the Representative’s previously made points about wanting law enforcement to direct the investigation into the whistleblower’s complaints, which continuing to ignore the fact that when law enforcement had their change, Attorney General Barr quashed their efforts.
  6. WHYY Radio Times from 10/02/19 – this is a 13 minute audio interview with Rep. Fitzpatrick. 

MoC Twitter Action

Contributed by Helen, aka @ElastigirlVotes on Twitter

Twitter Action – Syrian disaster 

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 10/18/19:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 10/18/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 10/11/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 10/15/19:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 10/16/19:

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 10/14/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 10/16/19:

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 10/12/19:

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 10/10/19:

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 10/16/19:

Twitter Action – G7 / emoluments

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 10/18/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 10/17/19:

Twitter Action – promoted legislation

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 10/16/19:

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 10/10/19:

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 10/16/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 10/15/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 10/15/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 10/11/19:

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 10/18/19:

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 10/18/19:

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 10/17/19:

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 10/15/19:

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 10/16/19:

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 10/16/19:

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 10/18/19:

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 10/15/19

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 10/17/19:

Tweet of the Week

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 10/19/19:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 10/14/19:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 10/18/19:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 10/15/19:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 10/18/19:

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 10/18/19:

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 10/16/19:

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 10/15/19:

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 10/17/19:

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 10/17/19:

Casey in the News 

Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk.

The Turkish attacks against the Kurds are attacks against humanity, and our President is sitting back and watching.

from an article on WSB-TV titled “As Congress returns, both parties are livid over Trump move in Syria

It’s a bad, bad result for America if this succeeds… As the case continues to wind its way through the legal system, it is imperative that policymakers pursue real health care reform… Politicians have long promised to replace Obamacare with solutions that help everyone. It’s time to deliver — no matter which way the courts go.

from an opinion piece in the Reading Eagle titled “Editorial: Health coverage shouldn’t hinge on court ruling

The false choice is that you have to choose fracking over good climate policy,

from an article on KDKA-2 titled “Pennsylvania Democrats Send Warning To Democratic Candidates Ahead Of Ohio Debate” 

We must dispel our loved ones of the stigma associated with falling so that they can get the help they need to age in place — where they want to be — in their homes and communities. I am hopeful that our work over the past year will propel the research community to do more, get more dollars invested into supporting home modifications and encourage more older adults to be active.

from an article in the Bradford Era titled “Casey holds hearing on preventing falls for seniors

When you have that kind of a cost and that kind of an adverse impact, especially on seniors, we want to make sure we’re taking steps to prevent these falls in the first place.

from an article in Erie News Now titled “Casey releases report on senior falls prevention

In the aftermath of that bad decision, we now have to take steps to try to mitigate”

from an article in Erie News Now titled “Pa. lawmakers oppose Trump’s troop withdrawal in Syria

Senator Casey also participated in an extended interview with Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate that resulted in an article titled “Senator Bob Casey Goes On Offense Over Healthcare, Guns, Turkey, And Impeachment.” Here are some excerpts from that piece:

  • On Medicaid – “The Republican position, the official position, is to wipe out Medicaid expansion… so they are basically saying, they’re kind of giving the middle finger to about 750,000 people in our state who have insurance only because of Medicaid expansion.”
  • On threats to health care – “Census Bureau tells us 1.9 million fewer Americans have health insurance than when President Trump started, so the sabotage of the system, unfortunately, has worked.”
  • On gun reform – “If we do nothing, if we take no action, if we don’t even debate it in the United States Senate, we are surrendering to a problem.” 
  • On the effects of the President’s actions with Turkey and the Kurds – “Now we have the possibility that ISIS will be reconstituted. That’s the real problem, that ISIS now could have a second act, in a sense.”
  • On impeachment – “The evidence there is as clear as day that the President abused his power. I think it was a textbook case of abuse of power.”

Toomey in the News 

Courtesy of contributor Elayne Baker.

There is, I think, latitude in our system to have errors of judgment and inappropriate actions remedied through the political process. It’s called an election…“It was inappropriate for the president to make a reference to a potential political opponent in the context of an investigation.  [It was] not appropriate, something that I wouldn’t do, but again, not something that would strike me as an impeachable offense.

This is a terrible, terrible process, so what we should have is an appropriate process. If you pursue this properly, even though I might disagree about the merits, then the White House should comply and provide documents.

from a Philadelphia Inquirer article titled “Is the GOP rethinking impeachment? Not Pa. Sen. Pat Toomey.

President Trump should rethink this decision immediately.

from a Politico article titled “Republicans drop their revolt against Trump on Syria.”  The piece noted that this week, Sen. Toomey’s spokesperson said that the Senator now “opposes the administration’s withdrawal from Northern Syria [but] supports sanctions targeting Turkey’s military, economy, and top officials.”

My hope is this moment doesn’t last terribly long, and after it has passed, we’re able to — and maybe even more able to — pass some legislation…  There has been no decision that the administration is not going to pursue this. I’m still very much in favor.

from an article in The Colorado Independent titled “Has impeachment quashed gun control prospects?

It just continues to be a really, really difficult, challenging problem…It looks like there’s at least a slight decline. Now it’s not always clear whether that’s because we have slightly less of an addiction problem, or we have a greater prevalence of Narcan. And maybe it’s a combination, so the data will hopefully shed some light on that. ”  

from a WHYY article titled “Congress divided on whether to do more on opioids

World War II required the mobilization of our entire country. The members of the Merrill’s Marauders unit represented the bravery and determination that propelled the Allied troops to victory.”

from an article in The Bradford Era titled “Toomey cosponsors measure honoring World War II heroes” 

Learning about Legislation

H.R. 3: Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019

Our friends at the Pennsylvania Health Action Network sent over some excellent information on the Democrats’ new plan to address skyrocketing prescription drug prices. They shared this recap of the newly announced bill:

H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, would finally require prescription drug companies to negotiate with Medicare for lower prices on a range of drugs. The benefits of those negotiations would help not only people who are covered by Medicare, but also those covered by private insurance plans. This bill is transformative and long overdue.

The bill also penalizes drug companies for price gouging and stops them from charging Americans many times more than what people in other countries pay for the same drug. These are commonsense solutions that will help not only our seniors, but also millions of other Americans.

If you are interested in more of the specifics in the bill, you can find additional details in the Washington Post article titled “Pelosi rolls out long-awaited bill to lower prescription drug costs.”  The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, included even more information in a press release on his website:

The Lower Drug Costs Now Act would level the playing field for American patients and taxpayers by:

  • Ending the ban on Medicare negotiating directly with drug companies, and creating powerful new tools to force drug companies to the table to agree to real price reductions.
  • Giving all Americans access to lower drug prices negotiated by the federal government.
  • Stopping drug companies from ripping off Americans while charging other countries less for the same drugs by limiting the maximum price for any negotiated drug to be in line with the average price in countries like ours.
  • Creating a new, $2,000 out-of-pocket limit on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries and reversing years of unfair price hikes above inflation across thousands of drugs in Medicare.
  • Reinvesting in innovation and the search for new cures and treatments. Pallone hopes to use the anticipated cost-savings from lowering drug prices to reinvest in the search for new breakthrough treatments and cures at the National Institutes of Health, as well as investing in our nation’s health care including improvements to Medicare.

This is an issue that directly affects most Americans. Please consider taking the next step and calling your MoCs if you feel Congress should pass this excellent new bill!

Committee Corner

Since we are focusing our attention on H.R. 3: Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019 this week, it feels appropriate to look at the two legislative mark-up session that were held in the House this week in regards to this bill.  Both the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee held sessions this week to discuss H.R. 3. Let’s see what our Pennsylvania MoCs had to say at these sessions.

From the House Education and Labor Committee bill mark-up session on Thursday, October 17th:

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson – “I think we are all outraged at the outrageous cost of prescription drugs. That is something that impacts, I’m sure, a lot of family members of folks that are sitting in this hearing room today, and certainly a lot of our constituents. And it is a bipartisan issue. Unfortunately what we have before us today, it deserves a bipartisan solution. But the bill before us today, H.R. 3, was done in secret, was no open to individual member input and contribution, was not done in a deliberative process. It’s being shoved at the American people through this committee.” (remarks start at 43:37 of the YouTube video)

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild – “In honor of our late colleague, Mr. Cummings, I must speak in support of H.R. 3. And I concur with my colleague, Ms. Davis, that the bill should be named in his honor. As most of us know, Mr. Cummings was a fierce advocate for the cause of lowering the price of prescription drugs. In the early days of this administration, Mr. Cummings was determined to find common ground and felt that the price of drugs was an area where we could find bipartisan consensus.  I hope that in his honor, this committee will find it possible to accomplish what Mr. Cummings so wanted to see happen.

When I hear my colleagues across the aisle attack H.R. 3 as not being a bipartisan work product, I just want to ask them, ‘where is your work on prescription drug pricing from the years you had the majority in the House, the Senate, and the White House?’ Non-existent. Stop protecting rich corporate executive, and start thinking about your constituents! The days of putting profits over people must come to an end”  (remarks start at 1:03:36 of the YouTube video)

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson – “The Pelosi drug pricing plan would transform the market based system that has made the US the global leader in developing innovative, life-saving treatments and cures for patients, that’s been something that’s been important to me in twenty eight years of my rehabilitation practice. I’ve worked with thousands of  individuals facing life-changing disease and disabilities. This proposal combines multiple far-reaching and misguided policies that threaten to devastate the research based bio-pharmaceutical industry, shatter the US research and development ecosystem, and permanently retard the introduction of new medicines.” (remarks start at 2:37:23 of the YouTube video)

From the House Energy and Commerce Committee bill mark-up session on Thursday, October 17th

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle – “Democrats have been fighting for the ability to negotiate drug prices for a long time. It was nearly two decades ago, 2003 when we passed Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit. And Democrats almost won this fight then. I guess the point I’m trying to make is, this has been a long time coming and the American people are ready. Poll after poll shows that the American people want the government to negotiate for lower drug prices. This is the kind of thing that government should be doing – intervene to directly help the quality of life for all Americans.”  (remarks start at 1:09:50 of the YouTube video)

After the lunch break, debate resumed, and Rep. Doyle was able to speak again. He related a heart-breaking personal experience about his mother-in-law’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis, comments that begin at 5:38:09 of the YouTube video. He concluded relating that experience with this passage.

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle – “Researchers don’t stop researching because they think the price isn’t going to be where they want it to be.  These dedicated men and women who work hard every day trying to discover cures for things like Alzheimer’s and cancer and other devastating illnesses do it because they care about people, they probably had a personal experience that led them to go into research. The idea that research is somehow going to be stopped, or that drug companies won’t develop these drugs because they can’t make enough profit doing it? I think it doesn’t say very much  of what you think about researchers or the drug industry. I still believe that people do this for a reason… and the reason isn’t money.”

And while 🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright is not a member of either committee that marked up H.R. 3 this week, we do have his comments from a floor speech that he thoughtfully provided via Twitter.  

The final House Committee scheduled to mark up H.R. 3 is the Ways and Means Committee, on October 22, 2019.  We should expect commentary from Pennsylvania committee members next week:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle  🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans  🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly 

Call to Action – Support this Bill! 

H.R. 3: Lower Drug Costs Now Act of 2019

As with the recap from our Learning about Legislation section, our allies at the Pennsylvania Health Action Network provided the scripting in support of H.R. 3.  They suggest that this script can be used with any Member of Congress, regardless of their party:

“I’m calling today to encourage Rep. ______ to support H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act. Since the addition of Part D to Medicare, the federal government has been squandering its purchasing power by not allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. Seniors have been paying too-high prices for too long. For the sake of America’s seniors and the rest of us who will also benefit from Medicare’s negotiations for lower drug prices, please support the Lower Drug Costs Now Act.”

PHAN also adds that if you have any experience with high, increasing or unstable prescription drug pricing, you should include information about your lived experience when you make your call.  Please do put some time this week into calling your Representative in the House to let them know that you support H.R. 3!

This report brought to you by the Pennsylvania MoCTrack team… 

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

We can always use additional assistance. Our Congresspeople are always busy and there is always more for us to cover — tasks big and small to fit any level of time commitment or experience. Can you help us out?  Please email and put “MoCTrack Help” in the subject. Thanks!

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