Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 01/05/20

53 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 Demcast and Pennsylvania Statewide Indivisible organizations who host our report and help us share it out to the residents of our Commonwealth!

2019 in Review

Tracking Congress in the Age of Trump – 2019 in numbers

The lower the number, the more the legislator votes in opposition to the Trump agenda. These numbers include the timespan of the MoC’s tenure in Congress that has overlapped with President Trump.

Member of Congresslowest % in 2019highest % in 2019average % in 2019
Senator Bob Casey (D)27.7%32.6%29.7%
Senator Pat Toomey (R)87.5%89.4%88.2%
PA-01 Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)66.0%79.4%70.4%
PA-02 Rep. Brendan Boyle (D)13.2%19.0%15.4%
PA-03 Rep. Dwight Evans (D)12.0%17.0%13.8%
PA-04 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)0.0%3.3%1.0%
PA-05 Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D)4.7%22.2%7.9%
PA-06 Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D)0.0%4.9%2.0%
PA-07 Rep. Susan Wild (D)5.6%22.2%8.8%
PA-08 Rep. Matt Cartwright (D)21.1%28.7%24.2%
PA-09 Rep. Dan Meuser (R)88.9%100.0%96.2%
PA-10 Rep. Scott Perry (R)85.6%89.0%87.7%
PA-11 Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R)95.1%96.2%95.6%
PA-12 Rep. Fred Keller (R)90.0%100.0%95.1%
PA-13 Rep. John Joyce (R)97.6%100.0%99.1%
PA-14 Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R)88.9%100.0%94.4%
PA-15 Rep. Glenn W. Thompson (R)97.9%99.2%98.6%
PA-16 Rep. Mike Kelly (R)95.8%97.0%96.4%
PA-17 Rep. Conor Lamb (D)24.4%54.8%33.1%
PA-18 Rep. Mike Doyle (D)15.3%22.0%17.9%

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website assesses the voting records of our MoCs to provide this index, by comparing any item where President Trump has stated a position, and comparing the vote of the legislator to that opinion. If you would like 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.

The Legislation of 2019,  by the numbers

  • 10,171 – Introduced Bills and Resolutions
  • 419 – Passed Resolutions
  • 465 – Bills or resolutions that got a vote in at least one House of Congress
  • 105 – Enacted bills or joint resolutions
  • 354 – Bills that passed the House, but are sitting in “McConnell’s Graveyard” (stalled because the Senate Majority Leader refuses to schedule them for votes)

Top Ten most important bills held up in McConnell’s Graveyard

The assessment “most important” is, of course, subjective.  But while some of the bills held up in the McConnell Graveyard are small technical fixes, there are a number of them that would usher in systemic change to improve the lives of millions of Americans. These are ten of those ambitious bills:

  1. H.R. 1: For the People Act of 2019 

This is a bill that would improve voting rights, fix campaign finance regulations, and mandate ethics and accountability reform. The House vote on this bill was taken on March 8, 2019, and it passed 234-193. 

The bill’s sponsor says:

“This historic bill is a major moment for our country,” said Rep. John Sarbanes. “It’s a signal that Democrats stand with the people – of all political stripes – who are fed up with the status quo in Washington, where wealthy donors and corporate special interests write the checks and call the shots. H.R. 1 will completely rebalance power in our nation’s capital, putting everyday Americans back in charge. The For the People Act will fight back against corruption in Washington, establish clean and fair elections, end the dominance of big money in our politics and ensure the right to vote.. Every single page of this bill was designed to respect and empower the American people, and to make Washington more responsive to the needs and priorities of the public. This bill is truly of, by and for the people.”

2. H.R. 5: Equality Act

This bill will amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to define sex discrimination to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, giving the LGBTQ community full protection.  The House vote on this bill was taken on May 17, 2019, and it passed 236-173. 

The bill’s sponsor says:

“Equal treatment under the law and a commitment to fairness and equality are founding values of our country. Discrimination of any kind is wrong and no one should ever be treated as less than equal because of who they are or who they love,” said Rep. David Cicilline, Democratic Policy and Communications Committee Chair. “The American people overwhelmingly support this bill in every single state. In fact, 84% of Kentucky residents support protections for the LGBTQ community. I hope that Senator McConnell will bring this bill to floor as soon as possible. If he chooses not to do so, his constituents will have a chance to hold him accountable in just 18 months.”

3. H.R. 6: American Dream and Promise Act of 2019

This is a bill that would grant dreamers 10 years of legal residence status if they complete at least two years of higher education or military service, or after they work for three years. It also helps people in this country under Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  The House vote on this bill was taken on June 4, 2019, and it passed 237-187.  

The bill’s sponsor says:

“Our vote sends a strong, clear message that Dreamers, TPS recipients, and DED beneficiaries are an essential part of modern America,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard.  “Their talents and traditions strengthen our communities and our economy.  They contribute $27 billion a year in federal, state, and local taxes, and they hold $75 billion in buying power.  It makes no moral, cultural, or economic sense to remove these proud Americans from the land they love. With the help and support of leaders like Speaker Pelosi, Congresswomen Velázquez and Clarke, Chairman Nadler, and all of the bill’s supporters and advocates, we are getting closer to making H.R. 6 the law of the land.  I urge my Senate colleagues to follow the House’s lead and pass the Dream and Promise Act.”

4. H.R. 8: Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019

This is a bill that would close a number of loopholes that exempt many gun purchases/sales from undergoing background checks. Of particular note, this bill closes the notorious “gun show loophole” that exempts private gun sales from background checks.  The House vote on this bill was taken on February 27, 2019, and it passed 240-190. 

The bill’s sponsor says:

“The House has passed a bipartisan background check bill that is commonsense and narrow,” wrote Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson in a letter to President Trump.  “It requires a background check for every sale. Keeping our hunting and gun-owning tradition in mind, it allows for transfers within the family and for hunting purposes. This bill in no way infringes on the 2nd Amendment. If it did, it would not have my name on it.”

5. H.R. 582: Raise the Wage Act

This is a bill that would gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 and hour across a seven year period. The House vote on this bill was taken on March 6, 2019, and it passed 231-199

The bill’s sponsor says:

“According to the Congressional Budget Office’s review of a similar proposal, the Raise the Wage Act would lift roughly 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, including 600,000 children.  But the Raise the Wage Act is not only good for workers, it is good for the economy. When we put money in the pockets of workers, they will spend that money in their local economies. Gradually increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2025 will stimulate economic growth, particularly in struggling communities,” said Rep. Bobby Scott.

6. H.R. 1423: Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act

This is a bill that would give consumers and workers the ability to agree to arbitration, but would eliminate forced arbitration clauses in employment, consumer, and civil rights contracts.  The House vote on this bill was taken on September 20, 2019, and it passed 225-186.  

The bill’s sponsor says:

“Forced arbitration agreements undermine our indelible Constitutional right to trial by jury, benefiting powerful businesses at the expense of American consumers and workers,” said Rep. Hank Johnson, chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Court, Intellectual Property and the Internet. “Americans with few choices in the marketplace may unknowingly cede their rights when they enter contracts to buy a home or a cell phone, place a loved one in a nursing home, or start a new job. We must fight to defend our rights and re-empower consumers.”

7. H.R. 1585: Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act

This is a bill that would direct funding to programs that prevent violence against women, and stiffens criminal penalties for gender based violence.  The House vote on this bill was taken on April 4, 2019, and it passed 263-158.

The bill’s sponsor says:

“This is our opportunity to respond to the needs of victims and survivors everywhere, absent discrimination based on their race, sex, religion, or nationality. That is why this law has been reauthorized three times—in 2000, 2005, and 2013, since enactment—with strong bipartisan approval and overwhelming support from Congress, states, and local communities,” said Rep. Karen Bass. “H.R. 1585 is inclusive, sensible, and responsive.  This bill is about preventing and responding to domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. This is why I urge my colleagues to exert courage and stand with victims by supporting this bill.”

8. H.R. 9: Climate Action Now Act

This bill will require the President to stay in the Paris Climate Agreement and to develop a plan to meet our nation’s determined contribution to combat climate change, including cutting our greenhouse gas emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. The House vote on this bill was taken on May 2, 2019, and it passed 231-190. 

The bill’s sponsor says:

“The United States is still in this agreement and Democrats are doing everything in our power to make sure it stays that way.  We cannot hide from the climate crisis and we do not cut and run from our commitments,” said Rep. Kathy Castor, Chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.  “The Senate should act as soon as possible. If Republicans refuse to hold a vote, they should offer a serious alternative for addressing our climate crisis.  If they can’t offer any solutions, they’re not doing their jobs and the American people will see right through them.”

9. H.R. 3: Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act

This bill will require prescription drug companies to negotiate with Medicare for lower prices on a range of drugs. It 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.  The House vote on this bill was taken on December 12, 2019, and it passed 230-192. 

The bill’s sponsor says:

“The historic Lower Drug Costs Now Act will empower Medicare to negotiate drug prices for the first time in the history of the program and makes those prices available to all Americans with insurance. The bill also reverses years of unfair price hikes and caps seniors’ out-of-pocket costs on prescription medications at $2,000 per year. This legislation will dramatically rein in costs and puts an end to the price gouging that’s been taking place at the pharmacy counter for years,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, Chairman on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  We then take the savings and reinvest it back into the American people with the most transformative improvements to Medicare since the program’s creation. Under H.R. 3, seniors will have access to vision, hearing and dental coverage through Medicare for the first time. We also invest in critical research to find new cures and treatments, as well as providing much-needed funding to combat the opioid crisis.  

10. H.R. 4: Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019

This bill will create a new formula for the U.S. Department of Justice to use to determine which states with histories of voting discrimination would be required to pre-clear proposed election changes, fulfilling the requirement laid out in the SCOTUS decision in Shelby County v. Holder.  The House vote on this bill was taken on December 6, 2019, and it passed 228-187. 

The bill’s sponsor says:

“Voting is personal to me, not only because I represent America’s Civil Rights District—but because it was on the streets of my hometown, Selma, Alabama, that foot soldiers shed their blood on the Edmund Pettus Bridge so that all Americans—regardless of race—could vote!” Rep. Terri Sewell said. “I am so proud that…  the House took critical steps in addressing the Supreme Court’s Shelby decision and passed H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to restore the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to its full strength.”

Trump’s vetoes

These are the 6  measures that were vetoed by President Trump in 2019.  None of these measures were able to garner the ⅔ support needed to overturn his veto.

  • H.J. Res. 46: Relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 – this was an attempt to overturn the president’s fake emergency he declared to enable him to raid Congressionally-appropriated funds for his southern border wall. The veto override vote failed on 03/26/19.
  • S.J. Res. 7: A joint resolution to direct the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress – as its name implies, this was an attempt to disentangle the United States from all hostilities in Yemen. The veto override vote failed on 05/02/19.
  • S.J. Res. 36, S.J. Res. 37 and S.J.Res. 38: Joint resolutions providing for congressional disapproval of the proposed export …of certain defense articles and services – This trio of resolutions were objections to the Trump Administration attempt to circumvent Congress by declaring another fake emergency so that the President could sell billions of dollars in arms to Saudi Arabia and other countries.  Congressional objections to this action came both because of the president’s improper move in declaring an emergency as well as because this sale came in the wake of Saudi Arabia’s murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The veto override votes failed on 07/29/19.
  • S.J. Res. 54: A joint resolution relating to a national emergency declared by the President on February 15, 2019 – the law that governs national emergencies gives Congress the ability to vote to end them every six months after their initial declaration by the President.  This was the second try to overturn the fake emergency President Trump declared to get his wall money. The veto override vote failed on 10/17/19.

MoC Legislative Action for 2019 for each member

Below you will find a short recap of each lawmakers’ legislative year, with statistics on the number of bills they introduced and co-sponsored, along with which of their bills passed their respective Houses.  

A note on the bill passage number – this metric only tracks those bills that passed on their own, in the form in which they were introduced.  Sometimes bills are wholesale copied and pasted into larger legislative packages (that’s how we end up with tax bills that are over 2,000 pages long), and other times small segments of an MoC’s bill are inserted into another bill as an amendment.  Those situations are not tracked as a part of the bill passage numbers cited below. You’ll find a short list of enacted legislation that contains portions of text from Pennsylvania lawmakers at the end of this section.

🔵 Senator Bob Casey

73 – # of items introduced in 2019
333 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
4 – # of his introduced items that passed the Senate in 2019

  • S. Res. 117 – A resolution designating March 22, 2019, as “National Rehabilitation Counselors Appreciation Day”
  • S. Res. 114 – A resolution expressing support for the designation of March 21, 2019, as “National Rosie the Riveter Day”.
  • S. Res. 103 – A resolution designating March 27, 2019, as “National Assistive Technology Awareness Day”
  • S. Res. 31 – A resolution honoring the life of Harris L. Wofford, Jr.

MoCTrack’s favorite Casey bill: 

S.1792 – United States Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act

This is a bill that would make any corporations that relocate customer service or other call centers overseas ineligible for federal grants, thus incentivizing employers to keep jobs in the United States. There are 17 Democrats co-sponsoring this bill, and it is pending in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey

23 – # of items introduced in 2019
83 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
3 – # of his introduced items that passed the Senate in 2019

  • S. 134 – Combat Online Predators Act
  • S. Res. 267 – A resolution recognizing the September 11th National Memorial Trail as an important trail & greenway all individuals should enjoy in honor of the heroes of September 11th
  • S. Res. 33 – A resolution supporting the contributions of Catholic schools.

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Toomey bill:

S. 1644 – Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act

This is a bill that would punish municipalities who do not act as deputies to the Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security by stopping those cities from receiving federal funding.  Several federal courts, including the Third Circuit (which oversees Pennsylvania) have blocked implementation of this plan. Twenty four Republican senators have co-sponsored this bill, which is pending in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary.

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick

27 – # of items introduced in 2019
866 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Fitzpatrick bill:

H. Res. 525 – Calling for the designation of Antifa as a domestic terrorist organization

Before going into the details of this partisan signalling action from Rep. Fitzpatrick, let’s turn to the Anti-Defamation League’s most recent assessment of muder and extremism in the United States. The ADL writes, “The extremist-related murders in 2018 were overwhelmingly linked to right-wing extremists.  Every one of the perpetrators had ties to at least one right-wing extremist movement.” The ADL adds, on another page about Antifa:

…it is important to reject attempts to claim equivalence between the antifa and the white supremacist groups they oppose. Antifa reject racism but use unacceptable tactics. White supremacists use even more extreme violence to spread their ideologies of hate, to intimidate ethnic minorities, and undermine democratic norms. Right-wing extremists have been one of the largest and most consistent sources of domestic terror incidents in the United States for many years; they have murdered hundreds of people in this country over the last ten years alone.  To date, there have not been any known antifa-related murders.

In that light, it is clear that creating such an equivalency is exactly the point of Rep. Fitpatrick’s resolution.  In doing so, he is minimizing the real and awful impact of the actual hate groups in our midst, purely to put some red meat in front of his Fox News-watching primary voters.

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle

22 – # of items introduced in 2019
313 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s favorite Boyle bill:

Rep. Boyle has introduced great bills related to PFAS in water, repealing the debt ceiling, and banning government shutdowns. But MoCTrack is a sucker for a cheeky bill name, so our pick has to be…

H.R. 3736 – the STABLE GENIUS Act

That stands for “Standardizing Testing and Accountability Before Large Elections Giving Electors Necessary Information for Unobstructed Selection Act” and we give a standing ovation for that clever bit of linguistic work.  The bill would require all presidential candidates to undergo medical examination by a medical officer who is a part of the armed services (and not a candidate’s personal physician who could be willing to allow said candidate to dictate/write their own medical report).  This may be a small issue in the grand scheme, but it is one tiny step in identifying accepted norms broken by Donald Trump, and turning them into future laws.

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans

10 – # of items introduced in 2019
308 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s favorite Evans bill:

H.R. 2585 – Resources for Victims of Gun Violence Act

If you are a regular reader of MoCTrack, you will recognize this bill, as it has been the focus of our Call to Action more than once. This bill would establish an advisory committee made up of members of various bureaucratic agencies (like Health and Human Services, Social Security Administration and the Department of Justice among others), but more importantly, victims of gun violence who can bring their lived experiences, as well as social workers and medical professionals.  This new advisory group would assess a variety of needs of victims of gun violence. From there, the new advisory group would have two mandates. First, they would make sure that information about currently available programs is more accessible to affected communities. Their second task is to provide to Congress a report on what additional programs need to be created to help victims of gun violence.  This is a spectacular piece of legislation with a laudable goal of helping those who have been hurt by our government’s unwillingness to address the root cause of our nation’s gun violence epidemic. This bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee with 73 co-sponsors (all Democrats).

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean

13 – # of items introduced in 2019
330 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
1 – # of her introduced items that passed the House in 2019

  • H.R. 4300 – Fostering Stable Housing Opportunities Act

MoCTrack’s favorite Dean bill:

H.R. 869 – Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act

This is a bill that would update a section of the US Code related to firearms that was enacted into law in the 80s.  Since that time, 3D printers have made it possible to print “ghost guns” – firearms made of materials undetectable by traditional screening.  Accordingly, the laws of our country related to undetectable firearms need to be updated to include the new variety of firearm that technological advances have made possible.  This is smart, necessary and important! It has 31 Democrats as co-sponsors, and it is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon

15 – # of items introduced in 2019
340 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
5* – # of her introduced items that passed the House in 2019 (* All of these items are procedural resolutions that set the rules for the debate and consideration of other pieces of legislation)

MoCTrack’s favorite Scanlon bill:

H.R. 3764 – Justice for Student Borrowers Act

Built into a number of current private student loan agreements are provisions that require mandatory arbitration to settle loan disputes.  This blocks people from accessing the recourse of our legal system, even in cases where they may have experienced fraud. The arbitration system is one that provides advantages to the large corporate loan issuers.  This bill from Rep. Scanlon would eliminate mandatory arbitration clauses from student loan agreements. It has 30 Democrats as co-sponsors, and it is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan

12 – # of items introduced in 2019
230 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of her introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s favorite Houlahan bill:

H.R.834 – The Shutdown to End All Shutdowns Act

This is a bill that would automatically trigger continuing appropriations instead of allowing for government shutdowns.  It would also impose some limits on government behaviors like congressional pay and official travel for Congress and members of the executive branch during such periods of budget debates that require the triggering of automatic continuing appropriations.  In short, it takes shutdowns off the table as a threat during negotiations. The bill has 22 co-sponsors (all Democrats) and is pending in a cluster of committees – Appropriations; Oversight and Reform; House Administration; and Rules.

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild

16 – # of items introduced in 2019
444 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of her introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s favorite Wild bill:

H.R.1546 – To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to establish a minimum period for early voting in elections for Federal office.

The title of this bill is fairly self-explanatory.  Over ¾ of states offer some form of early voting, but for those of us who live in states that do not provide for that option, there is a burden.  Having an early voting option in all states (for federal elections) would increase access to the polls for people who face challenges exercising their right to vote.  This bill is pending in the House Administration Committee and it has 14 co-sponsors (all Democrats).

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright

28 – # of items introduced in 2019
350 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
1 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

  • H.R. 762 – Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act

MoCTrack’s favorite Cartwright bill:

H.R. 3463 – Public Service Freedom to Negotiate Act

This explanatory statement for this bill is available on the House Committee on Education and Labor’s website: “The Public Service Freedom to Negotiate guarantees that every public service employee in every state has the freedom to stand together and negotiate for fair wages and working conditions. The bill sets a minimum nationwide standard for collective bargaining rights that all states must provide to public sector workers.”  In an era where GOP-controlled states are undermining the rights of unions, a bill like Rep. Cartwright’s H.R. 3463 is of paramount importance. The bill is pending in the House Committee on Education and Labor and it has a whopping 222 co-sponsors (220 D, 2R).

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser

2 – # of items introduced in 2019
110 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Meuser bill:

H.R. 3979 – BASIC Act

“BASIC” stands for “Budgetary Accuracy in Scoring Interest Costs.”  This bill calls for an estimate a “costs relating to servicing the public debt” to be added to Congressional Budget Office estimate of costs for any planned program.  Another way to put that is that is, if passed, the CBO would be forced to hyperinflate their cost estimates for any program with completely unrelated costs. This is a messaging bil that preys upon GOP fears about the deficit. It is pending in two committees (Rules and Budget) and it has 3 co-sponsors (all Republican).

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry

15 – # of items introduced in 2019
138 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Perry bill:

H.R.1584 – Energy Sovereignty Act

This is a bill that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from controlling certain types of air pollution. Right now, the EPA can call upon states to change plans if it is determined they would adversely affect public health or welfare in other states or countries. Rep. Perry’s bill would remove the international piece of the wording.  It’s the equivalent of allowing our country to be the air pollution equivalent of that bad neighbor that dumps raked up leaves into their next door neighbor’s yard. This is pending in the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and it has 4 Republican co-sponsors.

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker

15 – # of items introduced in 2019
122 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019:
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Smucker bill:

Rep. Smucker’s bills are fairly innocuous, and deal with issues like veterans, adoption, tax credits and workforce reentry.  He even has a shutdown prevention bill and one on net neutrality. But this one…

H.R. 523 – To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to render overstaying a visa a criminal offense

This bill is just one tiny piece of the larger Trump Administration agenda of making immigration offenses crimes, instead of civil offenses.  It plays into the overall GOP plan of demonizing and othering immigrants. This is one of those bills that messages to a xenophobic GOP primary-voter base that Rep. Smucker is aligning himself with their worldview. It is a dog-whistle of the worst kind.

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller

2 – # of items introduced in 2019
67 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Keller bill:

With Rep. Keller only serving for about half the year after his special election, he does not offer much to choose from, just one post office naming bill and this one.  But even if he had a long list of bills, this one would be worthy of note.

H.R. 3980 – Eric’s Law

This is a bill that Rep. Keller introduced along with Senator Toomey.  From Sen. Toomey’s website, “the legislation would permit prosecutors to impanel a second jury for sentencing if the first jury fails to reach a unanimous sentencing decision.”  This bill is specific to death penalty cases. These two legislators want prosecutors to go out and pick a brand new jury if they cannot convince a first group of jurors to agree to a death sentence. This bill is pending in the House Judiciary Committee, and it has 6 GOP co-sponsors.

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce

2 – # of items introduced in 2019
155 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
1 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

  • H.R. 3318 – Emerging Transportation Security Threats Act

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Joyce bill:

H.R. 2455 – Ensuring Timely Access to Generics Act

This bill doesn’t sound like a bad idea based on its name, as it professes to reduce prescription drug prices by making it easier for a pharmaceutical product to get a generic counterpart.  However,the manner in which this legislation would do that is all at the discretion of the Secretary of Health and Human Services. In reality, this bill is nothing more than a messaging exercise to draw attention away from the Democrat’s H.R 3 “Lower Drug prices Now” Act.  It lacks the teeth of that effort, which is a piece of real reform. This bill from Rep. Joyce is just a sham that enables its co-sponsors (6 in total, including fellow Pennsylvanians PA-01’s Rep. Fitzpatrick and PA-11’s Rep. Smucker) to pretend they support the goal of lowering drug prices, while offering no real solution to the problem.

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler

4 – # of items introduced in 2019
222 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Reschenthaler bill:

H.R. 1928 – No Sanctuary for Criminals Act

This is a bill that is nearly identical to Senator Toomey’s “S. 1644 – Stop Dangerous Sanctuary Cities Act.”  It punishes municipalities who pass local ordinances blocking their local law enforcement from acting as deputies to the Customs and Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security by stopping those cities from receiving federal funding.  It also creates legal indemnification for municipalities that does agree to cooperate with ICE and CBP. This is just one more example of a situation where the GOP, who traditionally champion “states rights” when it suits their ideological purposes, abandoning that philosophy when it is inconvenient.

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson

7 – # of items introduced in 2019
184 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Thompson bill:

H.R. 1391 – Methane Rule Relief Act 

This is a bill that would exempt some oil and natural gas wells from Environmental Protection Agency rules related to emission standards. It’s just bad environmental policy, as methane is 84 times more damaging to the climate as carbon dioxide. 

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly

6 – # of items introduced in 2019
203 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
0 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s LEAST favorite Kelly bill:

H.R. 897 – Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act 

This bill from Rep. Kelly is related to the discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and similar in its aims. RFRAs, like the one introduced in Indiana by Mike Pence several years ago, allow people to discriminate against others by claiming a ‘sincerely held religious beliefs or moral conviction.’ This is the idea that was tested in the Masterpiece Cakes Supreme Court Case in 2018. In this bill from Rep. Kelly this principle is applied to adoption and foster care providers, allowing facilitating agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ applicants.  This is what the Human Rights Campaign has to say about Rep. Kelly’s bill:

The Child Welfare Provider Inclusion Act would undermine the government’s ability to ensure child welfare organizations make decisions based on the best interest of children. The bill would allow child welfare organizations, including adoption and foster care providers, to make placement determinations based on the organization’s “religious beliefs or moral convictions” regardless of the needs of the child. In addition, the bill would bar the federal government and states receiving federal funding from taking action to ensure that all children receive the loving, stable home they deserve… The bill would override state non-discrimination statutes and effectively allow taxpayer funds to be used to discriminate. The legislation uses the pretense of religious freedom to advance rather than bring an end to discrimination in the placement of children for adoption or foster care.

The bill has 63 co-sponsors (62R, 1D – this includes fellow Pennsylvanians Rep. Smucker of PA-11 and Rep. Reschenthaler of PA-14) and it is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee.

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb

10 – # of items introduced in 2019
212 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
3 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

  • H.R. 2359 – Whole Veteran Act
  • H.R. 2385 – To permit the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to conduct cemetery research and produce educational materials for the Veterans Legacy Program
  • H.R. 3207 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 114 Mill Street in Hookstown, Pennsylvania, as the “Staff Sergeant Dylan Elchin Post Office Building”.

MoCTrack’s favorite Lamb bill:

H.R. 2103 – Tax Fairness for Workers Act

This is a bill that Rep. Lamb introduced along with Senator Casey, who brought an identical bill to the Senate.  Thi is a measure that would allow personal spending on union dues and expenses to be treated as an above-the-line tax deduction. Rep. Lamb explained the reasoning behind the bill, noting “We have an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure that our economy benefits everyone, and leaves no one behind. This means providing the tools and resources that enable workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses—not just big corporations – to provide for their families.” The bill is pending in the House Ways and Means Committee and it has 19 co-sponsors (16D, 3R – this includes fellow Pennsylvanians Rep. Fitzpatrick of PA-01 and Rep. Doyles of PA-18).

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle

8 – # of items introduced in 2019
267 – # of items co-sponsored in 2019
2 – # of his introduced items that passed the House in 2019

MoCTrack’s favorite Doyle bill:

H.R. 1644 – Save the Internet Act

This is a bill that would restore Net Neutrality by reversing pro-corporate Trump Administration/FCC regulations that allow for throttling and preferential internet traffic, and returning us to the Obama era Open Internet Order. This bill passed the House in April, 232-190.  The votes of our Pennsylvania MoCs split along party lines.

Pennsylvania lawmaker efforts included larger, enacted legislation

There are 105 bills and resolutions (including ceremonial actions and post office namings) that have passed both houses in Congress and have been enacted into law by president Trump.  MoCTrack has reviewed that full list via GovTrack, as that site includes details on when content from another lawmaker’s bill has been included in the final version of the enacted law.  The list below includes bills from Pennsylvania lawmakers that have had some or all of their content includes in 2019 enacted legislation, along with the percentage of content included:

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly’s H.R. 1084 – Family Savings Act of 2019, 57% included in H.R. 1865 – Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, enacted 12/20/19

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle’s H.R. 5035 – Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019, 98% included in H.R. 1865 – Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, enacted 12/20/19

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey’s S. 479 – PACT Act was 100% included in enacted legislation, as the House companion bill, H.R. 724 – Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act was signed into law on 11/25/19

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler’s H.R. 2368 – Supporting and Treating Officers In Crisis Act, 98% included in its Senate companion bill of the same name, S. 998, enacted 07/25/19

Call to Action – keep contacting Senator Toomey about Impeachment!

Now that the House has passed Articles of Impeachment, the time has come to turn our attention to the Senate.  We need to call Senator Toomey EVERY DAY to put pressure on him related to impeachment.

There are three main points to make in calls to Senator Toomey’s office:

  1. He took an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, and we expect him to keep it
  2. The Senate must hold a fair trial with witnesses
  3. We expect the Senator to do his duty and put the interests of the country over his loyalty to his party.

You may find it effective to quote the Senator himself when you call his office.  Here are some statements he has made in the past that apply to the current situation.  He made these three comments in the content of trade policy and the fake national emergency declared by President Trump in early 2019, but each of these quotes show a willingness to rein in presidential power.

“Congress should be reasserting its constitutional responsibility… not yielding even more power to the executive branch. ” – Senator Toomey from January 9, 2019

“Were the president to successfully circumvent Congress… not only would our Constitution’s separation of powers be weakened, but a dangerous precedent would be set.” – Senator Toomey from March 14, 2019

This report brought to you by the PA MoCTrack team: 

  • Elayne Baker 
  • Gary Garb
  • Linda Houk
  • Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo

We are seeking 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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