Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 01.12.20

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63 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)28.9%+0.6%
Senator Pat Toomey (R)88.1%+0.1%
PA-01 Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)66.2%0.0%
PA-02 Rep. Brendan Boyle (D)13.4%-0.1%
PA-03 Rep. Dwight Evans (D)12.3%0.0%
PA-04 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)3.2%-0.1%
PA-05 Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D)6.1%-0.2%
PA-06 Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D)4.8%-0.1%
PA-07 Rep. Susan Wild (D)7.6%-0.2%
PA-08 Rep. Matt Cartwright (D)20.9%-0.3%
PA-09 Rep. Dan Meuser (R)98.3%0.0%
PA-10 Rep. Scott Perry (R)89.2%+0.2%
PA-11 Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R)95.5%+0.1%
PA-12 Rep. Fred Keller (R)93.9%+0.4%
PA-13 Rep. John Joyce (R)98.4%+0.1%
PA-14 Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R)95.1%+0.2%
PA-15 Rep. Glenn W. Thompson (R)98.1%0.0%
PA-16 Rep. Mike Kelly (R)96.2%+0.1%
PA-17 Rep. Conor Lamb (D)23.9%-0.5%
PA-18 Rep. Mike Doyle (D)15.4%-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. The two House votes scored this week relate to the war powers resolution regarding Iran and a water pollution bill.  The confirmation of a new head of the Small Business Administration was the sole Senate vote scored this week.

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.

Votes of Interest 

The House looks to protect their constitutionally assigned War Powers

House Vote on H. Con. Res. 83: Directing the President pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran

This is a non-binding resolution that states:

Pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1544(c)), Congress hereby directs the President to terminate the use of United States Armed Forces to engage in hostilities in or against Iran or any part of its government or military, unless… (1) Congress has declared war or enacted specific statutory authorization for such use of the Armed Forces; or (2) such use of the Armed Forces is necessary and appropriate to defend against an imminent armed attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its Armed Forces, consistent with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution. 

Vote date: Thursday, January 9, 2020 Vote Tally: 224-194 (passed)

Party Breakdown: Most Democrats voted YES, with the 8 voting NO coming mainly from moderate lawmakers, recently flipped districts, or “Problem Solvers”; Most Republicans voted NO, with the 3 YES votes coming from the Freedom Caucus; the Independent voted YES

Additional Reading:

no voteRFitzpatrick, 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

Regulations on Contaminants in Pennsylvania waters get a vote in the House

House Vote on H.R. 535: PFAS Action Act

PFAS are “forever chemicals” that cause damaging medical conditions. They were introduced to our water supply via firefighting foams used on military bases, and a number of communities in Pennsylvania have been adversely affected by their presence.  There have been several attempts to get the military to deal with assessing and ameliorating PFAS contamination, most recently in the National Defense Authorization Act that passed in December, but the portions related to PFAS were stripped out when the bill went to conference.  In the aftermath of that decision, this bill was put on the House schedule.

Vote date: Friday, January 10, 2020 Vote Tally: 247-159 (passed)

Party Breakdown: All but one Democrat (Ben McAdams of Utah) voted YES; Most Republicans voted NO, but 24 voted YES; the Independent voted NO.
Additional Reading:

no voteRFitzpatrick, BrianPA 1st
NoRPerry, ScottPA 10th
AyeDBoyle, BrendanPA 2nd
no voteRSmucker, LloydPA 11th
no voteDEvans, DwightPA 3rd
NoRKeller, FredPA 12th
AyeDDean, MadeleinePA 4th
NoRJoyce, JohnPA 13th
AyeDScanlon, MaryPA 5th
NoRReschenthaler, GuyPA 14th
AyeDHoulahan, ChrissyPA 6th
no voteRThompson, GlennPA 15th
AyeDWild, SusanPA 7th
NoRKelly, MikePA 16th
AyeDCartwright, MatthewPA 8th
AyeDLamb, ConorPA 17th
no voteRMeuser, DanielPA 9th
AyeDDoyle, MikePA 18th

Many Pennsylvania lawmakers were not present for the vote due to the funeral of former Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, brother of PA-01 Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick.

Bureaucratic Confirmation #1

Senate Confirmation Vote on Jovita Carranza Administrator of the Small Business Administration

Jovita Carranza is currently the US Treasurer and has worked extensively on the opportunity zone program. Her past career includes work as a deputy SBA administrator in the George W. Bush administration. The Hill referred to her as “an ally” of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Carranza is filling the role vacated by Linda McMahon (of World Wrestling Entertainment fame), who left to lead a Trump SuperPAC in advance of the 2020 election season.  During her confirmation hearing Carranza said that she will “expand access to SBA resources among entrepreneurs in disadvantaged communities, including African-American and Latino businesses, as well as businesses started by veterans.”

Vote date: Tuesday, January 7, 2020 Vote Tally: 88-5 (confirmed)

Party Breakdown: All five NO votes were from Democrats

Additional Reading:

Casey voted YES and Toomey voted YES

Bureaucratic Confirmation #2

Senate Confirmation Vote on Paul J. Ray to be Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget

This is a position that is referred to as the “regulation czar,” though in the case of the Trump Administration, it would be more appropriation to say this is the nation’s chief DEregulator.  Paul Ray, the nominee, has experience in both the public and private sector. He clerked for Supreme COurt Justice Samuel Alito, and he has served as counsel for a number of industry groups, like the American Chemistry Council, American Forest and Paper Association, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), Portland Cement Association, and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Vote date: Thursday, January 9, 2020 Vote Tally: 50-44 (confirmed)

Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote. The Democrats and Independents present voted NO and the Republicans voted YES.
Additional Reading:

Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES

Judicial Confirmation

Senate Confirmation Vote on Eleni Maria Roumel to be a Judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims for a term of fifteen years

The Federal Claims Court is a special segment of the judiciary that deals with “complex factual and statutory construction issues in tax law,” according to their website.  They also handle bid and contract law disputes and “intellectual property, Indian tribe, and various statutory claims against the United States.” Unlike many other judicial positions, confirmed judges do not get lifetime appointments, but instead serve for 15 years.  The Vetting Room outlined the problems facing this special court:

 the U.S. Court of Federal Claims (CFC) is facing a vacancy crisis.  One of the factors exacerbating the situation is the Trump Administration’s slow pace in nominations and their predilection for naming young attorneys with little background in the court’s specialized docket.  The nomination of Eleni Roumel follows that pattern.

The current nominee has worked in the private sector for a number of large firms before serving as assistant counsel to the US House of Representative (while it was under GOP control) and then deputy counsel to Vice President Mike Pence.  There is little in her resume to show that she is qualified to serve on this court where a deep technical knowledge is a prerequisite.

Vote date: Wednesday, January 8, 2020 Vote Tally: 51-47 (confirmed)

Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote. The Democrats and Independents present voted NO and the Republicans voted YES.
Additional Reading:

Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES

Unanimously passed items

The following bills were passed through unanimous consent or voice vote (which presumes unanimity, as any member can object to the voice vote and ask for a roll call). This list excludes bills related to post offices, stamps, memorials, awareness weeks and other ceremonial activities.

  • S. Res. 464: A resolution to constitute the majority party’s membership on certain committees for the One Hundred Sixteenth Congress, or until their successors are chosen. (This shifted the committee membership of a number of Republicans. Senator Toomey’s assignments were not changed.)
  • S. 3076: An original bill to release a federal reversionary interest in Chester County, Tennessee, to manage certain Federal land in Bath County, Virginia
  • H. Res. 776, H. Res. 777 and H. Res. 778: (These are three procedural/ceremonial resolutions performed at the start of each year. They notify the Senate and the President that the House of Representatives is in session and set a standard meeting time for House business to start.)
  • H.R. 583: Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement Act or the PIRATE Act
  • H.R. 3763: Promoting United States International Leadership in 5G Act
  • H.R. 4500: Promoting United States Wireless Leadership Act
  • H.R. 5065: Prison to Proprietorship for Formerly Incarcerated Act
  • H.R. 5130: Capturing All Small Businesses Act
  • H.R. 5146: Unlocking Opportunities for Small Businesses Act
  • H.Res. 575: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that all stakeholders in the deployment of 5G communications infrastructure should carefully consider adherence to the recommendations of `The Prague Proposals’
  • S. 1611: Developing Innovation and Growing the Internet of Things Act or the DIGIT Act
  • S.Res. 142: A resolution condemning the Government of the Philippines for its continued detention of Senator Leila De Lima, calling for her immediate release
  • S. Res. 447: A resolution expressing serious concern about widespread irregularities in Bolivia’s October 20, 2019, general elections and supporting the convening of new elections in Bolivia at the earliest possible date
  • H.R. 925: America’s Conservation Enhancement Act
  • S. 1982: Save Our Seas 2.0 Act
  • S. 2629: United States Public Health Service Modernization Act

Our MoCs talk about the assassination of Qasem Soleiman, the airstrike on our base in Iraq and the War Powers Resolution House vote

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, 01/03/20, from his official website:

Qassim Suleimani was a military figure who inflicted terror and killed thousands in Israel, Iraq, Syria and other places. He was directly responsible for the killing of hundreds of American soldiers and civilians. The world is safer with him gone.

The Trump Administration must provide a full briefing to Congress next week regarding the following:

The intelligence used to authorize the strike;
The legal basis for the strike;
The nature of the threat articulated by the Pentagon in its statement last night; and
The preparations and planning the Administration has undertaken regarding potential retaliation by the Iranian regime against Americans abroad and here at home.

I have grave concerns that President Trump and his Administration have not provided the American people with a comprehensive strategy on Iran. Finally, this and other recent actions by the Administration have been taken without a Congressionally-approved Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF). As we prepare for fallout in the coming days, Congress has a critical role to play in assessing the legality of the strike, understanding its impact on U.S. national security and conducting oversight over this Administration’s actions abroad.

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, 01/03/20, from his official website:

Qasem Soleimani was responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans. The world is a better place now that he is dead. Every American should be grateful to our armed forces who carried out this strike with incredible skill and precision. The Trump administration was right to restore deterrence against Iran.

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, 01/03/20, from his official website:

Qasem Soleimani, leader of Iran’s Quds force, is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American servicemen and servicewomen. Soleimani perpetuated the Iranian regime’s destabilizing proxy wars across the Middle East and carried out numerous terrorist attacks on behalf of Iran—the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. According to the Defense Department, Soleimani was imminently plotting even more attacks on American servicemen and servicewomen, and therefore the air strike was needed to protect our American soldiers, diplomats, and civilians serving in critical missions in the region. Iran’s attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, their mounting aggression against the United States in the region, and their direct and imminent threats to Americans serving in critical missions abroad cannot be ignored.

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 01/05/20:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, 01/0/20, from his original website:

The American people do not want a war with Iran! The recent crisis was caused by President Trump’s unnecessary, reckless provocation and it made Americans less safe. These events underline why we must return war powers to Congress as the Constitution calls for. The legislation the House passed would do that, and the Senate should vote on it within days. We cannot have American lives at risk because of another impulsive action from this president or any future president.

When the founders wrote our Constitution in Philadelphia, they spelled this out very clearly: ‘The Congress shall have Power To … declare War.’ It’s right there in Article I, Section 8. The founders gave the war power to the branch of government that is most accountable to the people.

President Trump’s erratic approach to war and peace has not worked with North Korea, and the American people will not be well-served by rash behavior in the Middle East either. President Obama worked to de-escalate tensions in the region through a nuclear limitation deal with Iran – President Trump broke that deal and the result has been increased danger in an already volatile region, leading to the recent crisis. War must be a last resort – we need a return to a diplomacy-first approach and returning war powers to Congress where they belong would do a great deal to accomplish that.

Now is the time for members of Congress from both parties to do our duty and reclaim the war powers as the founders intended.

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, 01/03/20, from her official website:

The safety of our country is my top priority. Iranian Commander Soleimani was responsible for the death of Americans and innocent people. He was a constant source of instability in a region craving peace.

Yet, the Administration must work with Congress–as we enter this increasingly sensitive and uncertain time—to protect our citizens and our allies. 

The President’s unilateral escalation will have far-reaching and potentially dangerous impacts for our country and the region. If the strike was necessary to protect American national security interests, the President had a responsibility to come to Congress for authorization. Acts of war require Congressional authorization. That’s what the Constitution mandates.

We in Congress look forward to gathering more intelligence on this ongoing situation and working toward a peaceful resolution.

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, 01/09/20 from her Facebook page:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan,01/09/20, from her official website:

Qaesm Soleimani had the blood of thousands on his hands. Under his leadership, the Iranian regime has supported terrorism around the world and consistently worked to undermine the national security of the United States and our allies. On January 3rd, under the President’s orders, our military carried out a fatal attack on Qasem Soleimani. This was done, evidently, without notifying Congress or any of our allies.

Four days later, on January 7th, Iran launched ballistic missiles at the Ayn al-Asad airbase in Al Anbar Governorate, Western Iraq, and an airbase in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, both of which housed United States and coalition forces. Thankfully, there were no casualties.

The President and his Administration have a responsibility to explain to the American people what information precipitated this decision and the strategy going forward in a volatile region.

As a Member of Congress who sits on both the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, I will continue pushing for these answers. I respect the President’s authority to defend our nation and respect his role as Commander-in-Chief. He does not, however, have the power to declare war. That authority lies solely with Congress.

Today, I took a vote that reasserted our Congressional authority and takes an important first step towards the aggressive pursuit of diplomacy in order to protect our servicemembers, diplomats, and civilians in the region and across the world.

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, 01/03/20, from her official website:

Qassem Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of US forces and thousands of civilians and I will waste no time mourning his death. At the same time, the airstrike that took his life was ordered without the consultation of members of Congress and marks a major escalation that brings our country closer to catastrophic military confrontation with Iran.

Representatives on both sides of the aisle have made it clear that the 2001 Authorization of Military Force (AUMF) does not allow for military action against Iran. Ordering this operation without congressional authorization and as a response to rapidly rising tensions in the region is a reckless act with the potential to seriously endanger our national security and interests.

Nearly two decades of war in the Middle East have shown us the untold consequences of entering open-ended military conflicts with no plan or strategy for success. In the coming days, the Administration must demonstrate that it has a strategy to defuse the growing threat of direct conflict with Iran, contain regional turmoil, and secure our people and our interests.

Over the holidays, I spent time in the Middle East, visiting and giving thanks to the men and women of our military who patrol fragile areas of the world essential to our national security. My thoughts are with the father I met stationed at Al Udeid AFB in Qatar, the daughter in Kuwait, and the families throughout the United States who woke up this morning unsettled by the news.

My priority is, above all else, to ensure the safety of our men and women in uniform, as well as our diplomats and all those who protect and represent our country across the globe. We must strive to live up to the example of those who are willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our nation and our values by being as responsible in our service as they are dedicated and selfless in theirs.

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, 01/09/20, from his official website:

Out of all of Congress’ duties, our most important responsibility is to keep the American people safe. Qasem Soleimani was certainly an evil man with the blood of hundreds of American servicemen and women on his hands, but since tensions in the Middle East have risen in recent days, we must make every effort to avoid further conflict and ensure that decisions on how to engage Iran going forward are made thoughtfully, carefully and in consultation with Congress. While I hope we are on a path toward de-escalation in the Middle East region, important questions remain about our goals for the long term, including how to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The White House and Congress need to work together to keep our nation safe.

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, 01/03/20, from his official website:

Last night, President Trump ordered and the United States military carried out an airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani, the commander of the Iranian Quds Force, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization.

Under Soleimani’s leadership over the past two decades, the Quds Force bolstered Hezbollah in Lebanon. Soleimani spearheaded attacks that resulted in the death of hundreds of U.S. soldiers and thousands of Syrian civilians, and the Quds Force trained militants to execute dangerous, destabilizing acts.

Most recently, on December 27th, Soleimani orchestrated an attack that resulted in the death of a U.S. defense contractor and wounded four U.S. servicemembers. On December 29th, President Trump decisively responded, conducting U.S. airstrikes on five sites of Kataeb Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Iraqi militia and a U.S.-designated terrorist organization, throughout Iraq and Syria.

Instead of adhering to America’s warning, Soleimani instructed his proxy groups and militias to attack the U.S. embassy in Baghdad on December 31st, causing destruction, threatening harm, and shouting malicious threats against the United States, including: ‘Death to America.’

Even more dangerous than these acts of aggression, U.S. Intelligence became aware of imminent attacks that Soleimani was actively developing, prompting the urgent need for a swift and strong response to protect American lives.

On the night of January 2nd, President Trump ordered airstrikes on an Iraqi base near Baghdad’s airport. Soleimani was killed, as well as the founder of Kataeb Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

This mission was intelligence-based and aimed at deterring an imminent Iranian attack against American diplomats and service members, which Soleimani was actively developing. The United States will always defend its national interests, both at home and abroad, and we should all commend and thank our U.S. military for its efforts to protect American lives.

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, 01/03/20, from his official website:

The United States will not allow Iran, or its terrorists like Soleimani, to destabilize the region and the world, and kill Americans with impunity. The decades of ignoring acts of terror, or addressing it with harsh language are over.  These airstrikes were wholly appropriate. We continue to show the strength and resolve of our Nation, and the President’s undeterred and relentless pursuit of combatting terrorism and keeping us safe.

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, 01/09/20, from his official website:

On the heels of the Democrats’ partisan impeachment failure, they are once again working to weaken America and ignore the Constitution simply because they disagree with the President.

Iran and its terrorist proxies have waged a decades-long campaign of violence and terror against America, our service members, and our allies, with Soleimani playing a key role.

Soleimani was named a terrorist by the U.S. in 2005 and is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American military service members and the wounding of thousands more. He is responsible for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last month, which Iran-backed militants tried to burn down while writing “Soleimani is our leader” on the walls of our U.S Embassy.

In the last two months alone, Iran has used its proxies in Iraq to launch more than a dozen rocket attacks aimed at U.S forces or interests. In June of last year, Iran shot-down a 200-million-dollar U.S drone using a surface-to-air missile over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz. In September, the Iranians used a drone to attack the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. The President showed restraint and did not respond to these acts of aggression from Iran.

On December 27th, an American Contractor was killed by a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base that the Intelligence community believe was orchestrated by Iran at the leadership of Soleimani. Soleimani continued to actively develop plans to strike U.S. diplomatic personnel and service members throughout the region.

Acting with intelligence given from the President’s top generals, and the joint chiefs of staff, the President was able to swiftly and decisively take action against the world’s leading aggressor of terror, Qassem Soleimani.

The safety and security of the American people at home and abroad should be the central focus of our foreign policy. I support President Trump for taking decisive action against General Soleimani. 

A President’s ability to act swiftly and decisively with flexibility is critical for our continued national security. Under the AUMF, previously approved by Congress, the President has the authority to defend the national security of the United States against threats emanating from Iraq- where the strike took place and where Soleimani spent years cultivating violent Iran-backed proxies. It should be noted; the two prior administration have utilized the AUMF to conduct strikes throughout the world.

This partisan resolution is unconstitutional. At a time when America should have a united front, this sends a message to Iran and other oppressive regimes across the world that our country is not united. It is imperative that Congress work with President Trump, the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury and our intelligence agencies as we seek to protect America and deter Iran.

This resolution is dangerous and would only embolden Iran and other global bad actors to continue exporting terror on other nations and American interests without fear of American retaliation. It casts doubt on U.S. resolve and demonstrates a lack of unity within our Government.

“I strongly oppose this partisan messaging document that will never become law,”

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, 01/09/20, from his Facebook page:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to limit President Donald J. Trump’s ability to protect Americans and American interests. This will weaken our country by telling our enemies that we will not stand up for ourselves. I will be voting against the War Powers Resolution tonight.

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, 01/09/20, from his official website:

The Iranian Regime is no friend of the United States. Attempting to strip our Commander-in-Chief of the ability to protect American lives – during the week of an attack on our troops – is the wrong move. Congress should be standing together against Iranian threats and provocations. 

Under President Trump’s leadership, the United States has eliminated some of the most gruesome terrorists and dangerous threats. As a Member of Congress, I will continue to work alongside the President to support our Armed Forces and protect Americans at home and abroad.

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, 01/09/20, from his official website:

As a Navy JAG, I prosecuted terrorists in Iraq and was stationed across the street from our embassy in Baghdad. I witnessed Iranian attacks on our armed forces firsthand during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I applaud President Trump, our warfighters, and the intelligence community for reaching an incredible outcome against Iran. Under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, President Trump had the legal authority, moral obligation, and duty as commander-in-chief to strike General Soleimani.  

In recent months, Iran shot down a U.S. drone, killed an American, and organized an attack on our embassy. General Soleimani was the mastermind behind these attacks. His death was a win for America, freedom, and peace. In supporting this resolution, Democrats are standing with their radical base instead of standing against the Iranian regime.

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, 01/10/20, in The Bradford Era:

The MoC has no statement on his official website, Facebook orTwitter presences

 I appreciate the administration communicating their strategy with Congress and believe we are well prepared to address any potential aggressions from Iran moving forward.

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, 01/08/20, from his official website:

After years of Iranian aggression and the last administration’s appeasement policy, America is leading again under President Trump. He has shown the resolve and restraint necessary to confront the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. It was the right decision to eliminate Iran’s top terrorist, Qassam Soleimani, something previous presidents failed to do. Attacks on Americans will no longer be tolerated. I stand behind this president as he pursues peace through strength.

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, 01/08/20, from his official website:

I commend our troops for their unmatched professionalism and lethality.  They have reminded true enemies like Soleimani what we are capable of.

We owe it to our troops to make policy that strengthens America now and in the future.  My generation knows the cost of short-sightedness in Iraq. We defeated the Iraqi military quickly in 2003 but are still there today.

The administration still will not explain why Soleimani suddenly was an ‘imminent’ threat after multiple U.S. and Israeli administrations declined to kill him.  Nonetheless, we know the following has resulted from the administration’s policy in the Middle East. We now have 15,000 more American troops there than we did six months ago.  Our mission to defeat ISIS has been slowed down by the need to defend from additional Iranian attacks. Iran is now closer to developing a nuclear weapon.

The administration owes us an explanation of why, under their leadership, things in the Middle East are getting worse.

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, 01/09/20, from his official website:

I voted to prevent the President from dragging our country into a war with Iran without the explicit authorization of Congress.

This resolution directs the President not to take further military action against Iran without further explicit authorization from Congress; it would, however, still allow defensive action against any imminent armed attack.

The Constitution gives Congress the sole authority to declare war, and the War Powers Act lays out the limitations on military action without a declaration of war.

This was a straightforward vote, reiterating the fact that Congress has the exclusive power to declare war – and, conversely, to limit military action by U.S. armed forces.

The President doesn’t have the authority to undertake significant military action against Iran under the Constitution, the War Powers Act, or the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force. It’s important for Congress to make those limits clear.

Twitter Action – Tweet of the Week

This is a mix of the best and worst to come from the fingertips of our Pennsylvania MoCs this week.

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 01/10/20:

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 01/03/20:

If you would like to read an alternative opinion piece from your MoCTrack editor about why this GOP talking point of market solutions and transparency is ridiculous and unworkable, it can be found in the Bucks County Courier Times

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 01/06/20:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @CongBoyle, 01/10/20:

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @DwightEvansPA, 01/06/20:

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 01/08/20:

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 01/10/20:

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 01/12/20:

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 01/10/20:

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 01/12/20:

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 01/08/20:

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 01/03/20:

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 01/08/20:

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 01/12/20:

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 01/06/20:

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 01/08/20:

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 01/10/20:

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, @MikeKellyPA, 01/10/20:

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 01/09/20:

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 01/09/20:

Casey in the News 

Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk

 We live in a country where people were lied to from Vietnam and Iraq and maybe beyond that. The American people need and deserve the answers to these basic questions.

from an article on KYW News Radio titled “Toomey, Casey divided along party lines after debriefing on Iran

We know the price Pennsylvania families have paid in war over many generations. In Iraq, 197 Pennsylvanians were killed. In Afghanistan, there were 91. Add the number who served in Iraq or Afghanistan who were wounded, — some of them grievously, permanently wounded — and that number is in the thousands.” … “We’ve paid a substantial price, and I want to make sure if this or any administration or any congress is pursuing a war against Iran that we make decisions based on what the constitution requires and that we do that in full view of the American people.

from an article in Trib Live titled “Pennsylvania’s senators split on reasons behind killing of Iranian general

They haven’t really gotten their story straight. What was the reason for the strike? That story seems to change if not by the hour then by the day.

The American people have the right to be informed… I think they are on the path to regime change. I don’t think the President understands that. I think that is where some members of the administration are heading.

If you have the right strategy, it would be the strategy to lessen the possibility of war and to reduce the possibility that they will have a nuclear program.

from an article on Local 21 News titled ‘“They haven’t gotten their story straight.” Senator Casey laments Iran strike

You have to have a resolution like this to constrain the actions of the administration… If this administration wants to take us to war or take us in the direction of war, these issues have to be debated.

from an article on WFLA News on “House to vote on resolution limiting president’s military power

Senator Casey also participated in a wide-ranging interview with The Center Square on healthcare and the coming election, reported in an article titled “Casey: Democrats have ‘no common ground’ with Republicans in health care fight.”  Here are some on our Senator’s quotes from that article:

  • “Because of Democratic leadership by President [Barack] Obama and by Democrats on the House and the Senate, we finally got to the point where we could say that 20 million more Americans had health care (in) just over six years… That didn’t take us 20 years or 15 years or even 10 years. In about six years, 20 million people got health care.”
  • “They are all on the other side. We are all on this side. And you know what? We’re going to win.”
  • “This is a terrible, destructive lawsuit if it succeeds… It may be a decision by the Republican-controlled corporate Supreme Court, and I say that purposefully. This is a Supreme Court now that is controlled largely by corporate interests in a 5-to-4 majority. They may be the final word on it.”
  • “When those Republicans come in front of us in 2020, we’re going to ask them a couple of questions. Why are you for the destruction of health care through the lawsuit? Why are you for the dismantlement of health care through the sabotage? And why are you for the divestment or defunding of health care through the cuts to Medicare and Medicaid?”
  • “You could say, ‘OK, Mr. or Mrs. Voter; you have a choice to make on president. You can support the Republican president for re-election, or you can protect your pre-existing conditions. What is it? What are you going to do?’”
  • “That’s your choice because if you support Republican policies on health care, you’re going to continue to get that destructive lawsuit, you’re going to continue to get the cuts and you’re going to continue to get the sabotage. And that is not who we are as a nation, as a people and as a society.”

Toomey in the News 

Courtesy of contributor Elayne Baker

We need to keep in mind what a dangerous pariah state Iran has chosen to be by virtue of its leadership. It is without a doubt the world’s number one state sponsor of terrorism… When our intelligence services learned they were planning an even more dramatic series of attacks on Americans, and that it would be occurring very soon, it would have been irresponsible not to respond to that. The killing maximized the chances that we would disrupt or prevent these imminent attacks.

from an article in The Sunbury Daily Item titled “Toomey lauds U.S. intelligence community; Casey wants more info on decision to kill Iranian general

I support what the president decided to do here. I think the context is very important here.

It is very hard to overstate the centrality of his role in all of Iran’s malicious behavior, especially outside the borders of Iran. Obviously he was the leader of the Quds which itself has been rightly designated as a terrorist organization. He was the mastermind behind developing, arming, directing and training Iranian proxies throughout the entire region in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon and Afghanistan.

You can’t kill Americans with impunity. In my view, there were two reasons why the president did the right thing. The first, by killing Soleimani, we maximize the chances that we would disrupt or prevent this attack or series of attacks. That’s an important obligation, to protect Americans. The second, it was necessary. It became necessary to restore deterrence, to restore to Iranian calculations that if you kill an American, very bad consequences will follow. They were not convinced of that.

from an article in The Bradford Era titled “Thompson, Toomey back strike on Iranian general, Casey not so sure

Donating food to the less fortunate should be as easy as possible,“but liability concerns limit the number of people who can be served by food banks.

from an article in THe Times Online titled “Toomey bill could steer more food to those in need” 

[NAFTA] needed modernization… But that’s not the real reason that this agreement was renegotiated. The real reason was because we have a trade deficit with Mexico, and the [Trump] Administration deemed that to be unacceptable.

from a WESA article titled “Toomey Opposes Updated Trade Deal As It Moves One Step Closer To Ratification.”  The article added that “Toomey criticized such measures as being ‘designed to restrict trade and investment,’ and predicted, ‘we’ll get no economic growth out of this.’”

I don’t think the president needs a permission slip from Congress when he’s acting in a way to keep Americans safe… Part of the responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief is to keep Americans safe when he can. Soleimani was clearly a threat to American lives.

from an article in Erie News Now titled “Senators split as Democrats draft War Powers Resolution” 

Learning about Legislation – War Powers and Authorizations for Use of Military Force, revisited

This content was originally shared in a MoCTrack from October 2017, when tensions with North Korea were at a critical point.  With the past week’s events in Iran, it seems a good time to revisit this topic.

The Washington Post reported that 4 in 10 Americans thought, incorrectly, that the Constitution grants the power to declare war to the President. A little more than half of respondents got that question right. In light of that situation, it seems appropriate to look at how our nation deals with war powers, and how that power has shifted in the last century.

The Constitution gives the power to declare war to the Congress. Amidst a long list of Congressional responsibilities, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution says “The Congress shall have power…to declare war.”  But it also says, in Article II, Section 2, “the President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” This check and balance, which was meant to protect the population by ensuring that any war was well debated and supported by the majority, lead to several conflicts.  If the President is the head of the armed forces, can he deploy troops overseas to a location where the Congress has not declared war? How do we deal with situations where our troops are involved in armed conflict, but the Congress hasn’t declared war?

After the conflict in Viet Nam, a “police action” where Congress never declared war, Congress decided to take legislative action. In 1973 they passed the War Powers Resolution.  This extensive bit of legislation is described as follows by the Library of Congress:

The first part states the policy behind the law, namely to insure that the collective judgment of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, and that the President’s powers as Commander in Chief are exercised only pursuant to a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization from Congress, or a national emergency created by an attack upon the United States…;

the second part requires the President to consult with Congress before introducing U.S. armed forces into hostilities or situations where hostilities are imminent, and to continue such consultations as long as U.S. armed forces remain in such situations…;

the third part sets forth reporting requirements that the President must comply with…;

the fourth part of the law…requires that U.S. forces be withdrawn from hostilities within 60 days of the time a report is submitted unless Congress acts to approve continued military action…;

the fifth part of the law sets forth certain definitions and rules to be used when interpreting the War Powers Resolution.”

When Congress wants to authorize hostilities, they pass legislation called “Authorization for Use of Military Force” or AUMF.  After the 9/11 attacks, the Congress passed the ‘Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists’ in 2002. That AUMF is still in effect, and has been interpreted as giving the last three presidents the right to take military action not just in the Middle East and Afghanistan, but also in the Philippines, Georgia, Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia

This situation is made more complex, though, by nuclear weapons. A PBS article describes that situation best, noting “During the Cold War, the U.S. military built an elaborate system to control the thousands of nuclear weapons in this country. There are many checks and balances, no officers who work with intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear armed aircraft, or nuclear submarines can launch missiles alone. They always work in twos, or sometimes entire teams. But there is an exception to that. The entire system is designed to respond to the sole decision of the president.”  So, while the president could not (Constitutionally) declare war entirely on his own, he can (procedurally) make the decision and have the armed forces drop a nuclear bomb anywhere on his say-so alone.


Hopefully that provides the content needed, so that when you hear our MoCs expressing their positions on AUMFs or limiting the President’s power to initiate hostilities with another country you understand their authority.

Call to Action – HELP Puerto Rico!

For the last 15 days Puerto Rico has been afflicted with multiple earthquakes, ranging in magnitude from 5.9 to 6.4. Buildings are collapsing, there are massive power outages, and with roads destroyed, there are portions at the south of the island that are completely cut off.  People are sleeping outside for fear of buildings collapsing upon them as they sleep. The situation is DIRE.

This situation is made infinitely worse by the fact that under the Trump Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has delayed sending $18 BILLION in post-Maria aid – money that was already appropriated by Congress – to Puerto Rico.

THERE ARE THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO

ONE: SEND AID

An Amazon wish-list has been created with items like hygiene kits, portable water filtration, first aid kits, batteries, power bars, and earthquake bags. If you purchase from this list, when you check out, select the “Providence Center’s Gift Registry Address” from the available shipping locations.  Then your purchase will be collected at the Providence Center of Philadelphia, and from there it will be shipped to Puerto Rico.

TWO: TURN OUT

The People for Puerto Rico and PA Statewide Indivisible, along with allies from Make the Road PA, will be going to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mid-Atlantic Region office.  They are located at 100 Penn Square East in Philadelphia. The protest will be held at 4PM on Wednesday, January 15th. For more information, see this Facebook event link.

THREE: JOIN the TWEETSTORM

On Wednesday, January 15th at 8:00PM there will be a Tweetstorm to put pressure on HUD to release Puerto Rico’s long-delayed aid.  Use the hashtag #ReleaseThePRAid.  And any time that evening, search for that hashtag, and retweet or comment upon any of the content 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

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 KierstynPZ@gmail.com and put “MoCTrack Help” in the subject. Thanks!


DemCast is an advocacy-based 501(c)4 nonprofit. We have made the decision to build a media site free of outside influence. There are no ads. We do not get paid for clicks. If you appreciate our content, please consider a small monthly donation.


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