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 and Pennsylvania Statewide Indivisible organizations who host our report and help us share it out to the residents of our Commonwealth!
We are doing things a bit differently this week. All this content centers on the COVID-19 pandemic. What you’ll find below:
- A legislative recap of H.R. 6201, the phase two response bill passed and enacted this week
- An assessment and comparison of the various plans for a phase three legislative package
- A review of the coronavirus-related communications, including policy preferences, of each of our 20 Pennsylvania Members of Congress.
- A rundown of the newly submitted and pending legislation related to the pandemic
If you want the best possible information about the disease itself and what is happening here in Pennsylvania, please visit our state’s Department of Health website. Both Governor Wolf and Secretary of Health Rachel Levine have been providing daily information updates via press conferences (available on Twitter and Facebook Live), and their competence is a balm in this trying time.
We at MoCTrack sincerely hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well during this crisis.
Phase Two of Pandemic Response Passes the Senate and is Signed into Law
This is the bill that was passed by the House in that late night vote on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It has now made its way through the Senate with a few changes. The legislative package includes:
- Free coronavirus testing, without people having to use deductibles or copayments
- Expanded funding for food security programs: The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children, the Emergency Food Assistance Program and the Senior Nutrition Program will receive supplemental funding to assist Americans affected by the virus. The package also provides funding for state waivers to pay for meals for children who normally receive them at school.
- Emergency family and sick leave: (recap via NPR) The bill establishes a federal emergency paid-leave benefits program to provide payments to some employees. It requires employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide two weeks’ worth of paid sick leave if employees are unable to work because they’re subject to quarantine or isolation, are experiencing symptoms of COVID–19, are caring for someone who is in quarantine or isolation and/or have children in schools that have closed. Employers themselves will receive tax credits to offset the costs of providing this paid leave. For those who are self-employed, there will be a tax credit equivalent to the sick leave amount. The legislation also gives up to three months of paid family and medical leave, equivalent to no less than two-thirds of the person’s pay.
- Unemployment insurance: States will receive additional funding to provide unemployment insurance should there be an increase in uninsured people.
- Medicaid funding: The bill will increase Medicaid payments to states by 6.2%
During the debate over the bill, there were three amendments offered for a vote. Please note that these votes require a ⅗ or 60% supermajority to pass:
- Senator Rand Paul offered an amendment to “require a social security number for purposes of the child tax credit, to provide the President the authority to transfer funds as necessary, and to terminate United States military operations and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan.” It failed in a 3-95 vote. Casey voted NO and Toomey voted NO.
- Senator Patty Murray offered an amendment to change how paid sick leave was included in the bill. The original text of the bill offered exclusions for employers with under 50 employees and over 500 employees. That means that the sick leave portion of this bill would cover less than ⅓ of all Americans. The Murray amendment would have expanded the workers covered by the paid sick leave provisions to a far larger proportion of American workers. This amendment failed in a 47-51 vote along pure party lines. Casey voted YES and Toomey voted NO.
- Senator Ron JOhnson offered an amendment that would have struck the paid leave portion from the bill entirely, and would have replaced it with unemployment funding. As Senator Gillibrand noted (excerpted from the Congressional Record), “This amendment would eliminate paid sick and family leave provisions in favor of providing coronavirus-infected people with unemployment compensation. So what he is saying is you have to actually lose your job if you need to stay home to care for a loved one or because you are sick yourself, and that is just wrongheaded because, the truth is, we want people to keep their jobs.” It failed in a 50-48 vote. Casey voted NO and Toomey voted YES.
Vote date: Wednesday, March 18, 2020 Vote Tally: 90-8, passed
Party Breakdown: All eight NO votes were from Republicans – Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
- “Here’s What Is In The ‘Families First’ Coronavirus Aid Package Trump Approved,” from NPR
- “Senate Passes Families First Coronavirus Response Act: What Employers Need to Know,” from National Law Review
- “What the New Coronavirus Relief Bill Means for You,” from NBC News
- “What the Family First coronavirus relief bill means for small-business owners and self-employed people,” from MarketWatch
Both Senator Casey and Senator Toomey voted YES on the final version of the bill.
President Trump signed it into law on March 18, 2020.
Phase Three Coronavirus Response Plans – Economic Stimulus
Our government is currently debating a third coronavirus response legislative package. The first bill was a small effort, focused on getting funding for vaccine research and emergency funding. The second bill is recapped above, and expands on testing, a limited amount of paid leave, and increases for unemployment and food security programs.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a bill – S.3548, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. This can be seen as a starting point for negotiations between the two parties on phase three. It is heavy on small business and corporate assistance, and less generous towards individual Americans. For an analysis of the bill as it was introduced on Thursday, check out Slate’s article “Republicans Found a Way to Mail Checks and Still Screw People Over.”
Meanwhile, a number of organizations and individuals have released their own versions of coronavirus response plans for phase three. Some of those are:
- The Senate GOP Plan
- The Problem Solvers Caucus Plan
- The New Democrat Coalition Plan
- The Progressive Caucus Plan
- Joe Biden’s Plan
- Bernie Sanders’ Plan
- Elizabeth Warren’s Plan
Full recaps of these plans would cause even the most dedicated reader’s eyes to glaze over. Instead, we looked at some provisions that have been discussed widely as potential actions to address the crisis, and assessed the plans offered to see if they included those provisions.
Please note that in this volatile time all plans are fluid and changing constantly… especially the Senate GOP plan, which is currently being negotiated with Democrat leaders. The information below represents where things stood as of 10:00 AM on Sunday, March 22, 2020.
A note about the “recommended” indication above. The New Democratic Coalition plan indicated that they would give “guidance” to industries about those items. But that’s a nice way of saying a suggestion – it does not mean that they would legislate change in the areas of deferred credit or mortgage payments.
Lawmaker statements on the novel coronavirus pandemic, best practices, pending and passed legislation
Content was collected from Monday, March 16th through Saturday March 21st. All official website press release content on coronavirus has been included. If any lawmaker did not have website content on coronavirus from that time period, the most recent related item was included.
Some of our legislators are prolific on Twitter, so at maximum one tweet per day has been selected for inclusion. When possibly, our MoCs’ own words have been prioritized. Some prefer to retweet content from other parties, and that material has only been included when direct MoC quotes were unavailable.
🔵 Senator Bob Casey
From his official website
- Casey, Democratic Colleagues Press Trump Administration on Needs of Children and Early Care Providers During Coronavirus Pandemic, from 03/16/20
KEY QUOTE – “It is critical that all early care and education providers are equipped to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. Approximately 60 percent of young children in the United States spend time in non-parental child care each week, provided by nearly 2 million early childhood educators. Child care is essential for our economy and for the working families who need to know their children are safe and well cared for so they can go to work every day and provide for their families. Early care and education providers need fact-based guidance from public health experts in order to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among the children, families and staff within their programs.”
- Casey, Colleagues Call for Direct Cash Assistance to Help Americans Weather Economic Fallout of Coronavirus Pandemic, from 03/18/20
KEY QUOTE – “We must provide direct cash support to the American workers and families who need it most – to help them purchase essentials; pay the rent, mortgage, and bills; and otherwise weather the coming weeks and months.”
- Casey Proposes Policies to Protect and Support Families During the Coronavirus Pandemic, Casey’s Proposal Would Ensure Testing and Treatment of COVID-19 Does Not Bankrupt Families, from 03/19/20
KEY QUOTE – “Senator Casey proposes taking these immediate steps to support child and families during a public health emergency: 1) Provide Medicaid coverage to ensure that COVID-19 does not bankrupt families who need testing or treatment; 2) Require health insurance companies to offer Special Enrollment Periods during a public health emergency; 3) Increase the funding for child care to help providers remain safely operational during a public health emergency and provide care for front line workers; and 4) Strengthen food assistance programs to allow families to use SNAP on grocery delivery services, and extend WIC certification periods so families aren’t forced to leave home to shop for groceries or attend routine certification appointments.”
- Casey Presses Bureau of Prisons on Preparedness for COVID-19, from 03/20/20
KEY QUOTE – “…two BOP employees were recently tested and are presumed positive for COVID-19. This new information follows multiple reports that the virus is exacerbating already well-documented staff shortages and that protective masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and medical gowns are not widely available in BOP facilities… These reports raise serious concerns not only for the health and safety of the prison population and correctional staff, but also for the communities surrounding BOP facilities.”
From Twitter, @SenBobCasey:
🔴 Senator Pat Toomey
From his official website
- Toomey Statement on COVID-19, from 03/20/20
FULL CONTENT – “Pennsylvanians should take COVID-19 seriously and follow guidelines from public health officials to maintain social distance and stay healthy. Federal lawmakers in both parties are working together to address the crisis, and have already passed two bipartisan measures to expand testing capacity, slow the spread of the virus, and provide some peace of mind to displaced workers. In the coming days, I will review closely details of any broader stimulus legislation or economic measure meant to alleviate the epidemic’s financial burden on American families, workers, and employers both small and large.”
- Important Information Regarding Senator Toomey’s Offices, from 03/20/20
KEY QUOTE – “In accordance with Governor Wolf’s directive of March 19, 2020, Senator Toomey’s seven state offices in Pennsylvania will also be teleworking beginning on Monday March 23, 2020. All official business will be conducted by telephone and e-mail. If you have any comments, questions, or need assistance with any federal issue, please contact Senator Toomey’s office online or by leaving a message at any of the seven state offices. A response will be provided as quickly as possible.”
From Twitter, @SenToomey:
🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick
From his official website
Representative Fitzpatrick’s website has no press releases related to COVID-19. The items below were taken from the “In the News” segment of his site.
KEY QUOTE – “Our workers, families, and small businesses need help now. The economic effects of this crisis will be felt long after it is gone, and we need to help everyone that we can. They need commonsense solutions to help get through this crisis, and I’m proud to join the Problem Solvers in crafting this bipartisan legislation.”
- CORONAVIRUS COVID-19 RESOURCES & UPDATES, updated regularly
CURRENT UPDATE – “Governor Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania to close their physical locations as of 8 p.m. March 19, to slow the spread of COVID-19. Enforcement actions against businesses that do not close physical locations will begin at 12:01 a.m. Saturday, March 21.
From Twitter, @RepBrianFitz:
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle
From his official website
- Boyle Calls on Azar To Create Special ACA Enrollment Period, from 03/17/20
KEY QUOTE – “During this public health emergency, we cannot let financial burdens prevent Americans from getting tested and receiving the care they need. The coronavirus is rapidly spreading in the United States and access to affordable health care is a necessary tool to combat the pandemic. When a few Americans are at risk, the whole community is at risk. I urge the Secretary to quickly open a special enrollment period to increase access to critical services during this troubling time.”
KEY QUOTE – “The coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency. As other agencies step up to address the current public health crisis and support the national economy, the President should utilize all resources at the Department of Defense to mitigate the pandemic in the United States. I look forward to the President’s response as we develop a comprehensive plan to contain this virus together.”
- Boyle Statement on the Enactment of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, from 03/18/20
KEY QUOTE – “American lives are at risk every day we fail to provide free testing and families are suffering with the consequences of sudden lost wage. That’s why we must act promptly to not only guarantee free testing, but to also provide paid leave, support strong unemployment benefits, and expand food assistance. Americans are depending on their elected officials and we must act urgently in a unified manner to keep Americans safe moving forward.”
- Boyle Calls on DeVos to Prevent Financial Burden To Fall On Students, from 03/19/20
KEY QUOTE – “The safety of our students and faculty members is our top priority, but we must also make sure the unforeseen financial burdens do not cripple them. Many students faced housing and food insecurity in addition to increased financial hardships due to the sudden need to relocate and alter plans. As we act with the sense of urgency and gravity the situation calls for, we must be aware of the need to provide holistic solutions to alleviate repercussions that may arise.”
KEY QUOTE – “The federal government has a responsibility to guide the nation during uncertain times, but we must also protect all American workers, including federal employees and contractors, against the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The current voluntary guidance from the Administration has stalled major decisions at the federal level and can directly impact the safety and well-being of more than 2.1 million federal employees and their families. The President must give a clear order to maximize telework to protect federal employees, contractors, family members, and our communities.”
From Twitter, @CongBoyle:
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans
From his official website
KEY QUOTE – “I want to make sure that we both maintain service to constituents and do our part in necessary social distancing to ‘flatten the curve’ of cases so that our hospitals and health-care system can treat patients. During this pandemic, phone calls, email and other methods will allow us to continue serving constituents while reducing risks to everyone’s health. These changes also mean that our four monthly mobile office sites are temporarily on hold.”
- Small Business Loans Available; 2nd Covid-19 Relief Law Signed; News about Masks and Personal Protective Equipment for Health-Care Workers, from 03/20/20
KEY QUOTE – “I’m happy to have some good news to share. Many of you have asked about loans to help the small businesses that are hurting due to the Covid-19 outbreak. The U.S. Small Business Administration has made low-interest loans available to small businesses and eligible nonprofits in Pennsylvania… As vice chair of the House Small Business Committee, I will be introducing and co-sponsoring additional legislation to help our nation’s small businesses during this difficult time. I’ll provide an update on that soon.”
From Twitter, @RepDwightEvans:
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean
From her official website
- Coronavirus — Guidance for Workers and Businesses, from 03/18/20
KEY QUOTE – “If you are a Pennsylvania worker and unable to work because of COVID-19 you may be eligible for Unemployment or Workers’ Compensation benefits. You may be eligible… Rep. Dean is urging Pennsylvania small businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis to inquire about Small Business Administration loans. At the beginning of this month, the House appropriated an $8.3 billion package to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. Included in this $8.3 billion was the expansion of small business loans to help deal with this crisis.”
- Montco School Districts Provide Meals for over 10,000 Children during COVID-19 School Closures, from 03/18/20
KEY QUOTE – “During this difficult time, it is inspiring to see so many public servants work to ensure that our children had the necessary and nutritious meals they depend on during forced COVID-19 school closures. Thank you Gov. Wolf, Superintendent Dormer, School Board President Shae Ashe, and the other members of my office that worked so hard to ensure we could get workers in these schools to prepare and serve these bagged meals.”
- COVID-19: Reps. Dean and Beyer Lead Effort for Direct Cash Assistance to Help Americans During Economic Fallout of COVID-19 Outbreak, from 03/20/20
KEY QUOTE – “American workers have been forced out of work by the COVID-19 outbreak and will now face unique financial challenges. This financial and public health crisis needs bold action — providing direct cash payments to Americans will ensure no one is choosing between their health or bankruptcy.”
From Twitter, @RepDean:
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon
From her official website
Representative Scanlon’s website has no press releases related to COVID-19. The items below were taken from the “In the News” segment of his site.
- COVID19: Steps We Are Taking to Keep Everyone Safe, from 03/11/20
KEY QUOTE – “We are committed to doing all we can to meet the needs of our constituents during this challenging time. Our team has worked diligently to prepare for situations like this and we have implemented necessary technology to serve our constituents in the community and remotely. Effective immediately, our offices will no longer be open to the public for in-person meetings, but we are still fully operational and here’s how we will continue to work for you.
If you need help with a federal agency, please call 610–262–2020. You will be connected, via phone, to a constituent services representative who will assist you.
If you need to send us documentation regarding your case, please send these materials via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax at 610–626–2380.”
From Twitter, @RepMGS:
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan
From her official website
- Houlahan Secures Disaster Loans For PA, Introduces Legislation For Small Business Contractors And Other Relief For Small Businesses During Coronavirus, from 03/19/20
KEY QUOTE – “How we step up as a nation to support our small business owners and employees will determine whether they can weather this crisis. As a former small business leader, I am committed to taking what I’m hearing from members of my community back to Washington to inform our next legislative package. I’m proud to introduce this bill to help small business contractors and to work with my colleagues on the Small Business Committee, both Democrat and Republican, to advance this legislation.”
KEY QUOTE – “The highest priority for all of us has to be controlling this virus. If we don’t know where it is, and that means we need to have tests, we will never be able to control it effectively and efficiently. Right now, what we’re doing is ‘controlling with a sledgehammer.’”
From Twitter, @RepHoulahan:
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild
From her official website
KEY QUOTE – “I was heartbroken to learn of the loss of one of PA-07’s own in Northampton County due to COVID-19. At this difficult time, my thoughts are with the individual’s family and loved ones. As we continue to gather details, I must again emphasize to the people of Pennsylvania to heed the warnings set forth by the CDC and Governor Wolf: unless absolutely necessary, stay home and avoid direct in-person contact with others. I understand that this is a distressing time for many; folks are worrying about making their mortgage and utility payments at the same time they are worrying about their sick and elderly loved ones. I assure you that my colleagues and I are working swiftly to ensure you get the support and relief you need. I implore all residents of my district to practice social distancing to help mitigate the spread of the virus. Your decisions now affect the health and well-being of others like never before. The way we can best get through this is by everyone looking out for one another and exercising best practices to contain this outbreak.”
KEY QUOTE – “In the face of the COVID-19 outbreak, increased support for our seniors needs to be a national priority. Right now, the most important thing we can do is make sure basic needs are met while exercising best practices to help prevent further spread of this virus. While we implore folks to self-quarantine, we have to make adjustments so they can do so. I am proud to introduce this legislation alongside my colleague, Congressman Phil Roe, to cut bureaucratic red tape and meet this emergency with the robust response it demands. No senior should go hungry as they act in the best interest of their own health by remaining at home.”
KEY QUOTE – “In the last week, I have held a telephone town hall with thousands of constituents, introduced critical bipartisan legislation to support our seniors through this crisis, and worked with my colleagues at the federal level to fight for working families in my district. Right now, information is changing rapidly, and staying on the same page as the leaders and experts in our community is essential. These calls help ensure our response is coordinated and matches the true needs of our community.”
From Twitter, @RepSusanWild:
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright
From his official website
KEY QUOTE – “This morning, I received confirmation that a family friend I interacted with over the weekend has tested positive for COVID-19. Out of an abundance of caution, I began self-quarantining in my home on Sunday as soon as I found out that the friend started showing symptoms consistent with this new virus. I have not developed any symptoms myself since coming into contact with them, but I will remain at home for the next two weeks in order to ensure I do not pass it along to anyone else. The last thing I would want to do is spread this further to my family, friends, constituents, colleagues or staff.”
KEY QUOTE – “So far, Congress has passed two major relief bills to protect Americans’ health and financial well-being during this ongoing public health crisis. These were important steps, but we need to follow through and make sure people know how to access the resources we’re providing. That’s why I’ve taken steps to make my office more accessible for constituents who need help. I know these are trying times, and I want the people of northeastern Pennsylvania to know that I’m looking out for them.”
- Cartwright Calls for Urgent Action to Prevent Protective Medical Equipment Shortages as Fight Against COVID19 Continues, from 03/21/20
KEY QUOTE – “If we don’t act now, the brave medical professionals and first responders fighting this outbreak could soon be defenseless against this new disease. We need to keep them healthy if we’re going to stop the spread of COVID-19. We can protect our frontline health care workers by moving quickly to boost funding for local emergency responders, and opening up new supply lines of protective equipment from abroad.”
From Twitter, @RepCartwright:
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser
From his official website
FULL CONTENT – “I commend the President and his Administration for taking decisive action to protect the well-being of our nation. Instituting a National Emergency will provide our government with valuable resources to safeguard the health of all Americans, certainty for our economy, and confidence that we will overcome this challenge. This bold step to harness the full power of the federal government, in tandem with leaders in the private sector, will ensure that our nation is equipped to act and ultimately defeat this virus.
“Last night, I voted for H.R. 6201, bipartisan legislation aimed at mitigating the economic impact of families and businesses adversely affected by coronavirus. In this time of uncertainty, Americans should be able to prioritize their health and well-being. That is why the bill allows business owners and employees to make data-driven — not financially-forced — decisions to navigate these challenging times. It also will provide for widely-available, free testing for any American who may be at risk. Republican House Leadership assured the inclusion of important sunset provisions that will only be in effect for the duration of this public health emergency, meaning that new economic programs and incentives established through H.R. 6201 will not become permanent entitlements. I am confident that President Trump’s mobilization of all federal resources, innovative public-private collaboration, and this legislation will allow us to combat this virus and guarantee certainty for the American people and the economy.”
From Twitter, @RepMeuser:
🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry
From his official website
KEY QUOTE – “We must ensure that American small businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic receive the strong economic support they need. In following federal, state, and local guidance, many of our small businesses have temporarily closed or significantly reduced service. These actions are vital to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives, yet they’re leaving an immeasurable economic impact on the private sector, and the government must use its full force in responding. I encourage our small businesses to take time to understand the SBA resources that may be available during this crisis.”
From Twitter, @RepScottPerry:
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker
From his official website
KEY QUOTE – “These funds, which are a part of the initial over $8 billion response I voted for, will support our ongoing efforts to flatten the curve, keep our communities safe and healthy. We must all work together to halt the spread of COVID-19. I will continue to work with local, state and federal partners to confront this challenge head on. Along with President Trump and his Administration, I am committed to ensuring a robust and coordinated response across all federal agencies and state governments to combat COVID-19.”
- Student Meal Opportunities Across PA-11, from 03/19/20
KEY QUOTE – “USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue offered a waiver to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, providing necessary regulatory relief to allow the distribution of meals to children while they are not in school. Each of our school districts across PA-11 have responded, , see below for information on efforts in your school district.”
- Smucker Responds to Wolf Shutdown Order, from 03/20/20
FULL STATEMENT – “Tonight, I’ve heard concerns from countless small business owners across Lancaster and southern York County regarding Gov. Tom Wolf’s immediate closure of ‘non-life-sustaining businesses.’ I implore the Governor to immediately provide much needed clarification on exactly which businesses are impacted, a clear, concise and uniform waiver process, and most importantly share any additional information he may have that led him to make this decision so abruptly.”
“We are all in this together and aware of the extraordinary steps we all must take to slow the spread of COVID-19. The Governor’s announcement has immediate economic repercussions, particularly for small businesses who we will need to rebuild our economy. If such action is indeed warranted, it requires thoughtful communication with a broad coalition of stakeholders. I’m calling on Gov. Wolf to provide absolute clarity as soon as possible to stabilize our state’s economy at this fragile time.”
From Twitter, @RepSmucker:
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller
From his official website
- Congressman Fred Keller joins Pennsylvania Congressional delegation in urging Small Business Administration to grant Pennsylvania disaster declaration request, from 03/18/20
KEY QUOTE – “Small businesses in Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District and across the Commonwealth are feeling the economic impact from the spread of COVID-19 in the United States and across the globe. The working capital loans that will be made available when the SBA approves the disaster request are a vital component to ensuring many small businesses have the financial assets they need to keep their doors open and employees working until COVID-19 is defeated.”
- Congressman Fred Keller sends letter to House leadership urging small business relief in Phase 3 COVID-19 response package, from 03/19/20
KEY QUOTE – “As Congress considers ‘Phase 3’ economic relief and any additional packages, it is important that the legislation provide immediate relief to small businesses to offset added costs and loss of income due to the Coronavirus.”
- Congressman Fred Keller responds to Gov. Wolf’s order closing physical locations of all “non-life-sustaining businesses,” from 03/19/20
FULL STATEMENT – “Small businesses and their employees are the heart of our communities and the heart of this country. While protecting public safety is government’s top priority right now, Gov. Wolf’s sweeping order disregards the guidance set forth by public health officials and puts at risk our long-term economic security. His decision to shut down Pennsylvania businesses will have deep consequences for businesses trying to stay open in uncertain times and the employees who depend on a regular wage and accurate information from their employer.
“The Governor must provide absolute certainty to employers, employees, and all those tasked with representing them in government about what his order means, how employers can ensure they will be able to operate after this crisis subsides, and how employees can ensure they get a family-sustaining wage in the short term.
“We are facing this crisis as one people. Short-sighted, wide-ranging orders that provide no context and no information serve only to sow the seeds of chaos in an otherwise uncertain time. The hardworking people of Pennsylvania deserve better from their government, and I urge Gov. Wolf to immediately provide clarity to the millions of small businesses and workers he represents.”
- Congressman Fred Keller calls on Governor Wolf to immediately rescind order shutting down Pennsylvania businesses, from 03/20/20
FULL STATEMENT – “While protecting public safety is government’s top priority, your sweeping order disregards the guidance set forth by public health officials and puts at risk our long-term economic security.’
“Therefore, I am requesting that you immediately rescind your order until such time that you can formulate a cogent plan to Pennsylvanians who are understandably panicked by your ill-prepared actions,” the letter continues. “Specifically, I urge you to ensure that businesses that can operate without jeopardizing public health remain open, employees can continue to get paid in a timely manner, and those with questions and concerns have a streamlined way to get answers from your administration.”
“Unfortunately, your order came with no notice, limited details, and insufficient explanation. It has injected chaos and uncertainty into an already trying time and placed more concerns on employers and workers,” the letter adds. “On top of all this, the order may have a devastating long-term impact on our economy. When this pandemic abates, as all healthcare experts say that it will, people will need jobs, supplies, and a way to restart our previously strong economy. Your order hinders these efforts, putting our national security—and individual financial security—at risk.”
From Twitter, @RepFredKeller:
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce
From his official website
- Dr. Joyce Statement on Coronavirus, from 03/13/20
FULL STATEMENT – “As we combat the spread of coronavirus across the country, it is important that we remain calm and at the same time take this risk seriously. Our nation is fortunate to have the best public health system in the world, and our experts are working tirelessly to protect the American people. Taking preemptive action to stop the spread of coronavirus today will save lives tomorrow.
“The U.S. government and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have taken critical actions to protect our communities. By declaring a national emergency, President Trump has empowered the federal government and states to get ahead of coronavirus, spur innovation, and limit Americans’ exposure to the virus.
“As a doctor and a Member of Congress, I encourage all Pennsylvanians to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health – which includes avoiding large events and being smart about visiting crowded spaces – in addition to the commonsense handwashing and hygiene measures that will stop the spread of coronavirus.
“As this situation progresses, I will continue to provide updates to PA-13 constituents. My offices are open for business, and my team and I are working to serve the people of southwestern and southcentral Pennsylvania.”
From Twitter, @RepJohnJoyce:
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler
From his official website
Representative Reschenthaler’s website has no press releases or “In the News” segments related to COVID-19. The items below were taken from the “Coronavirus” segment of his site.
- Coronavirus, undated
KEY QUOTE – “Congress, the Trump Administration, and state and local leaders are working together to combat the spread of coronavirus. Preventing a health care crisis must be our number one priority, and we are counting on the cooperation of residents and business to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of this coronavirus. Pennsylvania’s Department of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on a coordinated response to the virus, and Congress has approved nearly $8 billion in supplemental appropriations to ensure that all our federal agencies, state, and local partners have the resources they need.
Identifying the economic repercussions and alleviating the devastating effects on American workers, families, and businesses is also critical, and Congress is focused on finding a solution in the very near term. This is just the beginning of the federal response to this pandemic. Be sure to check this page regularly for updates and follow me on Facebook, and Twitter for the latest.”
From Twitter, @GReschenthaler:
🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson
From his official website
FULL STATEMENT – “In times of uncertainty, concern, and crisis, the American public deserves leadership that transcends partisanship in the pursuit of clarity, pragmatism, and solutions. I’m pleased that Congress worked to come to a bipartisan agreement that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of those who call the United States home. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, coupled with previous emergency supplemental funding, and the additional $50 billion that will be made available through President Trump’s national emergency declaration will help us take the necessary steps towards addressing the Coronavirus.”
From Twitter, @CongressmanGT:
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly
From his official website
FULL STATEMENT – “Under current law, the IRS can extend the tax filing deadline up to six months. The agency has exercised this authority in the recent past when it helped Americans in the wake of devastating hurricanes. Taking this action now would relieve American taxpayers during this unpredictable and stressful period.”
“Numerous state and local governments have implemented social distancing requirements, including the closure of certain businesses, to slow the spread of this virus. While necessary, these drastic and unprecedented measures are causing significant financial hardship for all Americans.”
From Twitter, @MikeKellyPA:
🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb
From his official website
- Lamb Announces Office Closures to Mitigate COVID-19 Spread, from 03/15/20
FULL STATEMENT – “The health and safety of the residents of our region continues to be my highest priority,” said Lamb. “Congress has passed bipartisan legislation to dramatically increase the resources our medical experts have to provide testing and funding to support public health experts. Just as importantly, we are working to protect working families during this crisis, expanding access to paid leave for people who get sick or have to care for their children and family members, and expanding access to unemployment benefits for people who lose their job due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
“The recent announcement by local officials of the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in our region requires that we take proactive steps to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We are closing our offices to the public in accordance with the guidance from health experts to limit contact through social distancing.
“I encourage everyone to take this public health emergency seriously and continue following the guidelines of both the CDC and local public health officials. It is important that we all wash our hands, avoid contact with those who may be feeling sick, check on seniors and our more vulnerable neighbors, practice social distancing, and contact medical professionals if you have signs of the coronavirus.”
From Twitter, @RepConorLamb:
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle
From his official website
- Congressman Doyle Temporarily Closing Offices, from 03/16/20
FULL STATEMENT – “My staff and I are closely monitoring local developments regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus and collaborating closely with state and local officials,” Congressman Doyle said.
“At the suggestion of the Allegheny County Department of Health, our Congressional offices will be temporarily closed as of 5:00 p.m. today in order to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. My staff and I will be teleworking during normal business hours, however, so we will still be able to serve the people of Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.
“If you have questions or need assistance, please call one of my district offices and leave a voice mail message, and a member of my staff will respond to your call.
“The situation regarding COVID-19 is changing daily, if not hourly. My staff and I will continually monitor developments, respond accordingly, and re-open our offices as soon as conditions dictate.”
From Twitter, @USRepMikeDoyle:
Legislation introduced relating to COVID-19
These are the items that have been registered with the congressional clerks’ offices as of Friday, March 20, 2020. Some lawmakers have referenced other planned bills, but they have yet to be processed and/or text is currently unavailable via Congress.gov or Govtrack.us
- S. 3302: Global Health Security Act of 2020, Sen. Angus King [I-ME] – This would create a position on the President’s staff called the Global Health Security Special Advisor. It would create a policy goal “to advance global health security through engagement in a multi-faceted, multi-country, multi-sectoral framework to accelerate targeted partner countries’ measurable capabilities to achieve specific targets to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats, whether naturally occurring, deliberate, or accidental.”
- S. 3370: Coronavirus Vaccine Act, Sen. Edward “Ed” Markey [D-MA] – According to the Congressional Research Service, this bill “directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to conduct or support research to develop a coronavirus vaccine.”
- S. 3476: A bill to provide for unemployment benefits to workers affected by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Sen. Gary Peters [D-MI] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3505: A bill to require private health insurance to rapidly cover preventive services and vaccines related to the coronavirus, Sen. Doug Jones [D-AL] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3507/H.R. 6310: A bill to require the Secretary of Defense to make testing for the coronavirus disease 19 available to all members of the Armed Forces deployed to an area in which the United States Central Command has responsibility, Sen. Tammy Baldwin [D-WI]; Rep. Mark Pocan [D-WI2] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3510: A bill to transfer all border wall funding to the Department of Health and Human Services and USAID to combat coronavirus, Sen. Elizabeth Warren [D-MA] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3517: A bill to increase the ability of nursing facilities to access to telehealth services and obtain technologies to allow virtual visits during the public health emergency relating to an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-MN] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3525: A bill to allow a tax credit for certain coronavirus-related charitable contributions for taxable year 2020, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen [D-NH] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3526: A bill to restrict the authority of the Secretary of the Treasury to purchase or guarantee assets in response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, Sen. John “Jack” Reed [D-RI] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3547: A bill to amend title XVIII of the Social Security Act to waive limitations on expansion of facility capacity under rural provider and hospital exception to ownership or investment prohibition during coronavirus 2020 emergency period, Sen. Ted Cruz [R-TX] – no text available for assessment
- S. 3548: A bill to provide emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families, and businesses affected by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, Sen. Mitch McConnell [R-KY] – This is the Senate GOP Phase Three response package discussed in a previous section of this report.
- H.R. 6019: Cure the Coronavirus Act, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries [D-NY8] – The Library of Congress explains that this bill “expands the tropical disease priority review voucher program to include COVID-19 (a respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus), thereby providing manufacturers with incentives for development of a vaccine.”
- H.R. 6070: Border Health Security Act of 2020, Rep. Xochitl Torres Small [D-NM2] – This bill would create grant programs to encourage monitoring and early warning for infectious diseases in the border region.
- H.R. 6123: Northern Mariana Islands Coronavirus Emergency Assistance Act, Rep. Gregorio Sablan [D-MP0] – This bill would grant $100 million to the Northern Mariana Islands for general operations
- H.R. 6139: COVID-19 Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2020, Rep. Robert “Bobby” Scott [D-VA3] – According to the Library of Congress this bill would require the “Department of Labor to promulgate both an emergency temporary occupational safety or health standard and a permanent standard to protect certain employees from occupational exposure.”
- H.R. 6173: Covering Coronavirus Test Act of 2020, Rep. Diana DeGette [D-CO1] – this bill would require all insurance plans to cover the cost of testing for coronavirus.
- H.R. 6205: To amend the Trade Act of 1974 to provide adjustment assistance to certain workers adversely affected by disruptions in global supply chains from the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), Rep. Suzan DelBene [D-WA1] – this would expand eligibility to “adjustments” under an existing law to people who were adversely impacted by decreases in trade because of the coronavirus pandemic
- H.R. 6207: To provide for unemployment benefits to workers affected by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, Rep. Derek Kilmer [D-WA6] – this bill would grant unemployment insurance to workers if the president declares a national emergency for the pandemic.
- H.R. 6265: To provide the sense of Congress related to the joint release on Coronavirus issued by Federal and State financial regulators, to require a report analyzing the effectiveness of the joint release, Rep. Steve Stivers [R-OH15] – no text available for assessment
- H.R. 6249: To temporarily prohibit the Federal financial regulators from requiring compliance with the CECL Rule by persons impacted by Coronavirus, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer [R-MO3] – no text available for assessment
- H.R. 6292: To establish the Office of Coronavirus COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Grants in the Small Business Administration to compensate certain small business concerns for substantial economic injury, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee [D-TX18] – no text available for assessment
- H.R. 6293: To require issuance of guidance by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness regarding protecting the homeless from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Rep. Lee Zeldin [R-NY1] – no text available for assessment
- H.R. 6294: To require data-sharing regarding protecting the homeless from coronavirus, Rep. Scott Tipton [R-CO3] – no text available for assessment
- H.R. 6295: To require issuance of guidance by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development regarding protecting the homeless who reside in certain federally assisted properties from the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Rep. Steve Stivers [R-OH15] – no text available for assessment
- H.R. 6297: To require public housing agencies to inform residents of a public housing project when a resident of such project tests positive for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), Rep. Ted Budd [R-NC13] – no text available for assessment
This report was brought to you by the Pennsylvania MoCTrack team:
- CC Elayne Baker
- Gary Garb Helen aka @ElastigirlVotes
- Linda Houk
- Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo
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