Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 04.26.20

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

This week’s report is an update related to the two actions taken by Congress this week.  It is our understanding that Congress does not plan to return to Washington for a “normal” session until the week of May 4, 2020.  Our next full report will come out after that full week of business has concluded, around May 10, 2020.

The House created a federal coronavirus response oversight committee

House Vote on H. Res. 938: Providing for the adoption of the resolution (H.Res. 935) establishing a Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis as a select investigative subcommittee of the Committee on Oversight and Reform

In the immediate aftermath of the passage of the Phase Three coronavirus reponse, President Trump took steps to curb any oversight, by questioning its constitutionality in his signing statement, and then by removing the inspector general assigned to the effort.  The Democrats in the House of Representatives made their next move in reply to the President’s behaviors by voting to create a Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis.  Politico quoted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the focus of this new select subcommittee.  She said, “it will be laser-focused on ensuring that taxpayer money goes to workers’ paychecks and benefits and it will ensure that the federal response is based on the best possible science and guided by health experts — and that the money invested is not being exploited by profiteers and price gougers.” She added, “This isn’t about assigning blame, this is about taking responsibility.”

The resolution notes that this new group will be of no more than 12 members, with up to five to be appointed by the minority party.  Despite this, not a single Republican supported this measure to assert Congress’s place as a co-equal branch of government.

Vote date: Thursday, April 23, 2020 Vote Tally: 212-182

Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote. Independent Rep. Amash voted NO with the GOP.
Additional Reading:

NoRFitzpatrick, BrianPA 1stNoRPerry, ScottPA 10th
AyeDBoyle, BrendanPA 2ndNoRSmucker, LloydPA 11th
AyeDEvans, DwightPA 3rdNoRKeller, FredPA 12th
AyeDDean, MadeleinePA 4thNoRJoyce, JohnPA 13th
AyeDScanlon, MaryPA 5thNoRReschenthaler, GuyPA 14th
AyeDHoulahan, ChrissyPA 6thNoRThompson, GlennPA 15th
AyeDWild, SusanPA 7thno voteRKelly, MikePA 16th
AyeDCartwright, MatthewPA 8thAyeDLamb, ConorPA 17th
NoRMeuser, DanielPA 9thAyeDDoyle, MikePA 18th

Congress passes funding infusion into existing coronavirus response programs

H.R. 266: Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act 

While this week’s legislative effort is the fourth time the Congress has passed funding to deal with the coronavirus crisis, most journalists are referring to this as “Phase 3.5” because this package funded existing measures, and broke no new legislative ground.

The need for additional funding was readily apparent when the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)  – the effort to give small businesses forgivable loans if they refrained from laying off staff – quickly ran out of money.  Republicans tried to pass this measure as a stand-alone effort to inject new funding into the PPP.  Instead, the Democrats negotiated for several other line items to be inserted into the package.  The nearly half a trillion dollar bill includes:

  • $321 billion infused into the Paycheck Protection Program
  • $60 billion for smaller banks to assist minority-owned businesses (who, NPR reports, “have struggled to borrow from bigger lenders”)
  • $75 billion for emergency relief for hospitals
  • $25 billion for coronavirus testing

One priority that did not make it into this measure was rescue funding for state and local governments, who are struggling under the burden of paying for police, emergency services, teachers and a variety of other services.  There is no doubt that a Phase Four response bill is needed, and that states and municipalities will be its focus. Please see Senator Casey’s statement below for more on this topic.

Senate Vote on H.R. 266

Vote date: Tuesday, April 21, 2020 Vote Tally: This measure passed by a voice vote.

House Vote on H.R. 266

Vote date: Thursday, April 23, 2020 Vote Tally: 388-5

This vote was taken under a suspension of the rules, and a ⅔ supermajority was needed to pass.

Party Breakdown: The five MoCs who voted NO are Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA). Rep. THomas Massie (R-KY), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).

Additional Reading:

AyeRFitzpatrick, BrianPA 1stAyeRPerry, ScottPA 10th
AyeDBoyle, BrendanPA 2ndAyeRSmucker, LloydPA 11th
AyeDEvans, DwightPA 3rdAyeRKeller, FredPA 12th
AyeDDean, MadeleinePA 4thAyeRJoyce, JohnPA 13th
AyeDScanlon, MaryPA 5thAyeRReschenthaler, GuyPA 14th
AyeDHoulahan, ChrissyPA 6thAyeRThompson, GlennPA 15th
AyeDWild, SusanPA 7thno voteRKelly, MikePA 16th
AyeDCartwright, MatthewPA 8thAyeDLamb, ConorPA 17th
AyeRMeuser, DanielPA 9thAyeDDoyle, MikePA 18th

Note – Rep. Kelly, who was infected with coronavirus, did not go to Washington for this vote. His office added an addendum to his statement on this legislation that reads, “though he has recovered, he is continuing to quarantine until cleared by his doctor. Had Kelly been present, he would have supported the increase in funding for the Paycheck Protection Program with a ‘yes’ vote.”

Our MoCs’ recent statements on coronavirus response legislation:

– what made the cut this week 

– what got cut 

– their pandemic response focus

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 04/24/20:

“Instead of providing aid to teachers, firefighters and first responders, Majority Leader McConnell wants communities to cut services. 


It accomplishes his longtime ideological obsession with decimating government.

Don’t be fooled by these crocodile tears over the national debt.  Senator McConnell never worried about the debt when he was giving massive tax giveaways to the super-rich and big corporations in 2017. It is this same Republican obsession with hollowing out the core functions of government that has hampered our COVID response in the U.S. For decades, Republicans have used the pretext of unregulated markets as a ploy to hand out trillions to corporate overlords.

Decades of disinvestment in local, state and federal governments has left us unable to do the basic things that many other countries are doing for their citizens during this pandemic.  UI payments are delayed because we’ve starved UI systems for decades. We can’t procure PPE or basic testing because we’ve turned over much of the infrastructure to private companies. The IRS has seen its budget cut, its staff slashed, and continues to operate on old and antiquated systems because of lack of investment. It’s no wonder, then, that the issuing of the $1,200 direct payments have been so fraught.

The answer isn’t to cynically say government isn’t working like it should so we need less of it. The answer is having federal, state and local governments that are resourced to respond to the needs of the people, in good times and in bad times.

Pull the camera back and you can see that this is none other than a cynical cycle pushed by Republicans for decades, and now it’s bearing fruit, and working Americans are paying the price.”

Tweeted with a link to a Polito article titled “McConnell pushes ‘bankruptcy route’ as local governments struggle

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, from his official website, 04/23/20:

Toomey Unveils Framework to Gradually and Safely Reopen Pennsylvania’s Economy
“Last night Governor Wolf made public his framework for gradually reopening the state economy beginning on May 8th,” said Senator Toomey. “Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, my staff and I have had regular contact with the Governor and his team about several issues, including how we begin the process of returning to normal life.

The Governor’s proposal represents progress and it shares many similarities with my own plan. However, our plans do have several differences; my plan allows for the following:

  • With Pennsylvania’s health care systems not being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, most of state should resume some level of economic activity immediately
  • Provides counties with the flexibility to account for isolated statistical anomalies
  • Allows doctors and hospitals to resume elective procedures immediately – provided safety benchmarks are met
  • Expanded and improved testing for at-risk health care workers, including those in nursing homes

No one plan will account for all the variables that we must address to open Pennsylvania in a gradual and safe manner. I look forward to working with the Wolf administration on addressing these challenges.”

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, from his official website, 04/19/20:

“Two things must happen immediately. First, Congress must immediately pass a clean supplement to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) by a minimum of $250 billion. Second, the Department of the Treasury​ must immediately fix the PPP to benefit Main Street, not Wall Street. Round 1 of the PPP missed its target. Banks were receiving applications not just from mom-and-pop small businesses that depend on foot traffic and are barely solvent, like small restaurants, hardware stores and plumbers, whom the PPP was specifically designed to help. Banks were also receiving applications from businesses that are not small, do not rely on foot traffic and are not insolvent, like hedge funds and brokerage businesses, who in some cases received as much as $10M in forgivable loans. This is money that is literally being taken away from the very small businesses Congress intended to help, small businesses who have been forced to lay off workers due to insufficient cash flow. This has occurred because of ambiguous and insufficient guard rails being established by the Treasury Department with regards to the PPP. Many larger banks around the country simply prioritized their larger customers with significant banking relationships, taking money away from the small coffee shop owner. This cannot and will not stand. Our small businesses need our help and they need it now. The Treasury Department must establish clear requirements that banks prioritize insolvent coffee shop owners over solvent hedge fund owners. Businesses that depend on foot traffic and direct in-person contact, like small restaurants, are the businesses that are now insolvent because of this pandemic, and these companies account for nearly 50 percent of our nation’s workforce. It is unacceptable that the Treasury Department and the Small Business Administration​ guidelines had no revenue loss requirements and only required an attestation that business was “negatively impacted” by COVID-19. A business with a 10% reduction in revenue for one month, who had no intention to lay off employees, must not be placed into the same category as an owner-operated daycare center with no cash flow and no way to survive. All Members of Congress must flag this issue to the Treasury Department and it needs to be fixed immediately.”

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @CongBoyle, 04/24/20:

“Over 26 million Americans have been forced out of work. Congress must act to end mass layoffs and keep workers in their jobs. I’m proud to be an original cosponsor of the Paycheck Guarantee Act, which will combat the mass unemployment caused by #COVID19.” tweeted with a link to a CNBC article titled “Another 4.3 million workers expected to have filed unemployment claims”)

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, from his official website, 04/23/20:

“Channeling a minimum of $60 billion of this new funding through community institutions should help many small businesses that missed out on the first round, including minority-owned and women-owned businesses.”

“I believe there will probably need to be a third round to help save jobs because the need is so massive. My priorities for future legislation also include more hospital funding beyond the $75 billion this new bill provides; aid for state and local governments so they can continue to provide Medicaid, police, fire, ambulance and other vital services; and help for the critical U.S. Postal Service, which is needed to enable safe vote-by-mail on a large scale.”

As my colleagues have said, this is an unprecedented time. This pandemic is a true test of our resiliency as a nation.

“Small businesses have been devastated. In response, Congress has allocated over $700 billion to SBA programs to help these businesses. However, my office has heard that many local businesses are unable to access these needed loans. This is greatly concerning.

“It is essential that these SBA programs fulfill the objective of Congress—to help small businesses who cannot survive without these loans. News that large restaurant chains received $20 million in PPP loans has eroded the public trust and confidence in these programs and in government. While many of us are wearing masks today, we need the SBA to be transparent with taxpayer dollars.

“In addition to thinking about what small businesses need right now, it is imperative to think about how small business operations will change in the future. COVID-19 is creating a new norm. Social distancing will likely be required for the indefinite future. Consequently, Temple’s Small Business Development Center in Philadelphia is creating two new business training centers. The first is The Center for Hospitality Resilience, which will instruct small businesses about new regulations that affect the food, hotel, and event industries. The second is The Center of Digital Transformation for Small Businesses. This center will help small businesses transition to e-commerce, which is quickly becoming the main source of revenue for many businesses.

“It is crucial that we help small businesses not only get through this immediate crisis, but assist them in preparing for the future.” (The Congressman provided this transcription of his testimony before the House Small Business Committee, in the committee’s hearing on priorities for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Video of this testimony is available here.)

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 04/23/20:

“Shame on anyone that will not tell the truth — that more help is needed, whether it’s funds for our smallest of businesses or mass testing. Tonight, I’ll vote yes on this interim funding and I look forward to the next package, that must be more robust and equitable.” (tweeted with embedded video)

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 04/23/20:

“Congress has approved billions of dollars in #COVID19 aid for small businesses and families. People want to know where that money is going and so do I. 

#StayHome #FamiliesFirst” (tweeted with embedded C-SPAN video)

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 04/23/20:

“Today’s bipartisan bill will provide much needed relief to our hospitals and health care workers and will support our small businesses to help them weather this crisis. I’m proud to have taken aggressive action to ensure that items were included in this bill that are of specific concern to my community:

✅ Support for our smallest of small businesses

✅ Resources for our hospitals in Chester and Berks counties 

✅ Expanded eligibility for EIDL for our farmers and agricultural producers

✅ Requirement for a comprehensive national testing strategy.

I have laid out a bipartisan plan for how to implement such a national testing strategy and will continue to work with the Administration to build the workforce we need to carry out this effort. We need to safely reopen our economy, and to do so, we must implement a testing strategy quickly and effectively. 

This legislation we passed today is by no means an end to our efforts. I am disappointed, for instance, that there was not support for struggling local governments and municipalities. We need a more holistic response, and I will be pushing my colleagues to support such a response in our next package.

We are in this together, and we, the federal government, need to do everything in our power to support the country through this pandemic.”

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, via her official website, 04/23/20:

“I am deeply proud that today’s vote was an extension of the nonpartisan work that we in the House have been doing since the onset of this pandemic. The extended funding secured in the Interim Emergency Coronavirus Relief Package is a direct reflection of what I’m hearing on the local level when I talk to our small business owners and local hospital networks. 

“Not only will this funding go to replenish the Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan programs which have been so critical for our local businesses, it will also set aside billions for community-based lenders and smaller businesses who had trouble accessing this relief the first time around. This is necessary if we want our most vulnerable businesses to be able to reopen on the other side of this pandemic. Representing a district with two world class hospital networks, I was also proud that this funding will support our health care providers and frontline workers through these unprecedented times. 

“I am further heartened that we were able to vote to enact a special bipartisan oversight panel which will work to address so many of the concerns that have been voiced on the local level, including rooting out waste and fraud, guaranteeing that federal response is evidence-based and scientifically sound, and ensuring taxpayer dollars are being used effectively. 

“Moving forward, my priorities are rooted in our community’s needs, including making sure that our local municipalities are provided for in a robust fashion to support our emergency responders and local governments. Furthermore, I will continue working on initiatives to support our educational institutions as well as increase access to quality and affordable health care. 

“Together, we will get through this crisis and together, we will rebuild.”

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“We need to make sure small business relief actually gets into the hands of small businesses. It’s clear that much more will need to be done quickly, but we have set aside $60 billion in this bill for smaller lenders to help our very small businesses that don’t have the advantage of close relationships at big banks.”

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 04/23/20:

“Tonight, the House passed the The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act. Please see below for my speech on the bill.”  tweeted with an embedded video




🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 04/23/20:

“I just voted YES to reopening the #PaycheckProtectionProgram and supporting our front line health care institutions. After an indefensible delay, $310 billion is on the way to help our small businesses and their employees through #PPP.”

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 04/23/20:

“The House just passed more funding for the #PaycheckProtectionProgram. 74% of the last round of funding supported over 1.2 million main street businesses with loans of less than $150k, saving millions of jobs across the nation. Listen to my thoughts below…” tweeted with an embedded video of nearly three minutes

Transcription of the first 40 seconds of the Rep. Smucker video, provided by MoCTrack – “I’m very pleased to be here today, voting for additional funding for the Payroll Protection Program, which has benefitted many small businesses in our community, enabling them to continue to employ their workers and to be there when we reopen this economy.

It’s unfortunate it has taken this long, the president requested funds on April 7th, before funds ran out. What we had, though, was a delay by Speaker Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because they wanted to add additional things into the bill. Finally, we fortunately had the chance today to do that…”

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“The Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program have been important and successful programs in keeping small businesses open and people hired during this pandemic. Every dollar used in these programs to keep businesses operating and people employed is a dollar invested in our economic recovery — and also a dollar not spent on unemployment.

“These important programs should have been reauthorized before running out of money over a week ago, but Speaker Pelosi and Sen. Schumer injected partisan politics into the process and caused unnecessary delay in reauthorizing funding. That decision hurt small businesses and families and damaged our ability to recover from the economic effects of this pandemic.

“Before Congress even discusses the need for another relief bill, we need to see the effect of the funding and programs Congress has already passed. Until the nearly $3 trillion Congress approved to combat the virus’ public health and economic impacts is fully realized, we should not be spending any more taxpayer money, and we certainly should not be engaging in ‘transformative’ or ‘far-reaching’ partisan policy changes.”

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“After weeks of delay at the hands of Democrats in Congress, the House of Representatives at last approved additional funding for the Paycheck Protection Program. This temporary assistance already has helped nearly 70,000 small businesses in Pennsylvania, saving more than 652,000 jobs. Passage of today’s bill means that small businesses will once again be able to access this lifeline, pay their employees, and stay afloat.

“We recognize that the coronavirus outbreak has spurred both a public health crisis and an economic crisis. All of us want to get Americans back to work as soon as possible, and Congress has taken decisive action to maintain our workforce and safeguard the economy during this unprecedented situation.

“Over the past several weeks, I have spoken with hundreds of Pennsylvania workers, small businesses, and farmers that are counting on the Paycheck Protection Program. Our small businesses and farms are not only the backbone of our economy – they are the heart of our community. This additional Paycheck Protection Program funding will help hardworking Pennsylvanians weather this storm.”  

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“It is critical we ensure small businesses in southwestern Pennsylvania can continue to support their employees and communities during the COVID-19 outbreak. Pennsylvania’s job creators received roughly $10 billion in PPP loans before the first round of funding ran out, and I am proud to support the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act that will allow more small businesses to utilize this vital program. Additionally, this legislation will help local hospitals on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic and expand testing, which will be vital as we look to reopen our communities and reignite our economy.”

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“The Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act will continue to support programs that will save lives and save jobs. These continued investments in hospitals and small businesses are vital to sustaining our physical health and our economic health, especially by supporting employees who find themselves out of work through no fault of their own. This vote sends a clear message that we’re going to make sure they can pay their bills and support their families.” 

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“The Paycheck Protection Program has already helped employers across America retain workers during the coronavirus pandemic, including many right here in western Pennsylvania. The funding increase passed today will offer a life-line to more businesses and employees in our communities while our country pivots toward responsibly reopening the economy.”

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“This bipartisan bill addresses three of our top priorities, with more money for small business owners and employees, hospitals and testing.  Too many small businesses in my district lost out on this funding during the first round, and the additional money will help.  But we also need to make sure the program is working the way it’s supposed to, as a lifeline for small businesses that would otherwise close because of this crisis — not as a giveaway to larger companies that don’t need it.

“I continue to believe that Congress should stay in session to hold hearings so we can pass additional bipartisan legislation to respond to these kinds of problems in real time, hold administration officials accountable, and make sure that we are getting money as quickly as possible to those who need it most.”

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, via his official website, 04/23/20:

“We’re at a critical point in this pandemic, and I believe it’s essential that we help all of our small businesses and healthcare providers to get through it. This bill reforms the Paycheck Protection Program to target money towards small businesses, provides more funding for small business assistance and support for healthcare providers, and invests in a national COVID-19 testing program so we can get this virus under control and reopen our country.”

“The Paycheck Protection Program as originally enacted did too little to help mom and pop businesses, especially minority-owned small businesses, so I pushed for Congress to fix it in this bill so that it would benefit all small businesses in need during the coronavirus pandemic. House and Senate Democrats fought hard for this provision, which was not in the legislation proposed by the Administration and Senate Republicans, and I’m very pleased that it was included in the final version of the bill. I believe that this is an important improvement to the Paycheck Protection Program – but more reforms are still needed, and I will continue to work to ensure that all small businesses get the help they need to weather this pandemic – and that federal assistance to small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic is distributed equitably.”

“I was disappointed that, despite Democrats’ efforts, the bill didn’t provide additional help for state and local governments, which are faced with the double whammy of both paying for efforts to address the pandemic – and losing revenues from the economic shutdown. I anticipate that there will be more bills considered in Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic, and I will continue to work to ensure that aid for state and local governments is included in any such legislation.”

MoCTrack will be back when the next set of legislation is passed; or when the Congress comes back into session. The latest news on that topic is that our lawmakers are planning on returning to Washington for the week starting May 4th… and we’ll be covering them when they return.

This report was brought to you by the Pennsylvania  MoCTrack team:

  • CC
  • Helen aka @ElastigirlVotes
  • Elayne Baker
  • Linda Houk
  • Gary Garb
  • Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo

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

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