Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 05.24.20

64 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!

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)29.8%0.0%
Senator Pat Toomey (R)87.9%0.0%
PA-01 Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R)64.7%+0.2%
PA-02 Rep. Brendan Boyle (D)13.2%-0.1%
PA-03 Rep. Dwight Evans (D)12.1%-0.1%
PA-04 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D)4.1%-0.1%
PA-05 Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D)6.6%-0.1%
PA-06 Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D)5.5%-0.1%
PA-07 Rep. Susan Wild (D)9.2%+1.2%
PA-08 Rep. Matt Cartwright (D)20.2%-0.2%
PA-09 Rep. Dan Meuser (R)98.6%0.0%
PA-10 Rep. Scott Perry (R)89.8%+0.1%
PA-11 Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R)95.7%0.0%
PA-12 Rep. Fred Keller (R)95.3%+0.1%
PA-13 Rep. John Joyce (R)98.6%0.0%
PA-14 Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R)95.8%+0.1%
PA-15 Rep. Glenn W. Thompson (R)98.2%0.0%
PA-16 Rep. Mike Kelly (R)96.4%0.0%
PA-17 Rep. Conor Lamb (D)24.5%+0.8%
PA-18 Rep. Mike Doyle (D)15.1%-0.1%

Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight website assesses the voting records of our MoCs to provide this index, by comparing any bills where President Trump has stated a position, and comparing the vote of the legislator to that opinion. The one item scored was last week’s HEROES Act vote in the House.

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 – Mitch McConnell’s Confirmation extravaganza

Instead of moving forward with negotiations with a phase four coronavirus response package, MiTch McConnell responded to last week’s passage of the HEROES ACT by ignoring the coronavirus pandemic completely, and pretending it didn’t exist.  Instead, he chose to display his control by pushing through a number of judicial and bureaucratic confirmations… while the death toll in the United States approached 100,000 people, the unemployment number grew to over 38 million people, and testing and tracing lags behind all other industrialized nations.

Bureaucratic nomination #1 

Senate Confirmation Vote on John L. Ratcliffe to be Director of National Intelligence

You may remember that last summer, Texas Congressman John Ratcliffe was floated as a potential Director of National Intelligence by President Trump, only to be withdrawn over his lack of national security or intelligence experience, and him misrepresenting and inflating his experience in those fields.  Despite all that he was formally nominated this spring, and confirmed this week.

Senator Ron Wyden, (D-WA) told NPR that Ratcliffe “dance[d] around direct questions” at the confirmation hearing. Sen. Wyden added, “If you’re John Ratcliffe, the intelligence really doesn’t matter. All that matters is that he makes Donald Trump happy. And if Donald Trump doesn’t want to acknowledge that the Russians helped him, then those are John Ratcliffe’s marching orders.”

The Associated Press spoke to Independent Senator Angus King of Maine, and reported the following:

Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and a member of the Senate intelligence panel, said he has concerns that Ratcliffe has limited experience in the intelligence community yet extensive experience in politics. “A dangerous combination,” he said.

“Now more than ever it is vital that the DNI respect the critical firewall that must exist between intelligence and political calculations — especially if the truth isn’t what the boss wants to hear,” King said.

Ratcliffe is the first Director of National Intelligence confirmed on a partisan vote since the position was created. 

Vote date: Thursday, May 21, 2020 Vote Tally: 49-44

Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote, with all Republicans present voting YES, and all Democrats and Independents present voting NO.

Additional Reading:

Bob Casey voted NO and Pat Toomey voted YES

Bureaucratic nomination #2 

Senate Confirmation Vote on  James E. Trainor III to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission for a term expiring April 30, 2023

It is the normal procedure for presidential administrations to nominate people to fill vacancies to the Federal Elections Commission in pairs, one of each party.  But the Trump Administration disregarded that custom, opting to nominate one Republican, and leaving two seats on the FEC to remain vacant.

James Trainor is a former volunteer on the Trump campaign. CNN Politics reports that Trainor has voiced “opposition to full disclosure of political donors” and they reported on “his work to redraw political maps in Texas.”  Both of these factors shed doubt on his ability to fairly administer and lead at a commission decided to ensuring full disclosure of campaign funding, and fair administration of elections. 

Vote date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 Vote Tally: 49-43

Party Breakdown: This was another pure party line vote, with all Republicans present voting YES, and all Democrats and Independents present voting NO.

Additional Reading:

Bob Casey voted NO and Pat Toomey voted YES

Judicial confirmation #1 

Senate Confirmation Vote on Scott H. Rash to be a United States District Judge in Arizona

Mr. Rash was recommended for the federal bench by the late senator John McCain and former senator Jeff Flake.  He worked in private practice for 20 years before becoming a state judge in Arizona. As with most Trump judicial nominees, Mr. Rash is a member of the Federalist Society, having joined around the time of his nomination in 2018.

The Vetting Room says this of his judicial philosophy: “On the bench, Rash has developed a fairly conservative jurisprudence, frequently interpreting criminal laws expansively and protections narrowly.”  But the same article notes, “Given Rash’s extensive experience with litigation both as an attorney and as a judge, it is hard to dispute that he possesses the basic qualifications to be a federal judge.  While he may draw a few negative votes for his conservative jurisprudence, this is unlikely to seriously damage his confirmation.”

Vote date: Tuesday, May 19, 2020 Vote Tally: 74-20

Party Breakdown: The Republicans and Independent present voted YES and they were joined by 22 Democrats.  All twenty NO votes were from Democrats.

Additional Reading:

Bob Casey voted NO and Pat Toomey voted YES

Judicial confirmation #2 

Senate Confirmation Vote on Anna M. Manasco to be a United States District Judge in Alabama

Anna Manasco is a 40-year old graduate of Yale Law School and a former clerk for Judge William Pryor on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.  She has spent her entire legal career in private practice at the Birmingham office of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.  The Vetting Room notes that “Manasco has never tried a case to a jury in either state or federal court.”

Vote date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 Vote Tally: 71-21

Party Breakdown: The Republicans and Independent voted YES, along with twenty-one Democrats, while the NO votes came from the remaining twenty-one Democrats present.

Additional Reading:

Bob Casey voted YES and Pat Toomey voted YES

Judicial confirmation #3 

Senate Confirmation Vote on John F. Heil III to be United States District Judge in Oklahoma

John Heil is an experienced attorney who has worked in both private practice and public service.  Prior to his confirmation he worked at the Tulsa office of Hall Estill Hardwick Gable Golden & Nelson P.C., and he served as state prosecutor in the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office during the 1990s.

Vote date: Wednesday, May 20, 2020 Vote Tally: 75-17

Party Breakdown: The seventeen opposing votes all came from Democrats.

Additional Reading:

Bob Casey voted YES and Pat Toomey voted YES

Unanimously passed legislation

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.945 – Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act
  • S.1380 – Due Process Protections Act
  • S.2927 – NIMHD Research Endowment Revitalization Act 
  • S.3782 – Small Business Lending Continuity Act 

The Senate also dealt with the simmering issue of the FBI investigation on insider trading and stock sales which necessitated the replacement of Senator Richard Burr with Senator Marco Rubio as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. They passed S.Res.584 – A resolution to constitute the majority party’s membership on certain committees for the One Hundred Sixteenth Congress, or until their successors are chosen, via unanimous consent.

MoC Twitter Action

Twitter Action – Coronavirus response

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 05/22/20:

“McConnell & Republicans gave billions to the super-rich & corporations under the 2017 tax law, but essential support for a hardworking person who is unemployed during this pandemic is apparently a national disgrace which will not stand. He serves Republican donors, not the people”

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 05/21/20:

“Join me @10AM for a virtual roundtable on safely restarting youth baseball/softball. With me will be @Phillies great Jimmy Rollins, softball star Jennie Finch, Little League president Stephen Keener, @MLB’s Tony Reagins, & Stanford doctor Jay Bhattacharya.” tweeted with a link to YouTube

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 05/22/20:

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @CongBoyle, 05/21/20:

“The United States Postal Service keeps our country moving and we owe a debt of gratitude to the postal workers who serve our communities. Congress needs to ensure @USPS can continue to safely deliver our nation’s mail.” tweeted with a VICE article titled “Coronavirus Could Finally Kill the U.S. Postal Service

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 05/21/20:

“@HouseDemocrats passed the #HeroesAct LAST WEEK!  

Time is of the essence! 

@SenateMajLdr  should bring this bill up for a vote and give the American people the relief they urgently need!

The #HeroesAct would:

✅commit $75 BILLION to testing, tracing and treatment 

✅ensure essential workers receive hazard pay

✅extend weekly federal unemployment payments

The American people want this bill!

In a new poll, 2 out of 3 Americans say Congress should pass another coronavirus package to address the catastrophic economic impact of the pandemic on households, small businesses and communities across the country.”

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 05/20/20:

“People are struggling to make rent because of COVID-19. This is not their fault and we cannot allow this pandemic to be the reason tenants are evicted — it will have adverse effects on their mental health, credit score and future.” tweeted with a link to a Wired piece titled “The Covid-19 Rent Crisis Is Here

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 05/19/20:

“Sen. McConnell said he wants to “take a pause.” But our country is in crisis – we don’t have time to wait. People are dying, families are facing financial uncertainty & children are hungry. We can’t “take a pause.” Here’s how we’re fighting for families.” tweeted with a link to Rep. Scanlon’s Medium piece 

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 05/23/20:

“As we plan for the reopening of our counties here in Southeastern PA, we know that #testing will be crucial to restart our local economy. Find a full list of testing locations at the link below: health.pa.gov

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 05/19/20:

“In the middle of a pandemic, no American should be stuck abroad without being able to get home to their family. 

I’m proud that my office is able to cut the red tape and help Pennsylvanians like Balwinder and Sona get home in times of crisis. 

You are not alone. Welcome home.” tweeted with embedded video from PBS Channel 39

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 05/22/20:

“Many NEPA residents rely on public transit to meet their everyday needs & they need to know our transit systems are taking steps to make their travel as low-risk as possible. This federal funding will help LCTA continue to ensure the safety of riders & employees during #COVID19.”

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 05/18/20:

“ICYMI-Check out my latest op-ed on safely reopening Pennsylvania:

“Now is the time to change course, be receptive to better ideas and implement a plan that gets the commonwealth safely back to work, before it is too late.” tweeted with a link to the Congressman’s  paywalled opinion piece in the Reading Eagle

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 05/23/20:

“Gov. Wolf failed to address the need in nursing homes and long term care facilities, the federal government has stepped in to fill the void. Thank you @SecAzar and @HHSGov for providing these facilities with needed funds to help combat COVID-19.” tweeted with a paywalled Lancaster Online article about federal funding to nursing homes

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 05/23/20:

“President @realDonaldTrump’s all-of-government and all-of-America approach to fighting #COVID19 has delivered for Pennsylvania! THANK YOU!”

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 05/20/20:

“As the only physician serving on the #ChinaTaskForce, I am committed to strengthening and protecting the supply chain at every level – especially for medicine & other supplies. Americans should never be beholden to the Chinese Communist Party for vital medical supplies.”

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 05/23/20:

“Too many blue state governors have used the #COVID19 crisis to become petty tyrants. We have unelected bureaucrats in health departments making decisions that have no rational basis that are hurting small businesses.

Americans want to get back to work. It’s time we let them.” tweeted with embedded video

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 05/22/20:

“Enough is enough. The county commissioners let residents down today. Our communities have suffered enough! It’s time to get our economy back on its feet.”

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 05/19/20:

“We know that #COVID19 is impacting veterans & their families.  Congress has a responsibility to help those who have fought for & served our nation get through this crisis. #PA17”

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 05/21/20:

“The most powerful country in the world should not have suffered from shortages of basic products – but @POTUS’ task force of volunteers left many areas dangerously short of the PPE and equipment needed.

“No offense, but is this a joke?”

As Americans died, @POTUS’s relied on volunteers to navigate an international market riddled with fraud. His inaction left our country scrambling and states competing for life-saving supplies.

“The world is burning down, you guys are volunteers, who is coordinating this?”

This quote speaks to what we all know – our shortfall of PPE and equipment was preventable. Our country was already behind, and @POTUS’ choices put us in danger.
Tweeted with a link to the Washington Post article titled “‘No offense, but is this a joke?’ Inside the underground market for face masks.

Twitter Action – MoCs on Legislation

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 05/22/20:

“When World War II was won, we showed our gratitude to those who helped to secure that victory with the GI bill. Now we need a new GI bill for health care workers returning from their #COVID19 service. I’m calling on Congress to pass my Pandemic Responders Service Award Act.” tweeted with embedded video

🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 05/21/20:

“The CCP wants to end #HongKong’s autonomy and crush the basic rights and freedoms of Hong Kongers. A new, bipartisan bill from @ChrisVanHollen and me will impose strict sanctions on the CCP officials responsible and any banks they transact with.” tweeted with a link to the senator’s official website statement

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 05/20/20:

“Tens of thousands are fighting ALS right now, and they need our support. As co-chair of the ALS Caucus, I am proud to introduce this resolution designating May as ALS Awareness Month with my co-chairs @RepJasonCrow, @KenCalvert, and @RepTerriSewell.

🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 05/21/20:

“Thanks to the Jewish Exponent for highlighting my Never Again Holocaust Education Act which recently passed out of the Senate and awaits the President’s signature.

This legislation is more necessary today than when I started a similar effort to mandate Holocaust education during my time in the PA House many years ago. We must fight with every fiber against the hatred that so easily metastasize to murder and genocide just a few decades ago. We must fight to keep our promise among each generation: #NeverAgain” tweeted with a link to the Jewish Exponent article titled “Senate Passes National Holocaust Education Bill

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 05/22/20:

“Polls show that Americans want the relief offered in the #HeroesAct. It is time for @senatemajldr to bring this bill to a vote!”

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 05/21/20:

“We are facing an unprecedented economic crisis and our smallest businesses are struggling to meet payroll and rent payments. I’m fighting for direct cash grants for micro businesses.” tweeted with a link to this Vox article titled “Congress should consider these 7 ideas for the next stimulus package

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 05/22/20

“The latest House measure, the Heroes Act, would leverage SNAP to help the 33 million newly unemployed Americans to feed their families and provide an immediate boost to struggling local economies. Our communities need this relief NOW.” tweeted with a link to a Hill piece titled “Strengthening SNAP is the most effective way to address the growing hunger crisis

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 05/21/20:

“Authorized in the CARES Act, the @USDA has just implemented the direct payments initiative, which distributes Heavy dollar sign to crop, dairy, and livestock Tractor producers who have been impacted by this pandemic. Mark your calendars for May 26th, the day applications open.https://farmers.gov/cfap”

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 05/20/20:

“Making food delivery services accessible to everyone is critical to combating food insecurity through this pandemic.

As a cosponsor of this effort on the federal level, I’m thrilled to see this pilot program being implemented so those in need can safely get their groceries.” tweeted with a link to a Pennsylvania Capital Star article titled “SNAP recipients in Pa. will soon be able to have groceries delivered

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 05/22/20:

“No one should have to worry about where to get medical care, especially during a health crisis. I’ve introduced a bill w/ @repdonyoung to provide rural hospitals with the financial stability to help them focus on treating patients, not balancing the books.” tweeted with a link to the Congressman’s website statement

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 05/20/20:

“ICYMI, I joined Newsmax TV this morning to discuss the COVID-19 response in PA and Speaker Pelosi’s proxy-voting scam.” tweeted with embedded video

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 05/22/20:

“China committed unforgivable sins of omission and deceit during the outbreak of #COVID19 – causing unimaginable suffering and death. China’s blatant dishonesty towards the international community cost lives, and it and the WHO must be held accountable” tweeted with a link to the MoC’s official website statement titled “Perry Introduces Set of Bills to hold China and the WHO Accountable for COVID-19 Failures

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 05/20/20:

“I am glad to see that @LancasterPolice received a $150,000 USDOJ grant from additional CARES Act funding to support their operations. Lancaster and York counties also received a combined $100,000 from the same grant program. All of this funding is on top of the nearly $5 billion in CARES Act funding which Gov. Wolf needs to drive out to provide additional support to our municipalities.”

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 05/22/20:

“We sent a letter to Gov. Wolf demanding that the $4B of CARES Act funds being held by PA be opened up to smaller communities. Thus far, his administration has not answered our request and has threatened to withhold federal money from counties that want to open despite his orders.”

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 05/22/20:

“Congress must work to keep the Chinese Communist Party’s repression & tyranny in check. That’s why I signed @repgallagher’s resolution in support of the brave men & women seeking freedom & democracy in Hong Kong.

I stand with #HongKong. We MUST preserve this beacon of freedom.”

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 05/20/20:

“As students are graduating across the country this month, many families are celebrating their hard work and accomplishments while worrying about backbreaking student debt. I believe we should do more to help graduates with this debt. 

I’m a cosponsor of several bills to reduce existing student loan debt by making repayment easier and loan forgiveness more accessible by lowering interest rates, increasing access to income-based repayment plans, and providing more opportunities for loan forgiveness.

I’m a cosponsor of the #Coronavirus Emergency Student Loan Refinancing Act, which would allow borrowers of federal and private student loans to refinance their loans at today’s historically low rates. I will continue to fight for legislation that helps borrowers!”

Tweet of the Week

🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 05/22/20:

“Hope will never be silent.

Harvey Milk showed the Nation the importance of standing up for what’s right, even when it’s difficult. May we honor his life and legacy by fighting for a more equitable, inclusive world for the #LGBTQ+ community. #HarveyMilkDay”

🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 05/22/20:

“The frontline healthcare workers in our community deserve all of our respect and appreciation. They courageously show up to work every day to save the lives of others. I joined our heroes at @stmarymed to thank our healthcare workers & honor those who we have lost. #InItTogether”

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

“I want to expand #SocialSecurity and put money in the hands of those who need it most during #COVID19: seniors, communities of color, and people with disabilities – not corporations. Today’s Social Security Subcommittee roundtable focused on achieving this and I will not stop fighting for it, especially during this pandemic when we need to support the most vulnerable.” tweeted with a link to a Motley Fool piece titled “Trump’s Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Would Reduce Social Security Funding When It Needs It the Most

🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 05/21/20:

“In Pennsylvania, it’s YOUR choice. 

Not his. 

http://votespa.com or 1 877-VOTES-PA.”

🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 05/24/20:

“Wishing the entire Muslim community a happy Eid al-Fitr. I hope many of you are able to safely celebrate with family and friends. For everyone celebrating away from loved ones I hope you are reunited soon. #EidMubarak”

🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 05/21/20:

“In addition to the sudden disappearance of jobs, our other defenses against hunger are collapsing. Our neighbors are hungry, and SNAP is our first line of defense against hunger. I won’t stop fighting cruel attempts to cut this critical program.” tweeted with a link to Charles Blow’s opinion piece in the Philadelphia Tribune titled “Blow: The hunger pains of a pandemic

🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 05/23/20:

“Our essential workers continue to answer the call to serve during this pandemic. Our community, Commonwealth, and country are better because of their sacrifice. #143DayInPA”

🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 05/22/20:

“Right now, protecting lifelines like CHIP, SNAP, & Head Start could not be more important, and an accurate #2020Census count will help ensure those programs receive the funding they deserve. Let’s make sure our community has all the tools to rebuild.” tweeted with a link to a Pennsylvania Capital Star article titled “Scanlon, Pa. Dems talk about Census challenges amid pandemic

🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 05/20/20:

“OSHA’s failure to act on real #COVID19 health/safety concerns brought to their attention by me, my colleagues, and workers has cost lives in NEPA and across the country. It’s time they stepped up to make sure employees have a safe work environment. Once again, I’m calling on them to do their job.” tweeted with a link to the New York Times article titled “‘Way Too Late’: Inside Amazon’s Biggest Outbreak

🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 05/23/20:

“Yesterday, I joined State Rep. Doyle Heffley and Executive Director of the Carbon Chamber of Economic Development Corporation, Marlyn Kissner, to celebrate Carbon County Strong Day. This was a celebration of the local, small businesses that make our communities great.”

🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 05/22/20:

“As co-chair of the bipartisan Auto Care Caucus, I’m honored to welcome the 50th Member of Congress into our caucus. It’s a marked achievement and shows the importance of the independent auto care industry to communities across the Nation.” tweeted with an official statement

🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 05/20/20:

“Thank you @RealDonaldTrump for continuing to fight for our small businesses. This Executive Order will support our small business owners as they reopen by cutting through unnecessary government regulations.” tweeted with a link to the President’s Executive Order

🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 05/19/20:

“In today’s cabinet meeting, President 

@realDonaldTrump

 outlined how he will help the United States transition to greatness:

✔All-of-government approach

✔Deregulation to fuel business development and job creation

✔Securing our supply chains with America-first policies” 

tweeted with embedded video of President Trump

🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 05/20/20:

“It’s shameful that Planned Parenthood tried to abuse the Paycheck Protection Program. Workers and small businesses in PA and across the country are counting on this assistance, and the funds should be returned immediately.” tweeted with a link to a Fox News article titled “Planned Parenthood affiliates improperly applied for and received $80 million in coronavirus stimulus funds, feds say” 

🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 05/21/20:

“This was a false choice of saving lives or the economy. PA could’ve done both with an approach like 

@GovRonDesantis.  PA should’ve mirrored FL – protect our most vulnerable citizens & allow others to get back to business. 

Desantis is a thoughtful leader. Wolf is a petty tyrant.”

🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 05/17/20:

“We owe a great debt of gratitude to our emergency medical services professionals for their role in the fight against #COVID19. This #EMSweek, we’re more grateful than ever. THANK YOU!” tweeted with embedded video

🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, @MikeKellyPA, 05/19/20:

“Who do we trust when it comes to our health? Medical professionals or 

@JoyVBehar?  @POTUS @realDonaldTrump and I did what all Americans should do before taking Hydroxychloroquine – we sought the counsel of our trusted doctors. That’s what “anybody with a brain” would do.

🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 05/22/20:

“More than 40k National Guard members have been deployed to help communities across the U.S. struggling to address #COVID19, including right here in #PA17. We have a responsibility to these servicemembers to provide the benefits they have earned & deserve.” tweeted with a link to his official website statement

🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 05/22/20:

“Our environmental protections are under attack – @POTUS continues to weaken regulations related to fuel efficiency, mercury emissions, and reporting requirements for air and water pollution during #COVID19. The Trump Administration’s “pandemic of pollution” is removing critical protections for public health. I will continue to fight back against these alarming, irresponsible rollbacks and push for aggressive legislation to #ActOnClimate!” tweeted with a link to the TribLIVE article titled “Democrats decry ‘pandemic of pollution’ under Trump’s EPA

Casey in the News 

Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk

“Senate Republicans are going to have the entire month of May — they’ve done zero on COVID-19. They’re probably going to go through the entire month of June doing zero on COVID-19.”

“So I guess they don’t think taxpayers should get more help. I guess they believe that workers compensation support shouldn’t continue through January. I guess they believe state and local governments should just go and lay off police officers and cut school funding.”

—from an article on KSN Four States Homepage, titled “Republican and Democrat standoff around next coronavirus relief package

“This is a war against this virus. The soldiers on the battlefield fighting this war have been the frontline workers.”

“We need to pass a heroes fund to make sure that we provide pandemic premium pay for essential workers. We have to do it by way of legislation, to help frontline workers transition to the next part of their lives and also help their families. It is critically important that we do that.”

— from an article in the Philly Metro, titled “Pennsylvanians encouraged to vote by mail at #SaferAtHomePA Virtual Rally

“.05 percent of the population, yet one-third of the deaths are at nursing home and long-term care centers… We need to see specific evidence they are changing policy to give families, residents, and workers in nursing homes and other long-term care settings more information,”

—from an article in WENY News, titled “Senators: Nursing homes need more help in coronavirus fight

“Still to this day, we are trying to help those residents and workers with one hand tied behind our backs because the administration is not releasing data on operations in these facilities. It’s unconscionable.”

—from an article on  Fox 56, titled “Senator Bob Casey holds congressional hearing on impact of COVID-19 on seniors

Lastly, Senator Casey participated in an interview with the Washington Examiner, the responses from which were compiled into a piece titled “Sen. Bob Casey tells Salena Zito about plan to help nursing homes get through crisis.”   Key quotes from that article are included below:

  • “I think the Senate’s got to continue to focus on both the pandemic, as well as the economic devastation that’s unfortunately begun to flow in its wake.

We’ve got to deal with both. And I don’t think we have any choice but to do that. At some point, there’s going to be an engagement about what do you do about the fact that you’re running up debt to meet this crisis? Well, the last time I checked in our society, unless someone can tell me otherwise, the federal government is the only level of government that can run up debt. So no one else can really do this, no other level of government can do it. And there’s no other entity. The private sector can’t do this, they’re having their own problems.

We’re kind of the only show in town for getting dollars and good policy out the door. Some of us have been very — it’s not like we’re bipartisan, but it’s been good.

We’d be in a lot worse shape without the Paycheck Protection Program, without the direct payments to individuals and families, without the additional unemployment compensation, without the public health investments. So we have to keep going, even though it’s difficult because you’re expending a dollar amount over a few months that you normally would spend over three years. And that number could go up. And you’re making policy quickly sometimes, and there will be gaps in the exacts and shortcomings, but we got to keep going because the virus, unfortunately, is in charge.”

  • “I would prefer in the Senate, if we’re going to be in Washington, and we’re working on a COVID-19 related issues, not voting on nominations. Today, for example, we’re working on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. That’s obviously a national security issue that you’ve got to work on. But other than something that serious or that, something facing a deadline that is an important, highly important matter, I don’t think we should be doing nominations of any kind when you’ve got COVID-19 work to be done.

But Mitch McConnell has chosen otherwise. I just think we have to use our time like we have been using it, which is staying engaged with our states, learning from that, and using that information and that sometimes information and inspiration to have a policy in place that deals with the virus and helps those that need help in the economic crisis.”

  • “The impact of isolation can be as bad to your health as smoking a couple packs of cigarettes every day. In other words, isolation can have an adverse physical impact that can be as bad as smoking too many cigarettes. I mean, that’s how bad it can be generally. But just imagine if someone is used to having interaction with their family, and then that’s all shut off.”

There is one bill I should mention, and it’s bipartisan. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and I got on a bill with Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia, and it’s about providing some support for technology in these settings like nursing homes so that the folks can communicate with their loved ones that way. So they’re not completely shut off or isolated.”

Toomey in the News 

Courtesy of contributor Elayne Baker

“Why would you load up the money cannon again, and fire that off, when a majority of the biggest monstrosity we’ve ever even contemplated hasn’t even been deployed yet?”  

— from a 05/20/20 article on NBC News titled “Republican senators still cool to more coronavirus relief spending, but willing to talk about PPP revamp

“Before we rush out and do another spending bill, we should actually let some of this stuff go to work.”  

— from a 05/22/20 Vox article titled “The Senate won’t consider more coronavirus stimulus until early June

“I want to help figure out how we get kids playing sports again safely, especially baseball and softball. As the father of three kids, including a 10-year-old, I have a real personal interest in this.” 

— from a 05/21/20 article on the website of the local Pittsburgh  CBS affiliate titled “Sen. Pat Toomey Talks With Athletes And Health Experts About Safely Resuming

“I think it is time that we begin resuming normal life… The findings and the data lend themselves to the conclusion, that I think anyway, that we can resume youth recreation and we can do it safely, especially if we continue the common-sense practices that we know that reduce the rate of transmission.”  

—— from a 05/21/20 article on the website of the local Philadelphia CBS affiliate titled “Sen. Toomey Would Sign 10-Year-Old Son Up For Baseball ‘Tomorrow’ As Little League Offers Best Practices For Return

“It is clear that aggressive measures should have been taken in Pennsylvania to protect nursing home residents and prevent outbreaks in long-term care facilities, particularly in those the PA Department of Health knew were ill-equipped to control the spread of the virus.” 

— from a 05/21/20 Breitbart article titled “Pennsylvania Republicans Torch ‘Petty Tyrants’ Tom Wolf, Rachel Levine over Nursing Homes

“I think it’s worth remembering why we shut down the economy in the first place. It was a very specific reason, and that was to prevent the virus from spreading so rapidly that so many people would get sick so quickly that we would overwhelm our hospitals. Well, it’s been clear for weeks now that we’re not going to overwhelm our hospitals – certainly not in Pennsylvania – and I know not in most of the country. And so, I think it’s essential that we begin the process of carefully, thoughtfully, and safely reopening the economy.”

“That’s [$6 trillion] like 30 percent of our entire annual economic output, and, in fact, more than half of it has not yet been spent or lent. So, I think you can make a pretty strong case that before we rush out and do another spending bill, we actually let some of this stuff go to work and understand the consequences of what we’ve already done.”

— from a 05/21/20 MyChesCo article titled “Toomey Questions to Powell, Mnuchin Focus on Safely Reopening Economy and Consequences of Massive Spending” 

“It is perfectly OK for the president of the United States to come in and draw attention to the great work that they’re doing.”  

— from a 05/15/20 CBS News article titled “No rallies, but Trump gives White House trips some campaign flair

Senator Toomey participated in an interview with PBS NewsHourI, who published his prolonged response in an article titled “Sen. Toomey on why he doesn’t support more federal aid for states right now.”  Segments from that pages-long response are included below:

  • “The government made it — you know, just forbid economic activity, forbid people from earning a livelihood. There was a very specific and clearly articulated reason for doing that, and the reason was to prevent the spread of the virus from happening so quickly that so many people would get sick all at once that they would overwhelm our hospital capacities… It has been abundantly clear for weeks now that we’re not going to overwhelm our hospitals. We have all kinds of excess capacity in hospitals.
  • “At this point, I really think the best course of action is to proceed with a cautious, prudent reopening that includes the kinds of measures that we all have learned, the CDC guidelines of keeping physical distance and wearing masks and washing hands… I think the risk is much, much lower. We know much more about this. We have much greater capacity to fight any kind of resurgence of the virus. And we need people to be able to get back to having a livelihood.”
  • “But the fact is, 30-year-old factory workers are not vulnerable anything like older folks are. And with the safety precautions that the CDC recommends, they can be kept safe.”
  • “I think, given that we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars to the states, it’s probably time to pause and say, well, what exactly are the other needs, why did they arise, and whether it’s appropriate for that to be dealt with at a state and local level or the federal level, and that’s a subject for a robust debate.”
  • “There’s no free lunch. This doesn’t come at zero cost. If it did, if there were no cost to just distributing money, then we could just send a million-dollar check to every man, woman, and child in the country. And everything would be great… I don’t think anybody thinks that you can actually do that and not have really, really dire consequences. We have pumped out trillions of dollars in matter of weeks. Nothing like this has ever handed before.”
  • “Other states are essentially insolvent. They have been extremely imprudent. And it is going to be difficult to figure out, well, why do the taxpayers of the states that have been more cautious, prudent, why are they supposed to subsidize the other states?  And what’s the formula by which   we do that? I’m not sure anybody’s got an easy answer to that just yet.”

Learning about Legislation – the first Memorial Day

In honor of Memorial Day, MoCTrack would like to share with you this article from History.com, about one of our nation’s first Memorial Day commemorations.  This is an episode in our nation’s history that your MoCTrack editor did not learn about in school…  Please read this article by Dave Roos titledOne of the Earliest Memorial Day Ceremonies Was Held by Freed Slaves.”

Memorial Day was born out of necessity. After the American Civil War, a battered United States was faced with the task of burying and honoring the 600,000 to 800,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who had died in the single bloodiest military conflict in American history. The first national commemoration of Memorial Day was held in Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868, where both Union and Confederate soldiers are buried.

Several towns and cities across America claim to have observed their own earlier versions of Memorial Day or “Decoration Day” as early as 1866. (The earlier name is derived from the fact that decorating graves was and remains a central activity of Memorial Day.) But it wasn’t until a remarkable discovery in a dusty Harvard University archive the late 1990s that historians learned about a Memorial Day commemoration organized by a group of freed black slaves less than a month after the Confederacy surrendered in 1865.

Back in 1996, David Blight, a professor of American History at Yale University, was researching a book on the Civil War when he had one of those once-in-a-career eureka moments. A curator at Harvard’s Houghton Library asked if he wanted to look through two boxes of unsorted material from Union veterans.

“There was a file labeled ‘First Decoration Day,’” remembers Blight, still amazed at his good fortune. “And inside on a piece of cardboard was a narrative handwritten by an old veteran, plus a date referencing an article in The New York Tribune. That narrative told the essence of the story that I ended up telling in my book, of this march on the race track in 1865.”

The race track in question was the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club in Charleston, South Carolina. In the late stages of the Civil War, the Confederate army transformed the formerly posh country club into a makeshift prison for Union captives. More than 260 Union soldiers died from disease and exposure while being held in the race track’s open-air infield. Their bodies were hastily buried in a mass grave behind the grandstands.

When Charleston fell and Confederate troops evacuated the badly damaged city, freed slaves remained. One of the first things those emancipated men and women did was to give the fallen Union prisoners a proper burial. They exhumed the mass grave and reinterred the bodies in a new cemetery with a tall whitewashed fence inscribed with the words: “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

And then on May 1, 1865, something even more extraordinary happened. According to two reports that Blight found in The New York Tribune and The Charleston Courier, a crowd of 10,000 people, mostly freed slaves with some white missionaries, staged a parade around the race track. Three thousand black schoolchildren carried bouquets of flowers and sang “John Brown’s Body.” Members of the famed 54th Massachusetts and other black Union regiments were in attendance and performed double-time marches. Black ministers recited verses from the Bible.

If the news reports are accurate, the 1865 gathering at the Charleston race track would be the earliest Memorial Day commemoration on record. Blight excitedly called the Avery Institute of Afro-American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, looking for more information on the historic event.

“‘I’ve never heard of it,’ they told me,” says Blight. “‘This never happened.’”

But it was clear from the newspaper reports that a Memorial Day observance was organized by freed slaves in Charleston at least a year before other U.S. cities and three years before the first national observance. How had been lost to history for over a century?

“This was a story that had really been suppressed both in the local memory and certainly the national memory,” says Blight. “But nobody who had witnessed it could ever have forgotten it.”

Blight kept digging for more information, but the only other mention he found of the race track event was in a 1916 correspondence sent from a women’s Civil War historical society in New Orleans to its sister chapter in Charleston, asking about a big parade of freed slaves on a horse track at the end of the war.

“I regret that I was unable to gather any official information in answer to this,” wrote the Charleston society’s president.

“That’s such a telling statement,” says Blight. “The woman who wrote that letter may not have known about it, but the fact that she didn’t tells the story.”

Once the war was over and Charleston was rebuilt in the 1880s, the city’s white residents likely had little interest in remembering an event held by former slaves to celebrate the Union dead. “That didn’t fit their version of what the war was all about,” says Blight.

In time, the old horse track and country club were torn down, and thanks to a gift from a wealthy Northern patron, the Union soldiers’ graves were moved from the humble white-fenced graveyard in Charleston to the Beaufort National Cemetery. By the time Blight was rummaging through the Harvard archives in 1996, the story of the first Memorial Day had been entirely forgotten.

Or perhaps not entirely.

After his book Race and Reunion was published in 2001, Blight gave a talk about Memorial Day at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and after it was finished, an older black woman approached him.

“You mean that story is true?” the woman asked Blight. “I grew up in Charleston, and my granddaddy used to tell us this story of a parade at the old race track, and we never knew whether to believe him or not. You mean that’s true?”

For Blight, it’s less important whether the 1865 commemoration of the “Martyrs of the Race Course” is officially recognized as the first Memorial Day.

“It’s the fact that this occurred in Charleston at a cemetery site for the Union dead in a city where the Civil war had begun,” says Blight, “and that it was organized and done by African-American former slaves is what gives it such poignancy.”

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

CC

Elayne Baker 

Gary Garb
Linda Houk

Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo

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


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