This is a 100% volunteer effort brought to you by a handful of progressive Democrats and Independents who share a vision of an informed electorate. We want to offer a big thank you to the Demcast and Pennsylvania Indivisible organizations who host our report and help us share it out to the residents of our Commonwealth!
Indivisible Legislative Scorecard
Once this 117th Congress actually starts voting on legislation we will bring you the PA Indivisible Legislative Scorecard. The Indivisible movement is focused on four key principles – equality, justice, compassion and inclusion. Those values are reflected in legislation related to:
- Ballot access, voting rights, campaign finance and ethics
- Civil rights, equality under the law and addressing systemic inequities
- Reinforcing and strengthening democratic norms, processes, and oversight
- Addressing economic inequality
It will take us a few weeks to get this up and running, since we need to get a few votes under our belt to have a rating that conveys any useful information. Once the scorecard is live, you will find it here on page one of MoCTrack as well as on our new Pennsylvania Indivisible website. As Rachel Maddow so often says, “watch this space.”
Votes of Interest
Most GOP Senators Vote to Dismiss Impeachment
Before any impeachment proceeding can move ahead, the chamber needs to agree upon the rules and schedule of the proceedings. Amidst the official steps taken before that procedural vote on the impeachment rules, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky got up and made a motion that the entire impeachment process for Donald Trump was unconstitutional, because he was no longer in office. What follows are excerpts from the Congressional Record (in order, but pared down a bit):
Acting Sergeant at Arms: “Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye! All persons are commanded to keep silent, on pain of imprisonment, while the House of Representatives is exhibiting to the Senate of the United States the Article of Impeachment against Donald John Trump, former President of the United States.”
Rand Paul (after being recognized by the president pro tempore): “…I make a point of order that this proceeding, which would try a private citizen and not a President, a Vice President, or civil officer, violates the Constitution and is not in order.”
President pro Tempore: “Under the precedents of the Senate regarding constitutional points of order, including those of the Senate while sitting as a Court of Impeachment, the Chair submits the question to the Senate: Is the point of order well taken?”
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “…the theory that the impeachment of a former official is unconstitutional is flat-out wrong by every frame of analysis: constitutional text, historical practice, precedent, and basic common sense. It has been completely debunked by constitutional scholars from all across the political spectrum…
… If the Framers intended impeachment to merely be a vehicle to remove sitting officials from their office, they would not have included that additional provision: disqualification from future office. The Constitution also gives the Senate the “sole power” to try all impeachments.
So what did past Senates decide on this question? In 1876, President Grant’s Secretary of War, William Belknap, literally raced to the White House to tender his resignation before the House was set to vote on his impeachment. Not only did the House move forward with the impeachment, but the Senate convened a trial and voted as a Chamber that Mr. Belknap could be tried “for acts done as Secretary of War, notwithstanding his resignation of said office.”
The language is crystal clear, without any ambiguity. The history and precedent is clear. The Senate has the power to try former officials, and the reasons for that are basic common sense. It makes no sense whatsoever that a President or any official could commit a heinous crime against our country and then defeat Congress’s impeachment powers and avoid disqualification by simply resigning or by waiting to commit that offense until their last few weeks in office…
The Senate will conduct a trial of the former President, and Senators will render judgment on his conduct. Therefore, the point of order is ill-founded and, in any case, premature. If Senators want this issue debated, it can and will be argued during the trial. Therefore, I move to table the point of order, and I ask for the yeas and nays.”
And that is the point where the Senators voted on Rand Paul’s idea that the whole impeachment trial would be unconstitutional. A YES vote means that they oppose Sen. Paul, and want his objection tabled. A NO vote means they agree with Rand Paul.
Vote date: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 Vote Tally: 55-45
Party Breakdown: All the Democrats and Independents voted YES, to table (or dismiss) Senator Rand Paul’s motion that this impeachment trial is unconstitutional. Forty-five Republicans voted with Senator Paul. The five Republicans who voted to continue with the impeachment trial are Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, our own Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, and Mitt Romney of Utah.
- “Early Procedural Test Shows Where Senate GOP May Stand On Convicting Trump,” from NPR
- “Rand Paul calls impeachment ‘dead on arrival’ after most Republicans signal that trial is unconstitutional,” from CNN Politics
- “‘Dead on arrival’: Trump conviction unlikely after GOP votes to nix trial,” from Politico
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted YES.
Trump’s Second Impeachment gets a Procedural Vote
This is the actual vote upon the rules for the coming second Senate impeachment trial for Donald Trump. These are the big points covered in the resolution:
- The trial will begin on Tuesday, February 9, 2021
- House impeachment managers have until February 2nd to file a trial brief
- Donald Trump’s attorneys have until February 8th to file a trial brief
- House impeachment managers have until February 9th to file a rebuttal brief
- Both parties need to address not just the article related to “incitement of insurrection,’ but also “whether Donald John Trump is subject to the jurisdiction of a court of impeachment for acts committed as President of the United States, notwithstanding the expiration of his term in said office,” the topic of Rand Paul’s objection and the vote that preceded this resolution
Vote date: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 Vote Tally: 83-17
Party Breakdown: All the Democrats and Independents voted YES, and 33 Republicans almost consented to these procedures for handling the impeachment. The 17 NO votes were mixed between 2024 presidential hopefuls (like Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Marco Rubio of Florida); the far right of the party; and pro-insurrectionists like Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas.
Editor’s Note – we generally like to provide you with additional reading opportunities, but literally NO MEDIA OUTLET covered this vote on the actual procedural outlines for the coming impeachment trial in the Senate, and instead all concentrated on the Rand Paul disruption.
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted YES.
Biden Cabinet Nominee #3 – Treasury Secretary
Senate Confirmation Vote on Janet Louise Yellen to be Secretary of the Treasury
Janet Yellen previously served as the first female leader of the US Federal Reserve, under both the Obama Administration and then partway into the Trump Administration. She may be the most qualified Treasury Secretary in history, because, as CNN noted, “she will be the first person ever to have led the three most powerful economic bodies in government: Treasury, the central bank, and the White House Council of Economic Advisers.” The deep respect that Yellen commands is evidenced by the amount of GOP support her confirmation vote received.
Here’s how our pair of Pennsylvania Senators responded to the confirmation:
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, from his official website: “I was pleased to have the opportunity to meet virtually with the Treasury Secretary nominee, Janet Yellen. I thanked Chair Yellen for her lifetime of public service and her willingness to once again work on behalf of our Nation and its families during this difficult time. We discussed Chair Yellen’s vision for the Treasury Department in President-elect Biden’s Administration and how she will work to ensure our Nation builds back better. Janet Yellen has the experience and vision to ensure the Treasury Department is at the forefront of the fight for working families. If confirmed, I am confident she will once again serve the Nation with distinction.”
🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, from his official website: “I will vote to confirm Dr. Janet Yellen to serve as the next Secretary of the Treasury. Presidents deserve a degree of deference on assembling their teams, provided their nominees are qualified. While Dr. Yellen and I have numerous and significant differences of opinion on economic policy, I have no doubts regarding her integrity or technical expertise. Like her immediate predecessor Secretary Steven Mnuchin, I hope Dr. Yellen will consistently seek input and feedback from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”
Vote date: Monday, January 25, 2021 Vote Tally: 84-15
Party Breakdown: The Democrats and Independents were a united front of YES votes, and were joined by 34 Republicans. All 15 NO votes came from Republicans, mostly from the far right – new folks like Tommy Tuberville of Alabama; Libertarian-leaning lawmakers like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah; and insurrection pals like Josh Hawley of Missouri and Ted Cruz of Texas.
- “U.S. Senate votes overwhelmingly to confirm Yellen as first female Treasury chief,” from Reuters
- “Janet Yellen is confirmed as the first female Treasury secretary in US history,” from CNN Business
- “Janet Yellen Confirmed By Senate, Making History As First Female Treasury Secretary,” from NPR
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted YES.
Biden Cabinet Nominee #4 – Secretary of State
Senate Confirmation Vote on Antony John Blinken to be Secretary of State
Antony Blinken has worked with President Joe Biden for decades. He brings to his new position leading the State Department his experience as both deputy national security adviser and deputy secretary of State during the Obama administration.
Vote date: Tuesday, January 26, 2021 Vote Tally: 78-22
Party Breakdown: All Democrats and Independents voted YES along with 28 GOP Senators. The 22 NO votes were mostly from the far right side of the Republican caucus, including most of the same people who voted NO on Secretary Yellen.
- “Senate Confirms Antony Blinken As Secretary Of State,” from NPR
- “Blinken confirmed as secretary of State,” from Politico
- “Antony Blinken: Who is America’s new top diplomat?,” from BBC
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted YES.
Editor’s note – this might be the only week in MoCTrack’s history when we have seen Senators Casey and Toomey in full agreement on every vote.
Quotes of Interest
Editor’s note – we’ve changed up the Twitter and traditional media segments to streamline them. For this 117th Congress, we only include those quotes that are important from a policy perspective, indicative of an MoC’s personal philosophy, or that tickle your editor’s sense of humor (or outrage). If your MoC is not present, it means they had little of interest to share this week.
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 01/28/21:
“Nearly 12 years have passed since the last time the federal minimum wage increased. That’s the longest period without an increase since the minimum wage was created. I agree with President Biden ― it’s time to #RaiseTheWage”
🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 01/29/21:
“More than 75% of Americans oppose taxpayer funds going to support abortions in other countries.
@POTUS used to agree, but yesterday he signed an EO authorizing this practice. Today’s @March_for_Life is important – we must continue the fight for the most vulnerable. #LifeUnites”
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 01/25/21:
“I voted for impeachment. I support conviction in the Senate. But let’s be clear, there needs to be a criminal indictment and prosecution of Donald Trump. #ArrestTrump”
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 01/28/21:
“@POTUS Biden has proposed a $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. Both the House and Senate must have a sense of urgency about acting on further Covid relief & economic rescue!”
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 01/29/21:
The truth is, America’s smallest businesses have suffered the most. @RepDerekKilmer and I introduced Restore America’s Main Street Act to keep Main Street going with direct cash payments.
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 01/27/21:
”If the head of the company you work for left after he got caught breaking law on the job and people died, you’d still want that person convicted, right?
Why should it be any different for an ex-president?
He isn’t above the law either.”
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 01/27/21:
“Science and data should be at the core of policymaking. It’s simple: investing in clean energy employs families in our district, and it helps our most vulnerable populations. That’s why I’m cosponsoring bills to address the #ClimateCrisis”
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 01/29/21:
“PA workers are struggling to get through this pandemic and economic crisis. Now more than ever, we must ensure that women get #equalpay. Passing the #PaycheckFairness Act would not just support #PA07 women and families, but our economy too.”
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 01/28/21:
“If individuals can have their hands tied while Big Wall Street traders run wild, how free or fair is the market? We need to find out if #RobinhoodApp’s restrictions on $GME were legal. Hedge funds shouldn’t get special treatment over everyday Americans.”
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 01/29/21:
“Today, we honor the pro-life movement, united in the belief that every life should be valued. In Congress, I have co-sponsored bills to defund Planned Parenthood and prevent taxpayer spending for abortions. I will always fight to protect the sanctity of life and the unborn.”
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 01/28/21:
“On National #SchoolChoice Week we are reminded that there is more work to do to empower parents to choose what is right for their child.”
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 01/28/21:
“The president’s actions in the first week of his administration signal a complete disregard for American workers and the millions of livelihoods supported by our domestic energy sector. I compel him to change course.”
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 01/27/21:
“In a week, President Biden has turned his back on PA workers & families. The Biden Admin’s job-killing agenda placates the radical left at the expense of hardworking Americans. Despite his calls for unity, President Biden’s rhetoric continues to ring hollow for American families.”
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 01/29/21:
“Governor Wolf is once again making it harder for PA businesses to survive by proposing a minimum wage hike of 65%. Entry-level jobs will disappear, making it even more difficult to recover from COVID-19’s toll on our economy.”
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, @MikeKellyPA, 01/26/21:
“It’s not about minimum wage, it’s about maximum opportunity. This bill would lead to fewer entry level jobs and higher prices. Also, many small businesses that have managed to survive Democrat lockdowns would close for good.”
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 01/29/21:
“I‘m an original cosponsor of the Protecting the Right to Organize #PROAct. This will expand protections for workers to exercise their right to unionize and bargain collectively for fair wages and working conditions. #Labor #Unions #FairWages #CollectiveBargaining”
Casey’s Quote(s) of the Week
Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk
On passing the next COVID Relief Bill
“There’s a strong consensus to make it a big legislative proposal. [Reconciliation is the] best way to get this done in a robust way… If negotiations drag out, it keeps getting smaller — that’s a problem.”
—from an article in Politico, titled “‘Betrayed’: Republicans urge Biden to change course on stimulus”
On Ending the Filibuster
“I’m certainly open to that in ways that I would not have said I was two years ago. The Senate doesn’t function like it used to and I think as much as I’d like to think that we can go back to those days when consensus and bipartisanship was the rule rather than the exception, now it’s the opposite.”
One way to make the Senate function better and to get big things done that the American people have been asking for years is to take a look at a rule change.”
—from an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “Bob Casey says he’s open to killing the filibuster and advancing Biden’s agenda without GOP support”
Toomey’s Quote(s) of the Week
Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk
On the use of Reconciliation to pass legislation
Democrats passing a relief plan through reconciliation would make it “clear that they’re done” with bipartisanship.
—from an article in Forbes, titled “Republicans Warn Sidestepping Them On Stimulus Would Shatter Bipartisanship Hopes”
On free trade and the Gamestop Bubble
“Retail investors should be free to purchase even highly-speculative stocks, just as hedge funds should be free to short them.”
—from an article in the Hill, titled “Lawmakers rip Robinhood’s decision on GameStop”
Fitzpatrick in the News
Research courtesy of CC
“We can no longer allow this issue to be kicked down the road as it has for so long… the entities that profited off of this ought to pay for the cost of the cleanup.”
— from a 01/29/21 article in Michigan Live titled “Pentagon needs ‘culture change’ on pollution, say PFAS caucus members”
“Our federal firefighters and federal law enforcement officers, especially those injured on the job, should not be penalized and deprived of the retirement security they have earned. Our federal first responders deserve our full support for their public service, and I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation… to make sure that we have the backs of these everyday heroes.”
— from a 01/29/21 article in Government Executive titled “New Bill Would Protect Early Retirement Benefits for Injured Federal First Responders”
“One of the things that I saw every single day was the nexus between animal cruelty and a lot of other federal violations.”
— from a 01/29/21 article in the Topeka, Kansas NBC News affiliate titled “Effort to make animal abuse a federal crime getting bipartisan support”
“Investing in energy-efficient infrastructure is an excellent way to continue boosting American energy independence and local economies across the country. This reauthorization of the EECBG program will provide incentives and opportunities for state and local governments to promote energy efficiency and reduce fossil fuel emissions. Through this reauthorization, we can also assist local governments and communities in diversifying our energy supplies by promoting the use of cleaner alternative fuels.”
— from a 01/27/21 article in Daily Energy Insider titled “U.S. Reps. Fitzpatrick, Stanton and Veasey seek reauthorization for state and local energy efficiency project grants”
“Last year, Congress spent months on partisan bickering while the American people suffered. Those months of inaction were completely unacceptable and that cannot be the case this year. The only way forward is a bipartisan relief package that delivers results for our constituents.”
— from a 01/26/21 article in Inside Sources titled “From PA and NH, a Tale of Two Congressmen”
“Our bipartisan legislation will require the NLRB to allow workers to vote electronically. We must continue to work together to protect the rights, health and safety of American workers. Over the last year we have seen COVID-19 impact our world in countless ways, most noticeably changing the daily lives of workers all across the country. I am proud to once again introduce this legislation to protect the right to organize with my good friend Congressman Levin, and to continue the progress that was made last Congress.”
— from a 01/22/21 blog post on the Ripon Advance titled “Fitzpatrick’s bipartisan bill aims to implement labor elections reforms”
“Homegrown, violent domestic terrorism from white supremacists, and other racially and ethnically motivated violent extremists, remains a serious ongoing threat that demands the full coordination and efforts of our federal law enforcement agencies. We must provide the necessary tools for our law enforcement to investigate, prevent and prosecute these heinous, violent crimes.”
— this shocking about-face from Fitzpatrick’s continual targeting of Antifa comes courtesy of a 01/21/21 blog post on the Ripon Advance, titled “Fitzpatrick, Bacon, Upton propose bipartisan Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act”
This Fitzpatrick quote you won’t see this week? His commentary on the awful antisemitism (and violent threats) from GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Because Fitzpatrick has remained stubbornly silent on the issue. This comes after his demand that Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar be stripped of her committee assignments in 2019 for her vaguely anitsemitic comments. We smell some serious hypocrisy, Brian.
Committee Corner – Different Types of Committees
This week we got a much better look at what the House Committee membership will look like for the 117th Congress. But before we get to actual committee assignments, let’s take a look at the Committee structure in Congress. There are four types of Committees in Congress (excerpted from www.ushistory.org):
1. SELECT COMMITTEES are temporarily formed for specific purposes, often to study a particular issue. They usually do not draft legislation. Some, like the select committees to investigate the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, are obviously intended to have limited lives. Others, like the Select Committee on Aging and the Select Committee on Indian Affairs, have existed for a number of years and hold hearings, but do not produce legislation. Sometimes long-standing select committees eventually become standing committees.
2. JOINT COMMITTEES have similar purposes as select committees, but they are made up of members from both the House and the Senate. They are set up to conduct business between the houses and to help focus public attention on major issues. Some joint committees handle routine matters, such as supervising the Library of Congress.
3. CONFERENCE COMMITTEES are specially created when the House and the Senate need to reconcile different versions of the same bill. A conference committee is made up of members from the House and Senate committees that originally considered the bill. Once the committee agrees on a compromise, the revised bill is returned to both houses of Congress for their approval. These are typically short-lived bodies of lawmakers, created and dissolved within a single Congress, usually for a single purpose.
4. STANDING COMMITTEES, which continue from one Congress to the next, are probably the most important type because they consider and shape the vast majority of proposed laws. Standing committees can be combined or discontinued but most of them have been around for many years. Standing committees also conduct investigations, such as the Senate Banking Committee’s investigation of President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater investments.
Standing Committees are what people generally think of when we speak of committee assignments. What follows is a rundown of the current standing committees in each house:
HOUSE COMMITTEES SENATE COMMITTEES
Agriculture Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Armed Services Armed Services
Banking and Financial Service Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Education and Labor Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Energy and Commerce Energy and Natural Resources
Financial Services Environment and Public Works
Foreign Affairs Finance
Homeland Security Foreign Relations
House Administration Governmental Affairs
International Relations Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Judiciary Indian Affairs
Natural Resources Judiciary
Oversight and Reform Rules and Administration
Rules Small Business
Science , Space and Technology Veterans Affairs
Transportation and Infrastructure
Ways and Means
Committee assignments do a lot to shape an MoC’s tenure in Congress. The bills that our MoCs submit often relate to the committees on which they are placed. They spend a great deal of time in their committees and the hearings that they participate in revolve around those topics.
Perhaps the most important feature in this political environment, committee placement does a lot to dictate the type of donors that an MoC receives and the businesses that lobby them. As you might imagine, defense contractors spend a lot more time trying to cultivate relationships with the members of the Armed Services Committee than they do those MoCs on the Rules Committee; and big banks are significantly more interested in MoCs on the Senate Finance Committee than they are those on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. And some committees that have the strongest ties to budgets and purse strings (like Ways and Means, Appropriations, and Budget) are the most coveted assignment, because every lobbyist wants to be in the good graces of the MoCs who write the checks.
Pennsylvania MoC Committee Assignments (so far)
Thus far in this 117th Congress, the House has passed a handful of resolutions that indicate committee assignments. Last week we reported on H.Res. 35 and H.Res.36, which established the membership of the Rule Committee for both the majority and minority parties, respectively. We also learned about 🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson and his assignment as the Ranking Members (or senior-most member of the minority party) of the House Agriculture Committee, via H.Res.10. This week saw the passage of H.Res.62 and H.Res.63 – all of the remaining Committee assignments listed below come from those resolutions.
🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick – Foreign Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle – Budget, Ways and Means
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans – Small Business, Ways and Means
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean – Financial Services, Judiciary
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon – House Administration, Judiciary, Rules
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan – Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, Small Business
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild – Education and Labor, Ethics, Foreign Affairs
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright – Appropriations
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser – Foreign Affairs, Small Business
🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry – Foreign Affairs, Transportation and Infrastructure
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker – Ways and Means
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller – Education and Labor, Oversight and Reform
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce – Energy and Commerce
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler – Appropriations, Rules
🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson – Agriculture, Education and Labor
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly – Ways and Means
🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb – Science, Space and Technology, Transportation and Infrastructure, Veterans Affairs
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle – Energy and Commerce,
There are likely still more assignments to come. It is unusual for lawmakers to have only one assignment, so we expect to see more information on Reps. Cartwright, Smucker, Joyce, Kelly and Doyle in the coming week or two.
As for the Senate, we are still waiting for the official information on committee assignments, though some of the assignments are assumed right now. MoCTrack contributor Linda Houk recommends an article in the Allentown Morning Call titled “Flip in control of U.S. Senate may give Pat Toomey, Bob Casey more clout, but in different ways.” In addition to providing insight on how our Pennsylvania Senators’ positions have shifted in this new 117th Congress in terms of the party power dynamic, it also notes that 🔵 Sen. Bob Casey is likely to continue to be seated on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions; and Finance Committees, and he will assume the Chair position on the Select Committee on Aging. Meanwhile, the committee assignments for 🔴 Sen. Pat Toomey are not mentioned in the article – but it is widely assumed he will at least continue to hold a position on the Banking Committee. More info will be provided on this topic as soon as it is available.
Biden’s Legislative Agenda – The Biden COVID-19 Plan
The Biden-Harris Administration has said on multiple occasions that dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is their priority, and they have issued several Executive Orders in the days since inauguration to deal with pandemic-related issues that can be managed by the executive branch alone. But the real solutions come when the Congress passes thea new Covid Relief package, and the Biden Administration has made clear what they want to see in such a bill.
A disclaimer – all of this is currently being negotiated by the president, his team and many lawmakers. So while the overall shape of the bill is likely to be reflected in the items outlined below, the size of the package may change in the coming weeks. Here is what we know now about what the Administration wants to do, from the White House seven point plan:
- Ensure all Americans have access to regular, reliable, and free testing.
- Fix personal protective equipment (PPE) problems for good.
- Provide clear, consistent, evidence-based guidance for how communities should navigate the pandemic – and the resources for schools, small businesses, and families to make it through.
- Plan for the effective, equitable distribution of treatments and vaccines — because development isn’t enough if they aren’t effectively distributed.
- Protect older Americans and others at high risk.
- Rebuild and expand defenses to predict, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats, including those coming from China.
- Implement mask mandates nationwide by working with governors and mayors and by asking the American people to do what they do best: step up in a time of crisis.
The White House has communicated to Congress that these goals can be best effectuated by a single, large bill – they are not interested in breaking it up into bits. This shows they learned their lesson from how the 116th Congress handled things, and how the GOP cooperated on the passage of small business relief as a separate item, and then sat on their hands and refused to give the HEROES Act a Senate vote.
The tally for the suggested bill is $1.9 trillion, and opinion polls show that nearly 75% of Americans are in favor of this level of relief. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi gave reporters a timeframe for completion of the draft package in a press conference this week, noting “By the end of (next) week, we’ll be finished with the budget resolution.” When full details of that package are released, we will provide them here.
- “The Biden-Harris plan to beat COVID-19,” from WhiteHouse.gov
- “White House Engages Progressives on Aid Bill: Stimulus Update,” from Bloomberg
- “Democrats vow to push ahead on Biden’s coronavirus aid plan next week,” from Reuters
- “16 senators from both parties meet with White House on COVID-19 relief plan,” from CBS News
- “White House Not Planning to Split $1.9 Trillion Covid Relief Package in Two,” from The Wall Street Journal
Call to Action – Thank BOLD Bob Casey
We spend a lot of time here in MoCTrack talking about Senator Toomey. It’s time to make some calls to Bob Casey… but be nice, because he’s doing GREAT!
A big part of the NEW Indivisible Guide (have you read it yet? why not?!) focuses on the actions that our nation needs to take if we want to see big, bold structural change to ensure that our legislative priorities are passed. And the biggest roadblock to this is the filibuster.
Here’s what the Indivisible Guide says about the filibuster:
Make no mistake, Mitch McConnell will do everything in his power, and use every procedural tool available to him, to block as much of the Biden agenda as possible. That means that even with a trifecta, Democrats will be unable to pass democracy reforms unless they disarm McConnell by taking away his veto in the Senate—the legislative filibuster.
The filibuster is an arcane—but not sacred—Senate rule that allows the minority party to block legislation by requiring 60 votes instead of a simple majority. If it remains, Mitch McConnell will be able to use it to block Democrats from passing democracy reforms, or any of the other things on their agenda for that matter. If there’s any doubt about Mitch McConnell’s intentions, this is how he said he’d deal with Democratic bills in 2021: “They won’t even be voted on. So think of me as the Grim Reaper: the guy who is going to make sure that socialism doesn’t land on the president’s desk.”
Democrats can get rid of the filibuster with a simple majority vote. There is no better alternative to eliminating the filibuster, and we’re not the only ones who think so. Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who witnessed firsthand how Republicans abused the filibuster, has called for its elimination. Our progressive champions in the Senate, like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have also argued for the end of the filibuster. Recently, even former president Barack Obama spoke out about the damage the filibuster has done to our country, calling the rule a “Jim Crow relic” whose time had come.
We know that more moderate Democratic Senators, whose votes would be required to reach that majority threshold, have said they oppose eliminating the filibuster. But we’re not giving up; the very survival of our democracy is at stake! So every time Mitch McConnell uses the filibuster to block something good, it’ll be another chance for us to make the case against the filibuster until we’ve built up enough momentum to eliminate it.
And that brings us to Senator Bob Casey. As recently as 2017 Bob Casey made clear that he was against ending the filibuster. But all that changed this week in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, when Casey told reporter Jonathan Tamari that while he would prefer to build legislation with “strong bipartisan support,” he was not willing to sacrifice the goals of the Biden Administration to that end. When asked directly about killing the filibuster, he replied “I’m certainly open to that in ways that I would not have said I was two years ago. The Senate doesn’t function like it used to and I think as much as I’d like to think that we can go back to those days when consensus and bipartisanship was the rule rather than the exception, now it’s the opposite.”
A BOLD Bob Casey is the BEST Bob Casey. And if we want him to keep this up, we need to let him know how much we appreciate his stance on this issue!
CALL Bob: FAX Bob:
Washington DC – (866) 802-2833 (202) 228-0604
Allentown – (610) 782-9470 (610) 782-9470
Bellefonte – (814) 357-0314 (814) 357-0318
Erie – (814) 874-5080 (814) 874-5084
Harrisburg – (866) 461-9159 (717) 231-7542
Philadelphia – (215) 405-9660 (215) 405-9669
Pittsburgh – (412) 803-7370 (412) 803-7379
Scranton – (570) 941-0930 (570) 941-0937
Use Bob’s website contact form to email him: https://www.casey.senate.gov/contact
Or Tweet at Bob, using #BeBoldBob:
Official Twitter account – @SenBobCasey Political/campaign Twitter Account – @Bob_Casey
If we want to have any chance at fixing our democracy, we need to end the filibuster. Thank Bob Casey for his shift in position on this issue, and make it clear to him that WE LOVE BOLD BOB!
This report is brought to you by the Pennsylvania MoCTrack team…
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Gary Garb Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo We like to use the start of a new Congress to try out new things and change the report around a bit. For this 117th Congress we are aiming for a tighter, shorter but more info-packed report. If you like the changes or miss an old section, do let us know! Please email KierstynPZ@gmail.com and put “MoCTrack Comments” in the subject. Thanks!
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