This is a 100% volunteer effort brought to you by a handful of progressive Democrats and Independents who share the goal of improving reporting on legislation. Thank you to the Demcast and Pennsylvania Indivisible organizations who host our report and help us share it with Commonwealth residents!
The Indivisible movement is focused on four key principles – equality, justice, compassion and inclusion. Accordingly, we score legislation that reflects those values:
- 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
This week we scored votes on the COVID Hate crimes bill, NO BAN Act, the Access to Counsel Act, the DC Statehood bill as well as the GOP move to censure Rep. Waters.
|Lawmaker||Score||Change from last score|
|🔵 Senator Bob Casey||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 Senator Pat Toomey||55.6%||+12.8%|
|🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick||47.2%||-6.4%|
|🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker||8.30%||-2.4%|
|🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson||8.30%||-2.4%|
|🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle||100.0%||0.0%|
Votes of Interest
The House Passes DC Statehood
The following is an excerpt from the floor speech of Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the non-voting representative for the District of Columbia. She made this speech before the vote on this bill:
Congress has both the moral obligation and the constitutional authority to pass H.R. 51. This country was founded on the principles of no taxation without representation and consent of the governed, but D.C. residents are taxed without representation and cannot consent to the laws under which they, as American citizens, must live.
The State of Washington, D.C. would consist of 66 of the 68 square miles of the present-day federal district. The federal district would be two square miles and Congress would retain plenary authority over it.
H.R. 51 complies with the Constitution, including the Admissions Clause, the District Clause and the 23rd Amendment.
The Admissions Clause gives Congress the authority to admit new states. All 37 new states were admitted by Congress. No state was admitted by constitutional amendment, and no state would have to consent to the admission of the State of Washington, D.C.
The District Clause gives Congress plenary authority over the federal district and establishes a maximum size of the federal district—100 square miles. It does not establish a minimum size or a location of the federal district. Congress reduced the size of the federal district by 30 percent in 1846.
The 23rd Amendment allows the federal district to participate in the Electoral College. H.R. 51 repeals the enabling act for the 23rd Amendment and the 23rd Amendment would be repealed quickly. In any event, the 23rd Amendment does not establish a minimum size or a location of the federal district.
The Constitution does not establish any prerequisites for new states, but Congress generally has considered three: population and resources, support for statehood and commitment to democracy. The State of Washington, D.C. would meet each.
D.C.’s population of 712,000 is larger than two states. D.C. pays more federal taxes per capita than any state and pays more federal taxes than 21 states. D.C.’s gross domestic product is larger than 17 states. In 2016, 86 percent of D.C. residents voted for statehood. D.C. residents have been petitioning for voting representation in Congress and local autonomy for 220 years.
Congress has a choice. It can continue to exclude D.C. residents from the democratic process, forcing them to watch from the sidelines as Congress votes on federal and D.C. laws, and to treat them, in the words of Frederick Douglass, as “aliens, not citizens, but subjects.” Or it can live up to our nation’s founding principles, join the 54 percent of Americans—and growing—who support D.C. statehood and pass H.R. 51.
And our own Senator Bob Casey also made the case for DC Statehood in a tweet from this Thursday.
Like so many other bills this Congress, the fate of DC Statehood is closely tied to the fate of the filibuster. As long as the filibuster remains unchanged, there is no hope of this measure being enacted into law.
Vote date: Thursday, April 22, 2021 Vote Tally: 216-208
Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote. All Republicans voted NO; all Democrats voted YES.
- “The fight for DC statehood gets its best chance yet,” from VOX
- “House approves bill that would admit Washington, D.C., as 51st state,” from CBS News
- “House passes DC statehood bill that faces long odds in the Senate,” from CNBC
The Senate (minus one GOP senator) agrees on a COVID-19 Hate Crime bill
Hate crimes targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community have skyrocketed since the former president took to scapegoating China for the COVID pandemic. This legislation was created to enable the Justice Department to expedite the review of such crimes and help local law enforcement departments in their response to hate crimes.
This new bill will also provide funding for a AAPI hate crimes hotline, and it improves systems for tracking hate crimes in general. Nearly the entire Senate voted in support of this legislation.
Vote date: Thursday, April 22, 2021 Vote Tally: 94-1
Party Breakdown: The only senator to vote NO was Missouri’s own insurrectionist-friendly junior senator, Josh Hawley. Two GOP senators who did not vote on this are from the Libertarian wing of the party (Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Utah’s Mike Lee), while the two Democrats to miss the vote were Minnesota’s pair of senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, who were at the funeral for the recently-passed Walter Mondale.
- “In Rare Moment Of Bipartisan Unity, Senate Approves Asian American Hate Crimes Bill,” from NPR
- “Senate passes bill to counter hate crimes against Asian Americans,” from the Los Angeles Times
- “Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill,” from the Voice of America
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted YES.
The House attempts to limit the President’s Immigration-related Authority
The disputes related to immigration are one of the most difficult cases of an intra-branch conflict under our constitution. All three branches have had a role in defining the nature of the problem. The Legislative branch creates laws related to immigration, but the Executive branch enforces those laws. In the absence of clear prohibitions, the Judicial branch has ruled that the Executive has wide latitude in how it enforces immigration laws. So even as the Supreme Court has dismissed a number of Trump-era immigration lawsuits when President Biden made clear he has no desire to support the Trump Administration’s legal positions, it still leaves us in a situation where the Legislative branch can do more to ensure that no religion, ethnic group or country faces an outright immigration ban for expressed xenophobic sentiments on behalf of a future president.
The NO BAN (National Origin-Based Antidiscrimination for Nonimmigrants) Act was introduced by Rep, Judy Chu (D-CA). Her bill not only codifies the prohibition on religious discrimination in immigration rules, but also would limit the ability of a future president to issue an executive order to enforce such travel restrictions. Rep Chu made the following statement when she introduced the bill:
The Muslim Ban was a hateful stain on our nation. Inspired only by bigotry and not any genuine national security concerns, the ban served only to separate families while stoking bigotry, xenophobia, and Islamophobia. That is why I was so grateful when President Joe Biden took action on his first day in office to rescind all versions of this ban. However, we cannot risk letting prejudice become policy again. That is why I am once again introducing the NO BAN Act to update our laws. By requiring actual evidence of a threat before there can be any such broad based bans like this, the NO BAN Act ensures that future presidents will not be able to ban people solely because of their religion. I’m proud that this bill was passed by the House last Congress and, with the help and leadership of Senator Chris Coons, I hope to see it passed again and brought to the President’s desk soon.
This is a bill, that like so many passed by the House before it, has little chance of being enacted into law as long as the filibuster exists in its current form.
Vote date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Vote Tally: 218-208
Party Breakdown: This was nearly a party line vote. All Democrats voted YES, along with 🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. All other Republicans voted NO.
- “US House passes bill to prevent another ‘Muslim ban’,” from Al Jazeera
- “US House passes ‘No Ban Act’ seeking to prohibit religious-based immigration orders,” from The Middle East Eye
- “House Votes to Restrict Future Travel Bans, Moving to Undo Trump’s Legacy,” from The New York Times
The House requires legal counsel for those undergoing immigration proceedings
This bill was not heavily covered by the media (as is evidenced by the paltry offering under “additional reading”) but if it passes the Senate, this bill could be one of the more consequential, long term actions of this 117th Congress. During the Trump Administration, we all read news reports of the problems of immigration detainees getting representation to assist them in their hearings, and outrages like toddlers literally being put on trial, unrepresented. This bill would mandate access to representation for immigrants and asylum seekers in our immigration courts.
Rep. Preamila Jayapal, leader of the Progression Caucus in Congress, explains further:
The urgent need for my Access to Counsel Act was on full display during four cruel years of a xenophobic Trump Administration carelessly stripping basic civil rights and civil liberties away from individuals solely because of the color of their skin, their religion, the language they speak, or their country of origin. I am proud that the House passed my legislation today as we continue the work necessary to ensure that Trump’s policies of maximum harm are never again inflicted on immigrants, reverse the damage done, and build a humane immigration system.
Her press release on the legislation goes on to explain the events that triggered the creation of the bill, citing the chaos of the Muslim ban of 2017 (which also triggered the passage of the previous bill, the NO BAN Act). “People from seven Muslim-majority countries were detained for hours without food or water before being deported. Some individuals were pressured to sign papers giving up their legal status. In many cases, these individuals had no opportunity to see an attorney or even call anyone for legal guidance.” This bill, if passed by the Senate, would ensure that no person fleeing their homes to come to our nation, would ever be expelled without access to legal representation.
Vote date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Vote Tally: 218-208
Party Breakdown: This was a party line vote. All Democrats voted YES and all Republicans voted NO.
- “Amnesty International USA Urges a YES for on H.R. 1573, the Access to Counsel Act,” from Amnesty International
- “Jayapal’s Access to Counsel Act Passes House of Representatives,” from the website of Rep. Pramila Jayapal
House Democrats squash GOP effort to Censure Rep. Maxine Waters
Always on the lookout for a sham controversy to distract from actual problems, this week the GOP lit upon a statement of Rep. Maxine Waters to pull attention away from the trial of Derek Chauvin and any discussion of police reform. Waters said that activists in Minnesota should “get more confrontational” if the jury came back with an acquittal for the man who all of America watched murder George Floyd.
The hastily-crafted censure motion offered by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy cited statements made by Judge Peter Cahill (who presided over the Chauvin trial), like “I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.”
This vote is a motion to table, meaning that the people voting YES want the resolution to be discarded, while those voting NO want to move ahead with a vote on the merits of the resolution. As expected, all Republicans present voted No (to move ahead with the censure) while all Democrats present voted YES (to table or dismiss the resolution).
This whole fracas was an elaborate “look away from the man behind the curtain” ploy by the Republicans so they didn’t have to talk about the actual need for police reform legislation..
Vote date: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 Vote Tally: 216-210
Party Breakdown: This was a party line vote. All Democrats voted YES and all Republicans voted NO.
- “Democrats Block McCarthy Resolution To Censure Maxine Waters Over Protest Comments,” from NPR
- “Democrats block resolution censuring Maxine Waters for Chauvin trial comments,” from CNN Politics
- “House Democrats Defeat G.O.P. Attempt to Censure Maxine Waters,” from The New York Times
Bureaucratic Confirmation #1 – Justice Department
Senate Confirmation Vote for Vanita Gupta to be Associate Attorney General
Your MoCTrack editor was particularly upset when the GOP stalled the nomination of Vinita Gupta, as in past years MoCTrack has relied heavily on her assessments of Trump’s judicial nominees and quotes from her press releases that date to her time as the president and chief executive officer of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of hundreds of progressive civil rights organizations. So it is with great pleasure that we bring news of her confirmation to the number three spot at the Justice Department, where she will oversee the Civil Division, the Environment and Natural Resources Division, the Tax Division, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Violence Against Women. Gupta is the first woman of color and the first civil rights attorney to take on this role.
Vinita Gupta’s resume includes work at the ACLU’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, where some of her notable cases involved assisting victims of police misconduct and immigration detainee conditions. She eventually moved her way up in the ACLE to become the director of its Center for Justice. Under President Obama, Gupta was appointed the United States Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. And it was after the Obama Administration that she moved to head up the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.
While a close vote, the confirmation did not need the tie-break of Vice President Harris because Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska joined with the Democrats to support the nomination. CNN Politics provided this reporting on the GOP’s senator’s position:
Murkowski explained her support for Gupta on the Senate floor, saying she was troubled by some of Gupta’s statements [about Trump and his judicial nominees] but decided to back her confirmation following a lengthy conversation with the nominee.
“I asked her point blank, ‘Why do you want this? Is this worth it?’ Because this has clearly been very hard on her as a nominee,” Murkowski said. “And she paused and reflected a moment, and just spoke to how she feels called to serve in a very personal way that I thought was impactful.”
“I am going to give the benefit of the doubt to a woman who I believe has demonstrated throughout her professional career to be deeply, deeply committed to matters of justice,” Murkowski said.
Vote date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Vote Tally: 51-49
Party Breakdown: This was nearly a party line vote. All Democrats and Independents voted YES along with a single GOP Senator – Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All other Republicans voted NO.
- “Biden’s associate attorney general nominee Vanita Gupta confirmed after GOP senator breaks ranks,” from CNN Politics
- “Senate confirms Vanita Gupta for Justice Dept. No. 3 despite broad GOP opposition,” from NBC News
- “Senate confirms Gupta nomination in tight vote,” from The Hill
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted NO.
Bureaucratic Confirmation #2 – Justice Department
Senate Confirmation Vote on Lisa O. Monaco to be Deputy Attorney General
The second in command at the Justice Department oversees the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Marshals Service, the Bureau of Prisons and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – in general, all of the federal criminal investigations across the nation. The newly confirmed Lisa Monaco is well-equipped to handle her new role.
Monaco got her DC start as a staffer on the Senate Judiciary Committee in the 1990s, before she went to law school. After getting her degree, she went on to work as a federal prosecutor, making her way up the ranks and being assigned to high profile cases, like the Enron prosecution. During the Obama administration, Monaco served as the head of the Justice Department’s national security division before moving directly onto the president’s team as his Homeland Security Advisor.
Vote date: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 Vote Tally: 98-2
Party Breakdown: The only two NO votes both came from republicans – Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas.
- “Lisa Monaco Confirmed as Deputy Attorney General,” from The Crime Report
- “Senate confirms Lisa Monaco as deputy attorney general,” from Compliance Week (paywall)
- “DOJ Insider Monaco Confirmed As Top Deputy,” from Law 360 (paywall)
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted YES.
Bureaucratic Confirmation #3 – Securities and Exchange Commission
Senate Confirmation Vote on Gary Gensler to be a Member of the Securities and Exchange Commission for a term expiring June 5, 2026
This is not a repeat from last week… or, not exactly a repeat. Last week Gary Gensler was confirmed to a seat on the Securities and Exchange Commission to fill a position that had a term expiration in June 2021. This week, the Senate extended his appointment to the SEC to a position that does not expire until 2026. The vote was nearly the same, except this time Mr. Gensler received one more Republican vote than he managed last week, from Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota.
Vote date: Tuesday, April 20, 2021 Vote Tally: 54-45
Party Breakdown: All of the Democrats and Independents voted YES along with four Republicans – Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike Rounds of South Dakota and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming.
- “Senate confirms SEC chief Gensler to full five-year term,” from The Hill
- “US Senate votes to confirm Gary Gensler as SEC chair,” from Coin Telegraph
- “Know Your Regulator: MIT Professor, Cryptocurrency Lecturer Gary Gensler Sworn In As SEC Chairman,” from Above the Law
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted NO.
Another Senate Motion to Discharge a Stalled Confirmation
Senate Vote on the Motion to Discharge Colin Hackett Kahl to be Under Secretary of Defense for Policy
Last week in our explainer segment, MoCTrack discussed how rare it was to have a full senate vote on a motion to discharge to get a stalled nomination out of committee. But this 50-50 Senate is not a normal place, and we once again saw a full vote on a motion to discharge, this time requiring Vice President Kamala Harris to break a tie. Why? Because GOP members of the Senate Armed Services Committee have bruised feelings over some sharp tweets from the nominee.
At issue are some Trump era tweets where nominee Colin Kahl made some observations like the “Republican party has debased itself at the altar of Trump” and that in their policy towards Syria the GOP was the party of “ethnic cleansing.” Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) had concerns about this and noted, “Republicans on the committee did not vote against Dr. Kahl simply because we disagreed with his policy views. Good and kind people can disagree with each other — they don’t have to resort to name calling, ad hominem attacks and accusations of war crimes.” In response to that, Senator. Maizie Hirono (D-HI) made the obvious retort – “That kind of criticism, regarding tweets, from folks who didn’t say anything about the lying, racist tweets from the former president, I think, is pretty rich.”
With this vote, though, the nomination has moved out of the committee, and will head to a full Senate confirmation soon. When that happens, MoCTrack will bring you more info about the nominee himself, and less about the tender egos of GOP senators.
Vote date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Vote Tally: 51-50
Party Breakdown: This was a party line vote that required the vote of Vice President Kamala Harris as a tiebreaker.
- “DoD nominee Colin Kahl advances in Senate as vice president casts tie-breaking vote,” from Defense News
- “Harris casts first tie-breaking vote for a Biden nominee after Senate splits on Pentagon pick,” from CNN News
- “Harris casts tiebreaking vote to advance Biden nominee,” from The Hill
Senator Casey voted YES and Senator Toomey voted NO.
Votes under Suspension of the Rules
Some bills are so uncontroversial that the leadership of both parties coordinate to bring the bills up under a suspension of the rules – that means that debate and amendments are limited, but the bill needs a ⅔ supermajority to pass. This trio was brought up under a suspension of the rules this week.
This bill creates protections for banks and other financial institutions (like credit card companies) and service providers that provide financial services to cannabis-related legitimate businesses.
Vote date: Monday, April 19, 2021 Vote Tally: 321-101
Pennsylvania breakdown: Our delegation voted 17-1, with 🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce placing the only NO vote.
🗳️ House Vote on H.Res. 130: Condemning the continued violation of rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong by the People’s Republic of China and the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
The name of the resolution says all that needs to be said about this resolution.
Vote date: Monday, April 19, 2021 Vote Tally: 418-1
Pennsylvania breakdown: Our MoCs were unanimous in support of this resolution.
According to the Library of Congress recap, this bill “imposes limits on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and requires various reports and actions related to the death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi.”
Vote date: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Vote Tally: 350-71
Pennsylvania breakdown: Our delegation voted 17-1, with 🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler placing the only NO vote.
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.
- H.R.241 – Tropical Forest and Coral Reef Conservation Reauthorization Act
- H.R.473 – Trusted Traveler Reconsideration and Restoration Act
- H.R.1083 – Southeast Asia Strategy Act
- H.R.367 – Homeland Security Acquisition Professional Career Program Act
- H.R.370 – Quadrennial Homeland Security Review Technical Corrections Act
- H.R.396 – Transit Security Grant Program Flexibility Act
- H.R.397 – CBRN Intelligence and Information Sharing Act
- H.R.408 – Department of Homeland Security Mentor-Protege Program Act
- H.R.490 – DHS MORALE (Department of Homeland Security Morale, Recognition, Learning and Engagement) Act
- H.R.965 – YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative) Act
- H.R.1251 – Cyber Diplomacy Act
- H.R.1395 – Housing Financial Literacy Act
- H.R.1491 – Fair Debt Collection Practices for Servicemembers Act
- H.R.1528 – Promoting Transparent Standards for Corporate Insiders Act
- H.R.1532 – Improving FHA Support for Small-Dollar Mortgages Act
- H.R.1565 – Senior Security Act
- H.R.1602 – Eliminate Barriers to Innovation Act
- H.R.2523 – Training in High-demand Roles to Improve Veteran Employment Act
- H.Res.124 – Supporting the people of Belarus and their democratic aspirations and condemning the election rigging and subsequent violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters by the illegitimate Lukashenka regime
- H.R.2630 – Extending Temporary Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act
- S.957 – DUMP Opioids Act
- S.Res.179 – A resolution to make temporary appointments to the Select Committee on Ethics
Quotes of Interest
Our Lawmakers discuss the Chauvin GUILTY verdict
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, via his official website, 04/20/21:
“This verdict is about accountability, but it is not justice. While Derek Chauvin will be held accountable for the murder of George Floyd, it’s not enough. Countless others have died at hands of police because of a broken system that must be reformed. My thoughts are with George Floyd’s family today. True justice will come when Congress passes the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and other measures to begin to right the wrongs created by systemic racism and injustice.”
🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, via his official website, 04/20/21:
“Today, Derek Chauvin was convicted by a jury of his peers of the murder of George Floyd. My sympathies remain with the Floyd family. While nothing can cure the hurt the Floyd family lives with every day, I do hope this verdict brings them a degree of solace.”
🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 04/20/21:
“The American justice system works. Today, due process was followed, and justice was served.”
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter.
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 04/20/21:
“I hope the Floyd family finds some solace in the murder conviction of Derek Chauvin. Still, the work is not finished. The House passed the George Floyd #JusticeInPolicing Act months ago. The Senate must now act to create systematic change!”
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 04/20/21:
“Derek Chauvin acted without regard for the life — the humanity — of George Floyd.
Thinking of the Floyd family, his brother Philonese, and his daughter Gianna. May God bless them and may this conviction offer a measure of justice — and some measure of peace.
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, from her official website, 04/20/21:
“Like millions of Americans, I am feeling a small sense of relief today following the guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. Clear video evidence and expert and eyewitness testimony proved what was obvious to a watching world since last May — Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Today, justice was served.
Over the past year, our country has begun a great reckoning sparked by the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I remain committed to confronting the harsh truths about law enforcement practices in our country that have allowed police violence against communities of color, especially Black individuals, to persist for far too long. And I will do everything in my power as an elected representative in Congress to push for meaningful reforms.
If we truly believe Black Lives Matter, we must change law enforcement in the United States.
The House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act as a much-needed comprehensive first step to hold police accountable, change the culture of law enforcement, empower our communities, and build trust by addressing systemic racism and bias to help save lives. Now, more than ever, we need the Senate to act. We owe it to George Floyd and all those who have lost their lives at the hands of U.S. law enforcement.”
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, from her official website, 04/20/21:
“Around this country and across the globe, people watched with horror as Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Today, the jury came back with what I believe was the only acceptable verdict – Derek Chauvin is guilty of murder.
And while I am grateful for this verdict, I hesitate to call it justice.
Justice would be a society where Black people can live their lives safely and free from fear of police violence, free from being targeted by those whose job it is to protect. In a just America, George Floyd would be alive today.
But we do not live in a just America. Not yet. While we have made progress, we must look towards a fairer future, one in which justice is afforded to every single American, regardless of skin color.
A just country means a country where every American has access to quality health care, education and housing. The criminal justice and policing systems do not exist in a vacuum – each of these issues are interconnected, and for true reform to occur, we must work aggressively to build more equitable systems that recognize and account for the vast racial disparities that still exist in this country.
That is the justice we in Congress must fight for. The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act still awaits action in the U.S. Senate. We need a Senate that is committed to rooting out systemic racism, and that commitment starts with taking up this legislation.
Lastly, today I am thinking of George Floyd’s family. It is important for us all to remember that George Floyd was a father to five children, a son to George and Cissy and a brother to four siblings. What this family has endured this past year is unimaginable to so many of us, particularly as white Americans. Over this past year, George Floyd has become a symbol, representing the countless Black lives that have been lost at the hands of police. Throughout this entire year, George Floyd’s family has conducted themselves with dignity as they have led a call for justice.
We owe George Floyd, his family and the entire Black community a resounding answer to that call for justice, to that call for equity.”
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 04/20/21:
‘Justice has been served, but today’s verdict won’t bring the Floyd family their son, brother, & father back — the work continues.
I urge people of all backgrounds & political beliefs to come together & honor the memory of Mr. Floyd peacefully. Today & every day #BlackLivesMatter”
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter.
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter.
🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, from his Facebook page, 04/20/21:
“TROUBLED WATERS — Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the Derek Chauvin trial, called the words of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) “abhorrent,” “disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function.” He also suggested her actions provided grounds for a potential appeal. Flying across the country to intimidate a jury and incite violence does nothing for the cause of justice. Still 🦗🦗🦗from Big Media outrage merchants and House Democrats. #doublestandards”
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter. He did, however, comment on Rep. Maxine Waters’ comments about being ‘confrontational’ in this tweet from 04/20/21:
“Rep. Waters continues her track record of making dangerous, ignorant comments. Speaker Pelosi MUST condemn, not accept, them.”
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter.
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joycehas no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter. But like some of his GOP colleagues, he did comment on Rep. Maxine Waters’ comments about being ‘confrontational’ in this tweet from 04/20/21:
“Judge Cahill admonished @RepMaxineWaters for her “abhorrent” failure to uphold the Constitution and respect the judicial branch as a co-equal branch of government.
Rep. Maxine Waters must be held accountable for breaking the law, attempting to bully a jury & inciting violence.”
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter.
🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter.
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly via his official website, 04/20/21:
“Our pledge of allegiance declares we are one nation under God that guarantees liberty and justice for all, and today justice was served. The defendant received due process and a jury of his peers determined he was guilty of murdering George Floyd. I respect that decision and admire our judicial system for carrying out a fair trial under the rule of law. Now I pray the Floyd family can find peace, and that our nation can move forward to heal.”
🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb has no comment on his website, Facebook page or Twitter.
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 04/20/21:
“Although the guilty verdicts won’t bring back George Floyd and so many others, I believe justice was served today. This is the first step on a long road to fixing the systemic issues facing our society.”
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 04/22/21:
“I said what I said ¯\_(ツ)_/¯” (MoCTrack note: that pithy retort was accompanied by this article)
🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 04/20/21:
PA is second nationally in natural gas production. Efforts to limit this industry would jeopardize:
X Our largest source for electricity generation
X A driver of CO2 reduction
X Hundreds of millions paid to PA counties annually
X Tens of thousands of PA natural gas jobs
🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 04/19/21:
“We can only solve problems we’re willing to acknowledge the existence of. I visited the border & can attest to the humanitarian, security, & public health crisis. I urge the administration to see it firsthand. Together, we must work to resolve this crisis.” (shared with a CNN article titled “White House backtracks after Biden calls border situation a ‘crisis’”)
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @CongBoyle, 04/22/21:
“This primary election, PA voters will be asked to vote on two proposed constitutional amendments that would put the legislature in charge of emergency response.
Partisan politics shouldn’t be guiding disaster response. Public health and emergency preparedness experts should.”
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 04/23/21:
“As an @LGBTEqCaucus member and longtime supporter of LGBTQ+ rights, I’m joining in solidarity with students and other allies as we call attention to the silencing of #LGBTQ+ students on today’s #DayOfSilence.”
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 04/22/21:
“The filibuster is not a founding father’s principle.
We must #EndTheFilibuster to:
✅Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act
✅Pass the For the People Act
✅Pass Gun Violence Prevention laws to save lives.
It’s time to end the filibuster and push this nation forward.”
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 04/24/21:
“Thank you, @POTUS, for recognizing the systematic killing of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians for what it was — genocide.
The U.S. remained shamefully silent on the #ArmenianGenocide for too long. Today, we are finally on the right side of history.
To prevent such atrocities from happening again, we must acknowledge the horror of what happened to the Armenian people.
Words matter. There is simply no other way to refer to the attempted extermination of an entire population. This was a genocide.”
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 04/23/21:
“Feeding America’s children is always the right thing to do. For a year now, I’ve pushed for this common sense relief for students alongside my Democrat & Republican colleagues. I’m glad to see
@USDA took notice and made it happen.” (tweeted with a paywalled Washington Post article about the USDA’s extension of universal free lunch programs)
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 04/22/21:
“Our families deserve a clean, safe planet— so on #EarthDay2021, & every day, I’m all in on ending the #ClimateCrisis.
I’m proud to serve as the Co-Chair of the #ClimateChangeTaskForce & lead the fight for clean energy jobs, sustainable infrastructure, & a livable future for all.”
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 04/22/21:
“As we gear up for the largest infrastructure investments in a generation with the #AmericanJobsPlan, it’s critical that we build it to withstand climate change while creating jobs that are here to stay. I introduced 3 bills today to help us achieve this: https://bit.ly/3v9htcg”
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 04/22/21:
“The $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan proposed by the Biden Administration is filled with Green New Deal requirements and would lead to tax increases for many Americans. Check out my weekly video below to watch my speech from the House Floor last night.”
🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, has not tweeted since April 10th.
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 04/22/21:
“It shouldn’t be a surprise that the hack @LancasterOnline Editorial Board, led by Opinion Editor @SuzCassidyLNP, who marches lockstep with and routinely endorses Speaker Pelosi’s socialist wish list legislation, is out to attack me again.
I won’t take my cues from these out-of-touch uninformed liberal elitists. They continue to repeat the same lies as if that will make them come true. I represent the values of the people of Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District.
It’s simply disgusting that they would refer to seeing firsthand the out-of-control humanitarian and national security crisis at our southern border as a “showboating trip.” I did what President Biden should do: personally experience the problem to better understand it.
It is unsurprising that the LNP Editorial Board finds themselves wholly unable to criticize the Biden Administration for it’s remarkable failures at the southern border.
I’m thankful, however, the Editorial Board notes I’m more well-positioned to advocate on behalf of the residents of Pennsylvania’s 11th district as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee.
I’ll continue to work in a bipartisan fashion, like I did on the CARES Act, which supported businesses across the district, including the parent company of LNP, Steinman Communications who received $4,250,200 from the Paycheck Protection Program.
I take my marching orders from the constituents of the 11th District who can see through the flim flam and bias printed daily in the LNP.”
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 04/23/21:
“It’s time to stop misusing the narrative of taxation without representation and instead call this approach to D.C. statehood what it is: a Democrat power grab.”
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 04/21/21:
“President Biden & the Democrats should stop trying to trick the American people.
With $600 BILLION devoted to the #GreenNewDeal, the Biden “infrastructure” plan has never been about #infrastructure. PA needs roads, bridges & reliable internet – not this job-killing agenda.”
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 04/22/21:
“D.C. statehood is purely political.
Democrats want two more Senate seats to implement their radical agenda such as packing the Supreme Court and ending the filibuster.
I will not support this progressive power grab.”
🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 04/21/21:
“On Floor joining a special order hour to address the Biden “Not So Much”Infrastructure Bill. There’s so much unrelated pork even Washington reporters are hesitant to call it an infrastructure plan. Barely 8% of the $2.3 trillion dollar plan focuses on true #infrastructure.”
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, @MikeKellyPA, 04/19/21:
“I am a proud member of the new Election Integrity Caucus, a group of lawmakers that will advocate common sense policies to ensure free, fair, and secure elections. We must restore Americans’ faith in our voting systems.”
🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 04/23/21:
“Congress must take action to address our crumbling infrastructure. Today I submitted a group of transportation project requests for the upcoming surface transportation bill that will make #PA17 safer & create jobs. LINK”
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 04/21/21:
“.@GOP only cares about the #nationaldebt when it’s not in power; when it is, it increases the debt with tax cuts for the 1%. After previously supporting #infrastructure investment, it’s now attacking the #AmericanJobsPlan, which BTW would pay for itself!”
Casey Quotes of the Week
Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk
On immigration detention centers
“These people have been through hell just to get here. We’ve got to make sure through our dollars and work that every possible effort is made to make sure that those children can be screened and taken care of and provide quality health care by folks who know a lot about pediatrics and quality health care for children.”
— from an article in Penn Live titled “Bob Casey visits detention centers: ‘These families have been through hell’”
On home and community based care for elderly people
“Congress should bolster the development of additional PACE programs and expand eligibility of enrollment to allow for a greater number of people requiring in home supports to be eligible to receive care in their homes and communities.”
— from an article in WTMZ-TV News, titled “US Senator Bob Casey Introduces Bill To Expand PACE — Programs of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly“
Toomey Quotes of the Week
Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk
On what matters to the folks Toomey serves (wealthy folks and corporations)
“President Biden’s proposed capital gains tax increase would dissuade investment, leading to slower economic growth while limiting worker productivity and wage growth.
We should be encouraging more capital investment, not less. This is terrible idea and it should be roundly rejected.”
—from an article in Microsoft News, titled “GOP digging in against Biden’s ‘terrible idea’ of raising capital gains tax“
On not damaging the GOP Tax Cuts
“While President Biden wants to do all these things that have nothing to do with infrastructure, my view is we can have that discussion in some point in time, but what we ought to focus on is that which we seem to have agreement on… Let’s do this without taking on still more debt. We should do it without damaging the tax reforms of the best economy of my lifetime.
— from an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette titled “Sen. Toomey backs Republicans’ $568B infrastructure plan to counter Biden’s $2T proposal”
Fitzpatrick in the News
Research courtesy of contributor CC
“The PAA is dedicated to promoting physical activity for our health, and I proudly stand beside them in our mission to encourage and raise awareness of the importance of physical activity.
“Physical activity produces numerous benefits that directly contribute to a healthy, happy, and more positive life. I look forward to continuing our efforts to promote, educate, and inspire others to engage in physical activity to bring about positive changes and improvements in our physical and mental health.”
— this quote from Rep. Fitzpatrick that surely has nothing to do with pandering to his gym owner donors, is from an article in Club Industry titled “Myzone And The Physical Activity Alliance Challenge Congress To A Month Of Movement For The Wellbeing Of Citizens Across The USA”
“This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, this is something everyone cares about with certain American ideals very much at stake here.”
— from a KIITV article titled “South Texas congressman believes cartel has made more than $1 billion this year bringing migrants across the U.S. border”
“Now, more than ever, during the health pandemic, it is vital that we ensure all families in our communities have access to the care they need. Right now, with our bipartisan SAVE Act, we have the opportunity to make needed reforms to lower costs and increase access to health care for all members of our community. With skyrocketing premiums in the federal marketplace, state-based exchanges have proven to be more effective at increasing the rate of coverage and lowering costs.”
— from an article in the Sandpaper titled “Congressman Kim Busy With Town Hall Meetings and Bipartisan Legislation”
“Our veterans are heroes and deserve to be treated as such… I am proud to join Rep. Cartwright in introducing legislation that will ensure our Vietnam War veterans who served in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia receive the care they deserve now, and I urge my colleagues in Congress to work across the aisle to support these men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country.”
— from a Ripon Advance blog post titled “Fitzpatrick’s legislation aims to provide benefits to veterans exposed to Agent Orange”
“(We’re) not pulling numbers out of the sky, but actually coming up with the numbers that we need.”
— from an article in WBALTV’s website (the NBC News Baltimore affiliate) titled “Hogan hosts summit to address national infrastructure bill”
“We have to come out with a bipartisan agreement, which means nobody’s going to get everything they want. But if you get close to 80% of what you want, that’s real progress… If infrastructure is done the right way, then it’s an investment, it’s not an expense.”
— from an article in Maryland Matters titled “Hogan Convenes Bipartisan Meeting of National Leaders to Discuss Infrastructure”
Learning about Legislation – “Privileged” Legislation, part two
In 2019, MoCTrack featured a segment on privileged legislation, an action that can be forced onto the congressional legislative schedule before regular business, because the Senate was dealing with Trump’s fake national emergency. This week House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy used privilege to force a vote to censure representative Maxine Waters in a manner that was different from what we had outlined in our last explainer on this topic.
The authority on this topic is the Congressional Research Service white paper titled “Privileged Business on the House Floor.” In that paper, author James V. Saturno explains what ‘privileged’ means in the context of legislation and why it matters:
Privileged business relates to the order or priority of business before the House and is defined in House rules and precedents as business that has precedence over the regular order of business. As a consequence, it may supersede or interrupt other matters that might be called up or pending before the House. Members have a right to call up privileged business for consideration on the floor when the House is not engaged in considering some other matter. Privileged business consists of various kinds of bills, resolutions, and other matters.
Clause 1 of House Rule XIV defines the daily order of business on the House floor. However, other House rules and precedents allow certain kinds of matters to interrupt this daily order of business. A matter that can interrupt the daily order of business is said to be privileged.
Not every issue that a Minority Leader brings up is afforded privilege, otherwise the Minority Leader would have basically the same powers as the Speaker of the House. In the Congressional Research Service white paper, “The Role of the House Minority Leader: An Overview” the author explains the type of topics that the Minority Leader might bring up that can be granted privileged status:
Under Rule IX, clause 2, a resolution “offered as a question of privilege by the Majority Leader or the Minority Leader … shall have precedence of all other questions except motions to adjourn.” This rule further references the minority leader with respect to the division of time for debate of these resolutions. If offered by the majority or minority leader, a valid question of privilege—one that involves “the rights of the House collectively, its safety, dignity and the integrity of its proceedings”—receives immediate consideration by the House.
By that rationale a censure resolution made related to the conduct of a House member is afforded privilege because it involves the “dignity” of the House. Mr. Saturno, author of the first white paper cited, agrees with this interpretation and notes that “privileged business includes… resolutions concerning the official conduct of Members and staff.”
Call to Action – PA Primary with ballot questions on May 18th!
Your call to action this week is to make sure that the folks you know and love are ready to vote on May 18th. Most folks who are Independents or registered to parties other than the democrats or Republicans are not used to voting in primaries. It is for that exact reason that the Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature have put two constitutional amendments on the ballot that would strip emergency powers from the governor’s office. They are counting on lower primary turnout to pass these frankly dangerous amendments.
Here are some steps you can take:
1. APPLY FOR A MAIL IN BALLOT or HELP SOMEONE ELSE DO SO. The deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot for the primaries is May 3rd. You can use this link to apply for a mail in ballot. https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/OnlineAbsenteeApplication/#/OnlineAbsenteeBegin
2. CHECK YOUR REGISTRATION STATUS or HELP SOMEONE ELSE DO SO. You can check your registration status on the Pennsylvania Department of State’s website.
3. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE BALLOT QUESTIONS.
There are four ballot questions. Two will strip emergency powers from the governor, one will add a constitutional amendment related to equality of race and ethnicity, and the final one will allow municipal fire and emergency service companies to apply for loans. You can read the text as it will appear on your ballot here. And this is how the folks at Ballotpedia describe the four questions.
The League of Women Voters and the Committee of Seventy kindly create wonderful ballot question write-ups, where they explain each question, what it means if you vote YES or NO, background on each question, as well as arguments four and against each item. You can find those useful tools here:
- Question One – Termination or Extension of Disaster Emergency Declarations
- Question Two – Disaster Emergency Declarations and Management
- Question Three – Prohibition Against Denial or Abridgment of Equality of Rights Because of Race or Ethnicity
- Question Four – Making Municipal Fire and Emergency Medical Service Companies Eligible for Loans
You should read up on these ballot questions and vote your conscience. But this is how your editor is voting:
This report is brought to you by the Pennsylvania MoCTrack team…
CC Linda Houk
Gary Garb Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo Have you seen an interesting or revealing recent quote from a member of Pennsylvania’s Congressional delegation that was not featured in MoCTrack? We are looking for folks who can help us cover what gets into traditional media, especially in the western parts of the state! Please email KierstynPZ@gmail.com and put “MoC Quote” in the subject, and please be sure to include a link to the article, the article title, and the full quote (in case your editor gets paywalled). Thanks!
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