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. 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
The only vote scored this week is the Senate filibuster of the Paycheck Protection Act.
|Lawmaker||Score||Change from last score|
|🔵 Senator Bob Casey||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 Senator Pat Toomey||45.5%||-10.1%|
|🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick||55.8%||0.0%|
|🔵 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||4.9%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker||11.6%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller||4.7%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce||4.7%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler||4.7%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson||12.2%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly||4.7%||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 Senate Passes a Sweeping Industrial/Technology Policy Package
The bipartisan passage of this tremendous legislative package, which settles a decades-long debate on the role of the federal government in industrial investment policy, somehow went by without the level of media reporting and acclaim that it merits. Your MoCTrack editor can only imagine that this is because the process of setting up the historical background and then detailing the technical specifications is too daunting for a word-limited newspaper article. Thankfully, anyone who wants to do a deep dive into the context and contents of this bill does have a free resource – The New York Times podcast, The Daily created an episode about the Endless Frontier Act titled “The Bill that United the Senate,” and it is recommended listening for anyone interested in this bill.
For decades the political parties have debated over the role of the government in supporting industry innovation. Republicans say that federal investment stifles innovation by making private investors avoid a field where the federal government has investments. Democrats argue that serious, long-term innovation requires levels of investment that private corporations cannot handle as they seek quick profitability; and that tax incentives for certain entrenched industries (cough – fossil fuels – cough) put new businesses and innovators at a fiscal disadvantage. If you think back to the Obama-era discourse about Solyndra, the failed solar start-up that received federal money, that was just one skirmish in this long-term ideological war.
The pandemic changed all that by revealing just how much of our manufacturing capability has been eroded in the past decades of globalization, and how little technological innovation in fields of future advances (biological, communications, energy storage, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, etc.) is happening in the United States as compared to other countries… specifically China. And when confronted with the ideological debate about federal bankrolling of innovation versus their fear of the growing power of China, the Republicans tendency towards xenophobia won out for about ⅖ of their caucus – when combined with unified Democratic support, that was enough to beat a filibuster.
The final bill, which underwent weeks of negotiation and amendments, commits about $250 billion to emerging technology sectors. President Biden released the following statement about the bill’s Senate passage:
By strengthening our innovation infrastructure, we can lay the foundation for the next generation of American jobs and American leadership in manufacturing and technology. We are in a competition to win the 21st century, and the starting gun has gone off. As other countries continue to invest in their own research and development, we cannot risk falling behind. America must maintain its position as the most innovative and productive nation on Earth.
In a move that was surprising to absolutely no one, Senator Pat Toomey, the King of Free Market Policy, opposed this bill. After the Senate vote he released the following statement:
This flawed bill is based on the premise that American economic competitiveness depends on government-directed spending on research and industrial policy. It spends over $200 billion on the already mature semiconductor industry and on research grants that will often be allocated based on political and parochial considerations, rather than intellectual merit. I do support the crackdown on Chinese-sponsored cyber-attacks and intellectual property theft. But maintaining our technological superiority over China requires punishing bad Chinese behavior and relying on the natural innovative entrepreneurship of America’s market economy, not by imitating Chinese central planning.
The bill now goes to the House for a vote.
Vote date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 Vote Tally: 68-32
Party Breakdown: One Independent, all 48 Democrats and 19 Republicans voted YES. Independent Bernie Sanders joined with the remaining 31 Republicans to vote NO.
Senator Bob Casey voted YES
Senator Pat Toomey voted NO
- “Senate passes bipartisan bill to boost tech competitiveness with China,” from NBC News
- (podcast link) “The Bill that United the Senate,” from The New York Times, the Daily
- “This Senate Bill Could Allow The U.S. To Compete With China On Tech And Trade,” from Forbes
- “How Congress wrecked its own science bill, explained in 600 words,” from Vox
The Filibuster Claims a New Victim – Equal Pay for Women
The ACLU compiled this excellent explanation of the reason for and content of the Paycheck Fairness Act:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2013, women who worked full time earned, on average, only 78 cents for every dollar men earned. The figures are even worse for women of color. African American women earned only approximately 64 cents and Latinas only 56 cents for each dollar earned by a white male. The Paycheck Fairness Act will help secure equal pay for equal work for all Americans. The bill would update the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a law that has not been able to achieve its promise of closing the wage gap because of limited enforcement tools and inadequate remedies.
With equity and fairness at the center of this legislation, it comes as no surprise that it was opposed by the Republican half of the Senate. While the majority of senators voted for cloture – the process that moves a bill forward to final consideration – the 60-vote threshold was not achieved. Thus the filibuster claimed another victim.
If you are keeping score, this is the second filibuster of the 117th Congress. The first was the Bipartisan January 6th Commission.
Vote date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 Vote Tally: 49-50
Party Breakdown: This was a party line vote. All Democrats and Independents voted YES, for cloture to move on to the full vote on the bill. All Republicans present voted NO, to filibuster the bill. Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand was not present for the vote. Sixty votes are needed in a cloture vote for a bill to move forward.
Senator Bob Casey voted YES
Senator Pat Toomey voted NO
- “Republican Filibuster Blocks Pay Equity Bill in the Senate,” from The New York Times
- “Senate Republicans block bill targeting gender pay gap,” from Politico
- “Why Democrats are voting on bills that have no chance of passing,” from Vox
Biden Judicial Confirmation – New Jersey 1
Senate Confirmation Vote on Julien Xavier Neals to be U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey
If you are a regular viewer of The Rachel Maddow Show, you will have received an introduction to the career of Julien Neals on the June 8, 2021 show, when Maddow described the first Biden Administration confirmed judge at some length. Neals was nominated to the judiciary by President Obama in February 2015, but despite his confirmation being approved by the GOP-majority Senate Judiciary Committee, Mitch McConnell never allowed his confirmation to come up for a full Senate vote, through the final 23 months of Obama’s presidency. The scheduling of Neals as the first confirmed Biden judge does have the feeling of a wrong being righted. But it is also a matter of desperate need, as New Jersey has seven judicial vacancies that the Trump Administration never bothered to fill.
Like so many other qualified nominees, Julien Neals has split his career between private and public legal work. He clerked on the Superior Court of New Jersey before working at a private firm. Then, he was appointed by then-mayor of Newark Cory Booker to serve on the city’s Municipal Court, and then Newark’s Business Administrator as well. For the last six years, Neal has served as County Counsel and acting County Administrator for Bergen County.
The Vetting Room had this to say of Neals’ confirmation chances (and they were proven right): “As Neals’ past nomination was approved by a Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee without opposition, one could argue that his current nomination should receive similar support.”
Vote date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 Vote Tally: 66-33
Party Breakdown: All Democrats, one Independent and 17 Republicans voted YES. Bernie Sanders of Vermont did not vote. And 33 Republicans voted NO.
Senator Bob Casey voted YES
Senator Pat Toomey voted YES
- “Julien Neals – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey,” from The Vetting Room
- “U.S. Senate confirms Bergen administrator Julien Neals to be federal judge,” from The Bergen Record
- “Menendez Applauds Confirmation of Julien X. Neals to U.S. District Court of NJ,” from Insider NJ
Biden Judicial Confirmation – New Jersey 2
Senate Confirmation Vote on Zahid N. Quraishi to be U.S. District Judge for the District of New Jersey
Zahid Quraishi is both the first Muslim-American and the first Pakistani-American to be confirmed to a seat on the federal judiciary. He is a New Jersey native who clerked in their Superior Court system before joining a private practice. He then went on to work for the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps before taking a job in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as Assistant Chief Counsel. He briefly went back to private practice before getting confirmed as a U.S. Magistrate Judge based in Trenton. This district court position is the next step up from Magistrate Judge.
The Vetting Room concluded their assessment of Mr. Quraishi in this manner, “As Quraishi has a wide spectrum of legal experience, and little controversial about his background, he is poised to join the bench in due course.”
Vote date: Thursday, June 810, 2021 Vote Tally: 81-16
Party Breakdown: All Democrats, both Independents and 32 Republicans voted YES. The remaining 16 Republicans present voted NO.
Senator Bob Casey voted YES
Senator Pat Toomey voted YES
- “Judge Zahid Quraishi – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey,” from The Vetting Room
- “Senate confirms Zahid Quraishi as first Muslim American federal judge in US history,” from CNN Politics
- “The Senate Has Just Confirmed The First Muslim American Federal Judge In U.S. History,” from NPR
Biden Judicial Confirmation – Colorado
Senate Confirmation Vote on Regina M. Rodriguez to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Colorado
Regina Rodriguez is an Obama nominee to the federal judiciary who never got a hearing as Mitch McConnell put his judicial blockade in place for the last years of the Obama presidency. She has worked in both the public and private sector, for six years at a Denver law firm, and then as a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington DC. Eventually she rose to the position of Chief of the Civil Division.
The Vetting Room notes that she has given donations exclusively to Democrats, but “…unlike most of Biden’s judicial nominees, Regina Rodriguez’s nomination has drawn primary opposition among some liberal groups.The criticism generally arises from a perception that Rodriguez is ‘corporate’ and a ‘former prosecutor.’”
Their assessment of her concludes with this, and was proven correct: “it’s unlikely that such criticism will carry the day in the Senate. It is hard to question Rodriguez’s qualifications for a federal judgeship, with extensive litigation experience and respect from both sides of the aisle. To the extent that criticism of Rodriguez reflects criticism of a paucity of judges from public interest backgrounds, senators will likely conclude that such interests can be addressed without jettisoning the nomination of a qualified candidate.”
Vote date: Tuesday, June 8, 2021 Vote Tally: 72-28
Party Breakdown: All Democrats, both Independents and 22 Republicans voted YES. The other 28 Republicans voted NO.
Senator Bob Casey voted YES
Senator Pat Toomey voted YES
- “Regina Rodriguez – Nominee to the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado,” from The Vetting Room
- “Senate confirms Regina Rodriguez to federal bench in Colorado,” from Colorado Politics
- “U.S. Senate confirms Regina Rodriguez to U.S. District Court,” from The Mountain Mail
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.1502 – COPS (Confidentiality Opportunities for Peer Support) Counseling Act
- S.1828 – HAVANA (Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks) Act of 2021
- S.Res.229 – A resolution recognizing the devastating attack on a girls’ school in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 8, 2021, and expressing solidarity with the Afghan people
- H.R.49 – To designate the National Pulse Memorial located at 1912 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, Florida
- S.1605 – A bill to designate the National Pulse Memorial located at 1912 South Orange Avenue in Orlando, Florida
- S.Res.265 – A resolution honoring the memory of the victims of the heinous attack at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016
- S.1511 – Protecting America’s First Responders Act
Quotes of Interest
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 06/11/21:
“Throughout America, too many children still lack the support & conditions—health care, economic security, education, adequate nutrition & safety—that they require to grow & flourish.
Every child should have the freedom to reach their full potential. https://sen.gov/casey/JZ5O”
🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, @SenToomey, 06/08/21:
“What @SenCapito said is true. President Biden clearly moved the goalposts here. It’s disappointing that he chose to cutoff good-faith negotiations with our group despite significant overlapping priorities.” referring to this statement from Senator Shelley Moore Capito
🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, @RepBrianFitz, 06/09/21:
“As the Ranking Member of the @HouseForeign Subcommittee on Europe, Energy, the Environment and Cyber, there is broad bipartisan agreement that Nord Stream 2 threatens energy and national security across the globe, particularly to that of Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic region.
I implore my colleagues on @HouseForeign, and my colleagues from both parties in Congress, to intervene here immediately. This cannot be allowed to proceed.”
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, @RepBrendanBoyle, 06/10/21:
“Why hasn’t Donald Trump been indicted by now? What more will it take???”
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 06/12/21:
“On the 5th anniversary of the Pulse massacre, we remember the 49 victims who lost their lives. We also continue to fight for gun reform as well as pro-LGBTQ legislation like the Equality Act.
That’s why I have voted for TWO House-passed gun reform bills (universal background checks & closing the Charleston loophole) & it’s past time for the Senate to vote!”
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 06/10/21:
“Women are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with children.
On the 58th anniversary of the #EqualPay Act, we must remember that the gender pay gap is not simply a women’s issue, it is also a family issue.”
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 06/12/21:
“Last weekend in South Philly, I met a woman distributing yellow whistles. She explained that @yellow_whistle aims to empower AAPI community members and fight back against anti-Asian violence.
This campaign is a creative, meaningful way for our communities to help #StopAsianHate Learn more about #TheYellowWhistle campaign” tweeted with a link to this Philadelphia Inquirer article
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, @RepHoulahan, 06/10/21:
“The past week of unprecedented flooding in our area shined a light on the compassion of our community. Thank you to our neighbors for their diligence & acts of kindness. And a BIG shoutout to our EMS workers for helping rescue those in need to dry land” tweeted with a link about the flooding in her district and the rescue of 22 residents
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, @RepSusanWild, 06/10/21:
“Caregivers are the backbone of our economy and a key part of our pandemic recovery. I’ll always have their backs. #CareEconomy”
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 06/11/21:
“Parents are ready to go back to work, but first, they need to know their kids will be cared for. Our economy is recovering, but 1 in 7 child care jobs still haven’t returned. We need to invest in the #CareEconomy with the American Jobs & Families Plans!” tweeted with a link to this local article about waiting lists for child care options
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 06/08/21:
“The Biden plan of disincentivizing work has created a record high number of job openings, and is career killing policy.”
🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, @RepScottPerry, 06/08/21:
“Border security is national security. Going 75 days MIA while coyotes and cartels exploit children and flood our communities with deadly fentanyl and human trafficking is no laughing matter, VP. #BidenBorderCrisis”
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, @RepSmucker, 06/11/21:
“Half of pandemic unemployment payments – approximately $400 billion – were likely fraudulent. Why did Ways & Means Democrats block @WaysandMeansGOP efforts to include fraud protection measures to prevent this from happening? This is an absolute disgrace.”
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, @RepFredKeller, 06/11/21:
“Americans face growing inflation, rising consumer prices, and stagnating unemployment numbers reminiscent of the days of the Carter administration.
If Blondie was on the radio, you’d think it was 1979 all over again.”
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 06/08/21:
“The #BidenBorderCrisis is not a joke.
It’s time for President Biden and Vice President Harris to take responsibility for the humanitarian and security crisis that they created with radical, open-borders rhetoric.”
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 06/12/21:
“Fauci spent the last year lying to Americans in a clear attempt to cover his own…let’s just say he was doing some CYA.
Why? Because taxpayer $, directed by Fauci, was funding dangerous gain of function research in the lab COVID came from.”
🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, @CongressmanGT, 06/08/21:
“It’s #NationalDairyMonth and @HouseAgGOP is working hard to spread the truth about dairy”
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly has not tweeted since Memorial Day.
🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 06/10/21:
“America’s infrastructure is in desperate need of investment & we must step up to meet the challenge. The Invest in America Act will put people back to work & ensure long-term investment in #PA17 & across our region.” tweeted with this statement from Rep. Lamp’s office
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 06/09/21:
“.@SenateGOP blocked a bill to fight the #GenderPayGap – it required employers to justify pay differences. It’s absurd that @LeaderMcConnell insists on obstructing – while women make 87 cents for every dollar an equally qualified man makes in the same job.”
MoC Weekly Round-ups
The following lawmakers offer short video round-ups of their week’s activities. Take this content with a grain of salt, as they are produced as self-marketing materials. But they do give us insight into what actions our MoCs feel are the most important to their constituents, and definitely make for worthwhile watching! I would not be surprised if we see more lawmakers join this trend.
🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick – Twitter Link with video
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan – Twitter Link with video
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser had been doing an update for a few weeks in May, but in the past few weeks he has only shared links to his press appearances. Perhaps he is only doing his weekly updates when he’s not getting press? Time will tell.
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler – Podcast Link to audio
Casey Quote of the Week
Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk
“If we’re going to get our economy out of the ditch, we must support children and working parents much more robustly… Even before the pandemic, many families struggled to access quality, affordable care. and federal early childhood programs have reached only a fraction of eligible children and families. About five out of six eligible children do not receive benefits… these temporary measures are not enough to reverse decades of chronic underinvestment in early care and education.”
—from an article in the Sunbury Daily Item, titled “Child care access keeping women out of work”
Toomey Quote of the Week
Courtesy of contributor Linda Houk
“My intention as the author of the 2017 tax reform was not that multibillionaires ought to pay no taxes… I believe dividends and capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate, but certainly not zero.”
—from an article in Business Insider, titled “ProPublica’s bombshell tax investigation reportedly has lawmakers eyeing policy changes. One senator who designed a key corporation tax cut says it wasn’t supposed to let ‘multibillionaires’ avoid tax.”
Fitzpatrick in the News
Research courtesy of contributor CC
Fox News Interview
Rep. Fitzpatrick has not been granting access to local journalists of late. But he has done several appearances on national television and in big newspapers. This first segment is from a May 31, 2021 Fox News article titled “‘Your World’ on holiday travel, COVID origin, Biden’s budget proposal.” Only the portions when Rep. Fitzpatrick is involved in the conversation are included below:
NEAL CAVUTO: With us right now, Republican Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania. We have
got Josh Gottheimer, the Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair of New Jersey. So,
they’re both co-chairs, I should just stress there, and a bipartisan effort
to get to the bottom of this.
Gentlemen, thank you for taking the time. Congressman Fitzpatrick, if I can begin with you.
Is it that the reason for this and what you’re doing with your colleague
that you’re not satisfied with the way the administration wants to look
into this, or that this would be a better way to go about it?
REP. BRIAN FITZPATRICK (R-PA): Well, we’re not satisfied, Neil, with how
China has dealt with it. They have been lying from day one, just like they
have throughout their history, lying to the World Trade Organization.
They got admitted December 11, 2001. They started lying on December 12.
They have lied about the virus. They have lied about currency manipulation
and intellectual property theft. That’s what they do.
And I think it’s time. And this is a strong message, Neil. You have five
Democrats and five Republicans that have forged together to pursue this,
both on the sovereign immunity stripping, as well as the COVID origination
We need our intelligence community to do their investigation, which they
are. Congress has an oversight role to play. We got to do our job. Our
world and our country have been through hell over the past 12 months.
There’s got to be accountability.
CAVUTO: I know that you’re not relying on the World Health Organization to
get any answers. And it was interesting that when the president announced
this investigation, that he would bypass the WHO as well.
Congressman Fitzpatrick, what does that say about how Washington feels
about the World Health Organization?
FITZPATRICK: Anybody that has spent even a little bit of time looking at
this, Neil, knows that the who is a wholly owned subsidiary of the
Communist Party of China.
All the evidence points to that. And look no further than a tweet that the
WHO sent out mid-January. This is just two weeks before President Trump cut
off all travel to China, to and from China. Two weeks earlier, the WHO was
parroting CCP’s talking point that there was no human-to-human spread of
Let’s just think about that, of all we have been through, of all we know,
that the World Health Organization, whose sole responsibility it is to
track pandemics and viral activity, is parroting the Chinese talking
This is not hard to figure out, Neil. And a lot of people are asking for
the smoking gun evidence. That’s never going to come. It all exists in the
Wuhan Institute of Virology that’s on lockdown. They now have a military
general overseeing it, when it was a civilian. They have military guards
outside of it.
We’re not getting access to it. That’s where the only direct evidence will
exist. So, we’re going to have to rely on proving a murder through
circumstantial evidence. But the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming.
Washington Post Interview
The same week, Rep. Fitzpatrick went with his Problem Solvers Caucus co-chair Rep. Josh Gottheimer and did another interview, this time with the Washington Post congressional correspondent Jackie Alemany. The segments below are excerpts of her article, “Transcript: 117th Congress: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.) & Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.)” that include the questions asked of Rep. Fitzpatrick and his answers.
MS. ALEMANY: We keep hearing bipartisanship is dead in Washington and that it’s one of the most hyper-partisan times in our country’s history, really. Is that perception reality? Who wants to start?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Whoever you want. Do you want me to take that, Josh?
REP. GOTTHEIMER: Go ahead, Fitz.
REP. FITZPATRICK: All right. Well, Jacqueline, yes, I think that statement is true, and I think two things are simultaneously true. Number one, we do have, at least in my lifetime, the most divisive political climate and perhaps the most divisive Congress, but I will also say that we also have the largest block of centrists that I’ve seen, at least in a long time.
In our caucus, as you’re aware, we have 58 members–29 Democrats, 29 Republicans. It’s the largest that our caucus has ever been; the Problem Solvers Caucus, that is. One-on-one ratio, Democrats, Republican, and moreover, not only have we grown in size, we’ve grown in significance because we’re taking on even the hot-button issues. We’re right in the center of heated infrastructure discussions, right in the middle of police reform, right in the middle of immigration. We’re going to a lot of places that some would consider politically dangerous because our country needs us to be there right now.
So, I think both things are true. I think you have, unfortunately, a lot of attention misplaced on the wings, the fringe left, fringe right, where it should be where most of the people are, which is where Josh and I are.
MS. ALEMANY: Congressman Fitzpatrick, were you disappointed with the way that your Republican colleagues voted ultimately on the January 6th commission, especially in the Senate?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Well, I was going to jump in to what Josh said. Your question was were we disappointed. I would say, Jacqueline, the January 6th vote is Exhibit A of how influential and persuasive our caucus is because it was us that actually endorsed it. Again, relatively controversial bill for sure. We endorsed it. We didn’t stay on the sidelines. We stepped up. We put it before our caucus. We got the requisite two-thirds of the vote, and then that manifested itself, Jacqueline, with 35 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote for it on the floor of the House. That’s our responsibility, and we delivered. We can’t control what happens or doesn’t happen in the Senate. What we can control is what happens in the House. We used our influence, our centrist bloc, to send a pretty powerful statement there. I use that, Jacqueline, as an example of the influence that the Problem Solvers Caucus has and the courage as well.
MS. ALEMANY: And, Congressman Gottheimer, you had mentioned that you saw police reform as an area of bipartisan cooperation. Congressman Fitzpatrick, are there any other areas that you see lawmakers from both sides working on together to get done, this in the 117th Congress?
REP. FITZPATRICK: On deck, infrastructure, police reform, and immigration, Jacqueline. We took the only bipartisan trip down to that border, at least at the time. I don’t know who’s gone down there since.
Me and Josh led a bipartisan delegation of our colleagues to see the same things, hear the same things, get together afterwards and come up with mutually agreeable solutions, and we’re going to do that again for immigration. It’s a critically important issue on a whole host of fronts. It’s inexcusable that the problem has not been solved. It’s been not solved due to failures of multiple Congresses dating back decades, quite frankly, and it’s on us to fix it. And we will. We have very strong resolve.
And I can tell you, when we went down there, seen the looks on those kids’ faces and the looks on the faces of our CBP officers, our Border Patrol agents, and our Coast Guard, if that doesn’t move you, then nothing will. Both looks that we saw on those faces need to drive us to act because there’s clearly a problem down there. Our Border Patrol agents are overwhelmed. The children are being put through horrific treks from the Triangle countries, up through Mexico. It’s just awful all the way around, and we got to fix it. And we are very, very strongly resolved to fix it.
MS. ALEMANY: And I want to get to a question from one of our viewers in the audience right now from both of you. We have Betsy Beaumon from California who asks, “How can you continue to make progress even as political divides are growing?”
REP. FITZPATRICK: You’ll never hear me and Josh say that what we’re doing is easy. It’s not. It’s hard. What’s easy to do are what the fringe elements do, which is just vote party line. It doesn’t take any thought. It’s just reflexive. What Josh and I are doing, our left and right ribs are bruised all day, every day. We get it from all sides, and it’s hard, but it’s needed. It’s necessary, and Josh and I both know that we are given the honor to serve for a very limited period of time at a very consequential time in our country’s history. We got to step up and show leadership. We’re not going to take the easy way out. We’re fine getting attacked from all sides, as long as we know in our heart of hearts that we’re doing the right thing to make a positive difference, and we’re going to keep doing it.
MS. ALEMANY: It seems like, though, bipartisanship has so far alluded Congress on the big-ticket items; for example, the COVID relief bill that was passed under the Biden administration just a few months ago, which garnered zero Republican support. But we now see some Republicans are campaigning on this stimulus bill, which is widely popular amongst the American people.
Congressman Fitzpatrick, you were one of the lawmakers who voted against this bill. If you had to vote for it again, would you change your vote?
REP. FITZPATRICK: I would not, Jacqueline. There were a lot of issues with that bill, and good people can disagree. And that’s another thing that our caucus is very unique for. We respect each other’s differences of opinion. We all represent different districts. We approach problems from different angles.
But I will give you my personal perspective of that. I think that anything–we had, Jacqueline, six–I believe was the number, purely bipartisan, almost unanimous COVID relief bills that were passed up until that point. So, clearly, we had the ability to do it.
I understand there was a lot of political pressure, and the President coming out of the gate wanted to get something done very quickly. But what I believe in and what a lot of my colleagues believe in and what we’re trying to avoid, by the way, with infrastructure is not going down that path again. That’s why Josh and I and our caucus, as he mentioned, we had a meeting at ten o’clock last night. We were at this all day and all night trying to find that centrist common ground, and we’re hopeful we’re going to accomplish that here with the second big piece of legislation, which will be infrastructure.
MS. ALEMANY: Yesterday we saw President Biden offer a concession to Republicans. He signaled a willingness to forego his plan of raising the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent and instead propose instituting a 15 percent minimum corporate tax. Congressman Fitzpatrick, is this the kind of compromise you think can garner Republican support?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Potentially, Jacqueline. It depends on how it’s packaged, right? What Josh and I believe–this is what we talked about on our meeting, Zoom meeting, last night–we all got to be willing to give a little. That’s the only way this works. We take the perspective that you’d rather get 80 percent of something than 100 percent of nothing. That’s what we believe in.
So, sure, my Republican colleagues are going to have to come to the table and make some concessions in the spirit of compromise, just like Josh and his colleagues are going to have to do that. That’s what the American people want us to do. Just like any relationship in our lives, you don’t get everything you want 100 percent of the time. You find the common ground. You come to the center. You build consensus, and there’s always going to be things you disagree with and disagree on. You leave that on the side of the road. You can come back to that in another day. Find what you agree on and move forward and actually get it done, and that’s what we’re trying to do here.
MS. ALEMANY: And before we move on to immigration, Congressman Fitzpatrick, I didn’t get your answer on whether or not you support instituting a 15 percent minimum corporate tax.
REP. FITZPATRICK: That depends on what it’s packaged with, Jacqueline. Stand-alone with nothing else? It’s got to be a product of a compromise. So, if that’s what’s necessary in exchange for making this more of a true infrastructure bill, physical, traditional infrastructure that’s over a reasonable period of time that’s going to invest the right amounts in the right buckets, for example, on broadband, that are going to allow us to be competitive with a nation like China, you’ve got to look at the whole package. It’s impossible to answer any of these questions stand-alone.
On the topic of revenue raisers, Josh hit it right on the head. You have your traditional user fees. My personal view of the gas tax is that’s a regressive tax. the bill that I actually introduced, Jacqueline, is carbon pricing that would completely repeal the gas tax because I believe that you ought to tax things you want less of, not what you want more of. If we want less pollution, we ought to tax pollution.
In fact, we started the #taxpollutionnotprofits. That’s something we should all want to get behind. Vehicle miles traveled, taxing batteries for electric vehicles upon installation and amortizing them over the life of the vehicle. Josh mentioned P3’s. There’s a whole toolbox, a whole kit that we can employ, but it’s going to be a product in negotiations with me and Josh and Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema and Bill Cassidy and so many of our colleagues, we got to come up with a package that we will agree to. And we’re very, very close to that.
MS. ALEMANY: And both of you have, as you mentioned earlier in this session, visited the southern border in Texas. Congressman Fitzpatrick, you’ve said that the caucus is going to shift its priority to immigration once the infrastructure package has been voted on. What did you see at the border, and what bipartisan solutions do you think are possible on immigration?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Yeah, Jacqueline. Well, one of the many things Josh and I have in common, we love and support our law enforcement, and we love our nation’s children, and we love the world’s children.
When Josh and I went down there, we had a little kid–Josh, I don’t know if he was five years old–cutest kid you would ever see in your life.
He would not stop hugging Josh and I, and it would just break your heart, just an adorable kid. And you look at the look on their face, and it just breaks your heart. And then you look at the Border Patrol agent who’s walking us around the facilities, and they look so tired and dejected because they’re being asked to be humanitarian workers, which they’re not trained to do. We’ve got to fix this, Jacqueline.
And this is one issue that I get really upset about because we know what’s needed to fix it. We need to come together around two principles. Number one, in no particular order, we are a nation of the rule of law, and a nation has an obligation to defend and protect their borders. And second is we’re a nation of immigrants. Our country was built on immigrants, like my grandfather and grandparents who came in through Ellis Island from Ireland. That’s what made America great is immigration, but it was legal immigration. We know what we need to do to fix this.
And we had a group that went down there, many Democrat colleagues, including Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez, that have very pragmatic approaches that I would absolutely sign on to as a Republican. We can make them bipartisan, but we just got to be willing to show the courage because that’s what stopping it every single time, Jacqueline, is the fringes that are afraid to even migrate a little bit from their base. You’ve got to have the courage to fix this problem.
MS. ALEMANY: But, Congressman Fitzpatrick, I mean, there is obviously a lot of blame to go around for the bitter nature of politics. Do you consider former President Trump a good egg? What role do you think he played in poisoning the well and making “compromise” a bad word in politics?
REP. FITZPATRICK: Well, Jacqueline, the one thing that you can notice from Josh and I, you could spend all your time cursing the darkness or you could spend the time lighting candles. We’re trying to get things done, and human beings by their very nature, when you start attacking them and going negative of them, they get into their defensive crouch, and then you’re in battle mode. We’re trying to avoid that.
People make their own decisions, and they draw their own conclusions on individuals. Nobody is all good and nobody is all bad, just like no one party has a monopoly on good ideas. That’s what we stand for, that’s what we believe in, and that’s what we’re trying to advance.
That’s my perspective on any president from any administration, and I know Josh feels the same way. You work with them in a constructive manner where doing so is going to help your district and help your country, but you also have the courage to oppose them when what they’re doing is bad for your district and/or bad for your country, no matter which party they’re from, no matter who they are. You’ve got to take that consistent view. That’s the only way democracy works.
REP. FITZPATRICK: If I could add to that, this all boils down to do you view diversity of thought as a strength to be harnessed or do you view it as a weakness to be criticized. So, when you see somebody, when you meet somebody from the opposite party, somebody who checked a different box than you did on your voter registration form when you’re 18, do you look down on them? Do you think differently of them, or do you say, “You know what? I want to spend time with this person and understand how they think and what they have to contribute to the conversation”? That’s what we believe in, and that’s what our country needs.
Rep, Fitzpatrick’s Fox News Op-Ed
This was published on June 1, 2021, under the title “Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick: China’s Communist Party vs. the world — we must fight back before it’s too late.” The content below is quoted in full from the editorial.
“As an FBI Counterintelligence Special Agent and federal prosecutor, every single crime that I ever solved was accomplished through one method more than any other: Following the money.
Want a transparent view of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) whole-of-government “soft influence” campaign to take over the world? Follow the money.
A large chunk of the CCP’s financing comes from intellectual property and trade secrets that they steal from us, literally, on a daily basis.
As FBI Director Wray has stated: “It’s the people of the United States who are the victims of what amounts to Chinese theft on a scale so massive that it represents one of the largest transfers of wealth in human history.”
Another large chunk of the CCP’s financing comes from U.S. businesses and U.S. individuals willingly giving it to them. Unfortunately, countless American and other international companies have gone along with the CCP’s foreign direct investment and joint venture requirements and have signed over their intellectual property, technology, and future profits to access the Chinese market.
The CCP has used these U.S. resources to steal our military secrets in a deliberate effort to replicate some of the United States’ most critical weapons systems.
The CCP’s “debt-trap diplomacy” is also acquiring critical infrastructure in other countries through their predatory “Belt and Road” initiative, by building hundreds of billions of dollars in railroads, highways, ports, and shipping lanes, and then taking over critical assets when the borrowing country can (predictably) no longer afford to repay for the infrastructure.
The CCP’s intentions here are clear: to undermine America both domestically and internationally.
The PRC is seeking to destabilize U.S. currency through the development of new payment system networks in their attempt to end the world’s reliance on the U.S. dollar.
Moreover, the CCP has identified the “Five Spheres” of American influence: Academia, Professional Sports, Hollywood, Media and Big Tech platforms.
The CCP knows that if they can control these Five Spheres, they can change and influence American thinking from within.
The CCP malignly influences our academic institutions through Confucius Institutes and actively infiltrating our University STEM programs to learn of American academia’s cutting-edge STEM development.
The CCP malignly influences our professional sports as evidenced through the NBA’s capitulation to the PRC on grave human rights abuses.
The CCP malignly influences our entertainment industry through Hollywood censorship of films and actively changing any content that is displeasing to the CCP.
The CCP malignly influences our media outlets through direct and indirect payments to American newspapers to publish pro-Beijing articles and columns.
The CCP malignly influences our communications platforms through both disinformation campaigns designed to spread Communist Party propaganda while fomenting domestic division.
And, lest we forget, the CCP uses these resources to bio-engineer a highly contagious, highly deadly virus which, after an accidental leak followed by a criminal cover-up, leads to the death of over 3.5 million souls, costs our global economy over $30 trillion dollars, and causes permanent psychological and emotional damage to our children.
The CCP’s end goal? First to become the world’s economic superpower, then become the world’s military superpower, then become the world’s currency standard, so they can then spread their communist, authoritarian and totalitarian oppressive system across the globe when the world has zero defense mechanisms left.
Not only are we allowing them to do this, we’re paying them to do this.
The solution? Decouple from and isolate the CCP on all fronts.
Sanction anyone who financially contributes, directly or indirectly, to their economy. Strip them of their sovereign immunity for the CCP’s role in the coronavirus pandemic.
Revoke their “Most Favored Nation” status. Remove them from the World Trade Organization. Severely scrutinize and limit their visas.
Prevent the World Bank from issuing them low-interest loans. Harness and leverage every single international relationship we have to spread the truth of the CCP’s sinister mission, loudly and clearly, across the globe.
If we do all of this, we can’t lose. If we don’t do all of this, we can’t win.
The current trajectory has China accomplishing their goals in a decade. Will we stop them? That entirely depends on the American resolve.
China is banking and betting that we will fail this test.
Their tactic? Through influencing our “Five Spheres,” divide us against ourselves. Turn American on American. Implosion from within.
That’s the only way that the CCP can overtake us. Let’s not allow them to buy our silence, distract us, and turn us against each other.
Democracy can only die in the dark. We can win this fight.”
“As we have seen from COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party has been intentionally and maliciously misleading the rest of the world about the scope and spread of the novel coronavirus. We must hold other nations accountable for their actions that threaten and harm the livelihoods of Americans and people across the world.”
— from a Doylestown Patch article titled “Fitzpatrick, Lamb Introduce Pandemic ‘Tripwire’ Bill’
“Nonprofit organizations make countless contributions to our neighborhoods and communities while providing many citizens with unique opportunities to thrive. I am proud to join Rep. Cartwright in reintroducing the bipartisan Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act, which will allow these nonprofit organizations to redirect the funds they save on energy expenses to other causes that serve our communities.”
— from a Ripon Advance blog post titled “Fitzpatrick’s bill would help nonprofits go green”
“We simply cannot outsource our public safety and national security to foreign nations. We must reconstitute our healthcare and public safety supply chain back to the United States.”
— from a Ripon Advance blog post titled “Fitzpatrick unveils bipartisan bill to bolster America’s emergency preparedness”
“The response to the tragedy of the Covid-19 pandemic must be global. We must work to close the gaps in our global alert system and work with our allies to make sure this never happens again.”
— from a Times of India article titled “US lawmakers and governors push for more Covid vaccines to India”
“As a society, it is imperative that we protect the welfare of animals, both big and small. As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Animal Protection Caucus and an outspoken defender of animals, I continue to be committed to ensuring that our government is doing its part in promoting animal welfare. I’m proud to stand with Representative Cohen to guarantee the safe and humane treatment of horses on highways and roads. I look forward to this legislation’s swift passage in the House.”
— from an article in the racing industry periodical Bloodhorse titled “House Committee Passes Horse Transportation Safety Act”
“Now, more than ever, it is imperative we provide crucial support for the millions of those struggling with mental health or a substance use disorder in our country. A crucial part of this mission is ensuring that our mental health and substance use disorder parity laws are being enforced.”
— from a Ripon Advance blog post titled “Bipartisan, bicameral Cassidy, Fitzpatrick bill helps states enforce mental health parity law”
“As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I am committed to supporting legislation that addresses the needs of our nation’s brave and selfless firefighters and those in emergency services. I have always been and will continue to be a fervent supporter of our hero men and women who risk their lives each day for our communities across the country. I am proud to introduce the bipartisan Fire Station Construction Grants Act, which would make our communities safer by directing more resources for fire stations, training facilities, and EMS departments.”
— from a Homeland Preparedness News article titled “Reps. Pascrell, Fitzpatrick, Bost introduce fire station construction legislation”
“Individuals with disabilities contribute immensely to our workforce and economy. Incentivizing employers to hire qualified individuals with disabilities will promote growth and equity in the workplace. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Harder as we recognize the need for increased access to equal employment opportunities for disabled Americans.”
— from an Escalon Times article titled “Bipartisan Bill Designed To Help Businesses Hire Disabled”
“People like Damien make our community and world a brighter place. We had you and your story added to the Congressional Record, and the significance of that is it gets transmitted to the National Archives, which makes you permanently part of American history. You didn’t even sell them, you didn’t make money for yourself, you actually gave them to the kids. That’s a sign of tremendous character, and I’m very, very proud of you.”
— from an article in the Bucks County Courier Times article titled “School surprise: Bristol Township teen who repairs bikes for free honored”
“I’ve seen a lot of Eagle Scout projects, but I have never seen anything quite like this. How beautiful. Standing here and seeing it for the first time, what’s magical about this is that it’s bringing together our military, our Scouts, our church and our creator.
If you look at the history of all the wars that have been fought by our servicemen and women, the theme has always been the same whether it was the Revolutionary War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Global War on Terrorism, it’s always been freedom against oppression, freedom against Totalitarianism. And one of those freedoms is freedom of religion, freedom to practice our faith.
That’s what Colin has honored here today. memorializing our creator who guides our servicemen and women who we are honoring this weekend in everything they do.”
— from a Bucks Local News article titled “LEST WE FORGET: Church of Saint Andrew dedicates stunning new statue and prayer garden in Newtown”
Learning about Legislation – Bob Casey’s Five Freedoms for American’s Children
Any quotes in the segment below are taken from the full Five Freedom for America’s Children report, unless otherwise indicated. Similarly, images included below are also from the report and Senator Casey’s social media feeds.
Just before the pandemic hit, in February 2020, Senator Bob Casey released the first version of his Five Freedoms for America’s Children package. As one might imagine, this worthy report and legislative package disappeared under the combination of the pandemic, the presidential election and the general atmosphere of the wild year that was 2020. The amount of work in the Senator’s office that went into this plan cannot be denied, and instead of letting it go, he has re-introduced the plan, with new content that reflects what we’ve learned in this pandemic era.
The Five Freedoms for America’s Children is an ambitious proposal, outlining a collection of policy goals and legislative proposals to make sure that every child in the United States is provided with a safe, nurturing and secure start to life. This plan is meticulously researched, and because of that it is quite lengthy. Below you will find a detailed recap of Casey’s outline for how politicians of today can build a system to benefit the children of future generations.
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt delivered an annual address that has come to be known as the Four Freedoms speech. The centerpiece of that speech was this passage:
In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression – everywhere in the world. The second is freedoms of every person to worship god in his own way – everywhere in the world. The third is freedom from want…everywhere in the world. The fourth is freedom from fear…anywhere in the world. That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.
Senator Casey grounded his Five Freedoms for America’s Children on the goals outlined by President Roosevelt, but he also noted that he was inspired by a passage of writing from his father, the late Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey. Governor Casey wrote:
Only government, when all else fails, can safeguard the vulnerable and powerless. When it renegs [sic] on that obligation, freedom becomes a hollow word. A hard-working person unable to find work and support his or her family is not free. A person for whom sickness means financial ruin, with no health insurance to soften the blow, is not free. A malnourished child, an uneducated child, a child trapped in foster care – these children are not free. And without a few breaks along the way from government, such children in most cases will never be truly free.
The Broad Strokes
Based on those foundational statements, Senator Casey crafted his Five Freedoms for America’s Children. They are:
- The freedom to be healthy
- The freedom to be economically secure
- The freedom to learn
- The freedom from hunger
- The freedom to be safe from harm
For each of these freedoms, Senator Casey has provided a set of publicly available research data, the conclusions that he has drawn from that data, and suggestions for policies to be implemented.
Additionally, the Senator has added new segments of his plan that reflect the impact of COVID-19 on childrens’ health, the role that racial disparities play in the inequities in the current system, and the special needs of children living in rural areas.
Freedom to be Healthy
“All children deserve access to quality health care. Public policy should ensure that children benefit from both preventive health care and the dramatic advances in American medical care.” – Senator Casey
In the documentation portion of the plan, Senator Casey shows that over 4 in 10 American children currently receive health coverage that is either provided by the government (Medicaid, Medicare, VA) or subsidized by government sources (CHIP, ACA Marketplace). But those programs cover less than half of children with disabilities or special health needs, and only cover 8 in 10 children who live in poverty. And even with these government programs, there are still children in the country who remain uninsured. Even worse, the percentage of children enrolled in some of these critical programs is declining dramatically, as the Trump Administration has continued their attacks on government health care initiatives. The charts below, from Senator Casey’s site, show the decline in coverage, from 2016 to 2020.
His proposed solution: automatic Medicaid enrollment for all children at birth. This would ensure that all children are guaranteed access to early care, testing and treatment (if needed). In his words, “access to Medicaid, and especially to [the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment program], leads to positive education and economic outcomes over an individual’s lifetime. By guaranteeing access to health care, this policy will create a better future for our children and our Nation.”
Freedom to Be Economically Secure
“Economic stability and security for children and their families are the best predictors of a child’s well-being. Many programs that alleviate poverty have been shown to improve a child’s birth, health and educational outcomes.” – Senator Casey
The research background of this portion outlines the income levels of America’s families and the widespread lack of savings. It also provides some information on policies that some states have undertaken to address this issue. The senator draws from what has been learned in the implementation of those state programs in crafting his policy response.
The Senator’s proposed solution: the creation of a children’s savings account for every child whose
parent(s) or guardian earns under $100,000 per year. In the years after that, additional deposits of $500 would be made for children who are eligible at tax time each year. Friends and family can make additional contributions to this account whenever they wish. And some matching funds would be available through the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Up to half of these funds could be withdrawn to pay for post-secondary education, and provisions would be put in place to allow funds to easily roll over into retirement accounts.
Another piece of this solution: the permanent authorization of Child Tax Credits (CTC) and the Child and
Dependent Care Tax Credits (CDCTC). These are programs that were passed in the Biden Administration’s American Rescue Plan, but they were only put in place for a year. The Senator proposes this benefit to be authorized permanently, not just for the time of the pandemic.
Freedom to Learn
“High quality early care and education activities improve children’s capacity to learn and succeed in school, their emotional development and their ability to succeed in jobs and careers.” – Senator Casey
In the research portion of the plan, it is explained that a declining number of children who qualify for early childhood programs like child care assistance are accessing those services. It also details that under 4 in 10 of the kids who are eligible to attend the Head Start program are doing so, even as child care costs are skyrocketing. Also provided is information about the benefits of Head Start, and the positive later-in-life outcomes that result from quality early-childhood programs.
The Senator offers a three policy solutions:
- Increase funding of the Head Start program, so that all 3 and 4 year old children in the country can attend full day early education programs.
- Increase funding to the Child Care Entitlement to States (CCES) program, so that states can offer more child care cost subsidies to families.
- Implement the senator’s own Child Care and Dependent Tax Credit Enhancement Act. This legislation would create (based on income level and number of children) a tax credit of up to $8,000 per year to offset child care costs. This would be available to families that make up to $125,000 per year.
A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine study found that the child care tax credit alone would raise nearly 900,000 children out of poverty, create half a million jobs and create aggregate earning growth of more than $9 billion.
Freedom from Hunger
“The negative consequences of hunger and food insecurity among children are well-documented. Hunger is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases, particularly asthma, and also with a range of behavioral, social and mental disorders.” – Senator Casey
Many of the hurdles in addressing childhood hunger are purely bureaucratic, according to the research portion of the senator’s proposal. It outlines the tangled web of agencies, certification processes, and data matching systems involved in determining if a child is eligible for free or subsidized school nutrition programs. Other roadblocks to providing school meal programs involve awareness of eligibility, shaming issues, and the manner in which school debts are handled by districts.
The policy solutions that the Senator offers are:
- Expansion of direct certification of eligibility for school meals – if a child is eligible for a needs-based health care program (like CHIP or Medicaid) then they are automatically eligible for school nutrition programs. Currently this is only available to Medicaid recipients, but any number of other needs-based programs can be added to reduce the administrative burden on parents, school districts and states.
- Expansion of community eligibility – there are current policies in place where if a certain percentage of students are eligible for school nutrition programs, then ALL students in the given community can access those programs. The Senator’s plan would reduce the threshold for community wide free meals and change the manner in which it is calculated, so that more children have access to free lunch programs.
- Change and standardize the manner in which school lunch debt is handled to reduce stigma and shaming, by implementing retroactive reimbursement.
In Senator Casey’s words, “the most important impact of expanding direct certification and community eligibility is that when combined, these changes move the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs much further in the direction of universal meal service, especially in schools with significant proportions of low- and moderate-income students.”
Freedom to be Safe from Harm
“Children deserve to grow up free from abuse and neglect, yet, all too often, children in America do not grow up in a safe environment. An estimated one in seven children experienced abuse or neglect in the last year. “ – Senator Casey
The research portion of the plan explains the incidence of abuse and neglect experienced by the children of our nation. It proceeds to outline the issues involved in the under-funding of state systems designed to deal with abuse and neglect, and the growing and unmanageable caseloads experienced by the employees of those agencies. It also notes the ties between the opioid epidemic in the country, and the strains on service agencies helping children of parents that suffer from substance abuse disorders.
The senator details how the current legislation that funds and dictates the interaction between the federal funding and state agencies dealing with child welfare – the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) – works. It is currently funded at under $190 million a year. The Senator wants to see that expanded to a funding level of $5 billion across 10 years. The other solution that he proposes is a dispersal of grant funds to State Attorneys General to deal with wide-spread or long term abuse cases, like the cases of the Catholic Church, Penn State University, and Michigan State University. Currently, local police are expected to handle abuse cases, but such widespread, systemic situations can only be handled by statewide authorities.
At the heart of the senator’s proposal for safety is that the current systems only need small structural modifications, but must be funded at a level to provide sustainable operations, so that no child slips through the cracks.
Central to most of these policy proposals from Senator Casey is increased funding to existing programs, or funds for new policies. To do so, the senator calls for “reforming our national spending priorities.” In this section of the policy proposal, Senator Casey turns a critical eye past tax cuts as well as the 2017 GOP Tax Plan. He lays out how, if several portions of that corporate welfare programs instituted by the Republican Party were reversed, it would provide more than adequate funding to institute those reforms necessary to provide the Five Freedoms for America’s Children.
This portion is quoted, in full, from the Senator’s policy proposal:
The goal of the Five Freedoms for America’s Children is to reimagine our approach to public policy that affects children by creating a framework to talk about those policies and how they address the needs of children in America. These are commonsense yet forward-leaning policies to ensure that we are giving our children the best start in life. By meeting their needs with respect to health, economic security, nutrition, education and safety, we can set our children on a path to success and our Nation on a path to prosperity.
These proposals are intended to invite a robust debate, with the hope of securing the support of those who want to ensure that the light inside of each and every child can shine brightly as that child grows.
At a time when the very nature of our government is under assault, the past few years have made it feel like the most we can do is defend little bits of what we have. But Senator Casey’s proposal shows that it is possible to look for something better. In fact, by inspiring people to think about our goals, and what the government can achieve if we support it properly, it puts in stark relief the gap between the future envisioned by America’s two political parties. It compels us to ask if we want to see a future governed by those who desire to starve government programs into ineffectiveness with no care for the wellbeing of our communities; or if we long for robust programs that work to support a shared vision of something better – like future generations of well-educated, healthy American children who are free from hunger, want and abuse.
What YOU Can Do to HELP
- Talk about this initiative with family, neighbors and friends.
- Share information and articles about it on social media.
- Write an Op-Ed to your local paper about the plan.
- Call your Congressperson (and Senator Toomey) and tell them that you support this plan and ask what policy steps they are willing to take to guarantee the Five Freedoms for America’s Children.
Framing is going to be key to these conversations. As Senator Casey says, to enact these changes will require “reforming our national spending priorities.” Accordingly, one way to discuss this with others is to speak in terms of choices. Here’s an example:
“Ensuring that children get quality early childhood education is one of the best ways to ensure later in life success. We could get every three and four year old in the country into Head Start for less than the cost of reversing the 2017 GOP Tax Plan. What matters more? Our childrens’ well-being and futures, or yet another corporate tax cut?’
Now is a great time for us to talk about what we want for the future in terms of positive goals. And thankfully we have someone like Senator Casey to provide us with a great place to start.
Call to Action – Start Thinking about the Next Congressional Recess (6/28-7/10), the DEADLINE FOR DEMOCRACY
Quoted content is from Indivisible National
“Every day, we’re getting closer to a very real deadline for Democrats to take action to pass the For the People Act: a Deadline for Democracy.
We have been showing up to demand our elected representatives respond to Republican state-level attacks on voting rights since the start of this new Congress by passing real, comprehensive structural democracy reform (the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and D.C. statehood) urgently without letting the filibuster get in the way.
Why is it so important that Congress get this done before the end of July?
The For the People Act includes a ton of critically important democracy reforms, including new voter protections and election security provisions that states will need some time to implement prior to the 2022 midterm elections. In addition, the For the People Act includes a provision that bans partisan gerrymandering and requires states to establish independent redistricting commissions to draw fair Congressional maps — in some states, those maps must be drawn and finalized by February 2022.
We (literally) don’t have any time to waste.
That’s why Indivisible. Declaration for American Democracy Coalition, Stand Up America, End Citizens United, and other organizations are coming together for a major recess escalation. We’re calling it Deadline for Democracy and asking you to join us by planning visible, public, press-worthy events (think rallies and signs outside of your senator’s office) to tell Senators – Democrats and Republicans alike – that the American people are showing up to demand a democracy for the people and we need them to act urgently now, no excuses.
What we’ve heard from congressional allies is that this moment is critical to show massive grassroots support of the For the People Act and for getting it done now without letting the filibuster get in the way. From now until the August deadline, we need to stiffen Democrats’ spines, up the sense of urgency across the country, and continue to call out Republicans’ efforts to destroy our democracy. And we’ve got to make this July recess count.
A note about timing: Sen. Schumer scheduled a vote on the For the People Act for the week of 6/21. Our best intel says that this vote will fail because of the filibuster. If this happens, then it is even more important that we show up over recess and tell our Senators to pass real, inclusive democracy reform. No excuses. If (somehow, someway) we defeat the filibuster and the For the People Act passes before recess, then great! High-five! We turn these events into public celebrations.”
Groups around Pennsylvania are now planning Deadline for Democracy events for the coming recess to put pressure on senators nationwide to end the filibuster and protect voter rights. Check the events map at the Indivisible website, and plan to participate in an event near you! Or be more ambitious – plan your own event! Here’s a toolkit!
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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