Welcome to the Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report for the week ending August 29, 2021. Even though we are deep into August Recess, the House came back into session to take a few important votes and we have all the details in this week’s MoCTrack Report!
Pennsylvania Member of Congress Tracking Report – 08.29.21
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
This week we scored votes on voting rights and the infrastructure packages.
|Lawmaker||Score||Change from last score|
|🔵 Senator Bob Casey||100.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 Senator Pat Toomey||29.4%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick||49.1%||-5.8%|
|🔵 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||3.6%||-0.5%|
|🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry||0.0%||0.0%|
|🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker||8.8%||-1.0%|
|🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller||3.5%||-0.4%|
|🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce||3.5%||-0.4%|
|🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler||3.5%||-0.4%|
|🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson||9.1%||-1.1%|
|🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly||3.5%||-0.4%|
|🔵 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 Voting Rights Protections in John Lewis’s Name
When the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was enacted, one of the key provisions was that some geographic areas including most of the south needed federal approval, known as “preclearance,” before they could institute changes to their election laws. This meant that they had to justify to federal authorities that the planned changes would have no effect of discriminating against any voters on the basis of race or language.
Unfortunately, the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder struck down the preclearance process for the states included in the 1965 bill. In a recap of the very long decision, Oyez (an amazing source for Supreme Court analysis) explains that the five judge majority found that “although the constraints… made sense in the 1960s and 1970s, they do not any longer and now represent an unconstitutional violation of the power to regulate elections that the Constitution reserves for the states.” While the concept of pre-clearance was not deemed unconstitutional, the current usage of that process against states listed in 1965 is no longer permitted.
Even before the recent legislative push fueled by The Big Lie, the aftermath of the Shelby County SCOTUS decision was that a number of GOP-controlled states began passing new election laws that have adverse effects on minorities and economically disadvantaged populations. As examples of this, one can look to the stringent voter ID laws in Texas and North Carolina that had previously been struck down by lower courts. Other tactics that have since been passed that would have been struck down by preclearance include closing of polling locations, purges of inactive registered voters, and limiting early voting. And in the period since the 2020 election the Brennan Center reports that 18 states have enacted 30 laws that restrict access to the vote, and “more than 400 bills with provisions that restrict voting access have been introduced in 49 states in the 2021 legislative sessions.”
Buried deep in the Shelby decision one can find an invitation to Congress in the writing of Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. He wrote, “Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” One can interpret that to mean that a new formula for determining what areas need preclearance is acceptable. The Democratic-led 116th Congress was the first to take up the Chief Justice’s invitation, by way of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019. That measure, which had the late congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis’s name appended to it to honor his lifelong commitment to expanding the franchise and protecting the rights of the oppressed, passed the House but died in Mitch McConnell’s legislative graveyard.
Now that you have the long history of this legislation, let’s look at what it actually does. The Library of Congress has helpfully provided this legislative recap:
- “A state and all of its political subdivisions shall be subject to preclearance of voting practice changes for a 10-year period if 15 or more voting rights violations occurred in the state during the previous 25 years; 10 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years, at least 1 of which was committed by the state itself; or 3 or more violations occurred during the previous 25 years and the state administers the elections. A political subdivision as a separate unit shall also be subject to preclearance for a 10-year period if three or more voting rights violations occurred there during the previous 25 years.”
- “States and political subdivisions that meet certain thresholds regarding minority groups must preclear covered practices before implementation, such as changes to methods of election and redistricting.”
- “Further, states and political subdivisions must notify the public of changes to voting practices.”
- “The bill authorizes [the] DOJ to require states or political subdivisions to provide certain documents or answers to questions for enforcing voting rights.”
- “The bill also outlines factors courts must consider when hearing challenges to voting practices, such as the history of official voting discrimination in the state or political subdivision.”
Vote date: Tuesday, August 24, 2021 Vote Tally: 219-212
Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote. All Democrats voted YES and all Republicans voted NO.
- “The House Has Passed A Bill To Restore The Voting Rights Act,” from NPR
- “House Democrats Just Got Serious About Reining In the Supreme Court,” from Slate
- “’We are not going to stop’: Thousands gather for annual March On for Voting Rights,” from CBS News
Both Infrastructure Packages move forward in the House
House Vote on H.Res. 601: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 4) to amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to revise the criteria for determining which States and political subdivisions are subject to section 4 of the Act, and for other purposes; providing for consideration of the Senate amendment to the bill (H.R. 3684) to authorize funds for Federal-aid highways, highway safety programs, and transit programs, and for other purposes; and providing for the adoption of the concurrent resolution (S. Con. Res. 14) setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for fiscal year 2022 and setting forth the appropriate budgetary levels for fiscal years 2023 through 2031; and for other purposes.
That’s one doozy of a name for a House Resolution, so let’s dig into exactly what this measure does:
- It set the terms of the debate for H.R. 4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, giving each part one half hour of floor time to debate the bill before a final vote (section 1)
- It gave the House Judiciary Committee a day to update the congressional clerk with materials to add to the Congressional Record (like letters of support from constituents and organizations) that explain why H.R. 4 is necessary (section 2)
- The Speaker can take the version of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that passed the Senate (H.R. 3684 – Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) on August 10th, and put it on the floor for a vote after one hours of debate, equally divided between the parties (section 3a); and she must do so on or before September 27, 2021 (section 3b)
- The budget amendment that starts the Senate reconciliation procedures to pass the larger infrastructure bill, the one that contains most of President Biden’s Build Back Better plan (S. Con. Res. 14 – the one where we covered the extensive Vote-o-Rama in our last MoCTrack) is adopted through passage of this resolution (section 4)
There was a great deal of drama over this package, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threaded the needle and made a particular group of Democrats – moderates in the so-called Problem Solvers Caucus – look like amateurs…that’s her choice of word. When confronted with a silly ultimatum from Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ and co-chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus alongside fellow co-chair 🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick), she scathingly noted “this is no time for amateur hour.”
The fact is this: neither the bipartisan infrastructure package nor the larger Senate reconciliation infrastructure package will pass if both do not pass. Speaker Pelosi made that clear to her wayward Problem Makers, and each and every one of them caved and voted for this resolution. If ever any MoC trots out their Problem Solver Caucus membership as some wonderful accomplishment, feel free to quote President Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff Alyssa Mastromonaco, who noted “the only problem they [the Problem Solvers Caucus] ever solved was vacant slots on CNBC.”
Vote date: Tuesday, August 24, 2021 Vote Tally: 220-212
Party Breakdown: This was a pure party line vote. All Democrats voted YES and all Republicans voted NO. If you are wondering why there was one more YES vote on this than there was on H.R. 4, it is because California Democrat Rep. Jim Costa was not present in the chamber for the other vote, but was available for this one.
- “House Narrowly Approves $3.5 Trillion Budget Blueprint,” from NPR
- “House Democrats strike deal to advance infrastructure, voting rights proposals,” from Axios
- “House Democrats clear path toward passing $3.5 trillion budget bill and infrastructure plan after breaking stalemate,” from CNBC
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. These two bills were brought up under a suspension of the rules this week.
From the Library of Congress bill summary: “This bill requires federal agencies to make budget justification materials available to the public on a website. The bill also requires the Office of Management and Budget to make certain details regarding the materials available to the public, including a list of the agencies that submit budget justification materials to Congress, the dates that the materials are submitted to Congress and posted online, and links to the materials.”
Vote date: Monday August 23, 2021 Vote Tally: 423-1
Voting breakdown: Our Pennsylvania delegation supported this bill unanimously, with all MoCs present for the vote. The only dissenting vote came from Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina.
🗳️ House Vote on S. 325: A bill to amend the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children Act to extend the deadline for a report by the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children
From the Library of Congress bill summary: “This bill extends the deadline, from three years to five years, for the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission on Native Children to submit its report to the President and Congress. The commission was established to conduct a comprehensive study of federal, state, local, and tribal programs that serve Native children and to develop plans for federal policy related to Native children.”
Vote date: Monday August 23, 2021 Vote Tally: 418-7
Voting breakdown: Our Pennsylvania delegation voted 17-1, with 🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry placing the only NO vote. The other six NO votes also came from the far right side of the Republican party, from lawmakers known to toss legislative monkey wrenches into the gears of Congress, like Texas’s Chip Roy and Kentucky’s Thomas Massie.
Unanimously passed legislation
The following bill was passed through unanimous consent on Tuesday, August 24, 2021:
H.R.5085 – Emergency Repatriation Assistance for Returning Americans Act
Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), a cosponsor of the legislation, asked for this bill to be passed by unanimous consent. The bill, originally introduced by Chairman Richard Neal of the House Ways and Means Committee, would increase assistance payments to people returning from abroad, and presumably is meant to help those returning from Afghanistan. No one objected to the unanimous consent motion, and the measure passed.
Quotes of Interest
MoC quotes on Voting Rights
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 08/25/21:
“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. Now that the House has taken this critical step to protect voting rights and honor Rep. John Lewis, it’s time for the Senate to pass both this bill and the #ForThePeopleAct. Our democracy is on the line.”
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, from his official website, 08/24/21:
“In order for a democracy to function properly, all voices must be heard. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act restores the protections established in the original 1965 Voting Rights Act, and combats the ongoing efforts to suppress the vote in cities and states across the nation. It is an honor to join my colleagues to pass this historic legislation, which will restore vital voter protections and help ensure that every eligible voter in Pennsylvania and the nation can have their voices heard.”
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 08/27/21:
“As we celebrate the 58th anniversary of the #MarchOnWashington this weekend, I call for the Senate to honor the Civil Rights foot soldiers by passing ALL of these House-passed bills:
- #HR1, the #ForThePeopleAct
- HR4, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act
- #HR51, DC Statehood
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, from her official website, 08/25/21:
“Congress stepped up last night in protecting our precious right to vote. I am proud to have had the opportunity to serve with John Lewis and now to honor him with this incredibly critical bill in his name.”
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, from her official website, 08/24/21:
“With today’s passage of the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, the promise of democracy is kept alive.
Since the founding of our country, our quest for a more perfect union has featured measures to expand, rather than contract, the right to vote. In 1965, activists — including a young John Lewis — gave their blood, sweat, and tears to ensure passage of the original Voting Rights Act (VRA). For decades, the VRA enjoyed broad bipartisan support, but with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, the door was opened for an onslaught of anti-democratic voter suppression laws that have since been passed in state legislatures across the country.
In 2021, the assault on voting rights continues — inspired by corrupt and cynical efforts to undermine the will of American voters and hold on to power, no matter the costs. We must reinforce our democratic system against these new threats, because it won’t hold forever. This is precisely why we need the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act.
There is nothing more sacred in our democracy than the freedom to vote, and we must do everything in our power to protect that freedom. I applaud my House colleagues for supporting H.R. 4 today, and I urge the Senate to act with similar urgency so the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act can become law.”
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, from her official website, 08/24/21:
“The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a necessary reinforcement of our collective commitment to protecting access to the ballot box, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s dismantling of the Voting Rights Act.”
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, @RepCartwright, 08/24/21:
“Americans need a transparent electoral process we can trust. We need to pass H.R. 4 to restore the Voting Rights Act and strengthen the freedom to vote for all Americans.”
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 08/24/21:
“Nancy Pelosi is attempting to pass legislation to allow the federal government to interfere in state-run elections. This is a partisan power grab masquerading as election security.”
🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, @RepConorLamb, 08/24/21:
“Today I voted to pass #HR4 – the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. We must preserve our democracy & protect the right to vote for all Americans. #PA17 #RestoreTheVote”
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 08/27/21:
This weekend marks the 58th anniversary of the #MarchOnWashington. Sadly, we are still fighting the same fights against #VoterSuppression. To honor those who fought, marched, & lost their lives for #VotingRights, we must pass both #HR1 & #HR4 to #RestoreTheVote #ForThePeople.
MoC quotes on Infrastructure
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, @SenBobCasey, 08/24/21:
“The pandemic has made it clear that we need to expand & invest in home & community-based services & strengthen our home care workforce.” I couldn’t agree more,
@seiuhcpa @seiu1199wvkyoh. #BetterCareBetterJobs is our chance to invest in this critical care
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 08/24/21:
“The #BuildBackBetter Plan would deliver progress for families & the middle class by ensuring the wealthiest & big corporations pay their fair share. We can provide help for child care & long-term care, lower drug costs & meet other long-unmet needs!”
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, @RepDean, 08/26/21:
“This Congress will invest in our communities.
The Build Back Better Act will provide quality Pre-K, two years of free community college or technical trade school, paid family leave, and expanded Medicare.
We need a bold recovery — We need to Build. Back. Better.”
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, @RepMGS, 08/23/21:
“The feedback from my constituents has been clear. They need an infrastructure bill, but we can’t stop there!
We must take on the biggest challenges facing working families by investing in what Americans need — education, child care, affordable housing, and more. #BuildBackBetter”
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, from her official website, 08/24/21:
“Today I voted yes to move forward on the Senate Amendment to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and the Budget Resolution.
The first two votes have long had my wholehearted support. I firmly believe that the bipartisan infrastructure bill is an urgent, critical investment in our nation’s economic recovery, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is a necessary reinforcement of our collective commitment to protecting access to the ballot box, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court’s dismantling of the Voting Rights Act. I will continue to fight for these long overdue measures.
The procedural vote to advance the budget reconciliation process is the first step of many, and I look forward to seeing and considering the full text of this legislation. I firmly believe we must invest in home and community-based services, improve access to affordable child care, lower the cost of college, and increase our national response to the climate crisis. Most importantly, we must finally allow Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies and bring down the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs, which would save Americans billions at the pharmacy counter – including those not on Medicare.
I will not commit to a bill that has not yet been written, and my vote today should not be confused for an endorsement of the final budget resolution. But we owe it to the American people to begin this process and get to work on crafting a budget resolution that makes needed, commonsense investments in our future.”
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, from his official website, 08/24/21:
“The bipartisan infrastructure deal and the Build Back Better plan together will create more American jobs, cut taxes for working families and lower costs. Major investments in all the infrastructure that makes our country run will drive good-paying job growth and make us more competitive with every other country in the world. This includes important funding for new Amtrak routes that can help bring passenger rail connections back to Northeastern Pennsylvania.
The Build Back Better plan will give working families much needed tax cuts while lowering their health care and education costs. Finally enabling Medicare to negotiate lower prescription drug prices especially will help tackle a major expense Americans face. This is historic legislation that will give working people and their kids a better chance at a good middle-class life, and I was happy to vote yes on moving it forward today.”
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 08/23/21:
“Under the Biden Admin and Democrat leadership, inflation continues to rise and hardworking Americans continue to face higher prices for everyday goods.
Despite this, Dems have proposed an outrageous $3.5 trillion budget which will only bring higher taxes and more inflation.”
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, from his official website, 08/24/21:
“President Joe Biden’s, Senator Bernie Sanders’ and Speaker Pelosi’s socialist $3.5 trillion ‘budget’ is an insult to the American taxpayer. The radical, left-wing Democrat Party is on the brink of massively and permanently increasing the size and scope of the federal government and Americans’ dependency on big government. Their plan to spend $68 trillion over the next ten years threatens the freedoms and opportunities we all enjoy today; continuing on this destructive path will bankrupt future generations. The Democrat budget will raise taxes on middle-class Americans and small businesses, and every American will see higher bills at the grocery store and at the gas pump. This legislation will irresponsibly plunge our nation $17 trillion further into debt and further increase inflation which is already squeezing hardworking Americans’ budgets. This reckless fiscal policy must come to an end.
“H.Res.601 also makes a mockery of Congress and is the result of midnight backroom deals in which Pelosi strongarmed Democrats who know the bill is bad for all Americans. Normally the ‘rule bill’ is uncontroversial and simply a procedural vote that determines the structure of debate of and amendments to the bill. Unfortunately, today’s rule also included the underlying budget resolution and “deemed” it as passed by the House with the passage of the rule. This sham of a process denies both sides the opportunity to debate the merits of the budget resolution as a stand-alone measure and is the worst example of an entirely broken process. As a member of the Budget Committee, I’m deeply frustrated that the budget did not receive a stand-alone vote on the House floor. While ramming through this ‘rule bill’ Pelosi further degrades the deliberative legislative process of the House by holding the infrastructure bill hostage until her entire caucus votes for their socialist budget. We cannot afford the Democrats’ partisan gimmicks as our nation plunges further and further into debt.”
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, from his official website, 08/24/21:
“Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats’ budget is a disaster for millions of working families and paves the way for more Washington control over their lives. This budget resolution fast-tracks $3.5 trillion in spending and adds $17 trillion in new debt that our children and grandchildren will have to pay back, grants amnesty for illegal aliens, eliminates right-to-work protections, and expands government-controlled health care. I voted no on this budget because I made a promise to the people of Pennsylvania’s 12th District that I would work to rein in wasteful spending. That’s a promise I intend to keep.”
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, @RepJohnJoyce, 08/23/21:
“Bernie Sanders’ $3.5 trillion spending spree is terrible for American families. Here are the top 10 reasons I’ll be voting no on this socialist wish list:” tweeted with an embedded video
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 08/25/21:
“Democrats’ solution to skyrocketing inflation?
Pass a whopping $3.5 trillion dollar budget that is bound to take inflation to new heights.
Reminder: Inflation is a hidden tax on every American.”
🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, from his official website, 08/24/21:
“Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrat’s budget resolution opens the door for massive tax increases on small businesses and families, while adding trillions of dollars to our national debt. They have put together a blueprint to spend money we do not have, while aiming to put the government in the driver’s seat when it comes to your healthcare, and it even goes as far to offer amnesty to illegal immigrants in the midst of an ongoing crisis at our southern border. Rather than saddle future generations with crushing debt, Congress should be working towards commonsense, pro-growth policies, which will have positive impacts across Pennsylvania and our country.”
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, from his official website, 08/24/21:
“I have ten grandchildren. I can’t imagine sitting down with my grandchildren and saying, Grandpa’s got an idea: you’re going to make about $38,000, and grandma and I think you should go out and spend $68,000.”
We talk in trillions here, we talk in billions here, and we talk in millions here, and the only people back home that I represent that talk in millions are the people hoping to win the Pennsylvania lottery. The rest of them go from paycheck to paycheck. The rest of them look long range.”
What are doing? Funded and unfunded debt right now exceeds $130 trillion. We have become so out of touch with the people that supply every penny and cosign every debt that we do. My question is when do we in Washington start to surely represent the people who had faith and trust and sent us here.”
Why do we think that spending ourselves into oblivion somehow is going to win the next election for us? It’s not a matter of who wins the election, it’s who puts this country in the right direction.”
My colleagues are not going to vote for something that puts Americans in a position where they’ll never see the light of day again. I don’t want them to have so much unfunded debt that they can never climb out of it.”
God bless our American citizens. They are on the pit right now and they’re being roasted by a party that doesn’t care about them.”
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, <date>:
“By passing the budget yesterday, @HouseDemocrats have laid the groundwork to enact @JoeBiden’s #BuildBackBetter plan. This plan would create jobs, cut taxes, & lower health care costs for America’s working families. Learn more about how it can help you”
MoC statements on the situation in Afghanistan
🔵 Senator Bob Casey, from his official website, 08/26/21:
“This is a devastating attack on Afghans and Americans trying to flee for their lives and the U.S. forces working day and night to evacuate as many people as possible. As more information comes in about this terrorist attack, the safety of our troops and the Americans still in Afghanistan must remain our top priority. American troops are carrying out their mission despite numerous threats and challenges and we owe it to them to do everything we can to bring them home safely. We cannot tolerate terrorist threats to the United States emanating from Afghanistan.”
🔴 Senator Pat Toomey, from his official website, 08/16/21:
“What we are witnessing in Afghanistan is nothing short of a tragedy. The miscalculation to rapidly withdraw our forces to meet symbolic rather than strategic deadlines has created a rapidly unfolding humanitarian disaster that will lead to only more pain and suffering for the people of Afghanistan. It’s incumbent upon the United States to ensure a swift and safe evacuation of American citizens, along with our Afghan partners fleeing the Taliban.”
🔴 PA-01’s Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, from his official website, 08/26/21:
“Today, our worst fears came true. Our own blood and treasure—devoted U.S. service members—and a number of innocent Afghans were killed in a series of explosions outside of the Hamid Karzai Airport and the Baron Hotel in Kabul. And even more are critically injured. It simply did not have to be this way. My heart breaks for our troops, their loved ones, and our Afghan allies.
I remain clear on my insistence that we safely return home every American citizen and Afghan partner fleeing the country as quickly as possible. It is increasingly evident that the Administration’s arbitrary August 31st withdrawal deadline does not allow for a complete evacuation. The Taliban must understand that they do not dictate the timeline on saving the lives of Americans, our allies, and our loyal Afghan partners, who have stood by our side for two decades. We must leave no one behind.
As a member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, I implore the Administration to change its course and commit to remaining on the ground until the mission is complete. Anything short of that is unacceptable.”
🔵 PA-02’s Rep. Brendan Boyle, from his official website, 08/26/21:
“I utterly condemn the terrorist attack in Afghanistan today that claimed the lives of multiple U.S. soldiers and civilians. I offer my deepest condolences to the families of those brave American soldiers who were killed in this cowardly attack, and to the families of all who died. Amid such tragedy, we must remain focused on the continuing effort to extract our fellow Americans from Afghanistan and do everything we can to get them to safety.”
🔵 PA-03’s Rep. Dwight Evans, @RepDwightEvans, 08/26/21:
“Awful news. Keeping our troops and the families of those lost or injured in my prayers.
Americans and allies have served bravely during our 20 years in Afghanistan. It’s time to bring them home.”
🔵 PA-04’s Rep. Madeleine Dean, from her official website, 08/20/21:
“We have a duty as a nation to help all our Afghan allies — their dedication helped us achieve our original mission and we cannot leave them behind when they desperately need our support. I join over 80 of my colleagues in this appeal and applaud Reps. Meng and Houlahan for leading this letter to be sure the Biden administration is prioritizing the safety of our Afghan allies.”
🔵 PA-05’s Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, from her official website, 08/26/21:
“Philadelphia has a long history of welcoming refugees from around the world and working with them to rebuild their lives. So, I am proud our big-hearted city will have the opportunity to uphold this tradition. In the spirit of our own William Penn, who provided a safe haven for the persecuted, I have faith our community will be bold with its generosity. We will collectively lift our lamp beside the golden door for all those forced to flee their homes and start anew.
I know our region is ready to take on this role and welcome as many Afghan families as needed. Our resettlement agencies, led by Nationalities Service Center and HIAS Pennsylvania, have the will, the experience, and the capacity to start resettling Afghan arrivals as soon as possible so they can begin their lives in America with whatever support they need. My office stands ready to assist federal agencies and local organizations in whatever ways possible.
Given the news coming out of Kabul earlier today, it is clear there is an urgent need to evacuate our Afghan allies as quickly as possible. Philadelphia and the surrounding region stand ready to welcome them with open arms.”
🔵 PA-06’s Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, from her official website, 08/20/21:
“The images and news reports coming out of Afghanistan paint a haunting picture of fear and desperation. Time is of the essence to help the Afghan men and women who stood beside American servicemembers, diplomats, and humanitarians as translators, cultural guides, allies, and friends over the last two decades. I urge the Administration to quickly act on our recommendations in order to ensure those most likely to be targeted for advancing women’s equality and promoting human rights are not left behind.”
🔵 PA-07’s Rep. Susan Wild, from her official website, 08/26/21:
“I am devastated by the loss of multiple U.S. servicemembers in today’s horrific attacks outside Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
The perpetrators of this barbaric act targeted our troops alongside Afghan and American civilians for whom our servicemembers put their lives on the line every single day. This was an attack on our shared humanity and dignity, and reports of Afghan children among the scores of civilians killed are particularly heartbreaking.
I grew up in a military family, and I know firsthand that every servicemember leaves behind a family consumed with worry at the thought that their loved one may not come home the same—or come home at all. Today, families in our community and across our nation are enduring indescribable loss. They need to know that our entire nation shares in their grief, and that we stand with them and will never forget them—not just today, but every day.
It is clear to me that it was long past time to end the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, and that we could not continue to put American servicemembers in danger for an unwinnable war. At the same time, it appears that the evacuation process has been egregiously mishandled.
In order to move forward, our country will need to receive answers and accountability regarding the cascading failures that led us to this catastrophic moment, and I look forward to using my platform on the House Foreign Affairs Committee to secure answers from the Biden Administration about what went wrong. Our troops deserve nothing less than a complete and unvarnished account of the truth.
In the days and weeks ahead, I will continue working to ensure that we leave no one—American servicemember, American civilian, or Afghan ally—behind. That is the indefatigable spirit that drives our troops through every burden and every sacrifice, and our entire country must now strive to be worthy of that example.”
🔵 PA-08’s Rep. Matt Cartwright, from his official website, 08/26/21:
“My prayers and deepest condolences go out to the servicemembers, civilians and families affected by this horrific act of violence, and I condemn those responsible in the strongest possible terms. Right now, it is urgently important that the federal government step up efforts to safely evacuate every American citizen and ally from this worsening situation. This attack makes clear that Congress has to continue its support for our intelligence and counterterrorism capabilities in the region to monitor and confront what are serious and ongoing threats to our national security.”
🔴 PA-09’s Rep. Dan Meuser, @RepMeuser, 08/26/21:
“Biden showed a complete lack of leadership and responsibility for the unmitigated disaster he and his admin created in Afghanistan. He projected weakness when our country needs a leader. It is time for him to step up to the plate and be the commander in chief America needs.
I am joining @GOPLeader in demanding Speaker Pelosi and the Democrat caucus order a special session to pass legislation which discards the Biden Administration withdrawal date of August 31, and prohibits withdrawing from Afghanistan so as no American is left behind.”
🔴 PA-10’s Rep. Scott Perry, from his official website, 08/16/21:
“Like so many of you – many with whom I’ve spoken over the past week – I’m witnessing images from Afghanistan with frustration, sadness, and unceasing anger.
For nearly two decades, brave American Service Members gave their blood, sweat, and tears – and many, the last full measure of devotion – to the US mission in Afghanistan, fighting terror, and ensuring not only our own national security but with the help of our allies, security around the globe.
In a few short days of abject incompetence and failure from President Biden and his Administration, those gains have been erased.
The abdication of leadership from the Biden Administration is an utterly shameful, disgusting, and embarrassing disgrace, not to mention a grave disservice to our Troops, and the squandering of tens of thousands of American and foreign national lives that were dedicated to ensuring that this would never happen.
On the humanitarian front, which remains a cornerstone of my work in Congress, over the past 20 years we’ve worked diligently to give equality to the women of Afghanistan, particularly young girls who were given a glimpse of a brighter future in society through education and opportunity. Now, another casualty of the disorganized, haphazard, and unplanned exit from the country – in which an entire generation grew up under American enlightenment – is that these same people will be relegated once again to the repression and torture of the Taliban.
On a purely strategic basis, you don’t just pull the rug up from an operation and walk out. I’ve said from the beginning that, while pulling out of Afghanistan is necessary, it needed to be in a responsible, conditional, and phased approach. This debacle doesn’t come close. At the very least, America earned the right to maintain a counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan; we just lost that capability as well.
President Biden’s actions – and lack thereof – are complete and abject negligence at best and aiding and abetting our enemy at worst. To think that the Taliban wouldn’t be poised to seize upon the opportunity of this Administration’s strategic apathy and incompetence is ridiculous, not to mention a demonstrable ignorance of the enemy.
And oh, by the way, China, Russia, and Iran are watching.
This moment, and the days to follow, are a blight on our Nation’s history.”
🔴 PA-11’s Rep. Lloyd Smucker, from his official website, 08/20/21:
“As the crisis in Afghanistan continues to unfold, I want to provide an update and offer a few more of my thoughts.
As of Thursday, we have heard reports that as many as 15,000 American citizens remain in Afghanistan. The Taliban has set up check points on the road to the Kabul Airport, preventing many from accessing the airport as they attempt to get to safety. Others, especially those not in Kabul, have gone into hiding. Ensuring that Americans and our allies can safely and swiftly evacuate is the top priority.
It is deeply disturbing that President Biden, Defense Secretary Austin, Secretary of State Blinken, along with other key decision-makers in the administration gave the green light for the U.S. Defense and State Departments to shut down operations and leave Kabul knowing that they were abandoning American citizens and our allies. President Biden’s response as well as those from his cabinet are repugnant and show a disastrous lack of leadership.
I am calling for a thorough and immediate investigation into the decisions that were made by all of the officials involved in the process that led to the crisis we are currently seeing unfold in Afghanistan. If President Biden or other administration officials possessed the knowledge that they would be leaving American citizens behind and in danger, they should resign immediately.
When President Biden finally addressed the nation, he doubled down on his argument to withdraw and blamed others for his failures. This was unacceptable, we know the Taliban was not living up to their side of the deal. Our Commander in Chief should have adjusted our military plans accordingly, not blindly pursue a doomed promise.
I implore the President to listen to the American people: this is not about why we were there, this is about how you had no plan to leave. The fatally flawed decision of turning the keys over to an Afghan government who was so quickly overcome by the Taliban has resulted in grave danger not only to American lives, but our Afghan allies who helped keep our nation safe against the threat of terrorists. The promises made to the individuals who continue to risk their lives by serving alongside the U.S. military must be fulfilled.
I am disappointed to see the collapse of the Afghan government and question why the Taliban was able so swiftly to retake control of the country. Our nation is horrified at the atrocities taking place under Taliban rule. Afghans, especially women, and the world are worse off with Jihadists ruling Afghanistan. What is happening in Afghanistan is not in isolation; it will have a ripple effect throughout the Middle East, and embolden many who wish to do us harm. Further, there are some in the international community who will recognize these terrorists as legitimate governments and partner with them, causing further harm to America and our allies.
Our mission in Afghanistan was about protecting the world from the evils of terrorists. I am deeply grateful to the thousands of service members, civilians and their families who made tremendous sacrifices to fulfill this mission and prevent further terror attacks on the homeland for the past two decades. To all service members and civilians who serve overseas, I thank you for keeping the lives of millions of Americans and Afghans safe.”
🔴 PA-12’s Rep. Fred Keller, from his official website, 08/26/21:
“The terrorist attacks at the Kabul Airport today are horrific and appalling. My family and I are praying for the heroic American troops who were wounded or killed, as well as for their families who share in their sacrifice. Our nation is grateful for every man and woman in uniform, especially those who remain on the ground in Kabul, in harm’s way, conducting this important mission. Their bravery will always be remembered.
Responsibility for the chaos currently unfolding in Afghanistan rests squarely with President Biden. President Biden’s weak leadership and misguided efforts to negotiate with terrorists contributed to the loss of American life. This catastrophe was entirely avoidable and President Biden must be held accountable.
While we pray for the American troops and Afghan allies still behind enemy lines, our top priority must be the safe evacuation of American citizens and military personnel. President Biden must commit to ensuring that we leave no American behind.”
🔴 PA-13’s Rep. John Joyce, from his official website, 08/24/21:
“As I speak today, Americans are stranded behind enemy lines. Our top priority must be to bring them home safely. Now is not the time for taking vacations or giving canned remakes from the West Wing. Now is the time for American leadership, and President Biden has failed in that regard. This is Joe Biden’s Saigon.”
🔴 PA-14’s Rep. Guy Reschenthaler, @GReschenthaler, 08/27/21:
“The tragedy and disaster in Afghanistan cannot be overstated.
Biden endangered our troops, citizens, and Afghan allies.
No matter what he does now, nothing can change the fact that Biden had no plan and recklessly withdrew.”
🔴 PA-15’s Rep. Glenn W. Thompson, from his official website, 08/26/21:
“The reports coming out of Afghanistan that citizens and U.S Service members have been injured and some killed by coordinated suicide attacks outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport are horrific. We are praying for those impacted and that Americans and our allies will soon be able to depart the country safely.
These attacks underscore the serious consequences of this haphazard withdrawal. We know vacating the region will present additional security challenges and empower terrorist groups. It is my hope President Biden will take today’s events into consideration and immediately move to have U.S. and ally forces secure the area to ensure the safety of American and Afghan civilians while reevaluating his arbitrary deadline of total withdrawal by next Tuesday.”
🔴 PA-16’s Rep. Mike Kelly, from his official website, 08/16/21:
“President Biden’s speech did not address the core cause of what’s happening in Afghanistan right now. Many Americans, including me, agreed that we needed to withdraw our troops from this war torn nation. The problem is that he carried out the withdrawal irresponsibly and in a manner that led to the collapse of the Afghan government in a matter of days.
The president blamed everyone but himself for what occurred, including former President Trump, Afghanistan’s political officials, its army, and its people. He then refused to take questions from the press. This is not what leadership looks like.”
🔵 PA-17’s Rep. Conor Lamb, text of a joint letter, as shared on his official website, 08/25/21:
“The For Country Caucus is the only bipartisan veteran caucus in Congress. Each of our twenty-five members served honorably in the U.S. Armed Forces, including several who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. A central value of our military service has been that as Americans we leave no one behind.
In that spirit, we write today to ask you to commit to evacuating all Americans and Afghan partners. Given the rapidly changing situation on the ground, deadlines imposed by others should not guide the
evacuation of our fellow Americans and those whose support for our mission in Afghanistan has placed them and their families in grave danger…
…This is about more than doing the right thing. This is a national security imperative. The eyes of the world are watching whether we will stand by our friends. We must show the world that we will live up to our values and promises. We are strong as a nation because we have friends and allies. If we don’t stand by those friends and allies right now, we will find ourselves dealing with future threats and challenges alone.
Your administration will have broad support from America’s veterans in the challenging task of evacuating our Afghan partners. To many of us, these Afghan partners have names and faces. They
fought with us and served shoulder-to-shoulder with us for decades to help us achieve our mission and come home to our families. We view it as a personal and moral imperative to do the same for them now.
Veterans will support a decision to ensure that we do not leave our Afghan comrades behind. Every American citizen and Afghan partner is in grave danger. We must bring to bear all U.S. and allied resources to evacuate them as rapidly as possible. We ask you not to leave Afghanistan until we bring our fellow Americans and Afghan partners to safety. You will have our full support in achieving that mission.”
🔵 PA-18’s Rep. Mike Doyle, @USRepMikeDoyle, 08/26/21:
“I am saddened and angered by the latest violence in #Afghanistan. My thoughts are with our brave service members, the innocent civilians, & the families of those who lost their lives. I will push to ensure those responsible are held accountable.”
This report is brought to you by the Pennsylvania MoCTrack team…
CC Linda Houk
Gary Garb Kierstyn Piotrowski Zolfo
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