Costello 2017

November 7, 2017 General Election put Republicans on notice as Trumps coattails brought Dems into local offices in Chester County. Watch for voting changes because of it.

Dec 28, 2017
Reading Eagle
Congressman Ryan Costello talks taxes, immigration and infrastructure (VIDEO)

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello talked about the politics and policy of recently passed tax reform, a pathway to citizenship and improving U.S. infrastructure during a meeting Wednesday with the Reading Eagle editorial board.

The Chester County Republican, who represents part of Berks County, is confident the new tax code will not lead to a deeper deficit. He believes the changes will stimulate enough growth over 10 years to offset the loss of tax dollars in the nation’s coffers.Costello had expected the tax bill, which passed with no Democratic votes, to receive bipartisan support.

“There are those on the left that will say Republicans never let us in the room,” Costello said. “There are those on the right who would say Democrats never made any good-faith effort to engage on tax reform.”Three weeks before the tax bill was even introduced, the Democratic Congressional Committee, the super PAC related to (House) Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, was in my district polling, figuring out what the two or three best attacks against the tax bill were, even though the bill had not even been introduced yet.”Obviously, the Democrats want to win back the House. I think the Democrats have decided they are not interested in consensus-building.”

Individual mandate’s demise

Costello said he supported the tax reform law’s repeal of the individual mandate – a tax penalty in President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act that sought to force young and healthy Americans to purchase health insurance by imposing a tax penalty for failing to do so.

About 80 percent of those who paid the minimum $695 penalty for not having insurance in 2017 earn less than $50,000 a year, Costello said.”To me that is a tax on low-income Americans,” he said Wednesday.Many Republicans thought the mandate was unconstitutional when the act was enacted.”The reason was, you were taxing someone who chose not to purchase something,” Costello said. “The Supreme Court held that the reason the mandate was constitutional is because it was a tax.”Eliminating the mandate doesn’t mean you can’t purchase insurance, Costello said. It just drops the penalty for not doing so, he said.The mandate’s supporters say dropping it will drive premiums up, since insurers will lose the revenue once generated by those who now elect not to have coverage and who face no penalty for it.

CHIP’s survival

Costello expects the Children’s Health Insurance Program – which provides free and low-lost health insurance to 178,000 children in Pennsylvania – to be reauthorized in January for five years. The Pennsylvania CHIP office’s website says that without federal funding, it will have to make plans to end the program.

Before leaving for its Christmas break, Congress passed a $3 billion short-term fix as some states were beginning to halt enrollment in the program.”I think there are some politics being played on this,” Costello said, adding that he believes the Republican funding proposal is a reasonable and responsible way to secure the program over the long term.”Democrats in the House disputed the funding mechanism for it,” he said. “There is a fund created from the Affordable Care Act intended to be used for something such as CHIP. We were going to pay for it out of that, as well as – if you are a Medicare beneficiary who makes more than $500,000 a year, the premium would have gone up for you approximately $130 a month.”But Democrats expressed worry that the approach would undermine Medicare.Costello said that he believes Democrats’ decision to oppose the House reauthorization plan sunk it.”When you get a lot of Democrats in the House voting for something, that is a sign you are going get to Senate Democrats, too,” he said, but that didn’t happen.And the result is not good for anyone, he said.”It undermines the authority of our government, when we can’t reauthorize things that everybody agrees should be authorized,” Costello said.

Immigration reform

Congress’s ability to resolve the status of undocumented immigrants who came out of the shadows in response to Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program might depend on what the president says, Costello said.

“I think he has the ability to bring in a lot of conservative Republicans” who might oppose legislation helping people stay in the only home they have known since childhood unless it’s paired with border security, Costello said.”I think he’s a wildcard,” he said of Trump after noting that including border security might sink a reform bill by losing the votes of liberal Democratic supporters.”And then there are people like me, the middle-of-the-roaders,” Costello said. “Can we bring in enough votes? And is it a standalone bill or does it get thrown into another bill?”Costello said that legislation is needed not just because Trump set a March deadline for Obama’s program, but because he believes the courts were likely to strike down the DACA program.Costello is cosponsor of a bill introduced earlier this year, the Recognizing America’s Children Act, which would make a program similar to Obama’s DACA the law of the land. It would allow children who were brought to the U.S. as minors to move from temporary lawful status to lawful status within five years.”It gets rid of that question mark of you lawfully being in the United States,” Costello said, adding that he understands people being terrified that Congress will not resolve their legal status by March.”If it doesn’t get done, it is a real failure,” he said. “If it does get done permanently and it looks similar to DACA, then we will be better off as a country for years to come because it will have been done constitutionally and legislatively.”

Infrastructure optimism

As politically charged as the 2018 election year is expected to be, Costello believes an infrastructure package that includes passenger rail, rural broadband, modernizing the electrical grid, roads, bridges, highways, ports and airports could gain bipartisan support.

“Every congressional district in the county has at least five of those,” he said.Some of the infrastructure projects Costello would like to see in his district include improvements to Route 222; making Route 422 safer from Lebanon through Norristown and beyond; improvements at Philadelphia International Airport and to Interstate 95; and upgrades to existing passenger railways and the power grid. Source

Dec 26, 2017
Suffolk News Herald
New legislation aimed at ‘Food Deserts’

Congressman Donald McEachin, VA-04, rolled up his sleeves to help hand out food to dozens of residents in line on Friday at Solomon’s Porch, located on South Sixth Street off East Washington Street.

The East End Baptist Church food pantry distributed bags of fresh fruit and vegetables to more than 40 individuals in the afternoon chill, including eight volunteers that delivered to elderly across the city, according to Food Pantry Director Yvonne Green.

“We have a real need, and that’s everywhere that uses the system,” Green said. “We don’t turn any away.”

But McEachin wasn’t there just to hand out food. He was drumming up support for new legislation he has co-introduced in Congress.

Congressman Donald McEachin, VA-04, discusses his efforts to address hunger and food insecurity on Friday at the Solomon’s Porch food pantry run by East End Baptist Church.
He and church members were joined by Ruth Jones Nichols, chief executive officer of the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, and Foodbank staff.

McEachin, a Democrat who represents part of Suffolk, spoke about the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act, which he co-introduced with Reps. Ryan Costello, a Pennsylvania Republican; Dwight Evans, a Democrat from Pennsylvania; and Tim Ryan, a Democrat from Ohio. A companion bill was also introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sen. Mark Warner.

If signed into law, the bill would establish a tax credit and grant program to incentivize grocers, nonprofits and other food service providers to invest and support food partnerships in low-income and rural areas.

“It gives local economic development officers another tool in their toolbox to be able to attract grocery stores and folks who want to be able to offer healthy food to folks,” McEachin said.

He said the bill is a response to his constituents’ concerns about living in “food deserts,” or areas where access to affordable, healthy food is restricted or nonexistent. Parts of downtown Suffolk have been identified as a food desert, as have more rural areas of the city.

“What this bill will do is provide resources so that either for-profit grocery stores can come to our community, or nonprofits can come to our community, and deliver these services for you so that you don’t have to drive over a mile to get to a good grocery store to get healthy food,” he said.

Jones Nichols said the Foodbank’s network of food pantries is the best option for many families to get fresh fruits, vegetables and protein. The bill would support their efforts and that of community partners.

“Our goal is to do things with the community, not ‘for or ‘to’ the community,” she said.

The Foodbank and its partner agencies distributed 861,000 meals throughout Suffolk in fiscal year 2017, and 94,606 of those meals were distributed by East End Baptist Church, according to Communications Manager Todd Emmett.

The church received a 2017 Food Lion Feeds grant for $4,200 spent on pantry renovations, which was renamed Solomon’s Porch after the renovations were completed this fall, Green said.

“They’re doing such good work in the community in terms of trying to feed folks,” McEachin said about Solomon’s Porch.

Green said the bill would help church volunteers feed the thousands of men, women and children they support annually.

“We couldn’t exist without the food we receive from the Foodbank, and this bill will help them provide more fresh food to organizations like us.”   Source

Dec 23, 2017
Daily Lopcal Opinion
Guest column: Protests are getting out of hand
By Lauryn Bernier Schothorst and Kori Walter

Helping the more than 700,000 men and women who live in Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District is the cornerstone of the work our staff does every day in U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello’s offices in West Chester, Wyomissing and Washington.

Congressman Costello sets the tone by treating all constituents with respect, demonstrating thoughtful leadership and accepting nothing less than exceptional service.

His voting record reflects pragmatism and independence. He’s sided with President Obama and President Trump when they’ve proposed policies that help working families and businesses. And when the Congressman disagrees, he says so.

The Congressman has honored a solemn commitment to all of his constituents to act and speak in a thoughtful and civil manner. Likewise, our staff in the district and in Washington work diligently every day, many nights and weekends and over the holidays to respond to thousands and thousands of phone calls, e-mails and letters.

Staff also sets appointments to meet with constituents to listen to their concerns about legislation and other issues before Congress. We draft, track and seek input from constituents on legislation. And we’ve organized and 11 town halls in a variety of in-person, telephone and online formats in 2017 alone.

For nearly a year now, Congressman Costello and our staff have carried out their responsibilities while a small, albeit extremely vocal, group of protesters shows up at least weekly to yell into bullhorns and march into the office demanding staff drop everything and listen to their grievances.

Some of these protesters have visited, e-mailed and phoned our offices multiple times each day. A few of have resorted to taking photos of staff coming in and out of the office and posting those photos on social media without our consent. Countless people make harsh comments on the Congressman’s social media pages that most of us wouldn’t allow our children to read.

Regrettably, the conduct of some constituents has grown increasingly belligerent in recent weeks.

On Dec. 7, a dozen people entered our West Chester Office in the Historic Chester County Courthouse. Some were professional political activists from Philadelphia. Almost immediately, the group defaced the office in our historic building by taping several posters with political slogans to the walls. They posed for photos while sitting behind desks used by staff.

Despite the aggressive actions, our staff spent nearly an hour allowing each person to speak their mind. When staff finished listening and asked protesters to leave so that we could continue serving other constituents, the group ratcheted up its disruptive antics. They shouted at and mocked staff. And then they started singing loud enough that police officers and a magisterial district judge in a courtroom down the hall could hear their crooning.

Two constituents who visited the office during this chaotic occupation had to walk around people sitting on the floor while cell phones captured video of the constituents and staff without their consent. When staff asked the protesters to stop videotaping, the group sang even louder just a few feet from where staff was attempting to answer phone calls.

Constituents absolutely have every right to make their voices heard and offer feedback. However, there is a delicate balance between passionate issue advocacy and harassment and intimidation. And non-violence doesn’t make the protest peaceful.

The U.S. Capitol Police, who monitor protest activities to ensure the safety of lawmakers and staff, have defined certain acts of disruption and intimidation as criminal. Those acts include refusing to leave the office, blocking the passage of pedestrians or vehicles, and hanging banners or signs from public and private property.

If we showed up at your workplace without an appointment, prevented your co-workers from doing their jobs and shouted that the decisions your boss is making are going to “kill his children”, we’d expect you to call law enforcement and have us removed for trespassing.

If you call and verbally harass staff or email ominous messages that make staff scared for their well-being, please do not be surprised if police are summoned. We have a responsibility to ensure a safe, professional, and accessible office setting for our staff and our constituents.

All of our staff strives to be friendly, honest, courteous, open-minded, hardworking, and reasonable. Congressman Costello has said: “I find the recent, heated rhetoric we’re seeing not only alarming and hateful, but categorically unacceptable. Let’s all commit to bringing down the temperature in politics.”

We concur, and that’s how we will responsibly continue to manage the Congressional offices for the people we proudly serve.

Lauryn Bernier Schothorst, a Chester County native, is chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello. Kori Walter is the Congressman’s district director.   Source

Dec 20, 2017
timesherald.com
US Rep. Ryan Costello believes tax cuts will benefit low, middle income families

In what could be a career-defining vote, U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, on Tuesday and Wednesday joined with the vast majority of his Republican colleagues in voting to support a massive tax rewrite bill that has deeply divided the nation between those who say it will promote growth and investment in the economy and those who label it a gift to the wealthy.

Republicans like Costello, a two-term congressman who represents portions of Chester, Montgomery, Berks and Lebanon counties, insist Americans will learn to love the deeply unpopular bill when they see their paychecks in the new year.

But even as President Donald Trump cheered the lawmakers on, eager to claim his first major legislative victory, opposition Democrats were charging that the legislation would instead lead to higher deficits, eventual cuts to essential social services, and in time lead to tax increases on middle income families.

Costello said he was not attending the White House celebration of the bill’s passage. Instead, he would be working on legislations to stabilize the health insurance market, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) matter.

After midnight Wednesday, the Senate narrowly passed the tax reform legislation on a party-line 51-48 vote. Protesters interrupted with chants of “kill the bill, don’t kill us” and Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly called for order. Upon passage, Republicans cheered, with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin among them.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., insisted Americans would respond positively to the tax bill.

“If we can’t sell this to the American people, we ought to go into another line of work,” he said. The early morning vote came hours after the GOP rammed the bill through the House, 227-203. But it wasn’t the final word in Congress because of one last hiccup.

Three provisions in the bill, including its title, violated Senate rules, forcing the Senate to vote to strip them out. So the massive bill was hauled back across the Capitol for the House to vote again on Wednesday, and Republicans have a chance to celebrate again.

“The proof will be in the paychecks,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said during the Senate’s nighttime debate. “This is real tax relief, and it’s needed.”

Not so, said the top Senate Democrat as the long, late hours led to testy moments.

Democrats called the bill a giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, with no likelihood that business owners will use their gains to hire more workers or raise wages. And they mocked the Republicans’ contention that the bill will make taxes so simple that millions can file their returns “on a postcard” — an idea repeated often by the president.

Costello’s vote, which he was given the opportunity to explain in a series of questions from Digital First Media, is expected to be the focus of the campaign against him in 2018. As Tuesday’s vote cleared the house, Democratic candidate Chrissy Houlahan had issued a denunciation of his decision, calling the bill a “GOP tax scam that will have devastating consequences for taxpayers here in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District.”

Following are the questions that were put to Costello Wednesday and his responses. Some answers have been edited for brevity.

Q: Why did you support this bill, given the weight it gives to tax cuts to wealthy filers?

A: The reason I supported the tax relief bill had to do with that individual tax cuts would inure to the benefit of low- and middle-income families. To be specific, a family of four making the median family income of $73,000 will have their tax bill reduced by $2,000. A single parent with one child would have a $1,300 positive tax benefit from this bill.

My focus has always been on the low- and middle-income families as it relates to the individual tax rates, but clearly the tax bill will benefit all individuals given the lower income tax brackets and higher income thresholds.

Q: What do you like most about the bill’s provisions?

A: I like that it benefits low- and middle-income families, while reducing the tax burden on small businesses in southeastern Pennsylvania and across the country. Finally, this bill will mean American companies will be competitive in the global economy by reducing the 35 percent corporate tax rate to 21 percent, which is more aligned with the rest of the developed world.

Q: What do you not like about the bill’s provisions?

A: I do not support the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) provisions that were included in the bill. While both of Alaska’s U.S. Senators requested this provision, I maintain that there has been a long history of bipartisan conservation and stewardship efforts to protect the refuge, which is why I called on House and Senate leadership to continue these efforts and not include any changes in the tax bill. I was one of 12 Republicans who fought to keep ANWR provisions out of this legislation. I will continue to do everything I can to support these conservation efforts and to prevent this from disrupting our natural wildlife habitat. I found it to be unfortunate that I was forced to choose between tax cuts for hardworking, low and middle income families and ANWR efforts.

Q: Corporate rate cuts are made permanent, while individual rate cuts are set to expire. Do you support this and why?

A: I support the tax bill over the status quo, which is why I voted for it, but I would have preferred to see the individual rates made permanent. Arcane Senate reconciliation rules, coupled with the fact that Senate Democrats were unwilling to vote to make the individual tax rates permanent, was the reason why they were not able to be made permanent. However, again, I would have preferred these individual rates to have been permanent, and believe Congress has every intention of making them permanent.

Q: Were you concerned at the apparent rush to enact the legislation, with last-minute changes and additions without due hearings?

A: The framework of the tax bill was released in September and the president announced his tax principles in April, so they have been out there for quite some time. In addition, the House and Senate committees that consider the tax bills operated under regular order – there were a combined 113 committee hearings on the topic. I did my best to keep up with changes and additions myself and to make sure my constituents had the same information.

Q: USA Today reported: “Supporters said the cost of reducing tax collections by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years would be offset by an explosion of economic growth, but economists said at best that growth will cover one-third of the cost. Nonpartisan estimates project the tax bill could add $1 trillion to the national debt over 10 years. And laws designed to prevent deficit spending could kick in as early as next year, forcing cuts to popular programs, including Medicare.” Do you agree with the Congressional Budget Office’s estimate about the tax cuts increasing the deficit over 10 years?

A: I do not agree with the CBO’s estimate regarding the deficit projection. CBO has historically underestimated growth and relies on a static growth model with a current law baseline that makes an “all else equal” assumption and fails to account for other dynamic, growth-creating mechanisms in our economy. The Congressional Research Service projects that about one-third of the projected revenue loss will be offset by average economic growth of .07 percent to .08 percent per year. Other models that factor in economic growth project far lower deficit increases. I believe the more favorable regulatory framework I helped create, coupled with these tax cuts, will stimulate the economy, and we will get higher growth – and thus I do not believe the estimated deficit projection.

Q: Will the tax bill ultimately lead to cuts in Social Security and Medicare? How will you support or oppose those cuts?

A: I am very confident we will pass legislation that will not allow cuts to these programs, and I will follow through and lead on doing so – I will support what is known as a “pay-go fix” that is included in legislation expected to be considered by the House very soon. In order to pass, the legislation will require support from both parties. This is an important bill because the pay-go fix is necessary to avoid cuts to Social Security and Medicare, so I hope to see both parties support this fix.

Q: Polls indicate that the tax bill as reported is unpopular with the American public, with Monmouth University showing a 47 percent unfavorable rate compared to a 26 percent approval rate. How do you think that will play itself out in the 2018 election, and how will you respond to Democratic attacks that this was a giveaway for the rich?

A: I believe polls indicate this because there has been an overwhelming false narrative created by certain media outlets, including even [Digital First Media], with what they’ve been willing to put in there as literally false statements made by protesters. I believe over the course of this year, as people see more money in their paychecks, the continued stock market rally in part as a result of lower tax rates, and more economic activity associated with the tax cuts on the individual and business side that people will see this tax cut benefits their family, their employer, and will lead to a more productive society.

In responding to any attacks, I will simply tell the truth and let the evidence speak for itself, which I believe is low and middle income families benefit from this bill. If any of my opponents would have voted no and maintained the status quo, versus giving low and middle income families and small businesses a tax cut, they will be the ones who have to explain that to the electorate come November.

Source

Dec 19, 2017
Washington Examiner
Republicans stake control of Congress on tax bill

The Republicans are staking their precarious congressional majorities on a broadly unpopular $1.5 trillion tax overhaul that could advance to President Trump’s desk on Tuesday despite encountering skepticism from core suburban GOP voters.

Republicans are counting on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to change the minds of unhappy voters who would prefer to have the Democrats in charge on Capitol Hill by an 11-point margin and consistently rate Trump’s job performance at around 40 percent, according to polling averages.

That’s a tall order for a proposal that has been underwater for weeks and is viewed skeptically by upscale suburban voters in Republican strongholds who worry it will raise their taxes. A fresh Monmouth University survey pegs support for the package at just 26 percent; 47 percent disapproved.

“Step one is passing the bill. Step two is selling the bill,” said Corry Bliss, who runs American Action Network, a political nonprofit aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that has spent $25 million since August to promote tax reform. “It’s our responsibility to convince people that this bill is good for American families.”

Republicans have been under enormous pressure to accomplish tax reform.

After their bid to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed, GOP donors warned they might close off funding for the 2018 midterms and grassroots voters threatened to stay home if the party didn’t start delivering on Trump’s agenda and justifying its full control of government.

Now on the cusp of enacting a historic tax overhaul, the first such bill in three decades, Republicans face a new problem. They need to convince voters in electoral battlegrounds to like it. The GOP’s challenge is particularly acute in suburban strongholds that support tax cuts and have traditionally voted Republican.

The package caps federal deductions for state and local taxes, including county property and state income taxes, and reduces the mortgage interest deduction. Suburban voters in upscale communities and high-tax states that these provisions could impact the most are fretting that their bottom line will suffer.

Democrats could be the beneficiaries, especially since prosperous suburban voters, particularly women, long ago soured on Trump.

“There’s so much for voters to hate in this tax deal,” said Matt Canter, a Democratic pollster. “Republicans have a very steep hill to climb.”

Strategists for both parties expect the House majority and the race for control of the Senate to hinge in large part on the battle for the burbs. Democrats are looking at 27 GOP-controlled districts with a sizable suburban population; Republicans, defending a 24-seat majority, are monitoring at least a dozen.

They include:

Rep. Don Bacon in Nebraska’s 2nd District, where 70 percent of voters live in the suburbs; Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kanas’ 3rd, 78 percent suburban; Rep. Ryan Costello in Pennsylvania’s 6th, 48 percent suburban; Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania’s 8th, 61.5 percent suburban; Rep. Ed Royce in California’s 39th, 48 percent suburban; Rep. Mimi Walters in California’s 45th, 43 percent suburban; Rep. Erick Paulsen in Minnesota’s 3rd, 79 percent suburban; and Rep. John Culberson in Texas’ 7th, 58 percent suburban.

Republicans like Rep. Darrell Issa of California and Rep. Lee Zeldin of New York, who represent other districts with significant upscale suburban populations, are among those opposed to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. In 2016, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton defeated Trump in Issa’s district; Trump beat Clinton in Zeldin’s district.

“I will be voting ‘no’ on the final tax plan,” Issa announced Friday on Twitter. “The bill agreed to in conference makes some improvements, but the changes do not go far enough to guarantee tax relief for constituents in my district.”

The bill’s supporters are promising it will generate high-octane economic growth.

The corporate and small business reforms will spark job creation and higher wages. Meanwhile, the bill also lowers income tax rates for most earners, with the bulk of the changes directed at the middle class and working poor, through simplifying the code and expanding deductions.

Americans could see benefits beginning in February, when lower tax rates result in less money being automatically withheld on workers’ paychecks. Republicans express confidence that public opinion of the bill will steadily increase as the economy takes off and voters experience it.

Privately, they concede that rosy scenario won’t come about on its own — that it’s going to take a concerted sales job on their part.

“Taxes have traditionally been very important in the suburbs. In fact, they’ve only been important in the suburbs,” Republican strategist Brad Todd said. “Democrats tend to lose any election in the suburbs in which taxes are the dominant issue.”   Source

Dec 18, 2017
DLN
Protesters urge Costello to vote ‘no’ on GOP tax bill

June Palmer of Concerned Citizens Berks County and Luke Bauerlein of Indivisible Chester County sing anti-tax bill carols at a protest on the steps of the Historic Chester County Courthouse to urge U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6, to vote ‘no’ on the GOP tax plan. About 100 protesters turned out for the rally at noon on Monday. A few Costello supporters also showed up to support the bill.

WEST CHESTER >> As part of two different demonstrations, diverse groups of protesters met Monday outside U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello’s, R-6, office, at the Historic Chester County Courthouse.

While a group of five demonstrators led by clergy said prayers at the door of Costello’s office, a raucous group of more than 100 protesters later that day met on the courthouse steps.

Local faith leaders met at 10 a.m., and then a group of 18 organizations, hosted by the ALF-CIO, convened at noon. Both groups wanted Costello to hear the same message: Vote ‘no’ on the tax reform bill.

Both organizations merged to sing rewritten Christmas carols, led by Luke Bauerlein, including, “Hark, Costello, Hear Us Sing,” to the tune of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing:”

“Hark, Costello hear us sing,

“This tax bill won’t fix a thing,

“Trillions more in added debt,

“Leaves our children worse off yet

“Billionaires get massive breaks,

“More from us this plan will take.”

The courthouse was decorated for the holidays. Speakers addressed the audience from between two bigger-than-life nutcrackers, just a few feet away from a huge Christmas tree and a banner that read, “Seasons Greetings.”

Jane Palmer of Indivisible Berks County led a loud cheer.

“Come November, I’ll remember,” chanted the crowd more than a dozen times.

“It’s not a tax plan, it’s a scam, plain and simple,” Palmer said.

The group then marched to Costello’s office and presented his staff with 120 postcards written by demonstrators, while chanting, “Show me what democracy looks like, this is what democracy looks like.”

John Meyerson, chair of the Philadelphia Unemployment Project and former chair of the Southeast PA Area Labor Federation said his message was simple and that in the past he had addressed thousands.

“Never, not once ever, has one of those people told me their life would get better if their boss got a raise,” Meyerson said.

Meyerson suggested that legislators raise the minimum wage.

“We will be watching and we will remember in November,” he said.

Lauryn Schothorst, Costello’s chief of staff, reported that he was visiting the district Monday.

“Rep. Costello was meeting with employees and employers at a company in his district today, where he was told the tax bill is expected to increase wages for employees and help companies create more jobs for the community,” Schothorst said. “There are many voices in the district, and while some may focus on several of the same voices, Rep. Costello takes the time to listen to as many as he can, including the many civil conversations he has had with constituents who have reached out to the office in support of the tax bill.”

Costello refused to comment.

Sixth District constituent Tammy Harkness said the bill would leave 13 million people, currently insured, without health care.

“Shame on you,” the demonstrators chanted, “Shame, shame, shame.”

Will Fuller, POWER Metro organizer and 6th District constituent, said the bill “rewards the greedy at the expense of the needy. Don’t let the Grinch steal Christmas.”

Most held protest signs high, including a person wearing a President Trump mask.

West Chester University student and Sixth District resident Lilah Saber said that the tax bill does not represent any of the 16,000 students that Costello represents.

Dr. Koshy Mathews, Rev. of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Phoenixville, said the impending legislation is a “faith issue.”

Pastor Mark Young of the First United Methodist Church of Phoenixville said that the tax bill is “unbiblical.”

“It’s a transfer of wealth from those who can least afford it to those who least need it,” he said.

The door was locked and demonstrators were not allowed to enter Costello’s office, which recently was closed to the public, except by appointment only. Demonstrators were asked to sign a log at a table outside the office.

Kori Walter, district director, told protesters that the door was locked because demonstrators had become a distraction and were a security risk.

Event organizer and East Goshen resident Beth Sweet spoke after the rallies.

“By refusing to engage in a dialogue with us on this bill, Ryan Costello is deepening the hole that he has already dug for himself with his constituents through his juvenile insults and baseless accusations,” Sweet said. “Voters will not forget that while this wrecking ball is heading straight for the middle class in Pennsylvania’s 6th District, Ryan Costello was hiding out in Paul Ryan’s swamp.”  Source

Dec 14, 2017
Daily Times News
Local pols react to net-neutrality ruling

In a 3-2 vote Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era regulations known as net neutrality that monitored service providers that connect users to the Internet.

In April, Congress voted along party lines to repeal the rules that would have prohibited Internet service providers (ISPs) from selling or sharing web browsing habits of its consumer base.

Thursday, the FCC voted to repeal the protections that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or creating a tier-based system that would see users pay for curated content. Opponents fear ISPs like Comcast or Verizon could throttle speeds of users in order to direct traffic to different websites or services.

However, Republican lawmakers have cited the rules as yet another example of government overreach, and have praised the repeal as fairer treatment of internet use. The federal government will no longer regular internet service like a utility.

“Congressman Meehan supports net neutrality and the idea that Internet traffic should be treated fairly,” offered John Elizandro, communications director for Rep. Pat Meehan. “He’s hopeful Congress will be able to work on a bipartisan basis to establish fair rules protecting consumers against throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization.”

U.S. Senator Bob Casey opposes the repeal, calling the FCC vote on Thursday “reckless.”

“Net neutrality helps ensure the Internet is free and open so consumers can access the content and services they want, and web services and content creators have an equal shot at reaching Internet users,” Casey offered in a statement via communications director John Rizzo.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro upped the ante on the doom and gloom regarding the ruling Thursday, saying “the vote by the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality could end the Internet as we know it.

“The FCC action undermines free speech and is bad for consumers and business – especially startups and small businesses,” Shapiro continued in a statement.

Shapiro alleges that more than 1 million fake comments were sent to the FCC about net neutrality, and said he had rallied 17 other attorneys general to delay Thursday’s vote in order to allow state and federal investigators to dig into those fake comments.

“This huge number includes tens of thousands of fake comments issued under the names of real Pennsylvanians,” Shapiro said. “The theft of someone’s voice in our democracy cannot stand, and we must first get to the bottom of this massive identity theft.”

Shapiro said he plans to “take legal action to protect Net Neutrality,” believing the FCC’s decision “will face serious legal challenges.”

Visit badcomments.attorneygeneral.gov to look and see if your name was used fraudulently to influence the FCC’s process. The Attorney General’s office will investigate all reports made through this site and this information may be important to future legal action.

The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in January, said the rollback of the regulations would eventually help consumers.

“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai said in a speech before the vote. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”

In Philadelphia, Comcast once had an exclusivity agreement with the city to be the only ISP in town. Once that 10-year agreement ended, Verizon began offering broadband services within city limits.

Comcast, the largest cable operator and the largest home Internet service provider in the United States, is also among the top contributors to political campaigns. In the 2016 election cycle, Comcast gave $12,594,527 in campaign contributors across all parties.

Comcast was among the top donors to the campaigns of Meehan, Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6 of West Goshen, and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., all of whom voted in favor of the repeal earlier this year.

Also in the news Thursday, Disney moved to take control of 21st Century Fox’s media empire, which thanks to a write-up by The Verge, highlights all the merges that took place Thursday:

Disney now has a controlling stake in Hulu, which was a joint effort between Comcast and Time Warner to compete with YouTube. Comcast and Time Warner are now minority stakeholders in Hulu. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which broadcasts shows on Hulu. Time Warner is in negotiations to be bought by AT&T, a competitor of Comcast. Time Warner is a competitor of both NBC and Disney. Comcast and AT&T control the network that people use to watch content from Disney, Time Warner, and NBC.
Source

Dec 6, 2017
The Hill
House passes concealed carry gun bill     

Two months after the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history, the House on Wednesday passed legislation that would allow people to use permits for carrying concealed handguns across state lines while also boosting the background check system.

Despite bipartisan support for enhancing background checks for gun purchases, the bill passed along party lines, 231-198, due to Democratic opposition to the concealed-carry reciprocity measure.

Six centrist Democrats voted with Republicans to approve the package: Reps. Sanford Bishop (Ga.), Henry Cuellar (Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (Texas), Ron Kind (Wis.), Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Kurt Schrader (Ore.).
Fourteen Republicans voted “no,” including a mix of conservatives and centrists.
Conservative Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) held the mirror opposite position of Democrats who voted against the legislation: he supports concealed-carry reciprocity but didn’t want the background check measure attached.
“It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms,” Massie wrote in a Facebook post ahead of the vote.

The gun policy measures were originally two separate bills. But House GOP leaders opted to combine them so that lawmakers only had to cast one vote.

Attaching the concealed-carry reciprocity measure puts the bipartisan measure to beef up background checks in jeopardy in the Senate.

The legislation as passed by the House faces an uncertain future in the upper chamber, where Democrats are sure to block the concealed-carry measure, but a bipartisan coalition has enough votes to break a filibuster on enhancing background checks.

Under the House legislation, people with permits for carrying concealed handguns could do so in any state that allows concealed weapons.

People could only use their concealed-carry permits in other states that allow the practice if they are carrying a valid government-issued photo ID and are lawfully licensed to possess a concealed handgun. They would still have to adhere to established state and local laws.

Concealed-carry reciprocity is a top legislative priority for the National Rifle Association, which has resisted proposals to restrict access to guns in response to mass shootings.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), the author of the concealed-carry bill, compared the concealed-carry reciprocity measure to how driver’s licenses and marriage licenses are recognized across states.

He gave an example of a single mother in south Philadelphia who had twice been mugged and purchased a handgun to protect herself. But she traveled to New Jersey, which didn’t recognize her Pennsylvania concealed-carry permit.

“If I get married in North Carolina but I move to Arizona, I’m not a single man again. They recognize that marriage,” Hudson said during House floor debate. “The concealed-carry permit should be recognized the same way.”

Gun reform groups lobbied against the concealed-carry measure. Mark Kelly, the co-founder of a group named after his wife, ex-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), said that the policy doesn’t work if people aren’t properly trained.

Kelly recalled how a well-intentioned man with a concealed gun almost shot one of the people responsible for wrestling the shooter who nearly killed Giffords in a 2011 shooting to the ground.

“The situation that played out in the Safeway parking lot that day shows the potential for tragedy and bloodshed when untrained people carrying loaded guns react to a crisis. Even with the best intentions, an armed person without the extensive firearms training that is required to respond under pressure in a crisis will risk making the situation worse, not better,” Kelly wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

States have varying requirements for carrying concealed weapons, like gun safety training, age limits, and prohibitions on individuals known to have abusive pasts.

The package also included a bill from Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) that would ensure authorities report criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and penalize agencies that don’t report to the FBI.

Democrats supported the background check measure but balked at including the concealed-carry reciprocity.

“Unfortunately, the dangers posed by the concealed carry reciprocity portion of the bill greatly outweigh the benefits of the NICS improvements,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), the acting ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

The shooter responsible for the Nov. 5 massacre at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was prohibited from buying or possessing a gun due to a domestic violence conviction while serving in the Air Force. But the Air Force failed to enter the criminal record into the federal database used for gun background checks.

Another provision in the bill is in direct response to the Oct. 1 shooting in Las Vegas, which killed nearly 60 people and injured more than 500 others.

Law enforcement authorities found a dozen devices known as bump stocks, which are used to make weapons fire more rapidly, in the Las Vegas shooter’s hotel room.

The measure would require the Justice Department to report to Congress on the number of times a bump stock has been used in a crime. It’s far less stringent than bipartisan bills introduced in Congress since the Las Vegas shooting to prohibit the manufacture, sale and use of the devices.

But ahead of Wednesday’s vote, the Justice Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced on Tuesday that it is considering a possible ban on certain bump stocks.

Lawmakers had been pushing for the Trump administration to clarify whether bump stocks violate the ban on fully automatic weapons manufactured after 1986.

“The regulatory clarification we begin today will help us to continue to protect the American people by carrying out the laws duly enacted by our representatives in Congress,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.) introduced a bipartisan bill after the Las Vegas shooting to ban bump stocks. He voted against the Wednesday legislation, citing the lack of an effort to prohibit the devices.
“[T]he refusal to meaningfully address dangerous bump stocks in this legislation ‎is inexplicable and contrary to the position held by most Americans and the overwhelming majority of responsible gun owners,” Curbelo said in a statement.  Source
Chester County’s two vulnerable Reps Costello and Meehan voted no. Smucker, who is not
considered vulnerable vote yes. See votes here

Dec 5, 2017
ThinkProgress
Hundreds of protesters fight the GOP tax bill on Capitol Hill
“Kill this bill! Don’t kill us!”

Cameron Smith, center, of Kansas City, Kan., blocks a hallway with others as they protest the Republican tax overhaul bill, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
CAMERON SMITH, CENTER, OF KANSAS CITY, KAN., BLOCKS A HALLWAY WITH OTHERS AS THEY PROTEST THE REPUBLICAN TAX OVERHAUL BILL, TUESDAY, DEC. 5, 2017, ON CAPITOL HILL IN WASHINGTON. (AP PHOTO/JACQUELYN MARTIN)

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly 300 protesters stormed the the Cannon Office Building at the House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, flooding the halls with chants of “Kill this bill, don’t kill us.”

The protesters focused on the offices of Congress members who voted yes on the GOP tax package and are vulnerable in the 2018 midterm elections. Among them: Reps. Ryan Costello (R-PA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Charles Dent (R-PA), John Katko (R-NY), David Reichert (R-WA), David Joyce (R-OH), and Ed Royce (R-CA).

For the majority of these protesters, storming the halls of the House building has become common practice, and many present on Tuesday were regulars at protests over the summer during Congress’ multiple failed attempts at repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act. Now that a key provision of the ACA, the individual mandate, is in danger of being repealed in the Senate version of the tax bill, the activists have mobilized again to fight back.

“This is my seventh time here, its gonna be my third time arrested,” said Olga Irwin, an Ohio resident. “I’ve lived with HIV for 20 years, and before the ACA, I had a hard time affording my medicine.”

While an individual mandate repeal is currently only in the Senate plan, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has hinted he is open to including it in the final bill, as the House has voted in favor of repealing it in the past.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, repealing the individual mandate, which requires Americans be covered by health insurance or face a tax, would leave 13 million more uninsured over the next decade, saving the federal government $338 million dollars to help pay for a trillion dollar corporate tax cut. Additionally, this $1.5 trillion dollar tax proposal could trigger an automatic $25 billion dollar cut to Medicare.

“They’re punishing sick people, they’re punishing so many people and what? To give a tax break to the wealthy,” said David Kotelchuck, a New York resident who gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to protest the repeal of the individual mandate, as well as the repeal of the state and local tax deduction (SALT), which is included in the Senate version as well.

Now outside of @RepDaveJoyce’s office. This Youngstown resident says, “I’ve been living with HIV for 20 years. My medicine cost $10,000 a month. Can you afford that?” pic.twitter.com/LPy5WVlCGv

“My formula costs $1,500 a month. My income is $1,500 a month. I am an orphaned college student. Could you afford that? Because I can’t afford that. You starve Medicare, you starve me!” pic.twitter.com/DN39jx55SJ

Repealing the SALT deduction has been a point of contention for multiple Republican representatives from blue states like New York, New Jersey, and California. Residents in these high tax states would lose the ability to deduct their state and local taxes from their federal tax return.
Other protesters at the Capitol on Tuesday were there to defend smaller deductions that are on the chopping block in the House version of the tax bill.

Eddie Gomez came on behalf of his nephew, who receives funding for his medical treatments thanks to a non-profit funded by charitable donations. Under the House bill, the charitable donation deduction will be repealed, prompting some to worry that it could in turn curb donations to charities.

“A bunch of us are upset about the bill, a bunch of different aspects that don’t benefit anyone but the 1 percent,” Gomez said. “A part of this bill that doesn’t make sense to me is that charitable contributions will no longer be tax deductible and which means less giving and less support for those in need.”

Now that the House and Senate have both passed their respective tax plans, the next step requires both chambers to come together and reconcile their differences in committee, producing a final bill that they hope to get to the president’s desk by Christmas. Source

Nov 29, 2017
wesa.fm
Philly-Area Lawmakers Question Changes At EPA, Department Of Energy

Democrats and some Republicans from the Philadelphia region are worried that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is trying to gut his agency from within.

The EPA has worked overtime to undo many Obama-era environmental regulations, while also scrubbing its website of any mention of “climate change.”

That’s triggered several red flags for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who said he and other Democrats warned the GOP not to tap Pruitt to lead the agency.

“One of the many reasons I voted against him was that he doesn’t seem to believe in a mission of the agency, which is to protect the environment,” Casey said.

It’s not just Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general. Republicans now control all the levers of power in Washington, and that has led to an increasing — though still relatively small — number of Republicans who want to disband the EPA altogether. Some believe environmental regulation should be left solely to the states.

“I don’t think, frankly, that you need an EPA,” said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. “When you’ve got … 98 percent of the environmental regulation being done effectively at the state level, that’s where it ought to be.”

Northeastern Republicans tend to be much more moderate — some might even say “liberal” — on environmental issues compared with their colleagues in the West and South. But that’s put them in an odd place in a party that is increasingly tacking further to the right.

Pruitt has been under fire recently after enacting a new rule that bars scientists who received EPA grants from serving as scientific advisers at the agency, while also tapping people from within the industries the agency oversees to serve as advisers. Those moves are decried by the left as an attempt to gut the EPA, but few in the GOP have been that outspoken on Pruitt.

“I voted for more robust funding for the EPA, but I can’t really comment because I haven’t been that close to what he’s doing,” said U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-New Jersey.

“Certainly, I think we should include scientific investigation in governmental analysis,” said U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, another New Jersey Republican.

Lance is one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who say humans are accelerating climate change. But, unlike Democrats, he said he’s glad Pruitt is picking people with business expertise to advise the EPA too.

“I would like to see as broad array of experts as possible — and perhaps there could be other experts in the environmental community, who have not received grants,” he said. “But I would like to see experts from across the board, those from the industry, also those who have a scientific background.”

Congressman Ryan Costello, who represents parts of several counties west of Philadelphia, is one of the few in the GOP openly opposed to Pruitt’s new rule barring experts who have gotten grants from EPA from advising the agency.

“If my understanding is correct, then I would disagree with that conclusion, because where is the conflict?” Costello said. “And, in some respects, having had the opportunity to receive one of those grants, I would think you’d be even more scrutinizing of those who would receive it, and you have deeper appreciation the intent of a program.”

Energy policies also at issue

As for Pruitt himself, Costello said many of the Democratic complaints about him ring hollow.

“I look at the issues, perhaps I look beyond the headlines,” he said. “My feeling is some of what the objection or concern about him is what he might do, not what he has actually done.”

While Pruitt has received a lot of flak over what critics call “gutting the agency,” over at the Energy Department, Secretary Rick Perry is working to rewrite the government’s stance on coal. He has been trying to reward coal and nuclear power plants because, he said, they’re reliable sources of energy during a flood or an ice storm.

And that, said Costello, is a sign the administration is going backwards in terms of energy policy.

“Why are we trying to apply energy policy that might have made sense 20 years ago and retrofit it now? We’re trying to retrofit it yesterday into today. That doesn’t make sense to me.

“I think actually there’s even a larger story as it relates to energy policy with what he’s trying to do than what Pruitt’s trying to do,” Costello said.

But Pruitt has become the focus of Democratic attacks against the Trump administration’s stance on energy issues.

That’s, in part, because Pruitt’s claim to fame was suing the very EPA he now runs, said Philadelphia Congressman Brendan Boyle.

“Of all the pretty egregious nominees that President Trump had for Cabinet positions, Scott Pruitt probably wins the stiff competition for the worst,” Boyle said. “You have someone who’s the head of the EPA, whose only background experience in environmental law was suing the EPA more than any other person alive.”

The Trump administration doesn’t have many legislative accomplishments to hang its hat on so far, but it has worked vigorously to unwind environmental regulations. That has Democrats preparing to make environmental policy a central focus in the 2018 elections. Source

2010 – Remember Costello’s part in the Pennhurst Asylum haunted house (Pennhurst State Hospital) case
Nov 28, 2017 – Pennhurst State Hospital to be redeveloped in a park- read more

Dec 17, 2010
Daily Times News
Pennhurst Asylum attraction took in nearly $1 million

EAST VINCENT — Nearly 40,000 people attended the Pennhurst Asylum haunted attraction this fall and the event netted $985,000 in gross receipts while employing 125 people.

Those were among the more interesting facts made public Wednesday night in the second portion of a zoning hearing in which several neighbors are challenging the township-issued approval for the event.

Those neighbors testified before the township zoning hearing board Nov. 18 that the attraction had created traffic nightmares and noise disturbances lasting until 2 a.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from Sept. 24 through Nov. 7.

Ever since it was announced, the attraction has drawn both detractors and supporters, prompting protests in Philadelphia from mental health advocates and those who once lived at the infamous state-run school and hospital, as well as a steady stream of support from people who support the attraction.

Ryan Costello, the former township supervisor who is now working as an attorney for Richard Chakejian, the owner of the 111-acre Pennhurst property, argued before the board that although nearly $1 million was taken in during the six-week event, it is not a “commercial” use, at least in the zoning ordinance definition.

Parsing definitions and even commas were key Wednesday night to Costello’s defense of the event and his client’s right to hold it.

During closing arguments, he noted that the word “recreation” is not defined in the ordinance and that language in the zoning code that prohibits “commercial” uses in the low-density housing zone in which the Pennhurst property is located applies only to “community centers” because of where the commas are placed.

Rather, Costello argued, the building in which the haunted attraction occurred should be considered by the zoning board to be a “recreational building,” a use which is allowed in the zone.

The haunted attraction, which Chakejian staged with the help of haunted house afficionado Randy Bates, “is permitted by right. We’re not trying to twist or contort anything,” said Costello as several people in the audience, who are among the event’s opponents, quietly guffawed.

“Some folks are doing anything they can to stop this,” said Costello. “My client is trying to do something good, to clean that site up and get some of those buildings up and running, but he can’t do that if he’s being harassed.”

Michael Crotty, the attorney for the neighbors appealing the township’s approval, sees things differently.

He argued simply that the things allowed to occur in that zone — single family homes, agriculture, conservation uses, parks, playgrounds, athletic fields and those uses mentioned by Costello — do not describe the haunted attraction.

Rather, Crotty said, the documents submitted in the case variably describe the event as an “amusement,” an “indoor amusement” or a “special amusement.”

And “indoor amusements” are very specifically mentioned in the zoning ordinance, Crotty said, and are allowed in the general commercial zoning “because it is a commercial use.”

Several people in the audience, many of whom are legal parties to the zoning appeal, also offered their input.

Bridge Street resident Diane Benelli said the event marked six weeks of “chaos” on her street and she wondered, rhetorically, if she would be allowed to stage a similar event in her house.

“Public opinion is so against what is going on at Pennhurst,” she said.

Lake Drive resident Paul Chrisman spoke in support of the attraction.

“I was very impressed with the professionalism that was part of the operation there,” he said. “You couldn’t believe all the safety features they had.”

Less impressed was Stephanie Adrian of Old Schuylkill Road, who said “the word ‘amusement’ to me doesn’t include scaring people to death.”

She told the zoning board “I submit to you that my whole entire neighborhood had a lot of fear while that was in operation, and the children in our neighborhood have a lot of fear.”

Glenn Diehl, the attorney advising the zoning hearing board, asked both lawyers to submit briefs to support their conclusions and specifically instructed them to address the matter of definitions in the ordinance.

Within 30 days of receiving those briefs, the board will hold a public meeting to announce its decision, an announcement that might not come until March.

“Remember, the board cannot do whatever it wishes to do,” said Diehl. “We have been handed an ordinance we must construe and it is an ordinance that anyone who has had to work with it regularly would likely agree, it is a document that could use some help in some places.”

Added Diehl, “it is an imperfect situation and we will do our best with it.” Source

Sept 24, 2010
Daily Times News
Judge nixes challenge to haunted house at Pennhurst
By Michael Rellahan, Special to the Times

WEST CHESTER – A Common Pleas Court judge on Friday denied the request by an East Vincent couple to halt the operation of the hotly contested Pennhurst Asylum haunted house.

Judge Robert Shenkin, however, did not rule out hearing future appeals by the couple, Saul S. Rivkin and his wife Linda Fulton-Rivkin, if the attraction on the grounds of the former Pennhurst School and State Hospital proves troublesome for their neighborhood.

“When you talk about harm, it is a balancing test,” Shenkin said after listening to about two hours of testimony in the case. “But I am not at all persuaded that the harm that may be suffered will have the kind of impact” necessary to grant a preliminary injunction, which he said should come only in “emergency” situations.

Randy Bates, the designer and promoter of the controversial attraction expressed satisfaction with Shenkin’s ruling Friday afternoon. He said it would allow him to open the event to visitors as planned Friday evening.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Bates, who owns the Bates Motel Halloween operation in neighboring Delaware County. “I put my heart and soul into this plan for months, and thousands of hours of work. I think we’ve created a world-class haunted attraction. We’re going to hit it tonight.”

Richard Chakejian, owner of the 111-acre property in East Vincent where the former hospital stood, said he too was glad Shenkin decided not to grant the Rivkin’s request for an injunction.

“I felt all along that the charges were meritless,” he said. “We followed all of the recommendations given us by the township. We passed all inspections, and we are looking forward to putting on a fun-filled family event.”

Inside the courtroom following Shenkin’s ruling, Rivkin said he was disappointed in the outcome of the hearing, “but I respect the judge’s decision.

He said he planned to monitor the goings on at the Pennhurst property, approximately one mile from his home, and hoped that no safety problems would ensue from the haunted house.

“The worst case scenario is that a dog runs from my driveway and gets hit by a car, or a child is killed,” he said.

According to Shenkin, to gain a preliminary injunction to shut down the haunted house operation, the Rivkins would have to show that its opening would cause them “immediate and irreparable” harm.

The attraction was scheduled to open Friday night and to run for six consecutive weekends until the end of October. The event includes a tour through the old hospital building, with visits to features such as the “autopsy room,” an electric shock therapy center, and a room with a Frankenstein-like monster.

The notion of holding a haunted house on the grounds of the infamous hospital where mentally disabled men and women were held in harsh, even cruel, conditions until it closed in the 1980s, has struck some as offensive.

But the Rivkins were not in court Friday to argue the merits of the operation, but whether it had applied for and been granted the proper zoning and building code approvals. Under questioning from the couple’s attorney, Andrew Bellwoar, Chakejian acknowledged that the operation did not have a building permit.

However, he said that it had been granted a use and occupancy permit from the township after a review of the property by the township codes officer, Paul Schmidt.

Testifying on behalf of the Rivkins, however, building codes consultant Terrence Naugle said that the property should have undergone a building permit inspection before an occupancy permit was granted. He said the haunted house operation should also have been presented to the township Zoning Hearing Board for approval.

Because neither of those steps were taken, he alleged, the Rivkins were not able to voice an objection to the proposed use.

Saul Rivkin, chairman of the township’s Historical Commission, testified that the neighborhood, in which he lives, near the hospital grounds, is normally a quiet one where neighbors walk the roads in the evening and traffic is light.

He said he had noticed in the week’s proceedings the opening of the asylum, the number of cars had increased and drivers had been less cautious than in the past. He said he was concerned about being able to get in and out of his driveway safely once the event opens.

Bellwoar argued that the failure of Chakejian to apply for building or zoning permits established a breach of law, which should be evidence enough for harm to the general public under case law.

Ryan Costello, the Pottstown attorney, former East Vincent supervisors’ chairman, and current Chester County recorder of deeds, who represented Chakejian, had argued to Shenkin in court documents that the Rivkins did not have standing to oppose the haunted house.

He also said that a simple increase in traffic did not meet the burden of showing an irreparable harm, and that any complaints that Saul Rivkin made about more cars on his street were “superficial and vague.”

“There is nothing irreparable about it,” Costello said.

Shenkin’s ruling did not address whether the haunted house needed the zoning or building permits the Rivkins contended it did, nor did it establish that Chakejian was correct that his occupancy permit was all that was necessary. It dealt solely with the question of whether opening the attraction this weekend would make the couple suffer permanent harm

“It has to be something more, not just an increase in traffic and noise,” Shenkin said.

In his ruling, Shenkin did not rule out that the Rivkins could seek full injunction at a later date, but noted that the haunted house operation would be closed within a few weeks, long before the court could begin the hear testimony on that issue. Read more

Nov 27, 2017
vice.com
Here Are the Districts That Will Be Brutal Battlegrounds in 2018
Our preview of the House midterms continues with seats where the presidential vote has flipped in three consecutive elections.

Robert Wheel

Image by Lia Kantrowitz

Welcome back to House Party, our column looking at the 2018 House of Representative races as midterms approach.

Since the 2016 election, there’s been a lot of talk of “Obama–Trump voters,” people who cast ballots for Barack Obama twice before supporting Donald Trump. The assumption among many pundits is that Democrats will have to win back those voters if they want to overthrow Republican control of the federal government. But there are other tranches of voters Democrats should be thinking about as well. Today we’re going to take a tour of US House districts that voted for Obama in 2008 but switched to Mitt Romney in 2012 before switching again and voting for Hillary Clinton last year.

If 2018 turns out to be a wave election, Democrats should win most of these seats. But Obama-Romney-Clinton voters might be willing to back Republicans who are more like Romney than Trump, and they’re certainly going to be competitive. Let’s take a look:

Pennsylvania’s Seventh Congressional District (Philadelphia suburbs)

2016: Clinton 49–Trump 47
2012: Obama 49–Romney 50
2008: Obama 51–McCain 48

The boundaries of Pennsylvania’s Seventh are so irregular that they challenge the very idea that place has any meaning in politics. There’s been a spate of anti-gerrymandering litigation and Pennsylvania (where the state Supreme Court is led by Democrats) might ultimately strike down its map, which would be awful news for Representative Pat Meehan. His current district stretches from Amish country through the Philadelphia suburbs, is so misshapen it’s sometimes described as “Goofy kicking Donald Duck,” and is so narrow it’s only the width of a single seafood restaurant at one point. A fair district centered on Delaware County would be unwinnable for Republicans.

Running against Meehan in this monstrosity is State Senator Daylin Leach. He’s perhaps most famous outside the state capitol (where he’s known as a diligent and effective legislator) for calling Trump a “shitgibbon” and engaging in similar foul-mouthed, glib Twitter behavior. It might not be the best look for a sober-minded state legislator, but on the other hand, have you been to a Phillies game? These people are nothing if not comfortable with profanity. Leach will still have to make it through a contested primary, with Dan Muroff and Molly Sheehan pulling in a fair amount of money even though neither lives in the district. Though with a district so horribly gerrymandered, the idea that the location of your residence means anything seems laughable.

Pennsylvania’s Sixth Congressional District (Philadelphia suburbs)

2016: Clinton 48–Trump 48
2012: Obama 48–Romney 51
2008: Obama 53– McCain 46

Less ugly than the Seventh but no less a gerrymander, the Sixth reaches up to rural, ultra-Republican Lebanon County to drown out Democratic voting strength along Philadelphia’s Main Line. It’s represented by Ryan Costello, who has kept a low profile but still backed Trump on a tax bill that’s political poison in areas with high local taxes and property values. Running against him is Air Force veteran and former And1 COO Chrissy Houlahan, who has locked up a lot of big endorsements and is well on track to be the Democratic nominee. (There’s no word about whether Skip to My Lou, Hot Sauce, or the Professor will campaign for her.)

However, it’s not as if this district will be a (wait for it) layup. Costello’s good at raising money and a recent poll showed him up 43-37 on Houlahan, even as Trump’s approval rating was below water at 43-52. Perhaps instead of tying him to Trump, Houlahan should tie Costello to House Speaker Paul Ryan, whose approval rating here is below water at a staggering 21-70. (In fact, Ryan polls worse than Trump almost everywhere, even in his home state of Wisconsin.) He might be a better bete noir in Democratic ads than the president, as Ryan’s divisiveness among Trump voters could drive down GOP turnout.

Read more with all districts here

November 22, 2017
Ryan Costello Press Release

West Chester, PA – Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06) joined Fox News last night to discuss the ME TOO Congress Act. The legislation would bring clarity to the reporting and investigative processes, extend protections to interns and fellows, provide protections for whistleblowers in Congress that are similar to those offered to whistleblowers in the Executive Branch, and require sexual harassment training for Congressional offices, which includes both Members and staff. In addition to requiring any settlements to be paid for by the Member of Congress personally – not with taxpayer funding – the legislation would also require the name of the employing Congressional office and the amount of the settlement to be made public on the Office of Compliance (OOC) website within a certain timeframe.

Click here to view the segment and see below for key takeaways from Rep. Costello.

Rep. Costello Discusses Importance of ME TOO Congress Act

Key takeaways from Rep. Costello:

  • “The short answer is things do need to change. I think that this legislation is a step in the right direction because if you work on Capitol Hill and you’ve been mistreated, the process that you have to go through in order to file a complaint and have your grievance heard is so opaque, confusing, that it’s just not fair. It’s not fair and it’s not right.”

On provisions of the legislation:

  • “The legislation that I have would remove the mandatory counseling. It would also make a Member of Congress personally liable if they engaged in this type of behavior.”
  • “The name of the Member of Congress or if it were someone on their staff would be included – that would have to be reported within 60 days of the end of the year.”

Transcript

Laura Ingraham, host: Professor, let’s talk to you. This is some wild stuff. I mean we have had a cavalcade of accusations, some more recent than others, some really old – sweep both Hollywood, business, media, and politics. What is your take on this Conyers issue, now that we know he used his own budget, his office budget, to pay some of these settlements?

Professor Kimberly Wehle, guest: Well one thing that’s been striking to me is the fact that our elected officials seem to be less accountable than those in the private sector, right? So we’ve seen it sweep through Hollywood, we’ve seen it happen in the halls of corporate America and the retribution is swift, and the people are moved out and new people are moved in presumably, and the notion is that there’s money at stake, right. And so, when it comes to our elected officials, without a will to actually remove them from office, from the voter’s standpoint, there’s really not much that we can do. The Constitution doesn’t say much about it.

Laura Ingraham: Congressman Costello, to you on this, this is what Maxine Waters, Congresswoman Waters, said not too long ago about Congressman Conyers, it was a big woman’s forum [clip plays] … Impeccable integrity. Congressman Costello, you heard the professor that look Congress [inaudible] used to have its own set of rules, that’s how it’s constituted, they govern themselves, they pass their own ethics rules, internal rules and regulations, but is it time that things begin to change? I mean a lot of you guys didn’t even know this slush-shush fund even existed.

Rep. Costello: The short answer is things do need to change. I think that this legislation is a step in the right direction because if you work on Capitol Hill and you’ve been mistreated, the process that you have to go through in order to file a complaint and have your grievance heard is so opaque, confusing, that it’s just not fair. It’s not fair and it’s not right. And I think the slush fund that you spoke to is sort of indicative of the American public’s frustration with, at times, how Congress is governed. They feel that there’s a different set of rules for Members of Congress, and the point here is look, as a Member of Congress I have a budget, I pay staff, office supplies, office space, etc, etc. that money should not and cannot be allowed for use to pay off an employee who may have been mistreated. That has to end. I don’t’ think that that’s permitted anyway–

Laura Ingraham: Is that even allowed? Congressman, my question to you is, is that even allowed?

Rep. Costello: I don’t believe that it is, no.

Laura Ingraham: Okay so this will be part of an ongoing ethics investigation into John Conyers. I want you to speak to my angle that I gave at the top of the show. We’ve got people in Congress who have been there half a century plus. Now, [inaudible] old people, senior people, they’re all getting up there. They have a lot of wisdom. But this was not meant to be a permanent job security program working on Capitol Hill. But we’ve got people up here for three decades, four decades, and in the case of John Conyers, five decades. You kind of get removed from the people after five decades. You go from [inaudible] to fundraiser to lobbyist to consultant, to this and that, and the people are – where the heck are the people in all of that?

Rep. Costello: That’s going to be up to the voters. Unless we have term limits, I mean look the reality is that fund, some of that may have been sexual discrimination claims, a lot of that was workplace violations, some of it could have been age discrimination, right? So there’s a couple different ways to look at that, but I understand the sense of the American people is sometimes Members of Congress are there too long. Obviously it’s up to the constituents in their district to vote them out if they don’t want them there, but we’re dealing here with a situation when improper conduct does occur, are the mechanisms in place in order to right the situation, to treat a young woman who may have been mistreated, and I think that there’s a feeling that the mechanisms that are in place now are insufficient.

Laura Ingraham: Congressman, you seem like a nice guy, and I’m sure you represent your constituents very well, but as the professor’s pointing out, you can’t get away with this stuff in corporate America anymore. At least you shouldn’t. And the fact that women are forced into mandatory counseling – and professor I want you to get into that. This is the way the system is now on Capitol Hill. Women who accuse, or men, who accuse others of sexual misconduct other misconduct, have to go into forced counseling. Mandatory —

Rep. Costello: For 30 days – and then there’s 30 days of mediation.

Laura Ingraham: The counseling should go the other way.

Rep. Costello: I agree with you.

Laura Ingraham: Yeah, the counseling should go to the people who are doing the misconduct. Professor, I want you to weigh in.

Professor Wehle: Under the constitution the way you get rid of Members of Congress is–

Laura Ingraham: You vote them out

Professor Wehle: Well or, under Article I, you can – other Members of the Senate, in the Senate context, can actually expel them.

Laura Ingraham: Well that’s what they’re talking about with Roy Moore.

Professor Wehle: It takes two thirds of the Senate to make that decision and so we’re talking big numbers, it’s highly unlikely, and so what then applies. What applies are the rules that Congress decides to apply to themselves.

Rep. Costello: And I want to strengthen the rules.

Laura Ingraham: But Congressman, I know you didn’t write the rules, Grassley did back in ’95, and I like Senator Grassley. I think he’s done a phenomenal job on most issues, but are you going to say tonight that you will fight for removal of mandatory counseling and a confidentiality provision in any future legislation? Because I see there are different versions of this floating around Capitol Hill.

Rep. Costello: The legislation that I have would remove the mandatory counseling. It would also make a Member of Congress personally liable if they engaged in this type of behavior.

Laura Ingraham: What about the names? What about the names? You guys get to keep secrets or do we know who you are? Not you, but you know what I’m saying.

Rep. Costello: The name of the Member of Congress or if it were someone on their staff would be included – that would have to be reported within 60 days of the end of the year. There would also be a survey done every year so that you have staff conveying what they feel the culture is on Capitol Hill.

Laura Ingraham: Okay, so some accountability.

Rep. Costello: So, there’s a lot to this bill. I totally agree with what the Professor says. Things need to change. The bill I’m a part of would do that.

Laura Ingraham: And Congressman Costello is a change agent in this. So, I don’t mean to come down on you on this. But I still can’t believe this ever existed on Capitol Hill, it is preposterous on both sides – men can be victims, women can be victims. Men can be victims of false accusations – and we must say that – there are false accusations. And women can be victims, men can be victims, both can be. Both can be, but I’m glad this is going to change.

Source

###

Nov 16, 2017
money.com
House vote on taxes: Here’s what’s in the bill Republicans just passed

House passes GOP tax bill, Senate plan unclear

House Republicans on Thursday passed a bill along strict party lines that would revamp the U.S. tax code and affect every corner of the U.S. economy.

Passage of the bill comes just two weeks after it was first unveiled by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady.

It also comes the same week that the Senate Finance Committee is wrapping up work on its own tax overhaul bill at breakneck speed. Eventually any legislation approved by each chamber will have to be reconciled into one plan.

The House bill would mean tax cuts on average for all income groups in 2018 and most income groups in 2027, but the biggest benefits go to those at the top, according to the Tax Policy Center.

But that doesn’t mean everyone in every income group would pay less. The TPC estimates that next year about 10% of middle income filers and 20% of the highest income households would pay more. Those percentages rise to 30% for each group by 2027.

Here are some key provisions in the bill.

FOR INDIVIDUALS

Reduces income tax brackets: There are seven federal income tax brackets in today’s code that are taxed at 10%, 15%, 25%, 28%, 33%, 35% and 39.6%.

The House bill consolidates those into four brackets:

12% (up to first $45,000 of taxable income for individuals; $90,000 for married couples filing jointly)

25% (over $45,000 to $200,000 for individuals; over $90,000 to $260,000 for married couples)

35% (over $200,000 to $500,000 for individuals; over $260,000 to $1 million for married couples)

39.6% (over $500,000 for individuals; over $1 million for married couples)

There is also a 6% surtax or “bubble rate” that applies to adjusted gross income over $1 million ($1.2 million for couples) until it effectively claws back the benefits of the 12% bracket for the highest income households.

Doubles the standard deduction: The bill raises today’s standard deduction for singles to $12,200 from $6,350 currently; and it raises it for married couples filing jointly to $24,400 from $12,700.

That would drastically reduce the number of people who opt to itemize their deductions, since the only reason to do so is if your individual deductions combined exceed the standard deduction amount.

Eliminates personal exemptions: Today you’re allowed to claim a $4,050 personal exemption for yourself, your spouse and each of your dependents. The House bill eliminates that option.

Related: Senate tax cuts permanent for business, temporary for you

For families with three or more kids, that could mute, if not negate any tax relief they might enjoy as a result of other provisions in the bill.

Expands child tax credit: The bill would increase for five years the child tax credit to $1,600, up from $1,000, for any child under 17.

But that $600 increase won’t be available to the lowest-income families if they don’t end up owing federal income taxes. That’s because unlike the first $1,000, the extra $600 won’t be refundable. Refundable means that if your federal income tax bill is zero, you get a check from the government because of the credit.

The bill would let more people claim the child tax credit. The income level where the credit starts to phase out would increase to $115,000 for single parents, up from $75,000 today, and to $230,000 for married parents, up from $110,000.

Creates a new $300 family tax credit: Taxpayers may claim a $300 non-refundable tax credit for themselves as well as any nonchild dependent — for instance, a son or daughter over 17 whom you’re supporting, an ailing elderly mother or an adult child with a disability.

So a family of four — two parents, a 12-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son — could reduce their tax bill by up to $2,500, said Elaine Maag, a senior research associate at the Urban Institute. They could claim the $1,600 child tax credit for the daughter, the $300 nonchild dependent credit for the son and a $300 credit for each parent.

The income thresholds governing the family tax credit are the same as for the child tax credit.

The family credit would expire after five years.

Kills state and local income tax deduction, limits property tax break: The prospect of fully repealing the state and local tax deduction, which lets filers deduct their property taxes as well as their state and local income or sales taxes, has been met with strong opposition from lawmakers in high-tax states and cities.

So the House bill preserves an itemized property tax deduction for property taxes but only up to $10,000.

Limits deductible mortgage interest: The bill preserves the mortgage deduction as is for existing mortgages. But for newly purchased homes, you would only be able to claim a deduction for interest you pay on mortgage debt up to $500,000, down from $1 million today.

But since the bill doubles the standard deduction, only 4% of filers would still claim the mortgage interest deduction, down from 21% today, according to Tax Policy Center estimates.

How do you think tax reform will affect you? Share your story with CNNMoney here

Repeals many other deductions: These include those for medical expenses, tax preparation fees, alimony payments, student loan interest and moving expenses.

Repeals the Alternative Minimum Tax: The AMT, originally intended to ensure the richest tax filers pay at least some tax by disallowing many tax breaks, but it most typically hits filers making between $200,000 and $1 million today.

Those who make more usually find they owe more tax under the regular income tax code, so end up having to pay that tab instead.

Repeals the estate tax: The estate tax today affects just 0.2% of all estates, and only those with more than $5.49 million in assets (or $10.98 million if you leave a spouse behind).

Nevertheless, Republicans are still pushing to repeal it. The House bill, however, would delay repeal until 2024, and in the meantime doubles the exemption levels.

Given that the White House and Republicans have been pushing tax reform as a boon to the middle class and given that the estate tax exemption levels already protect the vast majority of family farms and businesses from having to pay it, this provision may face a steep climb to the finish line.

FOR BUSINESSES

Lowers corporate tax rate: The bill would permanently cut the corporate rate to 20% from 35%.

Republicans argue that corporate tax cuts are good for the middle class because they will increase investment, jobs and wages. The White House even asserts that a corporate tax cut will result in at least a $4,000 boost in annual income for households.

But a lot of economists push back on the idea that the middle class will see a big raise soon, if at all.

Creates territorial tax system: U.S. companies owe U.S. tax on all their profits, regardless of where those profits are earned.

Many argue that this “worldwide” system puts American businesses at a disadvantage to foreign competitors. That’s because those competitors come from countries with territorial tax systems, meaning they don’t owe tax to their own governments on income they make offshore.

The House GOP bill would switch corporate taxation to a territorial system. That way, American companies would owe U.S. tax only on what they earn here. Their offshore profits would only be taxed by the country where the money is made.

Taxes existing overseas profits: The House bill would impose a one-time rate of 14% on existing foreign profits if they’re being held offshore in cash. Foreign profits that are invested in noncash assets offshore would be taxed at 7%. Companies would have up to eight years to pay what they owe.

The measure would raise revenue from income that has so far escaped U.S. taxation. Under current law, companies pay U.S. tax only when they bring the money home. But it’s also meant to entice companies to invest some of the foreign profits stateside.

Lowers tax rate on pass-throughs: Most U.S. businesses, large and small, are set up as pass-through businesses, not corporations. They’re called pass-throughs because their profits are passed through to the owners, shareholders and partners, who pay tax on them through their personal returns.

The House bill would lower the top income tax rate on pass-throughs’ profits to 25% from 39.6% today.

It would also offer a phased in lower rate of 9% for businesses that earn less than $75,000. That’s below the 12% bottom bracket in the House bill and below today’s 10% bracket.
Source

Nov 16, 2017
New York Times
How Every Member Voted on the House Tax Bill

The House on Thursday passed its version of a tax bill, largely along party lines. Every Democrat voted no, but so did 13 Republicans, many of whom represent districts in high-tax states that could be particularly hurt by the repeal of the state and local income tax deduction.

H.R.1 – TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT YES NO Not voting
Republicans 227 13 0
Democrats 0 192 2
Total 227 205 2

The Senate is working on its own tax bill, and Republicans say they hope to pass a reconciled version through both chambers by the end of the year.

Republicans Who Represent High-Tax Districts

Most of the Republicans who voted no represent districts with a high average state and local tax deduction, which would be scaled back significantly under the House plan. Taxpayers would no longer be able to deduct state and local income and sales taxes, and the property tax deduction would be limited to $10,000.

District Representative Average state and local deduction Share taking the deduction Yes No
NJ-7 Leonard Lance $21,276 46%
N
NJ-11 Rodney Frelinghuysen 20,124 42
N
NY-2 Peter T. King 20,111 48
N
CA-48 Dana Rohrabacher 18,200 37
N
CA-45 Mimi Walters 18,200 37
Y
NY-1 Lee Zeldin 17,686 46
N
NJ-4 Christopher H. Smith 16,912 45
N
CA-25 Steve Knight 16,723 33
Y
CA-49 Darrell Issa 16,524 35
N
CA-39 Ed Royce 15,575 33
Y
MN-3 Erik Paulsen 15,021 40
Y
IL-6 Peter Roskam 14,830 38
Y
IL-14 Randy Hultgren 14,453 43
Y
CA-23 Kevin McCarthy 14,370 29
Y
NY-11 Dan Donovan 13,769 36
N
VA-10 Barbara Comstock 13,562 49
Y
PA-6 Ryan A. Costello 13,218 40
Y
MN-6 Tom Emmer 13,123 39
Y
PA-8 Brian Fitzpatrick 13,090 44
Y
CA-50 Duncan Hunter 12,808 34
Y
NY-19 John J. Faso 12,501 31
N
NE-2 Don Bacon 12,484 33
Y
PA-7 Patrick Meehan 12,456 38
Y
NY-24 John Katko 12,140 29
Y
NY-27 Chris Collins 12,125 29
Y
NJ-3 Tom MacArthur 11,987 43
Y
NY-21 Elise Stefanik 11,865 23
N
CA-4 Tom McClintock 11,802 36
N
Source: Tax Policy Center

The changes in the bill would primarily hurt higher-income taxpayers who deduct more than the higher proposed standard deduction ($12,000 for single filers and $24,000 for married couples) and those who currently deduct more than $10,000 in property taxes.

How Each House Member Voted

Republicans Yes No
Total 227 13
CA-4 Tom McClintock
N
CA-48 Dana Rohrabacher
N
CA-49 Darrell Issa
N
NC-3 Walter B. Jones
N
NJ-2 Frank A. LoBiondo
N
NJ-4 Christopher H. Smith
N
NJ-7 Leonard Lance
N
NJ-11 Rodney Frelinghuysen
N
NY-1 Lee Zeldin
N
NY-2 Peter T. King
N
NY-11 Dan Donovan
N
NY-19 John J. Faso
N
NY-21 Elise Stefanik
N
AK-1 Don Young
Y
AL-1 Bradley Byrne
Y
AL-2 Martha Roby
Y
AL-3 Mike D. Rogers
Y
AL-4 Robert B. Aderholt
Y
AL-5 Mo Brooks
Y
AL-6 Gary Palmer
Y
AR-1 Rick Crawford
Y
AR-2 French Hill
Y
AR-3 Steve Womack
Y
AR-4 Bruce Westerman
Y
AZ-2 Martha E. McSally
Y
AZ-4 Paul Gosar
Y
AZ-5 Andy Biggs
Y
AZ-6 David Schweikert
Y
AZ-8 Trent Franks
Y
CA-1 Doug LaMalfa
Y
CA-8 Paul Cook
Y
CA-10 Jeff Denham
Y
CA-21 David Valadao
Y
CA-22 Devin Nunes
Y
CA-23 Kevin McCarthy
Y
CA-25 Steve Knight
Y
CA-39 Ed Royce
Y
CA-42 Ken Calvert
Y
CA-45 Mimi Walters
Y
CA-50 Duncan Hunter
Y
CO-3 Scott Tipton
Y
CO-4 Ken Buck
Y
CO-5 Doug Lamborn
Y
CO-6 Mike Coffman
Y
FL-1 Matt Gaetz
Y
FL-2 Neal Dunn
Y
FL-3 Ted Yoho
Y
FL-4 John Rutherford
Y
FL-6 Ron DeSantis
Y
FL-8 Bill Posey
Y
FL-11 Daniel Webster
Y
FL-12 Gus Bilirakis
Y
FL-15 Dennis A. Ross
Y
FL-16 Vern Buchanan
Y
FL-17 Tom Rooney
Y
FL-18 Brian Mast
Y
FL-19 Francis Rooney
Y
FL-25 Mario Diaz-Balart
Y
FL-26 Carlos Curbelo
Y
FL-27 Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Y
GA-1 Earl L. “Buddy” Carter
Y
GA-3 Drew Ferguson
Y
GA-6 Karen Handel
Y
GA-7 Rob Woodall
Y
GA-8 Austin Scott
Y
GA-9 Doug Collins
Y
GA-10 Jody B. Hice
Y
GA-11 Barry Loudermilk
Y
GA-12 Rick W. Allen
Y
GA-14 Tom Graves
Y
IA-1 Rod Blum
Y
IA-3 David Young
Y
IA-4 Steve King
Y
ID-1 Raúl R. Labrador
Y
ID-2 Mike Simpson
Y
IL-6 Peter Roskam
Y
IL-12 Mike Bost
Y
IL-13 Rodney Davis
Y
IL-14 Randy Hultgren
Y
IL-15 John Shimkus
Y
IL-16 Adam Kinzinger
Y
IL-18 Darin M. LaHood
Y
IN-2 Jackie Walorski
Y
IN-3 Jim Banks
Y
IN-4 Todd Rokita
Y
IN-5 Susan W. Brooks
Y
IN-6 Luke Messer
Y
IN-8 Larry Bucshon
Y
IN-9 Trey Hollingsworth
Y
KS-1 Roger Marshall
Y
KS-2 Lynn Jenkins
Y
KS-3 Kevin Yoder
Y
KS-4 Ron Estes
Y
KY-1 James Comer
Y
KY-2 Brett Guthrie
Y
KY-4 Thomas Massie
Y
KY-5 Harold Rogers
Y
KY-6 Andy Barr
Y
LA-1 Steve Scalise
Y
LA-3 Clay Higgins
Y
LA-4 Mike Johnson
Y
LA-5 Ralph Abraham
Y
LA-6 Garret Graves
Y
MD-1 Andy Harris
Y
ME-2 Bruce Poliquin
Y
MI-1 Jack Bergman
Y
MI-2 Bill Huizenga
Y
MI-3 Justin Amash
Y
MI-4 John Moolenaar
Y
MI-6 Fred Upton
Y
MI-7 Tim Walberg
Y
MI-8 Mike Bishop
Y
MI-10 Paul Mitchell
Y
MI-11 Dave Trott
Y
MN-2 Jason Lewis
Y
MN-3 Erik Paulsen
Y
MN-6 Tom Emmer
Y
MO-2 Ann Wagner
Y
MO-3 Blaine Luetkemeyer
Y
MO-4 Vicky Hartzler
Y
MO-6 Sam Graves
Y
MO-7 Billy Long
Y
MO-8 Jason Smith
Y
MS-1 Trent Kelly
Y
MS-3 Gregg Harper
Y
MS-4 Steven M. Palazzo
Y
MT-1 Greg Gianforte
Y
NC-2 George Holding
Y
NC-5 Virginia Foxx
Y
NC-6 Mark Walker
Y
NC-7 David Rouzer
Y
NC-8 Richard Hudson
Y
NC-9 Robert Pittenger
Y
NC-10 Patrick T. McHenry
Y
NC-11 Mark Meadows
Y
NC-13 Ted Budd
Y
ND-1 Kevin Cramer
Y
NE-1 Jeff Fortenberry
Y
NE-2 Don Bacon
Y
NE-3 Adrian Smith
Y
NJ-3 Tom MacArthur
Y
NM-2 Steve Pearce
Y
NV-2 Mark Amodei
Y
NY-22 Claudia Tenney
Y
NY-23 Tom Reed
Y
NY-24 John Katko
Y
NY-27 Chris Collins
Y
OH-1 Steve Chabot
Y
OH-2 Brad Wenstrup
Y
OH-4 Jim Jordan
Y
OH-5 Bob Latta
Y
OH-6 Bill Johnson
Y
OH-7 Bob Gibbs
Y
OH-8 Warren Davidson
Y
OH-10 Michael R. Turner
Y
OH-12 Pat Tiberi
Y
OH-14 David Joyce
Y
OH-15 Steve Stivers
Y
OH-16 James B. Renacci
Y
OK-1 Jim Bridenstine
Y
OK-2 Markwayne Mullin
Y
OK-3 Frank D. Lucas
Y
OK-4 Tom Cole
Y
OK-5 Steve Russell
Y
OR-2 Greg Walden
Y
PA-3 Mike Kelly
Y
PA-4 Scott Perry
Y
PA-5 Glenn Thompson
Y
PA-6 Ryan A. Costello
Y
PA-7 Patrick Meehan
Y
PA-8 Brian Fitzpatrick
Y
PA-9 Bill Shuster
Y
PA-10 Tom Marino
Y
PA-11 Lou Barletta
Y
PA-12 Keith Rothfus
Y
PA-15 Charlie Dent
Y
PA-16 Lloyd K. Smucker
Y
SC-1 Mark Sanford
Y
SC-2 Joe Wilson
Y
SC-3 Jeff Duncan
Y
SC-4 Trey Gowdy
Y
SC-5 Ralph Norman
Y
SC-7 Tom Rice
Y
SD-1 Kristi Noem
Y
TN-1 Phil Roe
Y
TN-2 John J. Duncan Jr.
Y
TN-3 Chuck Fleischmann
Y
TN-4 Scott DesJarlais
Y
TN-6 Diane Black
Y
TN-7 Marsha Blackburn
Y
TN-8 David Kustoff
Y
TX-1 Louie Gohmert
Y
TX-2 Ted Poe
Y
TX-3 Sam Johnson
Y
TX-4 John Ratcliffe
Y
TX-5 Jeb Hensarling
Y
TX-6 Joe L. Barton
Y
TX-7 John Culberson
Y
TX-8 Kevin Brady
Y
TX-10 Michael McCaul
Y
TX-11 K. Michael Conaway
Y
TX-12 Kay Granger
Y
TX-13 Mac Thornberry
Y
TX-14 Randy Weber
Y
TX-17 Bill Flores
Y
TX-19 Jodey Arrington
Y
TX-21 Lamar Smith
Y
TX-22 Pete Olson
Y
TX-23 Will Hurd
Y
TX-24 Kenny Marchant
Y
TX-25 Roger Williams
Y
TX-26 Michael C. Burgess
Y
TX-27 Blake Farenthold
Y
TX-31 John Carter
Y
TX-32 Pete Sessions
Y
TX-36 Brian Babin
Y
UT-1 Rob Bishop
Y
UT-2 Chris Stewart
Y
UT-3 John Curtis
Y
UT-4 Mia Love
Y
VA-1 Rob Wittman
Y
VA-2 Scott Taylor
Y
VA-5 Tom Garrett
Y
VA-6 Robert W. Goodlatte
Y
VA-7 Dave Brat
Y
VA-9 Morgan Griffith
Y
VA-10 Barbara Comstock
Y
WA-3 Jaime Herrera Beutler
Y
WA-4 Dan Newhouse
Y
WA-5 Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Y
WA-8 Dave Reichert
Y
WI-1 Paul D. Ryan
Y
WI-5 Jim Sensenbrenner
Y
WI-6 Glenn Grothman
Y
WI-7 Sean P. Duffy
Y
WI-8 Mike Gallagher
Y
WV-1 David B. McKinley
Y
WV-2 Alex X. Mooney
Y
WV-3 Evan H. Jenkins
Y
WY-1 Liz Cheney
Y
Democrats Yes No
Total 0 192
AL-7 Terri A. Sewell
N
AZ-1 Tom O’Halleran
N
AZ-3 Raúl M. Grijalva
N
AZ-7 Ruben Gallego
N
AZ-9 Kyrsten Sinema
N
CA-2 Jared Huffman
N
CA-3 John Garamendi
N
CA-5 Mike Thompson
N
CA-6 Doris Matsui
N
CA-7 Ami Bera
N
CA-9 Jerry McNerney
N
CA-11 Mark DeSaulnier
N
CA-12 Nancy Pelosi
N
CA-13 Barbara Lee
N
CA-14 Jackie Speier
N
CA-15 Eric Swalwell
N
CA-16 Jim Costa
N
CA-17 Ro Khanna
N
CA-18 Anna G. Eshoo
N
CA-19 Zoe Lofgren
N
CA-20 Jimmy Panetta
N
CA-24 Salud Carbajal
N
CA-26 Julia Brownley
N
CA-27 Judy Chu
N
CA-28 Adam B. Schiff
N
CA-29 Tony Cardenas
N
CA-30 Brad Sherman
N
CA-31 Pete Aguilar
N
CA-32 Grace F. Napolitano
N
CA-33 Ted Lieu
N
CA-34 Jimmy Gomez
N
CA-35 Norma J. Torres
N
CA-36 Raul Ruiz
N
CA-37 Karen Bass
N
CA-38 Linda T. Sánchez
N
CA-40 Lucille Roybal-Allard
N
CA-41 Mark Takano
N
CA-43 Maxine Waters
N
CA-44 Nanette Barragán
N
CA-46 J. Luis Correa
N
CA-47 Alan Lowenthal
N
CA-51 Juan C. Vargas
N
CA-52 Scott Peters
N
CA-53 Susan A. Davis
N
CO-1 Diana DeGette
N
CO-2 Jared Polis
N
CO-7 Ed Perlmutter
N
CT-1 John B. Larson
N
CT-2 Joe Courtney
N
CT-3 Rosa DeLauro
N
CT-4 Jim Himes
N
CT-5 Elizabeth Esty
N
DE-1 Lisa Blunt Rochester
N
FL-5 Al Lawson
N
FL-7 Stephanie Murphy
N
FL-9 Darren Soto
N
FL-10 Val Demings
N
FL-13 Charlie Crist
N
FL-14 Kathy Castor
N
FL-20 Alcee L. Hastings
N
FL-21 Lois Frankel
N
FL-22 Ted Deutch
N
FL-23 Debbie Wasserman Schultz
N
GA-2 Sanford D. Bishop Jr.
N
GA-4 Hank Johnson
N
GA-5 John Lewis
N
GA-13 David Scott
N
HI-1 Colleen Hanabusa
N
HI-2 Tulsi Gabbard
N
IA-2 Dave Loebsack
N
IL-1 Bobby L. Rush
N
IL-2 Robin Kelly
N
IL-3 Daniel Lipinski
N
IL-4 Luis V. Gutiérrez
N
IL-5 Mike Quigley
N
IL-7 Danny K. Davis
N
IL-8 Raja Krishnamoorthi
N
IL-9 Jan Schakowsky
N
IL-10 Brad Schneider
N
IL-11 Bill Foster
N
IL-17 Cheri Bustos
N
IN-1 Peter J. Visclosky
N
IN-7 André Carson
N
KY-3 John Yarmuth
N
LA-2 Cedric L. Richmond
N
MA-1 Richard E. Neal
N
MA-2 Jim McGovern
N
MA-3 Niki Tsongas
N
MA-4 Joseph P. Kennedy III
N
MA-5 Katherine M. Clark
N
MA-6 Seth Moulton
N
MA-7 Michael E. Capuano
N
MA-8 Stephen F. Lynch
N
MA-9 William Keating
N
MD-2 C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger
N
MD-3 John Sarbanes
N
MD-4 Anthony Brown
N
MD-5 Steny H. Hoyer
N
MD-6 John Delaney
N
MD-7 Elijah E. Cummings
N
MD-8 Jamie Raskin
N
ME-1 Chellie Pingree
N
MI-5 Dan Kildee
N
MI-9 Sander M. Levin
N
MI-12 Debbie Dingell
N
MI-13 John Conyers Jr.
N
MI-14 Brenda Lawrence
N
MN-1 Tim Walz
N
MN-4 Betty McCollum
N
MN-5 Keith Ellison
N
MN-7 Collin C. Peterson
N
MN-8 Rick Nolan
N
MO-1 William Lacy Clay
N
MO-5 Emanuel Cleaver II
N
MS-2 Bennie Thompson
N
NC-1 G. K. Butterfield
N
NC-4 David E. Price
N
NC-12 Alma Adams
N
NH-1 Carol Shea-Porter
N
NH-2 Ann McLane Kuster
N
NJ-1 Donald Norcross
N
NJ-5 Josh Gottheimer
N
NJ-6 Frank Pallone Jr.
N
NJ-8 Albio Sires
N
NJ-9 Bill Pascrell Jr.
N
NJ-10 Donald M. Payne Jr.
N
NJ-12 Bonnie Watson Coleman
N
NM-1 Michelle Lujan Grisham
N
NM-3 Ben Ray Luján
N
NV-1 Dina Titus
N
NV-3 Jacky Rosen
N
NV-4 Ruben Kihuen
N
NY-3 Tom Suozzi
N
NY-4 Kathleen Rice
N
NY-5 Gregory W. Meeks
N
NY-6 Grace Meng
N
NY-7 Nydia M. Velazquez
N
NY-8 Hakeem Jeffries
N
NY-9 Yvette D. Clarke
N
NY-10 Jerrold Nadler
N
NY-12 Carolyn B. Maloney
N
NY-13 Adriano Espaillat
N
NY-14 Joseph Crowley
N
NY-15 José E. Serrano
N
NY-16 Eliot L. Engel
N
NY-17 Nita M. Lowey
N
NY-18 Sean Patrick Maloney
N
NY-20 Paul Tonko
N
NY-25 Louise M. Slaughter
N
NY-26 Brian Higgins
N
OH-3 Joyce Beatty
N
OH-9 Marcy Kaptur
N
OH-11 Marcia L. Fudge
N
OH-13 Tim Ryan
N
OR-1 Suzanne Bonamici
N
OR-3 Earl Blumenauer
N
OR-4 Peter A. DeFazio
N
OR-5 Kurt Schrader
N
PA-1 Robert A. Brady
N
PA-2 Dwight Evans
N
PA-13 Brendan F. Boyle
N
PA-14 Mike Doyle
N
PA-17 Matt Cartwright
N
RI-1 David Cicilline
N
RI-2 Jim Langevin
N
SC-6 James E. Clyburn
N
TN-5 Jim Cooper
N
TN-9 Steve Cohen
N
TX-9 Al Green
N
TX-15 Vicente Gonzalez
N
TX-16 Beto O’Rourke
N
TX-18 Sheila Jackson Lee
N
TX-20 Joaquin Castro
N
TX-28 Henry Cuellar
N
TX-29 Gene Green
N
TX-30 Eddie Bernice Johnson
N
TX-33 Marc Veasey
N
TX-34 Filemon Vela
N
TX-35 Lloyd Doggett
N
VA-3 Robert C. Scott
N
VA-4 A. Donald McEachin
N
VA-8 Don Beyer
N
VA-11 Gerald E. Connolly
N
VT-1 Peter Welch
N
WA-1 Suzan DelBene
N
WA-2 Rick Larsen
N
WA-6 Derek Kilmer
N
WA-7 Pramila Jayapal
N
WA-9 Adam Smith
N
WA-10 Denny Heck
N
WI-3 Ron Kind
N
WI-4 Gwen Moore
N
FL-24 Frederica S. Wilson
WI-2 Mark Pocan

Source

Nov 15, 2017
cbsnews.com
Lawmakers introduce the ME TOO Act to prevent, respond to sexual harassment in Congress

A group of lawmakers introduced bipartisan legislation Wednesday that seeks to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in Congress and to change the arduous system in place for reporting incidents.

The bill, the Member and Employee Training and Oversight On (ME TOO) Congress Act, would protect the vulnerable, levels the playing field and creates transparency, Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, said at a press conference unveiling the bill.

It would create an in-house counsel for victims of sexual harassment, Speier explained, and it would ensure that both interns and fellows receive the same protections as paid employees. The counseling and mediation would be voluntary, rather than mandatory as it currently exists.

“I am here to protect the victims. We are all here to protect the victims,” said Speier, who noted that Congress created the Office of Compliance in 1995 to protect lawmakers from being exposed. She said that there have been 260 settlements in the last 20 years and has cost taxpayers $15 million.

Gillibrand said that there is a “serious” sexual harassment problem in Congress and too many offices are not taking the issue seriously enough.

“The system to address this problem is virtually unknown to most staffers, very confusing to navigate and tilted against victims,” she said.

Rep. Ryan Costello, R-Pennsylvania, one of its sponsors, said that it is “very unfortunate it has taken this long,” given that he said it’s a very “opaque” and “confusing” process to accessing the tools to file a complaint. Read more

Nov 11, 2017
mcall.com
Costello, Fitzpatrick call for solution for ‘Dreamers’

When 13 House Republicans held a news conference Thursday calling for a legislative solution to protect some 800,000 young immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children, two Pennsylvania lawmakers were among them.

U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello, whose 6th District is based in Chester County, and Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents the Bucks County-based 8th District, were among those urging congressional action before the end of the year.

Those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, often referred to as Dreamers, face an uncertain future. President Donald Trump ended the temporary protections created under the last administration, and gave Congress until March to come up with a solution.

Costello said Congress should act soon and not wait until that deadline draws near, describing the need for “a humane, permanent and constitutional solution.”

“It Is not something that can just be done by a president,” Costello said. “It does require Congress to step up and legislate, and to do so in a way that reflects the best about our country.”

Fitzpatrick praised the Dreamers, saying they are part of U.S. communities, serving as teachers, soldiers, engineers and first responders.

“We are a nation of laws and we are a nation of compassion, and they must not be mutually exclusive concepts,” Fitzpatrick said.   Source

 

Opinion — Will Bunch
Nov 9, 2017
Inquirer
Dead (Congress)Men Walking: Are Philly’s suburban GOPers totally doomed? | Will Bunch
by Will Bunch, STAFF COLUMNIST

Meet U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan’s worst nightmare: An angry anti-Trump female Delaware County suburbanite with some worn shoe leather.

Kristin Seale, who works for an energy non-profit and lives in Media, had already been thinking about getting involved in local politics after she was elected as a Bernie Sanders delegate to 2016’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, but she said the shock of President Trump’s victory last November “sealed the deal.” She went through a training program for first-time candidates, filed to run for a seat on the Rose Tree Media school board, a longtime GOP bastion, and with her volunteers this fall rang about 3,000 doorbells.

“I had some longer conversations where I tried convincing voters who said they were disgusted (with politics in the Trump era) about why they should not wash their hands of it, how local elections can impact people,” Seale said — and that must have worked. On Tuesday, Seale and the three other Democrats on her slate won an upset victory — one small part of a Democratic tidal wave in the Philadelphia suburbs that elected scores of newcomers and ousted GOP incumbents throughout Delaware, Bucks and Chester counties.

The terrible news for Republican Meehan — whose bizarrely gerrymandered district centers on Delco — and his suburban GOP colleagues Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Ryan Costello is that Tuesday’s results now have Democratic activists like Seale jacked up to do this all over again next fall, when the three congressman will be fighting for their political lives in the same upscale suburbs where Democrats rampaged on Tuesday.

They are — politically speaking, after Tuesday’s tidal wave — Dead (Congress)Men Walking.

Even the much ballyhooed luck of the Irish may not be enough for Meehan, Costello and Fitzpatrick when it’s their turn to face the same angry and energized suburban electorate in 2018, barring the completely unexpected (like an upsurge in Trump’s currently anemic popularity or his sudden resignation … don’t hold your breath for either). Is it too late to free the Suburban Philly 3 and see them join the Trump resistance, not just by verbally criticizing the president but by fighting to block his worst policies? Or are they fated to go down with the USS Donald this time next year?

Any Republican — but especially those in affluent districts with a high rate of college grads — must feel shell-shocked after Election Night 2017. Despite the still decrepit and divided state of the national Democratic leadership, the party exceeded every expectation thanks largely to bottom-up grassroots energy sparked by those most angry or most marginalized by a Trump presidency. Each headline on Tuesday night seemed more remarkable than the next: The historic wins by transgender candidates, including the woman in Virginia who ousted a self-proclaimed “homophobe” lawmaker, the Liberian refugee who won in Montana, the Sikhs and Asian-Americanswho battled racist flyers and other prejudice to score big victories, the woman in New Jersey so offended by a county freeholder’s sexist joke that she ran against him and won. All this while hundreds of first-timers like Seale were winning under the radar.

Beneath the frothing surface, the center of this tsunami was women — especially more affluent and college-educated women — who’ve been seething since November 8, 2016 that a self-described p-word grabber and serial liar is in the Oval Office after an often misogynistic and racist campaign stymied a highly qualified woman and also put the lie to everything that many had taught their children about honesty, decency, and the American way.

In Virginia, the day’s bellwether race, the win by Gov.-elect Ralph Northam and a string of surprising legislative upsets were centered in the wealthier suburbs just west of Washington, D.C., while closer to home the Democratic near-sweep against Delaware County’s entrenched Republican machine was anchored in high-income Zip codes around Radnor, Newtown Square and Media. Yes, local issues still mattered — but an unexpectedly high turnout in an off-year seemed proof that nothing mattered more than sending a message to Trump, and any of his allies.

That’s bleak news for Meehan, the former prosecutor (and hockey ref) who’s won the 7th District with relative ease since 2010, even more so after the district’s ink-blotter gerrymandering in 2012 to make it a can’t-lose district for Republicans. Since last summer, Meehan — more so than most Republicans — has struggled with how to handle a problem like Donald. He stayed home from Trump’s coronation in Cleveland and wrote-in “Mike Pence” on his presidential ballot — only to turn around and vote with the new president some 88 percent of the time, according to a tracker on the FiveThirtyEight.com website which projected Meehan would follow Trump far less, considering that Hillary Clinton narrowly carried his district in 2016. His pro-Trump votes have already brought scores of protesters to his district office in Springfield even as the ex-hockey ref mightily ducks any town halls.

And that was before Tuesday. Larry Sabato, the University of Virginia history professor and election pundit who watched the Democratic wave wash through his home state, told me that GOP reps in competitive districts like the Pennsylvania 3 now face a kind of Catch-22.with Trump.  “In a sense, they can’t live with Trump and can’t live without him,” he said. “Without [the president’s] backing, the Trump base won’t show up — or will vote for a primary challenger. With Trump’s backing, they energize Democrats and NeverTrump Republicans to oppose them.”

ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / STAFF

Rep. Ryan Costello.

Costello told my Inquirer colleague Jonathan Tamarithat “[c]learly Democrats have probably a historic intensity behind that vote [Tuesday] as being the first chance to vote against the president.” Ya think? And Costello acknowledged that many independents and some Republicans joined in. That’s first week Poly-Sci 101 stuff — but what are Costello and his allegedly moderate colleagues going to do about it?

Will the endangered Pennsylvanians will take a page from the playbook of Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (who, interestingly, is resigning rather than face a perilous primary challenge on his right flank) and step up their verbal criticism of Trump’s style and rhetoric? It seems like most voters would see right through that as long as they and other House Republican continue to vote with Trump on the issues.

No, the most dramatic thing that Meehan, Costello and Fitzpatrick can do would be to vote to kill the ill-conceived tax-reform scheme cooked up by congressional GOP leaders and backed by Trump, who is desperate to sign any piece of paper that Congress can get to his desk. The tax plan seems largely a con job that would actually hurt taxpayers in Pennsylvania’s middle-class communities while funneling billions of dollars to corporations (who will pocket the dough instead of hiring more U.S. workers) and the wealthiest 0.1 percent. What’s more, the GOP financial wizards crafted the bill to take away benefits in the anti-Trump coastal areas, especially the deductability of state and local taxes, which are higher in Pennsylvania than most states. For the Pennsylvania GOPers, a vote for the tax boondoggle — or any new push to roll back Obamacare, for that matter — would be political suicide.

Meanwhile, there are other, positive things that would win back middle-of-the-road suburban women — nothing more so than supporting commonsense gun-safety measures, including the background-check bill backed by their Senate colleague Pat Toomey and maybe even bring back the ban on assault weapons that were used in Sutherland Springs, Las Vegas, Orlando, etc., etc., etc. Or, the congressman could prove their anti-Trump bona fides by joining the growing movement, which has some GOP support, to restrict the president’s ability to launch a nuclear first strike.

Or, they could march with Trump like lemmings toward the great sea of 2018.

Here’s the thing: Too many voters in places like Kristin Seale’s Media may already be too mad for the likes of Rep. Meehan to do one blessed thing to prevent their defeat next November. My unsolicited and possibly unwelcome advice to them would be to resist the worst of Trumpism, no matter what. It may not save their jobs on Capitol Hill, but it could save the country. And, facing unemployment, wouldn’t you want that on your resume?  Source

Nov 8, 2017
The Olympian
Republicans suddenly fear disastrous 2018

WASHINGTON
The Tuesday night rout of Republican candidates up and down the ballot has triggered alarm bells in Republican circles that a deteriorating political environment could set in motion a Democratic wave in the 2018 midterm elections.

The most dramatic results unfolded in Virginia, where Democrats swept up victories in the governor’s race and delegate contests across the state, fueled by suburban voters who once favored Republicans. But it wasn’t just Virginia: Democrats won the New Jersey governor’s mansion and in several suburban Philadelphia counties, where they nabbed local offices that have long been controlled by the GOP.

“I had an expectation that it would be tight, I did not expect it to break as dramatically as it did,” said Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican who represents suburban Philadelphia’s Chester County, where Democrats notched unprecedented local wins. “It is largely driven by mainstream Republicans and independents being displeased by the tone and style of the administration, coupled with an historic off-year intensity by Democratic voters who wanted to make a statement. This is their first opportunity to do that.”

For Republicans, who have won all of the marquee special congressional elections of the Donald Trump era to date, Tuesday’s results across the country were a reminder that Democrats are, in fact, capable of translating liberal anti-Trump energy into actual votes. It was evidence of the environmental perils that often await a president’s party in the midterm elections—especially when that president has historically low approval ratings.

“A major statewide race where both candidates are well defined is one thing,” said Republican pollster Robert Blizzard. “State legislative races, where candidates typically aren’t as well known, typically follow environmental trends.”

Following results in places like Virginia and Pennsylvania, those concerns are now particularly acute for moderate suburban areas that weren’t natural territory for Trump to begin with.

“If you’re a GOP incumbent in a heavily suburban, college-educated district, I think you’re worried today, and rightfully so,” said veteran Republican strategist Chris Wilson.

Trump won an Electoral College victory without the support of some of those voters, while others, seeing the race as a binary choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton—who also had high unfavorable ratings—reluctantly backed him. The concern is that, without facing that stark choice again, some of these suburbanites may be inclined to more actively consider Democrats going forward.

“Clinton was such a horrible candidate that distaste for her may have held back the swing of college educated whites towards the Democrats,” Wilson said. “If that’s true, it’s a real problem and one that Republicans must address prior to 2018.”

For members of Congress like Costello—whose competitive district is a top Democratic target—the outcome underscored the urgent need to strengthen individual brands, or risk being overtaken by what looks to be an increasingly rough environment for Republicans.

“If you don’t give your constituents enough opportunities to see you, listen to you, then you run the risk of being caught up in a wave,” said Costello, noting his commitment to doing constituent meetings and holding town halls, as well as to making more appearances on local and cable news—where he is willing to discuss his disagreements with Trump as they arise.

“In a district like mine, No. 1, that’s just what you should be doing, that’s the job. But No. 2, what are Democrats going to do in 2018? They’re going to try to tie every member such as myself to the president, regardless of how much I speak out, no matter what I do,” he continued. “I need to make sure that voters have a good sense of who I am, what I do.”

Certainly, the biggest races on Tuesday unfolded in deep-blue New Jersey and in Virginia, a state that has been trended more and more Democratic. GOP strategists cautioned against reading too much into results in those states, especially in an off-year election cycle, and given that efforts in 2016 to make every race about Trump backfired spectacularly for the Democrats. And there is still time for Republicans to make good on their legislative promises, they say, as GOP lawmakers scramble to land a tax reform deal.

“What we all have to acknowledge and address is that the electorate all over the country is mad at Congress, mad at Washington, D.C., mad at both political parties,” said Rob Simms, the former executive director of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “The way to address that is to…legislate and govern. If we don’t, then we are setting ourselves up to be held hostage by an extraordinarily volatile environment in which our opponents are extraordinarily energized and engaged.”

David Kochel, a longtime Iowa-based Republican operative, said that the best way for individual Republican members to guard against that kind of environment is to make every effort to carve out identities that aren’t reliant on the rest of the party.

“The biggest lesson for any Republican coming out of last night is to take care of your own message, your own district, your own state,” he said. “The cavalry from Washington isn’t coming.”   Source

Nov 8, 2017
Bucks County Courier Times
Editorial – The erosion of the middle

It doesn’ttake a close observer of Washington DC to notice the erosion of the middle. This is especially clear when one takes a close look at Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation. Long gone are the days of senators like Arlen Specter, the consummate deal-broker who sat on both sides of the aisle. Now, faced with the departure of a moderate GOP veteran legislator like Charlie Dent, one can only wonder what comes next for the cadre of centrist Republicans he is leaving behind.

A number of Pennsylvanian congressmen are taking a stab at bipartisanship. These are members of the Congressional Problem Solvers Caucus, a group of about 40 (no comprehensive list exists online, so one must rely on their proclamations of membership) divided equally between both parties who have agreed to work together to fix our fractured legislative branch. While they have committed to a worthy goal, the tangible results of this caucus have been negligible. Now some of retiring Representative Dent’s younger party/caucus members are using the opportunity afforded by his departure to jockey for position.

In mid-October, Rep. Ryan Costello, 6th District, gave an interview in which he opined, “People don’t want to see their member of Congress be silent all the time. If you don’t speak up, you are not going to be counted and your constituents are not going to know where you stand.”

The actual target of this comment was Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick. This first-term Republican is notoriously close-mouthed about his opinions. Flouting the standard procedure for law-makers, Mr. Fitzpatrick refuses to lay out short position statements on important issues on his website. Instead, he offers an “Issues” page that only contains press releases on the scant few topics he chooses to address, staying mum on anything that smacks of controversy.

Lest this be perceived as a subtle one-sided slap, a rift has grown between these suburban legislators as well. An incisive and revealing report from the Washington Post and CBS News on a hamstrung DEA trying to fight the opioid epidemic as Congress passed the pharmaceutical-sponsored legislation that worsened the situation, has left DC in turmoil. As this devastating bill had passed unanimously last year, every lawmaker who went into the 2016 election as an incumbent is flailing to find a way to protect themselves from the blowback.

Costello’s strategy is to question if anything is amiss at all, saying that Congress shouldn’t necessarily deal with this situation, and he is only “for fixing it if there is a problem.” Freshman Rep. Fitzpatrick, who wasn’t in Congress for the vote on the controversial bill, has aimed a blinking legislative arrow at his more-tenured colleagues. On Oct. 19, he authored The Restore Act — a move to repeal the Pharma-friendly law that hindered the DEA’s ability to stop suspicious opioid shipments. While Fitzpatrick’s legislative efforts have garnered praise and co-sponsors from both parties, none of his fellow Pennsylvanian Republican Problem Solvers has joined on to support him.

The problems between this pair of GOP Problem Solvers appear to be giving us a preview of things to come as the 2018 election season heats up. If they can’t keep the peace in their own tiny wing of the Republican Party, how can we expect them to heal the wider rift between traditional conservatives and Trump-supporting populists, let alone the chasm between the GOP and the Democrats?

Washington’s dwindling middle is quickly crumbling away, and this should be a major concern to moderate voters looking for solutions from 2018′s Republican congressional incumbents.

Kierstyn Zolfo is a resident of Newtown.  Source

Nov 2, 2017
LongIsland.com
Reps. Rice & Costello Introduce Bill to Help Prevent Domestic Abusers from Buying Guns

Long Island, NY – November 2, 2017 – U.S. Representatives Kathleen Rice (D-NY) and Ryan Costello (R-PA) today introduced new legislation to help prevent domestic abusers from buying guns by creating incentives for states to provide complete domestic violence records to federal background check databases, and by providing grant funding to help states improve their reporting processes. H.R. 4183, the Domestic Violence Records Reporting Improvement Act of 2017, encourages states to improve domestic violence records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in two ways. First, it would require states to properly report domestic violence records in order to be eligible for National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) grants, which provide funding to states to improve reporting of criminal history records and protection orders for gun purchaser background checks and for other reasons. The bill would require NCHIP grants to be used specifically to improve the accessibility of domestic violence records through NICS, unless the state receiving the grant has already made a certain percentage of its domestic violence records accessible through NICS. Second, the bill would make NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP) grants more available to states that want to use those grants to improve the accessibility of domestic violence records in NICS. NARIP grants are available to states specifically to improve the reporting of criminal history, mental health, and protection order records to NICS for gun purchaser background checks. However, states are currently not eligible for these grants if they haven’t implemented a program that provides a way for people subject to the mental health disqualifiers to regain their gun eligibility. 21 states did not have such programs as of February 2016. H.R. 4183 removes that legal barrier so that states that want to improve domestic violence reporting are not denied funding that can help them do so.

“When domestic abusers can easily buy guns, their partners too often end up dead – that’s what happens when our background check system lacks complete, up-to-date domestic violence records from every state in the country,” said Representative Kathleen Rice. “Our bipartisan bill creates common-sense incentives for states to improve their reporting of domestic violence records so that we can enforce the law, keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, and save lives. New York has been a national leader when it comes to reporting domestic violence records, and this bill will help ensure that every state in the country approaches this problem with the same level of commitment.”

“I am committed to rededicating our efforts to encourage states to report domestic violence records to the appropriate government agencies, as this critical information could result in saved lives,” said Rep. Ryan Costello. “Our background check system is only as strong as it is comprehensive, and this legislation will help keep our communities safe by making sure officials have the tools and resources they need to report the information that makes these records complete.”

“Domestic violence and firearms violence are a lethal combination. That’s why domestic abusers should not be able to easily access firearms. Our elected leaders must step up and close loopholes in our laws to enhance the safety of women, families and our communities.” Said Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, founder of Giffords. “I applaud Congressman Ryan Costello and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice for putting forward a bipartisan piece of legislation that requires states to fully upload domestic violence records into the background check system. I urge my former colleagues to pass this bill and help make women and their families safer from domestic abusers with guns.” Read more

Oct 27, 2017
readingeagle.com
Two Berks County commissioners oppose nixing federal deduction

As part of its effort to overhaul the federal tax system, Congress is debating whether to eliminate the long-standing federal deduction for state and local taxes and use the extra revenue to reduce tax rates across the board.

And two of the Berks County commissioners are speaking out against the proposal.

Commissioners Chairman Christian Y. Leinbach and Kevin S. Barnhardt announced at their weekly meeting Thursday that they will send a letter to the county’s congressional delegation, President Donald Trump and leaders of the House and Senate urging them to oppose repeal of the deduction, known by the acronym of SALT, stating that it reduces federal taxes for more than 60,000 households in Berks County.

Commissioner Mark C. Scott refused to sign the letter.

He argued the federal subsidy mainly benefits the wealthy and eliminating it would help reduce the national deficit. A 2016 report from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center showed ending the deduction would save the federal government $1.3 trillion over 10 years.

“If we do not offset the increased standard deduction with the elimination of the state and local tax deduction, the national debt will continue to rise,” he said. “I understand the argument on the other side but you can’t have it all. Some of these reforms which are meant to simplify the process will entail some sacrifice.”

But Leinbach pushed back on that argument.

He argued that the deduction is double-taxation and fundamentally violates the principal that taxes should be based on real income. He said the idea of preventing the federal government from taxing money that citizens must pay to state and local tax collectors goes back to the Civil War, and the deduction was included in the original income tax legislation.

“If the state and local tax deduction is eliminated it will have a $1.3 trillion impact on taxpayers nationwide,” he said. “Overwhelmingly, the people who take advantage of this are working-class folks. The statistics are crystal clear.”

The National Association of Counties estimates that 61,480 households in Berks County claimed the deduction in 2015, resulting in deductions of $635 million. The nonpartisan organization found that nearly 75 percent of those deductions benefitted households where residents were making less than $200,000.

But by the time lawmakers receive the letter from commissioners, it may be too late.

While the board was debating the merits of sending the letter, the House of Representatives voted to move forward on a budget that would eliminate the deduction. Those representing Berks County – U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello, Pat Meehan, Charlie Dent and Lloyd Smucker – voted to advance the legislation.

In other business, representatives from the United Way of Berks County stopped by the meeting to remind county residents that the Pennsylvania 2-1-1 hotline offers information and referral service that connects users with health and human services.

Tammy White, president of the local United Way, told commissioners that since the service was launched in 2011 it has greatly reduced the time it took residents to connect with the services that were needed.

She reported that Berks callers in 2016 were most interested in rent assistance, food pantries, utilities assistance and community shelters. The service referred callers to 92 different agencies. The top five were: Opportunity House, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Catholic Charities, Berks Community Action Program and Family Promise.

Source

Oct 24, 2017
HIVE
TRUMP’S IRAN GAMBIT: “THE EQUIVALENT OF PULLING THE PIN OUT OF THE GRENADE”
On Iran, the president is trying to pass the buck to Capitol Hill. It may be a bluff, “but a bluff with unthinkable consequences.”

Donald Trump’s declaration earlier this month that he intends to withdraw from the Iran nuclear accord—the “worst deal ever,” as he loves to say—unless lawmakers on Capitol Hill made it broader and tougher, was “the equivalent of pulling the pin out of the grenade and handing it to Congress,” one Democratic congressional aide told me. Now Congress has 90 days—when the president has to recertify the deal—to put the pin back in. But, as in an action movie, it’s a task that currently looks impossible. The legislation that the Senate devises will have to garner 60 votes and also satisfy the Trump administration, which wants lawmakers to strengthen restrictions on the regime’s behavior. If Congress fails to deliver, Trump will unravel his predecessor’s signature foreign policy achievement. Meanwhile, the Iranians have said that any move by the Trump administration to unilaterally change the terms of the agreement would be viewed as a breach, potentially starting their race for a bomb. Read more

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/10/donald-trump-iran-nuclear-deal-congress?mbid=nl_CH_59ef745c25ed7b53f5cdf07a&CNDID=42067802&spMailingID=12212306&spUserID=MTMzMTgzNzI4NzgwS0&spJobID=1262137768&spReportId=MTI2MjEzNzc2OAS2

Oct 22, 2017
DLN
Costello speaks out: ‘I’m a reasonable Republican’

When U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello took office in 2015, one of the more experienced members of his party’s state delegation that he gravitated toward was U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, whose district extended down into the fringes of Montgomery County and whose work he had long been familiar with.

“He has always been the guy to speak out against ‘shut-down politics,’” Costello said in an interview last week in his West Chester office at the Historic Chester County Courthouse. “He’s been the person who’s been out front explaining why some of the tactics that some Republicans take are short-sighted or counterintuitive to actually getting a solution.

“He’s always been somebody who gives me advice,” Costello continued. “I’ve become friends with him. I genuinely like him. He is in it for the right reasons.”

But now, Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District in Allentown, is getting out of it. In the late summer, Dent startled many by announcing that he would not seek re-election to the seat he has held since 2005.

And with that, Costello, R-6, of West Goshen, decided that he was going to have to be one of the members of the moderate GOP Tuesday Group – the caucus that Dent had established to help counter the influence in Congress of the more extreme conservative elements of his party – to fill a role as informal spokesman.

In the past few weeks, Costello has found his way onto the national and local airwaves to speak out on a variety of topics concerning the political world of the Trump presidency and a dysfunctional Congress. His face has been seen and his thoughts heard on CNN, MSNBC, on local Berks County’s WMFZ-Channel 69, and in the pages of the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Atlantic magazine.

It is a purposeful way of making sure that the more moderate side of the GOP’s message gets attention, but also that Costello’s constituents learn how he feels.

To be certain, Costello’s political opponents continue to hammer him for not taking stands they champion. Every week, a number of protesters gather on Fridays outside his office to speak out on the issue of the day and demand he respond. Presumed Democratic opponent Chrissy Houlihan continues to hammer Costello for positions he takes.

But on Wednesday, as action on a new Republican budget proposal was being discussed in the U.S. Senate and the Trump administration was roiled in another controversy, Costello spoke about the new role he has begun assuming.

“I had an inkling that this was probably something (Dent) was going to do,” he said of the congressman’s decision to retire. “I do think it is a loss. He just has that depth of experience to speak on: ‘I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I know how this ends.’”

He said that Dent had helped him acclimate to the House of Representatives to the point where he feels more comfortable going public with when he sides with his party and when he does not.

“Now I am at the point where I feel more comfortable with a little bit of experience being a lot more clear on what I agree and what I disagree with, and why. I look at Charlie and I say ‘He doesn’t hesitate to say what he thinks. And in this environment, when it seems that every day there is a new controversy, if you are not saying what you think’ a disservice is done.

“People don’t want to see their member of Congress be silent all the time,” Costello said. “If you don’t speak up, you are not going to be counted and your constituents are not going to know where you stand. Charlie is a good example. People can take issue with what he says or does, but he tells you what he thinks. And I think we need more or that, regardless of whether you disagree or agree with someone’s position.”

Costello said that it was not just a question of style that he wants to emulate with Dent, but also one of politics; both representatives are on the moderate, but firmly Republican, side of most debates.

“We both voted against the health care bill,” Costello said, referring to a GOP bill that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. “The budget that we just voted against, there was a vote last session on whether to shut down the Homeland Security Department and its apportionment process on the issue of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) children status. There are some who would brand me a centrist kind of Republican,” Costello added, listing a litany of issues on which he took a different stand than the conservative elements of his party, including free trade, energy innovation, tax reform, and infrastructure improvements for both urban and rural areas of the country. “What do I think I am? I think I’m a reasonable Republican.”

“I think that there are probably a number of independents and Republicans that aren’t happy with the Republican Party right now. There are probably some conservative ones too,” he said. “To me, you have to look to the future and where we are headed as a Congress. What we need to do is be a party that is offering solutions, simultaneous with whatever we take issue with that a previous administration has done.

“In some instances we’ve done it right. But I want to be the person who is offering the idea, the policy. If you are not doing that, then you are just going to be a party that opposes what a previous administration did without offering a solution. And that is where I am increasingly finding myself more outspoken, because I want my constituents to know I am not just against something, here is what I am for.”

That is where public visibility comes in, Costello said.

“What I have learned in the last year is that if you want a meeting with me, come in. I meet with anyone. But still what I hear is ‘Why haven’t you spoken out against A, B, or C?’ And I say, ‘I have.’ But my observation and what I’ve come to look back on is that there is no substitute for getting out there and being willing to go on television and say what you think.

“I am willing to do that,” he said. “Whether or not people find me good at that or not, that’s up for other people to decide. But I think that as Charlie leaves, you are going to have folks say that if you don’t fill that vacuum, people will say they don’t exist. I don’t think that’s a good thing.

“At first I thought, ‘I’m not going to be a pundit. I’m not going to weigh in every time the president says something that I think is unpresidential. And I still don’t. But then there are times when I think that if I don’t, then what do my constituents think about me never saying anything? I think sometimes you do need to speak up.

“That is where someone like myself will continue to say what I think, and that is why I am not afraid of a primary, because I feel I have a pretty good perspective. I know why I am a Republican. And if people challenge (that,) they can do that. I would think any member of Congress, if they are thinking for themselves and taking a lot of constituent input, and they are representing their district, that when a member of Congress can speak out against a president of their own party, or another party, that’s what democracy is supposed to be about.”
Source

Oct 21, 2017
Unionville Times
Ryan Costello’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week

Donald J. Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are trying really, really hard to make sure U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello doesn’t get re-elected in 2018 — although it may be his own history that ultimately proves his undoing.

Oh, sure, the President and the Speaker of the House — as fellow Republicans — will swear until the cows come home that they back the two-term Congressman from northern Chester County. But their actions of late — amount to fitting Costello with cement boots and tossing him into the lake at Marsh Creek State Park.

Costello — already under fire for co-sponsoring the bill that gutted the Drug Enforcement Agency’s ability to stop distributors from flooding the market with opioids and then getting enough drug industry donations to fund a small country, which we get to in deeper detail shortly — has been aggressively moving to be seen as moderate and bipartisan, as he anticipates a scary race against well-funded Democrat Chrissy Houlahan looming in 2018.

So when Trump (who was for it before he was against it) trashed the compromise deal reached by U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn) and U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) to solve the short term and then Ryan suggested it would never see the U.S. House floor, Costello, already having a lousy week, had to be smarting. While the bill remains alive, with 24 bi-partisan sponsors, if Trump is not on board, the bill seems unlikely to get to the floor in the House.

While I can’t speak or anyone else, it seems people won’t be thrilled with this, if the health care insurance market blows up.

In my case, the state already announced what was expected to be an 8% increase will now be 30%. In terms of dollars and cents, that means going from a $2,000 to a $7,000 increase this coming year for me and my family. Without some sort of fix, the individual marketplace is going to be ugly — and we’re already seeing hikes in the group health insurance market as well.

And despite the fact that Costello supported a similar, moderate compromise package in the House, voters typically won’t care — more than likely blaming him for the loss of benefits.

Late Thursday, the U.S. Senate created another poison pill for Costello: the budget resolution. The non-binding resolution is needed to move tax cuts — but, it calls for $1.5 billion in cuts to Social Security and Medicaid, which basically makes itself into a campaign commercial if Costello votes “yes.”

So voters will hear that Costello gutted Social Security and Medicaid and caused their health insurance premiums to spike — at least that’s what any Democratic campaign commercial will say, repeatedly — and then offer the coup d’grace: the opioid mess.

Okay — let’s be entirely fair: the bill Costello co-sponsored was passed by unanimous consent (meaning all Republicans and Democrats said yes) and was signed into law by President Barack Obama. The law made it much harder for the DEA to stop unscrupulous distributors from flooding the market with opioids — some were selling unexplainable amounts of drugs to retailers (one example cited a small town where previously 10,000 oxycodone pills were typically sold in a month, suddenly spiking to 100,000).

The rather lame defense of most legislators has been “they didn’t read” the seven-page bill, which is crappy if true.

That’s an argument that Costello — who did not respond to The Washington Post (but as he subsequently pointed out, made his defense in local media), which broke the story working with CBS’ 60 Minutes — can’t make as a co-sponsor.

Additionally, as a trained attorney, he had to know what the bill would do.

Which is bad.

Now, here’s the worse part: the drug industry has poured money into Costello’s campaign coffers for years. Just this year — and using generous definitions (there’s a lot of contributions from drug retailers and wholesalers I didn’t count) — Costello has gotten $40,000 this year from big Pharma. Go back through his entire federal elective career and that number soars into the six digits.

While it is certainly a cautionary tale on the corrosive impact of money in politics, the politics of it are even worse.

Imagine this commercial:

Announcer: (over various images of news paper headlines about overdoses and deaths): As Pennsylvania battles a growing and deadly opioid crisis, Ryan Costello cashed in big to make sure that drugs kept on flowing into our communities….

Cut to shot of grieving mother, tears rolling down her cheeks.

Mother: “My son Brandon died this past year from an overdose. He was just 19, he had his whole life ahead of him. And now I hear Mr. Costello might have helped put those drugs on the street. How could you, Mr. Costello, how could you….?

Announcer: (over shots of wanly smiling Costello): Indeed, Mr. Costello, how could you take the drug companies money and put our kids at risk? How. Could. You?

Pennsylvania needs better leadership…

Combine that with ads touting Costello’s expected vote for cuts to Social Security and Medicaid and, well, you can see where this is going.

Costello is a gifted politician — a guy with brains and usually something like a moral compass — so it is possible he will overcome all of this and win reelection in 2018. But the odds of that got a lot worse in just one week.

Usually, local District Justice races are low-key elections. Not so in 15-3-04 in the Kennett Square/Unionville area. This race has seemed more like a combination of the movies Election and Mean Girls, with a lot of vitriol being thrown out by mostly one side.

Obviously, it’s disappointing. But it underlines a problem with electing judges (and school boards). These need to be non-partisan elections and shouldn’t be run like a Philly ward leader brawl.

The absentee management of the Chester County Republican Party doesn’t seem to be going very well, as chaos seems to be enveloping the Grand Old Party on the local level — as message discipline and basic understanding of election law used to be staples of the party’s operation.

With County Chair Val DiGiorgio busy as state chair, let’s just say that details are becoming a problem.

Let’s start with Phoenixville Mayoral Candidate Dave Gautreau calling for the borough to use “drug sniffing bunnies” to help battle the growing opioid crisis (one might argue that using “campaign-cash corrupted elective official sniffing bunnies” might prove more effective) at a mayoral forum.

Of course, there’s no such thing — the bunnies were a parody story published on the “People of Lancaster” site — but there seems to have been no one to counsel Gautreau on the facts before the forum. Now, he’s an national (international) Internet meme, which tends not to help one’s political fortunes.

Less funny, but a better indication that no one is at home over on Church Street (the GOP’s county HQ), are allegations that Caln Commissioner John Contento used his township business card (with his township email) for a county-party run literature drop.

Yes, it’s illegal if as claimed — the campaign law violation equivalent of a parking ticket, granted — but the kind of sloppy, mindless error that the county GOP didn’t used to make. For $25 (oh, the joys of using VistaPrint or some such, if you don’t need to have union indicia), Contento could have had his own cards printed up and used a Google email address. Someone should have questioned using township materials, especially the email address in light of the GOP harping on inappropriate email use last year — a rookie mistake — and spiked it before it ever happened.

With DiGiorgio focused on Harrisburg and the whole state — as he should be as state chair — along with most of what had been an exceptionally efficient and effective staff that had run the county party (there’s no way county party solicitor Joel Frank lets this pass if he knows about it), there’s a clear lack of anyone being in charge of the county party.

At a time when the Chester County Republican Committee faces some of the toughest challenges in its history — between the changing demographics of the county, a better managed and vigorous county Democratic Party and the current national environment — it seems clear that the party needs a full-time, on the ground chair, which DiGiorgio cannot do while serving a state chair.

There are numerous smart people ready to take up the mantle, starting with current party Secretary Shannon Royer, and build a new leadership team.

The time has come for DiGiorgio to step aside.  Source

Oct 20, 2017
The Inquirer
As Trump undercuts Affordable Care Act, Democrats go on offense in Pa., N.J.

WASHINGTON — After years of absorbing attacks over the Affordable Care Act, its rocky roll-out and early flaws, Democrats are on the offensive.

With Republicans now holding the White House and Congress, and President Trump taking steps to undercut the law, Democrats are pounding GOP incumbents over the results, particularly in the Philadelphia area.

A potent example came earlier last week, when Pennsylvania and New Jersey regulators approved steep rate increases in the states’ insurance markets for individuals, a response, officials and insurers both said, to Trump’s decision to end roughly $7 billion in federal payments intended to hold down costs.

Attacks rained down on local Republicans, as campaign promises to destroy the law turned into real-world actions.

“In the Trump Administration and House Republicans’ never-ending quest to repeal and sabotage the ACA, they are hurting Pennsylvania families,” said a release from Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat challenging Rep. Ryan Costello, a Republican from Chester County.

In a neighboring district centered on Delaware County, Democratic hopefuls piled on the Republican incumbent, Rep. Pat Meehan.

“@RepMeehan is silent again as Trump destroys healthcare,” tweeted one challenger, Molly Sheehan. Meehan “is no leader and he is no fighter for the families of the 7th district,” said a release from another, Dan Muroff.  Read more

Oct 17, 2017
The Inquirer
TRUMPadelphia: McCain in Philly, Marino in hot water, and more

Today, let’s talk about Tom Marino.

What’s at stake

Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino’s dreams of a cabinet position, for starters. But let’s back up a bit. The Washington Post and 60 Minutes published an explosive report this week about a little-noticed law, passed last year, that severely limits the Drug Enforcement Administration’s ability to go after the drug manufacturers that supply pill mills — the driving force behind the opioid epidemic.

The bill — written by Marino, who happened to get $92,500 in campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry over the last four years — was marketed as a way to ensure pain patients to get their medications without interruption. But it makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to suspend large, suspicious shipments of opioid medications to pharmacies and doctor’s offices. And as deaths from pill and heroin overdoses skyrocket, the DEA has issued fewer and fewer suspension orders against drug companies.

The local angle

I visited Marino’s Northeastern Pennsylvania district this summer on a reporting trip— a week after the area was slammed with 51 overdoses in 48 hours after someone sold a bad batch of heroin. In little Wellsboro, Pa. — the Tioga County seat, smack in the middle of Marino’s district — 12 of the 16 beds at the local emergency room were filled with overdose victims.

“We had people coming back 12 hours later, having taken the same dose,” Toni Burtch, an RN there, told me. She talked about the frustration and sadness she felt during the 17-hour shift she worked that weekend, about watching people in her hometown follow the now-familiar path of opioid addiction: pills, then heroin — and, if they’re lucky, recovery instead of an overdose in that tiny ER.

Erick Coolidge, a Tioga County county commissioner and a former hospital administrator, told me Monday that his county is working hard to get people addicted to heroin into treatment — but he wishes the drug companies whose pills fueled the epidemic would pony up some money for it.

He doesn’t know too much about the Marino bill — which puts him in the same category as most of the country and, apparently, President Obama, who signed the bill into law with barely a whisper. But, if it’s as harmful as the Post’s report suggests, Coolidge said, “it’s unfortunate that that law was presented by the candidate that’s being considered for the drug czar.”

Well: Now he’s not.

Until this morning, Marino was set to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy — until President Trump announced on Twitter that the “fine man and great Congressman” had withdrawn his name from consideration for the post. (By the by, he’s not the only local congressman behind the bill: Rep. Ryan Costello, of Chester County, was also a co-sponsor.)

What’s ahead

There are other local efforts to go after the pharmaceutical industry for its role in the opioid crisis: last month, Delaware County became the first county in the state to sue drug manufacturers for the millions the county has spent on treatment for its residents. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) is already pushing to repeal the Marino bill.

But last year, the Marino bill made it through Congress and onto Obama’s desk without much of a fight at all. The Post report is a long read, and a great one — it’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the machinations of the pharmaceutical lobby and the agency tasked with enforcing our drug policy during a full-blown drug epidemic. But, most importantly, it’s a chilling example of what can happen when people aren’t paying attention.
Read entire article here

Oct 12, 2017
Berks & Beyond
Letter: Costello must do more to hear constituents

Editor:

Some have questioned why U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello’s constituents continue to pressure him after he held a town hall in Berks County, even suggesting that we are pawns of the Democratic Party. As one of those outspoken constituents, let me point out that one measly public event in nine months, with less than a week’s notice, is not “listening to his community.”
We have a lot to discuss with our congressman because every day since January, the Trump administration – with which Costello votes 93 percent of the time – has taken rights and protections away from women, children and marginalized communities.

Every week, we attempt to speak with Costello and his staff about various issues, including the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, a move that deprives 800,000 immigrants of a chance to live, work and serve in the military; the lapse of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, which strips health insurance from 9 million children; the abject failure to support Puerto Rico, where 3.4 million Americans face unimaginable suffering; and the systematic deprivation of women and girls of the right to control their own bodies.

What do we get, we mild-mannered voters with zero connection to the Democratic Party? We get ignored by staff, blocked on social media and misrepresented as threatening – all while the congressman votes in line with the president and in sharp contradiction to the wishes of his constituents. Perhaps Costello is the pawn here.

Jane Palmer
Wyomissing

Source

Oct 10, 2017
Media ite
GOP Rep. Tells Chris Matthews He Is ‘Not Afraid of Steve Bannon’

Congressman Ryan Costello (R- PA) appeared on MSNBC tonight and Chris Matthews asked him about Steve Bannon‘s war on the GOP establishment.

Bannon said rather blatantly last night he’s declaring war on the establishment and he’s planning to target a ton of Republicans up for reelection.

Costello told Matthews he’s not worried about that and talked about serving his constituents.

But Matthews pressed and asked him directly, “Are you afraid of Steve Bannon?” Costello said, “No.”

Matthews kept pushing and got Costello to directly say, “I’m not afraid of Steve Bannon.”

View video clip

Oct 5, 2017
PG
Tim Murphy staff silent concerning the Pennsylvania Republican’s whereabouts

WASHINGTON — Where in the world is Tim Murphy?

There has been no sign of the GOP congressman today at his third-floor office at the Rayburn House Office Building, a day after he announced he will not seek re-election at the end of his term.

But a handful of office staffers — including his communications director, Carly Atchison — remained at work while the Upper St. Clair representative began his leave of absence, to take “personal time” with his family.

Ms. Atchison wouldn’t say if her boss was in D.C. or back in Pittsburgh — or elsewhere. But on Capitol Hill this week, there has been much interest about Mr. Murphy’s political future after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on documents that indicated problems in his office — and text messages that suggest he urged a woman with whom he was having an extra-marital relationship to get an abortion. Read more

Oct 4, 2017
The Hill
Gun proposal picks up GOP support

A Democratic proposal to ban a special accessory known as a bump stock, which allows semi-automatic guns to fire several hundred rounds a minute, is gaining unexpected support from Republicans in both chambers.

It’s the first time gun-control legislation has picked up significant Republican support since immediately after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in late 2012. Bump stocks were allegedly used by the gunman who killed 59 people at a Las Vegas concert Sunday.

While some GOP members are backing the Democrat-sponsored measure, the effort has many hurdles to clear. To become law, it would have to be embraced by Republican leaders on Capitol Hill and President Trump, who was endorsed by the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA) last year.

Rep. Bill Flores (Texas), a former Republican Study Committee chairman, was the first Republican in Congress to publicly endorse a ban on bump stocks.
“I think they should be banned. There’s no reason for a typical gun owner to own anything that converts a semi-automatic to something that behaves like an automatic,” Flores, a gun owner, told The Hill in an interview just off the House floor.

“Based on the videos I heard and saw, and now that I’ve studied up on what a bump stock is — I didn’t know there was such a thing — there’s no reason for it,” he said.

“I have no problem from banning myself from owning it.”

Gun-rights advocates argue that rapid-fire weapons are fun to shoot and are used regularly by law-abiding citizens without incident.

A bump stock is a sliding stock that when pressed against a shooter’s shoulder allows a semi-automatic gun to shift backward and forward with the recoil of each shot fired. It allows a shooter to fire as many as 400 to 800 rounds a minute with a single squeeze of the trigger, as the sliding action of the rifle replaces the need to contract the index finger.

Until Monday, few lawmakers on Capitol Hill had ever heard of the device.

Flores was joined by several House Republican moderates, including Reps. Charlie Dent (Pa.), Ryan Costello (Pa.), Leonard Lance (N.J.) and Pete King (N.Y.), in saying it should be banned.

“I’m ready to say that they should not be in public use. I think they are a problem. I support a ban on bump stocks. I don’t see any purpose for them,” Dent told The Hill.

“The law is clear to me that automatic weapons are banned in this country, as they should be,” he added.

Costello said, “Purchasing bump stocks off the shelf, enabling a semi-automatic firearm to replicate an automatic one, is a loophole that needs to be closed.” Read more

Oct 4, 2017
Timesherald.com
WATCH: Rep. Costello slams former Equifax CEO during questioning Tuesday

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello’s, R-6, grilled former Equifax CEO Richard Smith as he testified Tuesday before the Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington.

As Smith testified, Costello questioned him about the company’s response regarding a massive security breech in the credit monitoring company’s software that occurred in September and may have exposed personal information of as many as 145 million individuals.

Below is the full transcript of Rep. Ryan Costello’s questioning:
Read more

Oct 2, 2017

Has your U.S. Congress person received donations from the NRA?

Pennsylvania

The NRA has donated $155,600 to Pennsylvania members of Congress who are currently in office.

  • 1.   Rep. Tim Murphy (R)$33,500
  • 2.   Rep. Bill Shuster (R)$29,400
  • 3.   Rep. Charlie Dent (R)$28,850
  • 4.   Rep. Ryan Costello (R)$9,900
  • 5.   Rep. Glenn Thompson (R)$9,500
  • 6.   Rep. Mike Kelly (R)$9,000
  • 7.   Rep. Scott Perry (R)$8,500
  • 8.   Rep. Tom Marino (R)$8,000
  • 9.   Rep. Lou Barletta (R)$7,500
  • 10.  Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R)$5,950
  • 11.  Rep. Keith J Rothfus (R)$5,500

Source

Sept 28, 2017
The Hill
Dramatic return stirs Scalise speculation on Capitol Hill

Lawmakers gushed over Scalise’s roughly 20-minute address on the House floor, saying it hit all the right notes. It also gave him an opportunity to showcase his oratory skills. While he occasionally peered down at his notes, Scalise spoke mostly off the cuff and from the heart, causing many of his House colleagues to choke up.

“Best speech I ever witnessed in my life,” said Rep. Ryan Costello (R-Pa.), who was moved to tears. Read entire article here

Sept 7, 2017
Readingeagle.com
Rep. Ryan Costello says office was locked during protest for security reasons

When protesters rallying for young undocumented immigrants gathered outside U.S. Ryan Costello’s Wyomissing office Wednesday, the office doors were locked.

Costello said the doors to his office on North Park Road remained locked for two hours for security reasons after protesters advertised on social media that they planned to occupy the office. Costello said he has dealt with a number of death threats in recent months.

“I owe it to my staff not to allow a potentially unsafe situation to develop,” said Costello, a Chester County Republican who represents part of Berks County. “I would like to think any responsible employer in the circumstance in which we were in today would think locking the door for two hours was the responsible thing to do.”

A Facebook invitation asked participants to stand with the groups Indivisible Berks, Make the Road Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition. Protesters rallied for young undocumented immigrants outside Costello’s office – and the offices of other lawmakers – to denounce President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They urged Costello and other lawmakers to pass a law to protect undocumented immigrants brought to America illegally as children. Read more

August 18, 2017
Labanon Daily News
Trump comments, N. Korea, health care addressed at Costello town hall in Lebanon

Rep. Ryan Costello re-emphasized his disappointment with President Donald Trump’s take on the protests and tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, called for more congressional authority over the future of health care, and stressed the need for education reform to spur job growth at a town hall Thursday evening in Lebanon.

The town hall attracted a crowd of about 50 to 60 at the Harrisburg Area Community College Lebanon Campus in downtown Lebanon. Those attending were asked to register in advance, with priority given to Lebanon County residents.

Unlike many congressional town halls nationwide in recent months, there was little contention from those in attendance.

Costello, a second-term Republican representing the 6th Congressional District in Pennsylvania, addressed a wide range of topics Thursday, including:

  • Costello’s criticism of Trump’s comments on the Charlottesville tragedy
  • Praising the president for his handling of the situation in North Korea
  • Plans for bringing health care under the congressional appropriations process
    Ideas on using education reform to give boost to job market

Read more

August 16, 2017
The Mercury Columns
REP. RYAN COSTELLO: Hate is a dangerous thing

And I’m really very concerned that it is spreading. The President’s most recent statement was intended to include other groups as spreading hate on that tragic day. This was wrong. Hate groups are relishing at what is occurring right now. We now find some arguing over whether it was just “alt-right” hate groups or whether “alt-left” hate groups were also to blame — such a debate is a false debate because no conclusion will actually solve or resolve anything. We are at a very divisive time in the history of our country where some people are so emotional and angry to the point where a bad situation is becoming worse.

Such wisdom and clarity need not come from the words of a President, and at this point they cannot given how unbelievably poorly our President has failed. Such wisdom and clarity need not derive from any politician for that matter, or a clergy member or media figure — it can come from within you. We need to do this because we owe it to ourselves and our loved ones, to the men and women who sacrificed to make this country what it is, and to future generations who rely on us to create opportunity for them to live under the pillars of equality and dignity for all in America. Read entire article here

August 14, 2017
Reading Eagle
U.S. REP. RYAN COSTELLO TACKLES STUDENT DEBT OF THOSE IN PUBLIC SERVICE

U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello is teaming up with a Philadelphia Democrat to address the high student loan debt carried by police officers, firefighters and teachers.

A Chester County Republican who represents part of Berks County, Costello and Democratic U.S. Rep. Brendan F. Boyle have formed the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Caucus. They are looking to protect a federal program to help alleviate the student debt for those choosing to work in public service.

Under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, cops, teachers and others in public service who have made student loan payments for 10 years can have their remaining debt wiped out. The program is approaching its 10th anniversary.

“Many teachers, first responders and public health specialists are working hard to make a difference in their local communities while relying on the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program,” Costello said in a statement. “We must fulfill the promise made to these student borrowers over the past decade.”

Boyle said in a statement that lawmakers must ensure the survival of the program.

“We must do more to help folks drowning in student loan debt, and to prevent the burdens of student loan debt from making one’s desire to serve his or her community unattainable,” Boyle said.

The National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, supports the program and the formation of the caucus.

“Many of our members are struggling with more than $50,000, and sometimes much more, in student loan debt,” Marc Egan, the NEA’s director of government relations, said in a statement. “Their debt is bigger than their annual salaries, and their monthly loan payments often are bigger than their home and car loans.”  Source
Learn about PSLFhere

August 12, 2017
His Website
REP. COSTELLO STATEMENT ON CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA
August 12, 2017 Press Release
West Chester, PA — Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06) issued the following statement:

“I condemn this hate and violence in the strongest possible terms. Hate is a dangerous thing. What happened today goes against our nation’s character. Demonstrations by white nationalists to spread hate and intolerance are a stain on our national identity as an open, inclusive country that welcomes diversity.” -Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06)

Source

August 5, 2017
cbslocal.com
PA Congressman Puts Forth Bill On Self-Driving Tech

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Automakers and technology firms are full speed ahead on self-driving technology.

A local lawmaker says now is the time for the government to step in, but with a light touch.

Congressman Ryan Costello’s bill addresses information security for automated vehicles and sets rules for recalls.

“You need government making sure we have the right regulatory system in place — which doesn’t hamper innovation — but also makes sure that people are playing by the same set of rules and certain safety parameters are set,” Costello said.

As money flows to infrastructure, autonomous tech needs to be a part of those projects.

The Republican representing Chester and Montgomery Counties says it could make the roads more accessible for those with disabilities, and much safer for all. Read more

July 23, 2017
Philadelphia Inquirer

WASHINGTON — Here is how Philadelphia-area members of Congress voted on major issues last week:
House

Delay of air-quality standards. Voting 229-199, the House on Tuesday passed a GOP sponsored bill (HR 806) that would extend from 2017 to 2025 the deadline for states to adopt stricter standards under the Clean Air Act for reducing ground-level concentrations of ozone, or smog.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Voting yes: Ryan Costello (R., Pa.), Charles W. Dent (R., Pa.), Tom Mac-Arthur (R., N.J.), Pat Meehan (R., Pa.), and Lloyd Smucker (R., Pa.).
Voting no: Lisa Blunt Rochester (D., Del.), Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.), Robert A. Brady (D., Pa.), Matt Cartwright (D., Pa.), Dwight Evans (D., Pa.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R., Pa.), Frank A. LoBiondo (R., N.J.), Donald Norcross (D., N.J.), and Christopher H. Smith (R., N.J.).
Protections for vulnerable populations. Voting 194-232, the House on Tuesday defeated a bid by Democrats to prevent HR 806 (above) from fully taking effect if an EPA scientific advisory committee concludes it would raise health risks to vulnerable populations such as outdoor workers, children, seniors, pregnant women, and minority and low-income communities.
A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.
Voting yes: Blunt Rochester, Boyle, Brady, Cartwright, Evans, and Nor-cross.
Voting no: Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Smith, and Smucker.
Natural-gas pipeline permits. Voting 248-179, the House on Wednesday passed a GOP-sponsored bill (HR 2910) that would set tight deadlines for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and other federal and state agencies to rule on applications for permits to build interstate natural gas pipelines.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Voting yes: Boyle, Brady, Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Norcross, Smith, and Smucker.
Voting no: Blunt Rochester, Cartwright, and Evans.
Cross-border energy pipelines. Voting 254-175, the House on Wednesday passed a bill (HR 2883) that would end the requirement that presidents approve permits for oil and natural gas pipelines and electric- transmission facilities that cross U.S. borders. The bill authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue certificates for pipelines and the Department of Energy to grant approvals for electricity lines.
A yes vote was to send the bill to the Senate.
Voting yes: Brady, Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, Lo-Biondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Norcross, Smith, and Smucker.
Voting no: Blunt Rochester, Boyle, Cartwright, and Evans.
American-made iron and steel. Voting 193-232, the House on Wednesday defeated a Democratic motion requiring all iron and steel components of cross-border pipelines approved under HR 2883 (above) to be made in the United States.
A yes vote was to adopt a made-in-America requirement.
Voting yes: Blunt Rochester, Boyle, Brady, Cartwright, Evans, and Nor-cross.
Voting no: Costello, Dent, Fitzpatrick, LoBiondo, MacArthur, Meehan, Smith, and Smucker. Read more

July 28, 2017
Mercury News
Area reps would override Trump veto of Russia sanctions

All three of the area Congressman who joined with the overwhelming House majority in voting to levy sanctions against Russia, North Korea and Iran would also vote to override a veto by President Donald Trump.

The bill, which gives Congress the power to block any effort by the White House to weaken sanctions on Russia, passed by an uncommon margin of 419 to 3.

Communications staff for U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6 of Chester County; U.S. Rep. Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Delaware County, and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-8, of Bucks County, all confirmed the three congressmen would support a veto override. Read more

July 28, 2017
Daily Local News
Costello calls Senate health-care defeat a shock, wants moderates to reach consensus

“Last night was such a shock,” Costello said of the failed vote in the Senate. “But the failure of the Senate to pass a bill doesn’t mean nothing will happen. We are going to need to do something this year to stabilize the markets. We’re going to have to find more consensus, more moderates working with the Democrats to find something that centrists can support.

“I’ve been working with my colleagues in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus on health-care reforms that may be able to attract bipartisan consensus,” Costello said.

The caucus is comprised of 44 congressman evenly divided between parties. They have been working on agreements to move tax reform and Infrastructure together. In addition to Costello, four other area Republican Congressman are in the caucus; Patrick Meehan, R-7, of Delaware County; Lloyd K. Smucker of Lancaster County and Brian K. Fitzpatrick of Bucks County. Costello said the caucus has been working in anticipation of the possibility that the Senate would fail to pass a health-care measure of their own.

“We owe it to the American people to stabilize the insurance marketplace and ultimately implement sustainable reforms to improve our health-care system, Costello said. “My feeling, for some time, is that a new approach to reforming our health care system is what is needed.” Read here

Chester County Congressman vote to fund $1.6 billion border wall – where’s Mexico’s payment?
July 27, 2017

Washington Times
House GOP allocates $1.6 billion for Trump border wall in 2018

House Republicans said Tuesday they’ve included $1.6 billion in funding for President Trump’s border wall in their new homeland security spending bill, setting up fight with Democrats who have vowed to block any wall funding — even if it means sending the government into a partial shutdown.
GOP leaders said the $1.6 billion fully meets Mr. Trump’s request to begin wall construction, which includes 32 miles of new border fencing in Texas, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley, also in Texas, and 14 miles of replacement fence in San Diego.
The bill also adds 500 new Border Patrol agents, 1,000 more agents and officers for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations in the interior, and provides enough money to maintain 44,000 detention beds. That’s a massive increase over the Obama years, and Trump officials said it will allow them to detain and deport illegal immigrants faster and with a higher success rate.
The GOP bill also calls for adding more than two dozen new jurisdictions to the 287(g) program which allows local police and sheriff’s deputies to be trained to enforce immigration laws. Read more

July 22, 2017
Daily Local News
Costello talks about security, says Phoenixville town hall could have been ‘death trap’

When House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot last month on a Virginia baseball field where U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello was supposed to be playing shortstop, “it made me think,” Costello recently told Digital First Media.

And since then, one of the things it has made him think about is security.

In an email to Digital First Media on July 6, Costello, R-6, wrote that organizers who invited him to a February town hall-style meeting “actually were creating a potential trap for me so people would be able to shoot at me.”

Costello wrote that “the fake town hall was intended to embarrass me into attending even though they didn’t provide any security considerations.” Read more

June 14, 2017
USA Today 
Missed ride to congressional baseball practice may have spared Rep. Ryan Costello’s life
LEBANON, Pa. — Missing a ride to his congressional baseball team’s practice may have saved Rep. Ryan Costello’s life.The Chester County Republican plays for the GOP team that had scheduled a practice for about 6 a.m. ET Wednesday morning to prepare for a charity game Thursday against congressional Democrats.

Nearing the end of practice at a park in a residential part of Alexandria, Va., a man with a high-powered rifle opened fire, wounding House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana and four others, according to police.

In a statement posted to his Facebook page, Costello said he didn’t make the practice because he missed his ride:

“For the past two years I have played in the Congressional Baseball Game for Charity. This morning I missed my ride by 2 minutes and did not attend practice. We now know a gunman fired shots at practice this morning. While I am fine, I am praying for my colleagues, Majority Whip Scalise, police, and staff.”

U.S. Capitol Police were at the scene at the time of the shooting, assigned to protect Scalise because is a congressional leader.

They returned fire and were joined within minutes by Alexandria police.

In an exchange of gunfire that last about 10 minutes, the gunman, later identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleviille, Ill., was killed, according to law enforcement officials.

In addition to Scalise, two Capitol Police officers, a congressional staffer and a lobbyist for Tyson Foods were injured in the shooting.

Scalise was shot in the hip and taken to a hospital where he underwent surgery Wednesday morning. He was listed in critical condition.

His staff put out the following statement:

“Prior to entering surgery, the Whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone. He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders, and colleagues. We ask that you keep the Whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers.”

Costello is one of two Pennsylvania congressmen who play on the GOP team. The other is Rep. Patrick Meehan, who also said he was not at Wednesday’s practice.

The game was to go on as scheduled.

Contributing: USA TODAY

Source

June 1, 2017
Morning Call
Pa. officials react to Trump announcing U.S. exit from climate accord

In announcing that the U.S. will withdraw from an international agreement seeking to combat climate change, President Donald Trump pointed to places like Pittsburgh in explaining his rationale.

“It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit and Pittsburgh, along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France,” Trump said Thursday as he argued that the agreement would have “draconian” effects on the U.S. economy.

He later added that he “was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

Pittsburgh’s Democratic mayor disagreed with Trump’s assessment of the deal, which Trump promised during last year’s presidential campaign that he would abandon.

“As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy and future,” Mayor Bill Peduto responded in a Twitter post.

Other Pennsylvania Democrats joined him in criticizing Trump’s decision.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania called the move “a double-barreled blow to both Pennsylvania jobs and our environment.”

“Without action on climate change, more children will suffer from diseases like asthma and malnutrition,” Casey said. “Climate change is a serious challenge which requires action, not retreat.”

Gov. Tom Wolf responded that addressing greenhouse gas emissions, as the Paris agreement seeks to do, “presents opportunities for Pennsylvania’s natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries to grow and create new jobs.”

Republicans, including top GOP leaders in Congress, largely welcomed withdrawing from the climate pact.

U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, whose 11th District includes part of Carbon County, said the deal would have been “disastrous” for workers and consumers.

“Ending anti-growth obstacles like the Paris Agreement opens the way to a brighter future, with America in the lead,” said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, whose 12th District includes Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs.

“Senator Toomey supports the withdrawal from the Paris Accord as it would not have protected our environment and would have been particularly harmful to our economy and job creation,” said Steve Kelly, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th District, which includes Lehigh County and part of Northampton County, was on a congressional trip in Germany and did not have a comment.

But U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Republican from the Delaware County-based 7th District, described the decision as one that “diminishes America’s leadership role on the world stage.”

“The Paris Agreement isn’t perfect. But by abandoning it, America is relinquishing that seat at the table,” Meehan said in a statement. “It calls into question our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. And it forfeits our ability to drive countries like China and India to reduce their carbon footprint and compete on a level playing field.”

Meehan is one of three Pennsylvania Republican congressmen who signed on to a bipartisan letter in April urging Trump to remain in the agreement.

U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello of the Chester County-based 6th District and Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County’s 8th District also signed the letter, which showed support for working with other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Costello and Meehan both represent districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in last year’s presidential election. She also won Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located.

lolson@mcall.com

Twitter @LauraOlson

202-780-9540

REP. COSTELLO STATEMENT ON THE ADMINISTRATION’S PROPOSED BUDGET
May 23, 2017 Press Release
Washington, D.C. — Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06) issued the following statement regarding the Administration’s proposed budget:
“Balancing the budget is an important goal, but the pathway provided in the budget issued today does not reflect my priorities or those of my constituents. I remain committed to providing the resources necessary for medical research, after-school programs, environmental protection efforts, and programs that provide assistance to low-income individuals, to name a few. It is Congress’s responsibility to produce a budget that supports programs with a positive impact on our communities, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure we move forward with a thoughtful approach.” Source
May 18, 2017
Shareblue
Russia helped Paul Ryan too
Recordings have emerged of House Republican leadership discussing possible payments from Russia to Donald Trump. Months after this discussion, the GOP used emails stolen by Russian hackers to help retain a Republican majority and keep Paul Ryan in his role as House Speaker.

Months later, Ryan and fellow House Republicans received a boost from those stolen emails. The New York Times reported that a super PAC connected to Ryan, the Congressional Leadership Fund, used the contents of the emails in an ad attacking New Mexico Democratic candidate Joe Garcia.The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) also used the contents of the hacked emails to bolster their efforts to keep the Republican majority and Ryan in place as Speaker.
Not every Republican chose to use this material. Unlike the NRCC and the Ryan-connected super PAC, Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA) deemed using such material unsuitable. A consultant on Costello’s campaign told the Times, “We believed it was neither necessary nor appropriate to use information from a possible foreign source to influence the election.” Read more

May 10, 2017
Philly.com
Some Pa., N.J. Republicans raise questions about Comey firing
Several Republicans from the Philadelphia region raised questions Wednesday about President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, though mostly in less sharp terms than Democrats.
Trump lawyers push back against Russia ties in letter
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is suddenly the star of the feel-bad story of the day
Rep. Charlie Dent, of Allentown, called the president’s surprise announcement Tuesday night “both confounding and troubling” adding that “it is now harder to resist calls for an independent investigation or select committee.” His statement added that Trump “must provide a much clearer explanation as to the timing and rationale for this action.”
Similarly, Rep. Ryan Costello issued a statement saying that “to date, the explanation for the firing has been insufficient and the timing raises additional questions. The Congressman from Chester County added, “my constituents must have assurances that a non-partisan investigation will yield independent, well-grounded conclusions, and I certainly support that effort.”
His comments echoed those of Rep. Lloyd Smucker a short time earlier. Smucker, whose district includes part of Chester County, said the firing “raises serious and legitimate questions about timing, intent, and the integrity of ongoing investigations. My constituents deserve answers and I hope to see a full explanation soon.” Read more
May 4, 2017
The Hill
Vulnerable Republicans back ObamaCare replacement
..While many vulnerable Republicans helped push the bill across the finish line, there were still a handful who opposed the legislation. The 2018 Democratic targets who voted against the bill included GOP Reps. Mike Coffman (Colo.), Barbara Comstock (Va.), Leonard Lance (N.J.), Will Hurd (Texas), Patrick Meehan (Pa.), Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Ryan Costello (Pa.) and John Katko (N.Y.). Read more
April 27, 2017
Politics PA
Costello Joins Opposition to MacArthur Amendment
Congressman Ryan Costello (R-Chester) announced today that he will not be supporting the MacArthur amendment. The amendment is part of an effort by Congressional Republicans to revive the American Health Care Act.
“Protections for those with pre-existing conditions without contingency and affordable access to coverage for every American remain my priorities for advancing healthcare reform, and this bill does not satisfy those benchmarks for me,” Costello said in a statement.
According to some, the amendment would allow states to apply to become exempt themselves from requiring insurers to insure those with pre-existing conditions. Read more
April 10, 2017
USA TODAY
Republicans avoid town halls after health care votes
…The migration away from public forums has been going on for months, despite complaints from constituents and local media. There have been roughly 30 recent newspaper editorials slamming lawmakers for avoiding town halls and calling on members to face their voters, not only in bluer portions of the country like New York but also in critical battlegrounds like Pennsylvania’s 6th and 7th districts, represented by Reps. Pat Meehan and Costello.
Costello’s office screened participants for his Saturday town hall through the online reservation site Eventbrite and forbid videotaping, leading the local Democratic Party chair to call the event “staged.” Others lawmakers are holding question-and-answer events over the phone or Facebook Live, a social media tool allowing them to speak to a camera while avoiding uncomfortable public exchanges with the citizens they represent. Read entire article
April 8, 2017 -NEW
CNN Politics
Moderate Republican Costello feels health care pressure in town hall
West Chester, Pennsylvania (CNN)Thirty minutes before he’d face riled-up constituents in a Saturday afternoon town hall here, Rep. Ryan Costello looked out the window of his second-floor office.
“Give us his tax returns,” he chuckled, reading a passerby protester’s sign.
“A roller-blader now is telling me about it,” Costello muttered five minutes later as another man skated by.
Costello is so attuned to those protesting him that in an interview, he laid out the schedules of each of the groups that protest outside his office in West Chester’s town center daily and weekly. “On good days there’s 50; on bad days there’s 15,” he said. Read more
April 8, 2017
The Mercury News
Rep. Ryan Costello answers voters at town hall
WEST CHESTER >> U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist., stayed true to his reputation as a moderate Republican in what the congressman said is a “purple district” at a weekend town hall attended by 200 constituents.
Several times at the Historic Chester County Courthouse on Saturday, Costello differed from President Donald Trump’s positions and the Republican Party line.
More than 200 people at the forum heard Costello answer questions concerning everything from the Affordable Care Act, minimum wage and redistricting. Read more
COSTELLO STATEMENT ON U.S. MISSILE STRIKE IN SYRIA
April 7, 2017
Press Release

Washington, D.C. — Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06) issued the following statement regarding last night’s missile strike in Syria:

“The chemical weapons attack carried out by Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad on his own people is abhorrent and unacceptable. The President’s targeted missile strike against the air base from which the chemical weapons attack was launched makes clear to Assad that no longer will his atrocities against his own citizens go unanswered. I thank our armed services, and I expect Congress to begin our work with the Administration and our nation’s allies on a comprehensive strategy moving forward.” – Rep. Ryan Costello (PA-06)

 

March 28, 2017
ReadingEagle.com

Dems launch online ads targeting Berks County congressmen

The Democratic campaign arm for the House of Representatives is launching an online ad campaign targeting Republicans who voted for the American Health Care Act in committee before leaders decided on Friday to pull the legislation from consideration.

And three of the 14 lawmakers in its crosshairs represent Berks County residents. Read & View ads

March 14, 2017
Privacy News Online

These are the 17 House Representatives that introduced a bill to let telecoms sell your personal internet history

Most Americans don’t know that telecoms and internet service providers store the internet history of their users; even more don’t know that recently introduced legislation aims to do away with privacy protections on this high value data. For years, the telecom industry has lobbied the government for the ability to sell your internet history to the highest bidder. On 3/7/17, Senator Jeff Flake and 22 other co-sponsors introduced S.J.Res 34, which would use the Congressional Review Act to strip away privacy protections voted in by the FCC last year and allow telecoms to sell the private internet history which they have on each of their Internet subscribers. One day later, on 3/8/17, Representative Marsha Blackburn introduced the House version of the bill (H.J.Res 86).

17 House Representatives that support a bill to let telecoms sell your internet history

Including the bill’s headliner, Representative Blackburn, the 17 House Representatives are:

– Rep. Flores, Bill [R-TX-17]

– Rep. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN-7]

– Rep. Olson, Pete [R-TX-22]

– Rep. Lance, Leonard [R-NJ-7]

– Rep. Scalise, Steve [R-LA-1]

– Rep. Latta, Robert E. [R-OH-5]

– Rep. Guthrie, Brett [R-KY-2]

– Rep. Kinzinger, Adam [R-IL-16]

– Rep. Johnson, Bill [R-OH-6]

– Rep. Long, Billy [R-MO-7]

– Rep. Brooks, Susan W. [R-IN-5]

– Rep. Walters, Mimi [R-CA-45]

– Rep. Cramer, Kevin [R-ND-At Large]

– Rep. Collins, Chris [R-NY-27]

– Rep. Costello, Ryan A. [R-PA-6]

– Rep. Bilirakis, Gus M. [R-FL-12]

– Rep. Shimkus, John [R-IL-15]

Before the (I’m just a) bill is presented to President Trump to sign into law, both S.J.Res 34 and H.J.Res 86 need to make it through their respective chambers of Congress. Letting your House Representative and Senators know to vote against H.J.Res 86 and S.J.Res 34, respectively, might be the only chance to keep your personal internet history private.

Through coordinated action in both houses, the anti-privacy camp has made their move. The only thing that can hold these politicians accountable for their actions against the best interests of their constituents, is the mass action of the people. Join Private Internet Access in supporting the EFF in calling on all Americans to heed the call and make the call: “Don’t let Congress Undermine Our Online Privacy.” When both H.J.Res 86 and S.J.Res 34 come to a vote, make sure to take note of which House Representatives and Senators vote which way. It is important, now more than ever, to hold politicians accountable for their stances and their actions. Source

March 26, 2017
Lebanon Daily News

Dent, Costello being invited to discuss health care

As uncertainty around the country regarding health care reform continues, Lebanon County residents may have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with U.S. congressmen next month at the Allen Theatre in Annville.

Three local action groups announced Thursday that they’ve joined forces to organize a town hall meeting to which Congressmen Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Ryan Costello (PA-6) are being asked to attend on Sunday, April 23 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Read more

March 26, 2017
Delaware County Daily Times

GOP pulls health care bill; Meehan, Costello explain stance

WASHINGTON >> In a humiliating failure, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders pulled their bill to repeal “Obamacare” off the House floor Friday when it became clear it would fail badly — after seven years of nonstop railing against the law. Democrats said Americans can “breathe a sigh of relief.” Trump said the current law was imploding “and soon will explode.”

Thwarted by two factions of fellow Republicans, from the center and far right, House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Barack Obama’s health care law, the GOP’s No. 1 target in the new Trump administration, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future.”

The move took several local congressmen off the hook; they did not have to cast a vote on a controversial measure that had sparked weekly protests at their local offices by citizens opposed to repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Read more

March 23, 2017
Daily Times

VIDEO: More than 100 stage rally at Rep. Ryan Costello’s office urging him to vote no on ACA repeal

Watch here

March 23, 2017
NewsReadingEagle.com

Berks lawmakers could play key role in GOP health care bill

Talking about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was easy.

But actually doing it has been hard.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, whose 16th District includes Reading and Berks communities to its south, was the only one willing to commit his support.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, whose 15th District also includes part of Berks County, will vote no.

The remaining two — U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello and Pat Meehan — said they’re still reviewing the proposal and its impact on their districts. These statements come after Costello and Meehan voted last week in committee to send the legislation forward without a single hearing. Read more

March 23, 2017
WITF
News

Where midstate reps. stand on the GOP health care bill

(Harrisburg) — A day before a critical vote on the Republican-backed American Health Care Act, some of the midstate’s congressmen haven’t publicly said how they’ll vote.

Two of the midstate’s Republican congressmen have said they support President Trump’s American Health Care Act – Lou Barletta and Lloyd Smucker.

This story has been updated to reflect Dent’s official position of no, and that Rep. Ryan Costello is undecided on the bill.

Read story

May 19, 2017
The Hill’s Whip List: Where Republicans stand on ObamaCare repeal
plan

Costello is in the YES column

Republican leaders are aiming to move quickly on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare, with a vote by the full House slated for Thursday.

But the plan faces a difficult path. Conservatives were quick to criticize the legislation, saying it falls short of full repeal and would create new entitlements. Centrist Republicans and many from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 have also balked at measures rolling back the Medicaid expansion or defunding Planned Parenthood. Read more

March 15, 2017
Congressman Costello voted  to move TrumpCare out of committee.
Read here

March 7, 2017
Do your job!
Costello walks through protesters in Reading, PA
Watch here

Feb 27, 2017
The Hill

The 3 Chester County Congressman voted along party lines NOT to force Trump to release his tax returns.

House Dem forces GOP to take recorded vote on Trump tax returns

A House Democratic lawmaker attempted Monday to force a House floor vote on a resolution to request President Trump’s tax returns, but the effort failed on a party line vote, 229-185, with two Republicans voting “present.”

The move was the latest in a series of Democratic efforts to push Congress to request Trump’s tax returns, and Democrats demanded a roll call vote to force Republicans to go on the record.

The two Republicans who voted present were Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.) and Mark Sanford (S.C.). Sanford is one of the Republican lawmakers who has in the past called for Trump to release his returns.

After the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fired at the GOP.

“Tonight, House Republicans made themselves accomplices to hiding President Trump’s tax returns from the American people,” she said.  Read more

February 26, 2017
Town hall held in Phoenixville, PA. Costello did not show up but 400 constituents did. Watch here

March 28, 2017
ReadingEagle.com

Dems launch online ads targeting Berks County congressmen

The Democratic campaign arm for the House of Representatives is launching an online ad campaign targeting Republicans who voted for the American Health Care Act in committee before leaders decided on Friday to pull the legislation from consideration.

And three of the 14 lawmakers in its crosshairs represent Berks County residents. Read & View ads

March 14, 2017
Privacy News Online

These are the 17 House Representatives that introduced a bill to let telecoms sell your personal internet history

Most Americans don’t know that telecoms and internet service providers store the internet history of their users; even more don’t know that recently introduced legislation aims to do away with privacy protections on this high value data. For years, the telecom industry has lobbied the government for the ability to sell your internet history to the highest bidder. On 3/7/17, Senator Jeff Flake and 22 other co-sponsors introduced S.J.Res 34, which would use the Congressional Review Act to strip away privacy protections voted in by the FCC last year and allow telecoms to sell the private internet history which they have on each of their Internet subscribers. One day later, on 3/8/17, Representative Marsha Blackburn introduced the House version of the bill (H.J.Res 86).

17 House Representatives that support a bill to let telecoms sell your internet history

Including the bill’s headliner, Representative Blackburn, the 17 House Representatives are:

– Rep. Flores, Bill [R-TX-17]

– Rep. Blackburn, Marsha [R-TN-7]

– Rep. Olson, Pete [R-TX-22]

– Rep. Lance, Leonard [R-NJ-7]

– Rep. Scalise, Steve [R-LA-1]

– Rep. Latta, Robert E. [R-OH-5]

– Rep. Guthrie, Brett [R-KY-2]

– Rep. Kinzinger, Adam [R-IL-16]

– Rep. Johnson, Bill [R-OH-6]

– Rep. Long, Billy [R-MO-7]

– Rep. Brooks, Susan W. [R-IN-5]

– Rep. Walters, Mimi [R-CA-45]

– Rep. Cramer, Kevin [R-ND-At Large]

– Rep. Collins, Chris [R-NY-27]

– Rep. Costello, Ryan A. [R-PA-6]

– Rep. Bilirakis, Gus M. [R-FL-12]

– Rep. Shimkus, John [R-IL-15]

Before the (I’m just a) bill is presented to President Trump to sign into law, both S.J.Res 34 and H.J.Res 86 need to make it through their respective chambers of Congress. Letting your House Representative and Senators know to vote against H.J.Res 86 and S.J.Res 34, respectively, might be the only chance to keep your personal internet history private.

Through coordinated action in both houses, the anti-privacy camp has made their move. The only thing that can hold these politicians accountable for their actions against the best interests of their constituents, is the mass action of the people. Join Private Internet Access in supporting the EFF in calling on all Americans to heed the call and make the call: “Don’t let Congress Undermine Our Online Privacy.” When both H.J.Res 86 and S.J.Res 34 come to a vote, make sure to take note of which House Representatives and Senators vote which way. It is important, now more than ever, to hold politicians accountable for their stances and their actions. Source

March 26, 2017
Lebanon Daily News

Dent, Costello being invited to discuss health care

As uncertainty around the country regarding health care reform continues, Lebanon County residents may have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with U.S. congressmen next month at the Allen Theatre in Annville.

Three local action groups announced Thursday that they’ve joined forces to organize a town hall meeting to which Congressmen Charlie Dent (PA-15) and Ryan Costello (PA-6) are being asked to attend on Sunday, April 23 from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Read more

March 26, 2017
Delaware County Daily Times

GOP pulls health care bill; Meehan, Costello explain stance

WASHINGTON >> In a humiliating failure, President Donald Trump and GOP leaders pulled their bill to repeal “Obamacare” off the House floor Friday when it became clear it would fail badly — after seven years of nonstop railing against the law. Democrats said Americans can “breathe a sigh of relief.” Trump said the current law was imploding “and soon will explode.”

Thwarted by two factions of fellow Republicans, from the center and far right, House Speaker Paul Ryan said President Barack Obama’s health care law, the GOP’s No. 1 target in the new Trump administration, will remain in place “for the foreseeable future.”

The move took several local congressmen off the hook; they did not have to cast a vote on a controversial measure that had sparked weekly protests at their local offices by citizens opposed to repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Read more

March 23, 2017
Daily Times

VIDEO: More than 100 stage rally at Rep. Ryan Costello’s office urging him to vote no on ACA repeal

Watch here

March 23, 2017
NewsReadingEagle.com

Berks lawmakers could play key role in GOP health care bill

Talking about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was easy.

But actually doing it has been hard.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, whose 16th District includes Reading and Berks communities to its south, was the only one willing to commit his support.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, whose 15th District also includes part of Berks County, will vote no.

The remaining two — U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello and Pat Meehan — said they’re still reviewing the proposal and its impact on their districts. These statements come after Costello and Meehan voted last week in committee to send the legislation forward without a single hearing. Read more

March 23, 2017
WITF
News

Where midstate reps. stand on the GOP health care bill

(Harrisburg) — A day before a critical vote on the Republican-backed American Health Care Act, some of the midstate’s congressmen haven’t publicly said how they’ll vote.

Two of the midstate’s Republican congressmen have said they support President Trump’s American Health Care Act – Lou Barletta and Lloyd Smucker.

This story has been updated to reflect Dent’s official position of no, and that Rep. Ryan Costello is undecided on the bill.

Read story

May 19, 2017
The Hill’s Whip List: Where Republicans stand on ObamaCare repeal
plan

Costello is in the YES column

Republican leaders are aiming to move quickly on legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare, with a vote by the full House slated for Thursday.

But the plan faces a difficult path. Conservatives were quick to criticize the legislation, saying it falls short of full repeal and would create new entitlements. Centrist Republicans and many from districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 have also balked at measures rolling back the Medicaid expansion or defunding Planned Parenthood. Read more

March 15, 2017
Congressman Costello voted  to move TrumpCare out of committee.
Read here

March 7, 2017
Do your job!
Costello walks through protesters in Reading, PA
Watch here

Feb 27, 2017
The Hill

The 3 Chester County Congressman voted along party lines NOT to force Trump to release his tax returns.

House Dem forces GOP to take recorded vote on Trump tax returns

A House Democratic lawmaker attempted Monday to force a House floor vote on a resolution to request President Trump’s tax returns, but the effort failed on a party line vote, 229-185, with two Republicans voting “present.”

The move was the latest in a series of Democratic efforts to push Congress to request Trump’s tax returns, and Democrats demanded a roll call vote to force Republicans to go on the record.

The two Republicans who voted present were Reps. Walter Jones (N.C.) and Mark Sanford (S.C.). Sanford is one of the Republican lawmakers who has in the past called for Trump to release his returns.

After the vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) fired at the GOP.

“Tonight, House Republicans made themselves accomplices to hiding President Trump’s tax returns from the American people,” she said.  Read more

February 26, 2017
Town hall held in Phoenixville, PA. Costello did not show up but 400 constituents did. Watch here

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