WEST CHESTER — Five Chester County Common Pleas judges on Friday watched and listened as 61 people who came to the United States from 24 foreign nations recited an oath of 140 words that made them, ceremoniously, officially, part of “one nation … indivisible.”
“Congratulations,” said county Prothonotary Matt Holliday, who administered the Oath of Citizenship to those who were participating in the county’s semi-annual naturalization ceremonies. “You are now citizens of the United States.”
The event, held in the county’s stately Courtroom One of its Justice Center, was the last leg of a physical and figurative journey for each of those taking the oath. Not only had they traveled miles and miles under perhaps arduous conditions, but they had also made the momentous decision to embrace an adopted country over their native land.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance to fidelity” to the nations they came from and the leaders they left behind, they repeated after Holliday in taking the oath of citizenship. “I will bear true faith and allegiance to … the United States.”
Those who participated had gone through the process of obtaining new citizenship, which includes a civics test and a personal interview for those who have lived in the country for at least five years. Once citizens, they can vote in local and national elections, travel the world with a U.S. passport, and happily, call themselves an American.
Naturalization ceremonies are held at courthouses across the country, and three times a year in Chester County. They are sponsored by the Chester County Bar Association, overseen by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and supervised by the county’s judges.
“In Chester County, we welcome all citizens, no matter what path they take,” said county Commissioner Terence Farrell, one of a number of county elected officials who attended the event.
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th, of Easttown reminded those becoming citizens of the opportunities that await them. She said her father had come to the country as a child from Poland, fleeing the Holocaust of World War II to settle here with his family. “He was welcomed here and now, I stand before you as an elected official,” she said.
There was pomp in the filled-to-the brim courtroom, with lots of red, white, and blue on display. There were patriotic songs sung by the members of the Chester County Choral Society, and a group singing of the National Anthem. The names read by the immigration official included Nguyen, Wilson, Barakat, and Jose, and the children in the audience held aloft red carnations and waited to take home their “Pledge of Allegiance Coloring Books.”
It was left, however, to one who had come before them to put the moment in perspective and explain the joy they can now share in.
Maria “Cora” Sarmiento, a deputy clerk in the county Clerk of Courts Office, told those assembled how she had taken her own citizenship oath a year ago in the same courtroom they occupied. She spoke of the “hard earned citizenship” she had accomplished, the fear and agony of waiting, and the pride and sense of belonging she felt voting for the first time.
But she recalled traveling back to her former home in the Philippines and then returning to Philadelphia this past May. ”An immigration officer looked through my passport, then looked at me and with a smile, he said, ‘Welcome home.’” Source
U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan
July 25, 2019
Yesterday, Mr. Mueller came to testify before Congress. Let me be clear – this President is threatening our democracy. But I am committed to making sure we build an undeniable case to present to the Senate, and until then, we must trust the process. Hear more below.
Houlahan votes to pass Tax Repeal Act
WASHINGTON—Representative Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) voted to pass the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2019, of which she is a cosponsor. The bill permanently repeals the 40 percent tax on high-cost health insurance plans, also known as the “Cadillac tax.”
“I have heard loud and clear from my community that we need to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for Pennsylvanians, and I am proud to vote today on bipartisan legislation to do just that,” said Houlahan. “Nearly 60 percent of Pennsylvanians depend on employer-provided health care coverage, and imposing a 40% tax on some of these plans would be bad for employers, employees, and families alike. Thousands of Pennsylvanian workers would either lose some of their healthcare benefits or bear more of the cost personally if this tax were to go into effect. It is for them that I cosponsored this legislation and am proud to vote for permanent repeal of the ‘Cadillac Tax.’ I’m grateful for the advocacy of our labor unions and the Chester County Chamber for Business and Industry that helped bring this to a vote.”
“The Chamber applauds Congresswoman Houlahan’s vote,” said Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry CEO Guy Ciarrocchi. “We need to encourage insurance coverage and healthy lifestyles, not punish them. This is a vote for common sense and to give employees insurance coverage to keep them healthy and working.”
“The Cadillac Tax will dramatically reduce our bargaining power, forcing the working class to accept less towards our wages and pension,” said Martin Davis of Teamsters Local 429 in Wyomissing, PA. “Thank you Congresswoman Houlahan for voting to repeal this tax and standing with us in this never ending war on labor. Approximately 16,000 lives enjoy our good quality health insurance and this tax would diminish our coverage greatly.”
This policy would impact health insurance expenditures over $11,200 for an individual and $30,150 per family. Source
July 17, 2019
Tonight, we took a number of important votes regarding impeachment and enforcing our Congressional subpoena power. I wanted to share with you, our #PA06 community, my thoughts on these votes:
July 13, 2019
It is easy to feel numb and hopeless here at the McAllen Border Station, where both those seeking a safer and better life and border patrol staff alike are asked to exist in unacceptable and deplorable conditions. This is a failure of our government, and we must do better. We in Congress must come together now and pass legislation that responsibly alleviates this crisis and prevents such inhumanity from happening on our soil in our name.
July 13, 2019
Houlahan bill to limit foreign campaign finance
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan has friends who hail from the United Kingdom. But as much as she might treasure their company, one thing she does not want is their assistance.
That is, mind you, their financial assistance with her congressional campaign. Houlahan, the freshman Democrat from the 6th Congressional District covering Chester County, believes that foreign nationals have no role in funding campaigns fr national office in the United States.
“Elections are domestic affairs, regardless of what country you are from,” Houlahan said Friday in an interview explaining the reasoning behind legislation she plans on introducing soon to penalize those who aid foreign nationals in providing campaign funds to candidates. “The people participating in our elections should be u.s. citizens.
“I have friends that are British, but they should not be allowed to contribute to my campaign,” she said.
Houlahan’s bill, which would codify in federal law what is now provided for in Federal Election Commission regulations, is part of a set of legislative proposals put together by a bi-partisan group of freshman legislators in the House of Representatives designed to provide security for U.S. elections.
The six Democrats and one Republican call themselves Task Force Sentry, a title meant to highlight the specific backgrounds they bring to the table, including some with experience in the CIA, military and the technology field. Houlahan is a former U.S. Air Force officer with degrees in engineering.
“We’re drawing a line in the sand,” said U.S. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat from Virginia and a former Central Intelligence Agency operations officer. “We’re standing watch, we’ve been attacked, and a sentry stands watch to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report detailed how Russian operatives used information warfare to attack the 2016 U.S. election process. But those details have been largely overshadowed by the highly partisan debate over the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia and whether President Donald Trump tried to obstruct the investigation.
That prompted the freshman lawmakers — traditionally the lowest people in the congressional power structure — to take on the issue themselves, meeting once a week for the past two months to discuss and craft the legislative package that Houlahan’s bill will be one piece of.
The group includes Republican U.S. Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, (a former Indianapolis Colt), and Democrats Houlahan, Spanberger, Rebecca Sherrill of New Jersey, Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Lauren Underwood of Illinois and Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico.
According to Houlahan, through her bill, the Task Force is working to “remove any ambiguity about what it means for an American to help a foreign national violate U.S. campaign finance law.
“FEC regulations provides more detail than the law, and we want to get rid of the daylight between the two,” she wrote. “My bill makes it easier for the government to determine whether or not a U.S. citizen violated campaign finance law by facilitating an illegal foreign contribution.”
For example, it is illegal for an American campaign fundraiser to accept or solicit a contribution from a foreign national, she said. “Under existing law, this type of activity is already prohibited, but my bill makes it easier for a court of law to prove that an American’s conduct in supporting such activities is illegal. It codifies it.”
Interference in U.S. elections has been well documented beyond the Mueller report. The Task Force members have their own stories about examples.
Gonzalez recalled driving into work recently and hearing an “incendiary” story about a hate crime in the South playing on a District of Columbia radio station. When they cut to commercial, he realized it was Sputnik radio, which is funded by the Russian government.
Houlahan remembers a different “scary” moment at a Best Western hotel in Indiana a couple years ago when she saw the Russian state-funded TV channel “RT” playing while “everybody is just eating their breakfast, you know, thinking they’re getting news.”
Both RT and Sputnik have been singled out by U.S. intelligence for their involvement in the Kremlin’s “influence campaign” to increase support for Trump in the lead up to the 2016 election. They have denied it.
The lawmakers say leadership is aware and supportive of their efforts and they are cautiously hopeful that their new ideas paired with a lack of ego and baggage will help ensure their efforts aren’t for naught.
“I don’t think anybody in this room cares if we have our names on this thing or own it, we care about protecting the country,” Slotkin said. “That was the mission, and many of us have worked in environments like that our entire lives.”
As freshman lawmakers “we don’t have years and years of history built up to make it more difficult than it needs to be.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
June 26, 2019
Bergman, Houlahan introduce IMPROVE Well-Being For Veterans Act to fight veteran suicide
Washington – Today, Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI01) and Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA06) introduced the IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act (Incorporating Measurements and Providing Resources for Outreach to Veterans Everywhere) in the U.S. House. This bill would fundamentally enhance coordination and planning of Veteran mental health and suicide prevention services and would develop measurement tools to track the effectiveness of these community-level programs in order to address the suicide crisis and its impact on Veterans. Congressman Bergman issued the following release:
“Despite significant VA funding increases for Veteran mental health and suicide prevention over the past 15 years, the number of Veteran suicides per year has remained virtually unchanged. The bipartisan IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act would allow the VA to provide grant funding to nonprofits and local organizations who can supply outreach and a range of services to at-risk Veterans. Preventing Veteran suicide takes a community, and the IMPROVE Act will put forth a new framework for the VA and those nationwide network of organizations to work together and deliver outcomes that benefit our Veterans,” said Rep. Bergman.
“As a veteran, I am passionate about protecting those who have served our country,” said Rep. Houlahan. “I am proud to be introducing the bipartisan IMPROVE Well-Being for Veterans Act to more aggressively work towards preventing tragedies in our veteran-community. It’s also important to note that women veterans are twice as likely to commit suicide as non-veteran women. As the Chair and Founder of the Servicewomen and Women Veterans Congressional Caucus, I am proud to be helping lead this effort alongside my colleagues to stop this epidemic that is killing our veterans.”
Dr. Phil Roe, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs said,“General Bergman’s commitment to doing right by the men and women who served our country in uniform – like he did for so many years – is unparalleled. With the introduction of the IMPROVE Act, he is once again demonstrating that commitment. The IMPROVE Act would make it easier for veterans who are struggling to connect with local nonprofit groups and community organizations that can help meet their needs close to home. This bill has the potential to save lives and I hope that the Committee will consider it as soon as possible. I thank General Bergman and Rep. Houlahan for introducing it.”
On June 19th, U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Senate companion to the IMPROVE Act. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) are original cosponsors of the legislation.
“Congress has provided significant resources to the VA to decrease veteran suicides, yet the number of veterans who take their own lives everyday remains unchanged. We believe that the way to reverse this trend is to improve coordination of existing programs; establish a common tool to measure the effectiveness of our programs; and promote better information sharing, data collection and continual feedback in order to identify what services are having the most impact,” said Senator Boozman.
“This approach is key to empowering organizations to work together in the fight against veteran suicide. I appreciate the leadership of Representatives Bergman and Houlahan on this issue and I am grateful that they are championing this important legislation in the House.”
To address these programmatic gaps, the IMPROVE Act will:
Enable the VA to directly or indirectly reach more Veterans than it currently does;
Increase coordination among currently disparate community resources that serve a wide variety of Veteran needs – all of which play a part in reducing the feeling of purposelessness that ends in suicide; and
Create and inspire broad adoption of a measurement tool that will indicate effectiveness of services provided for Veterans suicide prevention. Source
June 13, 2019
Amid anger, Lockheed agrees to meet with pols over doomed Sikorsky helicopter plant
These people are not happy. And I’m not talking about the 465 helicopter factory workers about to lose their jobs in Chester County.
The anger I found bubbling over this week near the decimated former steel town of Coatesville was coming from the politicians and deal-makers who thought they were owed more. The civic stewards who spent years mixing cocktails of handshakes with taxpayer-backed financial sweeteners to keep Lockheed Martin and its Sikorsky chopper plant healthy and happy on a rural campus on Old Lancaster Pike west of Philadelphia.
The whole mess — Lockheed putting a bullet into its Sikorsky site without a trace of manners beyond what one would expect from a narcissistic teenager — is a metaphor for the brand of cold and unaccountable capitalism that insists, even after receiving public aid, that it owes close to nothing to most anyone at the end of the day.
The planned shutdown, which became public last week, is a blow to a state that has been hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs for decades. It’s also a blow to common decency.
Officials have scrambled over the past few days to create a SWAT team to bring Sikorsky to the table for a possible Plan B. One member of that rescue group, U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, told me that the company on Wednesday promised to send a high-level official to meet with her and others one day next week in Chester County.
“There is a way you can make business profitable and also do good by the people that are in your community,” Houlahan, a recently elected Democrat with credentials from Stanford, MIT, and the corporate sector, told me from Washington, where she was working on budget matters before the Armed Services Committee, of which the former Air Force officer is a member. “I’m just disappointed with how this has transpired.”
Houlahan’s assessment was markedly diplomatic. Others’ were less so.
“We had a good relationshIp with the company, and the corporate people who make that decision did not pick up the phone,” said Gary Smith, who has led the Economic Development Council for 43 years in the formerly Republican-dominated county. “We had this strong relationship over many, many years. They were very much involved with us. I’ve not gotten even a call back yet from my contacts there.”
The angriest of all was longtime State Sen. Andy Dinniman.
In no way is it OK that Lockheed, which bought the Sikorsky plant that manufactures civilian choppers in Sadsbury Township, pulled the plug without a single conversation with the community in which the company was birthed, under a different owner, more than 50 years ago, the Chester County Democrat said.
“If you go out of your way to help someone, and then that person slaps you in the face in the end, you’re disappointed,” Dinniman said. “We did everything we could, and we understand [a company’s allegiance to] the bottom line. But here’s the difference. If you want to believe in the free marketplace, then don’t come to the state for help. But if you come to the state for help, you have a responsibility back to the community.”
Lockheed’s shocking announcement that it will close by year’s end its operations on a gleaming, two-dozen-acre campus might be easier to swallow if questions about why were clearer.
What we do know is that yet another manufacturer is leaving Pennsylvania because its owner decided to push the work out of state. Though orders for civilian aircraft were down, the Coatesville plant had a nonunion workforce and, according to Smith, a reputation for exceptional work and productivity.
Lockheed has offered few details.
“To improve customer affordability,” spokeswoman Callie Ferrari said in an email Wednesday, “we must close our Coatesville facility to balance our footprint and workforce with customer and market requirements.”
Eleven years ago this August, a jubilant Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell and other officials publicly celebrated at the chopper plant. The state had just awarded $1 million in incentives. Six years before that, Republican Gov. Mark Schweiker had thrown the company $1.3 million to help it move to the gleaming facility it occupies today.
Adding insult to injury, an additional $2.5 million state grant for improvements to the campus and the adjacent county airport has not yet been spent.
Sure, business is business. But in this age of record-breaking corporate profits, it might be a good time to remember that there’s also this thing of being a human being.
The human beings on one side of this unfortunate transaction are not happy. And with good reason. Source
June 10, 2019
In Congress, strong backing for Boeing’s Chinook, but Army prefers newer tools for war
The House Armed Services Committee is preparing a budget mark-up statement that would restore funding for planned upgrades to Army Chinook CH-47F helicopters at Boeing Corp.’s Ridley Township military aircraft factory for at least a year, and urge Army leaders to commit to the program in the long term.
In a statement, obtained by The Inquirer, the committee complains that the military’s Future Years Defense Program doesn’t fund “Block II” Chinook upgrades, as the previous year’s budget did. So it is asking for an extra $28 million to keep the upgrade program active during the next five years, adding that there is a “strategic risk to the industrial base” if the Army doesn’t keep updating Chinooks and then needs to at a later date.
The committee also directed Army Secretary Marc T. Esper to produce a cost-benefit analysis of the impact of delaying the Chinook upgrades and having to reassemble the current workforce and suppliers if the effort is cut back, as in the Pentagon’s original budget.
The Democratic-led committee wants the Army to preserve more of its helicopter-dependent “anti-insurgent” capabilities that have supported U.S. wars in Asia from Korea to Afghanistan, diluting the Army’s new focus on digital, long-range, and space-based weapons.
The move, if endorsed by the Senate and adopted in next year’s budget, would help protect 4,600 union and professional jobs at Boeing’s facility — the largest of a constellation of helicopter assembly, supply, and testing facilities in the Philadelphia area.
But those efforts face strong resistance from military leaders who want the Army to move away from older technologies like the Chinook to meet new threats.
The Army’s proposed budget earlier this year cuts nearly $1 billion from the Chinook upgrade budget over the next few years, threatening nearly half the jobs at Ridley Park.
Last week, Lockheed Martin said it plans to close its nonunion Sikorsky civilian helicopter factory next to the Coatesville Airport. The move will idle the last 400 workers in a plant that has suffered layoffs since State Sen. Andy Dinniman (D., Chester) secured a $2.5 million grant for improvements five years ago.
Italy-based Leonardo has a 600-worker helicopter plant next to Northeast Philadelphia Airport that has mostly serviced oil exploration, police, and other civilian demand. But the parent company is a military supplier in Europe and recently won an Air Force contract to provide a military version of one of its civilian helicopters in partnership with Boeing.
Leonardo plans to expand the Philadelphia factory and has been hiring engineers from Sikorsky, among others.
At Ridley Park, Boeing is upgrading Chinooks to carry larger loads. The company also builds and upgrades Chinooks for U.S. Special Forces and allies around the world. And it builds Osprey military aircraft.
Aides to U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) and Bob Casey (D., Pa.) and the mostly Democratic area House delegation have trooped to the plant in recent months to get their pictures taken with Army officers, Boeing officials, and members of the Machinists union. Their main goal has been to strategize ways to keep the plant busy.
Chester County’s freshman U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D., Pa.), a former Air Force lieutenant, quizzed Army Secretary Mark T. Esper and Chief of Staff Mark Milley and other senior soldiers at a national defense budget hearing April 2. She asked about what she called the abrupt decision to end Army Chinook upgrades, which the Army had confirmed as a priority as recently as 2017.
“What changed?” Houlahan asked, noting that the Army has also cut back on Bradley Fighting Vehicle and Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle improvements. She said the changes had “caused a lot of consternation in the Pennsylvania supply chain,” where smaller companies provide insulation, testing, and other services for Boeing helicopters.
Esper cited “clear guidance” from former Defense Secretary James Mattes and Pentagon planners for the Army’s shift from “years of counterinsurgency warfare to high-intensity conflict” and the big “pivot toward being able to fight and win against near-peer competitors” such as Russia and China.
Esper said it would put U.S. troops “at very serious risk” to pour more billions into old programs, such as the Chinook, if it means delaying a rapid shift to modern fighting technologies to meet and beat Chinese and Russian advances.
“Our priorities are not changing” back to old styles of fighting, Esper added. He challenged Houlahan and other fans of the Chinook and other older weapons programs to “talk to us” about how defense plants in their districts can help the Army fight the next war, not the last one. Source
June 6, 2019
New Women Rule Podcast with Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan
ARLINGTON, VA – In the latest episode of the Women Rule podcast, Women Rule Editorial Director Anna Palmer chats with Rep. Chrissy Houlahan about her career and how she became comfortable taking on totally new challenges, time and again.
Palmer delves into Houlahan’s experience as a successful woman in several very male-dominated industries— studying engineering & technology at Stanford, running a sports apparel company, and climbing the ranks in the military. Houlahan also reveals how it is possible to follow one’s interests, wherever they may lead, regardless of how difficult it may seem at the time.
On her inspiration for her career: “I saw Sally Ride. And I saw that she did it. And I saw that she was a physicist and that she went to Stanford. And so I wanted to go to Stanford, and I got in, and I got an ROTC scholarship, and I also saw that a lot of people who were successful astronauts were pilots. And so I thought that if I went into the Air Force, there were more pilots in the Air Force than in the Navy, which was my family’s tradition. And that was probably a good place to start.”
On getting comfortable when facing adversity: “I think that you just have to kind of believe in yourself. One of the things that, when I decided to run for office, that I didn’t think twice about, honestly, was raising my hand. You know? …And so I think that I’ve never really thought about what other people will think about my decisions, and I’ve also really never thought that there was anything wrong with completely changing and transitioning to something that has nothing to do with something you’ve already done before.”
On her advice for women: “My advice to them is always just to load yourself up with every asset that you can—something like education, as an example. We’ve talked a lot about that—something that you cannot take away from me, that has nothing to do with my gender. You know, being ready, being prepared, and having all of the arsenal that you need in order to make sure that you are equal is important.”
Women Rule is a community of influential women devoted to expanding leadership opportunities for all women. The Women Rule series aims to inform, empower and connect women across diverse sectors and career levels to have an impact. Produced by POLITICO in partnership with our founding partners Google and the Tory Burch Foundation, Women Rule brings together rising stars, accomplished professionals and VIPs at the pinnacle of their careers for large-scale summits, networking events, podcasts and original reporting. Source
June 2, 2019
Rep. Houlahan urges caution on impeachment talk
WEST CHESTER — The time is not right now to begin the process of impeaching President Trump, U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan said in an interview Saturday before a busy day filled with events from West Chester to Phoenixville, despite an intransigence from Trump and his administration that leaves her frustrated and concerned.
“I think what is important right now is that we be very sober and deliberate about how we are going about this on behalf of the people,” Houlahan, D-6th, of Easttown, said about calls for impeachment from a growing number of her Democratic colleagues in the House. “I take my responsibility enormously seriously, because this is nothing to trifle with.
“One of the larger reasons I decided to run for Congress was that I was very worried about this president and this administration, and what they are doing to our democratic norms and values. In the 2½ years since I declared, a lot of things have confirmed that anxiety and that reason for running.
“I believe we need, as a Congress, to continue the oversight that we are already doing,” she said in answer to a reporter’s question. “I believe that we need to find way to have the opportunity to have the administration change, either in 2020 or otherwise.”
Democrats in the House of Representatives need to, “make sure we are bringing everyone along, instead of further dividing the nation,” when considering starting impeachment proceedings, Houlahan declared.
Her stance, at variance with her two freshman Democratic colleagues from the Philadelphia suburbs, aligns with that of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who has to date resisted calls to impeach Trump.
But, Houlahan stressed, things could change.
Such proceedings would start in the House before the case would shift to the Senate for a trial. Pelosi prefers a more measured approach, saying she wants to have the country’s support, whatever the House’s ultimate decision.
Democrats last year won the majority in so many districts that had voted for Trump in 2016 — or, in Houlahan’s case, had been solidly in the GOP column for decades — basing their campaigns on promises of lowering health care costs, creating jobs with infrastructure investment and cleaning up the government. So Pelosi is wary of taking on an impeachment inquiry that would overpower that agenda.
Pelosi worries impeachment would split the country and galvanize Republican support for Trump. She remembers how the proceedings against President Bill Clinton helped propel Democrats, and warns it could help Trump’s re-election in 2020.
“I think that is largely where I am as well,” Houlahan said. “I think that a political impeachment would only further divide us. I think that it would only further strengthen an administration that is already being destructive to our nation.”
She pointed to the refusal of the administration to comply with lawful subpoenas and demands for testimony by oversight committees as evidence of confrontational behavior “that I have never expected or seen.”
“So, it may come to the fact that we need to proceed,” she said in the interview. “Frankly, it may come to that place.”
Houlahan made her comments at the beginning of a day that would see her holding an open house for her district office in West Chester and then a making a prominent appearance at the annual Pride Fest in Phoenixville, an event dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ community in Chester County.
She spoke while sitting with a reporter outside a coffee shop across from the West Chester University campus.
The Pride event holds special meaning for Houlahan this year, as she was instrumental in passing legislation in May meant to give protections to the LGBTQ community under federal Civil Rights laws.
The Equality Act, of which she is an original cosponsor, would ensure all LGBTQ Americans are guaranteed full protections against discrimination with regard to employment, education, access to credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, and public accommodations. The House passed the bill 236-173.
“It is important that when we talk about our equalities we talk about everyone,” she said. “As the mother of a gay daughter, one of the reasons I ran for Congress was concern for her community, of them being disenfranchised and being discriminated against. In many of our states still she can be fired for being gay, she can be discriminated against for being herself. I think that is fundamentally un-American.”
When she began thinking in 2016 about a run for Congress, she and her family, including her daughter Molly, discussed what it would mean for their public identity. She said her daughter spoke of the anxiety she felt at not having discussed her identity with others.
“She felt that had she been more out, had she been more communicative about who she was to people maybe different people would have made different choices in the election,” Houlahan said. “She felt almost guilty that she had not been more forward about this. So she said, ‘This is a time when I need to share his, that you need to share this, Mom.’
“But she said, ‘If you share this, you need to promise that you will work for my community and not just use it. And I promised. And it was pretty overwhelming to be able to press that ‘Yes’ button” in the vote on May 20. “I sent her a picture of me pressing the ‘Yes’ button.”
Houlahan said she had attended the Pride Fest event over the past three years, calling it, “a joyful event.” “I’m really struck by the LGBTQ community and how welcoming they are of each other and of the world,” and impressed that gay relations in the county ”are fairly good.
“This community is a very welcoming community,” she said. “Even though we are very mixed in our political affiliation (in the county) — we are 40-40-20, Democrats, Republicans, and independents — I think that we all are respectful of one another, regardless of where we sit on the political spectrum. We let people be who they are, largely.”
Houlahan and the other House members will return to Washington on Monday after a week-long Memorial Day break, during which she met with the state Attorney General in Reading to discuss the opioid crisis and in southern Chester County to discuss the state of the mushroom industry with the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue. She anticipates working on the military budget, small business issues, and trade with Canada and Mexico.
She expressed satisfaction that House Democrats had been able to pass more than 100 pieces of substantive legislation in the first six months of their term, but frustrated that much of that had landed with a thud in the Senate, where GOP leadership refuses to allow it to even be considered.
“All of those (bills) have gone nowhere, and it is incredibly disheartening to see a Senate that is unwilling to take up any of the work of the House,” she said.
“What I think nobody pays much attention to is that fully 2/3 of everything that happens in the Congress is non-oversight related, and pretty much 95 percent of what I do is non-oversight related. The work of the people is still happening,” she said. “I would just like to to continue to focus on those issues that unite us.”
Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District includes all of Chester County, most of southern Berks County and the City of Reading. Source
May 26, 2019
Rep. Houlahan: ‘I’m appalled’ by Trump’s consideration of pardons for war criminals
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA), an Air Force veteran and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, tells Kasie Hunt that her father, who is also a military veteran, taught her ‘just how important it was to never violate international law,’ and that President Trump’s consideration of pardons for accused war criminals flies in the face of the example the U.S. tries to set on the world stage. Video & Source
May 23, 2019
On impeachment, Pa. Dem split reflects wider party divide
WASHINGTON — They’re known as “The Fab Four,” a group of freshman Democratic women who broke into Pennsylvania’s all-male delegation together and forged a quick bond.
But when it comes to the most consequential debate now confronting Democrats, the four are split.
WASHINGTON — They’re known as “The Fab Four,” a group of freshman Democratic women who broke into Pennsylvania’s all-male delegation together and forged a quick bond.
But when it comes to the most consequential debate now confronting Democrats, the four are split.
Two, from deep-blue districts, have called for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Two from swing districts say that they’re not ready and that the party is better off focusing on kitchen-table issues, like health care.
The different stands within the group of friends mirror the wider party split among House Democrats as they wrestle with Trump’s stonewalling of Congress.
The debate gained new energy this week as Reps. Mary Gay Scanlon, of Delaware County, and Madeleine Dean, of Montgomery County, joined a growing chorus of more than two dozen Democrats urging their party to launch an impeachment inquiry, arguing that Trump and his administration have defied Congress’ constitutional authority with his blanket refusals to answer subpoenas.
Their close colleagues, Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, of Chester County, and Susan Wild, of Lehigh County, said it was too soon. So did New Jersey Reps. Jeff Van Drew, of Cape May County, and Andy Kim, of Burlington County. All four Democrats won moderate House districts that had been held by Republicans for decades, and three of them are prime targets in 2020.
“I’m not at that place at this point in time,” Houlahan said. “I don’t think we’ve exhausted all of the abilities that we have as a Congress through subpoena, through the courts, through the pressures of our leadership. When I look at the list of things that our constituents have called us about … sixth or seventh on the list is issues of impeachment, and it’s equal on both sides.”
Constituents are much more focused on concerns such as gun laws and women’s reproductive rights, she said. Wild said she would rather focus on lowering community college costs.
“I have tremendous respect for my Pennsylvania colleagues who have come out and said that it’s time to proceed,” Wild said. “I’m not there yet.”
Supporting an Impeachment Inquiry
- Rep. Madeleine Dean, Montgomery County
- Rep. Dwight Evans, Philadelphia
- Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, Delaware County
- Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, Chester County
- Rep. Andy Kim, Burlington County
- Rep. Jeff Van Drew, Cape May County
- Rep. Susan Wild, Lehigh County
- Rep. Brendan Boyle, Philadelphia
- Rep. Donald Norcross, Camden County
The debate has left Democrats weighing what they see as their constitutional oversight duty against fears of political backlash.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) has urged her caucus to focus on the issues that brought them the House majority, and has worried that an impeachment inquiry will give Trump exactly the political cudgel he wants.
She argues the normal investigative process can work, if given time, noting that federal courts twice sided with Democrats this week over subpoenas seeking Trump financial documents and tax records.
And with the GOP-controlled Senate all but certain to block an attempt to remove the president, some Democrats worry that impeachment would damage their chance to oust Trump in next year’s election. A national poll released by Monmouth University this week found that only 37 percent of registered voters said Trump should be reelected, but 56 percent oppose impeachment.
Yet a growing chorus of Democrats is raising the pressure on Pelosi to relent.
Trump has issued a blanket refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas as Democrats attempt to investigate his finances, evidence that he tried to derail the Russia investigation, and his administration’s policies.
The final straw for many came on Tuesday, when former White House counsel Don McGahn defied a subpoena to testify.
“It’s really highlighting the fact that this is a rogue presidency,” Scanlon said, pointing to the court rulings against Trump.
She dismissed concerns about fallout.
“I don’t think everyday Americans in our community who can’t ignore a subpoena for a parking ticket are going to look favorably upon an administration that ignores subpoenas from Congress or defies court orders,” Scanlon said.
Democrats believe special counsel Robert Mueller left it to Congress to act when he declined to either recommend charges or clear Trump of obstruction. They want to air the evidence showing interactions between Trump associates and Russia and Trump’s attempt to have Mueller fired.
“This president has tried to obstruct justice. Any other person on this planet, in this country, would have been charged,” Dean said.
She also stressed the difference between support for an impeachment inquiry — an investigation of the president’s conduct — and impeachment charges, which would attempt to remove him from office.
Trump has derided the investigation as “a witch hunt” and an attempted “do-over.”
For some Democrats, the last two elections show how to combat Trump.
When Hillary Clinton focused on Trump’s character in 2016, the thinking goes, she lost. When candidates talked about health care, guns, or the environment in 2018, they won the House.
Lots of those who flipped swing seats, including Kim, Van Drew, and Wild, are urging their party to stick to the second approach.
Kim has tried to turn attention to his bipartisan bill to help states establish health insurance exchanges. It passed the House last week.
“I don’t support opening impeachment proceedings right now,” Kim said in a statement, adding that Trump’s intransigence “has brought the business of lowering health-care costs and creating jobs to a grinding halt.”
Van Drew, who put out a news release on rural broadband access while colleagues were talking impeachment, told Fox Business “the point now is we want to get some work done.”
Not every Democrat from a moderate district is resisting. Rep. Tom Malinowski, who won a central New Jersey district long held by Republicans, said he “is prepared to support” an inquiry.
“We are seeing an all-out across-the-board challenge to the rule of law on the part of the president,” Malinowski said. “I want it to be said that we met the test in the right way.”
Wild hinted that she may eventually join him.
“We weren’t sent here to set out to impeach the president,” she said, “but if that’s where the evidence leads us, then that’s a different issue.” Source
May 16, 2019
America needs to ‘be the adult in the room’ with Iran, says House Democrat Houlahan
VIEW VIDEO here
Pennsylvania Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee, calls for transparency from the Trump administration on Iran to ‘make sure we’re not escalating things unnecessarily.’
As rising tensions between the United States and Iran have prompted American officials to order non-emergency personnel out of Iraq, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D, Pa., argued that the safety of Americans is a top priority, but it’s crucial not to provoke Iran.
Referring to the country as a “worrisome nation-state” during a Wednesday morning interview with “America’s Newsroom,” the member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees said the United States needs to be “appropriately cautious” about threats posed by Iran.
Earlier this week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ordered non-emergency personnel at the U.S. embassy in Iraq to leave the country after Iran-backed missiles were allegedly positioned in the range of American bases.
COTTON SAYS AMERICA WOULD WIN WAR AGAINST IRAN IN ‘TWO STRIKES’
“If we’re seeing something that concerns us about the safety of our citizens we should be working hard to move them out of harm’s way, but I think we need to be the adult in the room and make sure we aren’t provoking larger changes than we would like,” Houlahan added.
On Friday, she said there would be a closed hearing where she will learn more details about what President Trump and the Defense Department have seen, which they’ve described as “credible threats” from Iran.
“I look forward as Congress, the co-equal branch of government, to make sure we’re being very thoughtful about these things we’re seeing and make sure we’re not escalating things unnecessarily,” Houlahan said. Source
May 18, 2019
Democrats waiting for large presidential field to take shape before endorsing
The massive field of Democratic presidential candidates has created excitement on Capitol Hill, but it has also produced some hesitation among lawmakers looking for which 2020 political horse to endorse.
With at least 15 candidates who currently or previously served in Congress, most Democrats are letting the race take shape and sort itself out before they jump on board.
“I have too many friends in there,” Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., said Friday, adding he has no plans to endorse anytime soon. “It’s too early, just too early.”
Just nine senators and 45 representatives – fewer than 20% of all Democrats in Congress – have formally endorsed one of the presidential candidates, according to a comprehensive “2020 Endorsement Primary” analysis by FiveThirtyEight, a politics and sports data website.
By contrast, in April 2015, Hillary Clinton had already locked down more than 200 Democratic lawmakers for her 2016 presidential bid against a much smaller field, with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., emerging as the only real primary challenger.
Not surprisingly former Vice President Joe Biden, who spent 36 years as a senator, has emerged as front-runner among congressional Democrats: five senators and nine members of the House have endorsed his campaign.
Beyond Biden’s support, the other senators to back a 2020 candidate are the home-state colleagues of Sens. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sanders.
To be sure, endorsements do not carry the same weight as they used to, particularly now that members of Congress cannot vote as “superdelegates” at the Democratic National Convention unless there is no clear nominee on the first ballot at the July 2020 gathering in Milwaukee. And the power of local party machines has been diluted by the 21st century political superhighway of information for voters from social media and 24/7 cable news.
“There are probably a select few people in public life whose endorsement can be very consequential,” said Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-Mass., who was one four members of the Massachusetts delegation to endorse Warren.
Kennedy’s great uncle, the late Edward Kennedy, served that role in 2004 and 2008, throwing his enormous clout behind John Kerry and Barack Obama, helping each senator go on to win the Democratic nomination.
Today, aside from Obama, who is remaining neutral, few Democrats hold that sort of sway. Still, endorsements are like health insurance – you really don’t want to rely on them, but it’s better to have them than not at all.
Lewis, the famed civil rights leader, is one of those sought-after endorsements for 2020 contenders. “Oh, there’s several candidates that have been by to see me, several. Sat on my sofa in my office,” he said.
Another liberal star, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., is surveying the contenders to see which will embrace her bold agenda. “Right now I am looking for specific policy commitments coming from 2020 candidates,” said the first-term firebrand, who worked for Sanders in 2016.
Aside from home-state support, presidential contenders have been eyeing Democrats in the early nominating states of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina. The courtship is sometimes subtle, sometimes blunt and often involves just listening.
“Nearly all of the candidates have reached out at some point or another,” Rep. Joe Cunningham, D-S.C., said Friday.
Cunningham, who won an upset victory in 2018 in a Republican-leaning district in the state’s southeast corner, is pushing local issues to this group of people who might produce the next president.
“We’re just trying to use this as an opportunity to showcase what the issues are for the Low Country and the 1st Congressional District, and how important our beaches are, our natural resources, and stress the need for an infrastructure plan,” he said.
Rep. Cindy Axne (D), who won a GOP district last fall, regularly hears from 2020 candidates when they visit her southwestern Iowa district, according to an adviser.
But like most freshmen, from Ocasio-Cortez on the left to Cunningham in the center, Axne has no plans to endorse at this stage.
A trio from the Philadelphia suburbs – Reps. Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan and Mary Gay Scanlon – attended Biden’s kickoff fundraiser last month in that city, but none of the three first-term Democrats has formally endorsed their neighbor from Delaware.
“I thought it was very cool that on his first day he wanted to be in Philadelphia. We are going to be the ‘Keystone State’ again,” said Dean. “The other thing that’s really cool is look at how many women are running.”
Rep. Mikie Sherrill, D-N.J., is the rare member of the class of 2018 to endorse. A former federal prosecutor based in Newark, Sherrill has worked with Booker for more than a decade on criminal justice issues.
“I knew him when he was Mayor Booker,” she said.
New Jersey is the only state that is operating under the old-school ethos of supporting its favorite son.
All 12 New Jersey Democrats on Capitol Hill unified behind Booker, breaking from past presidential campaigns when bad blood developed.
“Typically Jersey folks go 30 different ways,” Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.) recalled Friday. In 2008, Pascrell joined most state Democrats supporting Clinton in the presidential primary, while a smaller group backed Obama.
New Jersey Democrats want to stay as a bloc again should Booker fade from the race, Pascrell said. “If we keep everybody together now, for our home brother, that will be easier if we need to move later on.”
Some endorsements don’t grab headlines, but might pay real dividends. Take Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Pa.
The second-term Evans never served in Washington with Biden, but his supporters are ecstatic Evans came on board. Evans has a political machine in north and west Philadelphia, having previously represented the area for 36 previous years in the state House.
He made the decision without talking to Biden, just his own insights gained from decades of studying who can win Pennsylvania. “He has the best shot,” Evans said.
Ultimately, of course, it’s up to the candidates to win the votes.
“It’s on every candidate to go out there and put their values and visions forward to the country,” Kennedy said. “And I don’t think the country is waiting to see who wins an endorsement game amongst members of Congress.” Source
May 12, 2019
FRESHMEN DEMOCRATS AREN’T ALL OUTSPOKEN PROGRESSIVES: MODERATE VETERANS UNITE TO BOLSTER RE-ELECTION HOPES
Unapologetically moderate, they consider themselves pragmatic and are proud to be labeled “boring.” And it’s why they say it’s so vital that their 2020 re-election campaigns succeed.
Five freshmen female Democrats—Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria of Virginia, Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan—have teamed up to help make sure their center-left voices don’t vanish from a Congress that has become more polarized in each of the past few elections.
“Our main goal is first and foremost to work together, to elevate the idea or power or just the fact that you can work as a team in this environment,” Luria said. “We’re not here to recruit new people. We’re a group working together to support each other’s campaigns.”
The small group of lawmakers has formed a joint fundraising committee—Service First Women’s Victory Fund—a practice used in Washington to pool and grow candidates’ resources for the campaign trail while sharing the costs. It’s a cohesiveness that will not only aide in re-election bids, they argue, but will also be used as a motivator for future women candidates with parallel backgrounds to run for office and to establish similar coalitions.
“It’s to keep our seats and work together,” Luria said. “Every man for himself, but every woman together.”
The committee raised $56,000 in the first three months of this year, according to the Federal Election Commission.
A Shared Background
But these lawmakers share more than just their political ideologies and freshman status in one of the most diverse Congresses in history: They all come from military or intelligence backgrounds, an attribute that was partly responsible for their getting recruited to run for political office in the first place.
Houlahan served in the Air Force, Luria and Sherrill both graduated from the Naval Academy, with Luria going on to serve for two decades as an officer and Sherrill spending nearly a decade flying helicopters for the Navy. Spanberger and Slotkin did not serve in the armed forces but had careers at the CIA before getting into politics.
“I always think that veterans and people who’ve worked in government and service are really, in some ways, uniquely able to deal with Congress,” Sherrill said. “Because we are all so incredibly proactive, we love our country, but we’ve all worked in government. It’s not this huge roadblock when we come up against the bureaucracy.”
This group of moderate women helped Democrats take back the House, not just winning their elections but flipping their five districts from Republican to Democrat.
“These are the leaders who will transform and save our democracy,” said Emily Cherniack, the founder and executive director of the nonpartisan organization New Politics, which has partnered with the Democratic lawmakers to help raise money. Its mission is to recruit and support candidates who once served in the military and intelligence communities, as well as from national service programs like Americorps and the Peace Corps.
Once strangers who never imagined a life in politics, the freshmen United States representatives were now side-by-side describing their ideas and motivations for helping one another win re-election, genuine friends who joked around and knew each other well enough to finish one another’s sentences.
They sat at a large table across from a handful of national media outlets, including Newsweek, as they unveiled their partnership in a seventh-floor conference room of New Politics’ office building in southeast Washington, with floor-to-ceiling windows that offered a bird’s eye–like view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol building.
“The fact that we can do this together is icing on the cake,” Slotkin said. “You get to work with people you respect, but also people you have a really fun time with.”
Not Every Freshman Democrat Is Ocasio-Cortez
The 62 freshmen Democrats from the 2018 election included some of the most progressive and diverse new voices in politics. Young, liberal members with large social media followings, such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, took the party by storm, ushering in an era of making provocative statements—both to the press and on social media—that quickly brought new enthusiasm, but also divisiveness, to the party.
These five freshmen women, however, believe there’s too much focus planted on select individuals, and they want voters to know they disagree with some of their freshmen colleagues’ ideologies and the way they present their ideas to the public.
“There’s been an overwhelming focus on a small number of members in our caucus, who did not flip seats, who did not help win the House, who are doing what is right for their districts but don’t represent my district,” Slotkin said. “Being a Democrat is more than being a far-left progressive. You can be many things and be a Democrat.”
It was a sentiment echoed by her four colleagues, all whom refrained from referring to any other Democrat by name. More moderate members of Congress, including these five, are finding themselves having to balance their anti-showboat demeanors with not allowing their message to be drowned out by all the shouting.
“I’m just kind of boring,” said Spanberger, earning laughs from her colleagues, drawing a contrast with how some of the other freshmen Democrats in Congress act on a day-to-day basis, constantly putting out “tweetable sound bites,” as Spanberger called them, about Trump’s latest remarks or taking aim at Republican counterparts in Congress on social media.
These five legislators agreed that going on Twitter to constantly swat at the president in the hopes of having their names slapped in a news story was not the way they would operate.
“I’m not going to do anything outrageous that’s going to garner attention, because how does that serve my district?” Spanberger asked. “It doesn’t serve my district’s legislative priorities, and, frankly, I have three kids that I’m trying to be a model for behavior, and we teach them to work together, focus on the goals and these lessons that people learn in kindergarten. If I start a Twitter war with a colleague or say something emotionally outrageous, that doesn’t move the ball along. Then I can’t go to a Republican in a meeting and say, ‘Hey can you co-sponsor my legislation?’”
They did, afterall, flip seats that were previously held by Republicans, and they’re well aware of what their constituients would like and dislike.
“There’s a tension between wanting to get the message out but inherently representing people who don’t like showboats,” Slotkin added.
Advice for 2020 Presidential Candidates: Be Honest
“We have lots of advice,” the five women said collectively when asked if they had any tips for the 21 Democrats who have thrown their hats into the 2020 presidential ring.
The biggest one: Be honest with voters about your stances and policies.
“Honesty is refreshing for people. They just want you to tell them the truth, to stand for something and not to have broad, sweeping statements about bright shiny objects in the sky that actually won’t do anything,” Houlahan said. “I think people are looking for really practical, pragmatic solutions.”
Among the hot-topic issues for 2020 Democrats are Medicare for all and the Green New Deal, policies that more progressive candidates support while more moderate Democrats have been less enthusiastic. Representatives in districts that are neither strongly Democratic or Republican don’t want to alienate their base, yet publicly endorsing a proposal they don’t fully support could backfire down the road.
“If someone asks a question and you know without a shadow of a doubt they want you to be all in for the Green New Deal and you’re not, just be honest,” Spanberger said.
The Democratic Party waded into uncharted territory this past week, not because the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing a subpoena but because the party’s top members declared a “constitutional crisis” had arrived.
“We are now in a constitutional crisis,” said Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who characterized the Trump administration as “lawless” for refusing to comply with several congressional inquiries into the president that were mounted by Democrats.
These five freshmen disagreed with this declaration of a crisis, and cautioned colleagues who may wish to take drastic measures, including impeachment.
Despite claims of a consitutional crisis, Democratic House leadership has so far tamped down calls from progressive rank-and-file members to begin impeachment proceedings, with Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly saying Trump is “not worth it.” Instead, Pelosi and other leaders advise continuing to conduct oversight and investigate the Trump administration.
“I do not think that we are in a constitutional crisis at this time,” Houlahan said. “I do think that we are heading that way, and I think that we need to be very sober and deliberative about how we approach this as a Congress and as a nation. I’m pleased to see that we are being sober about that and we are being deliberate about the process.” Source
Rep Chrissy Houlahan
May 10, 2019
May 9, 2019
Why the Media Should Focus on All Women in Office—Not Just AOC
L-R) Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa), and Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) join with other newly elected members of the House of Representatives for an official class photo of new House members at the U.S. Capitol on November 14, 2018. Win McNamee/Getty Images
Heard of Chrissy Houlahan? Of course not. Does the name Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ring a bell? Probably not. Veronica Escobar, Angie Craig, Jahana Hayes… never heard of them. But you’ve definitely heard of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortezand Rep. Ilhan Omar. All seven were women elected to Congress in 2018 for the first time, yet only two seem to get any attention. The question is why.
If you’re Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ilhan Omar, your opinion on everything is covered, from the Green New Deal to Venezuela to whether or not to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt. But if you’re Elaine Luria or Elissa Slotkin, getting someone to notice you, much less interview you, isn’t going to be so easy. Or at least it seems that way.
To test this, I looked at the number of Google hits each Democratic female freshman representative gets with the prefix “Rep.” in front, so Katie Hill and Katie Porter aren’t mistaken for someone else, with the names in quotes. And it’s not too hard to see who’s getting all of the attention.
Rep. Ilhan Omar leads the way with 2.777 million Google hits, followed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with 2.58 million Google hits. Combined, these two ladies get more than 81.5 percent of all of the coverage that the others get. The next two, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (who usually makes the news defending Omar) and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, combined, get more than 500,000 Google hits. The other 31 freshmen Democratic women elected to Congress account for less than 10 percent of the remaining Google attention combined.
It’s not as if these other women don’t have intriguing background stories. They have exciting pre-Congressional careers, ranging from business executives and CIA agents to doctors, USAF officers and mixed-martial artists. There are all kinds of trailblazers, from the first African-American elected to a district, or even in the state, the first Ecuadoran-American and Native Americans making history. They’re like an army of Captain Marvels. But somehow, those intriguing stories just get ignored.
And it’s not like these women are sitting around Capitol Hill doing nothing. Each is busy working on issues of interest and help to the country, whether you agree with the issue or not. You can find Rep. Cynthia Axne focused on flood relief, and Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota trying to improve bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. Rep. Sharice Davids is trying to lower prescription drug prices, while Rep. Madeleine Dean is covering exposure to toxic chemicals. You’ll find Rep. Veronica Escobar hard at work on immigration reform, and Rep. Abby Finkenauer focused on biodiesel. Worried about rising sea levels and chemical fires? So are Reps. Lizzie Fletcher and Sylvia Garcia.
Then there’s Rep. Debra Haaland, hard at work on unifying National Heritage Areas, while Rep. Jahana Hayes is handling the arming teachers battle. Rep. Katie Hill is trying to reform health care, while Rep. Kendra Horn is on the case for net neutrality. Climate change is on Rep. Chrissy Houlahan’s radar, while Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is studying the Douglas, Arizona port of entry. Rep. Susie Lee is focused on school funding, while Rep. Elaine Luria wants Gold Star family tax issue reform. Rep. Lucy McBath wants changes to gun laws, while Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell wants green infrastructure projects. Rep. Katie Porter is locking horns with Wall Street executives, as Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon tries to save Boeing jobs in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Climate bills are what Rep. Kim Schrier is tackling, among other subjects, as fellow Rep. Donna Shalala returns to politics from academia, looking into cigarettes and age requirements. Rep. Mikie Sherrill is trying to protect Planned Parenthood, while Rep. Elissa Slotkin is zeroing in on the ALERT Act and Russian interference. There’ll be improvements in rural broadband if Rep. Abigail Spanberger can get the legislation through Congress. Reform will come to military courts if Rep. Haley Stevens has her say; Rep. Xochitl Torres Small has Homeland Security concerns on her to do list; and Rep. Lori Trahan is trying to help the Merrimack River region. Rep. Lauren Underwood hopes to call attention to business security, while rising costs of diabetes medication has come under scrutiny thanks to Rep. Jennifer Wexton. And Rep. Susan Wild is looking for new ways to provide pay equity.
So why is there this lack of attention?
You could blame Republicans for focusing all of their attacks on Reps. Ocasio-Cortez and Omar, making the two of them the face of the Democratic Party. By the way, there were two women elected as Republicans as part of the freshmen class of 2018, and the Google hits for both (Rep. Debbie Lesko and Rep. Carol Miller) are as small as most of the Democratic women in Congress. You might chide the Democratic Party for not putting more of these faces forward as the future of the party.
But some of the reason for this disparity in attention has to go to the news media. It’s easier to seek out the same candidates, and get their take on every issue, than it is to research these 30 or more women in Congress and find out what they think. Their views also may not be as extreme, and most seem to be a pretty bipartisan bunch seeking solutions over controversy. I suppose some reading this article will blame the women for not doing more to call attention to themselves. But does a politician deserve more attention for saying the most outlandish things, or for getting the job done?
Perhaps that thinking should change. And that’s why I did this analysis and researched all of those articles, hyperlinking them for your convenience, and maybe pointing out for others in the media that there’s more than just the same two or four women who joined Congress last year. Hopefully this data will change that thinking about a fair share of coverage.
John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia—read his full bio here. Source
April 27, 2019
Rep. Chrissy Houlahan On Impeachment
NPR’s Scott Simon asks Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Pa., about how her constituents feel about impeaching President Trump.
SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
A new poll suggests much of the American public just doesn’t trust President Trump. It’s by The Washington Post and ABC News and says 58% of Americans feel the president lied to the public about the matters that Robert Mueller investigated. Forty-seven percent say his interference in the process amounts to obstruction of justice, but only 37% favor starting the impeachment process. Should Democrats push that question? Representative Chrissy Houlahan is a Democrat from Pennsylvania serving her first term and joins us now. Representative Houlahan, thanks so much for being with us.
CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Thank you so much for having me.
SIMON: Do you want Congress to begin the impeachment process?
HOULAHAN: So I think that that’s a complicated answer and we should all, frankly, regardless of our party, be worried about the security of the election process and the unanswered questions that I think we don’t have from the redacted report that we have. So I think Congress’ job, frankly, is to continue to explore and investigate. That is one of our constitutional responsibilities as oversight, along with, of course, legislating and appropriating. And I think that we can do all three effectively. And so I think we have, as a result of the report, more questions than we have answers, and it’s our responsibility to continue to ask questions.
SIMON: What do you say to those people who say, look; the information on the record now, to their minds, suggests that the president behaved, if not illegally, certainly immorally and unethically?
HOULAHAN: And I think that that’s why we as a Congress have a responsibility to convene and to have, you know, investigative hearings to make sure that we understand Mueller himself and for Barr himself and from an unredacted report itself exactly what happened and what has transpired. But importantly, while that’s all going on, the business of Congress is also to legislate and appropriate. And something that I think is frustrating for people like me is that it’s fully only a third of our Congress that is busy in the business of oversight and the remaining two-thirds of us are in the business of making sure that we’re getting the work of the people of Pennsylvania and the country done. You know, worrying about those kitchen table and bread-and-butter issues is what most of us spend the majority of our time working on.
SIMON: Well – and but I still have to tirelessly come back to the impeachment question.
HOULAHAN: (Laughter) Sure.
SIMON: As you know, it wasn’t a surprise when we asked you to be on our show.
HOULAHAN: Of course.
SIMON: Six in 10 Democrats, according to that same poll, want to initiate impeachment proceedings. What – do you tell them just to hold on?
HOULAHAN: I think that – and I’m a non-lawyer. I’m one of the few non-lawyers in Congress and one of the best ways it was described to me that I felt very comfortable with is it’s our responsibility as a Congress to effectively explore so much so that we get to the point where we are effectively indicting and that it’s our responsibility to pass that along to the Senate who is in charge of trying and, if appropriate, then sentencing. And I think that we don’t have enough evidence at this point to indict. And so we need to carefully, deliberately and soberly explore the evidence that we have.
SIMON: And finally, what about the argument that Congress has a responsibility to history, and to the future, to make some kind of judgment?
HOULAHAN: And I think that’s what we’re doing. And, listen; we take this responsibility very gravely. I had the opportunity to participate on a call with all of my fellow colleagues about this proceeding and how we were going to proceed, and I was really struck by the soberness of that call. This is an historical moment that we sit at, and we are taking this responsibility very seriously and being as deliberative as we can because we understand the consequences if we get it wrong.
SIMON: Chrissy Houlahan, Democrat from Pennsylvania – thanks so much for being with us, Representative Houlahan.
HOULAHAN: You’re very welcome. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. Source
April 22, 2019
House bill looks to get smaller federal contractors paid more quickly
April 20, 2019
Park University spearheads effort of Congress-Led Systematic Review of minorities being denied Medal of Honor
PARKVILLE — The U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have introduced separate bills to require the systematic review of minority veterans who served in World War I.
Park University has been the driving force behind the bipartisan bills introduced in Congress on April 10 (H.R.2249) and April 11 (S.1218).
The Valor Medals Review is being conducted by the university’s George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War and the Valor Medals Review Task Force, which was formed in August 2018 in conjunction with the Foundation for the Commemoration of the World Wars on behalf of the U.S. World War I Centennial Commission.
The legislation, if signed into law, will require the Department of Defense to carry out a systematic review of select members of the U.S. Armed Forces, who, in spite of valorous deeds, may have been denied the Medal of Honor due to race.
The bills also waive the statute of limitations associated with any cases identified by the review, authorizing the award of a Medal of Honor to any individuals identified by the DOD in the study.
To be eligible for the review, a veteran must have received a Distinguished Service Cross and/or received/been recommended for a Medal of Honor or the French Croix de Guerre with palm.
Additionally, the veteran must be African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American, Jewish-American or Native American.
With the exception of Native Americans, this criteria is based exactly on existing precedent used by Congress since the beginning of the systematic reviews in the 1990s.
Though excluded by the World War II and later reviews, Native Americans are included in this review as their World War I service predates the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 (also known as the Snyder Act).
The Valor Medals Review Task Force is comprised of volunteer scholars and veterans prepared to complete the records collection phase of the project using private donations, precluding the need for government appropriation to finance the most costly and time-consuming aspects of the effort.
In its first eight months of operation, the Task Force has been endorsed by the two largest veteran service organizations in the nation — the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars — as well as by more than a dozen other veteran and military service organizations, the grandson of Alvin Cullum York (known as Sergeant York) and three retired flag officers.
The VMRTF’s research team is chaired by Timothy Westcott, Ph.D., associate professor of history at Park University and director of Park’s George S. Robb Centre for the Study of the Great War, and Jeffrey Sammons, Ph.D., professor of history at New York University.
The Centre’s namesake, a 1912 Park University graduate, was a white officer in the “Harlem Hellfighters” (the mostly black 369th Regiment of New York), a World War I hero and a 1919 Medal of Honor recipient.
Despite comprising two combat divisions, including the “Harlem Hellfighters,” which logged more combat days and casualties than any other American regiment, none of the more than 367,000 African-Americans soldiers who served in the World War I received the Medal of Honor.
The House of Representatives bill, which has been referred to the House Committee on Armed Services,is sponsored by J. French Hill, (R-Arkansas), and co-sponsored by Emanuel Cleaver (D-Missouri), Sam Graves, (R-Missouri) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pennsylvania).
The Senate bill, which has been referred to the Senate Committee on Armed Services, is sponsored by Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland), and co-sponsored by Roy Blunt (R-Missouri), Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut), Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) and Tim Scott (R-South Carolina). Source
April 15, 2019
Rep Chrissy Houlahan
We founded the For Country Caucus because we as veterans believe we can work together to heal this country. For us, country comes before politics. Happy to speak withRep. Jimmy Panetta, Congressman Don Bacon, and Representative Michael Waltz about our caucus and the work ahead.
April 15, 2019
Houlahan promotes VA health care for women
U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Chester County Democrat, and 33 other members of Congress (28 fellow Democrats and five Republicans) signed a letter sent last week to the secretaries of the Army and Navy requesting that the two branches pursue full participation in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Women’s Health Transition Assistance, a pilot program that is currently fully implemented by the Air Force; Houlahan is an Air Force veteran. The mission of the program is to inform women transitioning out of active duty service about the VA’s services, including gender-specific care available.
Female veterans face different health-related challenges, including depression, chronic pain and obesity, compared to their male counterparts, the letter said.
The age-adjusted suicide rate for female veterans is nearly two times higher than the rate for civilian women according to the VA, yet for women using Veterans Health Administration services, there is no statistical difference with civilian women.
“With this in mind, it is especially alarming that women veterans do not connect with VA services until an average of 2.7 years after separating from the military,” the letter said.
The program is in its pilot phase. Of the nearly 300 women who have participated, 99 percent would recommend the course to others and 80 percent have agreed to post-course follow-up. Post-course survey data indicate a 56 percent improvement in awareness among participants of women’s health services at the VHA. Further, there was an increase of 13.1 percent in intent to enroll in the VA, an increase of 15.6 percent in intent to use VA health care services, and an increase of 19.3 percent in intent to use VA suicide prevention services, if needed.
“As a veteran, I understand the unique challenges our servicewomen face when they are transitioning to civilian life after serving our country,” Houlahan said. Source
April 13, 2019
100 Days into the new Congress, we’re bringing change to Washington | Opinion
By Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Susan Wild
Last November, Pennsylvanians from Philadelphia to Erie held a referendum on the type of government they want. With fairly drawn, constitutionally legitimate Congressional districts, voters ushered in a new, more diverse era of representation.
Only a year ago, our Commonwealth was represented solely by men. Today, we four women are proud to embody the change Pennsylvania wanted in Congress.
We know the voters of Southeastern Pennsylvania did not send us to Washington to join the partisan fray or perpetuate the status quo of putting special interests before people. Pennsylvanians voted for change, and we have both the honor and responsibility to serve the families and communities of this region first.
We will not forget the overwhelming demands for change in Congress, and in our country, that we heard while running. We came to Washington to restore ethics and civility to our government, protect access to quality, affordable healthcare, and take on tough fights, like reducing gun violence and combating climate change.
In our first 100 days, we have made progress in each of these areas, together.
One of our first challenges was passing H.R.1, an electoral reforms package meant to put the power of our democracy back in the hands of the people. Despite pushback from special interest groups, we passed this legislation, voting to limit the influence of dark money in our politics, make voting more accessible, and tighten government ethics standards.
Unfortunately, our first weeks in office were clouded by a senseless government shutdownand continued efforts to dismantle the healthcare that millions of Americans rely on – so our first votes were on bills to reopen the government and protect the Affordable Care Act from a Texas lawsuit.
Invalidating the Affordable Care Act would mean enormous harm to Southeastern Pennsylvanians who rely on the ACA for coverage – especially for those with pre-existing conditions.
Another issue near the top of our region and country’s priorities is curbing gun violence.
An average of 35,000 people die of gun violence each year, and in the last six years alone, firearms have claimed the lives of 3,930 people in our region. Students, families, and entire communities are at risk, and change is long overdue.
Together, we joined the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, and for the first time in more than two decades, the House passed major gun safety legislation, requiring universal background checks and closing the Charleston loophole.
These last 100 days have been busy, and the next 100 will be no different. In the coming months, we will continue to stand up for our constitutional and democratic values, defend voting rights, and protect Americans from discrimination.
We will also continue to develop thoughtful, forward-looking legislation to address rising prescription drug costs, our national infrastructure, and climate change.
We are individuals – each of us with a unique set of core values – but we approach this work in a shared spirit of optimism and possibility.
In Congress, we seek to strengthen our civic institutions, amplify our constituents’ voices, and build a more decent, humane, caring society. That’s why our constituents sent us to Washington, and that’s what the best of our American tradition is about.
All Democrats, U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, 4th District; Mary Gay Scanlon, 5th District; Chrissy Houlahan, 6th-District, and Susan Wild, 7th-District, represent Pennsylvania in the U.S. House of Representatives. They write from Washington D.C. Source
April 6, 2019
Bonded by Service, Freshman Veteran Democrats Are an Occasional Thorn in Their Party’s Side
WASHINGTON — They huddle together on the House floor, conferring over what to do on a tough vote. They exchange group texts to consult on legislation and plan for the (increasingly rare) after-work drink, often with Bitmojis that capture their mood that day. They are frequently spotted walking together on Capitol Hill, huddled in what seems like an endless inside joke.
Their backgrounds in the military, where nonpartisanship is key, have also made them among the most moderate members of a caucus in which there is increasing pressure to slide firmly to the left on various policy issues.
“I don’t know how I would be here without them,” said Representative Chrissy Houlahan, Democrat of Pennsylvania and a former Air Force officer. “Each of us has broken with the party for different reasons,” she said, adding, “It’s nice to have a smaller group to talk to about what this all means.”
Often, they are among a handful of Democrats to vote with Republicans on politically charged “gotcha” measures that the majority had routinely rejected out of hand, in one crucial case helping pass a gun bill targeting undocumented immigrants.
Knowing that they were critical to delivering the House back to their party, the veterans seem unbowed, for now, to pressures from some Democrats to adhere to party lines. Many of them did not back Nancy Pelosi for House speaker, and she has repeatedly begged Democrats not to vote with Republicans on what she views as essentially nuisance measures.
“The speaker’s office is inordinately powerful, and we have to work really hard to make this body egalitarian,” said Representative Max Rose, Democrat of New York, who was a platoon leader in Afghanistan. “The freshmen want to reduce seniority power, and the vets are leading that effort.”
Most had never run for office before, but said they were inspired by a sense of chaos in government and an erosion of faith in public institutions. While their transitions have been at times tense — the military notion of mission over ego as well as a preference for punctual meetings and clear lines of authority do not always translate well on Capitol Hill — these lawmakers are a cornerstone of the Democratic Party’s strategy to maintain the House in 2020.
“There’s no question those veterans and service members were central to our work to build a Democratic majority,” said Cole Leiter, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, “and their relentless focus on service has better prepared this Democratic caucus to work for their constituents.”
These members spent quite a bit of time getting to know one another during the campaign, largely through the Serve America PAC started by Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, who was among the first troops in Baghdad in 2003.
“When I ran in 2014 against a nine-term incumbent, there was no member of Congress who would even speak with me,” Mr. Moulton said. “So I wanted to create that team for the amazing candidates who were running this time. What was important was building these relationships. They could call or text me at all hours of the night if they needed advice or something. We set up a Slack channel so that we could communicate more as a group.”
Once in Washington, the group immediately gravitated toward one another on bills and other legislative matters. “It’s the trust factor,” said Elissa Slotkin, Democrat of Michigan and a former C.I.A. analyst who served three tours in Iraq. “If Max Rose or Elaine Luria comes to me and says, ‘I’m doing this bill. Do you want to do it?’ they aren’t going to twist the issue and play it for their own advantages,” she said, referring to freshman veterans. “We made the choice to focus on Congress and made Congress like a mission.”
Veterans are also prone to seeking one another out across the aisle. Mr. Moulton, who served in the Marines, and Representative Brian Mast, a veteran and Republican from Florida, worked to bring together both parties on a conservation bill that pleased environmentalists and commercial fishermen alike.
They can often be seen sliding across the aisle to sit with Republican veterans on the House floor, like Representatives Jim Baird of Indiana and Will Hurd of Texas. “We have a bias toward action because we all served in the trenches in an organization that is apolitical,” Mr. Hurd said. “We knew each other’s ethos.”
The women, who have called themselves “the badass women,” exchange group text messages and make special efforts to get together for dinner and talk during the week. Representative Abigail Spanberger, Democrat of Virginia and a former C.I.A. operations officer, had recently finished a tough town-hall-style meeting — among the more taxing, if vital, undertakings of lawmakers — and turned to the group for a lift. “She was having a down moment,” Ms. Slotkin said. “So there was a text chain, and we all told her, ‘You’re awesome!’” and other messages of buoyancy, she said.
Ms. Spanberger said they also tried to keep a light tone on their group texts, endlessly razzing — about Ms. Sherrill’s eternal obsession with the Gateway tunnel project in her home state, Mr. Rose’s incandescent speeches on the floor, the way their hair looked in a photograph accompanying this article. They share funny travel anecdotes from the road and videos of their children singing. “We had all come from places with really stressful environments,” Ms. Spanberger said, “so as stressful as the campaigns were, we had a perspective.”
In the difficult transition to Washington, they are often one another’s lifeboat. “It’s just implicit that you have each other’s back,” said Representative Jason Crow, Democrat of Colorado who served as an Army captain. “That’s rare in this town.” Source
April 4, 2019
US Rep Chrissy Houlahan
There have been many reports of mold, lead, vermin, and more in privatized military housing. Today, I asked Defense officials about this very issue. When “we recruit the individual, we retain the family.” I am third generation military. I know that when we talk about service members, we need to also talk about the families. I spent the last few years focusing on early childhood literacy. We know that kids under 6 who are exposed to things like lead and mold experience significant developmental delays.This is a crisis that’s harming families/children of those serving their country. I will continue to push Defense on how to address those who have already been affected by this epidemic and how we will work together to prevent it from happening again.
March 30, 2019
Democratic moderates seize the momentum from progressives
Party leaders steer Democrats back toward center
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer laid down a marker in his speech last weekend to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference.
“By the way, there are 62 freshman Democrats,” the Maryland congressman, departing from his prepared text, said to the room of pro-Israel activists. “Do you hear me? Sixty-two, not three.”
The adlib was a signal that Democratic leadership, just a few months in power, were making a change.
The trio of freshmen Hoyer was apparently referring to are Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Ilhan Omar, who as much as anyone have used their social media savvy to tap into progressive voter enthusiasm, and push lofty — and perhaps unattainable — policy goals: guaranteeing everyone has health insurance and a job, overhauling the economy to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, making college tuition free, and of course, impeaching President Donald Trump.
But as much as the young progressives have defined the early stage of the current House majority, it’s clear the momentum has shifted as party leaders try to steer Democrats back toward the center.
Recent developments have revealed the limits of the star power of Ocasio-Cortez and company. Republicans are ridiculing the Green New Deal and casting the Democrats as socialists. Rather than adopting sweeping reforms, House Democratic leaders are putting forward bills that make incremental changes to health care and push for the more modest goals of the Paris Climate Accords. And the idea of impeaching the President is all but dead at this point. The leading voice on impeachment, Tlaib, got just one co-sponsor for her renewed resolution.
If that wasn’t a clear enough signal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi effectively buried the notion of impeachment in recent comments. “I’ve made it really clear on impeachment,” Pelosi told CNN Wednesday. “Everybody can do whatever they want to do but that’s not a place where we are right now.”
The conclusion of the Mueller investigation presents a challenge for those Democrats who counted on it bringing down Trump. But it’s also a chance for the caucus’ moderates to refocus the conversation in Washington on a more center-left policy agenda. That certainly lacks the verve and appeal of the revolutionary changes put forth by the progressives, but it may be more doable and some would argue is more in keeping with the ballast of the party.
A fight for the future of the party
“I think the numbers speak loudly,” said freshman Rep. Mikie Sherrill, a self-described moderate from New Jersey. “I think leadership knows where the power in the party is at.”
Sherrill is one of the 43 Democrats who flipped a Republican-held seat in 2018. She’s also a part of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, which with 101 members (including 39 freshmen) is the largest ideological caucus in Congress.
But just behind the NDC in size is the Progressive Caucus, at 97 members. Some New Democrats are also in the Progressive Caucus, but for the most part the groups serve as distinct counterweights to each other.
Both caucuses represent huge blocs of votes. They also represent two distinct paths forward. The New Democrats comes across as a bit more focus-grouped, describing their agenda as “pro-business” and “solutions oriented,” with an emphasis on the kitchen-table issues of concern to suburban voters. Progressives, on the other hand, channel the enthusiasm and frustration of a younger, more radical cohort questioning aspects of the country’s underlying economic and social structures.
The fight over the future of the Democratic party is happening in the House, and while progressives seem to have lost the momentum for the moment, it remains to be seen whether moderates can take hold of the party’s message. Democratic success will depend on House leadership managing the fight and keeping both sides happy.
The New Democrats are confident the way forward for their party is to seek pragmatic policy solutions to longtime liberal agenda items.
“We caucus around issues of opportunity, entrepreneurism, pro-business but also pro-people, pro-planet,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, another freshman and NDC member. She calls the approach of her and like-minded members as “respective disruption.”
“I think that there is much to be said for vision and aspirational ideals. We should all have them,” Houlahan said. “But we should also have solutions that are tenable.”
The New Democrats aren’t likely to throw their weight behind the Green New Deal or Medicare for All, which could prevent either proposal from getting a vote on the House floor this session. Multiple staffers for moderate Democrats expressed their frustration at the way Ocasio-Cortez unveiled the Green New Deal, without much of a plan for defending it.
“Green New Deal is definitely a vision, and I understand why it’s appealing,” said Houlahan. What would the pro-environment moderates propose if not the Green New Deal? It’s not exactly clear. Houlahan said that the solution for climate change is a “beautiful tree” made of more practical proposals.
“Some of it have to do with energy, some have to do with agriculture, some have to do with health care, some have to do with education, and all of those things together are the real green deal, the thing that will really happen,” Houlahan said.
A suburban majority
Sherrill says she won last fall by campaigning on shoring up the Affordable Care Act, undoing the new cap on state and local tax deductions, and funding more infrastructure — priorities she says she shares with her fellow New Democrats.
When asked what the top priority of his group’s members is for the current Congress, NDC chairman Derek Kilmer of Washington said health care, then added infrastructure as a close second.
“We have 40 freshman members, and most of them ran on health care,” Kilmer said.
Sherrill is one of those who campaigned on stabilizing the Affordable Care Act, which she argued had been gutted by the Republican Congress. Winning in the suburbs of northern New Jersey meant pressing forward on these economic issues while also avoiding being pulled too far to the left. Her district leans Republican, and she was among those Democratic candidates who vowed not to vote for Pelosi for speaker.
Candidates like Sherrill, say moderate Democrats, are who gave the party control of the House.
It is a suburban majority,” said a senior adviser to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats’ political arm. An agenda that speaks to the suburbs, not just to the party’s progressive grassroots, is what moderates say is what will keep Democrats in power.
‘Incrementalism won’t suffice’
But progressives aren’t going down without a fight. “I’m on the side of ambition in general,” Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan told CNN. “I’m someone who believes in Medicare for All. I’m someone who believes in rapid, comprehensive efforts to deal with our warming climate. Incrementalism won’t suffice.”
Two leaders in the Progressive Caucus, Omar and Rep. Ro Khanna of California, said Medicare for All should make it into the House Democratic budget, even if it makes moderates in the party uncomfortable. “They have the right to vote against it,” said Khanna. “We should pull up what we believe in, what a lot of our presidential candidates are running on, and people can vote.”
The moderates so far aren’t swayed. When asked if she supports Medicare for All, Houlahan shook her head. “I’m trying to get the business of the people done, and right now I believe, collectively in this Congress, the progress that can be made is to work to get the Affordable Care Act to work the way it’s supposed to work,” she said. Sherrill is also opposed to Medicare for All.
“That doesn’t mean we can’t get some good ideas” from the proposal, she said.
Next up: a budget battle
The true test will come if and when House Democrats lay out a statement of the party’s priorities in a federal budget proposal.
Torn between factions fighting over taxes, defense spending, health care and environmental proposals, House Democrats may not even vote on their own budget proposal this year, House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth of Kentucky told CNN. With 235 members, House Democratic leaders can only afford to lose 17 members in passing a partisan budget resolution.
“We’ve got moderates who don’t want to vote for any revenue increase, we’ve got liberals who either want us to spend more or want to cut defense and so forth,” said Yarmuth. “It’s just a hard path.”
At a news conference earlier this month, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the co-chair of the Progressive Caucus and the lead sponsor of Medicare for All, said her group would be releasing its own budget — no matter what.
“We intend to put forward our values,” she said. Source
March 26, 2019
Philly-area members of Congress give Green New Deal mixed reviews
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Green New Deal, a progressive economic stimulus proposal, has sparked a lot of conversation and controversy since its introduction in early February. But reaction from members of Congress in the Philadelphia region is mixed.
Most say the Green New Deal is too wide-ranging to result in real change. And some, such as U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew from South Jersey, are opposed because it’s a non-binding resolution.
“While it may be well intentioned, and certainly climate change is something we all have to be concerned about, I think it is such a radical alteration of society as we know it in the United States of America, and even globally, that I think it’s too much, too fast,” Van Drew said.
In addition to pushing for 100-percent renewable, zero-emissions energy, the proposal also calls for guaranteeing jobs that can support families, including full health care, paid vacations and retirement security.
U.S. Rep. Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, D-Chester County, has co-sponsored Rep. Ted Lieu’s Climate Change Solutions Act. That bill, from the Republican California congressman, calls for reducing green house emissions and moving to 100-percent renewable energy by 2025.
“It takes the things that are weak about the Green New Deal, in terms of it being non-binding, and makes it binding,” Houlahan said. “It takes some of the aspirational aspects of the Green New Deal that are maybe unattainable in terms of timeline and puts a realistic time line on it.”
Lieu’s act calls for 100-percent renewable energy by 2035 and creates a national energy efficiency standard.
Congressman Brendan Boyle, D-Philadelphia, says the time is ripe for the Green New Deal. He is one of 90 co-sponsors of the measure.
“It does set a series of very ambitious goals,” he said, “more than anything, to attempt to start us on the path of combating this problem.”
He says, just because the effects of climate change will be more apparent down the road, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t address it now.
“It obscures the fact that if we are really going to prevent this from happening, we have to start right now,” Boyle said. “We are seeing climate change today. 2018 was one of the most expensive years for dealing with insurance costs and rebuild costs of weather-affected disasters.” Source
March 18, 2019
San Francisco Chronicle
Border wall could siphon aircraft, submarine project money
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Members of Congress say the Department of Defense tells them that congressionally approved money for four projects in Pennsylvania are at risk of being diverted by the Trump administration to help finance a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
The offices of Sen. Bob Casey and Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, both Democrats, said Monday that the department listed $71 million for a submarine propeller manufacturing facility in Philadelphia and almost $18 million to expand Pittsburgh’s Air Force Reserve station.
There’s also $8 million for facilities at Fort Indiantown Gap, the National Guard training center near Harrisburg, and $5 million for road improvements at Conneaut Lake Army Reserve Center.
Casey and Houlahan had asked for the information last month. The White House has said the border project would receive $3.6 billion that Congress originally provided for military construction projects. Source
March 13, 2019
Representative Houlahan Protects Our Dreamers and Co-Sponsors Dream and Promise Act of 2019
WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) joined fellow Members of Congress to introduce H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act of 2019. This bill protects from deportation and provides legal permanent residence for people in the United States under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA or “Dreamers”) and the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) humanitarian programs.
“I am proud to co-sponsor the Dream and Promise Act of 2019,” said Houlahan. “Dreamers are essential members of our communities who were brought here through no fault of their own and know no other home. Many of them contribute to our local economy as teachers, medical professionals, business owners, members of the military, and taxpayers. This bill will allow them and recipients of TPS and DED to stay in our country with permanent legal status. It is time for us to act and strengthen our country by fixing our broken immigration system.”
This bill would provide a pathway to citizenship for eligible Dreamers who entered the U.S. under the age of 18 and who were continuously present in the U.S. for 4 years prior to the date of the bill’s enactment. Dreamers would be provided conditional permanent resident status and would need to fulfill an education, employment, or military track to adjust to permanent resident status.
In addition, this bill would secure permanent residency for people with TPS and DED. On average, TPS recipients have lived in the United States for 20 years, building a new life for themselves and their families. Similarly, DED recipients have lived in the United States and contributed to their communities since 2007.
Representative Houlahan supports comprehensive immigration reform that would strengthen our national security by investing in border security technology and personnel, that helps our economy, and that is consistent with our American values. Granting legal status to Dreamers and TPS and DED holders is a step towards that goal.
Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She’s in her first term representing Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee. Source
March 15, 2019
Congressman Dunn Responds to Questionable Comments About Tyndall’s Future
BAY COUNTY, Fla. – With the rebuilding Tyndall Air Force Base after the storm, many were shocked when a California congressman suggested that maybe it shouldn’t be restored.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives held a hearing about military installations and operations in response to climate changes.
For a couple of representatives, Tyndall’s placement and rebuild are in question.
Representative Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat from Pennsylvania said, “should we be more proactive in the sense of not maybe placing training bases in the Panhandle of Florida and maybe putting them somewhere the weather may be more temperant and more realistic. More days available for training.”
California’s Democrat Representative John Gramendi said, “it is in harm’s way now. It has been in the past and it will be in the future. And the question that this committee is asking — and we will expect an answer from the air force — does it make any sense to rebuild at that place?”
Local representative Neal Dunn spoke to News13 on Friday in Panama City and said the comments were misguided.
“Sometimes elected officials make comments off the cuff that simply are misleading and wrong,” said Dunn.
He says this is just an example of that. “These kind of comments are irresponsible and just wrong. And they just didn’t understand the missions that are based here and how vital these missions are. We control and cover and protect the airspace over California right here in Bay County.”
Dunn says Tyndall will be back and the government is committed to rebuilding the base.
Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz released this statement to News13 on Friday:
“Restoring Tyndall is a priority for the Air Force. As I said during my visit to Tyndall last month, I will make rebuilding Tyndall a priority as the Chair of the Military Construction/VA Appropriations subcommittee in Congress.” Source
U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan
March 14, 2019
I rise for my Molly. For my fellow #LGBTQ Americans. For my community, the Pennsylvanian Sixth. As the proud mother of a gay daughter, I am honored to co-sponsor the Equality Act. To the LGBTQ community, I say this: You will not be left behind.
March 12, 2019
After overcoming shyness, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan found that friendships are key to success in public service
Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) has had lot of different titles. Trained as an engineer, Houlahan served in the Air Force, and taught chemistry in Philadelphia as a member of Teach for America. She’s run several companies—an education-focused nonprofit, a basketball apparel company, and an organization that certifies companies with a mission for social good. Now Houlahan has a new title to add to her list: congresswoman. Houlahan serves on the House’s Armed Services Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee.
What have you learned though your career in public service that you wish you had known from the very beginning?
In hindsight, my advice to my younger self would have been to be less shy and take myself just a little bit less seriously! I grew up in a Navy family and got used to moving to a new school at the end of every year. That drove me to focus more on my studies, sometimes at the cost of building more close friendships. In the years since then, I’ve heard from many of the people who I went to school with, and they are consistently really kind and interesting. I wish I had gotten to know them better in my earlier years!
What were you told that you wish you hadn’t listened to?
As for bad advice, I’ve told my daughters for years to watch out anytime someone tells you “don’t worry your pretty little head.” It often means pay attention because trouble may be coming.
This story is part of How We’ll Win in 2019, a year-long exploration of workplace gender equality. Source
March 8, 2019
Rep. Houlahan on House anti-bigotry resolution, DNC decision to bar Fox News from hosting primary debate
Americans should have access to a ‘free and unfettered press,’ says Pennsylvania Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, Democratic member of the House Armed Services Committee.
View video of Houlahan on Fox News here
Representative Houlahan Votes for H.R. 1 and Passes Her First Amendment
March 8, 2019
WASHINGTON – Today, Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-06) voted for H.R. 1, the For the People Act of 2019. The bill passed the House with 234 votes. Included in H.R. 1 is an amendment by Rep. Houlahan requiring that States provide for ten hours of early voting per day for the 15 days prior to election day, increasing access to the ballot box for all eligible voters.
“Currently, my constituents in Pennsylvania have no access to early voting and have absentee restrictions on voting by mail,” said Houlahan. “This bill will introduce early voting and vote by mail to all 50 states, which greatly help working families who may have trouble voting around their work schedules on election day. Expanding access to early voting, especially in Pennsylvania, is a key component to bringing government back to the people by helping people with inflexible hours or people who work shifts exercise their right to vote. With H.R. 1 and my amendment, we are taking a big step to returning us to government of, by, and for the people.”
Houlahan is an Air Force veteran, an engineer, a serial entrepreneur, an educator, and a nonprofit leader. She’s in her first term representing Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District, which encompasses Chester County and southern Berks County. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and the House Small Business Committee. Source
February 27, 2019
Ex-Rep. Costello: GOP should support gun bill
Former Chester County Congressman Ryan Costello is urging his one-time Republican Party colleagues in the House of Representatives to support a bill mandating universal gun background checks that may be voted on this week.
In an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post on Sunday, Costello and former U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida said they viewed the bill, authored by House Democrats, to be both “common sense” and within the framework of the Second Amendment.
“If you watch a lot of cable news or subscribe to National Rifle Association newsletters, you would be forgiven for believing that gun safety vs. believing in the Second Amendment is an either-or proposition,” the two moderate Republicans wrote. “The truth is, the American people know that our right to protect our families goes hand in hand with laws that help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
“The Bipartisan Background Checks Act is not only consistent with the Second Amendment; it’s also as common-sense as any piece of legislation we voted on during our combined eight years in Congress,” Costello and Curbelo ssid, referring to HB 8, which may come up for a vote as early as today.
The two men, who forged a close working relationship during Costello’s two terms in Congress, said that what HB 8 would do “is simple.
“It would require a background check for every gun sale — not just for sales by licensed dealers, as the Brady Act has required since it went into effect in 1994, but also for unlicensed sales between strangers who meet online or at gun shows. It is a common-sense way to fully carry out the spirit of that existing federal law,” they wrote. “This legislation is firmly in line with Republican principles. It’s a way to enforce existing laws and to make good on our talk about increasing public safety.”
“This bill doesn’t take away anyone’s guns, create a firearms registry or threaten the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens. It simply ensures that people who would fail a background check if they attempted to buy a gun from a licensed dealer in a brick-and-mortar store can’t go to an unlicensed online seller to buy a gun without the check.
“And make no mistake, people who cannot pass a background check are trying to arm themselves through online sales: A recent Everytown for Gun Safety investigation into the online gun marketplace in Florida found that 1 in 7 people trying to buy guns from unlicensed sellers on Armslist.com would fail a background check.”
Both men are members of the Everytown for Gun Safety organization.
If signed into law, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act would represent a critical step at a time when more and more Americans are touched by gun violence, and when people’s anger with Washington dysfunction is at an all-time high, the said.
U.S. Rep Chrissy Houlahan, R-6th, of Easttown, who succeeded Costello in representing the county in Congress, said she fully supports the background check legislation and has signed onto it as a co-sponsor.
“Like many in my community I support common sense safety measures that this Congress must act on to reduce gun violence in our communities,” Houlahan said in a released statement. “I am proud to co-sponsor H.R.8, a bipartisan background checks bill that protects the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping firearms out of the hands of those who intend to do harm.”
“We must take action now to curtail senseless gun violence,” Houlahan said.
The bill has made its way though the House in a rapid fashion. A key House committee approved the bill earlier this month, a first step by majority Democrats to tighten gun laws after eight years of Republican rule.
The House Judiciary Committee voted in favor of the bill 23-15, sending it to the House floor. If approved by the full House, the bill would be the most significant gun-control legislation approved by either chamber of Congress in at least a decade.
Democrats have pledged additional gun legislation, including restrictions on high-capacity magazines and a measure to allow temporary removal of guns from people deemed an imminent risk to themselves or others.
Fellow freshman Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th, of Glenside, said lawmakers “know background checks work, that they save lives, and yet we need to close loopholes” that allow some private purchases and transfers to be made without background checks.
But despite the excitement over the vote, the groups still face an uphill climb in seeing the bills become law.
The NRA strongly opposes the bill and has mobilized its members against it.
“So-called universal background checks will never be universal because criminals do not comply with the law,” Jennifer Baker, spokeswoman for the NRA, told The Hill.
Costello decided not to seek re-election to the House last year after growing weary of the hyper partisan political climate in Washington. He is currently working as managing director of Americans for Carbon Dividends, a climate change advocacy affiliate of the Climate Leadership Council.
Curbelo represented Florida’s 26th Congressional District from 2015 to 2019, but was defeated for re-election by a Democrat during last year’s mid-term elections. Source
February 21, 2019
These ‘pragmatic progressives’ may be the future of the Democratic Party
Correction: An earlier version of this column mischaracterized assistance that the group With Honor provided to Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Pa.) and other newly elected veterans. With Honor spent $14 million to support veterans of both parties last year but did not donate funds directly to the candidates. This version has been updated.
The left wing of the Democratic Party has been getting much of the media attention since the new Congress convened, overshadowing the rise of a group of young Democratic military and intelligence veterans who may prove more important for 2020 and beyond.
These pragmatic Democrats accounted for some of the flipped Republican seats that gave their party control of the House. The progressive wing of the party may be potent, but many of its victories came in reliably Democratic seats, such as the Bronx-Queens district in New York that elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a charismatic media favorite.
A good showcase for these new Democrats is the House Armed Services Committee. The Democrats installed 14 freshmen on the panel, nearly half of their party’s total membership. Seven have served in the military, Foreign Service or CIA, and 10 are women. If you’re looking for bright new faces in the Democratic Party, this may be the most compelling group snapshot.
“The media have chosen to focus on progressive members, I understand that,” says Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, one of the new Armed Services members and a former CIA officer with three tours in Iraq. “But when it comes to the 2020 presidential election, the voters in the states we must win are moderate, pragmatic voters.”
This informal Democratic caucus of veterans offers a partisan opportunity, to be sure. “This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to retake the flag for the Democratic Party,” argues Slotkin. “We can show that it’s not just the Republicans who are the party of patriotism and love of country.”
But the newly arrived veterans say they’re not an attack ad in uniform. “Service candidates are about country, not party,” says Rep. Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania, another new Armed Services member and former Air Force officer. “Now, when the country is broken, I hope the veterans can be healers.”
Look at the range of experience of young Democratic veterans who have joined Armed Services, in addition to Slotkin and Houlahan: Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado won a Bronze Star as an Army officer in Iraq and then served two tours as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan; Rep. Jared Golden of Maine was a combat Marine in Iraq and Afghanistan; Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey served in Afghanistan as a State Department adviser to Gen. David Petraeus; Rep. Elaine Luria of Virginia served 20 years in the Navy on combat ships; Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey was a Navy helicopter pilot.
This experience in war zones is precious because it breeds measured, skeptical judgment as well as patriotism. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), a third-term member of the committee who was a Marine platoon leader in Iraq, says he came back from that deployment with a “a sense of betrayal” by “people in Washington who bent the truth to send us there.” The veterans understand that there are limits to U.S. power, as well as benefits.
Moulton has pushed his fellow Democrats to recruit more young veterans to run for office. His Serve America political action committee raised $4.4 million to support Democratic Party veterans last year, and 10 of the 21 candidates he supported won their races.
Trump’s erratic foreign policy record offers Democrats a special chance, unless they move so far left that they lose credibility with the public. “We have a massive opportunity to lead on national security, because we have a reckless and irresponsible commander in chief,” contends Moulton.
For a dysfunctional Congress, the rise of young veterans in both parties is a hopeful sign. “Regardless of what side of the aisle we come from, we understand we’re here to serve,” says Houlahan. Like many other newly elected vets, she received support from With Honor, a bipartisan group that spent $14 million to support veterans from both parties last year.
Rye Barcott, who helped found With Honor, says the group backed 19 winning veterans, 10 Democrats and nine Republicans. Each candidate had to pledge to “bring civility to politics” and “collaborate across the aisle.” The recipients have started co-sponsoring legislation together, and they plan a bipartisan caucus of young vets.
Some commentators have been worrying that the Democratic Party’s leftward drift could tilt it so far out of the mainstream that the process helps reelect President Trump in 2020. But before pushing the panic button, wait a minute:
If you look carefully at the Democratic caucus in the House, the voices of the new members who’ve served overseas as military or intelligence officers — let’s call them the pragmatic progressives — may matter more to the party’s future than the attention-grabbers on the far left. Source
U.S. Representative Chrissy Houlahan
Februrary 17, 2019