May 28, 2019
America needs to ‘be the adult in the room’ with Iran, says House Democrat Houlahan
VIEW VIDEO here
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.
“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.
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
A bill introduced last week in the House of Representatives would accelerate payments to small businesses that do work for the federal government.
The Accelerated Payments for Small Business Act of 2019 would direct federal agencies to disburse payments within 15 days of receiving a proper invoice if a specific payment date is not established, rather than the current 30-day standard. The bill impacts only small businesses, defined as those have fewer than 500 employees.
David Glazier, owner and CEO of Alexandria-based Fleet Transportation, told the Washington Business Journal during the 35-day government shutdown that ended in January he had to front employee checks, as one of the company’s largest clients is a government agency.
At the time, he said a mechanism to more quickly distribute funds to contractors was necessary to avoid these types of payment delays.
“Comprising 99.9% of firms, small businesses are a driving force of the American economy, yet regularly struggle to make ends meet,” Rep. Troy Balderson, R-Ohio, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “This legislation will ensure small businesses have timely access to essential capital, helping these businesses pay their employees and foster growth.”
The Professional Services Council, an organization that represents businesses in the government services sector, came out strongly in favor of the legislation, calling it a “critical lifeline for small businesses who work in the federal market,” in a letter PSC Executive Vice President and Counsel Alan Chvotkin penned to the committee.
In fiscal year 2017, 23.9% of all federal contracting dollars went to small businesses, down from 24.3% in fiscal 2016 and 25.8% in fiscal 2015, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.
As of Monday afternoon, the bill, which has been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, has four cosponsors — Reps. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Penn., Jason Crow, D-Colo., Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, and Adriano Espaillat, D-New York. Source
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 with Rep. 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.
Among the 67 new Democrats in Congress, 10 served in the military or intelligence agencies, which has shaped a tight and quite visible bond. All defeated Republicans in arduous races last year, many in the 31 districts carried by President Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
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.”
During the government shutdown, Ms. Slotkin and Ms. Houlahan wrote a measure to protect federal workers in subsequent impasses. Representative Mikie Sherrill, Democrat of New Jersey and a former Navy helicopter pilot, seized on news coverage about problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs serving women and quickly got several veterans to sign on to a letter demanding the department secretary, Robert L. Wilkie, fix the system. The group has helped revive discussions about asserting the role of Congress in war authorization.
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
We just had a 3 week process that ended with Congress coming together to pass a bipartisan spending bill to fund the government and secure our borders that the President signed before he declared this #NationalEmergency
February 14, 2019
I am pleased that we were able to come together with a strong bipartisan, bicameral framework that will keep our government open, secure our borders, and make key investments in economic development, environmental protection, and infrastructure. This is how our government should work. I urge the President to sign this bipartisan compromise so we can effectively secure our borders. Declaring a national emergency is irresponsible, draws from funding already appropriated for other vital programs, puts an unnecessary strain on our troops, and could lead to unintended consequences for our national priorities. This is not how our government should work.
February 14, 2019
February 6, 2019
Proud to share the story of my #SOTU guest, Michelle Roberson, and her daughter, Bianca, who was tragically taken from us too soon due to senseless gun violence.
We must do more to reduce gun violence in our communities. We must act now.
February 5, 2019
Lawmakers wear white to State of the Union to show solidarity with women
Dozens of lawmakers appeared at the Capitol on Tuesday dressed in white to show solidarity with women ahead of President Trump‘s State of the Union address.
A majority of the lawmakers who dressed in white were Democratic women, whose outfits are a nod to the suffragette movement of the early 20th century.
Photos on social media showed groups of lawmakers posing in their all-white ensembles hours before Trump is slated to give his speech.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who will be standing behind Trump as he gives his address, was seen in pictures wearing all white.
“Today we stand together wearing white in solidarity with the women of the suffrage movement who refused to take no for an answer,” Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.), a leader of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, said at a press conference on Tuesday surrounded by other female House Democrats wearing white.
“To an administration that has closed its eyes to women, we will be seen,” Lawrence said.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer(D-Md.) was seen handing out white ribbons for men in the Democratic caucus to wear to the State of the Union.
At least one male lawmaker, Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), showed up to a House Democratic lawmaker group photo Tuesday afternoon wearing a white suit.
Last week, the House Democratic Women’s Working Group urged female members from both parties to wear white to Tuesday’s State of the Union.
Group chairwoman Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fla.) said the outfit choice “is a respectful message of solidarity with women across the country.”
Democratic women in 2017 also wore white during Trump’s joint address to Congress to show their support for women’s issues, including equal pay and reproductive rights.
Trump’s State of the Union that year came just weeks after his inauguration and the massive Women’s March protests that followed.
February 5, 2019
Here’s why Democratic women are wearing white to the State of the Union
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – At Tuesday’s joint session of Congress for the State of the Union, you’ll notice a number of Democratic Congresswoman wearing white.
Even U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi will don a white suit.
Why? That white is actually “suffragette white.”
And the fashion statement is meant to honor the suffrage movement that led to women getting the right to vote in 1920.
The color is also aimed at promoting economic security for working women and families.
This isn’t the first time Democratic congresswomen have worn white to the State of the Union. But the statement is certain to be more pronounced this year ― given the number of congresswomen newly-elected in the midterms. Source
February 4, 2019
State of the Union guests reflect issues of interest
Two local members of Congress have invited victims of gun violence
Members of Congress usually get just one seat for a special guest to attend the president’s State of the Union address. Guests often are related to issues under discussion or they are symbolic of an agenda item individual members wish to promote.
Michelle Roberson of West Chester will be the guest of U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Chester County Democrat. She is the mother of Bianca Roberson, who was fatally shot in a 2017 road rage incident in Chester County. Bianca had just graduated from high school and was set to attend college on a full scholarship when she was killed.
Chrissy & Michelle Roberson
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Montgomery County Democrat, will be joined by Jami Amo, a Willow Grove resident, gun safety activist and survivor of the 1999 Columbine school shooting.
Since being sworn in a month ago, the Democratic House majority has introduced a range of firearms legislation, including a universal background check bill.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Scranton Democrat, has invited Monica Hughes of Pittsburgh, an Army reservist and a Transportation Security Administration officer who missed pay but kept working during the recent government shutdown.
During the shutdown, her family had to draw from savings, apply for food stamps and accept donations from friends and family to stay afloat, Casey’s office said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Lehigh County Republican, has asked a personal friend, John Malloy, to attend. Malloy is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Victaulic, a growing Easton-based manufacturer of mechanical joints for piping systems. He has served in key roles at several other manufacturing businesses and also has earned the Distinguished Citizen’s Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser a Luzerne County Republican, has invited his wife, Shelley Meuser, as his guest. Source
January 30, 2019
Rep Chrissy Houlahan
Addressing Social Security
January 29, 2019
Houlahan, others aim to protect federal workers in shutdowns
Burden ‘should fall on leaders in Washington’
WASHINGTON – Reading’s representative in Congress joined fellow freshman lawmakers in introducing legislation aimed at protecting federal employees during future government shutdowns.
Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat who represents Pennsylvania’s 6th District (part of Berks and all of Chester counties), is one of four of Democrats who led a group of House freshman lawmakers in introducing the Shutdown to End All Shutdowns (SEAS) Act during a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.
“This legislation would incentivize the executive and legislative branches to work together as the Constitution was frankly designed, to find solutions to very difficult issues rather than punish the very people that we are here to serve,” Houlahan said. “It would transfer the financial hardship from the federal workers to the pockets of the president’s senior staff and to the members of Congress themselves.”
The SEAS Act would include an automatically-triggered 30-day continuing resolution if Congress fails to pass a full year of appropriations bills. If those 30 days come and go without action by Congress, then the legislative and executive branches would begin to feel the pain, rather than rank-and-file employees of the federal government.
“For the 116th Congress — the one that we’re in right now — member pay would be held in escrow, and for future Congresses, members pay would be suspended and not held in escrow,” Houlahan said. “For the executive branch, similarly, the use of federal funds for executive branch officials and travel would be prohibited unless a Cabinet secretary issued a waiver for security or emergency purposes.”
The bill would also prevent federal workers from being furloughed or forced to work without pay during a shutdown, and it would protect them “from being used as pawns during policy negotiations,” Houlahan said.
The other lawmakers leading the group are Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan, Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota, and Rep. Colin Allred of Texas.
“As a former federal worker for 14 years, I’m proud to be introducing a bill that ensures federal workers aren’t held hostage by stalled negotiations, and puts real skin in the game for members of Congress and the president if they can’t do their jobs,” Slotkin said.
“Shutdown politics are nothing more than petty brinkmanship and serve only to take us backward,” Allred said. “The freshman class was sworn in during a shutdown and we want to make sure this never happens again. We were sent here to clean up and reform Washington and this legislation does just that.”
More than 20 freshman members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.
The group said it has already received positive feedback from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The announcement comes less than a week after the longest shutdown in U.S. history was brought to an end. Some 800,000 federal workers went 35 days without pay. They should be receiving their back pay by week’s end, according to the White House. Source
January 10, 2019
Houlahan, Sherrill take leadership roles among freshman Dem moderates
Health care revamp, infrastructure and trade deals top New Democrat Coalition priorities
New Democratic Reps. Mikie Sherrill, center, and Chrissy Houlahan, right, will represent the freshman class in positions in the New Democrat Coalition. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
More than 30 freshmen joined the group in the new Congress to bring its ranks to 92 members.
Houlahan, who represents Pennsylvania’s 6th District, will be the New Democrats’ freshman leader. Sherrill, from New Jersey, will serve as freshman whip.
“Because we have such a large freshman class, we wanted to have freshmen engaged and part of that leadership group,” Kilmer said. “They bring a really valuable perspective.”
Kilmer, who took over from Rep. Jim Himes as chairman of the New Dems, surveyed his coalition members last week about the policy issues that they wanted to prioritize.
Stabilizing health care markets and revamping the 2010 health care law, bills to rebuild U.S. infrastructure, and reining in the executive branch’s power to unilaterally affect overseas trade deals topped the list, Kilmer said.
“[There is] a huge appetite to fix and strengthen the Affordable Care Act,” Kilmer said. “Infrastructure — we had Speaker Pelosi in for lunch yesterday, and at one point I said, ‘How many of you ran on infrastructure?’ And every hand in the room went up.”
The New Democrat Coalition is the second-largest group in the Democratic caucus behind the House’s Congressional Progressive Caucus, which has 98 voting members.
January 9, 2019
Amid shutdown, Rep. Houlahan visits Food Bank
UWCHAN — Officials at the Chester County Food Bank here greeted new U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th, of Easttown, warmly Tuesday morning, even though the reason for her visit could not have been more uncomfortable for them.
The food bank, whose mission is to end hunger as best it can in the county, is preparing for what could be a troublesome impact on its mission as the continuing federal government shutdown takes a toll on its food supplies, as well as playing havoc with a number of low- and moderate-income residents who need food assistance programs and need help putting dinner on the table.
“I am very concerned about the prospects we are facing if this shutdown lasts one more day, one more week, or even one more month,” Houlahan told the Daily Local News in an email following her visit at the food bank’s offices and headquarters, after she had returned to the nation’s capital for work in the House of Representatives.
“The Chester County Food Bank has done a great job keeping their operation running this month, but I have run businesses and I know that it isn’t sustainable to operate with the budget hole they face from the shutdown,” Houlahan wrote.
The food bank, its headquarters located in the Eagleview corporate area, is the central distribution hub for food made available through federal programs including The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), supplies of which will begin to dry up should the shutdown caused by a rift between Democrats and the White House over President Donald Trump’s demand for a border wall continue into February or March.
The president was quoted as saying last week that he was prepared to have the shutdown last “months, or even years,” if he does not receive a beginning of funding for the wall between the U.S. and Mexican border.
But the county food bank, which distributes to area food cupboards throughout the country, also anticipates that those who receive food through programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps, and free or reduced costs school lunches, could turn to its resources to make up for those lost avenues away from hunger, should the shutdown continue.
“We are in real trouble if SNAP runs out,” food bank Advocacy Coordinator Ricky Eller told Houlahan during a quick briefing session in the agency’s boardroom before a tour of its facilities in the morning.
Houlahan asked only a few questions during her session with the staff and volunteers at the food bank, but appeared concerned about the level of hunger in general in the county, and among children in particular. At one point, she remembered her own experience with the school lunch program at Simon Gratz High School in Philadelphia, where she worked as an educator.
She said 98 percent of the students there qualified for the food program, compared with level in the teens at county school districts. But those who receive the reduced cost lunches need them just as badly here amidst the county’s affluence, Eller noted.
In the county, the food bank officials said, about one in 10 residents suffers from some level of food insecurity. The food bank distributes food to cupboards that serve between 35,000 to 50,000 residents a quarter. About 18,000 children take advantage of the school hunger programs.
The SNAP payments to residents will run out at the end of the month because Congress has been unable to pass a funding bill for the Department of Agriculture because of Trump’s insistence on border security funding, including money for a wall or other barrier. It has put 800,000 federal employees out of work without paychecks, a fact that Larry Welsch, the food bank’s director, said was a familiar one for his agency.
In past shutdowns, county residents who were furloughed for lengthy periods of time — such as those who work at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Coatesville or who work at federal agencies in nearby Maryland — had to turn to their local food cupboards for assistance. They were given food packages through the TEFAP program, packages that have been slow to come to the food bank recently.
Phoebe Kitson-Davis, the food bank’s director of agency and community partnerships, took Houlahan to a spot in the agency’s warehouse where she showed her a single section of TEFAP boxes. Normally, she said, those boxes would have filled several more shelves.
Th food bank is always prepared for emergencies like the shutdown that affect residents. But those emergency supplies can only last so long before they too are gone, like SNAP assistance, Kitson-Davis said.
The briefing Tuesday was the first time those at the food bank had met Houlahan, who won a historic election for Congress in 2018. Some posed for photos with the new legislator, saying how excited they were to have voted for her. She left after about 45 minutes to get to Washington, D.C. for votes in the evening.
Later, she decried the obstacles she has faced in taking office at a time when the government is in shutdown mode.
“Our community has serious issues that they are looking for us to solve,” the new congresswoman said. “We need to expand access to affordable and quality health care, bring good paying jobs with good benefits to our community, tackle climate change, and take commonsense steps to reduce gun violence, among other important issues. I ran on those issues and the American people are looking for solutions to those problems.
“First though, we must get our government open and working again,” she said. Source
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Phoebe Driscoll has been active in Democratic Party politics for decades, back to the heady days of the 1960s when the party took stands for civil rights, peace, and environmental sanity.
But the 86-year-old Kennett Crosslands resident said she had never experienced the overwhelming happy feeling she did busing down to Washington, D.C. Thursday to witness history in the swearing-in of new U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th Dist., of Easttown.
“I’ve been down here a lot,” said Driscoll, whose late husband Lee Driscoll ran for Congress in 1962 against Richard Schweiker in Montgomery County. “But I’ve never been to a ceremony like this. I am just puffed up with joy that it is for Chrissy.”
Houlahan was among the new members of Congress sworn in on Thursday as part of a historic class of incoming legislators.
Instantly, the new Congress made history for seating a record number of women and becoming the most racially and ethnically diverse Congress in the nation. Republicans may have retained their majority in the Senate, but Democrats grabbed control of the House by electing candidates like Houlahan, a military veteran, educator, and businesswoman who had never run for office before seeing Republican Donald Trump become president.
Driscoll rode a chartered bus from West Chester to the nation’s capital along with a number of fellow Democrats from Chester County, including county Democratic Committee Vice Chairwoman Marsha Peltz.
“I feel like I’ve been on a two-year-run with Chrissy,” said Peltz during a break in events at Houlahan’s new offices in the Cannon House Office Building, where the East Whiteland woman planned to watch the swearing-in ceremony. “It has been exciting, and I’m feeling very positive. I am optimistic for the first time in two years.”
Peltz lauded Houlahan for her honesty, intelligence and good sense. “She has a kindness to her, and she’s a good listener.”
Driscoll echoed those statements. “I feel 100 percent good,” she said. “We now have a person in Washington who I can look to to vote the way I would if I was here.”
Houlahan, after taking her oath of office, issued a brief statement.
“It is truly an honor to serve in Congress on behalf of Pennsylvania’s 6th District and I look forward to getting to work to fight on behalf all my constituents,” she said.
“One of the first steps we must take is restoring a functioning government,” the statement read. “I look forward to working in the new Congress on a bipartisan basis and fighting for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District on crucial legislative items including expanding access to affordable and quality health care, bringing good jobs with good benefits to our community, passing commonsense gun safety measures, fixing our broken immigration system, and taking care of our veterans.”
Her election was a milestone for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that she is the first woman to represent the county in Congress in its 230-year history. But also, the last Democrat to be elected to represent the county in Washington, D.C., was the West Bradford native John Hickman in the late 19th century.
A former county district attorney, Hickman, a Quaker, ran on the party ticket in 1855 and was elected to three more terms, first as a Democrat, then as a so-called Anti-Lecompton Democrat opposed to slavery, and finally as a Republican in 1861 when that party led the charge against slavery and elected Abraham Lincoln president.
Hickman did not seek a new term in 1863, and the GOP has been winning elections for Congress in the county since, even as it has been split into halves and sometimes thirds because of redistricting.
So many other milestones were set on Thursday.
Endorsement: Chrissy Houlahan for Congress
In this year’s race for the new and open Sixth Congressional District seat — a seat that now encompasses all of Chester County as well as the southern portion of Berks County — we have Democrat Chrissy Houlahan facing Republican Greg McCauley, both first-time candidates for office.
Unlike the visceral, top of the ticket races for U.S. Senate and Governor, this race, thankfully, has been more about issues and policy, with some fairly substantive discussions on many of the issues that face the country today.
To McCauley’s credit, he has veered from traditional Republican policy in some areas, calling for the creation of mutual insurance companies to contain health care costs, although he does say the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is a failure, despite its growing popularity and indications that it was beginning to work before being sabotaged by Congressional Republicans. McCauley does call for a replacement of the ACA, but does not offer specifics as to what his plan would do.
McCauley was critical of outgoing U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello’s vote against repeal of the ACA and cited it as a reason for his then-primary challenge. Costello subsequently decided not to seek reelection.
Houlahan is advocating support and repair of the ACA, to broaden access to affordable health care for the community at large. She has not embraced a single-payer or Medicare for all model, bravely defying the left in her party demanding a stronger and potentially costly government intervention into health care.
The two differ strongly on tax policy, too.
Houlahan strongly opposed the tax cuts — which despite claims by GOP leaders — appears to have strongly increased the federal budget deficit without offering broad economic benefit to those in the lower and middle income brackets. McCauley, a tax attorney and fast-food franchise owner, suggests that he has fought “overbearing taxes and regulations” for his business clients. He supported the GOP tax plan, although he decries the deficit and suggests it could be closed through cutting waste and fraud, a somewhat tired refrain from generations of politicians who never seem to find much in the way of said fraud and waste once elected.
The two differ on a multitude of other issues, from a women’s right to choose — Houlahan is pro-choice, McCauley is not. Houlahan supports “common sense” gun safety measures, such as universal background checks, closing the gun shot loophole, restricting high-capacity magazines and renewing the federal Assault Weapon ban.
McCauley describes himself as a gun owner and strong supporter of the Second Amendment, but that he would support steps to keep guns out of the hands “troubled individuals.”
Both bring strong resumes from the business world to the campaign. But Houlahan also brings a rare combination of business, non-profit, educational and technical experience — not to mention her time as an Air Force officer.
Republicans have sought to tar that experience — specifically her time as COO of And1, a sports shoe company — because it produced product in China, where workers are often poorly paid. We don’t see the same indignation over President Trump’s ubiquitous red hats, also made in China under the same sort of conditions, nor for the myriad of other products, some sold by large GOP donors that are made in China. Republicans’ selective embrace of socialism and workers rights seems more than slightly hypocritical here.
Lastly, with the excesses of the Trump Administration and what appears to be ongoing aiding and abetting of obstruction of justice by some members of the U.S. House of Representatives (and little more than allegedly angry Tweets from GOP members who disagree), never before has it been more important to elect house members who will serve as a check to the more outlandish actions of the president. We need a Congress that will fulfill its Constitutional duty to hold the White House accountable. While we have no doubt that Houlahan would do so, we reasonably have doubts whether McCauley — or any Republican, based on the behaviors seen in the last two years — can be trusted to embrace this fundamental duty.
At the end of the day, this is not a difficult choice. Houlahan’s positions are a better match for the largely moderate people of Chester County. Her experience in a wide range of areas will bring much to the halls of Congress badly in need of less insular members. And we can trust her to be an advocate for the people, not a small number of powerful special interest groups.
The Times endorses Chrissy Houlahan for Congress from the Sixth District of Pennsylvania.
October 15, 2018
Wolf, Casey stump for Dan Williams in Coatesville
COATESVILLE – With about three weeks left until the midterm elections, Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, both incumbent Democrats seeking re-election this year, spoke at a rally at the New Life in Christ Fellowship church and urged voters to cast ballots for Dan Williams, a Democratic candidate for state representative in the 74th Legislative District, and to support Democratic candidates up and down the ticket.
Wolf said to the gathered crowd of more than 100 people that he was honored to be there to support Williams, and it’s important to elect him to help make change in Harrisburg. Williams, who’s the senior pastor at the church, is running against Republican candidate Amber Little-Turner for the seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Harry Lewis Jr., who decided not to seek re-election.
Wolf said that Harrisburg was broken when he first took office nearly four years ago, but he accomplished goals including expanding Medicaid, funding public education, balancing the state budget, and fighting the opioid crisis. He said Pennsylvania is now doing a lot better than four years ago, but there is still more work to be done.
He said this year’s elections may be the most important in his lifetime, and he encouraged voters to elect candidates like Williams to help keep Pennsylvania moving forward.
“If we make the right choice, we can do great things together,” he said.
Wolf also voiced support for Democratic candidates Katie Muth, a health care provider and professor challenging Republican state Sen. John Rafferty in the 44th Senatorial District, and Chrissy Houlahan, an educator, businesswoman and Air Force veteran running against Republican tax attorney Greg McCauley for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District seat, which is open as Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello is not seeking re-election.
Wolf, who is seeking his second four-year term as governor, is being challenged by Republican Scott Wagner, a former state senator, as well as Libertarian Ken Krawchuk and Green Party candidate Paul Glover.
Casey said protecting people’s access to health care, especially for those with pre-existing conditions, is one of the defining issues in his race for re-election and this year’s midterm elections in general.
Casey quoted the lyrics “We are called to act with justice,” from the hymn “We are called,” to explain how more people are now getting involved in the political process.
He said the hard right and corporate special interests have gained an unprecedented amount of power in the federal government, and they’re obsessed with giving rich people money and taking away people’s health care, but it’s up to voters and candidates to protect basic principles of justice in this country as justice is currently under assault.
Casey said average people like Williams and Houlahan have been called to run for office in a difficult time, and community members have been called to support them in their efforts to work for justice.
He mentioned a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.: “If you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice.”
“We have a lot of drum majors for justice in the assemblage here tonight,” Casey said. “We’re gonna work and we’re gonna win.”
Casey, who is seeking his third six-year term in the Senate, is being challenged by Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta as well as Libertarian Dale Kerns Jr. and Green Party candidate Neal Gale.
Williams spoke about his background and said he’s not just a pastor, but also a professor, a parent and a taxpayer. He said it’s important for people of faith to get involved in the political process, and he wants to work to get things done, instead of just complaining from the sidelines.
Williams said it’s important to protect the rights of people who may be forgotten sometimes, such as the poor and senior citizens.
“Often people in power forget that the people who get lost in the debate about the poor are still people,” he said. “Part of what we want to do is move in a direction that doesn’t just lift some, but lifts every single one of us so that we can become contributors to this country, to this community, to this district.”
Williams said the term “working poor” is an oxymoron that should not be present, and there’s something wrong when one person is working three jobs and still struggling to survive.
He said seniors shouldn’t have to worry about being driving out of their homes due to high school property taxes and rising health care costs. He said it’s important to vote for Wolf, Casey, Houlahan and Muth so they can fight for reforms to allow seniors and retirees to live in peace.
Williams said the “war on drugs” has come to be known as the “opioid crisis” as the demographics of drug victims have changed. “We don’t need incarceration, we need treatment,” he said.
State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, said he’s known Williams since the time he was a student in Dinniman’s African-American history class at West Chester University. Dinniman said Williams would question and challenge him, which made him a better professor and they both learned together because of it.
Dinniman said Williams has frequently stood with him on issues affecting the Coatesville community, such as advocating for economic development that benefits everyone and questioning the Coatesville Area School District on parts of its curriculum, as well as urging an end to using the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement.
Dinniman said Williams will be a great state representative, and in that role he’ll also serve as a teacher for the community.
The midterm elections will be held Tuesday, Nov. 6. Source
October 10, 2018
Democratic candidates discuss issues at public forum
WEST GOSHEN — Christina Sappey, a candidate running for state representative for the 158th Legislative District, waited until the very end of the program to emphatically state what all five candidates at a forum had voiced earlier, to a lesser degree.
“Vote, vote, vote, vote, vote,” Sappey, a Democrat running against incumbent Republican Rep. Eric Roe, implored an audience of 150, at St. Paul’s Baptist Church, Monday night.
The forum was organized and run by the Chester County League of Women Voters and the West Chester Chapter of the NAACP.
During the 2½-hour forum, five Democratic candidates, all of whom are women, answered questions posed by the audience and event organizers about topics including, health care, water quality, literacy, business taxes and incarceration.
All the candidates in the county were invited. There will be a similar forum with different speakers at St. Paul’s, on Monday, Oct. 15, at 6:30 p.m.
Democratic state Rep. Carolyn Comitta is running against Republican Nick Deminski in the 156th District, and told the attentive audience to vote for people who share their values.
“Your state representative is your last stop from protecting all the people,” Comitta said. “Elect someone who gets it.
“Your vote is your voice.”
Kristine Howard is a Democrat running in the 167th District against incumbent Republican Rep. Duane Milne.
“We need to elect the right legislators,” she said, “We need to take back our power from some extremists.
“This is a really important election.”
Democrat Danielle Friel Otten is facing off against Republican Rep. Becky Corbin in the 155th District.
“Educate yourself about who is on the ballot, vote, and talk to your neighbors,” Friel Otten said.
Sappey said that it all depends on who the public votes for.
“It’s time for us to start electing people who are going to work together,” Sappey said.
Democrat Chrissy Houlahan is facing off against Republican Greg McCauley to fill the seat vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Costello in what she said is the “new and improved” 6th Congressional District, referencing a state Supreme Court decision to draw new congressional districts after finding the state’s previous congressional map violated the state constitution due to partisan gerrymandering that favored Republicans over Democrats.
The business owner, MIT graduate, former teacher and veteran, listed health care, decent jobs, a great education and a safe planet as her priorities.
The candidates were asked about “reaching across the aisle.”
Friel Otten suggested that more women should be elected and that politics is not just a Democratic or Republican issue.
“We have the opportunity to look each other in the eye,” she said.
Said Comitta: “It’s all your perspective. It’s about being in this role for the right reason.”
Sappey was a stay-at-home mom and said becoming a state rep is not her dream job.
“You have to enter every conversation knowing that you have to give something up,” she said.
The candidates were asked about incarceration. Howard talked about “super long” prison sentences.
“We had more juvenile lifers than any other state,” Howard said. “We have a very, very harsh justice system in this state and prosecutors hold all the cards.”
The group of candidates talked about supporting small businesses.
Friel Otten said that when manufacturing goes overseas, people on “Main Street” can no longer exist.
“The burden of taxes is on the small business owner,” Friel Otten said. “Close the loopholes (for big businesses) and take the pressure off of small businesses.”
Sappey is a proponent of businesses.
“We need to make it more attractive for businesses to come to Pennsylvania,” Sappey said.
Comitta said that when you buy local, you make an investment in the community.
“For every dollar you spend in a local business, 68 cents goes back into the community,” Comitta said.
Education was also discussed.
“Our municipal government is in a position to choose between the youngest and oldest residents and that is a crime,” Friel Otten said.
Howard favors fair funding for schools.
“We know this is the right thing to do, we have the wrong people,” Howard said.
When asked about the natural gas boom and enacting an extraction tax, Comitta said Pennsylvania is “sitting on a gold mine.
“I’m not against people making a lot of money, but it needs to be done safely and cleanly and (any proposed tax) should be used for kids in schools.”
While Howard said the liquid gases need to be taxed, Friel Otten said that several alternatives should be addressed, such as, creation of siting agencies, oversight of out-of-state companies, and taking any new tax revenue to build renewable energy alternatives.
Sappey reiterated the need to vote for reps supporting the Affordable Care Act.
“Make sure we vote for people who understand how important this issue is — the costs are through the roof,” Sappey said.
St. Paul’s Pastor Wayne E. Croft Sr. welcomed the guests and said he was pleased that the NAACP and League of Women Voters had crafted a platform enabling voters to make informed decisions.
Cassandra Jones, NAACP chair for political action committee, said that the audience was pleased to ask questions, face-to-face.
Pamela Gray, president of the Chester County League of Women Voters appreciated the “very engaged candidates” and the turnout of prospective voters. Source
May 15, 2018
Democrat Chrissy Houlahan On Pennsylvania’s 6th
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
One big reason President Trump won in 2016 was his success in Pennsylvania. His message about jobs and bringing back struggling industries resonated even with many Democrats. In 2018, if Democrats end up succeeding and taking control of the House, a big reason could be Pennsylvania. The state Supreme Court threw out its congressional map this year, re-drew district lines, and Democrats think they can flip a number of seats. They took some first steps yesterday as Pennsylvania, along with a number of other states, held primaries. And Democrat Chrissy Houlahan won in a district that includes some Philadelphia suburbs as well as the city of Reading. She joins me this morning.
I know you were unopposed, but it’s official now. You’re the candidate. Congratulations.
CHRISSY HOULAHAN: Thank you, thank you, and thank you for having me on today.
GREENE: Yeah, thank you for taking the time. I want to ask you about one of the big themes yesterday. It looks clear now that Pennsylvania is going to have at least one female member of Congress. Both candidates are women in one district – could be more than one in Congress if you win. Now, Pennsylvania’s entire congressional delegation has been men. Politics aside, is there an issue you feel that’s been neglected because of that?
HOULAHAN: So I’m not sure exactly if you’re asking me if there’s an issue with the fact that there are only men in our delegation. I think that’s clearly an issue (laughter). And I’m hopeful that – as you mention – that not just one but maybe several of us will be able to make it through the gauntlet in the fall and be able to break that barrier in Pennsylvania.
GREENE: Is there something that has been neglected because they are men? Do you feel like if there are women serving Pennsylvania that there will be some difference?
HOULAHAN: Well, I think certainly that there are a lot of issues that, I guess, would be considered women’s issues, but I would argue are more likely called family issues that, I think, probably would be better served by having a more diverse delegation in Pennsylvania. But similarly – not just gender-based – we ought to have a delegation that includes people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. And relevant in my case, as an example, I’m also a veteran, and I’m also an engineer. And so I think that in our congressional delegation in Pennsylvania right now, it’s not just that it’s largely men. It’s largely men who are either businessmen or who have been kind of successful in climbing the ranks of politics.
GREENE: Well, let me ask you about politics. Let’s say you have a Pennsylvania voter in your district who backed President Trump – maybe likes the big tax cut, maybe doesn’t like the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – feels that the president has shown leadership on the world stage. How do you win that person over?
HOULAHAN: So actually, in talking to a lot of people who are, I guess, would be self-described as Republicans or independents, I actually haven’t found a whole lot of people who fit that bill. Most of the folks in my community particularly, who may have voted for President Trump, have now realized that the tax bill that did pass is not necessarily one that is good for them personally, particularly in Pennsylvania. As you probably know, we are one of those state and local tax places. And so that tax bill isn’t particularly good for our community, for property values, for schools and that sort of thing. I think also, increasingly, people have come to, relatively speaking, embrace the Affordable Care Act more certainly than they had in the beginning. They, at least in my conversations with them, would like to see the Affordable Care Act shored up to some degree to make sure that we have affordable care. And so I don’t think that I have personally run into a lot of people who are Republicans or independents who necessarily have that narrative of why they voted for President Trump.
GREENE: Let me ask you – there seems to be a struggle in your party about strategy. I mean, in a special election in Pennsylvania that made a lot of news, Democrat Conor Lamb won after distancing himself from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Do you support Pelosi?
HOULAHAN: Yeah, and so I have a very similar answer to that. I answered that question yesterday. It’s interesting that I only get that question from the press or from media or, you know, from people in Washington, D.C. Again, it’s something that doesn’t really come up in our community at all. It’s something – when we talk about things in our community, it’s jobs. It’s education. It’s making sure that we have affordable health care. And those kinds of decisions, you know, that are sort of inside baseball are not necessarily something that I’m asked on the regular in our community.
GREENE: Chrissy Houlahan is the Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District. She’ll be running this fall. Thanks so much for joining us.
HOULAHAN: Thank you. I appreciate it very much.
GREENE: Just want to bring in NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell who covered all of the races yesterday. Hi, Kelsey.
KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi, there.
GREENE: Lots of focus on Democrats in Pennsylvania. Interesting there to hear Chrissy Houlahan not give a clear answer about…
GREENE: …Nancy Pelosi, saying it doesn’t really come up. But also, I mean, there were Republican races yesterday. If you were President Trump, do you like what you saw yesterday? Do you dislike it? How was he feeling this morning?
SNELL: He’s probably paying the most attention to Congressman Lou Barletta who won the primary to be the Republican candidate for Senate. Trump recorded a robocall for Barletta, and he’s called him a good friend. And we kind of expect that Trump’s going to come out to Pennsylvania and campaign for Barletta, which will bring up the question whether or not Republicans want to associate themselves with the president. It’s going to be an ongoing question that happens throughout the state.
GREENE: That’s NPR congressional reporter Kelsey Snell. Kelsey, thanks.
SNELL: Thank you.
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