Friday’s Five Fast Facts about Federal Priorities: What’s Been Happening in Washington, DC, this Week? | Friday, January 27, 2023
by Jeff Garis
Washington, DC, and Wall Street are focused on the need for congressional action this summer to raise the debt ceiling amid threats by House MAGA Republicans that economists say could destroy the economy if President Biden and Democrats don’t agree to cut Social Security, Medicare, veterans’ benefits, and other vital programs. With so much national media attention devoted to the ongoing situation, this week’s blog post will instead highlight legislation cosponsored by members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation, as well as policy positions advanced by our US senators and representatives during the initial weeks of the 118th Congress.
#1 The first legislation Senator John Fetterman is cosponsoring is a bill to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced S.25 on Monday, January 23, with 40 cosponsors, including Senator Fetterman and Senator Bob Casey.
- US Senate Bill 25: Cosponsorship list | 1/23/23
- New Hampshire Bulletin: “Wave of mass shootings prompts Biden to call yet again for assault weapons ban” | 1/24/23
- Lancaster Online: “Federal lawmakers must act to curb gun violence causing heartbreak in American communities” [editorial] | 1/25/23
#2 Representative Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6) is prioritizing paid family and medical leave legislation, working across the aisle to find opportunities to advance policies that will benefit workers and employers.
- The Hill: “Bipartisan group gears up for uphill push on paid family leave” | 1/25/23
- Washington Post: “Bipartisan House pair hope to defy odds, forge a paid leave deal” | 1/19/23
- Pottstown Mercury: “Houlahan holds fourth ‘State of the Sixth’ in Phoenixville” | 1/24/23
- The Hill: “Regardless of party, moms in Congress agree: It’s time for paid family leave” [op-ed by Representatives Chrissy Houlahan and Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.)] | 12/12/22
#3 Representatives Brendan Boyle and Mary Gay Scanlon are speaking out against House MAGA Republican threats to hold the economy and America’s financial system hostage unless President Biden and Congressional Democrats make huge cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and other crucial programs. The duo held a press conference on Tuesday, January 24, outside the Mid-Atlantic Social Security Center in Philadelphia, with comments from PBPC director Marc Stier.
- The 99% Pennsylvania: “Video: Congressman Boyle’s remarks at Philadelphia press conference opposing MAGA Republican threats to Social Security” | 1/24/23
- The 99% Pennsylvania: “Video: Congresswoman Scanlon’s remarks at Philadelphia press conference opposing MAGA Republican threats to Social Security” | 1/24/23
- Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center: “Director Marc Stier’s remarks at Philadelphia press conference opposing MAGA Republican threats to Social Security” | 1/24/23
#4 As House MAGA Republicans use the upcoming debt ceiling vote to demand cuts of vital services “or else!” Congressman Dan Meuser (PA-9) is doing his part to muddy the water with a package of bills allegedly intended to “bring fiscal responsibility back to the federal government.” Like many of his colleagues—and as the chart below illustrates—Rep. Meuser has a selective memory about who is responsible for “out-of-control spending in Washington” in recent decades, so it’s not surprising that his “solutions” are misguided.
- Wilkes-Barre Times Leader: “Meuser: 3 bills would return fiscal responsibility to federal government” | 1/22/23
#5 Congressman Lloyd Smucker (PA-11), meanwhile, is downplaying the seriousness of a voluntary credit default by the US: “The sky isn’t falling in the nation’s capital, according to US Rep. Lloyd Smucker … dismissing warnings from Democrats who say House Republicans are holding the nation’s fortunes hostage.” A member of the powerful Budget Committee and the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Smucker is proposing “means testing” for Social Security and Medicare — “the policy of providing no benefits to the people with incomes or assets above a certain level,” even though all workers pay their share for Social Security and Medicare benefits and rely on these programs, too.
- Reuters: “Republican House Conservatives Threaten Debt Limit Default to Cut Social Programs” | 1/6/23
- Lancaster Online: “Smucker: Debate over raising federal debt ceiling should launch larger conversation about nation’s finances” | 1/25/23
Jeff Garis is PBPC’s Federal Campaigns and Program director, and he coordinates The 99% Pennsylvania campaign, advocating for federal policies that benefit all Pennsylvanians