Friday’s Five Fast Facts about Federal Priorities: What’s Been Happening in Washington, DC, this Week?

Jeff Garis |

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.

Dig Deeper:

#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.

Dig Deeper:

#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.

Dig Deeper:

#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.

Dig Deeper:

#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.

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