I am eager to share my thoughts and positions on important issues, and also to continue learning about how those issues affect each part of Pennsylvania. This list will continue to grow in length and detail as I travel the state, meet more of you, and have the chance to learn more. We will continue to release policy ideas and plans throughout the campaign as we build common ground and find real-world solutions to Pennsylvania’s problems.
When I first ran for Congress, one of the first decisions I made was not to accept money from corporate PACs. Some people told me it was a mistake, that I would lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, when Republicans already start out with a fundraising advantage. But I did it — not because I think that corporate PAC money is the biggest problem with our campaign finance system (it isn’t), but because there is a crisis of faith in the integrity of our government right now. And for good reason.
For years, people have seen our government accomplish almost nothing but things that benefit special interests and corporate donors — particularly the Republican corporate tax cuts in 2017. People know that while they pay taxes, special interests pay big campaign contributions and get much more bang for their buck.
Pass HR 1 & Overturn Citizens United
We need comprehensive campaign finance reform to level the playing field so that working people get the same attention from their elected officials as special interests do. We need to pass H.R. 1 first and foremost, and we also need to overturn the Citizens United decision.
In order to prevent a global climate disaster for our children, we must tackle greenhouse gas emissions. The world adds 51 billion tons of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere each year. We must get that to zero by 2050 to have a realistic chance to avoid the worst.
It’s hard to grasp the size of a number like 51 billion tons, and even harder to grasp the idea of redesigning the entire world that has created those gasses for so long. It will be the most difficult scientific, economic, and political challenge we’ve ever undertaken. We need to invent completely new technologies. They need to be affordable, and to create good middle-class jobs. We need an energy policy that makes sense to people who just want to work hard and make a decent living, especially when so many have lost so much over the past year. Policy that serves many different purposes, and above all else protects and promotes the American Dream.
But Americans have taken on phenomenally difficult problems in the past. With the Manhattan Project and the Apollo program, we mobilized massive government, labor, academic, and business resources to invent new technologies in record time and accomplish things that seemed like science fiction.
We can do that again, and we don’t have a choice. If we don’t do it, another country will. In the 21st century, someone will sell the entire world the technology that we need to go from 51 billion tons of greenhouses to zero. China wants it to be them. I want it to be us — American companies, employing American workers. So we need to act now.
Natural Gas & Renewables
If we want to win this race against China, we need a flexible energy policy. We can’t bet it all on one or two energy sources, and we shouldn’t ignore our own natural resources. We need to be honest about the fact that natural gas is a critical bridge fuel that helps us keep people warm and keep the lights on at a price people can afford, and it is American-made. Expanding solar and wind in the electrical grid will help, but they present their own supply-chain issues, and we still don’t have batteries to store solar and wind energy at grid scale for more than a few hours. Shale gas can help expand solar and wind by providing reliable baseload power that it is easy to scale up and down based on weather conditions. And we can sell our gas to other countries that still burn coal.
Carbon & Methane Capture
Shale gas is responsible for most of the carbon reductions we’ve made in the United States to this point, and if we export our gas, it can play the same role around the world. But if we want to reap the real climate benefits of shale gas, we need to learn how to capture the carbon and methane all along the distribution network. We need strict construction standards that are fully enforced. We need to outlaw practices like flaring. We need our government to lead the way in showing the world that it is economically feasible to capture carbon and methane, and pipe them to storage and further usage.
I was the lead sponsor of a bill that President Biden recently signed into law that will set stronger methane emissions standards for the oil and gas industry, and I will continue to focus on these issues in the Senate. We built the world’s first nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania. In the Senate, I’ll work to build new power plants right here that capture greenhouse gasses.
Solar and Wind
As Chairman of an Energy Subcommittee in the House, I helped increase research funds for solar and wind, as well as for modernizing the grid to take advantage of solar and wind energy. I will continue advocating for the United States to be a world leader in solar and wing energy, and I will do everything possible to ensure we manufacture these technologies in Pennsylvania.
For Pennsylvania, nuclear energy deserves a special focus. The nation's first civilian nuclear reactor was built in Shippingport, in the district I represent, and today our nuclear power plants employ thousands of union members, many of them military veterans. They work so safely and efficiently that more people are harmed every year by air pollution than have ever been harmed in the history of nuclear power plants. But their jobs are threatened right now by markets that do not reward the energy they produce for being carbon-free. Thousands of additional union members and Pennsylvania workers who maintain the plants and manufacture the parts find themselves in a similar dilemma.
As Senator, my first priority will always be protecting people's jobs. Our commitment to the middle class and to addressing climate change requires an energy policy that saves these jobs and modernizes nuclear power for the 21st century.
We also need to increase our focus on hydrogen in the years ahead. If produced correctly, hydrogen offers the potential to decarbonize areas like freight, aviation, and industrial processes that have been difficult to change with current technologies. The European Union and China have been more organized and aggressive in pursuing hydrogen strategies, and the United States needs to keep up. Places like Pennsylvania, with strong industrial heritage and infrastructure, could become power centers in an economy with more hydrogen. As Senator, I will push for more research and development of hydrogen creation and its use in fuel cells, pipelines, steelmaking and other vital sectors of our economy.
I know our criminal justice system is flawed, that it is too often unjust and discriminatory, and that it was in many ways historically shaped by forces of institutional racism. It is in no one’s best interest to leave the system as it is. As a former federal prosecutor, I know that there are a lot of very good people at all levels of the criminal justice system doing hard, often thankless jobs, many of them putting their own lives at risk for the sake of public safety.
At the same time, violent crime is surging in many places, and we have to address it without making the mistakes of the past. We can have both justice and safety if we address the root causes of crime, as well as issues of over-incarceration, sentencing reform, decriminalization of marijuana, and disparity in bail systems.
There are other steps that we can take immediately.
No Prosecutions for Marijuana Possession
As we move toward decriminalizing marijuana possession and use at the federal level, declining to prosecute people for possession is an immediate step we can take to reduce the high number of nonviolent drug offenders into our criminal justice system. Marijuana use tends to be about the same in white communities and communities of color, but people of color are far more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for it. So this is both an issue of racial justice and common sense.
Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
I was proud to cosponsor and help pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the House, which would reform policing practices across the country to increase accountability and transparency, improve training and prevent police brutality. I will make it a priority to help get this legislation passed in the Senate and signed into law.
Focus on Violent Crime
When I worked as a prosecutor, there always seemed to be more resources available for investigating and prosecuting drug crimes than for violent crimes. In part this is because violent crime cases are often reactive — they begin after a shooting happens. Drug cases are more proactive and easier for law enforcement to plan and manage.
Nonetheless, the rise in violent crime across America, and the failure of the War on Drugs, show that we must change our approach. We should redesign federal funding to encourage more programs like Philadelphia’s Youth Violence Reduction Partnership, which has a solid record of identifying young people at risk of violence and proactively intervening to keep them out of harm’s way. We should also strengthen the ATF, a federal agency that specializes in investigating gun crimes and which has been weakened by NRA attacks on its budget for far too long.
$15 Minimum Wage
We need to hold police officers accountable for their actions. We also need to pay them a living wage. There are towns in my congressional district where a first-year police officer makes less than $13 an hour. Policing is hard work, and often dangerous. The people who do it well make a choice to sacrifice and take risks because they care about protecting their communities. If we want the best people keeping our communities safe, then $15 an hour should be the bare minimum.
Expand Treatment Courts & Social Diversion Programs
We know that one of the most effective ways we can address nonviolent drug offenses is through treatment courts and social diversion programs — which focus on connecting offenders with addiction and mental health treatment, job training and placement programs, social services and support networks. And we know that these can be especially effective for certain populations, including veterans, that are more likely to face interactions with the criminal justice system because of underlying and often untreated drug and mental health problems. We need to provide funding to help expand these initiatives across more jurisdictions, and learn and incorporate best practices from programs that have been put in place at the local level across the country. I’ve found a lot of bipartisan support for these efforts in the House, and I know we can find the same in the Senate.
End Drivers License Suspensions
One of the most counterproductive and discriminatory aspects of our criminal justice system is the practice of suspending people’s drivers licenses while they’re awaiting trial or as part of their criminal sentencing. Except for habitual drunk drivers, this accomplishes nothing other than making it harder for people to get to work and keep a job.
I believe that the rights of people with disabilities are fundamental human rights. If I’m elected to the Senate, I will keep working to protect and expand those rights and ensure that people with disabilities have the same protections and opportunities as all Americans. I will continue to work with advocates in Pennsylvania, to listen and learn, and I will always make it a priority to ensure that members of the disability community are fully included in our campaign and in the democratic process.
Americans with Disabilities Act & Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The Americans with Disabilities Act was a landmark in the ongoing effort to ensure that all Americans have full and equal rights under the law. The ADA codified in the law that Americans with disabilities are fully protected against discrimination and must have access to the same opportunities as all other Americans. As with all major legislation, particularly related to civil rights, I know the battle to guarantee these rights and enforce these protections did not end with the bill’s passage. Three decades later, and a decade after the ADA’s expansion, I know that many people with disabilities still face discrimination in employment, in housing, in public accommodations, and in many other aspects of their lives. I also know that many people with disabilities face barriers to voting and fully engaging in the political and public processes that all Americans rely on to solve problems and correct injustices.
Likewise, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act was a critical legislative achievement that ensures students with disabilities get a quality public education tailored to their individual needs in the least restrictive environment. The IDEA reflects a promise we’ve made as a country to give all children in America the good education they need to achieve their full potential and succeed throughout their lives — and we need to keep that promise.
We have serious work to do in order to ensure that what people with disabilities experience in their daily lives actually reflects the rights and protections guaranteed in these laws. I am fully committed to protecting and strengthening the ADA, protecting special education rights, and fully enforcing the IDEA. And I will fight back against all efforts to undermine these laws and break the promises that we’ve made.
Protecting and Improving the Affordable Care Act
Americans must have the right to get the services and support they need to lead healthy, independent lives — and that means all Americans have a right to health insurance they can afford. The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, but more than a million Pennsylvanians have gained coverage because of the law. The ACA has also directly benefitted people with disabilities — including by ensuring that people with preexisting conditions cannot be denied or overcharged for coverage, and by allowing dependents to stay on their parents’ health plans until age 26. That is real progress, and we should be working to build on it — not moving backwards. In the Senate, I will work with anyone who wants to protect affordable health care for people with preexisting conditions, improve the quality of care, and reduce premiums, out-of-pocket costs and prescription drug prices.
Protecting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security
Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security are essential building blocks of our society. These programs are a critical lifeline for many people with disabilities, senior citizens and working families in Pennsylvania and across the country.. For children with disabilities, in particular, Medicaid in our state is what provides the school therapy services that they need and that they’re guaranteed under the law.
But Republicans in Washington call these programs “welfare” and constantly target them for spending cuts. That’s insulting and offensive to me and to a lot of people in Pennsylvania. I am committed to protecting Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. I will fight back against Mitch McConnell’s attempts to cut funding for these programs to pay for their excessive corporate tax cuts. And I will always fight to ensure that we keep the promises we’ve made to all those who depend on these programs.
Education and hard work are the foundation of the American Dream, and I will have a lot more to say about education during this campaign. We need to recommit to public education, assuring that children in every zip code can learn in a safe and healthy environment, that they are taught to be good citizens, and that they are prepared for the future. We have to pay their teachers fairly, let them teach (beyond the restrictions of standardized tests), and defend them against unfair attacks by anti-union special interests. We need more healthcare and mental healthcare in our schools, and school buildings across much of our commonwealth require new investment. Student loans have too often been an unfair burden for my generation, especially for those in public service. I will address all of these aspects of education reform in detail during this campaign.
For now, it is worth emphasizing the critical role that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives played in helping school districts survive and recover from the pandemic. In my district alone, we've assured that school districts received millions in federal aid, much of it directed specifically toward the technology that allowed children to stay home safely, and also toward helping children catch up on the learning they lost during the pandemic. I recently visited one of the largest schools in my district, where federal funding is already providing a safe place for children to learn during the summer, and the district plans to do the same next summer. I was proud to vote for this funding and will keep working to make sure it is spent where our children need it most.
I am also a strong supporter of President Biden's efforts to guarantee universal preschool and two years of community college. These are some of the wisest investments we can make as a country, both for the long-term health and wellbeing of our children and for the professional skill of our workers. As I travel the Commonwealth, I look forward to building support for these policies and learning from you about your educational priorities going forward.
If there’s one thing I’ve seen since I’ve been in Congress, it has been good, important legislation dying in the Senate because of the filibuster. There is an idea that the filibuster is supposed to encourage bipartisanship and compromise, but it actually does the opposite — and it has significantly contributed to people’s belief that our government can’t get anything done. The filibuster raises an important question: what is the point of electing people if the losing party has a veto over the policies of the winners? Eliminating or at least reforming the filibuster will make it clear who is responsible for what does or doesn’t get done in Washington. Voters want and deserve that clarity, instead of the constant confusion and frustration they're getting now.
I will always support rights for the minority party. I want real debate. But particularly when it comes to fundamental democratic issues like protecting the right to vote, I won’t let Mitch McConnell use the filibuster to prevent us from doing our job.
Protect & Strengthen the Affordable Care Act
I believe that all Americans should have the right to see a doctor when they’re sick, which means all Americans need access to health insurance they can afford. The Affordable Care Act made that possible for more than one million Pennsylvanias who were previously uninsured, and guaranteed that insurance companies can no longer discriminate against people with preexisting conditions. I was proud to vote this year for legislation to increase and expand ACA eligibility as part of President Biden’s American Rescue Act, and I’ll keep working in the Senate to make high-quality health care more affordable for all Pennsylvanians.
Cut Prescription Drug Prices
We can drastically cut prescription drug prices for millions of Pennsylvanians immediately by allowing Medicare to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies, just like other countries do all over the world. I cosponsored and helped pass legislation in the House to give Medicare that authority, and I will keep working to get it done in the Senate. It won’t just save seniors money on the medicines they need, it will also save the government huge amounts of money — and our bill uses those savings to expand Medicare to include vision, dental and hearing.
Lower Medicare Eligibility Age
I also support lowering the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 60, which would expand coverage to an estimated 23 million Americans, many of whom struggle to find affordable insurance in the years before they reach 65.
Smarter Health Care Spending
In addition to these and other health care priorities, we also need to look seriously at the big picture of our health care system. The United States spends far more money on health care than any other country in the world, and we don’t have much to show for it. If we want to change that in the long term, I believe our government needs to use its market power much more effectively to reduce costs, help prevent chronic illnesses by addressing their root causes, and compelling health care systems to focus not only on treatment, but on making people healthier. It’s an enormous task that will require serious bipartisan work and innovative solutions, and I’ll work with anyone to start creating the health care system we need and deserve in America in the 21st century.
Israel is a sovereign nation, a true friend of the United States, and a valued security and economic partner. Israel’s existence is a fact. That is non-negotiable. And Israel has the absolute right to defend itself and protect the Israeli people.
That does not mean that the Israeli government should be immune from criticism. I believe that Netanyahu’s government made it more difficult to achieve our most important shared goal: a real peace process leading to a two state solution. I was vocal about that during the recent conflicts, and I hope the new government in Israel will be more seriously committed to a real peace process.
I don’t know anyone who hasn’t felt deep anguish for civilians — Israeli and Palestinian — who are suffering in this conflict. But that shared feeling has been misused by some who are questioning Israel’s fundamental right to defend itself, even under a barrage of violent terrorist attacks.
Let me say again: I believe that Israel has the absolute right to defend itself.
I believe that we need to be strengthening, not undermining, the U.S.-Israel relationship, and that is what I will continue to do in the Senate.
I support continuing to meet the commitments we’ve made to provide foreign aid to Israel, including direct military assistance. And I will work to find new opportunities for economic cooperation and partnership with Israel so that we can help each other solve big problems in the 21st century.
I believe the U.S. must continue to support and defend Israel from attacks on its legitimacy. And I will never hesitate to speak out against anti-Semitism.
I believe that LGBTQ Americans deserve equal rights and protections under the law, just as all Americans do. And I know that we still have a lot of work to do to make that the actual reality for LGBTQ people in Pennsylvania and across the country.
I’m member of the House Equality Caucus, and I was proud to cosponsor and help pass the Equality Act, which will explicitly prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression. This law is necessary — especially here in Pennsylvania, where we still do not have a state law prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ people. And if I’m elected to the Senate, I will work to get it passed and signed into law as soon as possible.
I cosponsored and helped pass legislation to raise the minimum wage to $15, and index the minimum wage to inflation so there will be automatic raises in the future. It’s absurd that the minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 for more than a decade.
This is really simple. If you are a full time minimum wage worker, you are living in poverty. You probably have a second job just to survive. That just shouldn’t be the case in the United States of America in 2021. New police officers in many of our communities make less than $13 an hour. Nursing assistants working in many of our nursing homes were making less than $15 an hour in the middle of a pandemic. That cannot be the case if we want to attract good people to important jobs, keep our communities safe and make sure our loved ones get the quality care they deserve.
Again, this is another issue where there is a bipartisan consensus among the American people. Huge majorities of people in Democratic and Republican states vote repeatedly for ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage to $15, and we’ve passed a federal minimum wage increase twice in the House — only to see it die in Mitch McConnell’s Senate. We need Senators who will vote to put a decent floor under our hardest working and most vulnerable people.
As a Marine, I was trained to use weapons, to respect weapons, and to take responsibility for weapons. The overwhelming majority of gun owners I’ve met in Pennsylvania come from that same culture of respect. They’ve passed background checks and believe every gun owner should have to do the same. I will always defend their Second Amendment right, but I believe it comes with responsibilities.
Universal Background Checks & Closing the Charleston Loop
The law says certain people cannot own firearms — like violent criminals, domestic abusers, or people with certain mental health conditions — and I think we all agree that’s a good law. It’s common sense. That’s why we need to require a background check for all gun sales in America — whether it’s at a store, at a gun show, or online. That’s common sense. I’ve cosponsored and voted for universal background checks twice in the House. I’ve also cosponsored and helped pass legislation to close the Charleston loophole, which will prevent criminals from getting a gun before their background check has been completed.
Building a 21st Century Background Check System
But requiring background checks for all gun sales is just the first step, and the Charleston loophole is just one of many problems we need to fix. To completely overhaul and modernize our background check system from top to bottom, we need a system with no loopholes, no flaws, no gaps. To streamline the process of reporting disqualifying crimes across all jurisdictions — including in the military — we need to integrate relevant mental health records in a way that gets us the information we need while protecting people’s privacy rights and preventing discrimination against people with disabilities. That is a large undertaking, but I promise I will make this a priority from day one. Pennsylvania has begun that process with federal support, and we should build on that success.
Focus on Violent Crime
I believe that women have the constitutional right to make their own choices about their bodies, without interference from government. Period.
I’m Catholic, but no religion determines the law in the United States of America, and no government should have the power to determine any woman’s most important decisions about her life. That’s why I will always vote to defend and uphold women’s right to choose. I will oppose Republican attempts to eliminate choice in the states.
I believe that a constitutional right applies to everyone — regardless of the color of your skin, how much money you make, or what state you live in — and I will work to ensure that all women in America have equal access to the health care services they need.
Protecting & Expanding Social Security & Medicare
These programs represent a promise that our government made to all Americans — that if you work hard and pay your share, your money and your government will be there when you need it. That promise is universal — it includes us all. Breaking that promise would permanently weaken the character of this country. But still, every single year, in every single Republican budget, we see repeated attempts to cut funding and privatize these programs. During election years, Republicans claim they would never cut Social Security and Medicare — because they know these programs are wildly popular — and then they go back to Washington and claim the only way to cut the deficit is to take money from senior citizens collecting maybe $1,500 a month from Social Security — money that those seniors paid in themselves, week after week, over the course of decades of hard work. And we all remember that as soon as Republicans passed their massive tax cut mostly for corporations and the wealthy in 2017, Mitch McConnell immediately said they would try to pay for it by cutting so-called “entitlements.”
Social Security and Medicare are the two most important social programs passed in the 20th century. They fundamentally changed the standard for what kind of lives we are willing to accept for our seniors when they finish a career of hard work and enter into retirement — and in the process, helped lift millions of American seniors out of poverty and drastically improved health outcomes and quality of life for people over 65.
I always work to protect Medicare and Social Security, and I’m also working to expand them. I recently joined Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Joe Neguse, and Jared Golden in an effort to expand Medicare benefits to include vision, hearing and dental care — and that Medicare expansion will be in the American Families Plan that we take up later this year. So while Republicans are working to cut Social Security and Medicare, we are offering bigger Social Security checks and lower drug prices, plus glasses, dentures, and hearing aids that actually work.
Raise the Social Security Income Cap
I have never voted and will never vote to cut Social Security and Medicare, cuts that Pat Toomey’s Club for Growth continues to advocate for. But in the 21st century, our job doesn’t stop at preventing cuts. I’ve met too many seniors in western Pennsylvania who have worked and paid into these programs since they were teenagers, but now can barely get by on their Social Security income — some are even forced to find jobs in their 70s. I am committed to introducing legislation to expand and extend Social Security, fully funding the program through the year 2100 while also increasing benefits and giving seniors a tax cut on top of it.
We can do this, in part, by raising the Social Security income cap, and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share. Right now, the cap is set at $142,800. That means someone making $1 million a year stopped paying Social Security taxes on February 22nd, while about 95% of American workers keep paying it all year long. That makes no sense, and it needs to change so that we can keep Social Security alive and well for seniors and future generations.
Cutting Prescription Drug Prices & Expanding Medicare
We could cut prescription drug costs for almost every American tomorrow by doing one simple thing — allowing Medicare to negotiate with drug companies. But the pharmaceutical industry has spent a lot of money lobbying to make sure that doesn’t happen — that Americans continue to pay far more than anyone else in the world for essential, lifesaving medications.
I cosponsored and helped pass legislation in the House to give Medicare the authority to bargain prices with drug companies directly, and I will keep working to get it done in the Senate. It won’t just save seniors money on the medicines they need, it will also save the government huge amounts of money — and our bill uses those savings to expand Medicare to include vision, dental and hearing coverage.
So while Republicans are working to cut Social Security and Medicare, we are working to increase benefit checks, lower drug prices and add glasses, dentures and hearing aids. We can deliver that and make the promise of these programs real for the 21st century — the only thing stopping us is obstruction in the Senate. I believe we can break through that gridlock and get this reform enacted into law.
Expanding Home and Community-based Care
I am currently working with Rep. Debbie Dingell, Senator Casey and others to pass the Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would increase Medicaid funding to states to expand their home and community-based care services for seniors and people with disabilities, improve care and support for patients and their families, and provide better pay and benefits for caregivers. I am hopeful that we can get this bill passed and signed into law this year as part of the American Families Plan.
The entire country would benefit from a higher percentage of people joining unions. All workers should have the opportunity to do so if they choose.
Labor unions continue to be the most effective advocates for working families in America and the most effective counterbalance to the unprecedented power that corporate interests have accumulated over the past several decades. And I believe unions deserve a place at the center of our public life, just as they had in the past, when they helped build the most thriving middle class in the history of the world.
I’ve worked closely with unions across the wide spectrum of the labor movement since the day I first became a candidate, and I will always work with organized labor to help the families they represent and to ensure that all workers in America have the right to join a union of their choice. That starts with passing the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, which would guarantee that right to all workers and help prevent employers from interfering with their employees’ efforts to organize. I was proud to cosponsor and help pass that bill twice in the House with bipartisan support, and one of my top priorities will be getting it passed in the Senate and signed into law.
Our government must keep the promises we make to the young men and women who serve in the military. As the Vice Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I’ve worked with Democrats and Republicans to help our government do a better job keeping that promise. I’ve gotten several bipartisan bills signed into law, including legislation to improve mental health care and suicide prevention efforts within the VA, to extend pension benefits to the spouses of deceased Medal of Honor recipients, and to extend GI Bill benefits for veterans in apprenticeship programs. I also got a bill passed in the House that would require the government to automatically eliminate student loan debt for permanently disabled veterans. I helped pass the VA Mission Act, which is helping to ensure that all veterans can access the health care services they need, even if that requires them to go outside the VA system. And I am continuing to work on legislation to ensure that veterans exposed to Agent Orange and other toxins get the automatic compensation and care that they deserve.
We have a lot more work to do — on veterans suicide and homelessness, unemployment, supporting veterans who suffered toxic exposure, helping younger veterans get into the VA system as soon as they separate from the military. In the Senate, I’ll work with anyone to solve those problems so that our government keeps the promise we make to veterans. And I’ll also work to make sure that Republicans don’t abandon that promise all together by privatizing the VA.
Americans have had to fight to win the universal right to vote since the country was founded. For anyone who believed that fight was over, what happened in Pennsylvania and around the country in 2020 and 2021 ended that illusion. From the moment the result was clear, our opponents simply lied and tried to steal the election. And now they are working to pass laws to restrict voting and steal future elections by appointing partisans instead of professionals to count the votes.
Supporters of these new laws say they are necessary to prevent fraud at the polls, though such fraud is basically nonexistent. The real point is to deter significant numbers of Democratic voters from participating, particularly black and brown voters and the poor. It is no accident that far-right conspiracy theories about so-called “vote fraud” in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in 2020 focus on communities of color. We all need to call out the lies and the smokescreens being thrown up now. They have just one purpose: to prevent eligible voters from voting without restriction or intimidation and to prevent their votes from being counted honestly and professionally.
Too many people have sacrificed to win expanded participation in our democracy for us to go backwards again.
Pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act & the For the People Act
The John Lewis Voting Rights Act will correct the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, which gutted a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. H.R. 1, the For the People Act, would build on the John Lewis bill to require ALL states to get Justice Department approval before they could change what documents people must provide to exercise their right to vote. It would also make Election Day a federal holiday. Finally, I will support additions to these bills that will prevent state legislatures from stripping election officials of the power to run, count and certify elections. I see these proposals as invitations to fraud and as a mortal threat to our democracy. I have supported the John Lewis bill and H.R. 1 since day one and I believe we have a historic opportunity to make voting easier — not harder – and our elections themselves freer and fairer.