Pennsylvania Capital-Star - 100 Days into the new Congress, we’re bringing change to Washington
Originally published in Pennsylvania Capital-Star.
By Rep. Madeleine Dean, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, and Rep. 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 shutdown and 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.