In the News

Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan comes to Reading, talks small-business growth, jobs

Reading, January 31, 2020
Originally Posted in Reading Eagle

READING—U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan raised the glass to her lips, wincing and coughing as the liquid inside hit her taste buds.

The congresswoman likes hard ciders, but the peach version she had been given at Saucony Creek Brewing Co. Friday was more sour than expected.

"Sorry, I should have warned you," Saucony's vice president of operations Kirby Powell said with a smile.

"No, it's fine," the Chester County Democrat said as she dabbed her face with a cloth napkin. "It's good. I like it."

The taste-testing was part of her official visit to the Franklin Station Brewpub — the first leg of her day's three-stop tour of Berks County businesses.

The purpose of the trip was to highlight the contributions of small businesses. Her other two stops were tours of FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading and the Titus Company, a compressed air and gas system specialist in Morgantown.

Houlahan, a member of the House Small Business Committee, said she is constantly on the hunt for ways to help small businesses thrive.

"We are grateful to be here today to feature and honor businesses and to talk about the importance of good jobs in our community," she said.

Houlahan, who represents Reading and much of southwestern Berks County, said the district is experiencing the benefits of a strong national economy and relatively low unemployment rate. While those achievements should be celebrated, she pointed out that they don't tell the full story.

The unemployment rate only represents people who have actively looked for work within the last month. People who are not working or looking for work are not counted as part of the labor force, and it's likely that some of them could be drawn back if the right opportunity arose. These people have a variety of reasons for being out of the labor force: they may have given up on finding meaningful employment, they many have to take care of children or they may lack the skills necessary to find employment.

"Reading is a really good example of a community that is still in need and in desire of good jobs with good pay," she said. "We are focusing our efforts on situations like this where we have a lot of folks who aren't necessarily being matched with the jobs that are available. And that may be because they don't have access to transportation or they can't find affordable housing where the jobs are."

During a meeting Friday with employees of the Reading Fightin Phils, Houlahan told them a little bit about her background. She said that after leaving active duty for the Air Force Reserve, she went to work with some friends from college who owned a small T-shirt business. The business would expand and grow over time to become the global sportswear company AND1.

"I'm really lucky that I get to take the experience to Washington," she said. "The committee spends a lot of time focusing on how we can give more people access to this economy and how we can elevate small businesses to grow."

Impeachment trial

Houlahan said she was following President Donald Trump's impeachment trial back in Washington. While it appeared by Friday afternoon that Senate Republicans were poised to block witnesses in the trial, she said she was still hoping her GOP colleagues would have a change of heart.

"I would love to see witnesses called and documents presented," she said. "Polls show that 75% of the American people would like to see that as well."

Houlahan, who as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee had a seat in the room where the preliminary phase of the probe was conducted, said if the trial ends with an acquittal the voters will be the ones to decide if Trump deserves a second term.