Moving the Route 219 project forward wasn’t easy, but doing so will vastly improve infrastructure in the region and contribute to growing Southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy. I worked with key senators to secure language in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) transportation bill that allowed toll credits to fund Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) projects and allowed the federal cost share on ADHS projects to increase from 80% to 100%. This is a step forward for Somerset County and will help create economic growth in the region, and I’m proud to help make this project a reality today.
Last November, I called for a more assertive US approach to the conflict in Syria because it is in line with our national security interests and our humanitarian values. Taking action now will certainly be more difficult than it was last year, but if the administration does decide to act in collaboration with our allies in Europe and the Middle East, it should act decisively to avoid further extending the conflict. As part of any military response, the US should redouble its efforts to support the moderate opposition with training and equipment. The US should also increase humanitarian support for Syrians inside the country as well as refugees in surrounding countries. Addressing the crisis in Syria at this stage will be extremely difficult, but every day that Assad remains in power helps Iran and Hezbollah and threatens stability across the region. Iran and terrorist organizations, like Hezbollah, are plotting against the United States and its allies every day. I commend the Administration for confronting this difficult but critical challenge. Assad has slaughtered more than 100,000 people and stoked sectarianism throughout the region. He has crossed more than a red line and the United States must act in the interest of our national and global security.
I was disturbed to hear the reports of chemical weapons use in Syria. The UN inspection team on the ground should look into these new claims and determine if the regime has once again employed the use of these terrible weapons. This should also serve to refocus the attention of the US and international community. Hundreds continue to be killed in Syria on a weekly basis. And once again, the Administration's red line appears to have been crossed. I continue to believe that the US should consider assertive ways to end the atrocities committed against the Syrian people. Our national security interests continue to be at stake - every day that Assad remains in power is a benefit to Iran and the terrorist group Hezbollah.
This coming Friday it will be my honor to welcome the President and the Vice President back to Northeastern Pennsylvania. I'm pleased that the President and Vice President will be in Northeastern Pennsylvania and specifically at Lackawanna College to discuss the need to focus on job creation and economic growth. Lackawanna College is a great example of an institution that gives graduates the skills they need to compete for good paying jobs.
The Commonwealth Court’s decision to strike down voter ID for the 2013 elections is a victory for equal access to the ballot in Pennsylvania. I hope that this decision is a precursor to permanently striking down this misguided and ill-conceived law. From the beginning, this law has been designed to prevent Pennsylvanians from exercising their right to vote and has impacted residents young and old from urban and rural counties. Whenever Pennsylvania’s so-called ‘Voter ID’ law has been held to a test of basic fairness it’s failed. It’s time for the state to stop defending this politically motivated legislation. Those pursing this law need to ask themselves hard questions about whether it’s the role of government to put roadblocks in front of seniors, veterans and ultimately all Pennsylvanians who want their voices heard at the ballot box.