Casey Marks 100 Days in Office

WASHINGTON, DC-U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) marks his 100th day in office today. During this short time, he has represented Pennsylvania's interests in Washington, DC and followed through on a number of campaign priorities. A statement from Senator Casey and a summary of key issues are both below:

"I am pleased that in the first 100 days of my Senate term I have been able to make progress on the issues that the people of Pennsylvania sent me to the Senate to work on: changing the direction in Washington and focusing on Pennsylvania priorities.

"I joined the Senate in passing a number of my top campaign priorities: a minimum wage increase, a strong ethics reform bill, the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations, and a budget that returns to fiscal responsibility and a balanced budget while also reversing reckless Bush budget cuts to programs that benefit Pennsylvanians.

"I was able to pass an amendment to the budget to pave the way for an expansion of early childhood education, I have worked with Senate leaders to rally support for children's health insurance both in Washington and in Pennsylvania. And as a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have participated in hearings to finally begin to hold the Administration accountable on Iraq and to call for a transition of the mission.

"I am also sad to note that in the past 100 days, Pennsylvania families have mourned the loss of 14 Pennsylvanians killed in Iraq. This brings the total to 160 Pennsylvania troops killed since the war began."

Key Legislative Victories

· The Senate passed four of Senator Casey's campaign priorities: strong ethics reform legislation, an increase in the minimum wage, passing the 9/11 Commission recommendations, and a budget that returns to fiscal responsibility and will bring a surplus by 2012.

· The Senate passed a Casey amendment to the Budget Resolution establishing a reserve fund to pay for expanding access to early childhood education.

· The Senate passed a Baucus-Rockefeller-Casey-Kennedy amendment that stated it is the sense of the Senate that protecting and expanding SCHIP is a top priority.

· The Senate passed a Casey resolution honoring Pennsylvania agriculture and commemorating National Agriculture Day.

· Along with Senator Specter and Congressman Tim Holden, Senator Casey helped convince the Bush Administration to reverse their decision to revoke funding for the Schuylkill County Coal-to-Liquid Fuel plant.

Iraq

· As a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Casey has questioned more than twenty-five witnesses over the course of a dozen hearings lasting over fifty hours and asked the tough questions that should have been posed before we entered this conflict.

· Senator Casey was part of a bipartisan majority in the Senate to pass legislation calling for a change in course in Iraq away from the status quo of the Bush stay the course strategy. Senator Casey was an original cosponsor of the Reid resolution that the Iraq language in the Supplemental Appropriations bill is based on. He has cast votes demanding a full Senate debate on our Iraq policy. And he has spoken out on the Senate floor against the Bush stay the course policy.

Health Care

· The Senate passed a Casey amendment to the Budget Resolution establishing a reserve fund to pay for expanding access to early childhood education.

· The Senate passed a Baucus-Rockefeller-Casey-Kennedy amendment that stated it is the sense of the Senate that protecting and expanding SCHIP is a top priority.

· Participated in a rally to build support for reauthorization of SCHIP with the Children's Health Fund, Families USA and the Campaign for Children's Health Care. Senator Casey also joined Senate leaders on SCHIP including Senator Max Baucus, Jay Rockefeller, and Ted Kennedy, to highlight their commitment to expand SCHIP.

· Senator Casey has visited a number of hospitals and health facilities in Pennsylvania to gather information and draw attention to the importance of reducing the number of uninsured and increasing quality of care. He has visited Walter Reed, the Altoona Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, the Lehigh Valley Medical Center in Allentown, and the Cambria County Head Start Center in Johnstown.

· Senator Casey joined Senator Specter and Governor Rendell at a hearing in Philadelphia to examine the pending merger of Highmark and Independence Blue Cross and to assess the effect on health care delivery.

Agriculture

· Introduced legislation to provide $125 million in emergency relief for Pennsylvania dairy farmers. This legislation followed up on concerns Senator Casey heard while touring dairy farms and hearing of the problems caused by rising fuel and feed costs. Senator Casey also met with U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and asked for help from the Department for Pennsylvania dairy farmers.

· Began a tour of PA farms to listen to constituents and gather information as the Senate Agriculture Committee gears up to consider the Farm Bill. Visited dairy farms in Dauphin and Wayne Counties.

Ethics Reform

· Introduced an amendment to the Senate ethics bill that would have banned the K Street Project and made the practice a federal crime. The amendment would have prohibited a Member of Congress from influencing hiring decisions of private entities. Wrongful influence could include threatening or withholding official action. Those found guilty of such actions would be subject to fine, imprisonment, or disqualification from public office.

· Senator Casey voted for the strong, Senate-passed ethics reform bill that lays out strong restrictions on gifts and travel, along with greater reporting and transparency that will give the American people more confidence that actions taken in Washington are in their best interest and not driven by corrupting influences.

The bill passed by the U.S. Senate was greatly improved over the bill passed by the Senate last year, but not enacted. Closing the corporate jet loophole was a much needed addition to the bill that Senator Casey campaigned on and a rule that he voluntarily abided by since 2005.

Seniors

· Cosponsored legislation to allow Medicare to use its bargaining power to negotiate for lower prices on prescription drugs. Medicare is currently prohibited from negotiating for lower prices due to a provision in the Medicare prescription drug law supported by President Bush and the pharmaceutical industry.

· The Pennsylvania AARP has thanked Senator Casey for supporting the price negotiation legislation that will reduce drug prices. He is also cosponsoring legislation to allow for the reimportation of lower priced FDA-approved prescription drugs.

Troops, Veterans, and Homeland Security

· Visited Pennsylvania troops at Walter Reed. He expressed his concern with Department of Defense health care facilities to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Senator Casey also wrote to VA Secretary Jim Nicholson asking for an assessment of Pennsylvania VA hospitals and nursing homes. In letters to both Secretary Gates and Nicholson, Senator Casey decried the inability of DoD and VA computer systems to track patients as they transfer from active duty to VA care. This deficiency has led to confusion and hardship for injured troops returning home from Iraq.

· Senator Casey cosponsored a bipartisan amendment which would have increased homeland security funding for Pennsylvania by recalculating how homeland security grant funding is distributed to place more of an emphasis on risk assessment. The risk-based Homeland Security Grants Amendment would have increased funding for Pennsylvania by more than a million dollars this year.

· Senator Casey also is cosponsoring legislation with Sen. John McCain to make more spectrum available for wireless communications by public safety entities and to establish the Public Safety Interoperable Communications Working Group to provide standards for public safety spectrum needs.

· Following reports that 88% of National Guard units were stretched too thin, Senator Casey and Senator Patrick Leahy, the co-chair of the National Guard Caucus, held a press conference to draw attention to the problem. Senator Casey is also cosponsoring legislation to address the readiness shortfall by providing $38 billion over five years in appropriations for the equipment needs of the National Guard. Senator Casey is a member of the National Guard Caucus.

· Senator Casey visited Tobyhanna Army Depot to see firsthand the vital work done in Northeast Pennsylvania to keep our armed forces prepared and equipped.

Budget and Taxes

· Senator Casey voted for a Budget Resolution that restores fiscal responsibility by balancing the budget while also providing tax relief for working families, an increased investment in the State Children's Health Insurance Program, more funding to put cops on the beat through the COPS program, and more support for our veterans. The legislation also reverses Bush budget cuts to a number of programs including Amtrak, Community Development Block Grants, and LIHEAP.

· Cosponsored legislation to boost Amtrak funding and spoke out against proposed Bush budget cuts. Senator Casey also introduced Governor Rendell at a Commerce Committee hearing on Amtrak. At the hearing, Senator Casey again expressed his strong support for Amtrak, his opposition to the Bush budget cuts, and his appreciation for the leadership that Governor Rendell has shown on the issue.

· To increase access to higher education, Senator Casey has cosponsored legislation to expand and simplify tax credits that help families save for college. He also wrote a letter to the Senate Budget Committee pressing them to support an increase in the maximum yearly Pell Grant award from $4,310 to $5,100.

· Senator Casey has spoken out against housing cuts proposed by President Bush. As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Casey sent a letter to the White House opposing the cuts. He also drew attention to the cuts at a Pittsburgh press conference.

Global Warming

· Senator Casey was the keynote speaker at the PennFuture Global Warming 2007 conference.

· To fight the emission of global warming pollution, especially among developing countries, Senator Casey is cosponsoring legislation to call on the Senate to address global climate change through international agreements. He is also cosponsoring legislation to study the potential of sequestration and geological storage of the global warming pollutant carbon dioxide.

Other Highlights

· Joined Senator Specter in introducing legislation that would establish an affiliate of the national park system in southwest Pennsylvania devoted to the history of the steel industry in the United States. The Steel Heritage National Historic Site would be located at the former U.S. Steel Homestead Works in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Specific sites would include the location of the Battle of the Homestead, the Carrie Furnace Complex, and the Hot Metal Bridge.

· Along with Senators Chris Dodd and John Kerry (D-MA), Senator Casey sent a letter to the General Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that the GAO look into the legality of the President's recess appointment of Sam Fox to be ambassador to Belgium. On March 28, the Bush Administration withdrew Fox's nomination before the Foreign Relations Committee and then gave Fox a recess appointment.

· Participated in two youth violence and mentoring forums in Philadelphia and Lancaster with Sen. Arlen Specter as well as political and community leaders.

· Helped to expedite the confirmation of District Court Judge Nora Barry Fischer. Senator Casey also voted to confirm Thomas Hardiman to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

· Reversed course from last year's "Do Nothing Congress" by passing important, long-stalled legislation and by meeting more than two weeks more in the first 100 days than the previous Congress.

· Senator Casey has opened four offices in Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, and Scranton. More offices will open in the near future. He also moved into his permanent office space in the Russell Senate office building.

· Senator Casey was the first freshman senator to launch a Senate web site. The web site -- casey.senate.gov -- will soon be replaced with a new redesign.

· Senator Casey has begun a series of "constituent coffees" in Washington to allow Pennsylvanians to meet with him and his staff. These coffees are in addition to the many meetings Senator Casey and his staff have held with constituents in Washington and in Pennsylvania.

· Senator Casey serves on five Senate Committees: Foreign Relations; Agriculture; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; the Special Committee on Aging; and the Joint Economic Committee.

Press Contact

Larry Smar (202) 228-6367