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PA Dems Refuse to Censure Tlaib’s Antisemitic Rhetoric

When the U.S. House of Representatives voted to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) “for promoting false narratives regarding the Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and for calling for the destruction of the State of Israel,” 22 Democrats crossed party lines to pass the resolution.

None of those Democrats were from Pennsylvania.

All three local Democrats, Reps. Madeleine Dean, Mary Gay Scanlon, and Chrissy Houlahan voted against the censure resolution, which passed the House in a 234-188 vote. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) supported the resolution.

In particular, members of Congress were outraged by Tlaib’s use of the antisemitic phrase ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,’ a call to destroy the Jewish nation of Israel. More than 70 House Democrats took the unusual step of releasing a statement condemning the language as “a rallying cry for the destruction of the state of Israel.”

“We reject the use of the phrase “from the river to the sea”— a phrase used by many, including Hamas, as a rallying cry for the destruction of the State of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people. We all feel deep anguish for the human suffering caused by the war in Gaza. Hamas started this war with a barbaric terrorist attack on Oct. 7, 2023, and neither the Palestinian nor Israeli people can have peace as long as Hamas still rules over Gaza and threatens Israel,” the statement read in part.

Tlaib has made no secret of her animosity toward Israel. The only Palestinian-American currently serving in Congress, Tlaib claims, “‘From the river to the sea’ is an aspirational call for freedom, human rights, and peaceful coexistence, not death, destruction, or hate.”

Supporters of Israel note that it is a common chant of terror groups like Hamas and Hezbollah and is usually accompanied by maps with Israel wiped out and replaced by a nation called “Palestine.”

“This phrase means eradicating Israel and Jews. Period. Dressing it up in a new PR ploy won’t change that,” says Florida Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz. 

Houlahan said in a statement that, while she “wish[ed] Rep. Tlaib hadn’t defended this particular charged phrase,” she accused Republicans of also making offensive statements and argued that censoring members of Congress over “essential freedoms, including speech and expression,” is a mistake.

“As a veteran who has sworn the oath to defend the constitution many times, I support those freedoms, even if I vehemently disagree with what’s being said.”

As for the Democratic letter regarding the phrase, a spokesperson for Houlahan told DVJournal, “There was particular phrasing” in the statement with which she disagreed.

Dean issued a statement saying, “As a longtime supporter of a two-state solution — as someone who works in the pursuit of liberation for Palestinians and long-term peace for both Israelis and Palestinians — I do not believe the phrase ‘from the river to the sea’ has a place in our discourse.” And, she added, she believes the phrase “has been co-opted by terrorist groups like Hamas to mean complete and total destruction of the Jewish state.”

But she also refused to sign the Democratic letter of condemnation or vote for censure.

“That’s not to say some of these censures aren’t warranted — but this is not the best use of our limited time,” Dean said via social media.

Scanlon did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.

The only Pennsylvania Democrat who didn’t vote against the resolution was embattled Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown).

She voted “present.”

Delaware County Officials Tour Areas Affected by Recent Storms

From a press release 

Delaware County Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D. joined Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon, Sen, John Kane, and a representative from Sen. Tim Kearney’s office to tour areas of Chadds Ford that were severely damaged by strong thunderstorms and high winds on August 7. The tour, led by the County’s Director of Emergency Services Tim Boyce provided an update on the homes, businesses, and roads that were impacted.

On August 7, several Delaware County municipalities experienced a strong thunderstorm with straight line wind gusts estimated by the National Weather Service at 85 to 95 mph, which is equivalent to an EF-1 Tornado but without rotation.

The storm caused trees to fall, bringing down powerlines and utility poles, causing electrical fires, and damaging homes and businesses. Approximately 1300 calls for service were dispatched to first responders through the county by the County’s 911 Center during or immediately following the storm. Over 600 calls came in from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

The majority of the storm damage was in the western section of the county. Chadds Ford, Concord, Thornbury and Chester Heights have declared disasters.

The County estimates that 100 homes suffered damage and reports are still being filed. Over 30 homes in Chadds Ford, Concord, and Thornbury were damaged, including a home in Chadds Ford that was split in half and a home in Thornbury that was moved off its foundation. Homes in Haverford Township, Middletown, and Norwood also suffered varying degrees of damage. Thankfully, no major injuries were reported.

“The destruction that the storm caused is devastating,” said Taylor. “We’ve seen hundreds of trees down, dozens of homes damaged, and roads unpassable. We know many residents have a great deal of clean up ahead of them and the County is working with state and federal leaders to provide financial assistance.”

Residents are urged to report downed trees and property damage to their municipalities. The County’s Department of Emergency Services is continuing to work with affected municipalities to obtain damage reporting data from their residents and business owners. They are beginning to obtain cost recovery data for storm related damage to infrastructure, cleanup of streets and/or public land for submission to PEMA for possible Public Assistance Re-imbursement.

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Rep. Scanlon Defends Sex-Change Procedures for Minors During Tense Committee Hearing

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) used her position on a key House committee to promote so-called “gender-affirming care” for minors, dismissing testimony from opponents as “far-right ideology.”

Scanlon’s passionate defense came during a recent meeting of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Limited Government featuring testimony from de-transitioner Chloe Cole, who calls herself a “victim of ‘gender-affirming care” (GAC). Swimmer Paula Scanlan, a University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming team member who was forced to compete with biological male Lia Thomas, also spoke about her experience.

Scanlon rejected any criticism of GAC.

“Make no mistake, today’s hearing is not about protecting children’s or parents’ rights. It is a cynical and dangerous political attack on transgender children and their families. It is not driven by science or facts, but by polling and political strategists determined to mobilize conservative voters through fear,” Scanlon said in her opening statement.

GAC doesn’t have a uniform medical definition and can be used to describe treatments ranging from social affirmation to hormone administration/puberty blocking to mutilating surgeries such as mastectomies for teenagers.

The New York Times reported, “The treatments are relatively new, and few studies have tracked their long-term effects.” The available data have raised so many questions about the treatment that the American Academy of Pediatrics has “commissioned a fresh look at the evidence,” according to the Times.

Cole, who spoke at a No Left Turn in Education event in Huntingdon Valley in March, told her story to the committee on her 19th birthday.

Cole said she began experiencing gender dysphoria when she was 12, and her parents took her to doctors who advised hormones and puberty blockers. The medical professionals convinced her parents by asking them, “Would you rather have a dead daughter or a trans son?” Cole said.

“We became victims of gender-affirming care,” said Cole, whose breasts were removed at 15. By 16, she realized she had made a horrible mistake and wanted to be female. The medical professionals, who she is now suing, preyed on “an insecure teenage girl,” said Cole. She had thoughts of suicide after her surgery, not before.

“We need to stop telling 12-year-olds they were born in the wrong body,” said Cole. And “gender-affirming care” is a medical scandal.

Swimmer Paula Scanlan said that as a victim of sexual assault, having a “6-foot-4-inch tall biological male, fully intact with male genitalia” in the women’s locker room was extremely disturbing. University officials refused to listen to the women swimmers’ complaints and offered them “counseling” instead. The university said, “We, the women were the problem, not the victims. We were expected to conform, to move over and shut up.”

She expressed her concerns in an op-ed in The Daily Pennsylvanian, only to have it removed hours later, a violation of her First Amendment rights, she said.

Scanlan also noted that men are biologically stronger and are taking wins from women athletes.

“This is real,” said Scanlan. “I know women who lost roster spots and spots on the podium.”

“The University of Pennsylvania nominated (transgender swimmer) Lia Thomas as NCAA Woman of the Year. I find that very offensive,” she added.

Jennifer Baulwens, Ph.D. director of the Center for Family Studies with Family Research Council, told the committee several other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Norway, Finland, and Sweden, no longer allow surgeries and therapies to change children’s gender. She said 85 percent of cases of sexual dysphoria resolve by themselves if “left alone.” And 45 percent of those claiming to be transgender had previously experienced sexual abuse. As for the “suicidal claim,” it is “not supported by the literature.” Instead, a 10-year Swedish study showed a  suicide rate 19 times higher than the general population after transition and that people may not regret it for five or more years.

In her opening statement, Scanlon said that “parents have the ultimate right” over their children’s healthcare.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) suggested they write a bipartisan bill affirming that children cannot undergo transgender medical care without the “informed consent” of their parents. He noted that some states, including California and Washington, now disregard parents’ opposition to that care and step in to have minors undergo it without parental permission.

But Scanlon backed off.

“I think you’re mischaracterizing the complete agreement,” she said.

McClintock said, “I thought we had arrived at that agreement until it comes down to doing it. Then you seem to have a change of heart.”

A parent of a transgender teenager and an LGBTQ-plus advocate testified that “gender-affirming” is necessary and is the medical standard in the U.S. Opposition witnesses swayed neither Democrat nor Republican committee members.

Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-Texas), the father of two daughters, talked about substituting children’s judgment for parents, using a food pyramid with only ice cream as a food choice.

“This is ridiculous. I don’t care what party you’re a part of. If you think we’re all equally the same biologically, you literally lost your mind.

“And when my two daughters work hard in a sport, work hard in their craft to be the best that they can be amongst other women, they will compete against other women. I owe Victoria and Olivia and every other young lady in this country that.”

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Casey, Fetterman Back Federal Override of PA Election Laws

Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman are among the Democrats who are sponsoring the re-introduction of the so-called “Freedom to Vote Act,” a sweeping federal law that would override the Keystone State’s election rules. From requiring early voting to preventing voter ID mandates, the Casey-backed bill would impose federal requirements on locally-run elections, substituting national rules for those enacted by Pennsylvania lawmakers.

“I don’t have to tell you how transformational our legislation is,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said at a Capitol Hill press conference last week. “The Freedom to Vote Act would fundamentally right size our democracy, advancing access to the ballot, ending the scourge of concentrated money in our politics, and giving voice to everyday Americans.”

The act is the U.S. Senate’s version of the “For The People Act,” also known as H.R.1, passed by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic-controlled House in 2021. The bill was approved without any GOP votes while having the support of every Pennsylvania Democrat. Now Democrats in both chambers are backing the Senate’s version of the bill expanding federal control over state election laws.

Reps. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Philadelphia/Delaware) declined to respond to questions about their support for the bill. A spokeswoman for Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Berks/Chester) said she supports it but did not join the effort as a cosponsor because it is not “bipartisan.”

When the House passed its version of the bill in 2021, Scanlon made it clear she wanted the federal government to override elected legislators in Harrisburg.

“The Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act protects our democracy by preventing state legislatures, like the Pennsylvania General Assembly, from making it harder for Americans to vote. This bill sets minimum standards which the states must meet — because so many have not.”

And Casey was particularly outspoken when the bill failed in the Senate, suggesting opponents were protecting “white supremacy.” In a 2021 interview, Casey said election reforms in states like Georgia’s were “voter suppression bills.”

“At its core, we should just be blunt about this; these voter suppression bills are about white supremacy,” Casey said.

(Georgia set a voter turnout record in 2022 under the new laws Democrats opposed, and Black voters told pollsters their voting experience was overwhelmingly positive.)

Opponents of the bill say states should control elections as outlined in the Constitution. They also argue that some of the requirements of the federal proposal are unpopular with voters. Among the bill’s mandates:

— Require Pennsylvania to have at least 13 days of early voting, including weekends, and to count ballots that come in late;

— Give millions of public dollars to political candidates to use on campaign staff, TV ads, attack mailers, etc.

–Allow felons to vote. Voting Rights Restoration for “Returning Citizens;” Restores the right to vote in federal elections for people who have served their time for felony convictions after being released from prison.

The bill’s advocates acknowledge it would require states like Pennsylvania to have both online voter registration and same-day voter registration, all without voter ID. Instead of proof of identification, the voting bill says state election officials “shall treat an individual desiring to vote in person in an election for Federal office as meeting such voter identification requirement if the individual presents the appropriate State or local election official with a sworn written statement, signed in the presence of the official by an adult who has known the individual for at least six months under penalty of perjury, attesting to the individual’s identity.”

Critics say that allowing voters without identification to simply present a signed document from someone who claims to know them would not inspire confidence in ballot integrity.

“This legislation eviscerates voter ID, opens the door for non-citizens to vote, and makes voting less transparent. Polling shows that Americans don’t want far left Democrats like John Fetterman and Bob Casey to seize control of local elections, and that’s why the ‘Freedom to Cheat Act’ will fail again,” said Republican National Committee spokesman Gates McGavick.

According to a Gallup poll taken last year, 79 percent of Americans support requiring a photo ID in order to vote.


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DelVal Dems Oppose National Defense Authorization Act

The $886 billion 2024 National Defense Authorization Act  (NDAA) passed in the U.S. House Friday, with the Delaware Valley’s Democratic representatives voting against it and Bucks County Republican Brian Fitzpatrick voting for it.

At issue are GOP-backed amendments pushing back on new policies put in place by the Biden Defense Department (DoD) on contentious social issues like abortion, transgender medical procedures, and DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.) For example, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision sent regulating abortion back to the states, the DoD implemented new policies paying for travel for women in the armed forces who are stationed in states with abortion restrictions and want to travel out of state for the procedures.

In a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, all Republican members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee wrote the policy change “would force taxpayers to subsidize abortions by paying for service members or their dependents to travel to obtain the procedure and by granting additional leave for this purpose.”

Under the longtime rules of the Hyde Amendment, federal funding for abortions is not allowed. Critics say the Biden administration’s policy violates that rule.

Another amendment would block the military from funding gender procedures on minor children that could result in sterilization — including hormone therapy and puberty blockers. It is another issue injected into the NDAA by the Biden administration. National Review reported, “A team of military medical practitioners in the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) defended “gender-affirming” care, including hormone replacement and puberty blockers for dysphoric minors as young as seven years old.”

Republicans argued the Biden administration is using the U.S. military to advance what they call “woke” politics.

“It’s a good thing the Republicans are in the majority, but it’s more important that we keep our promises to America and to our men and women who serve to defend us. And today is exactly what we did,” said Speaker Kevin McCarthy  (R-Calif.). The NDAA passed on a largely party-line 219-210 vote.

Delaware Valley Democrats disagree.

“The bipartisan annual defense bill that I proudly passed out of committee is no longer recognizable with all the extreme amendments tacked on,” Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks) wrote on Twitter. “It left me no choice but to vote against it. Our service members and their families deserve better.”

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) accused Republicans of taking a bipartisan bill and “transforming” it “into an extremist manifesto that targets lifesaving care for women in uniform, attacks LGBTQ+ service members, and chooses the books that military families can read.”

“For decades, Congress has crafted and passed the National Defense Authorization Act on a bipartisan basis. While major pieces of legislation like this are – of necessity – works of compromise, House Democrats worked to craft a bipartisan bill that demonstrates our commitment to national security and ensures that our service members and their families would get the support that they deserve,” said Scanlon.

Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) said she voted against the bill because it was “hijacked by extremists.”

“I cannot and will never compromise on a woman’s freedom to control her own body,” said Wild. “This bill undermines female servicemembers’ access to reproductive healthcare at the expense of our military readiness. It is a slap in the face to our female servicemembers—women who defend American freedom every day—to tell them that they do not deserve the fundamental freedom to make their own healthcare decisions.”

Chris Gustafson, a spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee, noted that Wild voted against an amendment to the NDAA that prohibits taxpayer dollars from going to the Taliban.

“Voting against pay raises for our troops and the safety of our country over taxpayer-funded late-term abortions and woke transgender ideology is extreme and dangerous,” said Gustafson. Wild is “following an extreme and dangerous agenda led by the fringe elements of their party that are entirely out of touch with the American people.”

He added Wild should explain why she is “willing to put our national security risk for (her) woke agenda.”

Neither Dean nor Fitzpatrick responded to requests for comment.

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DelVal Dems Back Higher Mortgage Fees for Good Borrowers

Three Delaware Valley congresswomen voted to keep President Joe Biden’s new policy that lowers mortgage fees for borrowers with poor credit and raises them for would-be home buyers who’ve earned higher credit scores.

Democratic Reps. Madeleine Dean (Montgomery), Mary Gay Scanlon (Delaware/Philadelphia), and Chrissy Houlahan (Chester/Berks) voted against the Middle-Class Borrower Protection Act that would reverse the fee changes that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac now charge.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh) voted for the bill to stop the new fee structure. It passed the House Monday on a 230-189 bipartisan vote, with all Republicans present, plus 14 Democrats.

“In May, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the agency which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, made changes to the structure of upfront mortgage fees that would result in higher costs for borrowers with higher credit scores,” Fitzpatrick told DVJournal. “Hardworking middle-class families looking to purchase a home should not have to subsidize less creditworthy, riskier borrowers. We must ensure our housing finance system remains stable so we avoid a repeat of the 2008 financial crisis while pursuing bipartisan solutions to housing affordability. I am happy to see the Middle-Class Borrower Protection Act pass the House with a bipartisan vote.”

Biden’s progressive policy, which took effect May 1, promotes “social justice” by reducing lending fees on borrowers with lower credit scores. Meanwhile, home buyers with a credit score over 680 will pay about $500 more per year on a $400,000 loan. That adds up to more than $14,000 throughout a 30-year mortgage.

And borrowers who put aside enough in savings for a 20 percent down payment will pay the highest fees under the new FHFA policy.

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), who introduced the act, repeatedly said the new fee structure is “a socialist redistribution of wealth.”

“It’s a scheme created by the Federal Housing Finance Agency that forces financially responsible homebuyers with good credit to subsidize those with bad credit. Responsible action should never be penalized, and irresponsible action shouldn’t be subsidized. Under this rule, most new homebuyers will pay higher fees to offset the costs of riskier borrowers,” Davidson said.

Under the new LLPA (Loan-Level Price Adjustment) fee schedule, the borrower with modest credit — 640 to 659 — who puts down just 5 percent would enjoy a fee drop from 2.75 percent to 1.5 percent. But a borrower with good credit (740-759) with a 20 percent down payment would see their fee double from 0.5 percent to 1 percent.

Republicans and many responsible borrowers have lashed out against the policy, described by critics as income distribution applied to home ownership. Some 18 Republican governors also opposed the policy.

“We write to you in regard to the mandated May 1, 2023, changes to the loan level pricing adjustment (“LLPA”) structure employed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and ask that you reverse course on behalf of hardworking Americans across the country,” the Republicans said in a letter to President Joe Biden and his Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Sandra Thompson.

“In short, the new LLPA framework will inevitably increase mortgage costs for lower-risk individuals and handicap those borrowers with larger down payments. Further, the changes provide no incentive to borrowers to maintain good credit and will confuse borrowers at all credit levels.”

“Your actions are threatening the American housing system,” they added.

Treasurers and finance officials from 27 states, led by Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity, also urged Biden to end his “unconscionable” policy that requires people with good credit scores to subsidize mortgage loans for others.

“This new policy makes it more expensive for people with good credit to buy houses – and that’s absurd,” said Garrity. “Americans who have built a good credit score and saved enough to make a strong down payment should not be penalized and forced to pay more on their mortgage every single month. I’m proud that so many of my colleagues from across the country – representing a majority of states – have united to urge the immediate elimination of this policy.”

Dean, Houlahan, Scanlon, and Wild declined to respond to requests for comment.

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DelVal Dems Vote With Biden on Gas Stove Ban Bill

Yes, the Biden administration really is coming for your gas stove. And the entire Delaware Valley Democratic delegation voted on Tuesday to help it do so.

U.S. Reps. Madeleine Dean, Chrissy Houlahan, and Mary Gay Scanlon voted against the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, a bill to protect Americans’ ability to choose the type of stove they want in their kitchen. Despite their opposition, it passed the House with a bipartisan 248-180 majority.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) voted for the measure.

“The Biden administration is intent on weaponizing every aspect of the federal government to achieve its ideological goals,” said Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), the bill’s author. “Consumer protection should be about safety, not used as a veiled push to eliminate fossil fuels and the millions of jobs they support. Americans should decide if gas stoves are right for their families, not the federal government. I’m glad to see this commonsense bill to rein in the administration pass the House.”

The Biden White House issued a statement claiming that while “it does not support any attempt to ban the use of gas stoves,” Biden will veto legislation stripping the administration of the power to ban them.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 47 percent of Pennsylvania households rely on natural gas or propane for heat, far more than electricity (29 percent) or heating oil (20 percent). Across the nation, there are some 45 million gas stoves and ovens, and 187 million households use natural gas, according to the American Gas Association.

And they like it, too. A 2021 national Morning Consult poll found, “When it comes to the choice between natural gas and electricity for cooking, natural gas is still the favored choice: 73 percent of respondents who prefer to keep their gas stoves said they’ve used both and electric ‘did not work as well as gas alternatives.’”

But climate change activists have targeted natural gas in general and gas stoves in particular.

In January, the Biden administration’s Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) chair Richard Trumka said a ban on gas stoves and ranges is “on the table,” a statement that sparked immediate backlash. Even President Joe Biden felt the need to disavow his appointee’s statement. But newly-uncovered emails show the White House had been discussing restrictions on gas appliances with the CPSC months before the announcement.

And the Biden Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing new regulations on gas stoves that, according to a nonpartisan Congressional Research Service report, would keep about half of the current gas stove models off the market.

“In assessing the conversion itself, DOE conducted a market survey and sampled 21 units currently on the market, finding 20 would not comply with the proposed standard without conversion of the equipment,” the Service reported.
“It’s interesting how some Democratic lawmakers are so fervently ‘pro-choice’ on some issues, but then they turn around and vote to deny personal choice on other issues, as is the case here,” said Kurt Knaus with the Pennsylvania Energy Infrastructure Alliance. “Opponents of clean-burning natural gas are moving their campaigns from the fields where wells are drilled and pipelines are built, and they now have their sights set on our kitchen stoves. It’s unbelievable.

“Fortunately, common sense won the day here,” Knaus added.

The effort to ban gas stoves has also increased at the state and local levels.

The state of New York has banned new natural gas hookups beginning in most buildings by 2026.

In Massachusetts, “a group of progressive Democratic lawmakers has filed proposals requiring the state to draft regulations restricting gas ranges and other appliances in new construction.”

The attorneys general of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New York have signed a letter demanding that the federal government crackdown on gas stoves.

And the Biden administration filed a joint brief in federal court on Monday supporting Berkeley, Calif.’s ban on natural gas in new buildings that was struck down in federal court.

“This measure isn’t just about protecting consumer choice,” said Knaus. “It’s also about defending against onerous restrictions that serve no other real purpose than trying to disrupt markets for natural gas, something that would damper our state and regional economies and threaten the job creation we have seen over the decade-plus in Pennsylvania.”

Chris Gustafson with the National Republican Congressional Committee called out Pennsylvania Democrats, all of whom voted against the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, for what he called their “extreme” position.

“It’s no secret that extreme Democrats like Matt Cartwright and Susan Wild want to control every facet of American life: from what we drive, to what we learn, and now we cook. These extreme control freaks have no concept of the real problems facing everyday Americans, so they’re inventing new ones instead.”

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Delco Garners Nearly $1M in Federal Funds for Maternal Health

From a press release

Delaware County Council Chair Monica Taylor Ph.D., Vice Chair Elaine Paul Schaefer and Delaware County Health Department Director Melissa Lyon participated in a press conference hosted by Sen. Bob Casey and Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon on April 25 at the Delaware County Courthouse.

The press conference highlighted substantial funding for the Delaware County Health Department.

Casey and Scanlon, both Democrats, secured $954,000 in community project funding that will allow the Delaware County Health Department (DCHD) to create a new workforce development program to train Perinatal Community Health Care Workers (PCHW) and doulas who can work to reduce racial disparities in maternal health.

The program also aims to reduce racial and economic disparities in maternal care through education, targeted training, and deployment of doulas in communities that have the highest disparities in maternal and child health outcomes. The goal of this program is to ensure that Delaware County women will receive the support they need to assist in healthy pregnancies and deliveries, as well as reduce disparities in maternal and birth outcomes.

Casey and Scanlon fought for this community project funding to improve maternal health outcomes in Southeastern Pennsylvania and bolster the health care workforce.

“When the Delaware County Health Department applied for community project funding, it struck me that infant mortality rates were three times higher for babies born to Black mothers than those born to White mothers here in Delco,” said Casey. “If we are not keeping moms and babies safe, then we are not doing enough to keep our nation safe. By investing in community health workers, this project invests in those who know their community best, making them uniquely suited to provide the proper maternal health care to their neighbors.”

The disparate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color has brought a new focus to health disparities, including the longstanding inequities in maternal and infant health, officials said.

Many low-income families in Delaware County have challenges accessing healthcare and some families struggle because English is not a first language. Those challenges are also compounded by the fact that the Delaware County community recently lost a birthing hospital- Delaware County Memorial Hospital- which serves a large population, many of which are low-income and English is not their first language, officials said.

There is a crisis in Delaware County and throughout the nation regarding maternal and infant mortality. Black and Brown women are three times more likely to die during childbirth compared to White women. And research also shows that Black women are at significantly higher risk for severe maternal morbidity, such as preeclampsia. And Black women have higher rates of admission to the intensive care unit during delivery compared to White women. There are clear racial disparities in maternal and infant health and it’s critical that we work to raise awareness and create change, officials said.

“Every mother in our community deserves to live a happy, healthy life with her baby, but tragically, our country has the worst maternal health outcomes in the developed world, and Black women are three times more likely to die from childbirth than white women, said Scanlon.

“With this new federal funding for additional maternal health care workers and doulas, Delaware County is taking urgently needed action to reverse these alarming trends and protect our mothers and babies. I’m grateful for Sen. Casey and Delaware County’s partnership in advancing evidence-based solutions that will save lives and reduce disparities.”

Members of the newly created Delaware County Maternal Child Health Committee also attended the press conference. In February, county Council and the county Health Department formed the Delaware County Maternal Child Health Committee to address the critical public health issues facing mothers and children in our community. The committee is working to address the disparities in maternal health outcomes in Delaware County.

Subcommittees will be formed in other key areas of concern, including concerns that will be identified by the upcoming Delaware County Needs Assessment.

“The Committee’s expertise and passion surrounding maternal and children’s health can help the county to prevent deaths and also greatly improve the overall health and well-being of women, babies, and children across the county,” said Taylor. “As council and the County Health Department gain valuable information and data, we can utilize the community project funding to work to improve maternal health outcomes in Delaware County. Our goal is that every pregnant woman has a healthy pregnancy and their babies have a healthy start when they are brought into this world.”

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Jewish Activists Call Out Dem Vote to Keep Omar on Key Committee

Despite her history of antisemitic statements and anti-Israel rhetoric, all three Democrats representing the Delaware Valley voted to keep controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) on the Foreign Relations Committee. Now Jewish organizations are calling them out for backing someone whose antisemitism has been repeatedly called out by members of her own party.

The Republican majority, with the help of Bucks County GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, successfully removed Omar last week from the committee that plays an important role in the nation’s foreign policy, including the state of Israel.

“It’s just that her worldview of Israel is so diametrically opposed to the committee’s,” said Foreign Relations Committee chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) leading up to the vote. “I don’t mind having differences of opinion, but this goes beyond that.”

Omar’s antisemitic statements and anti-Israel stances are well known. She has claimed she is criticized for her anti-Israel positions — including supporting the antisemitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement — because of the influence of Jewish money. “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby,” she tweeted. She has also claimed, “Israel has hypnotized the world. May Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.”

She has also compared the U.S. and Israel to the terrorist groups Hamas and the Taliban, for which she was also rebuked by Democrats in 2021.

That wasn’t enough to stop Delaware Valley Democrats from siding with her.

”Rep. Omar immediately apologized when told by the Jewish community that her words were hurtful and put in the work to become a better ally,” said Rep. Madeline Dean on Twitter. “Her four years on House Foreign Affairs Committee have been dedicated to peace and human rights — and she should remain.”

And Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia) accused the GOP of partisanship.

“Speaker McCarthy struck a corrupt bargain with MAGA extremists to get the speaker’s chair when he agreed to remove Rep. Omar from her committee. This partisan political stunt strikes a blow to the integrity of our democratic institutions.”

Interestingly, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks), who serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee, declined to respond to a request for comment. In 2019, in the wake of Omar’s antisemitic comments, Houlahan publicly denounced her. “There is no place for antisemitic comments from anyone at anytime, anywhere. This is not who we are, and language which does not reflect our national values must be called out and condemned without exception,” Houlahan tweeted at the time.

But today she is silent.

The Coalition for Jewish values, which represents 2,000 American rabbis, supported taking Omar off the committee.

“We are obviously very pleased with the outcome,” said Rabbi Yakov Menken, a spokesman for the group. “It is a morally correct outcome. But we’re very distressed at the same time. Her defenders turned around and accused her critics of racism.  That is inverting bigot and victim, which is unacceptable.”

One of those who voted to retain Omar is Rep. Susan Wild (D-Lehigh). Wild is Jewish, serves on the Foreign Affairs Committee, and voted to keep Omar on the committee. She did not respond to a request for comment.

Wynnewood Rabbi Yonah Gross, a regional ambassador for the Coalition for Jewish Values, was also pleased with Omar’s removal.

Omar has had antisemitic views that she “sometimes covered as being anti-Israel. But even that would be considered antisemitic. And to have her on the Foreign Affairs Committee and have access to information and influence in an area that affects Israel and allowing her bias to impact those decisions is a dangerous thing to allow.”

“She’s certainly welcome to represent her constituents, and she could be on other committees, but her antisemitic, anti-Israel bias makes her unfit to be on that committee, in my view,” said Gross.

Philadelphia Cantor Elliott Tessler also favored removing Omar from the committee.

“The last place she should be is the Committee on Foreign Relations, somebody with such strong anti-Israel feelings,” said Tessler. “I read an article this week that she was flying a Palestinian flag in her office. She’s a constant critic of Israel. That is the absolute last committee she should be on. It’s a very important committee, very powerful.”

“Martin Luther King said anti-Israel criticism is antisemitism,” said Tessler.

Cheltenham resident Myron Goldman said, “It was the right move.”

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Former Scanlon Staffer and Mayoral Candidate at Center of Controversy Over Money Missing from Chichester Football Booster Club

A former staffer for U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon and former candidate for mayor of Trainer stands at the center of a mystery surrounding thousands of missing dollars from the Chichester football booster club, according to a document obtained by Broad + Liberty.

The Chichester School District sent a letter last Friday to Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer, asking his office to investigate Faith King for her role as “bank signatory” for the football booster’s club from December 2021 to July 2022. The letter says $12,000 went missing from the club’s accounts during that time.

King’s attorney denied any wrongdoing by his client.

“In discussing the issues addressed in your email with my client, Ms. King would respectfully respond that she performed her duties responsibly, ethically, and with fidelity to the booster club at all times,” King’s attorney, James Gallagher said. “All finances were appropriately handled, and accounts were provided as needed. Ms. King categorically denies any allegations that she misappropriated, embezzled, or otherwise used booster club funds in any illicit or unethical way.”

King was the Democratic nominee for mayor of Trainer in 2021, a borough of just under 2,000 people in Delaware County. She lost to Republican Marilyn Maher by a wide 62-37 margin.

According to quarterly expense reports published by the U.S. House of Representatives, King first appeared on Scanlon’s payroll in the second quarter of 2021. She was still listed on the congresswoman’s payroll in the most recently published expense report which covered the second quarter of 2022, employed as Scanlon’s Pennsylvania-based scheduler and outreach coordinator.

“Ms. King is no longer employed by Congresswoman Scanlon’s office,” said Carina Figliuzzi, spokeswoman for Scanlon. “The inquiry sent to the Congresswoman’s office today [by Broad + Liberty] is the first time she and her staff have been made aware of this situation or any similar accusations against Ms. King.”

Scanlon’s office did not mention when King was dismissed, or give any reasons behind her departure.

The letter from the school district to Stollsteimer goes in-depth on the district’s numerous attempts to try to get to the bottom of the issue, but claims that King stopped cooperating.

“For the past three months, the School Board has attempted to obtain information from Ms. King about the whereabouts of the disputed funds as well as an accounting of the transactions during the time that she was bank signatory,” the district’s letter to Stollsteimer said.

King does not appear to have been charged with any crime at the moment, and is presumed innocent until proven guilty. And the district stopped short of making a full allegation against her in its letter to law enforcement.

“While the school board hopes that nothing fraudulent or untoward has occurred, the School Board needs answers about these funds,” the letter said.

A request for comment to the Delaware County District Attorney’s office was not returned.

This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty.