Wait? What? Pennsylvania has clout on Capitol Hill now? | Friday Morning Coffee

February 8, 2019 7:12 am

Why are these guys smiling? (Capital-Star photo collage)

Good Friday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

There’s no nice way to say this, so we’re just going to come out and say it. It’s been a lonnnnggggg time since Pennsylvania had any clout on Capitol Hill.

How long?

We’re talking ‘Single Bullet Theory” long. We’re talking “Not Proven, Scottish Law” long.

Not since dinosaurs … err … the late U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-D-Whatever-Pa., prowled the halls of the Capitol has the Keystone State come even close to being drunk on the kind of pure power that comes with being gifted with serious clout in Washington.

Oh, sure, you say, what about U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., who chaired the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee?


Shuster  may have had a chairmanship. But let’s face it, most Pennsylvanians will remember the Shusters for ramming through the funding for an interstate highway driven primarily by Penn State fans who got lost on the way to State College and ended up in Altoona.

But as Capital-Star Washington Bureau Chief Robin Bravender (Yeah, we got one of them) reports this Friday morning, Pennsylvania now has not one, but two, seats on the uber-powerful, tax-writing House Ways & Means Committee.

U.S. Reps. Brendan Boyle and Dwight Evans, both Philly Democrats, have found themselves smack dab in the middle of the committee’s fight to obtain President Donald Trump’s tax returns. Another Pennsylvania lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, an Erie Republican, also sits on the panel.

More from Bravender:

“Under the Constitution and our system of checks and balances, Congress has not just the right but the responsibility to oversee whether our laws are faithfully executed by the executive branch,” Boyle said. “In accordance with this duty, almost a century ago, Congress explicitly enumerated this committee’s right to review any return or return information.”

Democrats on the oversight panel focused on legislation that would require candidates running for president and vice president to release their tax returns. Past presidents have typically done so, but Trump has withheld his, enraging Democrats who accuse him of having something to hide.

It’s unusual for one state to have such a strong presence on the coveted committee.

“That’s rather unique to have not just two people from the same state, but from the same city,” Evans told the Capital-Star Thursday in an interview.

“’Obviously Philadelphia and Pennsylvania is very significant to this country and significant in that it’s one of the original 13 states.”

He said Pennsylvania has historically had an important presence on the panel, pointing back to U.S. Rep. Thaddeus Stevens, a Pennsylvania Republican who was Ways and Means chairman from 1861 until 1865.”

More of our stuff:
Associate Editor Sarah Anne Hughes
 has a look at Gov. Tom Wolf’s second try at getting municipalities without their own police departments to pay for their free state police protection.

Hughes and Staff Reporter Elizabeth Hardison go deep on the Wolf administration’s push for a $45,000 minimum salary for school teachers.

And a columnist of your acquaintance wonders whether, emboldened by recent action in Washington, we’ll see a resurgence by payday lenders in Pennsylvania this year.

PhillyClout explains how Johnny Doc aimed a threat in the wrong direction. 

The Post-Gazette runs down Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s lawsuit against UPMC, which accuses the regional healthcare giant of straying from its charitable mission.

PennLive explains why it’s such a big deal that a Sunday hunting bill cleared a state Senate committee.

GoFundMe is holding a free seminar in Philly on crowd-funding for social benefit,BillyPenn reports.
Here’s The Incline on Pittsburgh’s new incubator for women-owned businesses.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

WHYY-FM takes a look at the state’s efforts to ensure election security ahead of 2020.

Ex-Allentown Managing Director Francis Dougherty will be sentenced todayThe Morning Call reports.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Conor Lamb, Susan Wild, and Matt Cartwright are on the NRCC’s early  hit list for 2020, PoliticsPA reports. looks at some unusual recruiting techniques by local police departments.

What Goes On.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., joins U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-11th District, and Lancaster County’s GOP commissioners for a 2 p.m. event at the county government center, rolling out a bill aimed at stopping future government shutdowns. Toomey and Smucker we get. We’re just assuming the county commissioners are along for the ride because this is an odd-numbered year.

Gov. Tom Wolf 
heads to Philly for a pair of events as his “Please, for the Love of God, Pass My Budget, It’s Practically Republican”  tour continues. At 11:30 a.m., he’s at Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa., to talk up a program that helps lift single moms out of poverty. At 2:15 p.m., he’ll rally for a higher minimum wage at the Frankford Transportation Center.
We said … “practically Republican.”

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s an absolute classic by The Clash to get your Friday morning rolling.

Friday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Carolina’s Teuvo Teravainen lifted the Hurricanes to a 6-5 overtime win in Buffalo on Thursday night. It was the ‘Canes’ eighth, straight win over the Sabres.

And now you’re up to date.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

John L. Micek

A three-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's former Editor-in-Chief.