February Recap: What You Might Have Missed Last Month

I left the Capitol following President Biden’s first State of the Union address with a renewed sense of hope and determination. President Biden spoke directly to the American people — laying out an optimistic vision for our nation, grounded in reality and sound policy choices. The president made clear that America’s best days lie ahead and that when we are unified behind a common cause, there is no challenge too great for America to overcome. I am inspired by the president’s faith in the American people, American values, and our American system of government because I share that faith. I look forward to continuing my work with President Biden and my colleagues in Congress to build a better America for my constituents and our country.

Here’s how I’ve been working to make that vision a reality over the past month:

Legislative Activity

Passed the America COMPETES Act

As we confront the challenges of the 21st century, we must work to make our economy more dynamic and competitive. That’s why I was proud to vote to pass the America COMPETES Act, which includes two amendments I authored. The bill makes long-overdue investments in our country’s research and development institutions and addresses the gaps in our supply chain.

Passed the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act

Sexual harassment and violence are a big problem in many workplaces and pose a threat to the success and dignity of all workers. For too long, mandatory arbitration clauses in employment contracts have thwarted efforts to hold predators accountable and silenced survivors of sexual assault and harassment in the process. I was proud to vote to pass the Ending Forced Arbitration of Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Act, which will stop perpetrators from being allowed to force survivors into secretive forced arbitration procedures and give survivors the power to choose what legal path works best for them. President Biden signed this bill into law on March 3.

Cosponsored the Preventing Pretrial Gun Purchases Act

The Preventing Pretrial Gun Purchases Act will keep guns out of the hands of those legally ordered not to have them by doing three basic things:

  1. Amending federal gun laws to deny gun sales to any person subject to a pretrial release order from a court that prohibits the person from purchasing, possessing, or receiving guns.
  2. Prohibiting any person from knowingly selling or disposing of a gun to these individuals.
  3. Authorizing $25 million in additional funding for the next five years for states to report pretrial orders involving gun restrictions to the national background check system.

Called on DOD to include rapid COVID tests in TRICARE-covered benefits

Our military members and their families sacrifice so much for our country, and they deserve to get the support needed to keep their families safe. Currently, at-home COVID-19 tests are not a TRICARE-covered benefit, which limits their accessibility to service members. I joined 14 of my colleagues in a letter urging the Department of Defense to make at-home COVID-19 tests available to service members and their families at no cost.

Urged Congressional leadership to ensure PHL and Dulles Airports can be reimbursed for expenses incurred while supporting Operation Allies Welcome

Philadelphia International Airport and Dulles International Airport were critical partners during the humanitarian effort to evacuate our Afghan allies. Both airports quickly coordinated the necessary staffing, processes, and accommodations to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the evacuees. Alongside Rep. Jennifer Wexton, I called for a legislative fix to allow both airports to be reimbursed for the expenses PHL incurred as part of Operation Allies Welcome.

Closed out Black History Month with votes on three important pieces of legislation related to racial justice and honoring Black Americans:

Emmett Till Anti Lynching Act: Despite more than 200 attempts to pass antilynching legislation since 1900, lynching has still never been designated a federal hate crime. Rep. Bobby Rush’s Emmett Till Anti Lynching Act will ensure that the full force of the United States federal government is ALWAYS brought to bear on individuals who commit the monstrous act of lynching. I’m proud to support this legislation to finally make lynching a federal hate crime.

CROWN Act: Clear and explicit federal nondiscrimination protections on the basis of hair texture or hairstyles associated with a particular race or national origin are needed to ensure minorities, especially Black Americans, are protected from this form of insidious discrimination. I was proud to cosponsor the CROWN Act and vote for it — but 188 Republicans temporarily blocked its passage. I will vote for it again when it comes back to the floor.

Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Act: The unsung heroes of Six Triple Eight, the only all-Black Women’s Army Corps Battalion to deploy overseas during WWII, served heroically but received no recognition when they came home. I was proud to cast my vote to bestow Congress’ highest honor on the women of Six Triple Eight.

Committee Activity

House Judiciary Committee: Is there a Doctor in the House? The Role of Immigrant Physicians in the U.S. Health Care System

I was honored to chair the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on the role of immigrant physicians in our health care system. Doctors and nurses from around the world play an important part in our health care system by helping to fill employment gaps and provide services to Americans in rural and medically underserved areas. Congress must fix the problems in our immigration system that impact the recruitment and retention of physicians so Americans can access the care they need.

House Judiciary Committee: The Rise in Violence Against Minority Institutions

In recent years, we’ve seen a sharp increase in violent attacks against minority institutions, including synagogues and HBCUs, across the country. This month, the House Judiciary Committee held a hearing to hear testimony from witnesses and experts about these attacks and the impact on communities subjected to this senseless violence.

What Else You Might Have Missed

Hosted a tele-town hall and other constituent conversations

I always look forward to hearing from constituents about what’s on their minds to inform my work to tackle the issues impacting PA05 communities. In February, we hosted a tele-town hall and several virtual Coffee with Your Congresswoman events to give updates on what Congress has been up to, answer questions, and talk about my plans for the year ahead.

Celebrated and honored Black History Month

My team and I celebrated Black History Month by learning more about PA-05’s own history. We took a tour of Eden Cemetery — the final resting place of Octavius Catto, Marian Anderson, and others. Then, we visited a few Underground Railroad stops in Upper Darby.

Connected with constituents of all ages at in-person events in the district

While I was home in PA-05, I got the chance to visit with a number of organizations and talk to them about the work we’ve been doing in Congress. I spent time with students at Haverford High School, community leaders from Ardmore Rotary, and a lively group of seniors at Lima Estates in Media.

Visited Chester Community Clinic

This student-run clinic operated by Widener University graduate students provides physical and occupational therapy services to uninsured and underinsured members of the community. I enjoyed seeing these impressive future health care professionals and their program, which serves as a national model, in action.

Recognized Octavius Catto, one of Philadelphia’s great heroes, on the House floor

If you come to Philadelphia, you will see a statue of Catto on the side of City Hall — It’s the city’s first public statue honoring an individual African American. Throughout his life, Catto was an outspoken activist for abolition and equal rights. During the Civil War, he joined Frederick Douglas and other Black leaders to recruit African Americans to join the fight for emancipation. The most enduring part of Catto’s legacy remains his efforts to secure the right to vote for Black Americans. He was a champion for suffrage and fought to ensure no person would ever be denied access to the ballot box.

Honored Dr. Hal Wilkinson on the House floor

Last month, at the age of 95, Doctor Wilkinson passed away peacefully in his sleep after a long life of exploration, inquiry, and service. Hal enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the age of 18 and served stateside through the end of World War II. He then moved to Swarthmore, where he opened a family medical practice, and he worked as a pediatrician for children with developmental disabilities. For 42 years, Hal maintained his practice, serving generations of Swarthmore residents. He was known for making house calls long after it went out of fashion — continuing his service into his 70s.

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Mary Gay Scanlon

Mary Gay Scanlon currently serves a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Pennsylvania’s 5th Congressional District.