May Legislative Recap: What You Might Have Missed

May was a busy month for legislation! From House passage of a bill to establish a January 6 Commission, to hearings on reducing mass shootings, and advocating for expansion of the Child Tax Credit, my time was spent fighting for the resources our community and the country need to heal and move forward.

Here are some of the highlights.

The right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy, but too often, Americans face unnecessary barriers to accessing the ballot box. When it comes to voting rights, older Americans, veterans, and Americans with disabilities are frequently overlooked. The Accessible Voting Act will support states in the important work of improving voter accessibility and make it easier for older Americans and people with disabilities to get voting information, request mail-in ballots, and access voter registration and absentee ballot applications.

Read more about the bill here.

In the wake of the 2020 Presidential election, several states have moved to restrict access to the ballot through strict voter ID laws and other mechanisms. House Admin held a hearing to examine the myths and reality behind these efforts to restrict access to the ballot.

Every state requires potential voters to prove their identity and eligibility to vote, but advocates for strict voter ID laws claim that stricter laws are necessary in order to prevent widespread voter fraud — a claim that has been repeatedly debunked. In fact, as we saw in Pennsylvania when the state legislature enacted a strict voter ID law in 2012, hundreds of thousands of eligible voters were disenfranchised by the new requirements. That law was subsequently overturned.

We can’t pretend that strict voter ID laws have no discriminatory impact or intent. The fees, time, and documentation required for obtaining an eligible ID often represent an insurmountable obstacle for many Americans — especially older Americans and individuals with disabilities. Experts have found that these laws disproportionately impact urban and minority voters, who may lack the types of eligible IDs required at a much higher rate than their white counterparts.

As we work to ensure the integrity of our elections, we must make sure that efforts to improve election security are both fair and necessary.

Listen to my questions here.

The House Admin Committee held a series of hearings concerning deficiencies in planning and preparation by law enforcement in advance of the January 6 attack on Congress and in training for those who work at the Capitol. We must correct these issues.

However, neither the various committees examining the events of January 6, nor the law enforcement agencies investigating and prosecuting the crimes committed that day have the scope or jurisdiction to address the overarching issues raised by the attack: why it happened, how to prevent such attacks in the future, and what actions Congress needs to take — including new legislation, providing additional resources or restructuring agencies, amending its rules and procedures, and, if necessary, sanctioning those who participated in or promoted the attack.

Unfortunately, while the majority of the Senate voted for the House legislation to form an independent commission to investigate the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, a Republican filibuster prevented its final passage.

We must press forward with getting to the truth of what happened on January 6. We owe it to the American people and the brave police officers who protected our government and all who work at the Capitol that day. I look forward to working with my colleagues through whatever means necessary to ensure that the truth comes out.

Listen to my floor speech advocating for this bipartisan investigation here.

See my interview on MSNBC here.

Since the start of the pandemic, there have been over 6,600 reported incidents of anti-Asian hate. I was proud to stand with Representative Grace Meng and my Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) colleagues to support the passage of the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. We must stand united to stop Asian hate.

PA-05 is home to Cheyney University, the oldest HBCU in the country. I was proud to celebrate the introduction of the IGNITE HBCU Excellence Act to provide support for infrastructure and program updates at our HBCUs.

Learn more about the bill here.

I know that the words exciting, and tax credit, don’t usually belong in the same sentence, but this is different. The new and improved Child Tax Credit in the American Rescue Plan gives families $250 per child per month and $300 per month for kids under six. These advance monthly payments can give families the peace of mind of knowing that they can deal with the everyday child-rearing expenses that have only become more burdensome with the spread of COVID-19.

See my remarks here.

I’m so grateful that President Biden shares my passion for ensuring that our legal system works for all Americans, not just the wealthy. His new directive to expand access to legal representation and the courts will put us back on a path towards expanding opportunities for representation and ensuring equity in our justice system. I look forward to advancing this critical work with the Biden administration and my colleagues in the bipartisan Congressional Access to Legal Aid Caucus.

Read more here.

We know that, when properly resourced, there are many opportunities to disrupt the school to prison pipeline and ensure children in our juvenile justice system receive the opportunities and support they need to be successful in life.

Check out the hearing here.

Americans overwhelmingly agree that we need to take action to reduce gun violence, make our communities safer, and save lives. We spoke with national experts about some of the common sense and evidence-based measures that Congress and our communities can take to reduce gun violence.

View the hearing here.

The Yeadon Police Department recently started the first police-community garden in the country as part of broader efforts to build cooperation and trust. Produce grown in the garden will be shared with the community. I salute this effort to improve the quality of life for all in Yeadon.

Watch my remarks here.

Read more about the Yeadon Police Department’s efforts here.

I am proud to support dozens of community projects that I have recommended to receive tens of millions of dollars in federal funding as part of a new process for members of Congress to have a greater say in how taxpayer dollars benefit their districts.

Read more about the projects here.

In our region, we have nearly 30,000 veterans from all walks of life. Many of these folks have service-related disabilities — including PTSD — and are facing obstacles like unstable housing, lack of employment, and, of course, food insecurity. I was grateful for the opportunity to question expert witnesses about how we support those who have served our country but often struggle to get the support they need.

Check it out here.

  • Celebrated the unveiling of Nile Swim Club’s historical marker. The Nile Swim Club of Yeadon — the first swim club in the U.S. owned and operated by Black Americans — has been recognized by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as a significant part of Pennsylvania history. Read more here.
  • Joined the MobilizeGreen Urban Conservation Crew and Endangered Species Coalition at John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge for their Endangered Species Day celebration.
  • Met with the Delaware County Black Caucus for a discussion on the critical role of public defenders in criminal justice reform.
  • Hosted a roundtable with grandparents and other kinship caregivers from PA-05 about the Help Grandfamilies Prevent Child Abuse Act, my bipartisan bill to better support kinship caregivers who have taken over responsibility as primary caregivers for children exposed to substance abuse and trauma.
  • Attended the Court of Honor ceremony for Angelina Sims — the first female to attain the rank of Eagle Scout in the Philadelphia Cradle of Liberty Council and one of the first in the country.
  • Ran with young athletes at the final event of the Healthy Kids Running Series at Subaru Park in Chester.

You can hear my discussion with CNN’s Erin Burnett, Lincoln Project co-founder Rick Wilson, and host Harry Litman on the Talking Feds podcast. We covered the January 6 Commission, SCOTUS, and more. Listen to the episode here.

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