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

Originally published on February 8, 2019

By John L. Micek

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.”