Pa.’s Casey joins bipartisan push for domestic violence money in next COVID-19 relief bill | Tuesday Morning Coffee

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey questions witnesses at the Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing Feb. 12 (Screen Capture).

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Pennsylvania’s senior United States senator joined with two of his colleagues Monday to call for more spending on domestic violence-related programs in what’s now a widely expected, fourth COVID-19 relief bill on Capitol Hill.

The push by U.S. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, comes as the “the National Domestic Violence Hotline has reported contacts from victims, saying their abusers are taking advantage of the situation to further isolate them from their friends and family, with some abusers withholding financial resources or medical aid,” the three lawmakers said in a joint statement.

In a letter to Senate leaders, the three lawmakers wrote that, right now, “more than 300 million Americans in 42 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico, as well as in several cities, local municipalities and Tribal communities are being advised to stay at home if at all possible. About 54 million K-12 students are no longer going to school in person, and millions of adults are out of work. As the pandemic continues, we expect these numbers to rise, and as a consequence, so will incidents of domestic violence.”

“… Simply put, even though staying home is currently our best way to slow the spread of this deadly virus, home is not a safe place for people who experience domestic violence. As a result, communities around the country are reporting increased demands on victim service providers, which are facing new difficulties and complexities in assisting survivors,“ the letter reads.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 21: The U.S. Capitol is shown at dusk.(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Specifically, Casey, Klobuchar and Murkowski are looking for:

  • “Funding for shelters and supports, resource centers and technical assistance to support victims of domestic violence, including an additional $100 million for programs funded by the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA);
  • “Funding to coordinate language-accessible public outreach to hard-to-reach populations, including $100 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC);
  • “Set-aside assistance for Tribes and Tribal organizations;
  • “Robust increases in emergency supplemental funding under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) to prevent child abuse and neglect; and
  • “Provisions to waive the matching requirements under FVPSA and under Title II of CAPTA so workers on the ground can swiftly respond to the needs of survivors during this public health crisis,” they said in their statement.

“Rape crisis centers provide the nation’s frontline response to sexual assault. They are passionate about supporting survivors during this time of intense crisis. Over 600 local programs responded to our recent survey indicating they need emergency funding to address critical needs, transition to virtual services, and reach out to the most vulnerable,” Terri Poore, Policy Director for the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said in a statement released by Casey’s office

The Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) is the main  federal funding source for supportive services for victims of domestic violence and their children, Casey’s office said. It also funds the Domestic Violence Hotline.

The Pennsylvania Capitol building. (Capital-Star photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

Our Stuff.
In a brief video address on Monday night, Gov. Tom Wolf sketched the outlines of when Pennsylvania could lift its social distancing policies. For now, though, it’s stay the course — and stay at homeStephen Caruso has the details.

Also on Monday, Wolf joined with more than a half-dozen fellow northeastern governors to announce plans for a council that would take a regional approach to reopening their states after the pandemic ends. Caruso gets you smart, fast on that story.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has tossed a challenge to Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown order, finding the Democratic administration did not overstep its executive authority with the March order that shuttered thousands of non-essential businesses statewide. The 51-page decision came on the eve of a likely state House vote on bills seeking to force the reopening of the state.

A 67-year-old inmate serving a life sentence is Pennsylvania’s first prison fatality from the COVID-19 pandemic, state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Monday. Elizabeth Hardison has more on the death and on the state of testing in the commonwealth.

The Pennsylvania State Police Academy in Hershey has been shuttered for at least two weeks after an enlisted staff member tested positive for COVID-19, the department said Monday. Classes for 100 cadets will continue remotely.

From our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune, the city’s top health official sounded a cautiously optimistic note during a briefing on Monday.

Speaking of remote learning, here’s a column from me on what it’s like to be the parent of a school-aged kid during COVID-19, and why it feels like the Department of Education really blew it.

On our Commentary Page this morning, opinion regular Mark O’Keefe writes about what it’s like to have a brother in a Beaver County nursing home that’s become Ground Zero in the pandemic. And Reps. Morgan Cephas, Margo Davidson, Summer Lee, and Joanna McClinton say the pandemic is a long overdue wake-up call for the state to address maternal health issues among Black women.

Voters line up at a polling place on Election Day. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Elsewhere.
Officials in two counties in suburban Philly have called on the state to make the June 2 primary an all-mail in ballot election, the Inquirer reports.
Giant Eagle has implemented one-way shopping aisles as a response to COVID-19, the Post-Gazette reports.
The state Department of Health has finished its guidelines on who gets life-saving care if state hospitals are overwhelmed, PennLive reports.
Workers are being brought out of retirement to help with the massive jam of unemployment claims, the Morning Call reports.

Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the Day:

Officials in Philadelphia are ‘pleading’ for help from the federal government, WHYY-FM reports.
Stateline.org looks at the backlash over COVID-19 rules for nursing homes.
Roll Call looks at Joe Biden’s relationship with younger voters.

What Goes On.
The House gavels in at 11 a.m. for a mostly virtual session. Democrats are expected to be rarer than proverbial hen’s teeth in the chamber, we are reliably informed. The Senate remains on a 12-hour call, but leaders say they’re prepared to come back to run any re-opening bills.
Time TBD: Daily COVID-19 briefing.

Heavy Rotation.
The Strokes
 have a new record out — and it’s their best in recent memory. Here’s our current favorite track: “Brooklyn Bridge to Chorus.” Turn this one up and dance around your home office.

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
MLB.com 
runs down the greatest third basemen ever to occupy the hot corner. The Os Brooks Robinson made the cut, of course.

And now you’re up to date.

John L. Micek
A 3-decade veteran of the news business, John L. Micek is the Pennsylvania Capital-Star's Editor-in-Chief. An award-winning political reporter, Micek’s career has taken him from small town meetings and Chicago City Hall to Congress and the Pennsylvania Capitol. His weekly column on U.S. politics is syndicated to 800 newspapers nationwide by Cagle Syndicate. He also contributes commentary and analysis to broadcast outlets in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Micek’s first novel, “Ordinary Angels,” was released in 2019 by Sunbury Press