U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, holds her first in-person town hall since before the COVID-19 pandemic in Collegeville, Pa., on Monday, 11/22/21 (Screen Capture)
In her first in-person town hall since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean brought constituents up to date on the state-level impact of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan, the recently signed infrastructure law, and the still-unfinished Build Back Better Act.
“There has been a lot going on in recent times. Like you, I am mindful of the affects inflation has on our businesses, directly at the gas pump and our supply chain,” Dean, D-4th District, said during the event at the IBEW Local 26 hall in Collegeville, Pa., on Monday night
“We are going to continue to serve people every day because we take pride on our constituent services. These three bills remind us of the effective governing that is being done,” the Montgomery County lawmaker said.
The American Rescue Plan that was passed in February and signed by the Biden in March, addressed the need to continue direct relief following the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A huge part of this plan is to increase vaccination rates, which is key to reopening and our future,” Dean said. “I am proud to say that Montgomery County currently has the highest vaccination rate in the Commonwealth.”
Not only did the plan help with COVID relief, but it also helped lift children out of poverty through the Child Tax Credit. This provides the largest child tax credit ever and historic relief to the majority of working families, she said.
Dean mentioned how the plan offers children better access to healthcare and education, generating a positive difference for their future.
Next, Dean talked about the bipartisan infrastructure law.
“These investments will make a big difference because the suburbs of Philadelphia need the roads to be protected in order to make communities more enjoyable and commutable,” Dean said. “Within the Commonwealth, there are about 3,500 bridges that need repair, roads that need to be less congested and highways that need updated. This bill aims to fix those things, and I am very excited for it not only for the impacts it has today, but generationally.”
Dean also highlighted what this bill means for Pennsylvania. For instance, $11.9 billion has been invested towards roads and highways, $2.8 billion towards mass transit, $1.4 billion for clean water and $355 million to modernize airports.
She concluded by touching on the Build Back Better Act, which is the most transformative investment made towards children and caregiving in generations. The House passed the $1.85 trillion plan largely along party lines last week.
“We are investing in our children by expanding our public education,” Dean said. “It is crucial that we understand that when you educate your children, it sets them up for a quality future which opens them to better opportunities.”
Dean also stated how this includes promising acts such as universal family leave, negotiation of medication needs, climate change initiatives and affordable healthcare.
During the town hall, constituents raised concerns around issues such as voting rights.
Dean told constituents that if Americans do not protect voting rights, then they’re not protecting democracy. She added that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which she sits on, and House members are working on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For the People Act which respectively seek to protect and expand voting rights, as well as get rid of dark money in political campaigns.
“There is currently a lot of resistance around voting rights where people are trying to reduce early voting or how you can drop off your ballot,” Dean said. “In order to stop this, we must vote more people into the senate that believe in voting rights as well as removing the filibuster.”
Constituents also asked Dean what she is doing to help reduce the cost of college.
During her time as a professor at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Dean mentioned how she experienced some students unable to afford to stay in school.
“Student loan debt is keeping students from trying to go to school, taking a chance on a career, buying a house, or even starting a family,” Dean said. “This is why I am a huge advocate for free community college in order to make education more affordable. President Biden also believes in affordable college as well as the power of community college and fighting to make it free.”
Capital-Star Correspondent Michala Butler, of Harrisburg, is a senior at Temple University. Follow her on Twitter @MickiB16.
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