State & Federal Political Recap

Liz Cheney Voted Out of House Republican Leadership
Following weeks of speculation, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have ousted Cong. Liz Cheney, R-WY, as a member of its leadership team.  There had been growing disgruntlement from the conservative wing of the party over her repeated criticisms of former President Trump and her refusal to support his claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election.  On Friday, House Republicans met to select a new conference chair.  In the lead up to the election, Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-NY, was seen as the frontrunner, but a last-minute bid by Rep. Chip Roy, R-TX, added another dynamic to the situation.  In a memo to his colleagues, Roy argued that Stefanik wasn’t conservative enough.  Ultimately, the conference rallied around Stefanik – who was backed by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, and Trump.


Federal Unemployment Compensation Assistance Comes Under Scrutiny as Employers Report Challenges Filling Open Positions
As states across the country begin the process of fully re-opening their economies, employers are encountering serious workforce shortages.  Recent news coverage has highlighted the challenges employers are facing with having available jobs go unfilled, and the consequences this has for their businesses.  In a bid to attract job applicants, many companies have increased starting wages and instituted signing bonuses, while others – particularly in the hard-hit hospitality industry – have been forced to reduce operating hours while they work to fill open positions.  Many are pointing to the expansion of federal unemployment benefits – which include an additional $300 in weekly federal benefit payments – as exacerbating the problem, since many claimants are making as much or more in benefits as they were in wages.  As noted in this Associated Press article, 12 states have now announced their intentions to stop paying the additional federal UC benefit and will also end their participation in two federal benefit programs that extended the length of time individuals can receive unemployment benefits; and also provided benefits for gig workers and the self-employed.  In Pennsylvania, legislation is being introduced by House Labor and Industry Committee Chair Jim Cox, R-Berks, for the Commonwealth to join the ranks of those states scaling back participation in the federal programs in an effort to get more individuals back to work.


PA Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward Diagnosed with Breast Cancer
Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward revealed last week that she has been diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer. After being diagnosed in December, she has since completed four chemotherapy treatments and will undergo surgery for a mastectomy.  Ward, who is the first woman to serve as majority leader in the Senate, hails from Westmoreland County and is currently serving her fourth term.  In an interview on Pittsburgh based KDKA Radio, she said she is telling her story to encourage women to protect their health and get a 3-D mammogram.


Parnell Launches Senate Bid
Republican Sean Parnell has officially thrown his hat into the ring for Pennsylvania’s open U.S. Senate seat, which will be on the ballot in 2022.  The seat currently held by Sen. Pat Toomey, who is retiring at the end of his term, will be one of the most closely watched races in the country.  With control of the Senate hanging in the balance, both parties are expected to spend significant resources in their quest to win the seat.  Parnell is no stranger to high profile campaigns.  In 2020, he narrowly lost to incumbent Cong. Conor Lamb in his bid to represent the western Pennsylvania-based 17th Congressional District.  The combat veteran is entering a crowded Republican primary field, which already includes Jeff Bartos, Sean Gale, Everett Stern and Kathy Barnette.


Founded in 1916, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is the state's largest broad-based business association, with its membership comprising businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors. The PA Chamber is The Statewide Voice of BusinessTM.