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Senator Bob Casey Hosts Drive-In Town Hall in Allentown

By Colin McEvoy on August 18, 2021

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey hosted a drive-in town hall meeting on Aug. 17 at Cedar Crest College in Allentown.

COVID-19 restrictions are still limiting opportunities for large public gatherings, but that hasn’t stopped U.S. Sen. Bob Casey from finding safe ways to meet and communicate with his constituents.

Casey hosted a drive-in town hall meeting on Aug. 17, with nearly three dozen vehicles in the parking lot of Cedar Crest College in Allentown as the Senator stood before an outdoor tent and fielded questions from attendees.

“We wanted to do these town halls to come out and talk about the work we’re doing in Washington, and I know that’s not the only work that’s being done in government in communities like Allentown and the Lehigh Valley,” Casey said. “We’re grateful for the opportunity.”

About three dozen vehicles parked at the Cedar Crest College parking lot for Sen. Bob Casey’s drive-in town hall. (photo courtesy Micah Escobedo)

The town hall, which was the seventh such event Casey has held around the state, was moderated by Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) President & CEO Don Cunningham, who introduced the Senator as well as those with questions for him.

“This is one of the cornerstone events in our democracy in America: for our representatives to meet with their constituents,” Cunningham said. “We are grateful, Senator, that you are doing this here in the Lehigh Valley.”

Casey added, “Don is leading one of the most dynamic, successful economic development organizations in the whole country, preparing this region and the companies and workers in this region for a bright future.”

Casey answered questions about a wide range of topics, including the pandemic, infrastructure improvements, home care for people with disabilities, protecting voter rights, Medicare for younger people, minimum wage, campaign finance laws, and more.

The town hall was also broadcast online via Casey’s YouTube channel, and can be viewed in its entirety below:

Casey discussed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will have on Pennsylvania. The bipartisan bill, which was recently approved by the Senate, will provide $1.6 billion for the replacement of bridges. The state currently has 3,353 bridges in poor condition, Casey said.

The bill will also provide the state $11.3 billion in federal highway funding, $2.8 billion for public transit over five years, and at least $100 million to expand broadband coverage across the state. Casey said broadband investment is crucial for the state’s businesses to grow, and for children participating in remote schooling.

Casey also discussed his own proposed Better Care Better Jobs Act, which would invest in home and community-based services by strengthening and expanding access to quality home care services and lifting up the caregiving workforce that provides them.

“The workforce that does this noble, heroic, essential work should be paid more,” Casey said. “They’re only paid $12 an hour throughout the state. We cannot say that we’re the strongest and best country in the world when we’re not investing enough in home and community services.”

The Lehigh Valley has 14,500 people employed in occupations that provide home-based and community-based care services, with average annual wages ranging from $27,000 to $35,000, according to JobsEQ. The average wage in those occupations is well below the region’s average of $57,000.

Casey voiced support for raising the federal minimum wage to $15 over five years, noting that the current wage of $7.25 per hour has not been changed since 2009. However, he said the only way this will happen is with 60 votes in the Senate, which he described as unlikely, or by eliminating the filibuster, which would allow passage with a simple majority of 51 votes.

“One of the best ways to improve the life of a child, now and certainly years and decades from now, is to raise the minimum wage for the parent or caregiver who is taking care of that child,” he said. “All the evidence shows that. It’s a kids’ issue as much as it is a worker issue.”

Casey spoke out against the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which lifted restrictions and transparency requirements on political donations by corporations and wealthy individuals. He also spoke in favor of the For the People Act, which would restore the Voting Rights Act and curb partisan gerrymandering.

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