After a grueling political campaign, Congress returns to work this week with the exact same cast of characters at play. Of Pennsylvania's 18 House members, only three are new, Matt Cartwright, D-17, Keith Rofthus, R-12, and Scott Perry, R-4, Both arrive at their new office this week for a freshman orientation. While they are learning how to navigate the Capitol's underground tunnels, the current lawmakers will commence the lame duck session to tussle over the fiscal cliff - the tax hikes and spending cuts that could send the economy hurtling over the edge.
Because we know you've been starving for some policy-related news on this blog, we've brought you back our occassional afternoon snack feature. Bon appetit.
First bite: Last week, immediately following the election, we spoke to federal lawmakers and local officials to get their take on how the gridlock that has haunted Washington for so long will change if nothing else inside the Beltway is changing. We heard from U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey and Bob Casey as well as U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent and incoming freshman Cartwright who all expressed cautious optimism. (Morning Call)
Second bite: Speaking of the fiscal cliff, Politico has a thorough, and appropriately wonky, rundown of all the ways the fiscal cliff debate could go. Worth a read if you're planning to follow all the twists and turns in the coming weeks. (Politico)
Third bite: U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, PA-9, officially tossed his name in the hat to be the next Transportation & Infrastructure Committee chairman and thus follow in his father's footsteps. His father, Bud, was chairman from 1995 to 2001 and his lasting transportation legacy was ensuring gas taxes were dedicated to infrastructure programs. In this era of deep partisan division, younger Shuster wrote in a statement that the job "requires teamwork, listening to a diverse set of opinions to create consensus, and building coalitions based on shared principles.” (Shuster Website)
Crumbs: Mitt Romney received ZERO votes in 59 Philadelphia ward subsets. (Inquirer) / How Sandy impacted TV networks' campaign coverage (LA Times) / Lawmakers want inquiry into FBI Petraeus investigation (WaPost)
Correction: An earlier version of this post said there were two new Pennsylvania House members. There are three.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times