Bob Casey

Raising a child is expensive, and not surprisingly, that cost has only increased over the past few decades. But tax relief to help families with children hasn’t kept pace with the increased cost.

The average cost of raising a child born in 2013 through age 17 is $245,340, according to the Department of Agriculture. That’s a 23 percent increase from 1960.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey cited a study from Pew that said weekly expenses for children have increased from $87 in the '80s to $148 in 2013 — a 70 percent increase.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Public safety officials from around the Pittsburgh region joined U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) at the Allegheny County Courthouse today as he announced his support for a bill that would form a national train derailment task force.

The Railroad Emergency Services Preparedness, Operational Needs and Safety Evaluation, or RESPONSE ACT, would create a new set of training and resource recommendations for derailment first responders. It would be a subcommittee under the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When the U.S. Senate reconvenes Jan. 6 for the start of a new Congressional session, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) will find himself in the minority party for the first time in his eight years in that office.

Through the November elections the Republicans gained control of the Senate for the first time since losing the majority in January 2007. The Republicans now hold a 10-seat advantage 54-44 over the Democrats with two independents — Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine.

It’s being called the biggest piece of legislation to affect disabled Americans since the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act was passed by the Senate Tuesday by a vote of 404-17.  It allows Americans with disabilities or their families to set up a tax-free savings account in order to prepare for long-term care.

401kcalculator.org / Flickr

For the first time since the early 1990’s, major legislation for people with disabilities is poised to be approved by Congress.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, also known as the ABLE Act could make it possible for disabled people to live independently and work without fear of losing important benefits. The ABLE Act just passed the House and is now making its way through the Senate.

Bob Casey, a US Senator representing Pennsylvania has been sponsoring the legislation. He joins us along with Jillian Zacks, an estate attorney specializing in special needs planning, and a mother of 2 children on the autism spectrum.

Jillian Zacks recommends the website 21andAble.org for those aiding young adults with disabilities who are transitioning into adulthood.

As many families gear up for their Thanksgiving feasts, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is calling attention to those who are struggling to put food on their dinner tables.

Casey is pushing for passage of a bill that would expand and make permanent tax incentives for businesses that donate to food banks. Nearly 2 million Pennsylvania residents are food insecure.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said when it comes to honoring veterans, speeches and parades are nice, but effective government services are vital.

He’s calling on his fellow lawmakers to pass the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, introduced in March, which would modify guidelines concerning the fulfillment of disability claims.

According to Casey, the average wait time for a claim at the Pittsburgh Veterans Affairs Regional Office, or VARO, is 231 days. In Philadelphia, it’s 266 days, and the nationwide average is 240 days.

A new piece of legislation aims to take a bite out of the burden placed on the “sandwich generation” – a group of adults usually in their 40s or 50s who are wedged between caring for their parents as well as their own children.

Health professionals, lawyers and U.S. senators met in Washington Tuesday to explore the challenges faced by coal miners suffering from black lung disease.

The U.S. Department of Labor will look to hire two administrative law judges and bring back a retired judge in Pittsburgh in 2015 to handle growing black lung claims, according to Deputy Labor Secretary Chris Lu.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

They’re known as the “sandwich generation:” people simultaneously caring for aging parents and children still living at home.

They are typically in their 40s and 50s, and according to U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), they’ve been all but ignored by policymakers.

On Monday, Casey held a hearing in Pittsburgh to learn more about the experiences of people in the “sandwich generation” and to hear from social service and healthcare professionals about potential policy changes that could ease the burden of those caring for both parents and children.

In the wake of several train derailments in Pennsylvania this year, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is pushing for the passage of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill, which he said would improve rail safety.

“The bill would provide funding for twenty new rail and hazardous materials inspectors,” said Casey, “and in addition to that the bill would allow the retention of 45 rail safety positions that were created just this year.”

Courtesy of VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System.

Reports of secret waitlists and preventable deaths at Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in Phoenix have spurred a nationwide audit of VA healthcare facilities.

The situation in Pittsburgh is not as dire as it is in Phoenix, but the VA facilities here are facing their own unique challenges.

Southwestern Pennsylvania is home to more than 260,000 veterans and their families, one of the largest concentrations of veterans in the United States.

New Bill Would Help People With Disabilities Live Independently

May 24, 2014
Office of Senator Bob Casey

For people living with disabilities, life is filled with difficulties both large and small. Among the concerns is the often difficult financial situation that many of the disabled find themselves in.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience Act, or ABLE Act, is a bill backed by Senator Bob Casey that would allow the creation of tax-free savings accounts for people with disabilities that could be used to fund education, housing, transportation, and more. The money saved in this account would not count against the person’s eligibility for programs like Medicaid.

Flickr user cssna

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) was in Pittsburgh Monday touting a “major bipartisan agreement” that will free up funds for the country’s inland waterways.

Casey called the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA, a “must-pass bill” that has broad support in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senator said the poor state of locks and dams along inland waterways is costing Pennsylvania $224 million a year in lost revenue, and that the legislation was written in partnership with industry.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says the federal government can play a role in prosecuting child abusers.

Casey is introducing a bill, the Speak Up to Protect Every Abused Kid Act, that says all adults responsible for children should be required to report cases of child abuse and neglect.

“It would require all states to pass and enforce a law requiring adults with a professional responsibility to children to report instances of known or suspected child abuse,” Casey said.

The proposal comes in the wake of the Penn State child sex abuse scandal.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Maddie Williams is four-years-old and has Down syndrome. She has a 6-year-old brother and their parents can put away money in a tax-advantaged 529 plan for his education. They can’t do the same for Maddie.

“Shortly after she was born, we learned that Maddie would never be allowed to have more than $2,000 in her name or she would lose valuable benefits that she qualifies for through Medicaid and Social Security Disability Insurance,” said Courtney Williams.

On average, a veteran in the Pittsburgh areas has to wait one day shy of a year between the time they apply for disability benefits and the day they are approved.

Though the backlog has been shrinking, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey says it is not falling fast enough, and in an effort to fix the situation, he and bipartisan group of six senators have introduced legislation aimed at fixing the system.

The Veterans Administration deems a claim to be backlogged after it has been in the system for more than 125 days. By its own admission, there are nearly 400,000 cases on that list.

Saying Pennsylvania is in a prescription and drug abuse crisis, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is pushing for legislation to study and fight opioid abuse.

The Prescription Drug Abuse Act would include training for practitioners, state grants for drug abuse education, and the creation of a national registry to track opioid related deaths.

Pennsylvania has the third highest rate of heroin abuse in the U.S. and ranks 14th in drug overdose mortality, according to state Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Casey said the state’s drug abuse problem is too large to ignore.

Three thousand gallons of the chemical that spilled into the Elk River and contaminated tap water for 300,000 people in nine West Virginia counties has been moved to Armstrong County.

The January West Virginia contamination continues to have lingering effects on the water supply.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) says ensuring a leak like the one that occurred in West Virginia doesn’t happen here is a matter of holding private industry accountable and government regulation, starting from the top with Homeland Security.

senate.casey.gov

President Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union Tuesday night and is expected to address, among other things, income inequality and his push to raise the federal minimum wage.

Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said that is something he hopes to hear more about.

“The minimum wage increase, which you all know I support, if we get in enacted it would be the right thing to do for workers,” Casey said, “tens of thousands in our state and millions across the country.”

He said benefits of raising the minimum wage would extend beyond individual workers.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) says he won’t give up his fight to save Moon Township’s 911th Airlift Wing.

On Thursday, the senator said he would release a letter to the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force rallying for the Airlift Wing to remain open.

Casey argues the base is valuable in terms of economics and national security.

More than 1.6 million Pennsylvanians, or about 1 in 8 state residents, live in poverty.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) believes he knows how to lower that number.

He released a report Tuesday that showed the income inequality among Pennsylvania counties in 2012.

It revealed that the commonwealth has a poverty level of 13.3 percent, which is below the national rate of 15 percent.

Philadelphia County had the highest rate of poverty at 26.2 percent while Bucks County had the lowest at 5.8 percent.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic U.S. senator is hoping the next few months bring a long-term farm bill to fruition in Congress.

Bob Casey is optimistic about the legislation, which sets the nation’s food and agriculture policy.

Last year, Congress passed a short-term extension of the farm bill, which expires every five years.

During a visit to the 98th annual Farm Show in Harrisburg, Casey said the House appears to be more amenable to approving a longer-term fix in the next few months.

One in six of Pennsylvania’s 3- and 4-year-olds were enrolled in publicly funded pre-K programs during the 2011-12 school-year. That’s according to PA Partnerships for Children.

Now U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced a new proposal for universal pre-K Wednesday.

“Children in every state need to learn at an early age and need to learn how to read at an early age,” Casey said. “And the accident, the circumstance of your birth should not determine whether or not you can read or whether you can learn.”

HHS.gov & casey.senate.gov

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be back on Capitol Hill Wednesday. This time she will be fielding questions from members of the Senate Finance Committee about the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the failure of the launch of the website HealthCare.gov.

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is a member of the committee. He thinks the session will start with a look at why the website used to sign up for new healthcare insurance collapsed on the first day and has never fully recovered. However, he hopes it will not end there.

Michael Lynch / 90.5 WESA

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is calling on Congress to prevent the latest round of sequester cuts that could impede medical research.

A bipartisan conference committee, created in the agreement to end the government shutdown, has until December to decide whether to keep or reduce cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Last year the Pittsburgh region received 1,132 NIH awards totaling more than $503 million. As a whole, Pennsylvania was given 3,369 grants worth more than $1.4 billion.

The commonwealth ranked fourth in federal research funding in 2012.

Lower taxes may be brewing for small beer makers if the state’s Democratic U.S. senator has any pull.

Bob Casey is calling for a reduction in taxes for the breweries.

He says the same legislation would also increase how much beer companies can sell and still be considered “small.”  

"Taxes as it relates to breweries have really not changed since the mid-1970s," Casey said. "Since that timeframe, breweries have grown substantially in size."

Casey visited Troeg’s Brewing Company in Hershey, Dauphin County to tout the proposal.

While Senate leaders were announcing details of a last-minute agreement Wednesday to avert a threatened Treasury default and reopen the government after 16-day partial shutdown, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) was saying the deal is just a starting point.

Casey said he is pleased that the proposal called for the Treasury to have authority to continue borrowing through Feb. 7, and the government would be open through Jan. 15, but he would prefer that the deadline be pushed back through the end of 2014 as had been included in an earlier proposal. 

Sen. Casey on Looming Government Shutdown

Sep 30, 2013
Wikipedia

In the early hours of Sunday morning, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would continue to fund the federal government.

Essentially this bill does three things: it temporarily keeps government operations funded through the middle of December, delays the affordable care act for a year and it repeals a tax on medical devices as part of the health care law.

Sen. Casey Says Shutdown is 'More Likely Than Not'

Sep 30, 2013

As a possible government shutdown inches closer to reality, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is hoping a last-minute resolution can avert the crisis.

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