Bob Casey

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey said this week he wants to prevent a provision in the federal transportation spending bill that would allow 85-foot tractor-trailers on Pennsylvania roads because he believes the bigger rigs will exacerbate state infrastructure problems.

These “Twin 33” trucks are 17 feet longer than the current 68-foot models.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) is supporting a bill to correct the “WIC gap” in which young children who receive assistance are left without nutritional assistance before entering school.

In Pennsylvania, children are eligible for the Women, Infants, and Children program until they reach age 5 – then its assumed they enter school where they may qualify for the school breakfast and lunch programs that provide them with food.

The not-yet-approved Clean Vehicle Corridors Act is the most recent of the many federal and state efforts to push for the use of alternative fuel vehicles in the United States.

On June 22, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) re-introduced his bill, first introduced in 2013, which would allow the Department of Transportation to establish clean vehicle corridors along interstates nationwide. The corridors would provide spaces for fueling and charging stations, travel plazas, rest stops and other roadside infrastructure.

Erika Beras / 90.5 WESA

Speaking at a press event in Troy Hill Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey pushed for legislation he’s supporting that would improve summer food programs for children.

The bill would improve the area eligibility test to allow communities to participate if 40 percent of the children in the area are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (rather than the 50 percent it currently is). It would also provide funding for transportation grants that could be used for food trucks and allow sites to serve a third meal (rather than two meals and a snack).

Legislation to lower eligibility requirements for children receiving free summer meals was touted in Washington last week by co-sponsor U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, Jr.

Loco Steve / flickr

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Positive Train Control could have prevented the derailment of Amtrak 188 that derailed in Philadelphia earlier this month. Eight people died and more than 200 people were injured. Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey is leading a group of Senators who have sent a letter to the Appropriations Committee calling on Congress to increase funding. It has been reported that it will take $2 billion to fully implement this technology. Senator Casey joins us by phone.

Casey explains that many transit agencies across the nation are in favor of updating train safety, but with so many other areas of the country's infrastructure in need of repair, allocating the funding to trains is a difficult task:

"What the Congress should do, if we're doing the right thing, is to not put Amtrak or any transit agency in the position of having to choose between safety technology like Positive Train Control on the one hand versus fixing crumbling bridges or other parts of the aging infrastructure." - Senator Bob Casey

Also today, Historic Harmony looks for support in protecting the ground George Washington walked on, and former Steelers linebacker Andy Russell welcomes Western PA's six Pro-Hall of Fame quarterbacks to the steel city for the Gridiron Gold. 

The VA Backlog Working Group has released a new report that shows wait times for care in the VA system are decreasing.

But chairs of the group, Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Dean Heller (R-NV) said more needs to be done. To that end, they have introduced the 21st Century Veterans Benefits Delivery Act, legislation aimed at ensuring the VA can handle disability claims in slow and busy times, and provide accountability. One provision would require the controller general to audit the regional offices of the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA).

Speaking to reporters outside a Braddock union hall Friday, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) said he opposes so-called "fast-track" legislation which, in a few weeks, is up for a vote in Congress. 

The Trade Promotion Authority Legislation, or "fast-track," legislation would allow President Obama to submit trade agreements to Congress for up or down votes without amendments. Those opposed say its undemocratic. Those in favor say other countries won’t make good offers in trade talks if they know Congress could change things.

Don Loarie / Flickr

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded 27,203 cases of Lyme disease nationwide, 4,981 of which were in Pennsylvania. And, for the last five years, Pennsylvania has reported more cases of Lyme disease than any other state.

As temperatures rise and people begin to spend more time outdoors, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pennsylvania) is calling for an increase in federal surveillance.

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.

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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.

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