The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

The official student news site of Norristown Area High School

The Wingspan

Following Fetterman: How The Popular Senator’s First Year in Office Went

Governor Tom Wolf via Creative Commons

John “casual dressing” Fetterman. John “tallest senator” Fetterman, John “From PA, for PA” Fetterman. John Fetterman, United States Pennsylvanian senator, is one of the most famous senators currently and most ‘loved’ by the citizens of Pennsylvania. Fetterman stepped into office with big promises and high expectations, but while his Senatorial career just got started, we should check in to see how his first year has faired.

Who is John Fetterman, what does he do, and why should you care?

John Fetterman is one of two Pennsylvania senators, with Bob Casey representing the other. Both are members of the Democratic party of PA. (Pennsylvania is historically a “purple state” – meaning we tend to vote both Democrats and Republicans. As of right now, however, we are a “blue state”.)

Fetterman was born and raised in Pennsylvania, unlike his 2022 opposing candidate Dr. Mehment Oz, which likely contributed to Fetterman’s win. He began his political career in 2006 as Mayor of Braddock in western Pennsylvania until 2019, when he became Lieutenant Governor (almost like a Vice President for the governor) of Pennsylvania.

Fetterman won the general election in 2022, entering Congress as a senator on January 3rd, 2023 at 54 years old.

What is a senator’s job? 

A senator is a person who represents a state as a whole to vote on bills to make them or not make them into laws. Senators can do this by voting in committees.

They can vote in three different ways; voting by roll call votes (saying ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ and being recorded), voice votes (also saying ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ but not recorded), and unanimous consent (almost all senators agreeing).

Why vote for a senator? 

By doing so, you are voting for a person to represent most, if not all, of your views to make laws to make your life better and easier in the future.

Voting for a president is important for many reasons; however, only voting for a president hurts you in the end because the president will be limited by senators who don’t support his agenda. Yes, a president can veto a bill – deny it going through – but Congress can ratify – bring back – the bill into law despite that if the citizens of the United States ask for it to go through the process again.

What is the Senate vs House of Representatives? 

Both make up the two chambers of Congress that write and vote on laws. However, they are different in the way they are set up. There are 100 senators in the Senate–two for each state–and each Senator represents the entire state. The House of Representatives is made up by population by each state so a larger state has more representatives than a smaller state. Currently, there are 435 in the House. The House represents a district, which is a boundary in a state.

Norritown’s School District’s congressional district is both PA Congressional District #4 with Madeline Dean and District #5 with Mary Gay Scanlon.

Each senator has more power than a Representative in the House, which may surprise you. The reason for this is because the Senate has longer terms than House Reps (6 years compared to the House’s 2-year term). Senators also approve Supreme Court candidates that the President chooses. Although the House of Reps. can accuse the president of impeachment – fire – the Senate is the one that can find them guilty or not guilty. You could say they have the final say in a lot of important decisions.

Don’t worry – they don’t have complete control even though it sounds like it. The government is very complex regarding how each branch and chamber keeps the others in check. No one area truly has that much more control than the other despite what it seems at times. This is another reason why voting for nothing more than a president is not going to help in the long run for your needs.

After John Fetterman was elected, he was put into the following committees: Joint Economic Committee, Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Now, what does this mean exactly? It means these are the areas that Fetterman can vote in to pass or not pass bills. The subcommittees are for researching possible bills, writing bills, and recommending bills for the entire Senate to vote on.

In his running campaign argument, Fetterman said he would do the following: “Make more s**t in America, cut taxes for working people, ban Congress from trading stocks, slash ‘out of pocket’ health care costs, and end immoral price gouging [when companies raise prices of necessities because of high demand].” 

These are dramatic promises. Keeping these promises in a six-year term would be practically impossible; however, Fetterman has the ability to begin these ideas by voting in the committees he is in, allowing future senators to finish what he started or he himself can finish in a future election as Senators don’t have term limits like a president does.

What has he voted on? There are a lot of bills Fetterman has voted on, most still in the early/mid stages as passing a bill takes a very long time depending on what it is about. The ones listed below are all that Fetterman has voted for – there are many more he has voted for, however.

Equality Act: Fetterman voted on this act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender, identity, and sexual orientation. It could also assist programs that are funded by the federal government. Some of those programs are housing sales, rentals, financing, and brokerage services.

Although this doesn’t have anything to do with his campaign argument — many of the bills don’t: he was assigned committees– Fetterman could still help many people with this. This act would allow more people to enter the workforce in certain areas, helping those people with those attributes.

Assault Weapons Ban of 2023: A bill to regulate assault weapons, to keep the right to bear arms is not unlimited. The bill makes it illegal to knowingly possess or sell semi-automatic assault weapons. 

This act will mainly help ban the idea of owning assault weapons. The bill will not completely ban guns, merely the ones with stronger power.

Washington D.C. Admission Act: This is a bill to make Washington D.C. a state. If this bill goes into effect, it will be the first and only city-state. 

(Don’t forget that Washington D.C. and Washington state are two different places. Washington state is directly above California on the West Coast as a state while D.C. is on the East Coast and technically in the Maryland/Virginia border and is a city.)

Changing Washington D.C. as a state has many benefits to it, mainly for the citizens and not the city itself. Washington’s citizens pay more for taxes than the other 22 states and pay more per capita (an individual) but don’t have a vote in Congress. Turning D.C. into a state would also help with Black and Hispanic representation, as the state is mainly lived in by both, and making it its own district would allow more voices to be heard in government.

Smoke and Heat Ready Communities Act: This bill will act with environmental and public health effects of natural fire. This would amend the Clean Air Act, stating that; “establishing a grant program for local communities in detecting, preparing, communicating, or mitigating – make less – the mental and public health impact of wildfire smoke and extreme heat – as well as other purposes.”

Reproductive Health Care Accessibility: This would amend the Public Health Service Act to improve reproductive and sexual health care for people with disabilities. What does it include? Physical, mental, and social well-being for people with disabilities and not just the idea of disease or infirmity involving reproductive health.

Equal Employment of All Act 2023: This bill aims to base employment on merit alone and prevent employers from using credit reports for employment purposes. Not only will this help up the employment rate, but it can help people who are stuck on an employment level. Gaining promotions and getting more benefits that come from promotions are some more of the things that could come from this bill going into effect.

Child Care Stabilization Act: a bill to increase childcare options for working families and support childcare providers. The bill would prevent the crisis when funding for child care expires at the end of each month. This bill would give 16 billion dollars to the program every year for five years.

Unfortunately near the end of the campaign, John Fetterman suffered a stroke, causing him to experience bouts of depression. While this is a normal reaction to having a stroke, some are concerned that his opinions could change from what he was originally voted in for.

The stroke has also caused Fetterman to have trouble hearing. At the beginning of his time as senator, he had an assistant typing everything being said in case he missed something. While I am unable to find any information about this still happening, I am led to believe he is still using an assistant as no article – that I could find – mentions the woman after she was first mentioned in February 2023. Instead, he has been known to use a transcription app as recently as September of this year.

Is this something that could harm the result of an important vote? Could Fetterman be hurting Pennsylvania by doing this? Ultimately it comes down to whether you believe Fetterman’s impact has been good or bad. He’ll be up for re-election in 2029, as long as he decides to run again, and it’s up to you to cast your vote.

If you are eligible (18 years of age), vote in this upcoming election in November 2024 as Bob Casey’s term will be up. Despite it being a year from now, begin your research for the candidates and see who works best for you.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Wingspan Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *