WASHINGTON - The two newest members of the Philly area's congressional delegation are pledging their attention to issues such as upgrading the state's roads, bridges and rail service and improving health care at the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs facility.
Reps. Brendan Boyle and Ryan Costello are beginning their first week on Capitol Hill. Boyle, a Democrat from the 13th District, represents parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. Costello is a Republican from the 6th District, which covers parts of Chester and Montgomery counties.
Costello has been appointed to serve on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee as well as the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chaired by fellow Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster.
Costello told the Associated Press yesterday that as the only Pennsylvania Republican on the veterans panel he plans to push for a sharper committee focus on the Philadelphia VA facility, which is being investigated by the Department of Veterans Affairs inspector general for mismanagement and other problems.
"It's important we hold people accountable and make the necessary reforms," Costello said.
Boyle, who is expected to receive committee assignments from House Democratic leaders in the coming days, said he hoped also to focus on transportation and perhaps foreign affairs issues.
The coming term is expected to bring a full agenda to the Transportation Committee, including a passenger rail bill that could lead to bigger improvements and perhaps shorter travel times in Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, which links Philadelphia with Boston, New York and Washington, D.C., Committee members will also be debating ways to pay for America's decaying roads and bridges, with current funding expiring in May.
Boyle and Costello both said they want to push a long-term funding solution to replenish the Highway Trust Fund. Boyle supports increasing the gasoline tax; Costello said he has not yet taken a position.
As a former state legislator, Boyle, 37, said he's learned how to work across the aisle, so he isn't deterred by getting things done in a new GOP-controlled Congress. He said he looked forward to working with other members of the Pennsylvania delegation, including Costello, 38. The two enjoy a friendly relationship as the two youngest members of the delegation.