Costello, Boyle pledge focus on boosting roads, bridges, rail
By Hope Yen, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The two newest members of Pennsylvania'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. Ryan Costello, a Republican in the 6th District, and Brendan Boyle, a Democrat in the 13th District, are beginning their first week on Capitol Hill.
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 on Wednesday that as the only Pennsylvania Republican on the veterans panel he planned 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.
Shuster, the committee's chairman, told The Associated Press last month that increasing gasoline taxes isn't a viable political option, although advocates say it makes sense given declining fuel prices.
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 said he's learned how to work across the aisle so 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. The two enjoy a friendly relationship as the two youngest members of the delegation. Boyle is 37; Costello is 38.
Last November, Republicans maintained their 13-5 majority in Pennsylvania's delegation in the U.S. House.
Costello, a former Chester County commissioner, defeated Democrat Dr. Manan Trivedi to win the seat formerly held by six-term GOP Rep.Jim Gerlach. Boyle defeated three opponents in the primary, including former Rep. Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton's mother-in-law, to win the seat previously held by five-term Democrat Allyson Schwartz. Both Gerlach and Schwartz had opted not to run for re-election.