Casey and Barletta: Where they stand on the issues
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta is seeking to unseat second-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey in Pennsylvania.
Casey is backed by labor unions, gay-rights organizations and environmental advocacy groups. Barletta is backed by business trade associations and anti-abortion groups.
The election is Tuesday. Also on the ballot are Libertarian candidate Dale Kerns and Green Party candidate Neal Gale.
A look at where Casey and Barletta stand on eight key issues, from abortion to trade.
This is Barletta’s first try for U.S. Senate.
Barletta, 62, grew up in Hazleton, the son of a construction company owner who was chairman of the city’s Democratic Party. The youngest of four brothers, Barletta was the first in his family to go to college and studied elementary education at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania. Before he graduated, he left to try out for the Cincinnati Reds major league baseball team. He flunked his tryout, he said, because he “couldn’t hit a curveball.”
He returned to Hazleton to work for the family construction business before starting a highway line-painting business that, he said, was Pennsylvania’s largest line-painting business and the sixth-largest in the nation when he sold it 15 years later. Barletta ran for Hazleton mayor, taking office in 2000. In 2002 and 2008, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House, losing both times to incumbent Democrat Paul Kanjorski, before winning in his third try in 2010. In the meantime, Barletta had become a nationally known figure in the fight against illegal immigration.
As mayor of Hazleton, he wrote ordinances designed to combat illegal immigration and to keep people in the country illegally from coming to Hazleton. Those measures were never enforced before being blocked by federal courts. Even so, they inspired similar municipal ordinances around the country.
In Congress, Barletta compiled a lifetime 63 percent rating by the American Conservative Union through 2017, which makes him one of the more moderate Republicans in the House. He became one of the first members of Congress to endorse Donald Trump in the Republican presidential primary campaign in 2016.
Barletta is married and has four daughters.
This is Casey’s seventh time running for statewide office.
The son of the state’s former two-term governor, Casey, 58, inherited his father Bob Casey Sr.’s name and political legacy as a conservative Democrat, although he has since shifted some policy positions to fall in line with the party’s mainstream. He grew up in Scranton as one of eight children, graduated from the College of the Holy Cross and received a law degree from The Catholic University of America.
In 1995, he ran for state auditor general, winning two terms. In the midst of that, he lost an expensive and hard-fought Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2002 to Ed Rendell before he went on to win a race in 2004 for state treasurer. He had just begun serving as treasurer when he ran against Pennsylvania’s Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in 2006 in a nationally watched campaign. Casey won convincingly by 17 percentage points. In 2008, Casey became one of the first Democratic senators to endorse Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in that year’s Democratic presidential primary.
He secured a second six-year term in 2012 against coal mining entrepreneur Tom Smith, winning by 9 points in a relatively low-profile contest.
Casey has long been popular with labor unions and moderated his stance on gun rights after the 2012 school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Casey has an 87.7 percent lifetime voting rating with Americans for Democratic Action, putting him in the middle of the pack of Democratic senators.
Casey is married and has four daughters.
Casey says he opposes abortion rights, except in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger and opposes proposals to halt federal payments to Planned Parenthood. He voted in January for legislation to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
Barletta says he opposes abortion rights, with exceptions for rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in danger. Barletta voted to end federal payments to Planned Parenthood and voted in 2017 to ban most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
DEFICIT and TAXES
Casey voted against Trump’s tax-cutting legislation that became law last December. He said he would support legislation to turn tax cuts benefiting Americans in the top 1 percent of income into a “substantial” tax cut for the middle class.
Barletta voted for the tax-cutting legislation signed by Trump. In 2014, Barletta supported non-binding legislation designed to balance the budget in 10 years by terminating health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act and making sweeping budget cuts — including to Medicaid, Medicare, food stamps, Pell Grants and farm subsidies — while leaving Social Security untouched and shifting more money to the Pentagon and health care for veterans.
ENERGY and ENVIRONMENT
Casey opposed Trump’s rollback of the Obama administration’s 2016 carbon pollution regulations on power plants, called the “Clean Power Plan,” which had been halted by court challenges. Casey also opposed the Trump administration’s move to pull the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement, a United Nations accord on global warming in which countries pledge to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity in the coming decades.
Barletta supported Trump’s rollback of the “Clean Power Plan” in favor of a proposal to broadly increase the authority given to states to decide how and how much to regulate existing coal power plants. He supported Trump’s move to leave the United Nations accord.
Casey wrote legislation to create federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing. Barletta opposes federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.
Casey supports background checks for online gun sales and purchases at gun shows; a ban on the manufacture and sale of “military-style” firearms; a ban on allowing people on the terrorist watch list to obtain a firearm; and a federal limit on magazine capacity.
Casey opposes federal reciprocity legislation to require every state to recognize and allow the use of concealed carry licenses or permits issued by other states.
Barletta said he would support expanding background checks for online gun sales and purchases at gun shows. He is opposed to restricting the sale of weapons, magazines and bullets.
He supports federal reciprocity legislation.
Casey supports the 2010 federal health care law, known as the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare,” and has opposed efforts to repeal it. Casey supports legislation to allow people 55 and over to buy into Medicare.
Barletta voted multiple times to repeal all or parts of the Affordable Care Act before 2017. In 2017, Barletta supported a bill known as the American Health Care Act, which would let states get federal waivers to permit insurers to charge higher premiums to some people in poor health and to ignore the standard set of benefits required by the 2010 law. The bill stalled in the Senate.
Barletta has supported non-binding GOP legislation to shift future retirees into a subsidy-based Medicare insurance purchased on the open market.
Casey backed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 that would establish a path toward citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States and double aid for border security.
Casey opposed GOP legislation barring federal funds from sanctuary cities, which are jurisdictions that resist turning over immigrants living in the country illegally to federal authorities.
Casey opposed Trump’s decision to rescind an Obama-era policy called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which has protected from deportation some 700,000 people, called “dreamers,” who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children or who came with families that overstayed visas. The move to rescind it is on hold in federal courts.
Barletta opposes “amnesty” for immigrants living in the country illegally and supported Trump’s decision to rescind DACA.
Barletta introduced legislation to cut off all federal funding to sanctuary cities and to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In June, Barletta backed a House bill that offered no path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” authorized border wall funds, made it harder for immigrant citizens to bring relatives to the U.S. and took steps to crack down on illegal immigration. The vote failed.
Casey opposed the Trump administration’s ban on certain travelers from seven countries, upheld by the Supreme Court in June. Barletta supports it.
Casey authored legislation to increase the federal minimum wage, set at $7.25 an hour since 2007, to $12 an hour by 2020 and to index it to the annual change in median wages.
Barletta said he would support an increase in the minimum wage but said he did not know by how much.
Casey supports the Trump administration’s tariffs on imports from China. He also supports the Trump administration’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, but his campaign said he has urged the administration to reach a quick resolution with allies like Canada and Mexico and to ensure that trade remedies don’t inadvertently impact Pennsylvania businesses and workers.
Barletta’s campaign said he supports both sets of tariffs — on imports from China and on steel and aluminum — as a tool to negotiate better trade deals for American workers and to hold China accountable for unfair trade practices.