Congressman Matt Cartwright

Representing the 17th District of Pennsylvania
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Cartwright earns top marks for first year

Jan 10, 2014
In The News

U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright apparently has done his homework — he received a top grade for his first year in office from an independent government tracking website. this week released its 2013 Legislative Scorecards that ranked Cartwright first among the 76 freshman House members in leadership, the number of bills introduced, the most powerful co-sponsors for his bills and the most co-sponsors.

Of the 25 bills and resolutions Cartwright introduced, 16 received bipartisan support. The 25 bills collected 859 co-sponsors. All of his bills have been referred to committee.

“I didn’t know I was going to get a report card,” Cartwright said of the grading on Friday.

But of the high grades he received, the congressman, a Democrat who represents the 17th Congressional District, said he was most pleased about the bipartisan support more than half of his bills received.

“Sixty-four percent of them were bipartisan,” Cartwright said in a telephone interview. “I’m proud of that. People are so sick of the bickering between Democrats and Republicans. People are hungry for us to work together.”

Co-sponsors of note

Five of Cartwright’s bills and resolutions in 2013 had a co-sponsor who was a chair or ranking member of a committee to which the bill was sent. That support from those leaders is important in moving legislation forward.

According to GovTrack, those bills were: H.R. 1910: Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act; H.R. 2670: OPEN Act; H.R. 2825: CLEANER Act of 2013; H.R. 3310: Annuity Safety and Security Under Reasonable Enforcement Act; and H.R. 3573: To ensure that the percentage increase in rates of basic pay for prevailing wage employees shall be equal to the percentage increase received by other Federal employees in the same pay locality.

GovTrack determines lawmakers’ leadership scores by looking at how often other members of Congress co-sponsor their bills. An explanation of the website states the analysis is based on PageRank, Google’s algorithm for ranking pages on the web.

Cartwright said the bills that have bipartisan support have the best chance of becoming law.

“I think eventually a number of these bills may well become law, although it may take more than this Congress to do it,” he said.

Cartwright’s priorities

Of the bills he introduced, those that are most important to Cartwright would help veterans gain access to mental health services, add hearing loss coverage to Medicare and grant a 1 percent raise to wage-grade employees at Tobyhanna Army Depot, the Veterans Affairs hospitals and federal prisons.

On H.R.1725: Veterans Mental Health Accessibility Act, Cartwright said there currently is a rule that requires veterans seeking services to present themselves within five years of separation from the military.

“If you have a complaint of combat-related illness, if you don’t do it in five years, you go to the back of the line,” he said. “I object to that, and it’s bad policy when the suicide rate among U.S. combat veterans is off the charts.”

H.R.3573, meanwhile, would give a pay raise to the more than 1,800 wage grade employees at Tobyhanna, who haven’t had a raise in four years.

Both bills have bipartisan co-sponsors.

Cartwright said U.S. Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a prominent Republican, is among the sponsors of the wage-grade proposal. There also is a Senate version of the bill.

Cartwright also credited his legislative staff in Washington for help with his legislation.