Congressman Fred Keller holds 7th COVID-19 tele-town hall

August 2, 2020
Press Release
Answers constituent questions and gives update on legislative priorities

Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, yesterday Congressman Fred Keller (R-PA) held his seventh live tele-town hall, answering questions directly from constituents across Pennsylvania’s 12th District on a variety of issues, including additional COVID-19 relief, re-opening schools, Governor Wolf’s statewide business closure mandate, and mask wearing.


As reported by the Daily Review:


As U.S. Rep. Fred Keller (R-12) took to the phone and livestream Thursday for a virtual COVID-19 town hall, many who were able to get through with questions wanted to know about the help that has come from the federal government and what the future might hold.


Additional COVID-19 relief


Keller said discussions are currently taking place in Congress about how best to help the hardest-hit business, which include a reduction in the revenue loss threshold and liability reform to protect these businesses.


Keller called the first PPP program a success, which averaged distributions of $103,000 to help many small businesses. …


As debates over the next stimulus continue, Keller said he’s pushing for measures that can help spur economic growth and get people back to work instead of placing additional debt on the shoulders of future generations, while also making sure previous allocations are being properly utilized.


“I’m more in favor of getting rid of some regulation and doing more things so businesses can reopen so that people have money, not just one time, but reoccurring revenue at a job,” he said.


Not one state has spent the entirety of their Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act funding yet, Keller noted. In Pennsylvania, $1.3 billion of the $3.9 billion the state was allocated remains unspent.


“This money, already allocated, can help reopen the economy and help students go back to school in the fall,” he said.


Re-opening schools


Keller believed that schools can reopen safely, adding that the Education and Labor Committee — which he serves on — just had a hearing about schools safely reopening last week.


“One thing we look at is the American Academy of Pediatrics says we can do it, and they’ve actually laid out ways that it can be done,” Keller explained. “I think it’s important to make sure kids get back to learning, get back to what we need to be doing because every child deserves an education.”


Around $523 million so that elementary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania can reopen safely, Keller noted.


“I think we can do it,” he said.


Implementation of statewide mandate


Keller shared some criticism about Wolf’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in some areas, including the delayed reopening of some counties where there were few cases. …


“And now putting a one-size-fits-all mandate across the commonwealth when just over 40% of the cases are out of two counties (Allegheny and Philadelphia),” Keller said, regarding the limitations placed against businesses that restricted alcohol from being served unless it is with a meal, closed bars that couldn’t serve food, and reduced the maximum capacity of dining establishments to 25%.


“What can be done about that? That’s why I’m very apprehensive of giving more money to the state, because I look at it as Gov. Wolf is going to use that as a political weapon against the citizens of the commonwealth.”


Mask wearing


Another caller was focused on the legality of Pennsylvania’s mask mandate, which Keller said is within the power of the governor under an emergency declaration, and that mask wearing has also been promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. …


“My practice is I always have a mask with me. If people would like me to wear the mask, I wear the mask,” Keller said.


“If that’s the policy if I go into a store or am at an event, I’m respectful and put the mask on. We all need to be looking at one another, regardless of what our feeling is, and make sure we are treating each other with respect.”


Audio of the tele-town hall can be found HERE.