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On the Issues

Democrat Malcolm Kenyatta knows firsthand what Pennsylvania’s working families go through every day: the struggles they face, the hard decisions they have to make, and the treadmill of poverty that keeps them working hard, but never getting ahead.

Malcolm is running for U.S. Senate because he believes that we need a government that is actually going to work for working people. Malcolm was raised in a poor, working-class household in Philadelphia. Even though his parents worked hard, they still had trouble keeping a roof over their heads and affording medications to stay healthy. Malcolm will take that lived experience to the Senate and fight for policies that will make people’s lives better: More affordable healthcare for everybody, cheaper prescription drugs, a democracy free of corruption and influence, a fair justice system, a $15 minimum wage, and a sustainable climate and cleaner environment through good union jobs.


Democracy Expansion

There is a direct correlation between the outward assault that took place at the Capitol on January 6 and the attacks on democracy that we are seeing in state houses around the country. The insurrection on January 6, where armed white supremacists tried to execute elected officials to forcibly overturn the certified results of a fair and free election, has already begun inspiring lawmakers throughout the US to make it harder for marginalized communities to vote.

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48 states, including Pennsylvania, have introduced or passed oppressive voting bills that restrict access to the ballot box. Increased voting by mail allowed a surge in democratic participation across communities and demographics in 2020, resulting in the highest election turnout in over a century. Instead of responding to this by making it easier to vote, we have seen a doubling down on Jim Crow-era voter suppression tactics, with states from Georgia to Montana shuttering polling locations, rolling back successful vote by mail systems, and making the ballot less accessible. As a member of the U.S. Senate, Malcolm will always champion safe, easy, and secure access to the ballot for every eligible voter.

If we take our democracy for granted, we risk losing it. Every single eligible voter in Pennsylvania -- and America -- should be able to exercise their freedom to vote as easily as possible. Nearly one in five PA residents is a senior citizen. Countless have disabilities. Even more of us have small children, unpredictable work schedules, or unreliable transportation.

We have the solutions that will make the ballot accessible to all of us, no matter what life throws at us on Election Day. In PA, we already have no-excuse mail-in voting, and some counties offer early voting. Malcolm has introduced legislation that would allow counties to pre-canvass mail-in ballots so that voters who make technical mistakes on their mail-in ballot have the chance to correct the issue and make their voices heard.

As a member of the powerful State Government Committee, which oversees PA elections, Malcolm fought tooth and nail to remove barriers to the ballot and opposed GOP attempts to steal the 2020 election. His opposition to the “election integrity” committee, which would have allowed House Republicans to disrupt the election, won widespread media attention, forcing Republicans to drop the proposal. Malcolm knows how to win these fights.

As a Senator, Malcolm will fully support ending the Jim Crow legislative filibuster that undermines the principle of majority rule, expand representation by giving statehood to the people of the District of Columbia and to Puerto Rico if they want it, pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act (HR 4), end gerrymandering and judicial gerrymandering, and get corporate money out of politics by passing the For the People Act (HR 1).

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Criminal Justice Reform

As a poor Black kid in Philadelphia, Malcolm was surrounded by a justice system that prioritized punishment over safety, leading to both increased arrests and increased poverty. We can make PA safer by implementing reform in our criminal justice system, prioritizing the wellbeing and safety of everyone by bolstering our social safety net and empowering mental healthcare workers, and focusing police officers on identifying and prosecuting real bad actors.

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In Pennsylvania. we have the highest rates of incarceration in the Northeast. We need to create a restorative justice system, one in which children are not tried as adults and people struggling with addiction are not treated as criminals. We have seen bad policies that are punishing people for addiction instead of providing treatment. Additionally, we must move to legalize marijuana. To finally curb mass incarceration and begin to address Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis, we must treat drug abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. This means fully legalizing marijuana and allowing its use as a pain medication, while also expanding access to Naloxone and fully funding overdose prevention, addiction treatment, and training for health professionals.

Malcolm has fought tirelessly in the state house and even took over the rostrum with his colleagues in the Black Caucus to pass 4 major police reform bills in 2020. These reforms included two separate bills (H.B. 1841 and H.B. 1910) mandating that police officers undergo PTSD evaluation after resorting to lethal force and creating a database that tracks disciplinary actions searchable by law enforcement agencies evaluating prospective hires.

As a member of the Black Caucus in Harrisburg, Malcolm has fought for legislation that will investigate racial disparities in police work. Having led the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Diversity and Inclusion initiatives, he knows that equitable justice is good for business and building strong neighborhoods.

And as a U.S. Senator, he will support reforming the bail system, ending mass incarceration, ending for profit prisons and creating restorative justice, and re-entry programs.

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An economy for all of us

Covid-19 laid bare how the government currently does not work for working families. As we emerge from the worst throes of the pandemic, we must prioritize the communities worst hit by the virus and ensure we address the inequities that led to the devastation. We know that communities of color, women, and low wage workers were hit hardest. We need to ensure that small businesses continue to thrive by delivering forgivable loans and holding enormous corporations like Amazon accountable so small businesses can compete. We must invest in infrastructure to create good jobs for Pennsylvanians. We need to ensure that when workers are sick, they can visit a doctor or stay home to recover without fear of lost pay by delivering paid leave for all. The pandemic has also magnified the need for child care for working families.

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Pat Toomey has dedicated his career to concentrating growth at the very top. Even before coming to the Senate, he was instrumental in forcing Congress to embrace austerity and corporate greed, and he skewed the 2017 GOP tax scam further in favor of corporations and the wealthy. And as the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, he has held up pandemic relief in order to shut off support for cities and small businesses, played a key role in weakening financial protections that allowed the biggest banks to get even bigger, and is now fighting to prevent the Biden administration and key economic policymakers from even talking about racial inequality.

We need a senator who will fight to ensure that the economic recovery from COVID-19 is stronger and more equitable than the recovery from the Great Recession. Throughout the pandemic, Malcolm has been focused on ensuring that the recovery is broad-based and inclusive. He has advocated fiercely for workers, hazard pay, and small businesses in floor speeches. He also co-sponsored H.B. 1223 to expand business interruption policies to small businesses who experienced losses suffered during the pandemic.

The great experiment in trickle-down economics has failed. Instead of helping to bring America’s families up, it has concentrated wealth in the hands of a few billionaires while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet, pay down debt, and achieve the American dream. Communities of color suffered disproportionate public health and economic impacts from the pandemic, and now, our fragile economy is susceptible to merger frenzies and further concentration. We cannot allow Big Agriculture, Big Tech, Big Pharma, and Big Banks to strengthen their grip on our economy, swallowing up what remains of small businesses, and hurting consumers, family farmers, and local business owners in the process. It’s beyond time to level the playing field by breaking up monopolies and making sure everyone pays their fair share.

In Pennsylvania, our minimum age remains at $7.25/hour. In zero of PA’s 67 counties will full-time work at the minimum wage meet the cost of living for a single person, let alone a family. Malcolm has helped lead the fight for legislation that would raise PA’s minimum wage to $15 immediately. He has also championed the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan and is fighting to ensure that ARP dollars go directly to PA families and don’t get tied up in Harrisburg.

And as a U.S. Senator, he will support the THRIVE Act, Federal Jobs Guarantee, PRO act, $15 federal minimum wage and reforming and nationalizing unemployment insurance. He would also join Senator Warren in calling for a wealth tax for fortunes over $50 million.

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Addressing Climate Change

As a Pennsylvania co-chair of Climate Power, Malcolm knows that creating sustainable communities and building good paying green jobs goes hand and hand. Our planet is rapidly approaching the point of no return as global temperatures continue to rise. The United States must lead the world in responding to the climate crisis on the scale, scope, and urgency this moment requires. But climate justice isn’t limited to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. That means we need a moratorium on new fracking and to end tax breaks to oil and gas giants, shifting our resources to fund a just transition and investments in green energy technology so Pennsylvania remains an energy leader.

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Climate justice means investment in green union jobs for workers leaving the fossil fuel industry, accountability for the communities poisoned by fossil fuel extraction, and innovation. Especially in states like PA where many communities rely on fossil fuel corporations for jobs and tax revenue, we need to ensure that every working family is brought along on the journey towards clean American energy. President Biden has recognized the need for a just transition through his American Jobs Plan proposal to plug orphaned oil and gas wells, and Malcolm wants to expand that proposal and ensure it is funded adequately. It means protecting our farmland and ensuring that agriculture workers can thrive.

And as a U.S. Senator, he will support the THRIVE Act, limiting methane emissions and investing in solar and wind power and environmentally sensible infrastructure, such as transit-oriented development.

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Education

There is no more crucial way that we can invest in the success of the U.S.’s future than to invest in education. Malcolm has been a strong advocate on education and for that reason he received early endorsements from the American Federation of Teachers, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and Temple Association of University Professors.

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In addition to having fair and equal funding for our children's schools, we need to support and expand programs such as Head Start, preK, and afterschool programs. We need to be especially cognizant that students have the resources to catch up after the pandemic - more one-on-one tutoring, afterschool programming, and social and emotional healthcare.

After the tragic death by suicide of an 11-year-old constituent, Malcolm introduced bipartisan legislation, Philip’s Law, that would study and reimagine mental health education and resources for students so that the whole child receives care and education. Then-Vice President Biden included Malcolm’s proposal in his platform after a conversation they had.

And as a U.S. Senator, he will support canceling student debt, free public higher education, and physical investment in upgrading and modernizing public schools.

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Reproductive Justice

Everyone should have control over their bodies, including access to reproductive and sexual healthcare and abortion, regardless of their ZIP code, ethnicity, or income. We know that there are forces actively seeking to reverse Roe v. Wade, get rid of funding for women's health if it's through the ACA or taking funding from organizations like Planned Parenthood and this is unacceptable. Malcolm is an unapologetically pro-choice candidate. In spring of 2021, the PA GOP advanced three anti-abortion bills that would prohibit abortions after 6 weeks, require a death certificate for the remains of a terminated pregnancy, and bar abortion access if an embryo has certain genetic conditions. Malcolm strongly opposes these bills and has joined other legislators to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal, and affordable for all.

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Malcolm fought back against legislation that would limit PA residents’ access to abortion based on pseudo-scientific or faith-based concerns. Malcolm has been a vocal critic of deceptive anti-abortion organizations in PA that appear to provide abortions but instead string pregnant people along until they can no longer obtain one.

And as a U.S. Senator, he will support repealing the Hyde Amendment, uphold Roe v. Wade, and expand access and funding for women's health.

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Healthcare for EVERYBODY

Malcolm grew up watching his mom ration her insulin because she couldn’t afford it. No American should ever have to choose between paying for medicine and covering other household expenses or going bankrupt because they get sick. As a U.S. Senator, Malcolm will fight for every family to ensure that all of us, no matter where we work or where we live, can get the care we need when we need it without worrying about putting food on the table.

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We can choose to invest in the health and wellbeing of every body so that all of us can get the care, medication, and recovery time we need to thrive. That means holding insurance companies and drug manufacturers accountable so that life-saving medications are affordable. It means ending surprise billing and reducing out-of-pocket costs so that one medical need doesn’t bankrupt a working family. It’s means expanding Medicaid, Medicare, and CHIP so that everyone can afford to see a doctor, dentist, or specialist, and getting to Medicare for All so that all Americans have coverage.

As a state representative, Malcolm has introduced legislation that would require health insurance companies to cover HIV medication and voted for the Pennsylvania healthcare exchange that lower health care costs. Time and again, he has fought for quality, affordable healthcare for every family.

As a U.S. Senator, he will support legislation that would lower prescription drug costs and move us closer towards coverage for all, Universal Child Care/ Child Tax Credit, Paid Sick Leave and Medical Leave.

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Unions for Everybody

As working families confront unprecedented economic challenges as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, unions offer one of the best ways to rebuild our middle class. The district Malcolm represents today is the third poorest in PA, and he knows how predatory employers take advantage of families desperate for work. Unions give a stronger voice to workers than each would have on their own: better wages, improved working conditions, job security, and anti-discrimination assurances. Unions have been instrumental in protecting workers’ health, safety, and benefits, and will be for generations to come.

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Malcolm is a fervent supporter of the PRO Act and has received endorsements from the AFT and Working Families Party.

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LGBTQ+ Rights & Equality

We have to ensure that there are protections for LGBTQ+ folks in every aspect of their life. PA unfortunately does not have a non-discrimination clause. Despite being introduced in the PA Legislature multiple times, the GOP has shot it down repeatedly and denied LGBTQ+ Pennsylvanians the same protections under the law as everyone else.

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Malcolm has introduced legislation that would fund an LGBTQ+ seniors grant so that all people, no matter whom they love, receive holistic care, housing, and support. He has also co-sponsored legislation banning conversion therapy in PA and authored Data for LGBTQ Lives which would allow for a voluntary SOGI question on all state forms that collect demographic information. Malcolm made history as the first openly LGBTQ person of color in the PA General Assembly and would be the first openly gay man ever elected to the U.S. Senate.

As a U.S. Senator, he will support legislation for equal treatment and the Equality Act.

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Immigration

All of us, no matter what we look like, where we come from, or how we worship, want similar things: security in our homes, dignity at work, and a better future for our families. We were all horrified to see children being separated from their families and put in detention centers like the one just 1.5 hours north of my district in Berks County.

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Pennsylvania needs a senator willing to roll up their sleeves and pass commonsense immigration solutions with broad public support: A path to citizenship for Dreamers, farm workers, TPS holders, and many more immigrant workers who have been critical to our nation’s recovery. We also need to stop separating families and shut down detention centers that are locking up kids in cages.

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