Congressman Ryan Costello
PACB: You are now well into your second term in Congress. What are your priorities this session? What are you hearing from your constituents?
Representative Ryan Costello (RC): Issues that facilitate more economic growth, including reforms to Dodd Frank, lowering taxes for businesses and individuals, and continuing down a path of smart regulatory reform. Improving our educational system and workforce development issues are also very important to me.
Because my district represents a diverse range of views, I hear from constituents on a variety of matters.
PACB: As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, you cover a wide range of topics including telecommunications, consumer protection and energy policy. Can you tell us some of the issues and legislation the committee will address?
RC: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Reauthorization Act builds on years of work that aims to develop treatments, lower drug costs, and prioritize patient safety. In addition to ensuring the timely delivery of innovative treatments, this legislation is also critical to our local economy in Pennsylvania, as it will make sure our businesses remain competitive and keep up with emerging public health needs.
The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) provides quality and affordable health insurance for some children under the age of 19. We just advanced legislation to provide for a five-year reauthorization of CHIP to ensure stability and certainty for families who utilize the program.
The Committee is also working to modernize our energy infrastructure by reviewing the impact of resource development and innovation on electricity markets and removing burdensome red-tape that has stifled the development and deployment of affordable, clean energy projects in hydropower and advanced nuclear technology, among others.
PACB: What is the future of the Energy policy in the US? Where are we headed? What is the status of all aspects of our energy infrastructure?
RC: The future of the U.S. energy policy is dependent on our ability to respond to evolving wholesale electricity markets, and harness and deploy technology that will increase American energy independence and strengthen the reliability, resiliency, and security of our electric grid. The boom of affordable and accessible natural gas has changed the dynamic of the marketplace and our infrastructure needs. In light of this, we must work to ensure a reliable baseload while capitalizing on advancements in storage and clean energy innovation to improve the diversity and security of our energy supply.
PACB: Equifax’s recent data breach was widespread, compromising the personal information of 143 million Americans. As a member of the subcommittee on Digital Commerce and Consumer Protection on the House Energy and Commerce Committee what are the next steps congress can take to deter these breaches in the future?
RC: During an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, I had the opportunity to question the former Equifax CEO about the company’s data breach. The Committee is working diligently to collect information from the company and other stakeholders so we can explore what legislative solutions are necessary, and make sure the proper oversight and cybersecurity measures are in place.
In fact, the Promoting Responsible Oversight of Transactions and Examinations of Credit Technology Act (PROTECT) Act was recently introduced in the House, which would make fundamental changes to the way credit bureaus protect consumers’ personal information. The bill would implement mandatory, federal cybersecurity standards at credit bureaus, end credit bureaus’ reliance on Social Security Numbers for identification by 2020, and provide free credit freezes to some consumers, such as senior citizens and active duty military, as protection from identify theft.
PACB: You recently worked with Congressman Pat Meehan (PA-07) to request $500 million in funding for the Northeast Corridor (NEC), considered the most important rail corridor in our country. Can you provide some background on why it is so important to ensure the viability of this corridor for Pennsylvania and the country?
RC: Many constituents in my Congressional District rely on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) for work commutes and recreation, but the NEC is currently in a state of disrepair, with $38 billion worth of rebuilding that needs to occur. The NEC transports a workforce that contributes $50 billion each year to our country’s economy, and the loss of the NEC for just one day would cost an estimated $100 million in congestion and lost productivity. With nearly 20 percent of U.S. jobs located in the NEC region and an estimated 750,000 individual trips each day, investing in the safety and reliability of our passenger rail networks is essential in continuing to attract job creators and families to our region.
PACB: Thank you so much for your support of the Financial CHOICE Act. You have been a true supporter of community banks. Can you discuss the importance of community banking in your district and across the country?
RC: So many of the startup companies in my Congressional District rely on community banks to launch their business and provide working capital and ongoing lines of credit. Without the access to capital that community banks provide, Main Street businesses would lack a critical resource, and our regional economy would grind to a halt. That’s why it’s so essential to get the types of reforms to our financial services sector that enable community bankers to lend to local business owners and develop meaningful, productive relationship lending as it used to be.
PACB: Like community bankers, you have deep roots in your district. How has your experience in local government and local economies affected the way you serve in Congress?
RC: I am very familiar with what types of industries are the major employers in the district, as well as the types of educational, recreational, environmental, and community-related priorities that many of my constituents value. The value of my past experience, for me, helps me identify and translate into action how federal policy can positively impact our local communities and regional economy in a way that benefits us all.
PACB: The life of a congressman is a busy one, can you talk about what you like to do in your spare time?
RC: I have a four-year-old and a three-month-old, so most of my time is spent with them. The reality is there isn’t really much spare time given the time commitments of the job and home life. There’s always stuff to do in both those areas. I’ve always been an avid Philly sports fan and am especially excited for the Eagles and Sixers this year.