Remember how Congress rolled into 2023? You’re forgiven if you’ve erased it from memory.

The early days of January were marred by U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s chaotic but ultimately successful bid to become House speaker, the result of four days of deal-making, 15 rounds of voting, a considerable amount of yelling and that shocking TV moment when one GOP congressman had to be restrained from pummeling colleague Rep. Matt Gaetz. Chaos reigned among the Republicans, who held a slim majority.

Caught up in the delays caused by this dysfunction were two newly elected members of the Western Pennsylvania delegation — Reps. Summer Lee and Chris Deluzio. Both Democrats could do little during the madness. They couldn’t be sworn in until the issue of the speaker was settled. That didn’t happen until the early morning hours of Saturday, Jan. 7. Then, they could finally go to work.

Since then, things haven’t always been smooth in the GOP-controlled House. McCarthy’s tenure as speaker ended in October, when Republicans angered over his willingness to work with Democrats booted him from the seat.

Democrats, however, are quick to point out that they’ve been busy. The year ended with both Lee, of Swissvale, who represents the state’s 12th District, and Deluzio, of Aspinwall, representing the 17th, listing their accomplishments — by Lee’s estimate, that amounts to more than $1 billion in federal investments for Western Pennsylvania.

She issued an announcement listing the programs and initiatives she had helped fund. The money went toward improving infrastructure and transit, clean air and water measures, promotion of STEM innovation and entrepreneurship, research, and efforts to lower housing costs, job creation and workforce development.

Deluzio’s name is attached to many of these programs, too. A few examples: Both representatives worked to provide $142 million in improvements to the Martin Luther King Jr. Busway and Parkway East, including the flood-prone “bathtub,” often a headache for commuters in Pittsburgh’s Downtown region. And they secured a $143 million grant to build better passenger rail between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

Over an eight-month period, Lee worked with local community organizations to secure $10.7 million in funding for 15 project proposals reaching into a number of areas — food insecurity, affordable housing, infrastructure, transportation, trauma care, and educating against antisemitism. 

Deluzio provided funding for public safety and mental health services, and pushed bills to improve veterans care and, after the Norfolk Southern derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, strengthen rail safety. In all, he introduced 10 bills, including the Striking and Locked Out Workers Protection Act, which protects striking workers from getting kicked off their health care, as happened to striking workers at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

In addition, Deluzio’s office reports he helped the district receive more than $480 million in federal grants and contracts in 2023. That includes a U.S. Department of Defense contract, totaling more than $100 million, awarded to Curtiss-Wright Corp.’s Electro-Mechanical Division (EMD) facility in Harmar. 

Deluzio took on defense industry price gouging, challenged the privatization of Veterans Affairs and veterans care, pressured insulin producers to cap the cost of insulin for those on private health insurance and took on junk fees.

Lee listed her legislative accomplishments, which include passing an amendment to increase funding for testing and remediation of lead contamination in drinking water at schools and child care facilities, introduction of the Hazard Pay for Health Care Workers Act and the Bipartisan Abandoned Well Remediation Act.

“Every dollar we’ve delivered has been driven by our commitment to ensure that every person in our community feels heard, valued, seen, supported and served by my office,” Lee said in her statement. “Our goal has always been to build a brighter, more inclusive future for all, and together, we are making that a reality.”

“It is the honor of my life to represent the people of Western Pennsylvania in Congress,” Deluzio said in his statement. “They sent me down to Washington to fight for all of us and for a brighter future — and that’s what I work to do every single day.” 

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at

Steve Mellon

Steve is a photojournalist and writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but he is currently on strike and working as a Union Progress co-editor. Reach him at