Wednesday, September 2, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, September 1, 2015, 3:27 PM
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) (REUTERS / Tim Shaffer)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) endorsed the international nuclear deal with Iran Tuesday, just hours after Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) announced his support. Together, the two put the deal on the brink of having enough support to withstand Congressional criticism.

Casey and Coons were the 32d and 33d senators to endorse the agreement, one shy of the number President Obama needs to sustain a veto blocking a potential Congressional resolution to reject the deal. If the president can corral 41 Senate votes, supporters can block the disapproving resolution altogether, and avoid the need for a veto.

Coons expressed deep concerns about the international deal – spending much of a 37-minute speech at the University of Delaware outlining its flaws – but said he ultimately saw it as “the most credible opportunity now” to constrain Iran, and that the U.S. risked losing its influence if Congress walked away from a hard-won pact.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 25, 2015, 12:43 PM
Katie McGinty and Joe Sestak

WASHINGTON – Democrats Joe Sestak and Katie McGinty fare about equally in potential match ups against Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, though the Republican incumbent holds a double-digit advantage over them both, according to a Quinnipiac University poll out Tuesday.

The survey, the first since McGinty announced her candidacy in early August, shows Toomey leading Sestak 48-33 in a potential match up and ahead of McGinty 48-32.

The poll, more than a year before Election Day, provides an early snapshot of a race expected to be critical to deciding control of the Senate.

POSTED: Thursday, August 20, 2015, 4:29 PM
Rick Santorum at an event in Cabot, Pa., on May 27, 2015. (REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk)

WASHINGTON – Stepping into the Republican fray on immigration, Rick Santorum called Thursday for ending so-called “birthright citizenship,” cutting back legal immigration by 25 percent and deporting immigrants illegally living in the U.S.

“No one, no one, is above the law in America – that includes presidents, justices, and yes, immigrants,” the former Pennsylvania Senator said in a speech to reporters at the National Press Club.

Asked about splitting up undocumented parents from children who are citizens, Santorum said parents who come to the country illegally are responsible for that outcome.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 18, 2015, 2:03 PM
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. (REUTERS / Mike Theiler)

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) said Tuesday he will vote against the pending nuclear deal with Iran, and will vote to override a presidential veto if needed to help kill the deal, striking a firm -- though unsurprising -- stand against one of President Obama's top priorities.

Menendez, speaking at Seton Hall University in South Orange, said, "if Iran is to acquire a nuclear bomb, it will not have my name on it."

The former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Menendez said the final deal with Iran fell far short of the goals set out at the beginning of negotiations, and will leave the country close to developing a nuclear weapon while lifting punishing sanctions.

POSTED: Monday, August 17, 2015, 8:51 AM
Congressman Chaka Fattah was charged with a 29-count indictment by federal investigators. (MICHAEL PRONZATO / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Chaka Fattah fired back at federal prosecutors Monday, saying the officials who have brought racketeering charges against him used "unconstitutional and unlawful" threats and questionable motives to build their case.

In particular, Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat, ripped Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Gray, writing in a letter that Gray had told officers of the court that “earmarks were corrupt" and that Fattah was “guilty of something."

"This approach is one that is most strikingly consistent with (Department of Justice) misdeeds in multiple recent cases targeting Members of Congress," Fattah wrote in a letter to the top Republican and Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 3:58 PM
With his family by his side, Patrick Murphy, a former Bucks County congressman, concedes his race for the state attorney general Democratic nomination in 2012 at the Philadelphia FOP. (STEVEN M. FALK / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)

WASHINGTON – President Obama has nominated former Bucks County Congressman Patrick Murphy to become undersecretary of the Army, the branch’s second-highest ranking civilian position, the White House announced Wednesday.

Murphy, who represented Pennsylvania’s eighth district from 2007 to 2011, was the first veteran of the second Iraq war to be elected to Congress, where he sat on the House Armed Services Committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Trained as a paratrooper with the Army’s 82nd airborne division, Murphy spent seven months in Iraq, starting in 2003, where he served as a convoy commander and lawyer in the Judge Advocate General's Corps. He earned a Bronze Star for service. He also deployed to Bosnia in 2002.

POSTED: Wednesday, August 5, 2015, 2:29 PM
Kathleen McGinty speaks at a public forum May 12, 2014. ( CLEM MURRAY / Staff Photographer )

WASHINGTON – It’s official: Democrats have a primary in Pennsylvania’s critical U.S. Senate race.

Katie McGinty, former chief of staff to Gov. Wolf, jumped into the campaign Tuesday in a move that changes the political outlook for the nine or so months leading up to next year’s Democratic primary. She’ll face a big challenge in trying to top former Delaware County Congressman Joe Sestak as they vie to take on Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

Here are five key factors in the contest, as described by operatives, insiders and analysts from both parties in recent weeks – including one wild card in the race and why the Democratic primary might not actually be the most important one to watch.

POSTED: Tuesday, August 4, 2015, 10:04 AM
Katie McGinty left her post in Gov. Wolf’s cabinet in July. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – Democrat Katie McGinty, the former chief of staff for Gov. Wolf, announced her campaign for Senate Tuesday, entering a Pennsylvania Democratic primary against former Congressman Joe Sestak and taking aim at the Republican incumbent, Sen. Pat Toomey.

McGinty, who had been expected to enter the race since recently resigning her position with Wolf, made her announcement in a web video and press release, pledging to help middle-class Pennsylvanians and touting her blue-collar back story as the daughter of a Philadelphia police officer and restaurant hostess.

“I am running for Senate to stand up for middle class and hard-working families who deserve a shot at the American Dream,” said McGinty, a Wayne resident.

About this blog

Jonathan Tamari is the Inquirer’s Washington correspondent. He writes about the lawmakers, politics and policy that affect Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Tamari previously covered the Philadelphia Eagles and the NFL. Before that he worked in Trenton, reporting on the characters and color of New Jersey state government. He lives in Washington.

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