Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 1:15 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) helped push through a bill Monday aiming to strengthen the national protections and response to cyber-attacks.

Meehan, a former U.S. attorney who chairs the House subcommittee on cyber-security and infrastructure protection, was an original co-sponsor of a bill that would direct the Department of Homeland Security to create a plan to respond to cyber attacks and to coordinate preparation and responses across all level of government and the private sector, particularly among private entities that own critical infrastructure. The House passed the bill by a voice vote Monday. 

If it passes the Senate, the bill would put into law many of the cyber-security response plans President Obama put in place with an executive order last year.

POSTED: Monday, July 28, 2014, 3:00 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) touted the progress of a college preparation program he helped bring into being 15 years ago, and announced that the annual GEAR UP convention would come to Philadelphia next year.

And he did it while recording his own remarks through Google Glass. (If you want to see what it's like to deliver a speech to a conference, see the video below).

Fattah, of Philadelphia, sponsored the creation of GEAR UP during the Clinton administration, helping found a program that prepares low-income students for college. In his speech at the program’s annual convention last week, Fattah said it had now aided 13 million young people.


POSTED: Friday, July 18, 2014, 2:23 PM

WASHINGTON – Property owners seeking to preserve their land would receive enhanced federal tax incentives under a bill sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.) and passed by the House Thursday.

The plan from Gerlach, of Chester County, would make permanent and expand a tax break for property owners who donate development rights to federal agencies. He co-sponsored the proposal with U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D., Calif.), and it was wrapped into a package of charitable tax incentives that cleared the House Thursday in a 277-130 vote.

Speaking on the House floor, Gerlach said the bill would give property owners an option for preserving their land even as they faced rising tax bills for what is likely their family’s most valuable asset, providing “the freedom, the opportunity and the certainty they deserve when making critical choices about the future of their land.”

POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 6:01 PM

WASHINGTON – Republicans are routing Democrats when it comes to raising money in the four most competitive House districts in the Philadelphia region.

The four Republicans in those races have more than three times as much cash on hand than the Democrats as of June 30: $5.36 million to $1.64 million, according to campaign filings released this week. And in three of the four races, the Republican candidates raised at least twice as much in the latest reporting period as the Democratic hopefuls.

In the fourth race, the Republican, South Jersey’s Tom MacArthur, made up for low fundraising by donating $1 million of his own money to his campaign, giving him a strong cash advantage over Democrat Aimee Belgard.


POSTED: Wednesday, July 16, 2014, 2:28 PM
MOLLY RILEY / ASSOCIATED PRESS The ignition switch in some GM and Chrysler models can slip out of the "run" position and into the "accessory" or "off" position.

WASHINGTON -- With the General Motors scandal as a backdrop, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) has signed onto a bill that could send executives to jail for up to five years if they conceal information about their products’ known dangers.

“What this legislation will do, among other things, is to impose a measure of accountability which we shouldn’t have to impose,” Casey said at a Wednesday news conference. “The reason for this is very simple: someone has knowledge of a defect or a problem, and that knowledge is not followed by action.”

Casey, a co-sponsor, unveiled the bill alongside Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.), the measure’s original sponsor. Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa) is also a co-sponsor.

POSTED: Friday, June 27, 2014, 12:14 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) will launch an initiative Monday aimed at drawing attention to the needs of the so-called “sandwich generation” – people in their 40s and 50s financially squeezed by caring for both aging parents and grown children.

Casey’s effort will open with a hearing in Pittsburgh and continue with further sessions around Pennsylvania, with the aim of developing legislation later this year, according to his office.

Around one in seven middle-age adults (15 percent) provides financial support to both a parent and a grown child, likely driven in part by young adults struggling in a weak economy, according to a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center. Casey hopes his hearings will bring attention to the people caught in the middle and help develop ideas to assist them.

POSTED: Monday, June 23, 2014, 11:44 AM

WASHINGTON – With the World Cup in full swing, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) says the event should come to the United States in 2022.

Casey doesn’t appear to have developed a case of soccer fever, though. Instead, he cited labor abuses in Qatar, the controversial 2022 host country, and wrote a letter to soccer’s world governing body urging an about face.

His letter to Switzerland-based FIFA cites reports that say migrant workers in Qatar are earning as little as $6.75 for a day of manual labor and that they are often housed in overcrowded, unsafe labor camps.

The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar – over bids from the U.S., among others – has also been followed by news reports alleging millions of dollars of payments from a Qatari soccer official to FIFA officials before the decision, sparking ongoing controversy and some calls to move the event. Others have raised fears about the extreme temperatures that would affect an outdoor sporting event in the Middle East.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 7:26 PM

WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania’s 13 House Republicans met for around 90 minutes Tuesday night as they tried to put their stamp on the hottest (if quintessentially inside the beltway) political story of the moment in Washington – the GOP's internal race to reshape their leadership team following the primary loss by Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The campaign, while hardly the kind of issue at the forefront for the average voter, will determine the face of Republican leadership in the House and has once again highlighted the push-and-pull between so-called “red state Republicans” – who come from conservative strongholds and want to advocate more staunchly conservative views – and those from places like the Philadelphia suburbs, where centrists have argued for more compromise.

“For me, the biggest criteria is having a leadership team that understands the members that come from very, very tough districts,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, of Chester County. He is one of several Republicans from the Philadelphia suburbs who have been part of a dwindling group of centrists.

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.

Reach Jonathan at jtamari@phillynews.com.

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