Jonathan TamariWASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), whose parents immigrated from Cuba and who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued a blistering critique Tuesday of the Obama administration’s decision to release Cuban spies as the Castro regime freed American Alan Gross from imprisonment.
“President Obama's actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government,” Menendez said in a news release. “There is no equivalence between an international aid worker and convicted spies who were found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage against our nation.”
Menendez added, “Trading Mr. Gross for three convicted criminals sets an extremely dangerous precedent. It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.”
President Obama will visit South Jersey's Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Monday, the White House said today.
Obama will visit "to deliver remarks expressing his gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our troops and their families," a White House spokesman wrote.
More details are expected in the coming days.
WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey sent a letter to federal regulators today urging them to approve the proposed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, saying the deal would benefit consumers.
“While we appreciate your commitment to a full, thorough review, we urge the Commission to act as quickly as possible,” Casey, a Democrat, and Toomey, a Republican, wrote to Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler. “We believe the merger between Comcast and Time Warner will produce extensive benefits to the public in terms of jobs and services for low-income households.”
The two lawmakers added that “Comcast has informed us that the proposed merger will produce substantial benefits for the public, and that the company has acted proactively to prevent anti-competitive effect.” They conclude, “we urge the FCC to approve the merger as quickly as possible.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) delivered an impassioned speech on race and the justice system on the Senate floor Wednesday, railing against inequities and saying “our legal system is not a justice system.”
Speaking directly to the unrest that has roiled much of the country following decisions not to indict police officers who killed unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo. and New York, Booker said the reactions across the country are about more than those two incidents.
“It is a reflection of a deeper anguish, an unfinished American business that has lasted for decades,” Booker said in a remarkable speech. (Video below).
WASHINGTON – Philadelphia’s Veterans Affairs medical center could be renamed for a Vietnam War Medal of Honor winner under a bill that cleared the House Monday and is headed to President Obama for his signature.
The House approved a bill to rename the center on Woodland Avenue the “Corporal Michael J. Crescenz Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center,” honoring the only Philadelphian to win the Medal of Honor in Vietnam. Crescenz was 19 when he was killed while charging North Vietnamese machine gun bunkers.
The House passed the measure by a voice vote. The Senate last week passed the bill to rename the facility by unanimous consent.
WASHINGTON – The debate over American military action against the Islamic State, pushed to the background for some time, came to the forefront again Thursday morning in one of the last Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings chaired by Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.).
Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) forced the issue by attempting to advance a plan imposing limits to the ongoing fight in Syria and Iraq, prompting a tense debate that crossed party lines in a cramped but elegant meeting room on the Capitol’s first floor.
The fight again put Menendez in charge of a weighty international debate, for one of the last times before Republicans take the Senate majority in January and the New Jerseyan gives up his gavel as chairman. It also again highlighted Menendez’s habit of bucking the administration, particularly in the Middle East.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) challenged the NFL’s tax-exempt status Tuesday, arguing that the money the league saves in tax payments could be put to better use funding programs to help address domestic violence.
“Why does the NFL need a tax-exempt status when we could be redirecting the money to domestic violence and treatment programs?” Booker asked at a high-profile Senate hearing into how professional sports leagues and players’ unions have handled domestic violence.
Booker posed his questions to ex-Eagle Troy Vincent, a former players’ union leader who was representing the NFL as the league’s executive vice president of football operations.
WASHINGTON – Gov.-elect Tom Wolf is set to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden at the White House Friday, according to a White House official.
Wolf, a Democrat who defeated Gov. Corbett in November, is one of six newly elected governors expected to meet with Obama to discuss ways for his administration and states to work together to promote economic growth, the official said.
The incoming governors of Alaska, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts and Texas are also expected at the meeting.