Wednesday, August 5, 2015

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.

POSTED: Monday, August 3, 2015, 6:54 PM

WASHINGTON – The House Ethics Committee is planning to open its own investigation into the allegations surrounding Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.).

The panel announced Monday that it has voted to create an investigative subcommittee to examine whether he violated the House code of conduct or other rules in the actions described in the 85-page racketeering and conspiracy indictment released last week.

Under House rules, investigative panels look into allegations of wrongdoing. They can recommend reprimands or censures to the full committee.

POSTED: Friday, July 31, 2015, 12:03 PM
FILE - In this image takem from a November 2012 video made available by Paula French, a well-known, protected lion known as Cecil strolls around in Hwange National Park, in Hwange, Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe's wildlife minister says extradition is being sought for Walter Palmer, the American dentist who killed Cecil. (Paula French via AP)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) plans to introduce a bill named for Cecil the lion that aims to fight the sport hunting of potentially threatened or endangered species.

“Let’s not be cowardly lions when it comes to trophy killings,” Menendez said in a news release announcing his Conserving Ecosystems by Ceasing the Importation of Large (CECIL) Animal Trophies Act.

The bill would extend U.S. import and export restrictions to species that have been proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act, giving those species the same protections as the ones already on the list.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 28, 2015, 4:18 PM
A SEPTA Regional Rail train passes a sign marking the start during testing of the Positive Train Control system on May 20, 2015, at the Frazer Train Yard in Malvern. (Joseph Kaczmarek/For The Inquirer)

WASHINGTON – Funding for an upgraded rail safety system -- one that experts say could have prevented the Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia earlier this year -- has become a key point of contention as the Senate considers a vast transportation bill less than three months after the crash that killed eight and injured more than 200.

Republicans plan to add $199 million to the measure to help install the system, Positive Train Control, according to aides to Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), the bill's sponsor. But Democratic aides say they were promised a $500 million addition, an amount Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) has pressed for.

Democrats have also sharply questioned plans to delay a year-end deadline for all passenger and major freight lines to install the safety system, which can remotely stop or slow speeding trains.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 6:00 PM
Sen. Bob Menendez leaves a meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry at Capitol Hill on April 14, 2015, in Washington. ( Mark Wilson / Getty Images )

WASHINGTON – Some of the most powerful political insiders on the right and left – including Republican kingmaker Sheldon Adelson and South Jersey Democratic potentate George Norcross -- helped Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) raise nearly $1.6 million for his legal defense fund in the last quarter.

The total, $1.557 million according to the senator’s aides, would be a decent total for a Senate candidate facing re-election. For Menendez, the money will help him pay for the costs of his defense against federal corruption charges. He has repeatedly said he followed the law and will be vindicated, but the defense is expensive. Menendez spent about $867,000 from April through June, mostly on lawyers.

He had $1.1 million left on hand as of June 30, a spokeswoman said.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 15, 2015, 11:21 AM
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (MATT ROURKE / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) raised $2.2 million for his re-election campaign from April through June, according to a summary shared by his campaign Monday.

The haul – similar to what he raised in the first three months of the year – is likely to give Toomey a commanding financial advantage about 16 months out from what figures to be a challenging Election Day, when he will try to win a second term on the same day Pennsylvania Democrats expect the presidential race to bring out a surge of their voters. Toomey has been named one of Democrats' top targets as they try to retake control of the Senate.

He had $8.3 million cash on hand as of June 30, after spending nearly $1.2 million in the second quarter of the year, including buying his first television ads.

POSTED: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 2:48 PM
Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R., Bucks) said, “there is little reason to believe this deal will halt Iran’s nuclear program or that the Iranian regime is truly committed to joining the international community.”

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran met with hostility from most Philadelphia-area Republicans and wariness from Democrats, demonstrating the skepticism he faces as he tries to prevent Congress from overriding the pact.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), one of Congress’ leading sponsors of Iran sanctions and a close ally of Israel, said he was “concerned that the deal ultimately legitimizes Iran as a threshold-nuclear state.”

“I’m concerned the redlines we drew have turned into green-lights,” said Menendez, the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “The bottom line is: The deal doesn’t end Iran’s nuclear program – it preserves it.”

POSTED: Thursday, July 9, 2015, 12:49 PM
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (MATT ROURKE / Associated Press)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) scored a partial victory Thursday as the Senate advanced a plan to help rein in child predators, a proposal that has featured prominently in his early campaigning for re-election.

The Senate voted 98-0 in favor of a Toomey amendment that would make it illegal for school districts to write letters of recommendation for employees who are known pedophiles or who face credible accusations of sexual misconduct. Toomey has warned that the practice is sometimes used by school districts that want to quietly move a suspected child molester to a new location.

“The sad truth is it has happened so frequently that it even has a name – it’s called ‘passing the trash,’” Toomey said on the Senate floor Thursday morning. He called his bill banning the practice “a huge victory for America’s children.”

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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