Thursday, July 31, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Thursday, July 31, 2014, 5:45 PM
File: Republican Jon Runyan accepts his reelection to Congress from South Jersey, with his family at the Westin in Mount Laurel. (DAVID M WARREN / StaffPhotographer)

WASHINGTON -- For Jon Runyan, days like Thursday are exactly why he's leaving Congress after just two terms.

Once again, the South Jersey Republican saw a House vote on a critical issue scuttled by GOP infighting. House conservatives on Thursday morning rebelled against Republican leadership as the GOP tried to pass a measure aimed at addressing the crisis of thousands of undocumented children who have come from Central America to the southern border. The latest insurrection left the GOP facing the politically perilous prospect of leaving Washington for a five-week recess without taking any action on an issue that has been at the national forefront for weeks.

"The unfortunate part and why I’m leaving this place is because we always wait until the last minute to solve it," Runyan said after a hastily-called meeting of House Republicans. "We saw the train come over the horizon two weeks ago, two months ago. Now we’re standing here in front of it, still on the rail."

POSTED: Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 7:00 PM
President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, Wednesday, July 30, 2014, at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

WASHINGTON – Philadelphia-area Republicans voted Wednesday to support a measure authorizing House Speaker John Boehner to sue President Obama for overstepping his authority.

U.S. Reps. Charlie Dent, Mike Fitzpatrick, Jim Gerlach and Pat Meehan – of Pennsylvania – and South Jersey’s Frank LoBiondo, Jon Runyan and Chris Smith all supported the bill, which passed a sharply divided House in a 225-201 vote. No Democrats voted for the bill. Five conservative Republicans opposed it – likely because they didn’t think the suit went far enough.

Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, referred to law professor Jonathan Turley, who has criticized Obama for overreaching.

POSTED: Wednesday, July 30, 2014, 1:13 PM

WASHINGTON – Cory Booker and Rand Paul took their buddy-movie-style alliance and push for criminal sentencing reforms to Twitter and PBS’ NewsHour Tuesday, highlighting the serious and not-so-serious side of their high-profile cooperation.

The two famous Senators, one a bald Democrat from Newark and the other a curly-haired Republican from Bowling Green, Ky., began the day poking fun at one another on Twitter for each making The Hill’s annual list of Washington’s 50 most beautiful people. (Booker tweeted that they were “late pity adds.”)

Later, they pushed their bipartisan case for changing criminal sentencing laws to help people get back to work and receive federal benefits after leaving jail. (And they're set to do it again Wednesday afternoon on MSNBC).

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.

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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