WASHINGTON – Outspoken New Jersey conservative Steve Lonegan, a longtime thorn in Gov. Christie’s side, has signed on to help one of the governor’s potential rivals for the White House: Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas).
Lonegan, who ran for Senate against Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) in 2013 and who opposed Christie in the 2009 GOP gubernatorial primary, was named New Jersey chairman of Cruz’s presidential campaign Monday. The pairing unites two conservatives known for his attention-grabbing theatrics and red-hot rhetoric.
Lonegan wasted little time in laying into Christie.
WASHINGTON – A 2012 Princeton graduate hopes to add a burst of youth to Congress. She has launched a campaign to represent Delaware County and other parts of the Philadelphia suburbs.
Lindy Li, who grew up in Malvern and now has a home in Radnor, is running for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s seventh district, which also sprawls through Montgomery, Chester, Berks and Lancaster counties.
Li, 24, said she is “ready to unleash the power of my generation.”
WASHINGTON – A federal program that tries to help police survive violent confrontations would be renamed for slain Philadelphia officer Robert Wilson III under a bill that passed the House Wednesday.
The Department of Justice’s VALOR initiative would be renamed for Wilson, who was shot and killed March 5 when two men tried to rob a GameStop where the 30-year-old officer was buying a video game for his son. The idea came from Philadelphia Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), who attached the plan as an amendment to an appropriations bill for commerce, justice and science programs.
“Officer Wilson dedicated his career to protecting Philadelphians; he was a true hero who sacrificed his own life in the line of duty while performing in the job he loved,” Fattah said in a news release. “Now, his legacy will live on through this national program.”
WASHINGTON – Mayor Nutter expressed confidence Thursday in federal investigators examining what caused the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, but he said full answers could take a year.
“Generally, for major incidents, and I think this certainly qualifies, their investigations on average usually take about a year,” Nutter said, referring to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating what caused the May 12 crash. “But they are very very thorough, very detail oriented.”
He expressed “tremendous confidence” in the board’s chairman, Christopher Hart, adding, “they’ll get to the bottom of it.”
WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) sided with Republican defense hawks Tuesday in voting against a bill that would curtail the federal government’s collection of American phone records, taking a stand in a fight that created sharp divisions in his party.
Toomey’s vote came after days of debate between Republicans who worried that domestic spying was an invasion of privacy and wanted reform and those who wanted to preserve the program unchanged, fearing that new restrictions would hamper counterterrorism investigations. The dispute led to delays that caused the temporary expiration of legal authority for some counterterrorism programs.
The bill, the USA Freedom Act, would renew most of that authority but end the government’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone data. Toomey joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in saying that changing the phone program would weaken safeguards against terrorism -- and against Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), who called for even tougher reform.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) has given his approval to advance a Philadelphia judge's nomination to the third circuit U.S. court of appeals, clearing one potential obstacle for a nominee that critics argued was being stalled over politics.
Toomey has submitted his so-called “blue slip” to the Senate Judiciary Committee, giving his blessing to holding a hearing on the nomination Luis Felipe Restrepo, now a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A spokeswoman for the senator confirmed the move.
By tradition, the committee will not hold a confirmation hearing until it receives blessings - in the form of the signed slips - from a nominee's home-state senators. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) turned in his in November, shortly after Restrepo was nominated to fill an emergency vacancy.
WASHINGTON – The long-running battle over Amtrak funding took on an acidic tone Thursday, sparked by the train derailment in Philadelphia.
Two Democratic senators blasted Republicans for proposing Amtrak budget cuts, saying more investment could have ensured that a critical electronic safety system was in place to prevent the crash.
“Again and again and again we see the consequences of a failure to invest,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.). “The approach to infrastructure in this country, all too commonly, has been patch and pray.”
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) plans to call for an audit of rail lines to see which ones have put in place a federally mandated safety system, and which do not, he said Wednesday night.
Rail lines are supposed to have the system, Positive Train Control, in place by the end of this year, but only three out of 50 covered systems are close to complying, Brady said. The federal requirement was put in place in 2008.
“We gave them 7 years,” the Philadelphia Congressman said. “If that was done, this train accident would not have happened.”