Thursday, May 28, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, May 5, 2015, 12:03 PM

WASHINGTON –  A new group backed by President Obama has turned to Mayor Nutter and Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) for support as the president eyes his long-term legacy and focuses on helping young minority men growing up in poor communities.

Booker and Nutter are among a star-studded list of board members or advisors to the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, which the New York Times described as “the nucleus” of Obama’s plans after he leaves office.

Among others who will help the group are executives from PepsiCo, News Corporation and Sprint, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, former Attorney General Eric Holder, music star John Legend, ex-athletes such as Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning and Jerome Bettis and the mayors of Indianapolis and Sacramento, the Times reported.

Jonathan Tamari @ 12:03 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Friday, May 1, 2015, 9:36 AM

McLean, VA – Gov. Christie stuck to a familiar political script Friday morning, hours before the first legal domino was expected to fall in the so-called "Bridgegate" lane closure scandal that has shadowed his presidential ambitions.

Christie, speaking to a business-friendly crowd in Northern Virginia, once again talked up the importance of federal entitlement reform, bashed President Obama’s foreign policy and touched on immigration reform. He even had the audience at the Consumer Electronics Association event laughing at jokes about Social Security, and spoke about how Superstorm Sandy helped make him ready to be president.

But in roughly an hour on stage Christie didn’t say a word about the guilty plea expected Friday by one-time ally David Wildstein for his role in shutting down access lanes to the George Washington Bridge in an apparent act of political retribution. Wildstein’s plea would mark a new phase in the long-running investigation into the 2013 lane closures that have cast a shadow over Christie’s presidential ambitions, sending him tumbling down the pecking order in the Republican’s primary field.

Jonathan Tamari @ 9:36 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, April 30, 2015, 3:45 PM
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) (Photo by Mark Wilson (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) has joined the call for more forceful Congressional oversight over any nuclear deal with Iran, despite members of both parties warning that proposals like his plan with Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) could sink a bipartisan bill and result in no Congressional review at all.

At issue is a bill that would give Congress a say over a potential nuclear deal between the U.S., its international negotiating partners and Iran. That proposal, crafted to win enough bipartisan support to overcome a presidential veto, would let lawmakers reject any final Iran deal – though with a high threshold. The disapproving resolution would likely need 67 Senate votes to stand in the face of a potential veto.

In other words, if just 34 senators approve of an Iran deal, or decline to override a veto from President Obama, a nuclear accord could take effect. The deal could also go forward if Congress simply failed to pass a measure disapproving of the agreement.

Jonathan Tamari @ 3:45 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 5:45 PM
Cory Booker. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said he was “anguished” by the images of riots in Baltimore yesterday, saying they are “not justified,” but that the conflict shows the need to continue pushing to fix the U.S. criminal justice system.

“Obviously we should not be tolerating levels of violence and lawlessness that are not constructive in any way,” said Booker, the former Newark mayor who has made criminal justice reform one of the top issues of his Senate tenure. “I’m just anguished over it, but to me it highlights some of the larger issues that we have unfinished issues in America. Clearly we have a legal system in this country that needs to become more of a justice system.”

He said he has been in touch to offer support to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who he called a longtime friend from when they were both city leaders.

Jonathan Tamari @ 5:45 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 28, 2015, 4:09 PM
“Your government failed you, plain and simple, and you deserve much, much better,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), the Sandy Task Force leader, said as he opened the group’s first hearing.

WASHINGTON – New Jersey and New York senators launched a task force Tuesday aimed at overhauling the federal flood insurance program in order, they said, to avoid the problems that their constituents confronted after Superstorm Sandy.

“Your government failed you, plain and simple, and you deserve much, much better,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), the Sandy Task Force leader, said as he opened the group’s first hearing. The aim, he said, is to “bring justice” to victims who were underpaid by the federal insurance program an make sure that “never happens again.”

Around 50 people attended, largely from Ocean and Monmouth counties along the Jersey shore, according to Menendez’s staff.

Jonathan Tamari @ 4:09 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 1:13 PM

WASHINGTON – Joe Sestak, the Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), raised about $312,000 in the first three months of 2015, a relatively small amount for a candidate hoping to win what promises to be an expensive statewide race next year.

Sestak’s campaign has declined in recent days to disclose its fund-raising totals, though a public filing obtained by the Inquirer shows the amounts. He had $1.7 million on hand as of the end of March – a month during which he spent most of his time on a largely solitary 422-mile hike across Pennsylvania, where he said he was walking to try to earn voters’ trust.

"We're where we want to be," a Sestak spokeswoman e-mailed.

Jonathan Tamari @ 1:13 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 12:15 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) and five other liberal senators wrote federal regulators Tuesday urging them to block Comcast’s proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable.

Should the deal win approval, “we believe that Comcast-TWC’s unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans—inhibiting U.S. consumers’ ability to fully benefit from modern technologies and American businesses’ capacity to innovate and compete on a global scale,” wrote Franken and Sens. Bernard Sanders (I., Vt.), Ed Markey (D., Mass.), Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.).

The $45 billion deal between the nation’s first and second largest cable companies is under review from the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice, and word leaked out last week that Justice’s anti-trust lawyers are leaning against the proposal.

Jonathan Tamari @ 12:15 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, April 21, 2015, 10:26 AM

WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) will become the president and CEO of a group working to support Medicare Advantage, a Medicare program that has often been targeted for reform.

She will be leading the Better Medicare Alliance, made up of health insurers (like Aetna), hospitals, medical providers, and advocates for Medicare Advantage recipients. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is another member of the alliance, which launched in December.

The position would seem to draw on Schwartz’s deep experience working on health care and knowledge of Congress. Until January she represented a district that includes parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. She ran for governor but lost in the Democratic primary.

Jonathan Tamari @ 10:26 AM  Permalink | 0 comments
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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