Friday, August 1, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Friday, June 27, 2014, 12:14 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) will launch an initiative Monday aimed at drawing attention to the needs of the so-called “sandwich generation” – people in their 40s and 50s financially squeezed by caring for both aging parents and grown children.

Casey’s effort will open with a hearing in Pittsburgh and continue with further sessions around Pennsylvania, with the aim of developing legislation later this year, according to his office.

Around one in seven middle-age adults (15 percent) provides financial support to both a parent and a grown child, likely driven in part by young adults struggling in a weak economy, according to a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center. Casey hopes his hearings will bring attention to the people caught in the middle and help develop ideas to assist them.

POSTED: Monday, June 23, 2014, 11:44 AM

WASHINGTON – With the World Cup in full swing, Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) says the event should come to the United States in 2022.

Casey doesn’t appear to have developed a case of soccer fever, though. Instead, he cited labor abuses in Qatar, the controversial 2022 host country, and wrote a letter to soccer’s world governing body urging an about face.

His letter to Switzerland-based FIFA cites reports that say migrant workers in Qatar are earning as little as $6.75 for a day of manual labor and that they are often housed in overcrowded, unsafe labor camps.

The awarding of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar – over bids from the U.S., among others – has also been followed by news reports alleging millions of dollars of payments from a Qatari soccer official to FIFA officials before the decision, sparking ongoing controversy and some calls to move the event. Others have raised fears about the extreme temperatures that would affect an outdoor sporting event in the Middle East.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 17, 2014, 7:26 PM

WASHINGTON – Pennsylvania’s 13 House Republicans met for around 90 minutes Tuesday night as they tried to put their stamp on the hottest (if quintessentially inside the beltway) political story of the moment in Washington – the GOP's internal race to reshape their leadership team following the primary loss by Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The campaign, while hardly the kind of issue at the forefront for the average voter, will determine the face of Republican leadership in the House and has once again highlighted the push-and-pull between so-called “red state Republicans” – who come from conservative strongholds and want to advocate more staunchly conservative views – and those from places like the Philadelphia suburbs, where centrists have argued for more compromise.

“For me, the biggest criteria is having a leadership team that understands the members that come from very, very tough districts,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, of Chester County. He is one of several Republicans from the Philadelphia suburbs who have been part of a dwindling group of centrists.

POSTED: Thursday, June 12, 2014, 11:10 AM

WASHINGTON -- Philadelphia U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah wants to rename the city's 30th Street Station in honor of the late Bill Gray, his predecessor in Pennsylvania's second Congressional district.

Fattah, a Democrat, has introduce a bill to rename the station “William H. Gray III 30th Street Station.” Every member of the Pennsylvania House delegation has signed on as a co-sponsor.

"Renaming this historic station in Bill Gray’s honor would be a fitting tribute for a man and leader who did so much for the Philadelphia community—not only as a public servant, but as a businessman, friend, father, and minister,” Fattah said in a news release. “His dedication to his constituency knew no bounds, but he was particularly passionate about investing resources in America’s infrastructure, and gave undue time and commitment to making 30th Street Station one of the finest train facilities in this country.”

POSTED: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 7:20 PM

WASHINGTON – Bucks County Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick was the lone House Republican to receive a promise of support Tuesday from a pro-gun control group led by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.

Giffords’ political action committee, Americans for Responsible Solutions, rolled out a list of 11 candidates they plan to financially support in this fall's elections. Just two were Republicans: Fitzpatrick and Sen. Susan Collins (R., Me.).

The endorsement could be a powerful one for a Republican in a moderate swing district that covers Bucks and part of Montgomery County. Democrats have made the race a top priority and have nominated former Army Ranger Kevin Strouse.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, 4:48 PM

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission dismissed a watchdog group’s complaint against former South Jersey U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, saying that even though he appeared to use $30,000 of campaign funds for personal use on a luxurious family trip to Scotland, he had paid the money back and should not be prosecuted.

The commission examined a 2011 trip in which Andrews, a Democrat, tapped his campaign funds to help bring his wife and two daughters to a wedding in Edinburgh, where they stayed in the five-star Balmoral hotel. It found that the political purpose Andrews cited -- that the wedding was for a political adviser who had once been a volunteer consultant -- "seems too tenuous" to justify using campaign funds.

But since Andrews later repaid the money, “the Commission, in consideration of Commission resources, exercises its prosecutorial discretion and dismisses the allegation,” the FEC wrote in a letter dated May 28 and sent to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a non-partisan ethics group that filed the complaint against Andrews. Andrews repaid the money after the Star-Ledger drew attention to the campaign spending.

The ethics, group, which goes by CREW, released the FEC letter Tuesday.

POSTED: Friday, May 30, 2014, 1:59 PM

WASHINGTON – Claire Gustafson, a South Jersey Republican candidate for Congress who has relentlessly attacked primary opponent Garry Cobb, has fueled her campaign with $12,600 of her own money, according to an aide. But a full accounting of her financial support and spending won’t be available until months after Tuesday’s primary election.

Gustafson has not filed a full campaign finance report due to the timing of her fund-raising and technical problems with the federal reporting web site, according to her campaign manager, Steve Kush. Kush said they are in compliance with federal disclosure rules. Gustafson, Cobb and five other candidates are running for the Camden County-based House seat that was vacated in February by Democrat Rob Andrews.

Gustafson did plan to file a 48-hour notice Friday showing that she gave her campaign $12,600 on May 20 – six days after a May 14 deadline for inclusion in the final, pre-primary campaign report with a full accounting of fund-raising and spending. The personal donations account for the bulk of the roughly $17,000 Gustafson has raised for the race, Kush said.

POSTED: Wednesday, May 28, 2014, 6:09 PM
Charlie Dent, R-Allentown

UPDATED with comments from an interview with Dent.

WASHINGTON – The growing wave of political support for same-sex marriage crossed another threshold in Pennsylvania Wednesday, when U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent became one of only a few Republicans in Congress to support the idea.

"The American public’s views on this issue have shifted. So have mine," Dent said in a statement released by his office. "Life is too short to have the force of government stand in the way of two adults whose pursuit of happiness includes marriage."

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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