Saturday, March 28, 2015

POSTED: Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 6:56 PM

WASHINGTON – Another fight, another vote to defuse it from Philadelphia-area Republicans.

All seven House Republicans from the Philadelphia suburbs voted in favor of funding the homeland security department for the rest of the fiscal year Tuesday, ending a standoff that had threatened to shut down the department. In doing so, the local GOP lawmakers voted with Democrats and against a majority of their House colleagues to end the dispute – much as they previously did when it came to ending fights over the fiscal cliff, aid for superstorm Sandy and the 2013 government shutdown.

The local Republicans were seven of just 75 Republicans to support the bill, along with 182 Democrats. Most Republicans – 167 – opposed the plan.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 3, 2015, 4:52 PM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks about Iran during a joint meeting of Congress in the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on March 3, 2015, in Washington. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Lawmakers from the Philadelphia area gave a generally warm reception Tuesday to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress – though some Democrats were still angered by the way it came about.

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D., Pa.), – who shook Netanyahu’s hand as he entered the House chamber, and whose district includes Cheltenham, where the Israeli leader went to high school – said he entered the speech skeptical about international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, and found his view reinforced.

“I’m deeply concerned with what I’m hearing coming out of the,” talks, said Boyle, a member of the House foreign affairs committee. As it has been outlined, “I would find that sort of a deal unacceptable.”

POSTED: Monday, March 2, 2015, 3:43 PM

WASHINGTON – Joe Sestak will formally launch his Senate campaign Wednesday at Independence Hall, he announced in a news release Monday.

Sestak, a former admiral and Delaware County congressman, has long made clear that he intended to run for Senate in a bid to unseat Republican Pat Toomey in 2016. He has already been fundraising and making appearances across the state in the hopes of a rematch from their race in 2010.

Sestak “is running to restore Americans’ lost trust in their political leaders by being accountable to the people,” said the announcement.

POSTED: Monday, March 2, 2015, 3:23 PM
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON –Rep. Chaka Fattah will not attend Tuesday’s speech from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress, the Philadelphia Democrat said Monday.

“I would never participate in any activity to disparage the President of the United States, therefore I will not be present tomorrow,” Fattah said in a statement. “I will be in Israel a week from tomorrow, to continue my leadership in strengthening the United States and Israel’s cooperation and partnership in science and technology.”

Fattah is the only official from the Philadelphia region to so far say he will not attend the speech, which has turned divisive. More than two dozen Democrats have said they will not attend, according to the New York Times.

POSTED: Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10:53 AM

WASHINGTON – Invoking memories of 9/11, three Republicans from the Philadelphia suburbs urged their party Wednesday to avoid shutting down the Department of Homeland Security, saying doing so would be a dereliction of duty.

“I stood in the courtyard of the Pentagon and watched the smoke billow from the roof. I’ve stood in the ruins with my colleagues that were U.S. Attorneys at 9/11, and I think our highest and first responsibility is to protect the people of the United States from harm,” said U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) 

The Delaware County Republican was sworn in as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on six days after 9/11. In an interview, he said he relayed images of the wreckage to his colleagues in a closed door meeting of House Republicans Wednesday morning, held as the GOP and President Obama are locked in a standoff over funding the department founded in the aftermath of those attacks. Without a resolution, the department would shut down Friday – though much of its personnel is considered “essential” and would continue working without pay.

POSTED: Thursday, February 19, 2015, 5:16 PM
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams said Thursday that running for U.S. Senate is “something you have to consider” as Democrats seek a nominee to take on U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) next year.

“Anytime people talk about that, it’s something you have to consider,” Williams said in a telephone interview. He stressed that he is focused on his job as district attorney, but as he tries to fight crime in the city, he said being a Senator might give him an even greater ability to make an impact by supporting things like early childhood education or after-school programs.

“That would really do a great job with helping us prevent crime,” Williams said.

POSTED: Thursday, February 19, 2015, 11:52 AM
State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia.

WASHINGTON – A Philly state senator is mulling a run for U.S. Senate against the Republican incumbent, Pat Toomey.

Democrat Vincent Hughes, a member of the state legislature since 1987, told Philadelphia Weekly that a run has "been on my mind; it’s something we think about every once in a while.” He later added, “We made a decision to hold onto that domain name in contemplation of that move—should we decide to make it.”

Hughes has registered domain names such as “Hughes4USSenate2016.com,” “HughesforSenate2016.com” and “HughesforUSSenate2016.com,” the web site PoliticsPA previously reported

POSTED: Thursday, February 12, 2015, 1:24 PM
The Philadelphia skyline is seen on April 25, 2014. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Hotels, money, Comcast executive David L. Cohen, and maybe some special treatment at the Liberty Bell all helped Philadelphia get over the top to win the right to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention, city and party leaders said Thursday afternoon.

“The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation’s history is unmatched,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), chair of the Democratic National Committee. “But what’s also unmatched is the comprehensive proposal” the city put together.

The three finalists to host the convention -- Philadephia, New York and Columbus, Ohio -- were judged on logistics, security and resources to host the gathering that Democrats hope will serve as an energizing springboard to the 2016 presidential race, Wasserman Schultz said on an afternoon conference call with reporters.

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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