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Archive: January, 2013

POSTED: Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 8:26 PM
In this Sept. 4, 2012, file photo, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C. In a 1992 column in The Stanford Daily, his college newspaper, Booker wrote that he was "disgusted by gays" before a transformative experience with a gay peer counselor changed his views. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON -- Officially, Cory Booker’s campaign team declined to comment on Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s words today suggesting he had to “spank” the Newark mayor for disrespect.

But, minutes after the no comment e-mail arrived, Booker wrote this on Twitter: “Often your best words are those you choose to keep to yourself.”

POSTED: Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 8:07 PM
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick (left), a Bucks County Republican, and New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg. (File Photos)

WASHINGTON -- Two lawmakers from the region introduced bills to strengthen gun laws Tuesday as the national debate on firearms continues to boil.

One measure, by New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, would ban high-capacity gun magazines, as President Obama has called for. The other, from Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican, would require states to report people with mental health problems to the FBI's national database for background checks.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 4:19 PM
President Obama , who spoke of an urgency to act, likely has less than two years before he is weakened by lame-duck status. (Mark Gail / MCT)

WASHINGTON -- Chris Smith, one of Congress’ most outspoken abortion opponents, called President Obama “the abortion president” today on the House floor as he spoke about the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

“Someday future generations will look back on America and wonder how and why such a seemingly enlightened society, so blessed and endowed with education, advanced science, information, wealth and opportunity could have failed to protect the innocent and the inconvenient,” Smith, a Republican from Mercer County, New Jersey, said in a speech that mirrored comments he made at an earlier press conference. “They will wonder how and why a Nobel Peace Prize-winning president could also simultaneously have been the abortion president.”

POSTED: Tuesday, January 22, 2013, 3:19 PM
Sen. Frank Lautenberg got the flu and missed Senate vote today, which set off renewed speculation about whether he needs to quit Senate at age 88. (AP Photo/Mel Evans, File)

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who might face a 2014 primary challenge from Newark Mayor Cory Booker, said his fellow Democrat is "entitled" to run if he chooses to but suggested that he had to give a "spanking" to his potential rival for so openly coveting his seat.

Booker has already formed a 2014 campaign committee, prompting anonymous Lautenberg aides to rip the mayor to Politico, accusing him of being "disrespectful." I asked Lautenberg about that characterization this afternoon.

"I have four children, I love each one of them. I can't tell you that one of them wasn't occasionally disrespectful, so I gave them a spanking and everything was OK," Lautenberg said with a smile in his first public comments since Booker announced he was considering a run for Senate.

POSTED: Thursday, January 17, 2013, 9:19 PM
From one of the new NRA ads.

WASHINGTON -- Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, a Bucks County Republican, joined the growing chorus of public officials criticizing the NRA for its ad citing President Obama's two daughters.

Children, Fitzpatrick said in a telephone interview Thursday night, "are off limits," adding that he was "very disappointed" in the ad.

"We're about to engage in a very important debate about public safety ... and constitutional protections," Fitzpatrick said. "Inflammatory commercials detract from that debate."

POSTED: Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 2:04 PM

WASHINGTON -- Bucks County's Mike Fitzpatrick -- the kind of moderate House Republican whose support will be critical to getting any of President Obama's proposed gun laws approved by Congress -- has backed the idea of strengthening criminal background checks.

"It is imperative that we close the loopholes and fix the nation's background check system," Fitzpatrick said in a prepared release, endorsing one of the main prongs Obama proposed Wednesday afternoon.

Fitzpatrick, whose battleground district north of Philadelphia morphs from the suburbs to open farmland, has the kind of constituency that will likely pull him in both directions on gun control.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 16, 2013, 3:43 PM
This isn't the first time Mayor Nutter has cursed in public. ( David Maialetti / Staff Photographer )

WASHINGTON – Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter called the NRA’s ad featuring President Obama’s daughters "reprehensible, disgusting and outside the bounds of human dignity," today.

"The NRA has reached a new low in public discourse," Nutter said at a Washington hearing in which he endorsed Obama’s calls for new gun laws.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 15, 2013, 10:24 AM
In Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, Hurricane Sandy's effects are evident. APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON – A $51 billion aid bill to help families, businesses and communities recover and rebuild after superstorm Sandy won approval in the House Tuesday, clearing a hurdle that tripped up the measure just two weeks earlier.

The plan, part of a $60 billion relief package sought by officials from New Jersey and New York, could come up as soon as Tuesday in the Senate, according to a Democratic aide.

Lawmakers from New Jersey and New York said the full package was need to help families whose homes were torn apart, businesses that were flooded and to rebuild critical infrastructure -- along with adding new protections to blunt the damage of future storms.

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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