WASHINGTON – It was business as usual for New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez Monday – at least in public – just days after reports surfaced that he could face federal corruption charges in the coming weeks.
Menendez, the top Senate Democrat on foreign affairs, appeared as a speaker at an afternoon policy discussion on Russia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a foreign affairs think-tank situated near many foreign embassies. He was immediately followed by Zbigniew K. Brzezinski, the former national security advisor to President Carter.
A clutch of reporters awaited Menendez at the academic event, though the senator avoided those waiting at the front door, arriving through another route. He spoke without any acknowledgement of the questions swirling around him, instead focusing on pushing for a stronger U.S. response to Russia’s aggression, including tougher sanctions, more military aide to Ukraine and a tougher military presence in the Balkans.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), facing potential criminal charges, said Friday night he has always behaved appropriately and "in accordance with the law" and that "I am not going anywhere."
Menendez spoke briefly in Newark Friday amid reports that federal prosecutors are readying corruption charges against him. CNN first reported the news Friday afternoon. After a brief statement, Menendez said he could not take questions because of the ongoing investigation.
The charges have been signed off on by Attorney General Eric Holder and could come within weeks, CNN reported, citing people briefed on the case. A Department of Justice spokesman said he could not confirm nor deny the report, declinging to comment any further.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.