Wednesday, July 29, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, June 4, 2015, 3:03 PM
Lindy Li is running for Congress as a Democrat in Pennsylvania's 7th District. (Photo from

WASHINGTON – A 2012 Princeton graduate hopes to add a burst of youth to Congress. She has launched a campaign to represent Delaware County and other parts of the Philadelphia suburbs.

Lindy Li, who grew up in Malvern and now has a home in Radnor, is running for the Democratic nomination in Pennsylvania’s seventh district, which also sprawls through Montgomery, Chester, Berks and Lancaster counties.

Li, 24, said she is “ready to unleash the power of my generation.”

Jonathan Tamari @ 3:03 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, June 4, 2015, 2:20 PM
Police Officer Robert Wilson III

WASHINGTON – A federal program that tries to help police survive violent confrontations would be renamed for slain Philadelphia officer Robert Wilson III under a bill that passed the House Wednesday.

The Department of Justice’s VALOR initiative would be renamed for Wilson, who was shot and killed March 5 when two men tried to rob a GameStop where the 30-year-old officer was buying a video game for his son. The idea came from Philadelphia Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.), who attached the plan as an amendment to an appropriations bill for commerce, justice and science programs.

“Officer Wilson dedicated his career to protecting Philadelphians; he was a true hero who sacrificed his own life in the line of duty while performing in the job he loved,” Fattah said in a news release. “Now, his legacy will live on through this national program.”

Jonathan Tamari @ 2:20 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, June 4, 2015, 12:54 PM
FILE - In this May 13, 2015, file photo, emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train wreck in Philadelphia. Federal safety regulators and Amtrak officials face questions at a congressional hearing Tuesday, June 2, 2015, on why technology to slow trains that are going too fast wasn't in place before last month's deadly derailment. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON – Mayor Nutter expressed confidence Thursday in federal investigators examining what caused the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, but he said full answers could take a year.

“Generally, for major incidents, and I think this certainly qualifies, their investigations on average usually take about a year,” Nutter said, referring to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating what caused the May 12 crash. “But they are very very thorough, very detail oriented.”

He expressed “tremendous confidence” in the board’s chairman, Christopher Hart, adding, “they’ll get to the bottom of it.”

Jonathan Tamari @ 12:54 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, 8:26 PM
"I am deeply concerned that the USA Freedom act diminishes an important tool,” for providing security, Sen. Pat Toomey said in a floor speech after his vote. (MARK WILSON / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) sided with Republican defense hawks Tuesday in voting against a bill that would curtail the federal government’s collection of American phone records, taking a stand in a fight that created sharp divisions in his party.

Toomey’s vote came after days of debate between Republicans who worried that domestic spying was an invasion of privacy and wanted reform and those who wanted to preserve the program unchanged, fearing that new restrictions would hamper counterterrorism investigations. The dispute led to delays that caused the temporary expiration of legal authority for some counterterrorism programs.

The bill, the USA Freedom Act, would renew most of that authority but end the government’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone data. Toomey joined Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in saying that changing the phone program would weaken safeguards against terrorism -- and against Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.), who called for even tougher reform.

Jonathan Tamari @ 8:26 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2015, 7:18 PM
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. (Nabil K. Mark/Centre Daily Times/MCT)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) has given his approval to advance a Philadelphia judge's nomination to the third circuit U.S. court of appeals, clearing one potential obstacle for a nominee that critics argued was being stalled over politics.

Toomey has submitted his so-called “blue slip” to the Senate Judiciary Committee, giving his blessing to holding a hearing on the nomination Luis Felipe Restrepo, now a federal district court judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A spokeswoman for the senator confirmed the move.

By tradition, the committee will not hold a confirmation hearing until it receives blessings - in the form of the signed slips - from a nominee's home-state senators. Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) turned in his in November, shortly after Restrepo was nominated to fill an emergency vacancy.

Jonathan Tamari @ 7:18 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2015, 1:25 PM
FILE - In this May 13, 2015 file photo, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. Boehner said Thursday that this week's fatal Amtrak crash wasn't caused by a lack of federal funds and mocked a reporter for even asking about it. "Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?" he said at a news conference as a reporter started to ask about Democratic complaints that the government shortchanges the railroad. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON – The long-running battle over Amtrak funding took on an acidic tone Thursday, sparked by the train derailment in Philadelphia.

Two Democratic senators blasted Republicans for proposing Amtrak budget cuts, saying more investment could have ensured that a critical electronic safety system was in place to prevent the crash.

“Again and again and again we see the consequences of a failure to invest,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.). “The approach to infrastructure in this country, all too commonly, has been patch and pray.”

Jonathan Tamari @ 1:25 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 9:38 PM
U.S. Rep. Bob Brady.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Bob Brady (D., Pa.) plans to call for an audit of rail lines to see which ones have put in place a federally mandated safety system, and which do not, he said Wednesday night.

Rail lines are supposed to have the system, Positive Train Control, in place by the end of this year, but only three out of 50 covered systems are close to complying, Brady said. The federal requirement was put in place in 2008.

“We gave them 7 years,” the Philadelphia Congressman said. “If that was done, this train accident would not have happened.”

Jonathan Tamari @ 9:38 PM  Permalink | 0 comments
POSTED: Wednesday, May 13, 2015, 2:00 PM
An aerial view of the Amtrak Train 188 derailment in Port Richmond on May 13, 2015. ( DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer )

WASHINGTON – Philadelphia Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.) proposed a $1.3 billion boost to Amtrak funding Wednesday, roughly 13 hours after the train derailment in his home city, but was blocked by Republicans who raised concerns about increased spending.

The debate in a House Appropriations Committee meeting came as Democrats – acknowledging they don’t know the cause of the incident Tuesday night – warned that a lack of investment in infrastructure prevents critical maintenance and could lead to more accidents. The committee was considering a GOP spending bill that would cut Amtrak funding by around $200 million.

“We should have some concern about the safety of our citizens, those who have elected us,” Fattah said in a morning hearing on a spending bill covering transportation, housing and other areas. While officials don’t know what caused the accident, “we do know if we don’t invest in the capital infrastructure of our country, there will be future accidents.”

Jonathan Tamari @ 2:00 PM  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.

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