Monday, April 21, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

POSTED: Thursday, March 20, 2014, 2:16 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez has been banned from Russia.

The New Jersey Democrat, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an outspoken critic of Russia's annexation of Crimea, is one of six lawmakers and three top Obama administration aides who have been barred from visiting the country. The Russian government issued the bans in response to new U.S. economic sanctions.

Menendez, who is scheduled to deliver a keynote address in Brussels Saturday at a meeting of European Union and NATO leaders, took pride in the ban and even began a hashtag on Twitter: #SanctionedByPutin. It quickly took off with fellow lawmakers.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 19, 2014, 9:35 PM

WASHINGTON – Tom MacArthur, a former insurance company executive now running for Congress in South Jersey, won the backing of the Ocean County Republican organization Wednesday night, consolidating support among the region's GOP leaders, but he'll face a primary against fiery conservative Steve Lonegan.

MacArthur had previously won support from the Burlington County GOP in his bid to replace U.S. Rep. Jon Runyan (R., N.J.). Runyan is not seeking re-election in a district split between the two counties.

The endorsements mean Republicans are getting behind an ex-mayor with a more temperate message who can raise and spend significant amounts of money (MacArthur made millions in the insurance business). He and Lonegan, a proud and unbending conservative, will face off in a moderate district that is expected to draw national attention. National Democrats have named the race as one of their top 19 targets for flipping seats from Republican to Democratic control.

POSTED: Tuesday, March 18, 2014, 11:41 AM

WASHINGTON -- Malvern businessman Mike Parrish has dropped out of the race to replace U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R., Pa.), leaving Manan Trivedi with a clear path to the Democratic nomination.

Trivedi, a physician, has twice run for the seat but lost both times to Gerlach. The incumbent, however, is not running for re-election this year, an opening that Trivedi hopes will change his fortunes. He and Parrish were expected to have a primary battle for the nomination.

Instead, the race for the Chester County-based seat has now crystallized into a contest between Trivedi and Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello, who has support from the Republican establishment.

POSTED: Friday, March 14, 2014, 10:10 AM
Democrat Cory Booker won a special election into the U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

WASHINGTON – Cory Booker promised to be a new kind of senator, and he gave a glimpse of what he meant during Democrats' recent push to restore benefits for the long-term unemployed.

Booker, a New Jersey Democrat elected in October, emphasized his social media outreach as talked about his efforts to build pressure for a deal that could reinstate emergency unemployment benefits. He was one of 10 senators involved in negotiations that culminated in a bipartisan agreement Thursday.

“We had over 1.8 million contacts over social media, direct engaging over 100,000 people,” Booker said in a telephone interview, sounding like the young tech executives he counts as friends and supporters. “All of this going on kept the issue at the forefront.”

POSTED: Thursday, March 13, 2014, 5:11 PM

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Philadelphia Democrat, hopes to spark international progress on brain research by helping create a formal partnership between U.S. and European researchers.

Fattah on Wednesday night announced plans that he said would create “the most significant scientific collaboration ever on brain research.”

Fattah said he had been asked to develop a memorandum of understanding to link researchers from the U.S. BRAIN Initiative and the European Union’s Human Brain Project.

POSTED: Thursday, March 13, 2014, 10:03 AM
U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D., Pa.)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah believes federal investigators who subpoenaed his office may be acting improperly and perhaps illegally, the Philadelphia Democrat told the Inquirer Wednesday night.

“Most importantly, I think in the conduct there are improprieties, or what I perceive to be improprieties, in the conduct of it that could even stretch to illegalities,” Fattah said in an interview. He later added, “I’m going to seek appropriate review of it.”

The Inquirer first reported on the subpoena late Wednesday. Below are more of Fattah’s comments, the most extensive he has made on this issue since the long-running inquiry began.

Fattah would not discuss most details of the subpoena, but said it sought documents dating back to 2006. He estimated that it could cover tens of thousands of documents, but he questioned the origins of the investigation, its length and the conduct of the investigators, and added that he will not resign.

POSTED: Wednesday, March 12, 2014, 11:30 AM

WASHINGTON –Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) sharply criticized New Jersey state officials’ administration of superstorm Sandy relief programs Wednesday morning, blaming Trenton, not Washington, for delays in housing aid and hammering a controversial contractor quietly fired by the Christie administration.

Menendez did not mention Gov. Christie, a Republican, by name, but in a hearing at which two Democratic senators and no Republicans attended, it was clear that he was pushing back against Christie's claims that the federal government is to blame for a sluggish recovery from the 2012 storm.

“Some have chosen to point the blame at the federal government, but I say that it is time to stop finger pointing and get the job done,” Menendez said in an opening statement.

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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