Monday, February 8, 2016

POSTED: Thursday, December 17, 2015, 7:01 PM

WASHINGTON – Calling it the final piece of the legacy of the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, the Senate late Thursday passed a bill to strengthen federal oversight of chemicals in everyday products.

The measure, long championed by the Democratic senator before his death in 2013, would overhaul a decades-old law that environmental groups say has left the Environmental Protection Agency virtually powerless to review chemicals found in many everyday products, including clothing, couches, receipts and more.

Now called the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, it was approved by a voice vote. It must now be reconciled with a House measure before it can go to President Obama.

POSTED: Thursday, December 17, 2015, 2:44 PM
Bob Brady raises Chaka Fattah's arm during Ed Rendell's re-election party at the Warwick Hotel in Center City in 2006. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – Bob Brady is sticking with Chaka Fattah in next year’s Democratic primary.

Brady, chairman of the Philadelphia Democratic party, said Thursday he will endorse his fellow Philadelphia Congressman as the embattled incumbent faces four challengers next April.

“I’m for Chaka, innocent until proven guilty,” Brady said in an interview. “I don’t switch, I’m supporting him.”

POSTED: Thursday, December 17, 2015, 1:31 PM
Sen. Pat Toomey speaks at the Veterans Day observance gathering in Washington Square on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. (AARON WINDHORST / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – A key Democratic Super PAC is stepping into the Pennsylvania Senate race, launching a series of digital ads attacking incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Toomey.

The ads, to appear on Twitter, Facebook and in Google search results for about a week, paint Toomey as a lock-step Republican, citing his frequent votes – more than 90 percent – with GOP leadership and his perfect rating this year from Americans for Prosperity, a conservative group backed by the Koch brothers.

“The Republican agenda puts special interests and partisan ideology ahead of what’s best for everyday Americans and Pat Toomey is the poster boy for those misplaced priorities,” said Shripal Shah, a spokesman for Senate Majority PAC, which backs Democrats in key swing races.

POSTED: Wednesday, December 9, 2015, 9:15 PM
Luis Felipe Restrepo, a federal judge in Philadelphia, has been waiting to be confirmed by Congress to fill an emergency vacancy. (Temple University)

WASHINGTON -- Republican Senate leaders have scheduled a Jan. 11 confirmation vote for Luis Felipe Restrepo, a long-stalled Philadelphia judge whose nomination has become a flash point in a national battle over the federal bench.

The vote on Restrepo -- an Eastern District of Pennsylvania judge nominated more than a year ago to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals -- comes after months of Democratic criticism accusing Republicans, including Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), of stalling as part of an effort to slow-walk President Obama’s nominees as he nears the end of his term.

Restrepo has become a symbol of the fight – he was featured in a New York Times editorial on the issue -- and top Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.), have  taken to the Senate floor to chide Toomey, a key Democratic target in next year's elections.

POSTED: Tuesday, December 8, 2015, 3:48 PM
U.S. Capitol dome. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

WASHINGTON – If one day could crystallize 2016’s Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race, it may have been Tuesday.

In Philadelphia, candidate Katie McGinty embraced another round of support from the Democratic establishment, racking up endorsements from Mayor Nutter, the city controller and eight city council members. Her chief rival, Joe Sestak, meanwhile, kept to his own path, planning policy events on housing laws and the fight against ISIS. Meanwhile the Democratic primary’s wild card, Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, reinforced his maverick image by blasting out a simple statement made for headlines. In its entirety it read:

“Donald Trump is a jagoff.”

POSTED: Monday, December 7, 2015, 2:45 PM

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) on Monday urged Senate Republican leaders to schedule a vote on a long-delayed appellate court nominee from Philadelphia, a move his critics say was long overdue.

Toomey wrote to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) Monday morning asking for a final vote on Judge Luis Felipe Restrepo "without delay," urging confirmation of a judge nominated more than a year ago to fill a judicial emergency on the Third Circuit Court of Appeals -- and who, for Democrats, has become a symbol of GOP obstruction.

"I recognize that some of my colleagues have heartfelt concerns," about confirming Restrepo, Toomey wrote. "That said, I believe Judge Restrepo is an excellent, qualified nominee." He added, "prompt action is warranted."

POSTED: Friday, December 4, 2015, 5:49 PM
Katie McGinty, who was paid quarterly, made $100,000 from Iberdrola in 2014 and $25,000 in 2015, according to her campaign. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON – At first glance, Katie McGinty’s financial disclosure makes it look like she was busy this year.

Her form, which the Democratic Senate candidate filed earlier this week, seemed to show that she was a director at the energy firm Iberdrola at the same time as she served as Gov. Wolf’s chief-of-staff – but her campaign said that the form is mistaken, and that the two jobs did not overlap.

McGinty resigned from the wind energy and natural gas company Jan. 18, two days before joining the state payroll as Wolf’s top aide, said McGinty spokeswoman Sabrina Singh.

POSTED: Friday, December 4, 2015, 11:30 AM
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. (MARK WILSON / Getty Images)

WASHINGTON— A Senate vote Thursday night to cripple President Obama’s controversial health law faces a sure veto – both parties know that.

But they’re each embracing the vote anyway as a way to show the stark divide between Democrats and Republicans as they head into the 2016 elections, including the critical Pennsylvania Senate race.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), facing one of next year's toughest re-election fights, joined 51 other Republicans in passing a bill to eliminate key elements of the Affordable Care Act and stop federal aid to Planned Parenthood. The measure, which needed only a majority rather than the 60 votes usually needed in the Senate, passed 52-47, almost entirely on party lines (every Democrat and two Republicans voted "no.")

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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