Friday, March 6, 2015

POSTED: Thursday, January 29, 2015, 9:40 AM

President Obama, speaking in Philadelphia Thursday night, will call for ending the across the board “sequestration” budget cuts that he believes has weakened the military and hampered needed domestic programs.

“As we make these investments in our future, the President will propose to end the across-the-board sequester cuts that threaten our economy and our military,” a White House official said in advance of the speech. “The president’s budget will fully reverse those cuts for domestic priorities, and match those investments dollar-for-dollar with the resources our troops need to keep America safe.”

The change -- in which the president will call for breaking spending caps laid out by both parties earlier in his term -- will be part of a new budget proposal due out Monday. The president, though, will have a steep climb to get what he wants, since Republicans control Congress. Many in the GOP also want to end the cuts, particularly to the military, but they would prefer to replace the automatic reductions with more targeted reductions in domestic spending in order to slim down the government. They have balked at Obama's calls for more taxes.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 12:24 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama. (Photo by Andrew Harrer-Pool/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – President Obama, Vice President Biden, Gov. Wolf and Mayor Nutter will be among the guests speaking to fellow Democrats in Philadelphia this week as House Democrats hold a policy retreat in the city.

Member of the House Democratic caucus will be making their way to the Sheraton in Society Hill Wednesday afternoon as they meet to develop a policy and political strategy for the next two years amid diminished numbers in Congress. They will be greeted by speeches from Nutter and Wolf – whose win was one of Democrats' few bright spots on Election Day.

The meetings come as House Democrats try to build a new message that can better connect with voters over the next two years and leading up to the 2016 elections.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 4:23 PM

Updated below with new comments from a South Jersey lawmaker supporting Obama's plan.

WASHINGTON – Several New Jersey lawmakers blasted an Obama administration plan Tuesday to allow offshore oil drilling in the Atlantic, saying their state and others along the coast would be at risk of significant damage from any spills.

While the proposal would open up offshore drilling in an area from Virginia to Georgia, New Jerseyans worried that any spills would damage their state's tourism and fishing businesses, its environment and economy.

POSTED: Tuesday, January 27, 2015, 12:46 PM

WASHINGTON – Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), the leading Democratic advocate for new sanctions on Iran, gave President Obama some breathing room Tuesday.

Menendez said he and several other Democrats who have called for added sanctions will not support a vote for those measures until March 24, the latest deadline for international negotiators to reach a framework of an agreement with Iran over the country’s nuclear weapons program. Even though Republicans control the Senate, the Democrats’ stance could block any vote on new measures, which some in the GOP had hoped would come quickly.

Obama has urged lawmakers not to vote for new sanctions as his administration and five other international powers try to negotiate a deal to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

POSTED: Monday, January 26, 2015, 5:52 PM

WASHINGTON – Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed another one of U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah’s aides, seeking testimony from his district office manager, Dolores Ridley.

Ridley, in a Jan. 16 message to House Speaker John Boehner, said she had been subpoenaed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania “for grand jury testimony in a criminal case.”

Lawmakers and their staffers are required to notify the speaker when they receive a subpoena.

POSTED: Friday, January 23, 2015, 12:59 PM
Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA). (Brendan Hoffman / Getty Images for Lutron)

WASHINGTON – During the 2013 government shutdown, Allentown’s Charlie Dent became something of a national spokesman for the oft-overlooked centrist Republican – a group that arguably includes every GOP Congressman from the Philadelphia suburbs.

After the stand-off torpedoed GOP approval ratings, Dent told me that he felt lessons had been learned among Republicans, and that moderate voices would be more ready to flex their muscles going forward.

Some of them did just that this week while expressing continued frustration with an agenda advanced by their conference’s most conservative and confrontational figures. In a push and pull that peaked Wednesday and Thursday, Republican women and moderates from the northeast forced GOP House leaders to back off of a bill that would bar abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 8:46 PM
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (left) and Speaker of the House John Boehner applaud as U.S. President Barack Obama waves before delivering his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, January 20, 2015. REUTERS/Larry Downing

WASHINGTON – President Obama and Vice President Biden are expected in Philadelphia next week, where they are scheduled to speak at House Democrats’ policy retreat in Society Hill.

The two-day gathering will bring the entire caucus to the city for two days of huddling about their strategy for the next two years. Obama will speak Thursday the 29th, and Biden will speak the next day, the White House said. Politico first reported their plans.

Local congressmen hope the event will also give them a chance to show off the city as Philadelphia pushes to host the 2016 Democratic national convention.

POSTED: Wednesday, January 21, 2015, 10:58 AM

WASHINGTON – The morning after listening to a president they have tired of, a number of House Republicans gathered here to listen to Gov. Christie, a man some of them would like to see delivering future State of the Union speeches.

The informal meet and greet just steps from the Capitol gave Christie a chance to introduce himself to lawmakers who may not have seen him up close, but who are keen to learn more about the potential 2016 presidential candidate, participants said.

“He’s clearly looking for the opportunity to introduce himself to more people as he makes a decision,” said U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R., N.J.), a home state ally.

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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