Wednesday, November 25, 2015

POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2015, 1:00 PM
Democratic Reps. Brendan Boyle, of Philadelphia, and Donald Norcross, of South Jersey, broke with their party and President Obama to vote against the international nuclear deal with Iran Friday. (File photos)

WASHINGTON – Democratic Reps. Brendan Boyle, of Philadelphia, and Donald Norcross, of South Jersey, broke with their party and President Obama to vote against the international nuclear deal with Iran Friday, joining every Republican in the region in opposing the agreement.

All other local Democrats – including Philadelphia’s Bob Brady and Chaka Fattah – supported the pact in a charged but largely symbolic vote held on the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

At one point in the debate Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican from Western Pennsylvania, stood on the House floor alongside a poster-sized photo of the World Trade Center engulfed in smoke and flames.

POSTED: Thursday, September 10, 2015, 9:46 PM
U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez accused federal prosecutors Thursday night of being “preoccupied with sex,” leaking damaging information to the media, and presenting false testimony and faulty instructions to a grand jury.

“Contrary to the prosecution’s rhetoric, neither defendant asks for special treatment,” lawyers for Menendez and fellow defendant Salomon Melgen wrote in one of several legal filings. “They merely request what any citizen is entitled to: that the government use common sense and fairness when it pursues justice, and that it not turn an obvious political smear campaign, launched weeks before an election, into a witch hunt.”

The filings, late Thursday, are part of the New Jersey Democrat’s attempt to have federal corruption charges dismissed. They come in response to prosecutors’ arguments in August assailing Menendez’s claims.

POSTED: Thursday, September 10, 2015, 4:18 PM

WASHINGTON – Philadelphia-area Senators split on the international nuclear deal with Iran Thursday, with four voting in support of the agreement – and helping to ensure it will go into force -- and two voting to kill it.

Sens. Pat Toomey and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.) voted for a resolution to stop the pact, though that plan fell short of the votes it needed, handing President Obama a major victory on international policy and ending any realistic chance Congress had of stopping the accord.

Sens. Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Cory Booker (D., N.J.), Tom Carper (D., Del.) and Chris Coons (D., Del.) all voted to block the Senate resolution and allow the nuclear agreement to take effect. The outcome had been expected for days.

POSTED: Thursday, September 10, 2015, 11:51 AM

WASHINGTON – A resolution honoring the late Pennsylvania Senator Richard Schweiker cleared the Senate late Wednesday, recognizing the passing a former congressman and Reagan cabinet secretary who grew up in Norristown.

The resolution, sponsored by Pennsylvania Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey, was unanimously approved.

Schweiker, a Republican, served in the Navy during World War II and went on to represent Pennsylvania as a congressman and a two-term senator. He was later President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of Health and Human Services from 1981-1983.

POSTED: Wednesday, September 9, 2015, 5:43 PM
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J. (REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Menendez warned this week that classified information may be revealed as part of his defense against corruption allegations, including details about a “foreign intelligence service” that may have planted accusations aimed at damaging the New Jersey Democrat.

The warning came in a court filing Tuesday, and provides little detail about the revelation or how it will factor into Menendez’s defense against federal charges that he used his office to help a friend and donor who plied him with gifts and campaign donations. Menendez has said he will be found innocent.

But the filing brings attention back to one of the most salacious aspects of the Menendez case, rather than the actual charges. It appears to be a reference to the shadowy rumors – posted anonymously online and sent to a Washington ethics group, but never substantiated – that Menendez and his friend, Salomon Melgen, had frequented underage prostitutes in the Dominican Republic.

POSTED: Tuesday, September 8, 2015, 10:07 AM
Rep. Chaka Fattah will support the international nuclear agreement with Iran, he said in an interview Tuesday, adding to the regional backing for the pact. (Clem Murray / Staff Photographer)

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Chaka Fattah will support the international nuclear agreement with Iran, he said in an interview Tuesday, adding to the regional backing for the pact.

"This is a position that is not only in the interest of the United States and the region, but also of our important ally, Israel," the Philadelphia Democrat said.

While most Democrats have rallied behind the deal, which has emerged as one of President Obama's top priorities, the agreement has divided Democrats from the Philadelphia region.

POSTED: Saturday, September 5, 2015, 6:00 AM
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey. (MARK WILSON/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) criticized the international nuclear deal with Iran as dangerous and urged voters to press their officials to oppose it Saturday, delivering Republicans’ weekly national address.

“I can tell you unequivocally, this deal is very dangerous,” Toomey said in the recorded address. “It will make America, and the rest of the civilized world, less safe.”

Toomey has long spoken out against the agreement and said in July he would vote against it. His address comes days after it became clear that the pact – with recent backing from Philadelphia-area Senators Bob Casey (D., Pa.), Chris Coons (D., Del.) and Cory Booker (D., N.J.) – has enough support to withstand Congressional opposition.

POSTED: Thursday, September 3, 2015, 1:57 PM
Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) at the NAACP conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on July 13, 2015. (MICHAEL PRONZATO / Staff Photographer, file)

WASHINGTON –Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) will support the international nuclear deal with Iran, he said Thursday, adding to the growing momentum for the agreement despite intense pressure from critics, and his own reservations.

Booker announced his stand in a lengthy statement full of concern about the international pact and worry about its impact on Israel, but said he concluded that supporting the deal is the best way to deter Iran for now and maintain a united international front.

“We have now passed a point of no return that we should have never reached, leaving our nation to choose between two imperfect, dangerous and uncertain options,” Booker’s statement said. “Left with these two choices, I nonetheless believe it is better to support a deeply flawed deal, for the alternative is worse.”

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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