WASHINGTON – Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) said he was “anguished” by the images of riots in Baltimore yesterday, saying they are “not justified,” but that the conflict shows the need to continue pushing to fix the U.S. criminal justice system.
“Obviously we should not be tolerating levels of violence and lawlessness that are not constructive in any way,” said Booker, the former Newark mayor who has made criminal justice reform one of the top issues of his Senate tenure. “I’m just anguished over it, but to me it highlights some of the larger issues that we have unfinished issues in America. Clearly we have a legal system in this country that needs to become more of a justice system.”
He said he has been in touch to offer support to Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who he called a longtime friend from when they were both city leaders.
WASHINGTON – New Jersey and New York senators launched a task force Tuesday aimed at overhauling the federal flood insurance program in order, they said, to avoid the problems that their constituents confronted after Superstorm Sandy.
“Your government failed you, plain and simple, and you deserve much, much better,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.), the Sandy Task Force leader, said as he opened the group’s first hearing. The aim, he said, is to “bring justice” to victims who were underpaid by the federal insurance program an make sure that “never happens again.”
Around 50 people attended, largely from Ocean and Monmouth counties along the Jersey shore, according to Menendez’s staff.
WASHINGTON – Joe Sestak, the Democrat trying to unseat Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.), raised about $312,000 in the first three months of 2015, a relatively small amount for a candidate hoping to win what promises to be an expensive statewide race next year.
Sestak’s campaign has declined in recent days to disclose its fund-raising totals, though a public filing obtained by the Inquirer shows the amounts. He had $1.7 million on hand as of the end of March – a month during which he spent most of his time on a largely solitary 422-mile hike across Pennsylvania, where he said he was walking to try to earn voters’ trust.
"We're where we want to be," a Sestak spokeswoman e-mailed.
WASHINGTON – Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) and five other liberal senators wrote federal regulators Tuesday urging them to block Comcast’s proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable.
Should the deal win approval, “we believe that Comcast-TWC’s unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans—inhibiting U.S. consumers’ ability to fully benefit from modern technologies and American businesses’ capacity to innovate and compete on a global scale,” wrote Franken and Sens. Bernard Sanders (I., Vt.), Ed Markey (D., Mass.), Ron Wyden (D., Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D., Conn.).
The $45 billion deal between the nation’s first and second largest cable companies is under review from the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice, and word leaked out last week that Justice’s anti-trust lawyers are leaning against the proposal.
WASHINGTON – Former U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D., Pa.) will become the president and CEO of a group working to support Medicare Advantage, a Medicare program that has often been targeted for reform.
She will be leading the Better Medicare Alliance, made up of health insurers (like Aetna), hospitals, medical providers, and advocates for Medicare Advantage recipients. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is another member of the alliance, which launched in December.
The position would seem to draw on Schwartz’s deep experience working on health care and knowledge of Congress. Until January she represented a district that includes parts of Montgomery County and Philadelphia. She ran for governor but lost in the Democratic primary.
One of President Obama’s closest confidantes will come to Philadelphia Tuesday to join Mayor Nutter to promote the city’s paid sick leave law, reinforcing how the president has turned to friendly mayors, rather than a hostile Congress, to advance some of his top priorities.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama and one of his closest aides, will hold two events with Nutter to talk up a city law signed in February and effective in May requiring businesses with 10 or more employees to give workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.
Jarrett’s visit is part of a national tour by her and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez highlighting cities that have taken action on paid sick leave, an issue pushed by the president but with little chance of clearing a Republican-controlled Congress.
WASHINGTON – La Salle political science professor Mary Ellen Balchunis will launch a second campaign for Congress Saturday, aiming to take on U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan (R., Pa.) by criticizing the way his Delaware County-based district has been re-drawn.
“This tour represents how gerrymandering negatively impacts the voters’ interests because now rather than the voters choosing the representatives, the representatives are choosing the voters,” Balchunis said in a news release.
The oddly bifurcated district, which includes portions of Berks, Chester, Delaware, Lancaster and Montgomery counties, is often cited by independent analysts as a poster-child of partisan redistricting. Balchunis plans to stop at all five counties in the district Saturday.
WASHINGTON – Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski launched a run for U.S. Senate Friday, playing up the “story” he has to tell from his years leading Pennsylvania’s third-largest city.
The announcement was made on Facebook and social media, and via a press release e-mailed to reporters.
“I look forward to listening to voters and sharing with them the story of success we’ve had in Allentown in solving real problems for real people," Pawlowski said in his release. "We didn’t wait on others to solve the problems for us. We rolled up our sleeves and made things happen.”