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Archive: June, 2013

POSTED: Thursday, June 27, 2013, 11:37 AM

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Sen. Jeff Chiesa will vote for the immigration reform plan expected to pass the Senate Thursday, calling his support "the right thing for me to do, on balance."

The Republican first announced his decision the old fashioned way: on Twitter. His office confirmed that the new account, @ChiesaNews, is authentic.

In a later interview with the Inquirer, Chiesa said he would have liked to have seen even stronger border security measures included in the bill, and favored some Republican amendments that were defeated. But he said advancing the final package is best for New Jersey and the country.

POSTED: Thursday, June 27, 2013, 3:55 PM

WASHINGTON -- New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants who has worked 20 years in Washington for an immigration overhaul, said today he will be thinking of his mother when he casts a vote this afternoon for a potentially historic immigration overhaul.

"When the moment comes to cast that vote, I will be casting it in memory of my mother – and for every immigrant like her who came to this country in the last century to give their families a chance to contribute to America’s exceptionalism -- and for all those who will now have a chance to contribute to America’s exceptionalism in this century," Menendez said on the Senate floor.

The Senate is expected this afternoon to pass a sweeping overhaul of immigration laws, including new security measures at America's entry points and a route to legalized status for some 11 million undocumented immigrants. Menendez was a key figure in the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" that crafted the bill.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 5:15 PM

WASHINGTON -- Democrats backing the immigration reform plan pending in the Senate passage have named a section to honor the late New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat who had championed the rights of religious refugees.

"Frank was the Senate's champion in fighting to protect refugees and religious minorities fleeing persecution," said New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez, a Democrat and one member of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" writing the immigration bill.  "That’s why we wanted to honor his legacy by naming the significant refugee and asylum provisions in this bill after him, including a provision extending the principles underlying the ‘Lautenberg Amendment’ which has provided a pathway to protection and opportunity for so many who have come to our shores."

One section of the bill has been renamed the "Frank R. Lautenberg Asylum and Refugee Reform Act." It expands protections for certain refugees fleeing persecution in other countries, in part by allowing the president to designate vulnerable groups for faster processing. The previous law already allowed such designations for some religious minorities.

POSTED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 5:55 PM

WASHINGTON -- Newark Mayor Cory Booker touts his record in Newark and his ability to "bring people together" in the first television ad of New Jersey's Senate campaign.

Speaking directly to the camera, Booker tells viewers he has lowered crime, brought jobs to Newark and improved schools in New Jersey's largest city. He manages to make his pitch while also drawing a stark contrast with two of his top competitors in the Democratic primary. The ad is set to begin airing statewide on cable outlets Wednesday, according to Booker's campaign.

"I’ve spent my career not running from challenges, but toward them," Booker says in the 30-second spot. "I’ve proven that by bringing people together, even with big problems, we can make big progress."

POSTED: Monday, June 24, 2013, 6:39 PM

WASHINGTON -- Two local Democrats and one Republican voted "yes" Monday on a key procedural step to advance a sweeping immigration reform bill in the Senate.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) voted no on the procedural motion - and said he is "unlikely" to vote for the overall immigration plan.

POSTED: Thursday, June 20, 2013, 2:45 PM

WASHINGTON -- The August primary and October special election to choose New Jersey's next senator will go forward as planned after the New Jersey Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge to the election dates.

The Somerset County Democratic chair, acting without formal party backing, had filed a lawsuit challenging Gov. Christie's decision to call a special election to choose a long-term replacement for the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg. She argued that the election should be held in November, concurrent with the election to decide the gubernatorial and legislative races.

But an appellate court rejected her arguments and the state Supreme Court on Thursday said it would not take up the case.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 12:02 PM


Rush Holt knows he’s not Cory Booker – and he’s trying to make an asset out of that fact.

POSTED: Wednesday, June 19, 2013, 5:32 PM

South Jersey's top Democratic officials formally endorsed Newark Mayor Cory Booker Wednesday afternoon, praising his political views and pragmatism, and also hoping that he'll return the favor in November, when Democrats hope to maintain control of the state Legislature in the face of Gov. Christie's re-election bid.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D., Gloucester) and Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D., Camden) each said Booker embodies Democratic ideals and will work across party lines, but they also cited their own political imperatives when siding with the popular and famous mayor.

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

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