October 6, 2018
Pennsylvania senators reflect on deep tensions exposed in Kavanaugh fight
Pennsylvania’s two senators — Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Bob Casey — have been on opposite sides of the sharply divided Senate amid the bruising battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Their comments on how that nomination fight unfolded show the deep tensions regarding the nation’s top court, both within the Senate and the country.
Reflecting Saturday on the nomination process, Toomey expressed frustration with the intense partisan fight that immediately ensued when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Activists on both ends of the political spectrum mobilized to support and oppose Kavanaugh through outreach to voters and protests that continued outside the Capitol leading up to the final vote.
“There’s something deeply wrong with our perception of the court when a single vacancy produces such a brutal and bitter battle,” Toomey said.
Toomey dismissed the idea that the move by Senate Republicans not to consider President Obama’s 2016 Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, played into the current contentious nomination process.
He cast blame for the growing importance of the court seats on Democrats and liberal activists, arguing that those on the political left view the Supreme Court as “a legislature of last resort when they can’t succeed with their agenda politically.”
“As long as we have a huge segment of our society and a entire political party that is dedicated to using the court to advance a policy agenda, then we’re probably going to have these brutal battles,” he said.
Casey and other Democrats, however, direct similar blame at conservatives, who they view as also driven by ideological concerns in judicial picks.
“It seems that Republicans, especially this administration and this Senate, have decided that for the appellate court for the most part, definitely for the Supreme Court, everyone has to be a hard-right corporate ideologue,” Casey said. “That’s just not going to work over time. I’m not going to be complicit in packing a court with more corporate justices.”
When it came to President Donald Trump’s selection for the current vacancy, both Pennsylvania lawmakers made their positions clear early on.
Casey said before Kavanaugh was tapped that he would not support any of the potential justices on a list compiled by the conservative Heritage Foundation. Toomey announced after meeting with Kavanaugh in July that he would vote for him.
Neither Pennsylvania lawmaker serves on the Judiciary Committee, which has the first chance to sign off on nominees. They supported the panel’s decision to hear from Christine Blasey Ford after she came forward publicly with her allegation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a party when they were both in high school.
Toomey said he would listen to and consider Ford’s testimony, and afterward stated that he found Ford’s account to the Judiciary Committee to be “sincere and moving.” But Toomey also said her account lacked corroboration.
“I suspect that something terrible did happen to her. I doubt very much she made this up out of whole cloth,” Toomey said Saturday, adding that “there has to be some corroboration or anybody can be destroyed.”
For Casey, Kavanaugh’s response to the accusation from Ford and later several other women raised more concerns about the nominee. He described the nominee’s demeanor during the confirmation hearing as “atrocious” and reflective of the partisan parts of his resume.
Casey stopped short of saying whether he thought Kavanaugh lied in his testimony: “I don’t think there’s any question that I have a lot of questions about that particular issue. But I’m certain about my belief of her testimony.”
Asked about any lingering effects for Kavanaugh and the court as he begins his tenure, Casey replied: “That’s going to be up to him.”
Toomey compared it with the sexual harassment accusation raised against Clarence Thomas during his confirmation hearings: “I do not think that has left a permanent cloud over Clarence Thomas.”
As for the Senate itself, Toomey noted that this week, the chamber also passed big bipartisan measures on the Federal Aviation Administration and the opioid epidemic.
“The Senate is managing to function,” Toomey said. “At the same time, it is true there’s a new tension that hasn’t existed before.” Source
August 31, 2018
Trump’s unpopularity, Democratic voter enthusiasm drive leads for Wolf, Casey in new Pa. poll
President Trump and political polarization are not on the Nov. 6 general election ballot in Pennsylvania, but a new Franklin and Marshall College Poll shows they factor significantly into the thinking of likely voters.
A pair of Democrats seeking reelection, Gov. Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, appear to be beneficiaries of their party’s electoral enthusiasm, driven in large part by the president’s unpopularity.
“One of the motivating features is the antipathy and opposition to President Trump,” poll director G. Terry Madonna said.
Wolf and Casey hold double-digit leads, but that doesn’t mean they’re wildly popular. Rather, it reflects a lack of voter knowledge about the Republican challengers — former State Sen. Scott Wagner for Wolf, U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta for Casey.
There is far less ambiguity about Trump in the poll: 57 percent have a unfavorable view of the president, 39 percent have a favorable view, and just 4 percent are undecided.
And that could have an impact on down-ballot races, especially for seats in the House. Pennsylvania has several competitive races that could figure in which party controls the chamber.
Democrats had a higher enthusiasm level, with 60 percent saying they’re “very interested” in voting, compared with 53 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of independents. High interest is considered a predictor of election turnout.
Forty-eight percent of the voters in the poll said they are supporting a Democrat for the House in November, while 39 percent said they favor a Republican; 13 percent were undecided.
Two out of three voters intending to vote for a Democrat — 67 percent — said they were motivated by opposition to Trump and the Republicans who control Congress. Three out of four — 74 percent — of those planning to vote Republican said they wanted to support the president and the party’s congressional majorities.
By contrast, the races for governor and for the U.S. Senate elicit less emotion.
Forty-eight percent of the voters in the poll had a favorable view of Wolf, who is seeking a second term, while 36 percent had an unfavorable view, and 16 percent were undecided.
Nearly a majority, 49 percent, were undecided or didn’t know enough to offer an opinion on Wagner, while 21 percent had favorable opinions, and 30 percent unfavorable opinions.
That left Wolf with a 17-point lead over Wagner, 52 percent to 35 percent, among likely voters. Nominees for the Libertarian Party, Ken Krawchuk, and Green Party, Paul Glover, barely registered at 2 percent each.
Barletta continues to be the least known major-party candidate on the statewide ballot with 68 days until the election. Fifty-eight percent of the voters in the poll were undecided or had no opinion on Barletta, while 20 percent had a favorable view, and 22 percent had an unfavorable view.
Casey, who is seeking a third term, was viewed favorably by 42 percent, while 29 percent saw him in an unfavorable light, and 29 percent were undecided or had no opinion.
That left Casey with a 13-point lead over Barletta among likely voters, 47 percent to 34 percent. Libertarian Party nominee Dale Kerns and Green Party nominee Neal Gale each ranked at 1 percent.
Madonna said voter attitudes could shift with effective television ad campaigns.
“We live in a huge state,” Madonna said. “It takes a considerable amount of money in the media, particularly in television, to make your mark. As I always say, it’s nothing a million dollars won’t change.”
A super-majority believes that Russia interfered in the 2016 election, which led to an investigation that haunts Trump’s administration. Sixty-seven percent of those polled agreed that Moscow meddled, while 22 percent said it did not, and 11 percent said they did not know.
The poll’s findings are in line with averages of public polls compiled by the website Real Clear Politics, which gives Wolf a 15.5 percent lead over Wagner and Casey a 15.7 percent lead over Barletta.
The poll of 511 registered voters — 243 Democrats, 200 Republicans, and 68 independents — was conducted from Aug. 20 to 26 and had a margin of error of 6.1 percent. That sample by percentage roughly matches the breakdown of Pennsylvania registered voters by party, according to statistics available from the Department of State as of Monday. Source
July 16, 2018
Casey, Toomey react strongly to Trump believing Putin over U.S. intelligence on election meddling
President Donald Trump’s statement Monday indicating that he believed the word of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his own intelligence agencies on meddling in the 2016 elections drew strong reactions from Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called Trump’s conduct “dangerous and reckless,” while U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey called for “tough new sanctions on Russia.”
During a news conference featuring Trump and Putin after their face-to-face summit Monday in Helsinki, the U.S. president was asked if he believed the Russian president or U.S. intelligence agencies on whether Russia meddled in U.S. elections.
“President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said. “I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
Trump continued to say that he has “great confidence” in his intelligence staff but that Putin was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
Casey, D-Scranton, said that Trump attacked and diminished law enforcement and intelligence agencies during the news conference and did so on foreign soil and in front of a “hostile dictator.”
“The president told the world today that he believes the word of Vladimir Putin over the findings of his country’s own intelligence and law enforcement agencies,” Casey said in a statement. “Instead of holding Vladimir Putin accountable in Helsinki, President Trump embraced him and in doing so diminished America’s standing in the international community and shamed the office of the presidency.”
Toomey, R-Lehigh Valley, didn’t mention Trump by name in his statement but instead attacked Putin. The senator said that American intelligence agencies confirmed that Russians meddled in the 2016 elections and that it was almost certainly at the direction of the Russian government and Putin.
“It’s clear that Putin is a bad actor and should be treated as an international pariah,” Toomey said in the statement. “Putin insists that the Russian government has nothing to do with meddling in our elections. In that case, he should not object to the hackers recently indicted being brought to justice. Absent his cooperation in achieving that justice, the United States should impose tough new sanctions on Russia.”
On Friday, the Department of Justice indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges that they hacked Democratic email accounts during the 2016 election. Source
July 3, 2018
Sen. Bob Casey, Gov. Tom Wolf press feds for details on immigrant children
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey pressed the Trump administration Tuesday for information about immigrant children being held in the state, separated from their families at the border after entering the country illegally.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey pressed the Trump administration Tuesday for information about immigrant children being held in the state, separated from their families at the border after entering the country illegally.
In a letter sent to U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Wolf and Casey, both Democrats, asked for answers on how many unaccompanied immigrant children are being held in Pennsylvania, where precisely they are living and what plans there are to reunite them with their parents.
The state, they wrote, is legally required to inspect facilities that house the children and they want to ensure that immigrant children detained in Pennsylvania without their families are receiving the care required under state law.
Wolf’s administration said it asked the questions once already, on June 26, to the acting regional administrator for the department’s Administration for Children and Families.
Casey’s office said the Trump administration told senators that approximately 24 migrant children were being held in Pennsylvania, as of June 26.
In addition, Wolf and Casey asked in the Tuesday letter whether the Health and Human Services Department knows precisely where the children’s parents or guardians are, which facilities contracted to hold the children and how the department is safeguarding their well-being.
Wolf and Casey say they oppose the practice of detaining families of asylum-seekers and separating migrant children from their parents.
The department did not immediately respond to a request for answers Tuesday.
Casey signed a separate letter Monday to Azar and Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen with 10 other Democratic senators asking for details about efforts to reunify migrant parents and children who were being held separately.
Wolf, in the meantime, is under fire from immigrant rights activists to shut down a Berks County facility that is one of three family detention centers in the United States that hold children and parents who have entered the country illegally. The low-security facility north of Philadelphia is run by the county through a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and residents there are federal detainees.
Wolf’s office said he has done everything in his power to revoke the license from the Berks County Residential Center and that he has urged the Trump administration to shut it down in favor of community-based services.
However, Wolf’s office said that, regardless of any state action, the federal government will continue to operate the facility because it is run under a contract with Berks County.
Wolf’s office said his Department of Human Services, which inspects the facility, has not found grounds to issue an emergency removal order and, in any case, the courts must agree that the residents must be moved. Source
May 30, 2018
Officials moving to spare NLMK from tariffs
Jan 30, 2018
Democrats Defeat Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
Republicans supportive of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act failed to break the Democrat filibuster of S. 2311 when the cloture vote failed on a 51 to 46 vote on Monday afternoon. The U.S. House passed their version of the bill in October by a 237 to 187 vote.
The bill that President Donald Trump said he would sign would have banned abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization. The ban would have saved an estimated 18,000 babies per year. There are at least 275 abortion facilities throughout the nation that provide late-term abortions.
Republicans have 51 votes in the Senate so they are unable to break a filibuster without their full caucus and some Democrat support unless the Senate rules are changed. Two Republicans voted against the bill: U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) did not vote.
Three Democrats did join Republicans in support of the bill – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN).
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), the chief sponsor of the bill, responded to the vote on Twitter. Source
Dec 14, 2017
Daily Times News
Local pols react to net-neutrality ruling
In a 3-2 vote Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission repealed Obama-era regulations known as net neutrality that monitored service providers that connect users to the Internet.
In April, Congress voted along party lines to repeal the rules that would have prohibited Internet service providers (ISPs) from selling or sharing web browsing habits of its consumer base.
Thursday, the FCC voted to repeal the protections that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or creating a tier-based system that would see users pay for curated content. Opponents fear ISPs like Comcast or Verizon could throttle speeds of users in order to direct traffic to different websites or services.
However, Republican lawmakers have cited the rules as yet another example of government overreach, and have praised the repeal as fairer treatment of internet use. The federal government will no longer regular internet service like a utility.
“Congressman Meehan supports net neutrality and the idea that Internet traffic should be treated fairly,” offered John Elizandro, communications director for Rep. Pat Meehan. “He’s hopeful Congress will be able to work on a bipartisan basis to establish fair rules protecting consumers against throttling, blocking, and paid prioritization.”
U.S. Senator Bob Casey opposes the repeal, calling the FCC vote on Thursday “reckless.”
“Net neutrality helps ensure the Internet is free and open so consumers can access the content and services they want, and web services and content creators have an equal shot at reaching Internet users,” Casey offered in a statement via communications director John Rizzo.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro upped the ante on the doom and gloom regarding the ruling Thursday, saying “the vote by the Federal Communications Commission to gut Net Neutrality could end the Internet as we know it.
“The FCC action undermines free speech and is bad for consumers and business – especially startups and small businesses,” Shapiro continued in a statement.
Shapiro alleges that more than 1 million fake comments were sent to the FCC about net neutrality, and said he had rallied 17 other attorneys general to delay Thursday’s vote in order to allow state and federal investigators to dig into those fake comments.
“This huge number includes tens of thousands of fake comments issued under the names of real Pennsylvanians,” Shapiro said. “The theft of someone’s voice in our democracy cannot stand, and we must first get to the bottom of this massive identity theft.”
Shapiro said he plans to “take legal action to protect Net Neutrality,” believing the FCC’s decision “will face serious legal challenges.”
Visit badcomments.attorneygeneral.gov to look and see if your name was used fraudulently to influence the FCC’s process. The Attorney General’s office will investigate all reports made through this site and this information may be important to future legal action.
The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, who was nominated by President Donald Trump in January, said the rollback of the regulations would eventually help consumers.
“We are helping consumers and promoting competition,” Pai said in a speech before the vote. “Broadband providers will have more incentive to build networks, especially to underserved areas.”
In Philadelphia, Comcast once had an exclusivity agreement with the city to be the only ISP in town. Once that 10-year agreement ended, Verizon began offering broadband services within city limits.
Comcast, the largest cable operator and the largest home Internet service provider in the United States, is also among the top contributors to political campaigns. In the 2016 election cycle, Comcast gave $12,594,527 in campaign contributors across all parties.
Comcast was among the top donors to the campaigns of Meehan, Rep. Ryan Costello, R-6 of West Goshen, and U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, R-Pa., all of whom voted in favor of the repeal earlier this year.
Also in the news Thursday, Disney moved to take control of 21st Century Fox’s media empire, which thanks to a write-up by The Verge, highlights all the merges that took place Thursday:
Disney now has a controlling stake in Hulu, which was a joint effort between Comcast and Time Warner to compete with YouTube. Comcast and Time Warner are now minority stakeholders in Hulu. Comcast owns NBCUniversal, which broadcasts shows on Hulu. Time Warner is in negotiations to be bought by AT&T, a competitor of Comcast. Time Warner is a competitor of both NBC and Disney. Comcast and AT&T control the network that people use to watch content from Disney, Time Warner, and NBC.
Nov 29, 2017
VIDEO: Hawaii Senators Take On GOP Tax Reform Proposal
(BIVN) – The talk on Capitol Hill is tax reform, as the GOP moves forward with a new plan in the U.S. Senate.
House Republicans have already pushed through their own version of a tax bill.
President Donald Trump wants to see the legislation come to his desk. But Democrats are sounding the alarm, saying the proposed cuts will favor the wealthy over the middle class.
On the front lines of the debate are Hawaii’s congressional delegation. Senator Brian Schatz opened a U.S. Senate Democrat video, live streamed Monday on Facebook, opposing the tax bill.
Senator Mazie Hirono stood alongside Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, to highlight just how devastating she says the proposed tax bill would be for working families across the country.
A little further down the road is the looming threat of a government shut down, if federal lawmakers cannot come to the table for a deal. Source
Nov 29, 2017
Philly-Area Lawmakers Question Changes At EPA, Department Of Energy
Democrats and some Republicans from the Philadelphia region are worried that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt is trying to gut his agency from within.
The EPA has worked overtime to undo many Obama-era environmental regulations, while also scrubbing its website of any mention of “climate change.”
That’s triggered several red flags for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, who said he and other Democrats warned the GOP not to tap Pruitt to lead the agency.
“One of the many reasons I voted against him was that he doesn’t seem to believe in a mission of the agency, which is to protect the environment,” Casey said.
It’s not just Pruitt, the former Oklahoma attorney general. Republicans now control all the levers of power in Washington, and that has led to an increasing — though still relatively small — number of Republicans who want to disband the EPA altogether. Some believe environmental regulation should be left solely to the states.
“I don’t think, frankly, that you need an EPA,” said U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming. “When you’ve got … 98 percent of the environmental regulation being done effectively at the state level, that’s where it ought to be.”
Northeastern Republicans tend to be much more moderate — some might even say “liberal” — on environmental issues compared with their colleagues in the West and South. But that’s put them in an odd place in a party that is increasingly tacking further to the right.
Pruitt has been under fire recently after enacting a new rule that bars scientists who received EPA grants from serving as scientific advisers at the agency, while also tapping people from within the industries the agency oversees to serve as advisers. Those moves are decried by the left as an attempt to gut the EPA, but few in the GOP have been that outspoken on Pruitt.
“I voted for more robust funding for the EPA, but I can’t really comment because I haven’t been that close to what he’s doing,” said U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-New Jersey.
“Certainly, I think we should include scientific investigation in governmental analysis,” said U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, another New Jersey Republican.
Lance is one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who say humans are accelerating climate change. But, unlike Democrats, he said he’s glad Pruitt is picking people with business expertise to advise the EPA too.
“I would like to see as broad array of experts as possible — and perhaps there could be other experts in the environmental community, who have not received grants,” he said. “But I would like to see experts from across the board, those from the industry, also those who have a scientific background.”
Congressman Ryan Costello, who represents parts of several counties west of Philadelphia, is one of the few in the GOP openly opposed to Pruitt’s new rule barring experts who have gotten grants from EPA from advising the agency.
“If my understanding is correct, then I would disagree with that conclusion, because where is the conflict?” Costello said. “And, in some respects, having had the opportunity to receive one of those grants, I would think you’d be even more scrutinizing of those who would receive it, and you have deeper appreciation the intent of a program.”
Energy policies also at issue
As for Pruitt himself, Costello said many of the Democratic complaints about him ring hollow.
“I look at the issues, perhaps I look beyond the headlines,” he said. “My feeling is some of what the objection or concern about him is what he might do, not what he has actually done.”
While Pruitt has received a lot of flak over what critics call “gutting the agency,” over at the Energy Department, Secretary Rick Perry is working to rewrite the government’s stance on coal. He has been trying to reward coal and nuclear power plants because, he said, they’re reliable sources of energy during a flood or an ice storm.
And that, said Costello, is a sign the administration is going backwards in terms of energy policy.
“Why are we trying to apply energy policy that might have made sense 20 years ago and retrofit it now? We’re trying to retrofit it yesterday into today. That doesn’t make sense to me.
“I think actually there’s even a larger story as it relates to energy policy with what he’s trying to do than what Pruitt’s trying to do,” Costello said.
But Pruitt has become the focus of Democratic attacks against the Trump administration’s stance on energy issues.
That’s, in part, because Pruitt’s claim to fame was suing the very EPA he now runs, said Philadelphia Congressman Brendan Boyle.
“Of all the pretty egregious nominees that President Trump had for Cabinet positions, Scott Pruitt probably wins the stiff competition for the worst,” Boyle said. “You have someone who’s the head of the EPA, whose only background experience in environmental law was suing the EPA more than any other person alive.”
The Trump administration doesn’t have many legislative accomplishments to hang its hat on so far, but it has worked vigorously to unwind environmental regulations. That has Democrats preparing to make environmental policy a central focus in the 2018 elections. Source
Oct 30, 2017
After indictments, Sen. Casey pledges to fight for investigation into Russian election meddling
WASHINGTON — As the first indictments were handed down Monday in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., pledged to protect the probe into Russian meddling in U.S. elections from interference from the White House.
Mr. Casey is the region’s first member of Congress to issue a public statement about the investigation. U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and members of the Western Pennsylvania House delegation did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday.
Monday’s indictments shed light on connections between Russian operatives and associates of President Donald Trump. Former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and campaign official Rick Gates were indicted Monday, the same day as an announcement of a plea deal from George Papadopolous, a former White House former policy adviser.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintained Monday that there was no collusion between the campaign and the Russian government. Monday’s indictments and plea deal relate to a time period before the campaign, she told reporters Monday afternoon.
Two bipartisan bills have been introduced in the Senate to protect the investigation should Mr. Trump decide to fire Mr. Mueller.
Mr. Casey said he supports those legislative efforts.
“Russia attacked our democracy and anyone that aided that effort must be held fully accountable,” he said. “Today’s indictments make clear the very serious nature of this investigation. The independence of Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation must be respected. Read more
Oct 13, 2017
Trump’s tax plan won’t help Pa.’s working families – here’s why | Robert P. Casey Jr.
During the last year I have traveled to each of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to meet with workers, middle class families, seniors and small businesses.
While Pennsylvania has cities that are large and small, urban, suburban and rural, I heard one consistent message no matter where I was: that too many families are struggling to get ahead.
For too many families, their costs keep going up but their wages are not keeping pace. The central economic challenge of our time is to rebuild the middle class by raising wages and creating good-paying jobs. Read more
Oct 7, 2017
Honolulu Star Advertiser
Pennsylvania GOP crosses Trump divide from 2016 to 2018
ARRISBURG, Pa. >> Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania campaigned for months without saying whether he’d vote for Donald Trump, and waited until barely an hour before polls closed last Nov. 8 to reveal that he had, indeed, voted for his party’s presidential nominee.
That was then, this is now: the candidates widely seen as favorites to become the Pennsylvania GOP’s 2018 nominees for U.S. senator and governor are unabashed supporters of Trump.
Scott Wagner, the York County state senator who wants to challenge Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, the Hazleton resident who is vying to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, were early supporters of Trump.
They were prominent Trump backers well before he trounced the competition in Pennsylvania’s primary on his way to the nomination, when Toomey and many party officials were still worrying about Trump’s candidacy.
Now, with polls showing weakening support for Trump’s performance as president, campaign consultants and political analysts see a risk in being closely identified with Trump in next year’s midterm election that, if it follows historical patterns, will be unkind to the party of the president.
Barletta and Wagner counter that they see support for Trump as strong and strengthening, making the president a safe bet with voters rather than a risky campaign companion.
“I might argue that it’s stronger today because they feel betrayed by people in Washington who are not supporting the president,” Barletta said. “They voted for him and, you know, Bob Casey would be one of those people. I think a state like Pennsylvania, a blue-collar state, President Trump’s support is still very strong.” Read more
Oct 4, 2017
Shapiro, Casey call on FCC to allow telephone providers to block robocalls
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Attorney General Josh Shapiro and U.S. Senator Bob Casey asked the Federal Communications Commission to implement a rule allowing telephone providers to block robocalls disguised to hide and mask where they come from in a letter sent today, according to a press release.
The action was taken in an effort to protect Pennsylvania seniors and consumers.
Shapiro first advocated for this action in July, when he and 28 other Attorneys General asked the FCC to allow phone service providers to block robocalls originating as “spoofed” or invalid numbers, along with several other kinds of automated calls — all designed to confuse the call recipient into not understanding where the call is coming from.
Today, testifying before a U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging on the issue at Casey’s request, Shapiro detailed the action he is taking with Pennsylvania’s senior senator.
“I know Senator Casey shares my views on this issue. He and I are sending a joint letter to the FCC today to implement their proposed rule without further delay,” Shapiro testified. “It has been nearly eight months since the FCC first proposed this rule. During that time, it is likely that 19 billion calls have been placed using robocalling technology. We need the FCC to help us put a stop to these harassing and predatory calls. This is a top priority for my office.” Read more
Sept. 28, 2017
The Morning Call
Bob Casey clears way for Donald Trump federal judge nominee
WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, has cleared the way for a Trump nominee to take a seat on a key federal court — a nod to bipartisanship as tensions have again risen in the toxic fights over judicial nominees.
Casey recently gave a green light for the Senate to go ahead with a hearing to consider Stephanos Bibas, a Penn Law professor whom President Trump nominated in June to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Bibas has a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled for Wednesday, which will likely open the door for full Senate confirmation.
In doing so, Casey became the sixth Democrat to return a “blue slip” on a Trump judicial nominee — a signed paper that, by Senate tradition, is required from both home state senators for nominees to advance. The custom gives senators in the political minority some leverage over lifetime appointments that can shape federal law for years.
The Third Circuit covers Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware and the Virgin Islands. Read more
Sept 13, 2017
Neither Pennsylvania senator backs Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all plan
Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey didn’t offer his support to a Medicare-for-all plan Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed Wednesday, saying he is focused instead on stopping a new Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Sixteen Senate Democrats co-sponsored Sanders’ proposal, according to the Vermont senator’s office. The legislation would provide more generous benefits than the current Medicare program at an as-yet-unknown price.
“My first priority is protecting health care for Pennsylvania families, who are paying higher premiums and seeing increased costs because congressional Republicans and the administration are taking actions to undermine and sabotage our health care system,” Casey, of Scranton, said in an emailed statement.
Four Republican senators introduced a proposal the same day that would get rid of many of the 2010 Affordable Care Act’s subsidies, taxes and its requirements that most people have insurance. The proposal would give states more flexibility in administering health care and replace some federal funding streams with block grants, according to a news release.
Steve Kelly, a spokesman for Sen. Pat Toomey, said in an email that the Lehigh Valley Republican is still reviewing the bill, which was introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana; Dean Heller, R-Nevada; and Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin.
Kelly addressed Sanders’ proposal in a statement that referenced an Urban Institute analysis of a single-payer proposal Sanders put forward as a presidential primary candidate last year. The analysis estimated the plan would increase federal spending by $32 trillion between 2017 and 2026 while providing insurance for most of the people who are still uninsured.
“Senator Sanders’ plan to allow the government to completely take over health care in this country will cost Americans $32 trillion. Senator Toomey does not support this,” Kelly said in a statement. Read more
Sept 7, 2017
Casey warns against federal cuts to law enforcement
(Harrisburg) — Democratic U.S. Senator Bob Casey is warning Republican proposals in the federal budget would hurt law enforcement.
Casey is speaking out against plans by the Trump Administration and congressional Republicans to eliminate the nearly $200 million dollar COPS Hiring Program, and cut funding for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG) by $43.5 million, or about 12 percent.
Casey says the grant program helps police departments adapt to new challenges.
“The men and women of our law enforcement who are on the front lines fighting the opioid epidemic, Byrne JAG can help pay for drug-related training, or life-saving Narcan, for example,” Casey said in a conference call with reporters.
He adds it’s hard for Republicans to claim to be tough on crime if they vote to eliminate funding for law enforcement.
“I’m trying to figure out how cutting funding for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grants or eliminating the COPS Hiring Program — I’m trying to figure out how that makes us safer,” Casey said. Read more
Sept 6, 2017
Smucker, Toomey agree with Trump that DACA needs legislative change
U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker agrees with the Trump administration’s decision to seek a legislative fix for the Obama-era program that protects children of undocumented immigrants, the congressman said in a statement Tuesday.
President Donald Trump’s decision to “wind down” Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, comes as the president has struggled to determine the fate of the program’s nearly 800,000 recipients, also known as “dreamers.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions called the program “unconstitutional” and gave Congress six months to find a solution. Meanwhile, the government will not accept new applicants. Read more
August 12, 2017
Demonstrators, Politicians React To Va. White Nationalist Rally
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Demonstrators across the country took to the streets in response to the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville on Saturday, as Pennsylvania politicians took to Twitter to voice their opinions.
Demonstrators gathered in Atlanta on Saturday in response to the events in Charlottesville. The march was organized by a number of human rights and religious groups. The demonstrators are calling on President Trump to condemn the rally and to explicitly refer to it as a white supremacist convention. Read more
August 10, 2017
Warner co-sponsors bill to shrink ‘food deserts’
Tens of thousands in Tri-Cities have limited access to healthy food choices
PETERSBURG — For the tens of thousands of Tri-Cities residents who have limited access to healthy food, help may be on the way.
Virginia’s senior U.S. Senator, Mark Warner, is one of four senators who are sponsoring legislation that aims to help shrink the nation’s “food deserts” – a term the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses to designate areas of the nation where residents must travel long distances to find healthy nutritional choices like fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and dairy products.
The bill, called the Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act, takes particular aim at areas with high concentrations of low-income residents who may be unable to afford the cost of transportation to distant food sources.
“More than 1 million Virginians find themselves in low-income areas with no reliable source of healthy food, placing themselves at higher risk of diabetes, obesity and heart disease,” Warner explained in a press release announcing the filing of the bill.
The proposed legislation, co-sponsored by Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), would create a system of tax credits and grants for businesses and nonprofits that serve low-income areas that have limited food access. Read more
July 28, 2017
Pennsylvania legislators react after Senate health care vote falls short
As the Senate headed toward a vote early Friday that Republicans intended to set up health care talks with the GOP-controlled House, the votes of Pennsylvania’s two senators were not in question.
Republican Sen. Pat Toomey had spoken on the floor hours earlier, expressing his support for advancing a narrow Obamacare repeal bill that he hoped would be expanded to address Medicaid costs and other scuttled provisions when the two chambers met to hammer out their differences. Read more
July 25, 2017
PA leaders warn of health care bill’s negative impact ahead of Senate vote
Ahead of Tuesday’s U.S. Senate Republican-driven effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, three Pennsylvania leaders joined to once again denounce the health care plan and warn about its negative impact on the state.
“It’s a bad piece of legislation for virtually everyone we can think of,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Lackawanna County, said of the Republican plan, which U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County, helped craft as part of a 13-member Senate GOP panel.
As he has done since it was unveiled, Casey argued that the plan would hurt the middle-class, seniors, children and the disabled mostly through deep cuts to Medicaid funding that would have a widespread impact on health care across the state. Read more
June 24, 2017
Casey, Toomey square off from afar over Senate health care plan
HARRISBURG — At a rally Friday morning in the state Capitol, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey urged voters to help him and other Democrats defeat the Senate Republicans’ plan to replace the Affordable Care Act.
“In the next couple of days, into the very last hour, please keep advocating,” Mr. Casey, D-Pa., told several dozen people gathered in the rotunda. “Please keep writing and marching and calling, and going on social media, and calling senators in other states as well as Pennsylvania. Keep going, keep pushing, because we can defeat this bill if we keep working together.”
He spoke a day after Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited proposal to replace Obamacare, a bill their leaders hope to bring to a vote next week. With Republicans clinging to a two-seat majority in the chamber and Democrats unified against the plan, every vote will count.
Mr. Casey said debate about the bill had paid too little attention to how the proposal would affect people who get their health insurance through their employers — more than 150 million Americans.
“If you’ve got employer coverage, they’re coming for you, too,” he said. “Because if you live in a state in the future where there’s a waiver, you will not get protection from pre-existing conditions.
“They can still make sure that if you’re pregnant, you’re not going to get the kind of maternity benefits that you might need. All that will be legal if the state you live in goes with a waiver,” he said. “So don’t think you’re in the clear because we’re talking a lot about Medicaid. That’s why I said this bill is bad for the whole country.” Read more
Pa. officials react to Trump announcing U.S. exit from climate accord
In announcing that the U.S. will withdraw from an international agreement seeking to combat climate change, President Donald Trump pointed to places like Pittsburgh in explaining his rationale.
“It is time to put Youngstown, Ohio, Detroit and Pittsburgh, along with many, many other locations within our great country, before Paris, France,” Trump said Thursday as he argued that the agreement would have “draconian” effects on the U.S. economy.
He later added that he “was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”
Pittsburgh’s Democratic mayor disagreed with Trump’s assessment of the deal, which Trump promised during last year’s presidential campaign that he would abandon.
“As the mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy and future,” Mayor Bill Peduto responded in a Twitter post.
Other Pennsylvania Democrats joined him in criticizing Trump’s decision.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania called the move “a double-barreled blow to both Pennsylvania jobs and our environment.”
“Without action on climate change, more children will suffer from diseases like asthma and malnutrition,” Casey said. “Climate change is a serious challenge which requires action, not retreat.”
Gov. Tom Wolf responded that addressing greenhouse gas emissions, as the Paris agreement seeks to do, “presents opportunities for Pennsylvania’s natural gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries to grow and create new jobs.”
Republicans, including top GOP leaders in Congress, largely welcomed withdrawing from the climate pact.
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, whose 11th District includes part of Carbon County, said the deal would have been “disastrous” for workers and consumers.
“Ending anti-growth obstacles like the Paris Agreement opens the way to a brighter future, with America in the lead,” said U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus, whose 12th District includes Pittsburgh’s northern suburbs.
“Senator Toomey supports the withdrawal from the Paris Accord as it would not have protected our environment and would have been particularly harmful to our economy and job creation,” said Steve Kelly, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15th District, which includes Lehigh County and part of Northampton County, was on a congressional trip in Germany and did not have a comment.
But U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, a Republican from the Delaware County-based 7th District, described the decision as one that “diminishes America’s leadership role on the world stage.”
“The Paris Agreement isn’t perfect. But by abandoning it, America is relinquishing that seat at the table,” Meehan said in a statement. “It calls into question our commitment to protecting and preserving the environment. And it forfeits our ability to drive countries like China and India to reduce their carbon footprint and compete on a level playing field.”
Meehan is one of three Pennsylvania Republican congressmen who signed on to a bipartisan letter in April urging Trump to remain in the agreement.
U.S. Reps. Ryan Costello of the Chester County-based 6th District and Brian Fitzpatrick of Bucks County’s 8th District also signed the letter, which showed support for working with other countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Costello and Meehan both represent districts that Democrat Hillary Clinton won in last year’s presidential election. She also won Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located.
Senators Toomey, Casey react to report Trump shared classified info with Russians
President Trump is under fire for sharing classified information with Russia.
It happened last week when Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and Moscow’s ambassador to Washington visited the president in the oval office. Trump told them about an Islamic State plot to use laptop bombs on civilian aircraft, sources said
Some officials say that information was classified and could expose the source of the information and how it was collected.
Trump said in a tweet he was within his rights to share that information. Read more
Some Pa., N.J. Republicans raise questions about Comey firing
Several Republicans from the Philadelphia region raised questions Wednesday about President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, though mostly in less sharp terms than Democrats.
Trump lawyers push back against Russia ties in letter
Sarah Huckabee Sanders is suddenly the star of the feel-bad story of the day
Rep. Charlie Dent, of Allentown, called the president’s surprise announcement Tuesday night “both confounding and troubling” adding that “it is now harder to resist calls for an independent investigation or select committee.” His statement added that Trump “must provide a much clearer explanation as to the timing and rationale for this action.”
Similarly, Rep. Ryan Costello issued a statement saying that “to date, the explanation for the firing has been insufficient and the timing raises additional questions. The Congressman from Chester County added, “my constituents must have assurances that a non-partisan investigation will yield independent, well-grounded conclusions, and I certainly support that effort.”
His comments echoed those of Rep. Lloyd Smucker a short time earlier. Smucker, whose district includes part of Chester County, said the firing “raises serious and legitimate questions about timing, intent, and the integrity of ongoing investigations. My constituents deserve answers and I hope to see a full explanation soon.” Read more
Fed budget bill may force officials to divulge more on polluted military sites in Montco, Bucks
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania wants the Department of Defense to do more to keep drinking water safe in communities with military bases after contamination at sites including three current and former facilities in Pennsylvania’s Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Language tucked into a federal spending bill would force Secretary of Defense James Mattis to submit a report to congressional defense committees detailing the bases where perflourinated compounds, more commonly known as PFOS and PFOAS, are used, as well as how those chemicals have affected those living in and around the bases.
“I think we have a good shot, but this is always precarious because just when you think it’s going to be accepted as a unit, the whole bill, something happens,” Casey said.
Casey urged the miners who filled a conference room at the Mining Technology and Training Center to continue to contact legislators and write letters in support of the bill.
Time is running out. The Miners Protection Act was approved by the Senate Finance Committee last year but, despite promises from Senate leadership, never made it to the floor for a vote. Read more
Mr. Casey, a Democrat, hosted a town hall meeting for constituents on Sunday at the University of Pittsburgh.
The crowd, many of whom sported T-shirts supporting Planned Parenthood or action on environmental issues, greeted the senator with a standing ovation as he appeared on stage.
Most of the disagreements with Mr. Casey or tough questions for him seemed to be coming from his political left, as a number of those in attendance said they felt he should take stronger stands against hydraulic fracturing — known as fracking — for natural gas reserves, that he should oppose any further U.S. military action in Syria (President Donald Trump ordered an airstrike against a base after a chemical gas attack on civilians last week), and he should support a “Medicare for all” health care system. Read more
Sen. Bob Casey Jr. seeks answers on Laureldale cleanup
In an April 3 letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Scranton Democrat asked the EPA to revisit the 2008 cleanup by Exide Technologies Inc. Read more
April 2, 2017
Town Hall attendees share concerns on many issues with Senator Bob Casey
SCRANTON — U.S. Senator Bob Casey returned to his hometown on Sunday for a town hall meeting to give his constituents an opportunity to provide input and voice concerns about issues impacting their lives.
Several issues immediately rose to the surface, as many of the approximately 200 attendees assembled at Lackawanna College asked questions on issues ranging from healthcare to taxes to Russia’s possible interference in the presidential election. Read more
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