April 18, 2019
Casey, Toomey echo parties in Mueller report response
The highly anticipated report by special counsel Robert Muller indicating Russian interference in the 2016 election was released Thursday, but the findings don’t seem to have done much in the way of shifting partisan opinion.
By and large, congressional Republicans stood behind Attorney General William Barr’s “no collusion” summary of the report’s probe into President Donald Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, Democrats demanded the release of redacted information and questioned Barr’s credibility.
Pennsylvania’s U.S. senators — Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey — mirrored the takes of their respective parties.
“While examining the Mueller report and the underlying evidence will be vital, it will not change what we already know: Russia attacked our election in 2016, President Trump and his closest aides and allies welcomed that attack and then, we know from the public record, that President Trump made a series of statements and appeared to engage in conduct that interfered with a fair and independent investigation,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey said in a statement.
“The actions we know that President Trump, his aides and allies took may not violate criminal statutes, but they are fundamentally inconsistent with American values,” he said.
On Twitter, Casey also called Barr a “spin doctor and mouthpiece for the President.”
Toomey had a different take.
Toomey said on Twitter he had not yet read the report but “all Americans should be pleased that the Special Counsel concluded there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
And while Casey pushed for public release of redacted grand jury information not protected because of intelligence concerns, Toomey said he was pleased the report does not have redactions based on executive privilege.
Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, said the previous conclusions of “no collusion, no obstruction, and nothing but complete cooperation from the president,” stand with regard to the Mueller report.
“We need to move on, stop the theater, and get back to the business of governing,” Perry said in a statement.
Republican Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster County, did not return a request for comment.
In a news conference before the public release of the report, Barr renewed his earlier interpretation of Mueller’s findings that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russian interference.
According to Mueller’s report, the investigation “did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” However, the report states that Russian interference did favor Trump’s candidacy in the 2016 election.
Mueller’s report also said the investigation found “numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump Campaign.” Source
Lawmakers want passage of Combat Online Predators Act
HARRISBURG, Pa. – A bipartisan group of lawmakers came together Mnoday to introduce legislation to protect children from online predators.
Republican Senator Pat Toomey, Democratic Senator Bob Casey, and Republican Representative Brian Fitzpatrick are calling for the passage of the “Combat Online Predators Act.”
It would enhance criminal penalties by five years for stalkers who prey on children. It was inspired by the Zezzos family of Bucks County.
Their 13-year-old daughter, Madison, was cyber-stalked in 2013 by a friend’s father.
“Over the period of time he was stalking Madison he posted over 15,000 times about Madison online including horrendous doctored images of Madison,” Toomey said.
The suspect pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation and counseling.
Three years later, he resumed his stalking of Madison and was sentenced to up to seven years in prison. Source & Video
April 1, 2019
Senate moving on bill to increase criminal penalties for cyberstalking children
Senators Pat Toomey and Bob Casey supported bill.
BUCKS COUNTY, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — A young woman from Bucks County and her family don’t want anyone else to go through what she did – because of a convicted cyberstalker. Now, the U.S. Senate is poised to act on a bill already passed in the House that provides for increased prison time for stalking minors.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick authored the legislation in the House, after he heard the plight of Madison Zezzo, who was stalked as a 13-year-old by a friend’s father on social media.
“It allows judges who are sentencing criminal defendants in these cyberstalking cases to enhance that sentence by five years where that victim was a minor,” Fitzpatrick said.
Despite harassing Zezzo online by texting her sexually explicit messages, the then 51-year-old stalker pleaded guilty only to a misdemeanor stalking charge, and got probation and counseling. Three years later, in 2016, the same stalker resumed his pursuit of Zezzo. This time, he was caught in a sting and sentenced to 18 months to seven years in prison.
U.S. Republican Senator Pat Toomey says when he was stalking her, he posted over 15,000 times about her.
“Including horrendous, doctored images of Madison. The fact is, social media creates a new opportunity for monsters to engage in this kind of activity,” Toomey said.
Standing next to Toomey, Democrat Bob Casey agreed that they expect the Senate to pass the bill with bipartisan support.
Zezzo is now a 20-year-old sophomore in college.
“You question yourself. Was it something that I did? Was it something that I posted? Should I have done something differently? The answer is no,” Zezzo said.
She hopes it draws more attention to inadequacies of state and federal stalking laws and the protection of victims, especially children.
“I feel it’s crucial that victims’ rights be reevaluated. Often times, I felt that my stalker had more rights than I did at the criminal proceedings,” Zezzo said.
While the process has not been easy, Zezzo refuses to let it define her.
“I can say with confidence that choosing to stand up to my stalker, choosing to stand up for myself and my rights, and for the rights of others, has been the best decision that I ever made,” she said.
Her mother, Erin Zezzo, says people don’t think about stalking in context.
“You hear about the escalated crimes of violence – the rape, the sexual assault and the homicides. But the vehicle the criminal uses to get there, is often not spoke of, that’s stalking,” she said. Source
March 13, 2019
GOP SENATORS WANT EMERGENCY POWERS CAPPED TO STOP PRESIDENT ‘ACTING LIKE A KING’
More than a dozen Republican senators introduced new legislation seeking to put a cap on presidential emergency powers, days before they were expected to vote on a measure against President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration on immigration.
In a statement introducing the legislation, Senator Mike Lee of Utah said he spearheaded the bill in a bid to stop a president from “acting like a king [by] taking back the legislative powers that allow him to do so.” The new bill, he said, “will go a long way to restoring the balance of powers in our republic.”
If passed, the new legislation, called the Assuring That Robust, Thorough and Informed Congressional Leadership Is Exercised Over National Emergencies (Article One) Act, would require the approval of Congress for any national emergency declaration to continue beyond 30 days. Without congressional approval, the declaration would be terminated.
In a backgrounder on the new bill, Lee’s office said that “most people would agree that Congress should grant the president some degree of emergency power.
“In obvious cases, the president should have the statutory authority to respond to an immediate crisis, such as an act of war or natural disaster,” it said. “The problem is that emergency powers are vulnerable to abuse; they can act as a cheat-code that undermines our system of separation of powers and enables the president to bypass the difficult work of enacting legislation.”
Many have accused Trump of doing just that with his national emergency declaration, which he announced on February 15 in an apparent bid to bypass Congress and obtain billions of dollars in funding for the construction of his long-promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
But while Trump’s recent emergency declaration “focused attention” on the presidential powers afforded under the National Emergencies Act of 1976, Lee’s office said, “in reality, the abuse of emergency powers is a bipartisan, decades-long problem.”
While Lee’s measure would not affect Trump’s current national emergency declaration, it would apply to future declarations.
“If Congress is troubled by recent emergency declarations made pursuant to the National Emergencies Act, they only have themselves to blame,” Lee said in his personal statement. “Congress gave these legislative powers away in 1976, and it is far past time that we as an institution took them back.”
In addition to Lee, 14 other GOP senators have thrown their support behind the bill, including Chuck Grassley of Iowa; Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Mitt Romney of Utah; Ted Cruz of Texas; Joni Ernst of Iowa; Roy Blunt of Missouri; Jerry Moran of Kansas; Lamar Alexander of Tennessee; Roger Wicker of Mississippi; Ben Sasse of Nebraska; Ron Johnson of Wisconsin; Rob Portman of Ohio; Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania; and Todd Young of Indiana.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested on Tuesday that he was open to the idea of making changes to presidential national emergency powers.
“We’re looking at some ways to revisit the law. There’s a lot of discomfort with the law,” McConnell told reporters. “Was it too broad back in the ’70s when it was passed? So yeah, we’re discussing altering that.”
Asked directly if he would back Lee’s bill, McConnell said that he “may well” support it.
McConnell and Lee did not immediately respond to Newsweek’s request for comment. Source
March 7, 2019
Medical device tax repeal bill reintroduced in U.S. Senate
U.S. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) reintroduced a bill to permanently repeal the 2.3% federal excise tax on medical device sales, with a new co-sponsor. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) has signed on to co-sponsor, replacing Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who did not run for re-election last fall.
The medical device tax went into effect in 2013 and has been suspended twice. One two-year pause ended in January 2018 and the second moratorium is due to expire at the end of 2019. The tax on the sale of most medical technologies was enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act and applies to medtech companies’ revenues, not profits. In 2018, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to repeal the tax 283-132, but the Senate failed to act.
In February, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) inked a letter to colleagues in the House of Representatives seeking support for a new bill to repeal the tax. The House version of the Protect Medical Innovation act of 2019 already has backing from Jacki Walorski (R-Ind.), Scott Peters (D-Calif.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Darin LaHood (R-Ill.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.) and Jason Smith (R-Mo.).
Kind would be stepping in as lead sponsor for former Congressman Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), a longtime champion of the legislation who lost his re-election bid to Democratic newcomer Dean Philips.
In his letter to colleagues, Kind called the 2.3% excise tax “extremely punitive to medical technology investors,” and said that since its inception there has been “growing bipartisan support” to end it.
The Senate bill has attracted nine senators each from both the Democratic and Republican parties. They include Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dick Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Kirsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Medtech trade group AdvaMed continues to drum up support for a permanent repeal of the tax, saying that short-term suspensions limit the ability of companies to make longer-term investments in new technologies and treatments.
“Unless Congress acts quickly, America’s medical technology companies face a $20 billion tax hike at the end of 2019 when the device excise tax returns,” said AdvaMed president and CEO Scott Whitaker in a prepared statement. “If not stopped, this tax will put future patient innovations and good-paying U.S. jobs at risk.”
AdvaMed, the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) and Minnesota-based trade group Medical Alley each thanked the Senate bill’s lead sponsors for taking it up again.
“We are grateful to Senator Klobuchar for her bill to once and for all repeal the medical device tax,” said Medical Alley president & CEO Shaye Mandle. “Medical device companies have been subject to great uncertainty because of this tax, limiting their ability to invest in the life-saving research they’re capable of producing.”
“When the medical device tax was in place, billions of dollars were sent to the I.R.S. instead of being invested in the next generation of cures and therapies for patients. We simply cannot allow this to happen again, and today’s introduction of the ‘Protect Medical Innovation Act’ shows that a broad, bipartisan coalition in the Senate agrees,” added MDMA president & CEO Mark Leahey. “MDMA thanks Senators Toomey and Klobuchar and all the original cosponsors for their ongoing leadership on this crucial issue for medical innovation and patient care, and we remain committed to working with them and all of the stakeholders who recognize how destructive the medical device tax is.” Source
February 15, 2019
Lawmakers work to scale back the president’s trade authority as auto tariffs loom
As the Trump administration considers slapping tariffs on auto imports, Republican and Democratic lawmakers are trying to gain more control of trade policy.
Last year, President Trump instructed the Commerce Department to investigate whether imported vehicles and auto parts pose a threat to national security. The department is due to report its findings by February 17.
Now, bipartisan groups of lawmakers are trying to weaken the president’s ability to use national security as a reason to enact tariffs.
BICAMERAL CONGRESSIONAL TRADE AUTHORITY ACT
Republican Senator Pat Toomey and Democratic Senator Mark Warner have introduced a bill called the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act. A bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the House.
The bill puts the Department of Defense in charge of 232 investigations to see if a national security threat exists, instead of the Commerce Department. It would also require approval from Congress before the President can take trade action under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
“President Trump has strained our relationships with key allies and partners by abusing the authority that Congress granted him and stretching the concept of ‘national security’ beyond credulity,” said Senator Warner in a statement.
The bill is retroactive, meaning Congress would have to approve any Section 232 actions over the last four years — including President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum.
“Tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the United States are taxes paid by American consumers. The imposition of these taxes, under the false pretense of national security (Section 232), is weakening our economy, threatening American jobs, and eroding our credibility with other nations. I’ve seen, first-hand, the damage these taxes are causing across Pennsylvania,” said Senator Toomey in a statement.
THE TRADE SECURITY ACT
Republican Senator Rob Portman, who served as the United States Trade Representative from 2005-2006, has introduced a bill that takes a more moderate approach.
Portman’s bill, the Trade Security Act, would also require the Department of Defense to determine national security threats under Section 232. It would give Congress the ability to disapprove tariffs, rather than requiring Congressional approval. Unlike Toomey’s bill, Portman’s legislation is not retroactive.
Speaking to reporters, Portman said his approach will give the president the ability to act quickly if there is a true national emergency, while still increasing Congressional oversight.
“This is not about automobiles or about the Trump administration, this is broader reform I think is consistent with the original intent [of Section 232],” said Portman.
Portman told reporters he’s concerned the United States could lose its ability to use Section 232 if it misuses the statute. Plus, he says misuse leads to retaliatory tariffs that hurt American farmers, manufacturers and consumers.
“My broader view of trade is that if it’s not based on fairness, it comes back to haunt us,” said Portman.
AUTO TARIFFS COULD BE ON THE WAY
If the Commerce Department finds automotive imports present a threat, the President will have ninety days to decide what to do next. President Trump has already floated the idea of a 25% tariff on auto imports.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa, spoke against auto tariffs on the senate floor this week.
“I hope the President will heed my call to forego the auto tariffs and focus on opening new markets. The U.S. auto industry is a major driver of our economy, supporting nearly 10 million American jobs and accounting for 3 percent of our GDP. Without question, any tariffs that are imposed will have a negative effect on the U.S. auto industry and our economy,” said Grassley.
Portman has also expressed concern about auto tariffs.
“I don’t know what they’re [the Commerce Department] going to report, but I do know that this [the Trade Security Act] is timely,” said Portman.
The senator told reporters if the Trade Security Act is signed before the President enacts tariffs, there would have to be a new report involving the Department of Defense.
Portman insists the bill is not a direct response to the Trump administration or potential auto tariffs, but says he wants to move quickly to give Congress the ability to push back.
“We are strengthening Congress’ hand and the role of Congress — which again I think is appropriate,” said Portman. “It’s kind of hard to argue that minivans from Canada pose a national security threat.”
A bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Doug Jones, Senator Joni Ernst and others have signed on to Portman’s bill. A bipartisan companion bill has been introduced in the House. Source
February 8, 2019
Smucker, Toomey in Lancaster to promote bills to “end future government shutdowns”
Lancaster County Congressman Lloyd Smucker joined U.S. Senator Pat Toomey in Lancaster this afternoon to promote legislation to “end future government shutdowns.”
Also on hand today at the Lancaster County Government Center were Lancaster County Commissioners Joshua Parsons and Dennis Stuckey.
The pair appeared with Smucker and Toomey in support of the federal lawmakers’ sponsorship of the “End Government Shutdowns Act,” which would provide continued funding for federal agencies if Congress fails to adopt an appropriations bill or a continuing resolution on time.
The plan Toomey co-sponsored would keep agencies funded at their current level for 120 days. After those first four months, funding would decrease by 1 percent and then another 1 percent after every other 90-day period that passes without an approved budget.
Smucker’s version would continue funding levels, for the first 60 days, that are 5 percent less than what they had been before. After that, funding would be reduced by another 2 percent in each 60-day period without an enacted budget. Source
February 4, 2019
State of the Union guests reflect issues of interest
Two local members of Congress have invited victims of gun violence
Members of Congress usually get just one seat for a special guest to attend the president’s State of the Union address. Guests often are related to issues under discussion or they are symbolic of an agenda item individual members wish to promote.
Michelle Roberson of West Chester will be the guest of U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Chester County Democrat. She is the mother of Bianca Roberson, who was fatally shot in a 2017 road rage incident in Chester County. Bianca had just graduated from high school and was set to attend college on a full scholarship when she was killed.
U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, a Montgomery County Democrat, will be joined by Jami Amo, a Willow Grove resident, gun safety activist and survivor of the 1999 Columbine school shooting.
Since being sworn in a month ago, the Democratic House majority has introduced a range of firearms legislation, including a universal background check bill.
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Scranton Democrat, has invited Monica Hughes of Pittsburgh, an Army reservist and a Transportation Security Administration officer who missed pay but kept working during the recent government shutdown.
During the shutdown, her family had to draw from savings, apply for food stamps and accept donations from friends and family to stay afloat, Casey’s office said in a statement.
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, a Lehigh County Republican, has asked a personal friend, John Malloy, to attend. Malloy is chairman, president and chief executive officer of Victaulic, a growing Easton-based manufacturer of mechanical joints for piping systems. He has served in key roles at several other manufacturing businesses and also has earned the Distinguished Citizen’s Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser a Luzerne County Republican, has invited his wife, Shelley Meuser, as his guest. Source
January 30, 2019
Lawmakers Attempt to Rein in President’s Tariff Power
U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation to limit the president’s power to levy import tariffs for national security reasons. The bills face an uncertain future but underscore bipartisan concerns on Capitol Hill over the rising costs of the Trump administration’s trade policies.
The United States in 2018 slapped duties on aluminum and steel from other countries, drawing criticism from lawmakers who support free trade and complaints of rising supply chain costs across business sectors.
Two bipartisan groups of lawmakers Wednesday introduced legislation known as the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The bills would require Trump to have congressional approval before taking trade actions like tariffs and quotas under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The law currently allows the president to impose such tariffs without approval from Capitol Hill.
“The imposition of these taxes, under the false pretense of national security (Section 232), is weakening our economy, threatening American jobs, and eroding our credibility with other nations,” said Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, co-sponsor of the Senate bill.
Toomey led a similar push last year that did not go to a vote.
It is unclear that Congress would consider taking up such legislation now. Still, the bills underscore mounting pressure from lawmakers to address concerns over tariffs, especially those on Canada and Mexico as lawmakers prepare to vote on a new North American trade deal agreed to late last year.
Republican Chuck Grassley from Iowa, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, earlier pressed the Trump administration to lift tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada and Mexico before Congress begins considering legislation to implement the new pact.
Numerous business and agricultural groups have come out in support of the United States-Mexico-Canada agreement, but have said its benefits will be limited so long as the U.S. tariffs and retaliatory tariffs from Canada and Mexico remain in place.
Companies are able to request exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs, but the process has been plagued by delays and uncertainty.
“Virginia consumers and industries like craft beer and agriculture are hurting because of the president’s steel and aluminum tariffs,” said Democratic Senator Mark Warner, co-sponsor of the Senate legislation. “This bill would roll them back.”
Republicans Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Darin LaHood of Illinois and Democrats Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Jimmy Panetta of California introduced the House legislation. Source
January 23, 2019
Sen. Pat Toomey On The Shutdown, Gun Control Legislation, Steel Tariffs
As the partial government shutdown continues, Congress remains at an impasse. The House of Representatives has passed bipartisan bills that would reopen the government, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has yet to bring any of those bills to the floor. The Senate may vote on spending bills later this week, but at this point there’s no end to the shutdown in sight. To talk more about what’s happening in Washington, 90.5 WESA’s Lucy Perkins spoke with Republican Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey.
On the partial government shutdown:
It’s very frustrating. But while there’s plenty of blame to go around, I really think that the fundamental problem here has been the unwillingness of Speaker [of the House Nancy] Pelosi to engage in negotiations at all. It’s always been clear to me that the President was open to negotiating the dollar amount. His initial position was $5.7 billion for physical border security.* Her position was zero and she won’t negotiate – and that’s not reasonable.
*Editor’s note: In Trump’s most recent proposal Sunday, he was still requesting $5.7 billion in funding for the wall.
On the Senate not voting on House bills to reopen the government:
You know, Senator McConnell can make his decisions, he’s the leader. We’ve got a bill that’s going to be on the floor later this week, if the Democrats allow us to take it up – I hope they will. I think it should be open to amendment, and those amendments could change it dramatically. I would like to include my provision, for instance, that would preclude future shutdowns. The President may or may not agree with those things, but the Senate should work its will.
On passing gun control legislation:
I’m a big believer in the Second Amendment. I’m a gun owner. I think the Second Amendment is a very, very important individual right. My view has always been that that is not in conflict with my equally strongly held view that it is reasonable for us to do background checks on purchases, certainly commercial gun sales, because some people in our society don’t have the right to the Second Amendment. Specifically, violent criminals who have demonstrated they don’t deserve to have that right, people who are dangerously mentally ill — it is completely reasonable for us to prevent those people from having firearms. We need to have a mechanism for determining whether a person is in one of those two categories. The background check is the mechanism we’ve used, but there are loopholes, there are gaping holes in it … [I]f there’s commercial sales involved, there ought to be a background check. That’s the legislation that I introduced with Sen. [Joe] Manchin [of West Virginia].
What are the prospects in 2019? The prospects have changed, perhaps, because the House has switched control. I’m not happy about the fact that the House has changed control. I’m a Republican, I prefer Republican control. But the silver lining in that cloud, from my point of view, is that now we have a House that can pass broader background-check legislation. I think they will do that. I think they will send it to the Senate, and if we can get a few more Republicans to take my view, which is that expanding background checks does not infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens, then maybe we’ve got a shot at doing something here.
On the impact of the Trump administration’s steel tariffs:
I have a big stack on my desk of letters from Pennsylvania employers who have been very adversely affected by the tariffs. The President’s tariffs help you if you’re in the business of making steel, but if you’re one of the far more people who are employed in a company that uses steel … that’s a much much bigger industry in Pennsylvania and throughout America, and those folks are already being hurt. There is some danger that many of them will lose their jobs, so the adverse effect is absolutely happening.
The President’s purpose in this was to pressure other countries – specifically Canada and Mexico – to negotiate a new trade agreement. Well, for better or for worse the Canadians and the Mexicans have done that, they’ve agreed to a new trade agreement and the administration was supposed to lift these tariffs when an agreement was reached. It has been reached and they still haven’t lifted the tariffs. So it’s frustrating to me, and it’s harmful. It’s simply a factual matter that a tariff is a tax on American consumers. The President likes to brag about how many billions of dollars are coming into the treasury. Well, they’re all coming out of American wallets.
On Saudi Arabia and the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi:
I think [the Trump] administration didn’t handle that situation well. Unfortunately, it’s true, there are many regimes around the world that commit atrocities including murdering some of their own people including murdering their dissidents. That doesn’t make it OK, and it certainly doesn’t make it OK for our allies. We do expect more from our allies, and certainly Saudi Arabia has been an ally.
I think there are a variety of ways we can send the message to the Saudi government that that is completely unacceptable – a temporary suspension of weapons sales, for instance, would be just one of many ways that we could convey that message. It’s difficult, because there is a reason that we are allied with Saudi Arabia and it’s because our two countries share common security interests. Saudi Arabia is the most significant counterweight to Iran in the Middle East and Iran is extremely hostile to the United States and our interests. But it’s problematic when their government goes off the rails as they did in the case of the assassination of Khashoggi.
We need to strike the right balance. It is not the case that we should suddenly no longer consider … Saudi Arabia to be an ally, but it is the case that we need to send a very strong message to their leadership that that behavior was completely unacceptable. Source
The Indiana Gazette
January 12, 2019
‘Frustrating’ shutdown requires compromise, Sen. Toomey says
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Lehigh County, told The Indiana Gazette editorial board Friday that the ongoing partial shutdown of federal government operations is “maddenly frustrating.”
The state’s junior senator also said he is open to a compromise to resolve border security issues that contributed to that shutdown, including some immigration reforms.
For instance, Toomey said, “I would be open to something on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) as part of this mix.”
DACA refers to approximately 800,000 undocumented immigrants who came to this country prior to 2007 and before their 16th birthday, but who otherwise haven’t broken the law and have either graduated with a high school equivalent or served in the military.
There were reports Friday in various media that Senate Republicans included DACA in negotiations over a border wall, and that the Trump administration wants the U.S. Supreme Court to dismantle the DACA program.
However, Toomey “really believes” neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., nor Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., want a compromise, and that President Trump opened the door for their stance.
“The president made a big tactical mistake when he said the shutdown would be on him,” Toomey said.
The Pennsylvania Republican said Trump eventually may sign a “clean” bill to end the shutdown and not include funding for barriers along the Mexican border, but then declare a national emergency to fund them.
“It would be a big mistake,” Toomey said, because it could create a precedent for a future president.
He suggested Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as an example, saying she could decide on gun controls “because the murder rate is too high,” or to ban off-shore drilling to deal with climate change.
“I think we are in a very unfortunate spot,” Toomey said.
Toomey said most senators have voted in the past for tens of millions of dollars for construction of a wall along the border, and said construction of several hundred miles of barriers “is a very reasonable request,”
The senator added, “No one is proposing a 2,000-mile continuous wall,” and that $5 billion proposed by the president for the southern border only would result “in a couple hundred miles at best.”
The three-week-old shutdown only covers a sliver of all government operations, “but it’s an important sliver,” Toomey told Gazette reporters and editors.
“Sixty percent of the government is on autopilot,” the Lehigh County senator said.
As for those who haven’t received paychecks in three weeks, Toomey said, “everyone is going to be paid, but you have to wait for it.”
He said to discourage future shutdowns, he would like to have a mechanism kick in that would allow for automatic continuation of government programs at the end of a fiscal year, perhaps with a decrease in funding of 1 percent or 2 percent. Source
105total visits,2visits today