Dent frustrated by border bill
Divisions over a bill to address the crisis of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S. border delayed the House from leaving for its August recess — and left Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent frustrated with his colleagues.
The House on Thursday debated a measure that would have provided $659 million in emergency funding and sped up the deportation process for tens of thousands of children coming to the United States from Central America.
But as debate wrapped up, the chamber moved on to its next item of business instead of voting on the border bill.
Republican leaders were short of the votes needed to pass the measure. But their decision to nix the vote upset some lawmakers, including Dent.
In an interview Thursday before a closed-door Republican meeting on the issue, Dent said it was "terribly disappointing and infuriating" that Congress might leave for a five-week break without attempting to deal with the more than 57,000 unaccompanied children apprehended at the country's southern border .
"Why not allow the bill to come before the full membership ... and if it fails, let those who voted against it go home and explain themselves?" Dent asked. "Doing nothing is the worst of all possible worlds."
Dent described the bill as "carefully crafted." However, he said some in his party support the policy changes but oppose authorizing additional money to address the border crisis. Many Democrats, meanwhile, have supported more funding but disagree with the proposed policy changes, he added.
Without some sort of action, Dent said, children will keep coming and will continue to be placed with family members "who, in almost all cases, are also here unlawfully."
After revamping its bill, the House did approve the border measure Friday evening. But with the Senate unable to pass its version before leaving town, President Barack Obama said his administration will act alone to address the crisis.
Meet the stars of attack ads
The television ad wars between incumbent Gov. Tom Corbett and his Democratic opponent have started early and often this summer in the run up to the Nov. 4 election.
As evidenced by two commercials, it's clear both candidates have their sights set on the female vote.
In one of the Corbett campaign's anti-Wolf ads, "Hyper Tour," a woman walks through her kitchen and around a suburban neighborhood while ridiculing Wolf's record as Gov. Ed Rendell's revenue secretary and questions whether his company is paying its full share of Pennsylvania taxes.
A woman, sitting in the chair and blasting Corbett's education record, is the star of an anti-Corbett ad, funded by PA Families First, a special-interest group tied to the Democratic Governors Association and unions.
So ever ask yourself who they are?
The star of "Hyper Tour" is actress Jeanne Marshall, who is represented by the Talent Group, an agency serving Pittsburgh and Cleveland. According to her Talent Group profile, she is 5-foot-8, wears a size 9 shoe and has auburn red hair and hazel eyes.
The woman who stars in the PA Families First ad is Chris Durante Visco, owner of PJ's & Coffee, a Montgomery County marketing firm that specializes in social-media services, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. Her clients include Art Haywood, the Democratic nominee for the 4th District state Senate seat, the Daily News has reported.
Needless to say, both candidates refute the claims in the ads..
GOP state senators seek McCord's help
The state Senate's top two Republicans are asking Democratic state Treasurer Rob McCord to weigh in on the legality of some of GOP Gov. Tom Corbett's cuts to the Legislature.
On July 10, Corbett vetoed $72 million in legislative spending in a battle over pension changes lawmakers did not enact as part of the 2014-15 budget. Of that amount, $65 million came out of the House's and Senate's operations budget. Corbett axed an additional $7.2 million from special projects or earmarks that lawmakers had tucked into the fiscal code, which sets formulas for how tax money is spent.
The Legislature's Republican and Democratic leaders have been angry ever since and have threatened to sue, arguing that Corbett does not have the authority to cut spending in the fiscal, public school and welfare codes. If the governor can cut the fiscal code, the legislators argue, the executive branch usurps the Legislature's ability to appropriate money in budgets.
In a letter sent Wednesday, Senate President Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware, asked McCord to determine if Corbett is allowed to veto spending in the fiscal code.
Under the law, the state treasurer pays the state's bills. The letter asks McCord whether he would pay an expense for a fiscal code project such as "Heritage and other parks," which is earmarked at $2 million, if Corbett had cut that from the fiscal code.
If McCord says yes, the Legislature would have an end-around on Corbett's fiscal code cuts without the need for a lawsuit. If McCord says no, the Legislature may be one step closer to a lawsuit.
Jim Thorpe bridge to be named for local soldier
A new bridge over the Lehigh River in Jim Thorpe will be named for a 26-year-old local soldier who died in Iraq.
Army Sgt. Andrew J. Baddick drowned in September 2003 while trying to rescue another soldier whose vehicle plunged into a canal. The paratrooper grew up along the Lehigh River and often played along the river, according to a news release from state Rep. Doyle Heffley, R-Carbon.
"From the time my son was around 5 years old, he was on the water," his mother, Ann Adams, said in a statement. "He gave his life in the water. There is no better way to honor his service to our community and nation."
The bridge to be named for Baddick will replace the Jim Thorpe Memorial Bridge, which was built in 1953. It is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2017.