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Obama, Biden Rally DelVal Dems to Back Fetterman, Shapiro

If anyone doubted Pennsylvania is Ground Zero for the 2022 election, the events on the final Saturday before the midterm elections left no doubt. The current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and two previous tenants came to the state to campaign for their favored candidates for governor and senator.

Former President Trump was in Latrobe to rally with Republican senatorial candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz and gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama came to the Liacouras Center at Temple University to rally for Democrats John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro before a largely young crowd.

President Joe Biden

Like a clean-up hitter, Obama spoke last.

He urged the crowd to vote, lashed out at the Republicans, and bemoaned the 2014 midterms when Democrats lost the Senate.

“Midterms are always hard for which every party is in the White House, and typically midterms are tougher on Democrats. A lot of folks don’t pay attention to politics the way they do in a presidential year. In fact, maybe they don’t know Congress matters…Young people, especially, are less likely to vote in midterms, and that hurts Democrats. Young people tend to be more progressive. I can tell you from experience that midterms matter a lot. Some of you are too young (to know).

“When I was president, I was elected in the midst of a financial crisis. We did the right thing to get the economy back on track, but it was hard, and people were frustrated just like they are now. Sometimes it takes a while for things to settle down, so in 2010 we lost the House. And then, in 2014, even though now the economy was improving, we saw the lowest voting rate in modern history, and because of it, we lost the Senate.”

So, his agenda on guns, climate change, and immigration reform stalled, he said.

Former President Barack Obama

“Sometimes I like to imagine what it would have been like if enough people had turned out to vote in those elections,” said Obama. “If we had maintained control of the House and maintained control of the Senate.”

It was clear from the loud and sustained applause he garnered Obama is still a Democratic Party rock star.

Biden mentioned his childhood in Scranton and that First Lady Jill Biden is from Philadelphia.

He told the audience of several thousand they have the power to make “John Fetterman your next United States Senator and Josh Shapiro your next governor in three days.”

“Your right to choose is on the ballot, your right to vote is on the ballot, Social Security and Medicare are on the ballot. And something else is on the ballot. Character. Character is on the ballot. When I think of character, I think of John Fetterman…John Fetterman is Pennsylvania.”

“I lived in Pennsylvania longer than Oz has lived in Pennsylvania, and I moved away when I was 10 years old,” said Biden.

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman

“Courage is also on the ballot,” he said. “When I think of courage, I think of Josh Shapiro…He stood up for the people of this state, and he’s going to be a fantastic governor.”

Fetterman mentioned that he is recovering from a stroke and gave his standard stump speech, taking shots at Oz, eliciting boos from the crowd.

Oz “likes to pander,” said Fetterman.  “I want to get this off my chest. Wawa is so much better than Sheetz.”

He said Oz would be on a stage with Trump and Mastriano, but “we are 100 percent sedition free,” an allusion to the Jan. 6 riots. Earlier in the day, when Fetterman made that same statement in Pittsburgh, the wind blew down the American flags behind him.

Fetterman said that he would vote to “codify Roe v. Wade” and to be the 51st vote to end the filibuster and “fundamentally change America.”

He also promised to ban “assault weapons.”

Shapiro said if elected, he would increase spending on public school education and teachers’ pay, start an apprentice program for high school students and remove the requirement of a college degree for thousands of state government jobs.

He said he “dedicated himself to public service” for his four children. He worries about their climate, their safety, and that they have “fewer opportunities than the world I was blessed to be born into.”

He also cited his Jewish faith where no one is required to complete the task of improving the world but “neither are we free to refrain from it.”

Shapiro promised to make sure that every child “has a safe community to live in.”

Attorney General Josh Shapiro

Shapiro also spoke about abortion, saying Mastriano would take that freedom from women, while he promised to veto any bill that would restrict it. Mastriano has said that while he opposes abortion, as governor he does not have the power to ban it. That would be up to the legislature.

Shapiro called his opponent extreme. However, during the primary Shapiro funded commercials that boosted Mastriano’s primary campaign, a move made by Democratic candidates across the country to pick the opponents they believed were easiest to beat.

Shapiro also mentioned Mastriano went to Washington D.C. on Jan. 6 and “he plans to decertify voting machines…Probably the ones here in Philadelphia. Are we going to let him get away with that? That is not how our democracy works.”

“It’s not freedom to tell women what to do with their bodies,” said Shapiro. “It’s not freedom to tell children what books they’re allowed to read.”

Delaware Valley parents have been objecting to obscene books in public school libraries, such as “Gender Queer.” Mastriano has sided with those parents.

Earlier in the rally, lieutenant governor candidate state Rep. Austin Davis (D-McKeesport) spoke about being the son of a bus driver and hairdresser, the first in his family to go to college.

“I’m going to be the first Black lieutenant governor,” Davis said.

Gov. Tom Wolf also spoke about abortion and touted the state surplus that he will leave the next governor.

And Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) accused Republicans of being about “fear, smear, and divide.”  He urged the crowd to vote for Democrats.

“Let’s win in 2022,” Casey said.

DelVal Dems Cheer Biden Debt Bailout, GOP Calls It Unfair

Delaware Valley officials and candidates had mixed reactions to President Joe Biden’s plan to have taxpayers cover $300 billion of outstanding college debt for millions of borrowers. Under the proposal, the Biden administration would pay $10,000 to people earning $125,000 or couples earning $250,000. Borrowers who qualified for Pell Grants from households earning less than $125,000 will get $20,000.

According to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, new data show Biden’s debt forgiveness plan will cost taxpayers over $300 billion over 10 years, with the majority of relief benefitting the top 60 percent of income earners in the U.S.

And thanks to a provision in the Democrats’ American Rescue Plan last year, that income is tax-free.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) criticized the proposal as a “government handout” to the affluent.

“President Biden’s student loan bailout scheme is a government handout to Americans making up to $250,000 annually and the higher education industrial complex. Taxpayers will foot the bill for this massive expenditure, including the vast majority of Americans who already paid off their loans, paid for tuition out of pocket, or do not even have post-secondary education nor enjoy the higher lifetime earnings associated with it,” Toomey said.

“This decision will have wide-reaching, negative ramifications across America’s economy, including increasing already disastrous inflation, exacerbating America’s spending problems, and encouraging higher education institutions to raise the cost of going to college.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), however, is on board.

“Today, President Biden eased the burden for millions of Americans who are struggling under the weight of their student debt. This will give them the freedom to invest in their future, buy a home, or take a risk and start a business. It’s an important first step forward in helping borrowers saddled with student debt. Moving forward, we must work to lower the skyrocketing cost of college so that future students are able to get an education without signing up for a lifetime of debt.”

Casey noted that college costs have soared since 1980. “The total cost of both four-year public and four-year private college has nearly tripled, even after accounting for inflation.” But he didn’t explain how a taxpayer-funded debt holiday would bring prices down. Most analysts say the infusion of $300 billion in bailouts will likely send college costs higher for future students.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate running for Toomey’s seat tweeted, “Canceling student loans costs billions and is unfair to those who rightly paid off their debt. Instead of funding solutions like CTE or low-income education programs, Biden is caving to the radical left. Fetterman says he’s for the working class but this hurts them the most.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, did not respond to a request for comment. But he has previously stated his support for across-the-board college debt bailouts.

“If we can spend hundreds of BILLION$ to bail out Wall Street, we can take action to cancel student loan debt,” Fetterman tweeted.

Guy Ciarrocchi, the Republican running for Congress against Rep. Chrissy Houlahan in the 6th District, said, “Biden’s order ‘canceling’ student loan debt is probably illegal; and, it’s definitely horribly unfair. The $300 billion doesn’t go away: it simply transfers from those who freely took it on, to the rest of us. To buy votes and to appease the left-wing of his party, Biden just handed a tax bill to everyone else: those who didn’t go to college; graduated from the ‘school hard knocks’ or got through college by choosing a cheaper school and working hard to pay off their own debt.

“Biden’s appeasement and Houlahan’s 100 percent support are why I’m running to fix this mess,” said Ciarrocchi.

In a statement on Wednesday, Houlahan said she doesn’t support Biden’s approach. “Instead of blanket loan forgiveness, I would like to see lower student loan interest rates, additional Pell grants, and other mechanisms to make college more affordable.”

“I’ve already heard from countless concerned constituents about this proposal, and as our representative, I will continue to voice and act on those concerns down in Washington.”

Houlahan’s colleague Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) did not respond to a request for comment. But she did post a tweet Wednesday night declaring she’s “delighted with the president’s work. As a former professor, I saw how student loan debt was a barrier to students.”

And Dean has previously called on the Biden administration to pay off $50,000 in debts per student, a proposal with a price tag of about $1 trillion.

Her Republican opponent, Christian Nascimento, said the proposal is unfair.

“Biden can state that there is ‘plenty of deficit reduction to pay for this,’ all he wants. But the reality is that this plan shifts the burden of paying debt from the people that agreed to the loans to people that did not, and will further divide the country.

“Why are we forcing this on people that paid off their student loans or never even went to college?” Nascimento asked. “We continue to see this administration and the rubber stamp Congress add to government spending and exacerbate inflation – at the very time when the American people can least afford it.”

Republican David Galluch, a candidate for Congress in the 5th District, said, “Student debt cancellation will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. It will add up to a quarter point to inflation. It won’t address the long-term causes of the runaway cost of tuition. It won’t benefit the 87 percent of American people who have no college debt. Those who stand to gain are those who are already relatively wealthier and better off than the vast majority of Americans.

“If you’re a single mom waiting tables in Southwest Philadelphia, a union laborer at the refinery in Trainer, or anyone else who didn’t go to college struggling to get by, this policy puts you last. President Biden and Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon might not hear you. But I do. I’m fighting to put you first once again.”

The Pennsylvania Senate Republican Campaign Committee released a statement in response to President Biden’s plan.

“The Democrat Party can’t be truly serious about tackling inflation while supporting this regressive loan forgiveness plan,” PA SRCC Communications Director Michael Straw stated. “While middle- and lower-class Pennsylvanians are struggling with soaring costs, high gas prices, and a recession, Joe Biden is exacerbating the problem with these radical policies. Worse yet, Biden is saddling the cost burden of eliminating loans on the two-thirds of Pennsylvanians who didn’t go to college. Joe Biden and the Democrat Party turned their back on the working class long ago, and today’s announcement is just further evidence of that fact.”

Pennsylvania Treasurer Stacy Garrity has also crunched the numbers and referred to the Wharton data.

“By any objective measure, that’s massive government spending. Americans are still facing runaway inflation that’s higher than it’s been in decades – and this kind of spending will help keep inflation high,” said Garrity.

“There are more targeted, effective ways to address student debt, such as providing relief to people working in critical jobs, such as first responders and healthcare workers, if they work in that field for some number of years. Another option would be to provide refinancing at discounted rates.

“Here in Pennsylvania, families can save for post-secondary education – including colleges and trade schools – with the PA 529 College and Career Savings Program. Over the past 18 months, we’ve taken big steps to make the program work better for everyone, including cutting fees and removing the minimum deposit to open an account. PA 529 accounts also have big tax benefits,” Garrity said.

 

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PA Pols Say Climate Bill Will Cut Energy Costs. Experts Say ‘No’

Most Americans know the “Inflation Reduction Act” President Joe Biden signed will have little impact on inflation. CBS News ran the headline, “One thing the Inflation Reduction Act may not do: Lower inflation” even before the bill had been signed.

And a new Morning Consult poll found just 15 percent of independent voters believe the legislation will live up to its name.

Which may explain why Democrats have suddenly shifted their language about the legislation to a “climate” bill, touting savings on energy costs it will bring American consumers. But will this new measure, with its $739 billion price tag, actually lower the cost of electricity, heating oil, or gas?

Sen. Bob Casey says yes. “This bill is going to lower… energy costs for American families while creating clean energy manufacturing jobs and tackling the climate crisis.”

Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa) agrees. The Inflation Reduction Act will “lower energy costs, saving Pennsylvania families an average of $1000 per year on their energy bills.”

(Interestingly, the same study Scanlon cites also says these savings won’t arrive until 2030, and just $16 to $125 of that $1,000 will come from the new law.)

While the League of Conservation Voters may be right that the Inflation Reduction Act “is the largest investment ever to fight the climate crisis,” relatively little of the $369 billion in climate spending will lower energy costs in the short term.

That is because, energy experts say, the spending is mostly in the form of tax breaks on money businesses spend building green energy production or switching to green energy sources. Some of the money also goes to homeowners and residential customers; but once again, only after they spend their own money weatherproofing their homes, switching to heat pumps, or buying electric vehicles.

In other words, there are no savings until ratepayers do some spending.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester) acknowledged that fact earlier this week. “The Inflation Reduction Act lowers energy costs for families by providing rebates and tax credits to make homes and vehicles more energy efficient.” [emphasis added].

The largest share of the money goes “to subsidize supply, specifically for low-carbon and zero-carbon energy sources,” said Nick Loris of the Conservative Coalition for Climate Solutions (C3 Solutions). “All else being equal, increased supply will lower prices. But for that to happen, the energy sector needs the ability to build the necessary infrastructure in a timely fashion.”

Without the necessary regulatory modernizations, Loris says policymakers are failing to address the systemic problem that has frustrated investors and energy producers across the board.

“That’s particularly true in places like the northeast where heating oil has doubled in price since last year, but regulatory bottlenecks and NIMBYism has blocked the infrastructure for cost-effective alternatives,” Loris said. “Secondly, it’s important to remember that this isn’t $369 billion isn’t free money. Americans will have to pay for subsidies through more borrowing or higher taxes.”

However, if they spend part of that money buying new energy-efficient washing machines or heat pumps, won’t that reduce demand and, over time, lower prices? Not according to Kenny Stein, policy director for the Institute for Energy Research, a free-market think tank.

“For the heat pump or appliance example, the alleged cost savings are based on modeling that says renewables make electricity cheaper, therefore a new heat pump will save money,” Stein says. “But if renewables increase electricity prices (which they tend to do), then the modeled savings vanish.”

Why would renewables increase electric rates? Because moving large numbers of businesses and households from heating oil or natural gas to electricity (not to mention electric vehicles) means a massive increase in demand.

“Another wrinkle to the modeling is that supporters of the new law count improved efficiency from a new, greener appliance as savings. It’s true that a brand new heat pump is likely to run more efficiently than a 30-year-old furnace. But a brand new furnace would also run more efficiently. So a lot of the ‘heat pump efficiency’ savings are actually just ‘new appliance efficiency’ savings,” Stein said.

That may sound like common sense to some, but Anthony Watts of the Heartland Institute said many policy markers lack a basic understanding of basic math, physics, engineering, etc.

“Our electric grid was built by engineers, not by politicians,” says Watts, a senior fellow for environment and climate at Heartland. “These politicians are pushing a green agenda, insisting ‘this will be better, it will be cheaper, it will be economically feasible, it will save people money.’ They may or may not be sincere, but they are completely ignorant of the scientific reality behind these things.”

In the coming years, Watts predicted legislators who support the Inflation Reduction Act will try to fix its failures by making a push to nationalize energy.

“They will claim the government could manage it better and we’re not going to be hit with all these price increases, but it’s not going to be helpful,” said Watts. “Government can’t do anything better than private industry.”

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Toomey Defends Opposition to $400B Democrat ‘Slush Fund’ in Veterans’ Legislation

Comedian-turned-progressive-activist Jon Stewart launched a profanity-laced tirade against Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and other Republicans over a healthcare bill that would provide care for veterans exposed to toxic fumes from burn pits.

“The Senate’s where accountability goes to die,” Stewart said. “These people don’t care. They’re never losing their jobs. They’re never losing their healthcare. Pat Toomey didn’t lose his job. He’s walking away. God knows what kind of pot of gold he’s stepping into to lobby this government to s**t on more people.”

But is that the real story?

No, says Toomey, who has repeatedly said he wants to support the PACT Act, but objects to Democrats using the legislation to create a $400 billion expense that would continue past the needs of the veterans it is designed to address.

“The PACT Act as written includes a budget gimmick that would allow $400 billion of current law spending to be moved from the discretionary to the mandatory spending category. This provision is completely unnecessary to achieve the PACT Act’s stated goal of expanding health care and other benefits for veterans,” Toomey said in a statement.

On July 11, Toomey said on the Senate floor the existing law requires the Veterans Administration to spend about $400 billion over the next 10 years on healthcare for veterans exposed to toxins during their service. The bill includes $280 billion in new spending. The $400 billion is discretionary spending, which has a cap.

The new legislation would put the $280 billion into the mandatory spending column, where it could live long after the veterans are cared for.

“What’s really outrageous is they take the $400 billion out of discretionary spending to mandatory spending,” Toomey said. “Why would they do that?”

“That way you create a big gaping hole in the discretionary spending category,” he said. “Which can be filled with another $400 billion of totally unrelated spending. Who knows on what?”

“We’ve got inflation that hitting a 40-year high. We’ve got a government that’s been spending billions of dollars, printing the money to spend, and everybody sees it every day, at the pump, at the grocery store, everywhere. And what this gimmick does is, it makes it possible to spend yet another $400 billion.”

Stewart remained unappeased.

“Patriot Pat Toomey stood on the floor and said, ‘This is a slush fund,’” said Stewart. “‘They’re gonna use $400 billion to spend on whatever they want.’ That’s nonsense. I call bulls**t. This isn’t a slush fund.”

Now Pennsylvania’s other Sen. Bob Casey, a Democrat, is also getting into the fray.

“This bill is essential to meet our obligations to fulfill our promise to them. These veterans already fulfilled their promise. They served their country in a war zone,” Casey said. “They could have been killed by combat fire. But even If they weren’t killed by combat fire they’re exposed to burn pits. We’ve got to provide them healthcare. If we don’t do this, what kind of a country are we?

“Who do we claim to be if we’re not going to do this? There are 14 members of the Senate who are against this. They’re holding up the bill because they don’t want to spend this money. It’s as simple as that.

“All we’ve got to do in the Senate is put our hand up. And say ‘yes.’ That’s pretty damn easy. Put your damn hand up,” Casey added.

Toomey’s spokesperson noted to Delaware Valley Journal, “This wasn’t even in the House committee version. This gimmick would allow for an additional $400 billion in future discretionary spending completely unrelated to veterans over the next 10 years.

“Sen. Toomey’s technical fix does not reduce spending on veterans by even $1 or affect the expansion of care and benefits in the underlying bill. All Sen. Toomey has asked for is that the legislation to spend $280 billion on an expansion of veterans benefits, all classified as mandatory and un-offset, does not also include a transfer of current law (non-PACT Act) spending to mandatory that would enable $400 billion of spending on things completely unrelated to veterans.”

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Toomey’s Silent on Mastriano, On Board With Dr. Oz

Although Dr. Mehmet Oz won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate candidacy in May, the current senator, Pat Toomey, just endorsed him this week.

Toomey, a thoughtful politician, and quintessential Pennsylvania Republican moderate, is retiring at the end of this term.

“Dr. Oz is a strong Republican candidate whose platform includes fixing our economic woes, restoring America’s energy independence, and stopping illegal immigration,” Toomey said Wednesday. “I support his candidacy and look forward to being helpful to him in the upcoming election.”

Naturally, the Oz campaign embraced the sitting senator’s support.

“Dr. Oz welcomes and appreciates Sen. Toomey’s support,” said Brittany Yanick, a campaign spokeswoman.

But whether the endorsement makes a difference remains to be seen.

“I don’t think it’s that impactful,” said Jeff Jubelirer, a vice president with Bellevue Communications Group. “Toomey, as a lame duck senator as well as one of the few Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, is not as well-liked by the GOP electorate in Pennsylvania as he once was. It would have been a surprise if he didn’t endorse Oz and it may be a bigger deal if he decides not to endorse Mastriano.”

Toomey had no comment on Wednesday regarding state Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican running for governor.

“We are seeing a further consolidation of the Republican Party after a bruising primary in the Pennsylvania Senate race,” said Charlie O’Neill, a Republican consultant.  “I anticipate many more Republicans – and some Democrats – will continue to support Dr. Oz through endorsements and campaign contributions.”

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, Oz’s Democratic opponent, was endorsed by Democratic Sen. Bob Casey Jr. on May 17 after he won his primary.

“Tonight, I’m proud to endorse my friend, Lt. Governor John Fetterman, to represent Pennsylvania alongside me in the U.S. Senate. Among a talented, experienced field of candidates, Pennsylvania Democrats chose John to help defend and expand the Senate majority,” Casey wrote on Twitter.

Republicans are hoping Toomey’s endorsement gives Oz a much-needed boost. The celebrity doctor has fallen behind Fetterman in fundraising and is also lagging in the polls.

The Inquirer reports  Fetterman raised $8.3 million in the 44 days from the primary to June 30, a record for U.S. Senate candidates. And he did it while suffering the effects of a stroke suffered days before the primary.

Despite that, Fetterman took in $8.3 million in the 44 days from the primary to June 30—more than the state’s incumbent senators have ever raised in an entire three-month reporting period. It was more than triple what he raised in a similar time frame leading up to the primary.

Oz has already spent more than $14 million of his own money. His campaign says he has been traveling around the state engaging in retail politics.

 

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Local Officials React to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy’s Speech to Congress

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky used both his talents as a video performer — along with an actual video — to make a powerful case for America to do more to help his war-torn nation fight off its Russian invaders. And while most of his remarks were delivered in Ukrainian, he used language that resonated with average Americans.

“Remember Pearl Harbor, terrible morning of Dec. 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it,” Zelensky said. “Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities, independent territories, in battlefields, when innocent people were attacked, attacked from air.

“Our country experiences the same every day.”

Zelensky also mentioned Mount Rushmore, America’s sacrifices on behalf of democracy abroad, and even the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I have a need. I need to protect our sky. I need your decision, your help, which means exactly the same, the same you feel when you hear the words, ‘I have a dream.'”

Wednesday afternoon President Joe Biden signed a bill to send $800 million worth of military equipment and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, saying, “We’re going to continue to have their backs.” However, Biden did not act on Zelenskyy’s request for a no-fly zone.

Local legislators reacted with alacrity.

“This morning, President Zelenskyy delivered a powerful and sobering address not only to the U.S. Congress but also to all Americans who value peace and democracy around the world,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Chester/Berks). “Many lines struck me, but he pierced the entire room when he said: ‘I see no sense in life, if I cannot stop the deaths,’ referring to all of the innocent children who have died. He also asked us to ‘do more.’ We must all ask ourselves how long we can delay providing the aircraft and weapon systems Ukrainians have asked for and need to defend their sovereign nation. I say we cannot delay one moment longer. In this historic moment, we must stand up for freedom and democracy around the world.”

Houlahan, however, does not support American boots on the ground or the imposition of a no-fly zone.

Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-Delaware) issued the following statement after Zelenskyy spoke: “This morning, President Zelenskyy reminded us: ‘Ukraine is not fighting just for Ukraine.’ His nation’s battle is a pivotal fight for freedom and democracy, not just in Ukraine but around the world. We must remain clear-eyed about the fact that a tyrant like Vladimir Putin will continue his quest for power until he is stopped. I am incredibly grateful to President Zelenskyy for speaking candidly with me and my colleagues about the situation on the ground in Ukraine during this dark time for his country and the world.

“I stand in awe of the courage and passion displayed by President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people as they fight to defend their homeland and democracy from Putin’s unprovoked, illegal war. Their resolve in the face of Putin’s evil acts will go down in history.

“This morning, President Zelenskyy called for more humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine, as well as increased economic pressure on Russia, and I expect the United States will respond to that call. The U.S. Congress and Biden administration are united in our determination to provide every feasible measure of humanitarian and military aid possible to the Ukrainian people until Putin ceases his unlawful attack on this sovereign nation. I believe it is crucial for the U.S. to rely upon advice from our military and foreign policy experts as we determine the best course to further support Ukraine.”

Likewise, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) favors more aid for war-ravaged Ukraine.

“President Zelenskyy’s address before Congress today was incredibly powerful and moving. What the world is witnessing is a modern-day Winston Churchill laying down his life for his country and honorably leading his people through a brutal and senseless war in defense of independence, peace, and democracy. President Zelenskyy undoubtedly exemplifies everything a leader should be and has continued to inspire the entire world.

“Equally, the United States must meet this moment with strength, unity, and leadership and immediately fulfill the requests of President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people. I continue to call on the Administration to deliver additional humanitarian aid and critical lethal defensive equipment to Ukraine, specifically military aircraft and air defense systems, so the Ukrainians can defend their skies.

“This should include approving the transfer of Polish MiG-29 fighter jets to Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO must continue to do everything in our power to firmly stand behind the people of Ukraine by supporting a humanitarian no-fly zone to give Ukrainians a fighting chance to save their innocent civilians. It is no secret that weakness invites aggression. Now is the time to send a message to murderous war criminal Vladimir Putin regarding what the United States intends to do to back our ally and friend Ukraine, rather than telling our enemy what we won’t do.”

And Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said, “President Zelenskyy and the Ukrainian people’s bravery and resolve has shown the world that Ukraine will do everything they can to stand up to Putin. But today, President Zelenskyy once again made clear that the Ukrainian people need our help, including by ensuring ‘the Russians do not receive a single penny’ to fund the killing of Ukrainians.

“America can lead the rest of the world in answering Zelenskyy’s call by imposing secondary sanctions on the entirety of Russia’s financial sector. These sanctions would effectively prohibit foreign banks anywhere in the world, under the threat of U.S. sanctions, from making payments to Russian banks, including for oil and gas. Stopping these funds from flowing to Putin’s war machine is a critical lifeline for the Ukrainian people.

“The American people stand with Ukraine, and we must help them as they heroically fight for their lives,” said Toomey.

Congresswoman Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) tweeted this: “President Zelenskyy’s address to Congress this morning was deeply moving and very clear about what Ukraine needs.

We must do all we can to support Ukrainians in the fight to protect their democracy. Slava Ukraini.”

Sen. Bob Casey also sent a tweet: “I just watched @ZelenskyyUa’s address to Congress. He spoke clearly and eloquently about Putin’s brutality and outlined the support he needs from the world. The United States stands by the Ukrainian people and we will work with our allies to support their needs.”

 

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COVID Relief Checks Go to Cop-Killer Mumia, Boston Marathon Bomber

Convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal received a $1,400 taxpayer-funded check thanks to President Joe Biden’s COVID relief bill, Delaware Valley Journal has learned.

State corrections officials confirmed the payment to Abu-Jamal, the former WHYY radio journalist who was convicted of the 1981 killing of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.

He’s among the most high-profile prisoners in the Keystone State to receive a payout, much to the chagrin of those who have opposed his release over the years.

George Bochetto, an attorney for Faulkner’s widow Maureen, told DVJournal the payments to convicted felons like Abu-Jamal are “insanity.” He called out Sen. Bob Casey (D) for casting the vote that killed an amendment that would have nixed the payouts to incarcerated felons like Abu-Jamal.

During the debate over the American Rescue Plan Act — Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID bill passed on a straight party-line vote — a GOP-backed amendment denying COVID dollars to criminals in prison was defeated in a 49-50 vote. Republican Sen. Pat Toomey voted for the amendment, while Casey and the entire Democratic caucus voted against it. A single Democrat’s “yes” vote would have moved the ban forward.

Neither senator responded to repeated requests for comment.

“Whoever authorized the mailings of those checks out should be shot,” said Bochetto, who recently announced he was joining a crowded field of GOP candidates seeking to replace the retiring Toomey. “To send murderers $1,400 in prison is both a complete utter and waste of money, and it sends the absolute wrong message.”

The 2021 relief checks to prisoners became a national story last week when news broke that Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had received a payment. Federal prosecutors have asked a judge to allow them to seize the funds as restitution to victims of the 2013 terrorist attack. The judge had yet to rule as of Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Bochetto said he expects Faulker’s widow to be “outraged” when informed her husband’s killer had received a government handout.

“What’s he supposed to buy – a color TV set for his cell?” Bochetto said. “Why should he be doing it at my expense?”

Opponents of the Biden relief bill argued at the time it was too big and spent too much money on non-COVID-related items. Popular at the time it passed, the massive spending bill is now being blamed for contributing to the inflation currently plaguing the economy. Even Biden has acknowledged his spending plan is part of the problem.

But money going to terrorist bombers and convicted cop killers is, for some, beyond the pale.

“On what planet could someone justify sending a taxpayer-funded check to the man who killed and wounded hundreds of Americans in a terrorist attack?” demanded the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a statement.

Abu-Jamal has been described by The New York Times as “perhaps the world’s best-known death-row inmate,’” and his case has become a cause celebre among progressives and social-justice activists. While some claim he’s wrongly convicted, his conviction has been upheld by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the Third Circuit Court, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Abu-Jamal’s death sentence, however, was vacated by the District Court in 2001 over questions about jury instructions during the sentencing phase.

“I think that Toomey got it right, and I think Casey got it totally wrong,” Bochetto said about the vote on the payments. “It’s an insult to every taxpayer. I don’t want my taxes going to cop killers sitting in prison.”

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