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TOOMEY: Farewell To The Senate (Part One)

Editor’s note: These are the farewell remarks to the Senate from Sen. Pat Toomey (Pa.-R), who is retiring from the U.S. Senate after serving for 12 years.  

Madam President, I rise for the customary farewell address. I would like to begin by thanking our colleague and our leader, Mitch McConnell, for his very, very kind words. I appreciate that, Leader McConnell. I would also like to say that I appreciate the confidence you have repeatedly placed in me. Your recollections have brought back many memories.

One was the (deficit reduction) super-committee. I served on the super-committee, but what most of you probably don’t know is that Leader McConnell had great reservations about putting me on the super-committee. Oh, yes, he grilled me for what seemed like hours over several occasions.

Here is why: He grilled me because he wanted an outcome. And his concern was, will this be firebrand from the Club for Growth be willing to compromise, be willing to reach an agreement that couldn’t possibly be exactly what he wanted?

What was most important—as I recall from our conversations—to Leader McConnell was that the people on that supercommittee, at least the ones that he could appoint, be interested in a successful outcome?

I would suggest that one of the things that is underappreciated about Leader McConnell is how relentlessly focused he is on outcomes. It is hard to know because he doesn’t tell us that much about what he is thinking, if you haven’t noticed, but I am pretty sure that that is a big driver.

So, Leader McConnell, I appreciate your leadership. I appreciate the confidence you placed in me. I appreciate our friendship and terrific working relationship.

For the many thanks that I have to give, I will start with my family. Starting with my parents, they did a great job raising six kids, I will tell you that much. I have to really stress my gratitudefor my wife Kris. Most of you probably don’t know, but Kris had a very successful and promising career as a consultant, which she put aside so that I could pursue mine. So, in many ways, I think she had a tougher job because she was home raising three kids. And she has done a phenomenal job of that.

Last month, we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary, and I think I will spend the next 25 years letting her know how much I appreciate her. Our kids are here. Bridget is 22; Patrick is 21; and Duncan is 121⁄2.

You know, growing up in a political family has its disadvantages. You would be surprised to learn, but it seems like about every 6 years or so people ran some really nasty ads about me on television. They did. The kids see ads, obviously. Also, I missed more of their activities than I would have liked to because I had to be here, but they were always terrifically understanding about that. I am sure looking forward to spending more time with each of them.

For those of us who serve on this body, we all know that staffs are the unsung heroes of our successes. I have been luckier than anybody deserves to be with the teams that I have had working for me over the years—18 years in public office over a 24-year pe- riod; 6 in the House and 12 in the Senate. I have just had wonderful, wonderful folks—mostly younger people, as weknow our staffs tend to be, but just terrifically capable, hard-working, bright people.

My State staff, for instance—Leader McConnell was kind enough to point out—the reputation that we had. I don’t deserve the credit for that. They are the ones who worked so hard on behalf of our constituents.

From Philly to Erie and the other 65 counties and enumerable little boroughs and townships, every day they approached constituent service with enthusiasm and professionalism that was amazing. I mean, little boroughs requesting federal grants and businesses struggling with federal bureaucracies and regulations, veterans stymied by the VA or the Social Security Administration—it didn’t matter what it was, my staff was on the ball getting the job done and doing it with a great attitude.

My personal office here in DC, both when I was in the House and in the Senate, also are just terrific, terrific people.

You know, I represent a very big state that is relatively close to DC so we have a huge number of constituents who want to come down and make their case, as they should. Most of those meetings end up getting taken by our staff, as you know. They have just done such a great job.

Our leg and comms shops are always working so hard to get the policy exactly right and get our message right; the administrative staff that kept things running smoothly so I never had to worry about anything.

I have to say a special thanks to the Banking Committee staff. I have been on the Banking Committee since I got here, but only the last 2 years have I been the ranking member on the committee. I honestly think we accomplished about as much as you can when you are in the minority, and so much of it is because it is a great team.

We focused on all the areas of jurisdiction of the committee: financial services, monetary policy, housing, transit. We did a lot of important work on the nominees to important regulatory posts. I think we did a good job of providing the oversight of powerful regulators, including encouraging them to stay in their lanes. I will always be grateful to them.

By the way, many of them are still here, and they will be here to the bitter end. We are still processing requests for the omni.

I have got to say a big thanks to the campaign teams that I have had over the years. You know, my first House primary was a very improbable success.

I know most of you are thinking any election that I won was an improbable success. I get that. But I can tell you for sure, it wouldn’t have happened without a terrifically talented and dedicated campaign staff, some of whom became part of the official staff, others have chosen to stay on the political side.

As for all of you guys, my colleagues, I have teamed up with every Republican at some point over the years, and most of my Democratic colleagues also at one time or another, and it has been a real honor and it has been a privilege to work with each of you. You folks have been terrific allies, even when it is on an item that is a rare item of agreement.

Speaking of which, let me say a word about my colleague Bob Casey. You know, I don’t think you could ask for a more collegial, thoughtful colleague than the fellow that shares the senatorial responsibilities with me for Pennsylvania. The fact is, we canceled each other’s vote out almost every time—that is a true fact—but we have also worked together when we could.

One of the areas where we had just tremendous success is filling vacancies on the federal bench in Pennsylvania.

In fact, Senator Casey, and according to the last count that I have, you and I working together these last 12 years got 33 federal judges confirmed to the bench in Pennsylvania.

Now, that happens because we have great staff work happening; we have volunteers who do a wonderful job of vetting candidates across our commonwealth; but it also happens because Bob and I wanted to get this job done so that the people of Pennsylvania could have justice. And I think that only two—only New York and California have had more judges confirmed in this time.

So, Senator Casey, I appreciate the great working relationship we have had.

Toomey Warns Biden Admin. Pursuing ‘Solyndra’ Policy on Green Energy

As green energy advocates poured into Pennsylvania for a green energy summit in Pittsburgh, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was warning Keystone State businesses and homeowners: Prepare to get “Solyndra’d.”

An estimated 6,000 people rallied with President Biden’s energy secretary, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, on Wednesday, cheering her on at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh as she urged them to “Push, push, push to deploy, deploy, deploy” green energy technology. Granholm was in town to kick off the Global Clean Energy Action Forum and promote the Biden administration’s policy of pursuing net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, who serves as Biden’s special envoy for climate, are also participating in the forum, which concludes on Friday.

Asked about the 2050 goal on a press call Wednesday, Toomey said, “It’s not a meaningful goal because they have no strategy for how we’re actually going to get there.”

Toomey said technology and innovation, not government regulation, are the path to lower carbon emissions, and he pointed to the fracking revolution as an example.

“We’ve replaced coal-fired electric power generation with natural gas-fired electric power generation, and that brought a drastic reduction in CO2,” Toomey explained. “You would think that the administration would be very pleased with that and would encourage more of that. But instead, they take this absurd notion that they have to be hostile to all fossil fuels.”

And if innovation is the solution, Toomey suggested, then government is likely to be part of the problem.

“I guarantee you the government isn’t going to figure out the technology,” Toomey said. “And the government sending out checks to politically favored companies isn’t going to get us there, any more than Solyndra did. That was a complete debacle by a previous administration.”

President Barack Obama gave $535 million in federal loan guarantees to Solyndra, a solar-panel manufacturer backed by a major Democratic donor. The company collapsed into bankruptcy not long after amid evidence the Obama administration bent the rules to approve the deal. 

In the green energy and healthcare spending bill known as the Inflation Reduction Act, Congress voted to spend a total of $362 billion in green energy subsidies, or more than 670 Solyndras.

And, Toomey added, the net impact of that spending will be negligible.

“Another thing that’s so ironic about [the Inflation Reduction Act] is it’s pitched as President Biden’s momentous and unprecedented climate bill. And the fact of the matter is, it’s going to do nothing for the climate,” Toomey said. “Don’t take my word for it. The UN uses the IPCC climate models, the gold standard for determining the effect policies will have on our climate. And if you use that model, and assume that everything Democrats passed with great fanfare is implemented as intended, the effect on the Earth’s surface temperature is less than three one-hundredths of one degree Fahrenheit seventy years from now.

“That’s essentially zero.”

In 2020, renewable energy sources generated about four percent of Pennsylvania’s electricity, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. One proposal being pushed at the Pittsburgh forum is accelerating the use of electric vehicles. As of the end of 2021, there were fewer than 27,000 EVs registered in the entire state.

“I noticed that California’s increasingly forcing people in the direction of buying electric vehicles at the very same time they’re saying ‘Oh, by the way — you can’t charge them at night because we don’t have enough electricity on the grid,'” Toomey said.

“The gross incompetence and mismanagement of this are shocking.”

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DelVal Pols Debate Impact of Latest Inflation Hike

When news broke that the Consumer Price Index hit a higher than expected year-over-year 8.3 percent rate, the stock market tanked. That was not good news for an incumbent president and his party just weeks before the midterm election.

Even worse, the cost of groceries “rose 13.5 percent over the last 12 months, the largest 12-month increase since the period ending March 1979,” according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “The indexes for shelter, medical care, household furnishings and operations, new vehicles, motor vehicle insurance, and education were among those that increased over the month.”

President Joe Biden amplified the Democrats’ angst by hosting a White House Rose Garden celebration of the $739 billion so-called Inflation Reduction Act the same day the report hit. The celebration featured claims of fiscal success and a song by 1970s singer James Taylor.

Meanwhile, the Penn Wharton Budget Model found the legislation’s impact on inflation would be “statistically indistinguishable from zero.”

So, how are Delaware Valley elected officials and their midterm opponents reacting to the latest inflation news?

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) noted the Biden administration’s positive talk about inflation being under control missed the mark.

“The ‘consensus’ was wrong. Today’s inflation report shows what American families knew to be true: prices are still rising,” Toomey tweeted. “Americans are paying significantly more for essentials than they were one year ago: 13.5 percent more for groceries, 6.2 percent more in rent, 23.8 percent more for energy.”

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz said, “Pennsylvanians are getting slammed by higher and higher prices everywhere they turn as the inflation rate continues to tick up. There will be no relief in sight as long as we continue electing tax and spend Democrats like Joe Biden and John Fetterman. My opponent, John Fetterman, would only make this worse by funding radical ideas like the Green New Deal while raising taxes on the middle class.”

Fetterman did not respond to a request for comment about the new inflation report.

His fellow Democrat, Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Delaware/Philadelphia), attended the White House legislative victory party, tweeting from the scene: “The #InflationReductionAct is a major victory for America’s families and for our planet–advancing the people’s interest over the special interest. Great to mark its historic passage at the White House with my friend @RepDean!”

Scanlon’s GOP opponent David Galluch did not see it that way.

“I grew up with a single mom who sacrificed to make ends meet. The current leadership in D.C. is refusing to provide real solutions at the expense of families like the one I grew up in,” Galluch said.

“While working families continue to be squeezed by inflation, President Biden and Congresswoman Scanlon take a victory lap for passing the ‘Inflation Reduction Act,’ a bill that did not lower inflation or provide ‘immediate relief,'” he added.

Another DelVal Democrat facing a GOP challenger in Congress, Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, has publicly complained about the Biden administration’s poor handling of inflation. She responded to the bad news by taking to Facebook and reminding voters she has her own plan.

“A little while back, I asked Dr. Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, to join me for a telephone town hall to talk about the root causes of inflation and what we can expect in the coming months,” Houlahan wrote. “We discussed the global shockwave of the pandemic and its lasting impact on our global supply chains. As one of the few members in Congress with a background in supply chain management, I used that experience to create my Inflation Action Plan.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, the former CEO of the Chester County Chamber who is challenging Houlahan, was unimpressed. “Inflation is the number one issue to everyone. Well, it’s the number one issue to every not named Biden or Houlahan.

“Biden and Houlahan created this mess with wasteful spending and forcing us to import energy from our enemies.  I campaign every day to offer hope, to change this—and will work even harder in Congress to use common sense to fix their mess that is crushing our family budgets.”

Houlahan posted this message on Facebook: “Yesterday’s inflation report is a reminder that inflation doesn’t go away overnight, and it also confirms what we have been feeling at home—price relief is not where it needs to be, and that’s making things harder for Pennsylvanians.

The report showed that even though gas and energy prices continue to come down, those cost savings were offset by other sectors including medical care.

Christian Nascimento, the Republican running against Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Montgomery) said, “If we needed any reminding about the challenges our economy is facing, August’s 8.3 percent CPI increase has confirmed one thing: the Democrats’ policies are not working.

“Whether it is increased taxes, increased spending, increased hiring at the IRS, or the redistribution of student debt, Joe Biden’s policies are harming the economy, and Madeleine Dean and congressional Democrats that vote 100 percent of the time with the president are enabling this damage,” Nascimento said.

A frequent criticism of the inflation legislation is that it is actually a green energy and health care spending plan, not a strategy to cool an overheated economy. Dean appeared to confirm that view.

“Grateful to be with my brother and my son as we celebrate the Inflation Reduction Act at the White House,” she posed on Facebook. “This legislation will make our largest-ever investment in climate action; lower prescription costs, including capping Medicare insulin at $35; ensure the biggest corporations pay their fair share; and reduce our nation’s deficit.

“For our families. For our planet. For our future.”

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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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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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PA Sen. Toomey Discusses Bipartisan Gun Control Bill Passed by Senate

Just hours before a historic bipartisan gun control law passed in the U.S. Senate—with the support of 15 Republicans–Sen. Pat Toomey shared his thoughts with reporters in a conference call Thursday.

The bill, crafted quickly by a bipartisan committee of senators in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, N.Y., and at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, is a compromise, said Toomey (R-Pa.).

“For over a decade now, (Sen.) Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and I have been working with Republicans and Democrats to try to find ways to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and dangerously mentally ill people who are not supposed to have them,” Toomey explained. “I think this step that we’re taking this week when we pass this bipartisan Safer Communities Act will take us in a significant step in furthering that goal. It’s not exactly the same thing as Manchin-Toomey, that’s certainly true. But there’s a lot of common sense and there’s a sensible approach.

“First the area I have focused on is background checks and it will strengthen the background check system, especially for young adults,” said Toomey. “It will also provide federal assistance for state crisis intervention programs.

“And that will help to address mental health, drug, veteran’s courts, or extreme risk protection orders,” he said. “There are enhanced penalties for gun trafficking and straw purchases and it’ll provide codification of what constitutes sellers of firearms being engaged in the business of selling. And that invokes the obligation to be a federal firearms dealer and requires the seller to conduct background checks.

Toomey added, “I believe it will make our communities somewhat safer. And it will certainly protect the Second Amendment right of law-abiding Americans. It’s always important to me that Second Amendment rights not be infringed.”

“You have to calibrate expectations,” Toomey said. “And strive for what is doable, what can be accomplished. Sen. Manchin and I worked on expanding background checks for a long time.”

While the legislation does not require a background check on all gun sales, it will likely expand them because more gun sellers will be required to register as Federal Firearms License (FFL) dealers.

Also, criminal history and mental health adjudications for juveniles will now be part of background checks for those gun buyers under 21.

The bill cleared the Senate 65-33 and passed the House  234-193 Friday afternoon, with 14 Republicans voting with all Democrats to support it.

House GOP Whip Rep. Steve Scalise worked against the bill’s passage in the House.

Scalise (R-La.) called it “an effort to slowly chip away at law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights, this legislation takes the wrong approach in attempting to curb violent crimes.” Scalise was a victim of gun violence when a Bernie Sanders supporter began shooting at a congressional Republican baseball practice in June 2017.

Delaware Valley Journal asked Toomey about Scalise’s critique.

“Congressman Scalise and I just disagree on this. I don’t see anything in this legislation that infringes on Second Amendment rights. Just as a background check itself does not infringe on Second Amendment rights. And very conservative, pro-Second Amendment Supreme Court justices have explained why a background check does not infringe on Second Amendment rights. So look, we just disagree. There’s going to be a significant bipartisan vote in favor of this legislation in the Senate and I am confident the House will follow suit,” Toomey said.

Toomey was also asked about opposition from the National Rifle Association.“I don’t know what the NRA is objecting to,” Toomey said. In 1999 the NRA “totally supported expanding background checks, then they decided they were no longer in favor of expanding background checks. I don’t know what their rationale is.”

Also, Thursday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a New York case that gun owners do not have to provide a reason to carry a concealed weapon. Asked about whether that is a good decision, Toomey said he had not read the opinion and could not give a “detailed critique,” but went on to give a full-throated endorsement of the decision.

But “the Second Amendment is very clear. It gives you a constitutional right to bear arms. To bear means to carry. It meant that when it was written. It means that today. And if a state chooses to systematically deny people the right to carry arms, except under extraordinary circumstances, to me that state is clearly infringing,” Toomey said.

“It should not be the case that you have to prove to some bureaucrat that special circumstances require you to be able to exercise your constitutional rights,” he added. “We don’t impose that on other constitutional rights. I don’t have to prove I have a need to practice religion.”

Asked about whether he hopes Pennsylvania would take advantage of grants for “red flag” laws or laws that could allow people to report someone who might be a danger to themselves or others if they have a gun, Toomey said the state legislature should look at “what would benefit Pennsylvania the most.”

The bill includes $750 million for grants which can be used for many purposes such as expanding access to mental health care and addiction care, veterans’ courts.

President Joe Biden has promised to sign the bill when it reaches his desk.

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PA Moderates Toomey, Fitzpatrick in the Midst of Gun Control Deal-Making

Washington lawmakers are forging ahead toward possible gun violence legislation, and two Pennsylvania Republicans are at the center of the effort.

A group of bipartisan lawmakers led by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey found common ground on gun control legislation that stands a chance of passing the Senate. Toomey (R-Pa.) told reporters 10 Republicans were “on board in principle” with a deal that could break through a GOP-led filibuster that stalled previous attempts.

“I do think it’s more likely than not that we will get something done in the Senate,” Toomey said last week.

Lawmakers involved in the negotiations said the measure provides “needed mental health resources, improves school safety and support for students, and helps ensure dangerous criminals and those who are adjudicated as mentally ill can’t purchase weapons.”

His comments came after the House passed a wide-ranging package of gun safety bills, called the Protecting Our Kids Act, in a 223-204 vote. It followed a tense hearing where victims of recent gun massacres across the U.S. urged lawmakers to take action.

The bills would raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, ban high-capacity magazines, require a registry for bump stocks, and tighten federal firearms regulations to apply to so-called “ghost guns,” which are manufactured without serial numbers by private citizens.

It would also create tax incentives for sales of safe storage devices and add criminal penalties for those who violate gun storage regulations at their residences.

Among the five Republicans voting for the package was Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks). He said that while the legislation was “far from perfect,” it was a “necessary step” to put pressure on the Senate to adopt a bipartisan proposal in the wake of mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, Buffalo, N.Y., and Tulsa, Okla.

Fitzpatrick said e supports Americans’ Second Amendment right to own guns but added there was “no higher responsibility” for lawmakers than protecting children from gun mayhem.

“Our policies should support responsible gun ownership. We must protect mentally healthy, law-abiding citizens’ right to protect and defend themselves, their families, their homes, and their communities, and we must also prevent mentally ill individuals and criminals from gaining access to firearms and causing harm to others. If we’re going to stop the violence plaguing our nation, we must all accept these basic premises,” he said.

The National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action said the House package threatened to “turn millions of law-abiding gun owners into felons.”

“This unconstitutional legislation would extinguish law-abiding adults’ Second Amendment rights and contends that these individuals are responsible enough to defend their country or vote in an election, but cannot be trusted to follow the law,” the group wrote on its website.

The Toomey-backed legislation, still being debated among the bipartisan group of senators, doesn’t go as far as the House package. But it would provide for an enhanced review process for buyers under age 21 and penalties for straw purchases, CNN reported.

The review process would include an “investigative period to review juvenile and mental health records, including checks with state databases and local law enforcement.”

The proposal calls for support for crisis intervention and funding for school safety resources, a key point of contention among Republicans who accused Democrats of seizing on tragedies to push forward more restrictive gun laws.

Meanwhile, Delaware Valley Democrats at the state level are pushing for further gun restrictions. Sate Sen. Steven Santarsiero (D-Bucks) proposed legislation that would ban military-style weapons in the Keystone State.

He told reporters at a news conference in Lower Makefield Township that the measure was modeled after a 2013 Connecticut law that banned high-capacity magazines and provided a voluntary buyback program for gun owners.

“Military-style weapons have no place in civilian society,” Santarsiero said. “Easy access to assault weapons is one of the greatest threats to the health and safety of Pennsylvanians.”

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Toomey: Gun Control Deal Still Possible

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) believes lawmakers are the closest to reaching a bipartisan agreement on gun control laws since he has been in the Senate.

“My colleagues and I met yesterday to discuss a path forward for bipartisan legislation that can help prevent other tragedies in America without infringing on law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights,” Toomey tweeted this week. “I’m optimistic about the direction we’re going & look forward to continuing to work together to create the best possible product.”

The retiring senator, who has long been one of the few Republicans open to tightening the country’s gun laws, said he sees support for legislation expanding background checks and encouraging states to adopt red-flag laws to keep firearms out of the hands of “violent criminals” and the “dangerously mentally ill.”

In a series of media appearances this week, Toomey said there is work being done behind the scenes by a group of bipartisan senators who are optimistic common ground can be found on gun control legislation in the wake of mass shootings in Tulsa, Okla., Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, N.Y..

The group, which has met at least four times, includes Sens. Richard Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), according to The Hill.

Toomey stressed an agreement must strike at a “tough narrow path” that also respects Americans’ Second Amendment right to own guns.

He described the group’s proposals as a “moving target” that includes additional funding for mental health and school safety as well as incentivizing states to adopt red-flag laws that would enable courts to temporarily seize weapons from owners deemed risks to themselves and others, The Hill reported.

“We’re closer than we’ve been since I’ve been in the Senate going back 12 years,” Toomey said during a Fox News interview.

“This is a big challenge. Sometimes we lump all of these killings into one category when, in fact, they’re very, very different in their nature. Some of these are gangs fighting each other over turf in their respective drug businesses. In other cases, of course, it’s these horrific sensational-sized cases of a deranged young man who goes in and mows down innocent civilians.”

The House on Wednesday passed a wide-ranging bill package called the “Protecting Our Kids Act” in a 223-204 vote.

It came hours after a tense hearing where victims of the massacres urged lawmakers to take action. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) was one of just five Republicans who voted for the proposals.

“While the House-passed measures tonight are far from perfect, they are a necessary step to incentivize the Senate to finally advance a bipartisan proposal that will address the legislative component of school and community safety, once and for all,” said Fitzpatrick. “Let me be clear: I am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and all of the protections that it entails. I also believe that we have no higher responsibility as leaders, no higher responsibility as human beings, than to protect our children and to keep our community safe. These are not and must not be mutually exclusive concepts.”

The bills would raise the minimum age for purchasing semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21, ban high capacity magazines, require a registry for bump stocks, and tighten federal firearms regulations to apply to so-called “ghost guns,” which are manufactured without serial numbers by private citizens.

It would also create tax incentives for sales of safe storage devices and add criminal penalties for those who violate gun storage regulations at their residences.

The gun control package faces long odds in the evenly divided Senate, as 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster from Republicans who view sweeping gun-control measures with skepticism.

Toomey has been at the forefront of changing the nation’s gun laws for more than a decade. He co-sponsored legislation in 2013 with Manchin calling for the expansion of background checks on all commercial gun sales. That bill ultimately failed.

Toomey acknowledged any agreement on background checks in the current talks would likely look “different” than the previous iteration of his bill.

“A background check makes sense,” he said. “They can be done pretty quickly.”

Pressed about his support for tightening gun laws by Fox News, Toomey acknowledged that any legislation isn’t a “panacea” but said lawmakers cannot continue sitting on their hands.

“There is no one thing that will prevent mass killings. All we can hope for, in my view, is – on the margins – make it more difficult for someone who is dangerously mentally ill or someone who is a violent criminal to buy a firearm,” he said. “A determined criminal is going to be able to eventually get a gun. I understand that, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do to make it harder for that person to get a gun.”


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NFTC Foundation Recognizes Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Sen. Pat Toomey, Peter Harrell

From a press release

Recently, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) Foundation hosted its annual World Trade Dinner and Awards Ceremony in-person after a two-year hiatus. This year, NFTC honored Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.). It also featured remarks by Peter Harrell, senior director for international economics and competitiveness, NSC.

Leslie Griffin, president of the NFTC Foundation, and NFTC Board Chair Susan Schwab delivered opening remarks.

Okonjo-Iweala, this year’s World Trade Award recipient, was honored for her efforts to modernize the organization and her leadership of initiatives to improve trade facilitation and address supply chain challenges during the pandemic.

In accepting the award, Okonjo-Iweala stressed the importance of strengthening the multilateral trading system at a time of great international uncertainty, calling it a “public good.” She also emphasized the role of trade as a source of resilience, adding that “retreating from trade would make countries more, not less vulnerable.”

Toomey, this year’s International Tax Award recipient, was recognized for his steadfast support of an international taxation system that allows American companies to compete globally.

Toomey extolled the economic gains that followed the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) which “made American companies and workers more competitive globally and our economy more dynamic” by reforming the corporate tax code “so that America would be a more attractive and competitive place to invest and grow a business.”

Toomey also stressed the importance of a globally competitive tax regime that drives economic growth and highlighted the role of trade “in driving economic growth, better choices and lower costs for consumers and better jobs for workers.”

Harrell spoke about America’s role as a leader in digital trade. He emphasized U.S. efforts to advance a positive vision for an open, global internet, promote trusted digital technologies, and counter digital authoritarianism and protectionism.

In closing, NFTC President Jake Colvin reiterated the critical importance of U.S. leadership in the global economy, adding that “America has a unique opportunity to work with our allies to write the rules of the road for the 21st Century — and to do so in ways that will strengthen supply chains, tame inflation, address shared labor and environmental goals and enhance inclusive economic growth.”

The NFTC Foundation’s World Trade Dinner has become a valued tradition for guests including senior U.S. government officials, diplomats, and top executives of critical global industries. This year’s dinner was held at the Planet Word Museum in Washington D.C.

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