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Update: GOP Congressmen Taking Flak on Defense Vote

Rep. Lou Barletta (left) and Rep. Tom Marino.

U.S. Representatives Tom Marino (R-Lycoming) and Lou Barletta (R-Luzerne) have come under scrutiny from their opponents after their vote for the 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill.

According to The Daily Item, the bill is largely controversial in Northeast Pennsylvania because of funding cuts to the Tobyhanna Army Depot, one of the region’s largest employers. Marino and Barletta’s vote for the bill has their opponents for the general election jumping on them.

The Daily Item reported that, if passed as is, the bill would cut about $2 billion in funding from Tobyhanna – including cuts to maintenance and repair of communications and electronic equipment like radar.

Barletta says that he was misinformed as to the details of the bill.

“When I voted for the bill, I did so with the understanding that funding for the Tobyhanna Army Depot was not being compromised,” Barletta told The Daily Item. “I, along with the other 325 members of Congress who voted in favor of the bill, both Republicans and Democrats, believed the information provided to us was accurate.”

Barletta’s opponent Gene Stilp scoffed at his explanation, suggesting that Barletta is out of touch already with the people of the newly redrawn 11th district.

“He has to be criticized for his vote and not knowing that the bill affects Tobyhanna in a very negative way,” Stilp told the Daily Item. “This is a huge bill and a major bill, and for Mr. Barletta to not understand, at least, how it would affect people in the newly redrawn 11th District shows he still has a lot to learn about how Congress works.

Stilp said Barletta could have offered an amendment to protect employers like Tobyhanna.

While Marino was unavailable for comment, his Democratic challenger Phil Scollo took the leisure of adding some comments of his own.

“Unless it is fixed, this defense appropriations bill could be a real disaster for our region’s economy and especially for the hard-working families employed at Tobyhanna,” Scollo told the Daily Item.

“Republicans and Democrats alike voted for this bill, but it appears as if none of them was actually looking out for the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. Tom Marino owes the people of northeastern Pennsylvania an explanation. Did he know what the local impact of this bill was at the time of his vote? If so, why did he support it instead of fixing it?”

The Senate recently passed its own version of the $606 billion appropriations bill. The two versions will be sent to conference, where the issue is either going to be resolved, or Tobyhanna Army Depot will face cuts.

Update: In a recent interview with WKOK, Tom Marino finally answered questions on his vote for the 2013 Defense Appropriations Bill which would require majors cuts to Tobyhanna. His answers indicate that the Rep. may be flip-flopping his stance on his vote.

“I voted for the defense appropriation. I am very clear on this. We have to cut across the board so…I put a lot of time into this and it was the right thing to do,” Marino said in the August 9 interview with WKOK.

When speaking with the The Times-Leader, Marino’s Chief of Staff Bill Tighe said Marino voted for the bill with anticipation the issue would be fixed.

“He voted for the bill with the promise from House Appropriations Committee members that this problem will be dealt with before Fiscal Year 2013 defense funding is finalized,” Tighe told The Times-Leader. “He was aware that Tobyhanna could be affected, and he is seeking a commitment to fix this and that was key in his decision to vote for the bill.”

This recent quote prompted another response from Marino’s opponent, Phil Scollo, who said that Marino lacks an understanding of not just his constituents, but northeast PA in general.

“With the unemployment rate in northeastern Pennsylvania currently at 9 percent, you’d think Marino would be focused on creating jobs, not destroying them,” said Scollo.

“This is not a partisan issue; it’s a local issue. In this bill, other Army Depots are protected from cuts, but Marino allowed for severe cuts to Tobyhanna. It’s ineffective representation and a reckless vote.”

13 Responses

  1. It must be easy to make these decisions that will affect the quality of life for so many, while keeping your paycheck intact. WAKE UP! Hard working people are going to be put into bad financial situations. The people that are going to be affected by this are the people the work hard so the rich can employ people in other countries! Open your hearts and think about the individuals these decisions are affecting. It’s the diffence between having to choose what utilities to pay and having to choose which high end new car you get to buy your kid. Keep our federal employees employed and swallow your pride and buy your kid a Chevy! If you really want to start tackle the debt, start by weeding out the millions of people who sit on their butts proudly earning their “hard earned entitlement” to unemployment, from those who actually look for jobs. Stop makig government handouts so easy to get, stop literally throwing away money and think about the majority of middle class workers that are simply living and trying to support their families. When it boils down to it, the rich stay rich, the lawmakers sell their vote to the highest bidder (I.e. the rich), the poor keep taking advantage of all the easy to get assistance while giving in to the overpowering grips of depression and get complacent because they don’t HAVE to do anything but fill out some paperwork (no proof needed), and the middle class, everyday joes get RAPED by the country they give a 1/4 th of their paycheck too already. My favorite part is how our underworked, overpaid, sell out lawmakers, made sure they raised the tax ceiling above their pay bracket. WE ARE AMERICANS! WE BUILT THOS COUNTRY ON JUSTICE, HONESTY, AND DOING THE RIGHT THING. MAN UP! Is it really about those that have so much that they would barely miss it? Or do we do the right thing and stop letting lazy people take advantage of the system and keeping the federal employees not only employed but able to get a cost of living raise when the “bacon” gets more expensive.
    Wife of a Veteran
    Mother of a public school student
    Registered Voter ( not that it matters since my choices are either corrupt or corporate greed or both )
    Outraged citizen ( pointing the finger does nothing and the president cannot sign anything into law with congress and blaming the other side does not keep our hardworking Americans from losing their homes after 15 years of mortgage payments)

  2. As the former Chief of Staff for Congressman
    Jack Murtha ,I can say that being a junior congressman without knowledge and experience on the Hill can lead to disaster for
    your constituents. You both have failed in your
    duties-now what??? The Constitution gives you
    the Congressman to fight for and take care of your people.

  3. What is new about this? The new republican caucus doesn’t represent their districts interests just those of Beltway elitists and companies that want to de-industrialize our nation, while they pander to the TEA PARTY. Today’s question: DOES KEITH THE CANIDATE ROTHFUS FULLY EMBRACE PAUL RYAN’S BUDGET PLAN? Or will this former Beltway Fema official deny Mr. Paul Ryan, the way Peter denied Christ? Mr. Rothfus, former employee of faith healer Pat Robertson, the cock is crowing!

  4. EXACTLY LyCoGirl! You can’t claim you were misinformed if you ACTUALLY read the bill.
    That’s not an excuse.
    I wonder how many other bills he didn’t read before he voted for them?

  5. Republic on, Mr. Stilp doesn’t need any words stronger than “I will never vote to turn Medicare into a voucher program, and I will never vote to privatize Social Security”. Combine that with the fact that Mr. Stilp’s record on civil liberties is stronger than Mr. Barletta’s weak YES votes on the Patriot Act Extension, drones on U.S. soil and the NDAA, and picking up 5% of the Republican vote and splitting the independents is absolutely doable, even without a giant oil & gas PAC war chest like Mr. Barletta has.

    The view from 40,000 feet that he needs $500K for ads and party tithing, or that the R+5 Cook Report rating is insurmountable, does not apply in Mr. Stilp’s case. He has a lot of cross-party appeal, which he demonstrated by coming recount close in his state house race in 2010, in a district where the incumbent Sue Helm won by over 5,000 votes in 2008.

  6. Since you brought it up Republic:
    The pink pig would be perfect to illustrate the fact that Barletta’s votes help his portfolio to such an egregious extent that he made the top of the STOCK Act violators list.
    The pig is a symbol of politicians eating at the trough.
    Also, just because Gene once built a giant toaster or ear of corn, doesn’t mean they apply in this situation or need to be utilized. Maybe a giant pair of glasses to help Barletta read a bill before he votes for it would be more appropriate.
    The fact that he signed off on killing Tobyhana and hundreds of jobs in his district because he didn’t read the bill first is inexcusable. Thankfully the Senate will stop it from going through, or many more people in the northeast would be unemployed.

  7. Say all you want. Misinformation can happen. The lack of comments on this article indicate the battle Stilp faces without money to run his campaign. How can Stilp use the pink pig or the bus to characterize Barletta when his record is to cut government spending, emblematic of the Pink Pig and Bus mission. Stilp’s 30 foot ear of corn won’t play well in a district with significant farming interests. He could try the SUV in arguing against Barletta but in a hometown that sits 1604 feet above sea level, anyone who has lived through a snowstorm in Hazleton knows the need for an SUV. The burnt toaster won’t do a thing for Stilp. His attack on overweight people with a groundhog will actually work against him. The problem with Stilp is that he has to use props to get attention. His words are not powerful enough to garner the support he seeks. Barletta doesn’t need props and has a national prominence, not a state one. So don’t be so quick to dismiss Barletta. He is a formidable campaigner.

  8. Kep on believing Barletta is safe. It plays perfectly into Stilps game plan.
    Watch and see a true master of the media take him out.

  9. Not to start a fight, but I’ll bet Carney and Kanjorski wouldn’t have cast such a stupid vote that goes against the interests of their districts.

  10. How safe is it? I remember reading in the newspaper that there is nearly the same amount of Democrats and Republicans. I guess turnout is another question.

  11. AHAHA. Nice try. His district is pretty safe. And you’re not seriously about cutting the deficit?

  12. Hey Lou, I think there is a pink pig coming for you. A bus or a giant inflatable one, take your pick. You’re days in congress are numbered.

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