Toomey Backs Sessions for Attorney General, Despite Protests
The Tuesday-afternoon crowd outside Republican Senator Pat Toomey’s office in Center City is growing by the week.
Since the election, when Toomey beat Democratic challenger Katie McGinty as Republicans swept elections across the country, a group, mostly women, has been gathering at Toomey’s Philadelphia office to advocate for various causes. In December, they protested Toomey’s attempts to punish so-called sanctuary cities, including Philadelphia. Last week, they pressured him to vote against the confirmation of Scott Pruit, president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency. On Tuesday, they asked Toomey to oppose former Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions’s appointment as U.S. Attorney General at the same time the Senate was holding his confirmation hearing.
The Tuesdays with Toomey group has complained in recent weeks that the senator’s office has been unresponsive and unwelcoming when they’ve visited. Last week, they even said they’d been locked out. Two Daily News reporters also said that Toomey’s press office had ignored their messages.
Paige Wolf, one of the organizers of the TWT demonstrations, said in a phone call on Monday that the group was first of all looking for some sign that Toomey was paying attention. “The best measureable outcome would be any indication that he’s listening to the concerns of constituents,” Wolf said.
At Toomey’s office on Tuesday, demonstrators delivered letters asking Toomey to oppose the appointment of Sessions and gave speeches highlighting the nominee’s record on disability rights, reproductive rights, and sexual assault. (In October, in response to a question about Trump’s comments that celebrities had free rein to grab women’s genitals, Sessions said it would be “a stretch” to describe that behavior as sexual assault. In his confirmation hearing Tuesday, he clarified that it “clearly” is assault.)
At any rate, in response to a question about Sessions’ nomination, Toomey’s press spokesman Steve Kelly shared a statement that the senator Tweeted back in November, around the time the selection was announced. Toomey is 100 percent in Sessions’ corner, it seems.
My friend and colleague @SenatorSessions has my full support to be the next U.S. Attorney General. pic.twitter.com/Bky9tjECNA
— Senator Pat Toomey (@SenToomey) November 18, 2016
This probably isn’t so surprising to the Tuesdays with Toomey folks. Sarah Stone, another one of the organizers, said they weren’t expecting Toomey to become a liberal overnight, or ever. But they are hoping he’ll come to Philadelphia and hold a town hall with his constituents here. Toomey’s office didn’t respond directly to a question about whether he would hold a town hall in Philly.
“Senator Toomey’s staff has met with these protesters multiple times in recent months,” Kelly said in an email. “Another such meeting is scheduled in the coming days. … This group continues to protest on days when Senator Toomey is in Washington, D.C., conducting official business. They have every right to continue their protests. Senator Toomey’s staff will not be participating in their demonstration and media event.”
Follow @jaredbrey on Twitter.