Democrats in Pa. seek ‘common ground’ as partisan battles loom

 In Philadelphia, heart disease, cancer and drug overdoses were the leading causes of death, according to a new study on the city's health. (File Photo)

In Philadelphia, heart disease, cancer and drug overdoses were the leading causes of death, according to a new study on the city's health. (File Photo)

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will both be in Philadelphia later this week to address a three-day policy retreat of Congressional Democrats.

The lawmakers will meet in Society Hill to discuss their party’s national agenda for a year where they’ll face stiff opposition from a Republican party that now controls both houses of Congress. Congressman Bob Brady says that before Democrats can have any success in Washington, they need to settle their internal differences and agree on a strategy for keeping the economy growing.

“Let’s get this country moving again,” said Brady. “I don’t care who gets the credit.”

Brady said he’s particularly interested in transportation and infrastructure issues, in part because both Philadelphia and Pennsylvania have large backlogs of needed repairs and upgrades. He says he hopes to find common ground with Republicans on the issue.

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“A bridge doesn’t fall down only because Democrats drive on it. A bridge falls down because it’s not secured,” Brady said. “The state government can only do so much … We’ve got to make sure our bridges are safe, our tunnels are safe.”

Among Brady’s personal priorities is winning funding to extend the Broad Street Subway past the stadiums and into the Navy Yard, home to a growing number of businesses. “The Navy Yard’s a miniature city,” Brady said. “There’s a major traffic jam getting in and getting out of there. It’d be great to get the subway from all the way down Broad Street.”

The party lost control of the Senate to Republicans in last fall’s midterms. Brady says that will make things hard for Democrats, but not impossible.

“They took over the committees,” he said. “They can put [what they want on] the agenda … but they’ve still got to get past the President’s veto, which they don’t have enough to do. They don’t have enough in the house, they don’t have enough in the Senate.”

Brady said he also hopes to use the retreat to help build support for bringing the 2016 Democratic National Convention to Philadelphia.

GOP lawmakers from both the House and Senate met for a similar retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania, earlier this month. Republican Congressional priorities for the year include shrinking Obamacare and rolling back the president’s attempts at immigration reform.

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