Democrat Katie McGinty is challenging first-term Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s re-election bid in Pennsylvania’s neck-and-neck race that could help decide whether Republicans hold on to their 54-46 Senate majority.
The race is smashing state campaign finance records, with more than $100 million in money from outside groups pouring into Pennsylvania, according to an analysis of Federal Election Commission records. McGinty is backed by public-sector unions, the AFL-CIO, abortion-rights groups and environmental advocacy groups. Toomey is backed by business advocacy groups, police unions, anti-abortion rights groups and anti-tax groups.
The election is Nov. 8.
A look at Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and Democratic candidate Katie McGinty, and where they stand on a selection of issues, from abortion to trade. The election is Nov. 8.
This is McGinty’s second campaign for office.
McGinty, 53, grew up in Philadelphia, the ninth of 10 children of a longtime Philadelphia police officer and a mother who worked as a waitress. She earned a degree in chemistry from St. Joseph’s and in law from Columbia University, before she got her start as a legislative assistant in then-U.S. Sen. Al Gore’s office. She followed him to the Clinton administration, where she chaired the White House Council on Environmental Quality from 1995 to 1998. She also advised Gore’s unsuccessful campaign for president in 2000.
McGinty returned to Pennsylvania as then-Gov. Ed Rendell’s environmental protection secretary from 2003 through 2008. In the job, she fought to rein in mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, impose tougher vehicle emission rules, strengthen safety measures in coal mines, secure taxpayer funding to underwrite clean energy projects and engage the private sector in cleaning up waste coal and acid mine drainage poisoning Pennsylvania’s rivers. She also helped make Pennsylvania the first industrial state to enact renewable-energy standards.
After a stint in the private sector with a private equity firm and an environmental engineering firm, McGinty ran for governor in 2014. She lost in the Democratic primary to Tom Wolf, but went on to become Wolf’s chief of staff for six months before leaving to run for U.S. Senate. McGinty and her husband Karl Hausker have three daughters and live in Wayne in Chester County.
This is Toomey’s third run for U.S. Senate.
Toomey, 54, grew up in East Providence, Rhode Island, the third of six children. His father worked on an underground line crew for Narragansett Electric. His mother was a parish secretary at St. Martha’s Catholic church. Toomey earned a degree in political science from Harvard University and worked for six years at investment banks in New York City, selling interest-rate and currency derivatives used by large businesses to stabilize their costs.
He spent a year in Hong Kong, compiling a study on Asia’s financial markets for two wealthy Chinese brothers, Gerald and Ronnie Chan, who wanted to get into banking. When he returned, he moved to Allentown, where he’d helped his brothers start a restaurant and nightclub venture. Toomey became interested in local politics and, in 1998, Toomey won the U.S. House seat in Pennsylvania’s 15th District. He kept his pledge to leave after three two-year terms and, after mounting an unsuccessful primary challenge to then U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, Toomey became president of the Club for Growth, a Washington, D.C.-based free-market advocacy group that is fiercely anti-tax and anti-regulation. During that period, he also helped start a retail bank, Team Capital Bank.
He ran again for U.S. Senate in 2010, after flirting with a run for governor, and won, beating U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak by 2 percentage points. Toomey and his wife, Kris, live in Zionsville. They have three children. Toomey is a licensed pilot.
McGinty supports abortion rights and opposes proposals to halt federal payments to Planned Parenthood.
Toomey opposes abortion rights, with exceptions for rape, incest and saving the life of the mother. He is a co-sponsor on Senate legislation banning most late-term abortions and voted most recently in December to halt federal payments to Planned Parenthood.
McGinty supports an amendment to the Constitution to allow Congress and states to limit the money raised and spent in election campaigns - limits the Supreme Court has expanded in recent years.
Toomey voted in 2014 against a Democratic plan to amend the Constitution to allow Congress and states to limit the money raised and spent in election campaigns by outside groups, candidates and others.
DEFICIT and TAXES
McGinty says she opposes a tax increase on the middle class. She supports ending unspecified corporate tax breaks and increasing taxes on individuals making a $1 million or more. McGinty did not point to a specific deficit reduction plan she supports.
Toomey voted to allow tax rates to rise on individuals making $400,000 or more and couples earning $450,000 or more. In a 2012 budget proposal, Toomey proposed reducing spending to about 18 percent of GDP (it was about 20 percent in 2015), reducing all income tax rates, including lowering the top individual rate to 28 percent and the top corporate tax rate to 25 percent, while limiting unspecified tax breaks. The proposal also would have capped Medicaid spending and converted Medicare into a voucher-like program.
ENERGY and ENVIRONMENT
Both candidates say they believe climate change is happening and that scientific literature points to a human role in it.
McGinty supports the Obama administration’s new carbon pollution regulations on power plants, called the “Clean Power Plan,” currently held up in federal court, and the administration’s agreement to a United Nations accord on global warming in which countries pledge to limit the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity in the coming decades. McGinty supports federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.
Toomey opposes the “Clean Power Plan” and the United Nations accord. Toomey voted in 2012 to stop EPA regulations to reduce mercury and other toxic emissions from oil- and coal-fired power plants. Toomey opposes federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.
McGinty supports legislation to establish a national insurance fund to provide part-time and full-time private-sector employees with up to 12 weeks of paid leave with 66 percent wage replacement for a personal or family member’s medical emergency.
Toomey voted for legislation to give private-sector employees the ability to accrue up to 160 hours of paid leave each year in return for overtime hours worked.
McGinty supports requiring background checks for online gun sales and purchases at gun shows; a ban on the sale of armor-piercing “cop killer” bullets; a ban on the manufacture and sale of “military-style” firearms; a ban on allowing people on the terrorist watch list to obtain a firearm; imposing a federal limit on magazine capacity; and repealing a federal law that shields gun manufacturers from liability in cases where their weapons are used in crimes.
McGinty opposes federal reciprocity legislation to require every state to recognize and allow the use of concealed carry licenses or permits issued by other states.
Toomey voted to require background checks for online gun sales and purchases at gun shows. Toomey voted against measures sponsored by Democrats to prevent a suspected terrorist from buying a firearm and in favor of bills sponsored by Republicans. GOP leaders did not allow a vote on two other proposed compromise bills that Toomey supported.
Toomey opposes restricting the sale of weapons, magazines and bullets. He supports federal reciprocity legislation.
McGinty supports the 2010 federal health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
Toomey voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He says he supports eliminating tax provisions that make it more expensive for individuals to buy insurance, requiring health plans to be portable and renewable and limiting the ability of people to sue medical professionals or institutions for damages from malpractice.
McGinty supports a bipartisan immigration reform bill that passed the Senate in 2013 that would establish a path toward citizenship for an estimated 11 million immigrants living illegally in the United States and double aid for border security to stem the flow of immigrants who across the border without legal permission. McGinty opposes Senate legislation barring federal funds from sanctuary cities, which are jurisdictions that resist turning over immigrants living in the country illegally to federal authorities.
Toomey opposes “amnesty” for immigrants in the country illegally and voted against the bipartisan immigration reform bill. Toomey supports a guest worker program and increasing spending on border security. Toomey says Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border is simplistic and says Trump’s plan to deport every immigrant living illegally in the United States is not realistic. Toomey sponsored legislation barring federal funds from sanctuary cities.
McGinty opposes the widespread use of ground troops in Syria and supports the Obama administration’s nuclear accord with Iran.
Toomey opposes the widespread use of ground troops in Syria and opposes the nuclear accord with Iran.
McGinty supports an increase in the federal minimum wage, currently set at $7.25 an hour, to $15 an hour.
Toomey has voted against various Democratic proposals to raise the minimum wage, most recently in 2015.
McGinty has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.
Toomey has not endorsed anyone for president, but has not said who he will vote for or whether he will eventually endorse someone. He said he would never vote for Clinton.
McGinty opposes the diversion of Social Security payroll taxes into privately managed investment accounts and opposes raising the Social Security retirement age. McGinty supports raising the income limit for Social Security payroll taxes, currently $118,500, to improve the solvency of the Social Security trust fund.
Toomey has said he supported giving younger workers the option of taking a portion of the Social Security payroll tax they pay and putting it into a regulated, professionally managed account. Toomey has said that raising the retirement age must be “on the table” to improve the solvency of the Social Security trust fund, but that people who are retired or are close to retirement must be unaffected by any changes. Toomey says he opposes raising the income limit for Social Security payroll taxes.
McGinty supports Clinton’s plan to allow borrowers to refinance loans at current rates, make tuition at in-state four-year public colleges and universities free for families with income up to $125,000 by 2021 and make tuition free at all community colleges.
Toomey voted for legislation, signed by President Barack Obama in 2013, to link interest rates on federal student loans to 10-year Treasury notes, with a cap on how interest rates could climb and locking in interest rates for the life of each year’s loan.
McGinty was noncommittal on whether she would support Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, but she says he deserves Senate consideration.
Toomey did not support a vote on Garland’s nomination, saying Senate consideration of a nominee should wait until after the election. Toomey says he would be supportive of a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court.
McGinty opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade deal and supports the extension of the Export-Import Bank.
Toomey voted for free trade deals with Panama, South Korea and Colombia, but opposes the Trans Pacific Partnership. He voted against the extension of the Export-Import Bank.
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