Editor’s note: The Delegation will now be published twice per week to capture the latest happenings from Capitol Hill to Florida.
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Trump throwing big issues back to Congress
Another week, another series of big moves from President Donald Trump. Like them or not, he is doing what he promised to do if elected, which was basically to undo several critical initiatives of former President Barack Obama.
On Thursday, he reversed an Obama executive order that gave subsidies to insurance companies participating in the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. On Friday, he refused to certify Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal with Iran, Obama’s signature foreign policy agreement.
Republicans often talk about the Constitution and separation of powers between the branches of government. They have long said Obama had no authority to give insurance companies the subsidies; only Congress could appropriate those funds.
His actions did not officially pull the U.S. out of the Iran agreement but put another agenda item on the to-do list Congress to join DACA and others. It also designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization, which was just fine with Ponte Vedra Republican Ron DeSantis, Chairman of the House National Security Subcommittee.
“More work needs to be done to put Iran back in a box, but sanctioning the (Revolutionary Guard) as [a] terror group is a major step in the right direction,” DeSantis tweeted.
“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated,” Trump said in his remarks announcing the move.
While Democrats offered a muted response to the president’s actions on Iran, his executive order on the insurance company subsidies was a far different matter.
Kathy Castor of Tampa called on Trump and his administration to “stand on the side of hardworking Americans and stop their cruel sabotage of our health care.” Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach referred to the president as a “one-man wrecking ball of the American health care system.”
Republicans would quarrel with St. Petersburg’s Charlie Crist’s description of the subsidies as “legally required payments under the Affordable Care Act.” Most would disagree with one of their own criticizing the president’s action.
“(Trump) promised more access, affordable coverage. This does opposite,” tweeted Miami Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.”
Ros-Lehtinen, who supported Trump’s action on Iran, is correct. This puts Congress in the position of somehow, despite the rancor, finding some common ground on a health care solution. And Iran. And DACA. And Tax Reform.
And so on.
Trump’s NOAA pick faces storm of criticism
As AccuWeather CEO, Barry Myers has sought limits on what products the National Weather Service can offer the public, claiming it creates unfair competition for his business.
Now, as Trump’s pick to lead the parent agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Andrew Restuccia of POLITICO reports that Myers could be in a position to make those restrictions mandatory — to the benefit of his private, family-run forecasting company.
Myers’ nomination faces a storm of criticism by those who feel it will restrict the weather service, which caused an industry backlash a decade ago when it began offering hour-by-hour forecasts, cellphone alerts, and other online data. A dozen years ago, Myers supported a bill from then-Sen. Rick Santorum, that sought enhance cooperation with the agency, despite some misgivings by critics.
“I fear that he’ll do irreparable harm to an agency whose primary mission is to save lives,” National Weather Service Employees Organization President Daniel Sobien, told POLITICO. “There seems to be a huge conflict of interest considering his business background and belief system.”
Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, called Myers’ nomination “questionable.”
“As the CEO of AccuWeather, Barry Myers views NOAA as a direct competitor that provides high-quality forecasts for free,” Schatz said last week. “Mr. Myers will have to work very hard to persuade me that he will run NOAA for the public good.”
Myers’ supporters cite his long experience in the weather forecasting industry as an opportunity to modernize NOAA, which has become a vital tool for fisheries, marine sanctuaries, climate research and satellite data.
“In past decade, AccuWeather has embraced ‘Big Data’ and become an advertising & digital innovation behemoth under Myers’ leadership,” tweeted Weather.us chief operating officer Ryan Maue. “I expect Myers to bring that same vision to NOAA and enhance collaboration with the private sector especially in the role of space-based remote sensing and satellites,” he told POLITICO.
Bill Nelson fundraises off Irma again; Republicans call it ‘disgusting’
After Republicans blasted a “tone deaf” email last month that sought to raise funds off Hurricane Irma, Florida’s senior U.S. Senator is at it again.
Nelson writes: “There’s been a lot going on in Washington recently, from finding ways to fund these massive hurricane recovery efforts to prevent the passage of yet another disastrous GOP health care bill.”
The senator then proclaims his focus on “one thing,” which is doing everything he can to fight for constituents, adding that it is his job to “make sure your voice is heard in the Senate.”
Since Hurricane Irma happened over a month ago (supposedly past its disaster expiration date), Nelson seems to think now would be the right time to “survey” Floridians on how he’s doing.
Along with a money pitch, of course. And once again, national Republicans are quick to this point out, saying it’s time he answers for his “disgusting” move.
“Bill Nelson needs to explain why he continues to fundraise off Hurricane Irma,” said NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin in an email. “Floridians are still struggling to clean up from this devastating storm, yet all Bill Nelson cares about is filling his own campaign coffers.”
Politics can wait, says the GOP, calling for Nelson to resist the urge to raise money. There will always be time to fundraise later.
Five Floridians named to new House NASA Caucus
A newly appointed House NASA Caucus took off with five members of the Florida delegation.
U.S. Reps. Steve Knight, a California Republican, and Ohio Democrat Marcy Kaptur, launched the new group with over 25 members. Floridians on the caucus include Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey and Democrats U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, reports Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News.
According to Knight, the group was set up to “strengthen policymaker awareness of NASA’s many connections to our national security and economic interests, provide as a bipartisan forum to discuss the scientific and technological challenges to American flight and space exploration endeavors, and serve as a focal point for public and private sector air and space expertise that cover the full range of NASA’s initiatives.”
Knight explained why he helped start the new caucus.
“There has been a lack of representation in the educational activities on Capitol Hill for many of NASA’s most important programs,” Knight said. “Many of these programs that are critical to U.S. national interests, and there is an interest here to learn more and support them. But the current landscape does not yet support that level of interest.
Ross calls Disaster Relief Act a ‘down payment on reform’
The Lakeland Republican, who serves as Senior Deputy Majority Whip, issued a statement last week on the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act:
“Americans need a reformed flood insurance program, yet today’s vote reflects a strange political reality, where debt forgiveness takes priority. Floridians deserve certainty — both that the federal government will honor its debts, but also that it will manage the federal flood insurance program responsibly. We cannot do either of these things without reform. While I supported this supplemental aid package, I did so only because House leadership assured me that this will be a down payment on reform. I remain committed to ensuring that Congress institutes the reforms Americans expect and restoring fiscal sanity to the National Flood Insurance Program.”
The 353-69 vote approves $18.7 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) disaster relief fund — including $4.9 billion for a disaster relief loan account — $16 billion to address National Flood Insurance Program debt and $576.5 for wildfire recovery efforts. The Act also has $1.27 billion for disaster food assistance for Puerto Rico.
Ross is a member of the House Committee on Financial Services, where he introduced legislation to reform the National Flood Insurance Program, which seeks to reduce taxpayer burden for disasters.
Bilirakis speech to Pinellas GOP club — The Tarpon Springs Republican will speak to the North Pinellas Republican Club Thursday at 6 p.m., Leo’s Restaurant, 33286 U.S. 19 North in Palm Harbor.
Mast to appear at Palm Beach GOP HQ opening — The Treasure Coast Republican will appear at a grand opening event for the new Republican Party of Palm Beach County headquarters Wednesday, 6 p.m., 1555 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Suite 500 in West Palm Beach.
F. Rooney speech to Republican Party women — The Naples Republican will speak to the Republican Women of Cape Coral, Federated Thursday, 6 p.m. at Personal Touch Banquet & Catering, 1530 Santa Barbara Blvd. in Cape Coral.
Curbelo to hold West Palm Beach fundraiser — The Miami Republican will be in Palm Beach County Thursday for a 6 p.m. fundraiser at 303 Evernia St., Suite 300.
Ohio Democrat to keynote Miami-Dade Gala — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is the scheduled keynote speaker at the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party’s “Blue Gala,” Saturday, 7 p.m. At the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, 1101 Biscayne Boulevard in Miami.
Longtime Mario Diaz-Balart staffer moves to Amazon — After 13 years, Miguel Mendoza, deputy chief of staff and legislative director to Rep. Diaz-Balart is moving to Amazon’s transportation policy team. Mendoza handled transportation and housing issues for the Miami congressman, who serves as Appropriations Subcommittee chair. Diaz-Balart has also named senior legislative assistant Chris Sweet as legislative director, and Gisselle Reynolds, from his district office, to become a legislative assistant.
Paulson’s Principles: Democrats, don’t hitch your horses to the wrong wagon
I have called the upcoming 2018 election the best chance for Democrats to win control of the U.S. House in decades. All the stars are aligning for the Democrats.
I have also mentioned at least a half-dozen political factors favoring the Democrats including President Trump’s low approval ratings, midterms which favor the party not controlling the White House, and the generic vote which now has Democrats up by 11 points.
Having discussed all the things favoring the Democrats, they need to be cautious because they have blown many opportunities in recent elections. Does anyone recall the 2016 presidential election?
Democrats can’t afford to hitch their horse to the wrong wagon, as they have done in the past. They can’t expect to win simply because Trump’s approval rating is terrible. Trump’s approval rating was terrible going into the 2016 Republican primaries and the general election, and he won both.
Democrats are split with respect to strategy, and that could be potentially disastrous. Should Democrats go after white voters who have abandoned the party in droves? One-quarter of white working-class Democrats who voted for President Obama in 2012 defected to Trump in 2016.
John Judis, one of the authors of The Emerging Democratic Majority in 2012, now contends he got things wrong. Instead of focusing on minorities, Judis now argues the party needs to focus on economic justice appeals that will attract both minorities and white voters. A focus on just minorities will allow Republicans to exploit that as a wedge issue.
Another segment of the Democratic Party is calling on the party to focus on voters of color. Steve Phillips, the author of “Brown is the New White,” argues that “progressive people of color” combined with “progressive whites” make up 51 percent of voting-age Americans.
Other observers see Democrats as potentially repeating some of the same mistakes in their past. In 1968, the Democrats selected a more moderate candidate, Hubert Humphrey, over the more liberal Robert Kennedy and Gene McCarthy. Humphrey narrowly lost.
After losing in 1968, the Democrats moved far to the left and reformed the nominating process by requiring delegates to reflect the makeup of each state. They also adopted the most left-wing platform and selected the most liberal nominee for 1972, George McGovern.
Richard Nixon was able to easily tag the Democrats as the party of “acid, amnesty and abortion.” The amnesty referred to support for allowing deserters from the Vietnam War to return to America. McGovern lost 49 of the 50 states and only won 39 percent of the vote.
Will Democrats move further left after nominating the more moderate Hillary Clinton over the leftist Bernie Sanders. Sanders had never been registered as a Democrat until running for president. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Fred Logevall: “If the Democrats move to the left on free tuition for college and single-payer health care, I do get 1972 popping into my head.”
Doug Sosnik, a Democratic strategist, wrote a recent op-ed in The New York Times called “Trump is on track to win re-election.” Sosnik argues that Trump’s conservative populism is beating the Democrats liberal populism. Also, Trump’s support is personal, not ideological.
Almost everything is working to the benefit of Democrats heading into 2016. Democrats just need to learn the lessons of 2016 and learn what is really important to voters. If not, the Democrats will continue to be on the outside looking in.