Bill Nelson Archives - Florida Politics

Bill Nelson now targeted by group calling for his vote to repeal, replace ACA

Being a Democratic Senator up for re-election in 2018 and living in a state won by Donald Trump last fall means that Bill Nelson is going to be getting a lot of attention over the next year and a half from groups supporting Republican causes.

On Wednesday, TV ads began running on cable news networks in Florida targeting Nelson for supporting the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The ads will continue to air over the next couple of weeks.

One Nation, a 501(c)4 linked to the Karl-Rove-backed American Crossroads, has begun airing television ads in nine states calling on Senate Democrats who supported the ACA to support GOP efforts to repeal and replace the ACA.

“Last fall Americans sent Washington a clear message: clean up the Obamacare mess,” said Steven Law, president and chief executive officer of One Nation. “We’re going to make sure Washington follows through.”

Florida is in the first batch of nine states that will be seeing the ads which challenges Senate Democrats. They’re part of a $3 million ad campaign to take place over the next three weeks in 11 states. The TV ads will be followed by radio, digital, print and mail.

Michigan and Tennessee will be part of the second ten-day wave of radio and digital ads.

The ads are being unveiled on the same day that a new poll shows that the ACA is becoming more popular, now that the reality that it could be completely repealed is at stake.

A new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll shows voters are now split evenly on the law. Forty-five percent of registered voters approve of the law, the poll shows, and 45 percent disapprove. That’s an improvement from just a month ago, when only 41 percent of voters approved of the health care law, compared with 52 percent who disapproved.

The ads have begun airing on the same day that the National Republican Senate Committee unveiled a new digital ad campaign to inform Florida voters of what they call Nelson’s” liberal record” in Washington, comparing his Senate voting record to Massachusetts’s Elizabeth Warren.

 

 

Senate Republicans begin targeting Bill Nelson in new digital ad campaign

Bill Nelson isn’t running for re-election for another year, but it’s never too early to start the campaign against him.

That’s what the National Republican Senate Committee is doing this week, unveiling a new digital ad campaign to inform Florida voters of what they call Nelson’s “liberal record” in Washington, comparing his Senate voting record to Massachusetts’s Elizabeth Warren.

“Bill Nelson has positioned himself squarely on the left, voting with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren 92 percent of the time,” said NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin. “Bill Nelson may try to pose as a moderate as the election approaches, but his record shows that he has more in common with Washington liberals than with Florida voters.”

Although progressive Democrats in Florida have occasionally criticized Nelson’s voting record, he was largely in sync with Barack Obama over the past eight years on the main pieces of legislation.

He’s served in the Senate for over 16 years, defeating Bill McCollum, Katherine Harris and Connie Mack IV along the way. Although there are rumors of various Republicans who will challenge him in 2018, most observers believe Governor Rick Scott is the leading contender at this point.

Nelson has said he’s ready and willing for the challenge against Scott, saying“I only know one way to run, and that’s to run as hard as I can as if there’s no tomorrow.”

The digital ads will run on Facebook and are part of a national campaign targeting Senate Democrats representing states won by Donald Trump in November.

Bill Nelson to vote against Scott Pruitt’s nomination for EPA Secretary

Citing his close ties to the oil industry, Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson said Thursday that he will be voting against Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s nomination to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

“It’s been well documented that the president’s pick is a friend of the oil industry,” Nelson said on the floor of the Senate. “There’s nothing wrong with that, but this is an industry that has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions to Mr. Pruitt and the PACs supporting him over the years.

Pruitt has received more than $200,000 in individual and PAC money from energy industry companies and employees since 2010.

As Oklahoma Attorney General, he went to court to fight more the 14 times, including President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan. And according to a letter from more than 400 former EPA workers last week, issued more than 50 press releases celebrating lawsuits to overturn EPA standards to limit mercury emissions from power plants, reduce smog and haze, clean up the Chesapeake Bay and control greenhouse gases.

In his confirmation hearing, Pruitt notably said that he did not believe that climate change was a hoax. But Nelson says he also said that his views on climate change are immaterial to the job of the EPA administrator. Not so, said the senator.

“I can’t think of a more relevant issue for our EPA administrator to be concerned because Florida is ground zero when it comes to the effects of sea-level rise,” Nelson said, adding that “it’s critical that we have an EPA administrator that understands there are things that are happening because of climate change. It’s not immaterial to the job of the EPA administrator. It’s very relevant.”

On Wednesday, Maine’s Susan Collins became the first Republican Senator to announce her opposition to Pruitt’s nomination.

A final vote is expected before Friday evening.

 

 

Darren Soto, Bill Nelson want NOAA to double up on hurricane planes

NOAA needs back-up hurricane hunter planes, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Rep. Darren Soto insist.

The pair of Democratic Florida lawmakers – Soto is from Orlando – have introduced bills requiring the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to buy and maintain back-up planes.

“Right now we only have one set, so if there is a problem we could be deeply exposed to hurricanes in Florida or anywhere in the southeast United States,” Soto said.

On Tuesday he filed House Resolution 1008 calling for NOAA to “secure and maintain secondary backup capability for each class of hurricane reconnaissance, research, surveillance and response aircraft sufficient to prevent a single point of failure.” Last month Nelson filed a similar bill in the U.S. Senate. Both bills authorize the appropriation of necessary funds.

NOAA already has two so-called “hurricane hunter” aircraft, Lockheed WP-3D Orion four-engine turboprops that can fly into hurricanes to probe wind and pressure changes. It has only one Gulfstream IV-SP jet, which flies above storms to collect data on the weather systems in the upper atmosphere surrounding developing hurricanes. They all fly out of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Soto said he expects the bills have a good chance of approval in the next few weeks, possibly as part of a bigger package. Nelson’s bill has been referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, on which he is ranking member. Soto’s bill has not yet been read.

This is the first time Florida’s senior senator and the freshman congressman from Orlando have worked together on legislation.

Bill Nelson blasts Tom Price’s Medicare record

Saying that U.S. Rep. Tom Price‘s views on Medicare vouchers and eligibility would be bad for senior citizens, Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson vowed Thursday to vote against affirming his nomination to be Donald Trump‘s secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Nelson charged that Price’s support for a Medicare voucher system would lead to increased out-of-pocket costs for seniors’ medical bills and his support to raise the eligibility age to 67 would break promises to people paying into the system.

Price is a Republican from Georgia. Nelson declared his intention to vote against Price during a Senate floor speech Thursday afternoon.

“Our country deserves an HHS secretary who will uphold those promises, not inflict deep cuts that alter the financial security Medicare provides Americans in their later years,” Nelson stated in his speech. “And so for these reasons and others, sometime in this next 11 and a half hours when we vote, I’m going to vote no on this nominee. There’s too much at stake for our seniors to give this nominee the control over these programs.”

Nelson is picking his battles. In addition to opposing Price, Nelson has voted against Rex Tillerson for secretary of state, Betsy DeVos for secretary of education, Mike Pompeo for CIA director, and Jeff Sessions for attorney general. Nelson has voted yes to affirm James Mattis for defense secretary, John Kelly for homeland security secretary, Nikki Haley for U.N ambassador, and Elaine Chao for transportation secretary. He also voted yes for Wilbur Ross as commerce secretary in a committee vote, though Ross has not yet come up for a full U.S. Senate vote.

Report: Randolph Bracy considering 2018 U.S. Senate bid

Sen. Randolph Bracy could be eyeing higher office.

The Florida Times-Union reported Thursday that Bracy is considering a run for U.S. Senate in 2018. If he decides to jump into the race, Bracy would face sitting U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in a Democratic primary.

“I’m considering it; I’ll leave it there,” he told the paper.

First elected to the Florida House in 2012, Bracy won his Senate District 11 seat in November. The 39-year-old serves as the chairman of the Criminal Justice Committee and vice chairman of the Criminal and Civil Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

Nelson is the only Democrat in Florida elected to statewide office, and is widely expected to run for re-election in 2018. When asked about Bracy’s possible run by the Times-Union, a spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party indicated Nelson would have the establishment’s backing.

Bill Nelson says any attempt to intimidate scientists ‘must be stopped’

In its first week in office, the Trump administration froze new scientific grants at the Environmental Protection Agency. That fueled concerns amongst some in the scientific community that it will be a rough four years in Washington.

Since the presidential election, more than 5,000 scientists, including many Nobel Prize winners, have signed an open letter urging President Trump and Congress to preserve scientific integrity. and there may be a major “March for Science” taking place on Earth Day in Washington later this spring.

Now, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and a number of his Democratic colleagues are weighing in, with a bill aimed at protecting government scientists from political interference.

“Few things are more un-American than censorship, especially when it would keep the public in the dark on vital public health and safety information, such as climate change and sea level rise,” said Nelson, who serves as the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.  “Any attempt to intimidate or muzzle scientists must be stopped.”

Some of the provisions of the bill include:

  • Reaffirm the principle of open communication of scientific findings and prevent the suppression of scientific findings;
  • Ensure that scientists are allowed to communicate their findings with the public, press, and Congress;
  • Direct federal agencies to develop scientific integrity policies that include whistleblower protections; and,
  • Require scientific integrity policies to be posted online and given to all new hires

At least 27 other Democratic senators have signed on to the proposal.

Online poll shows Floridians support sanctuary cities

An online poll of 600 Florida residents conducted by Florida Atlantic University shows that by a 52-36 percent margin, Floridians do not want the Trump administration to cut off funding to sanctuary cities. And a plurality – 46-38 percent – don’t want the U.S. Justice Dept. to take any legal action against sanctuary cities.

However, the same poll also shows that only a slight majority (fifty-five percent) have ever heard of the term ‘sanctuary city,’ before being polled to opine on it. Sanctuary cities are generally defined as localities that help shield undocumented residents from deportation by refusing to fully cooperate with detention requests from federal immigration authorities.

After President Donald Trump signed an executive order threatening to pull federal funding from sanctuary cities, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced that his county would abandon the practice of being a sanctuary city. That decision by itself could affect the fate of more than one million undocumented immigrants. By a 62 to 39 percent majority, those surveyed said that Miami-Dade County shouldn’t end the practice of being a sanctuary county.

Interestingly, the poll also asked if Tampa should become a sanctuary city (the question posed said that it is considering becoming one). By a margin of a 61%-39%, those surveyed said Tampa should designate itself as such.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said that officially Tampa is not a sanctuary city and would not become one, but that he won’t be directing Tampa Police Officers to act as immigration agents anytime soon. Those responsibilities are actually handled by Hillsborough County. Last week, the Hillsborough County Diversity Council voted 8-1 to recommend that county commissioners look into becoming a sanctuary county, However, County Commission Chair Stacy White says that won’t be happening.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has essentially said the same thing, though he confused some people over the weekend by issuing a statement saying that, “I have no hesitation in declaring St. Petersburg a sanctuary from harmful federal immigration laws.”

Republicans were the only group who supported cutting federal funds with 70 percent in support and 24 percent opposed.

A full two-thirds  of those surveyed also said they do not want to pay for a border wall on the Mexican border (66 percent to 33 percent).

The poll also shows that 66 percent of those surveyed disapprove of President Trump’s job performance, with only 34 percent approving.

But the attitude of those surveyed was equally critical towards incumbent Democrats. Only 28 percent said he deserves re-election in 2018, while 72 percent said it was time to give someone else a chance.

The online survey was taken between February 1 and February 4, , with a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson appears vulnerable in his 2018 re-election attempt in this poll, with 28 percent saying he deserves re-election while 72 percent said it was time to give someone else a chance.

Of the 600 people surveyed, 148 were Democrats, 147 were Republicans, 144 were independents, and 161 were not registered to vote.

Andrew Gillum says he stands with Florida teachers in opposing Betsy DeVos

Tallahassee Mayor and potential 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum says America’s kids deserve someone better than Betsy DeVos to serve as education secretary.

The U.S. Senate voted early Friday to advance President Trump‘s choice at education to a final confirmation vote, expected Monday. The vote was 52-48 along party lines.

Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson has already announced that he will oppose DeVos, as have Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. No other Republican Senator has joined them, however.

In his statement, Gillum says “the attack on our teachers must end,” adding that DeVos responses during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Education Committee earlier this month, “fell woefully short of the kind of leadership we need to ensure that all Floridians have a quality education.”

National teachers unions have mounted an aggressive campaign against DeVos, contending that she is an ideological extremist with a record of undermining the public schools her department would oversee.

The Florida Education Association is the state’s largest teacher’s union. It boasts over 140,000 members statewide, and getting their support in a statewide race would be a huge boost for any Democrat.

Here is Gillum’s full statement:

“Public education changed the trajectory of my life. I can still hear my grandmother’s voice telling me to ‘Go to school, mind my teachers, get my lesson, and bring that education home — for my brothers, my baby sister and the kids down the street.’ It was a reminder that if we were going to get anywhere; we would get there together. As a student at Westwood Middle School, I never thought I would excel in challenging courses until a teacher named Ms. Alexandria encouraged me to try my hand at an honors class.

“The attack on our teachers must end, because it hurts the ability of the vast majority of our kids to get an education that will position them to succeed. A high-quality public education is a civil right. This is why I stand shoulder to shoulder with Florida’s teachers in opposition to Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary. Her answers during her Senate hearing fell woefully short of the kind of leadership we need to ensure that all Floridians have a quality education.

“We have an opportunity to re-imagine how we deliver a world-class public education for our kids; while also supporting the teaching professionals who carry the responsibility of helping shape the young minds who will power us into the future.

“Our kids deserve better than Betsy DeVos.”

Environment Florida wants Bill Nelson to reject Scott Pruitt as EPA head

Scott Pruitt is one step closer to being the next leader of the Environmental Protection Agency.

On Thursday, Republicans on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-0 to confirm Pruitt, who serves as Oklahoma Attorney General.

Democrats on the committee boycotted the vote.

Pruitt, a climate change skeptic, was one of 14 attorneys general suing the EPA over regulations to limit carbon emissions put in place by the Obama administration.

The entire Senate will vote on his confirmation next week and the advocacy group Environment Florida is calling on the Sunshine State’s two senators to reject his nomination.

“This country needs an Environmental Protection Agency Administrator whose top priority is protecting our air and water and our families’ health,” says Turner Lott, Environment Florida’s campaign organizer. “We need somebody willing to enforce and defend our bedrock environmental laws and a leader guided by science when creating and implementing policy.”

The organization is one of several environmental groups criticizing Trump’s choice at EPA.

While Environment Florida is calling on both senators to oppose Pruitt, Marco Rubio already declared his support.

“The next EPA administrator should be someone who understands the important balance between protecting our air, water and environment without needlessly hurting workers with excessive regulations,” Rubio said in a Jan. 10 statement. “Attorney General Pruitt ‎is the right choice to bring a much-needed dose of common sense to a department where overzealous, out-of-touch regulators have been allowed to operate seemingly unchecked. I look forward to working with him on the many important environmental issues facing Florida.”

Florida’s senior Senator, Bill Nelson, is getting lobbied from both sides to either support or oppose Pruitt. The Florida Democrat pleased liberals Wednesday by announcing his opposition to Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary.

“I will be joining my Republican colleagues Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski in voting ‘no’ against Betsy DeVos,” Nelson declared in a statement.

“Floridians and all Americans deserve an EPA administrator who will fight to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we love. Scott Pruitt fails on all these accounts,” Lott said. “The Senate must stand with science. The Senate must stand up for our families’ health, clean water and clean air.

“We urge Senators Nelson and Rubio to reject President Trump’s nomination of Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.”

 

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