Debbie Wasserman Schultz – Page 2 – Florida Politics

Democrats reserve nearly $2M for Miami TV ads

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved more than $1.9 million for TV ads to support House candidates in the 2018 midterms. The ads will run during the fall as the campaigns seek to finish strong in the run-up to election day.

That move follows an even bigger buy from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which will spend $3.2 million in the Miami market.

South Florida will be the site of a handful of competitive Congressional races. One of the highest profile will be the open race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

Longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has decided not to run for re-election. That’s prompted a number of entrants into the race, with nine Republicans, five Democrats and one independent registered to run.

Democrats also have their eyes on seats held by Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart. In Broward, Democratic Reps. Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz will try to fend off Republican challengers.

The nearly $2 million ad buy is part of a $12.6 million countrywide campaign by the DCCC.

Other major areas where ads are set to run are Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. More than $66 million was spent on TV ads by the DCCC in the 2016 cycle, meaning there may be plenty more money to come.

The DCCC will be aided by the House Majority PAC, which also supports Democrats. That group has already reserved $1.1 million in TV ads for the Miami market.

Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz blast Oliver North comments

New NRA President Oliver North‘s comments in an interview last week calling gun protests “civil terrorism” drew harsh condemnation Tuesday from the three Democrats who represent Parkland and the communities around it.

“These expletives are too far even for the NRA,” declared U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, whose district includes the scene of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Feb. 14 mass shooting and the families affected by it.

He was joined Tuesday by U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose districts come within a couple miles of the scene of the mass murder.

They were referring to an interview the newly-elected president of the National Rifle Association gave last week published by the Washington Times in which he said accused the gun-control community sparked by the Parkland shooting of what he called “civil terrorism.”

Citing what he called “cyberwar” being waged against the NRA, and reports of acts of vandalism, North compared the NRA’s plight to Jim Crow days, saying, “even there you didn’t have this kind of thing.”

“They call them activists. That’s what they’re calling themselves. They’re not activists — this is civil terrorism. This is the kind of thing that’s never been seen against a civil rights organization in America,” the Washington Times quoted North as saying.

“Oliver North’s comparing gun reform activists to civil terrorists is as outrageous as it is shameful,” Hastings stated in a news release issued by his office. “I’ve got news for Mr. North: the Stoneman Douglas High School students and others like them are not afraid to take you on, and they surely won’t back down from the NRA’s mob-like intimidation efforts. Our student leaders are heroes, and they are the ones who will transform the gun-control movement. The NRA has truly lost its way if it goes to such lengths to protect gun sale profits.”

Deutch called the student survivors “heroes” and said they are leading a movement “that has the NRA terrified.”

“The NRA’s intimidation tactics and shameful language will not stop these students or the national gun violence prevention movement from achieving sensible gun laws in our country,” Deutch stated in the release.

Survivors and families of the 17 murdered at the high school responded earlier with similar condemnations.

“The Marjory Stonemen Douglas students who have bravely taken on the NRA since the Parkland tragedy are inspiring role models, not frightening criminals, as the new NRA President Oliver North has tried to characterize them,” Wasserman Schultz. “An actual criminal himself, North’s dangerous rhetoric, aimed at teenagers he disagrees with, shows just how low the NRA will go to put gun sales and profits over human life and common-sense firearm laws.”

Darren Soto endorsed by 10 other members of Fla. congressional district

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has received endorsements from all ten of the other Democratic members of Congress from Florida, his re-election campaign announced Friday.

The announced endorsements would come as no surprise and seemingly fill no particularly-urgent campaign purpose, since Soto’s only opponent thus far in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is a Republican, St. Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitzky. However, the announcement may send a discouraging signal toward any potential Democratic primary challengers, notably former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who’s been mulling a comeback run, possibly against Soto for his old CD 9 seat.

Six of those who endorsed Soto in Friday’s announcement, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson, all served with Grayson in the 114th Congress, and before. U.S. Reps. Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Val Demings, and Charlie Crist all were first elected with Soto in 2016 to the 115th Congress.

Said Frankel, from West Palm Beach, “Darren Soto is one of the finest new leaders of his generation. He is all that women hope for in a male ally. He supports equal rights for women across the board. He fights for a woman’s right to choose 100 percent of the time. He demands health care for women and families. And he practices what he preaches – he hires women equally, promotes women equally, and pays women equally. And he has the stats to prove it.”

“Darren is not afraid to stand for what’s right. Before Parkland, his community was torn apart by gun violence. And he stood up, he took on the NRA. He will not forget the victims of gun violence when the media moves on. Soto will work day and night until our children our protected from guns,” Frankel added. “Darren succeeds the old fashioned way — through hard work. Darren is a new-generation leader who isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and do the work you need to do to succeed. He’s pragmatic, he’s in public service to get stuff done for Florida. He served in the trenches in Tallahassee like I did. He’s seen every dirty trick the Republicans pull, and he has fought them all — without the name-calling and childishness that often consumes Washington.”

Bethune statue bill heads to governor

Florida is poised to make history with the Legislature’s Tuesday passage of a proposal to place a statue of civil-rights leader and educator Mary McLeod Bethune in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol.

The statue of Bethune would replace a likeness of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, who has represented Florida for decades in the Capitol.

The proposal was sponsored by Daytona Beach Democrat Patrick Henry (HB 139) in the House and Fort Lauderdale Democrat Perry Thurston (SB 472) in the Senate.

The House on Tuesday OK’d the Senate’s version, which passed unanimously last month, sending it to Gov. Rick Scott. His office later Tuesday said the governor would sign the measure into law.

The final House vote was 111-1, with Jacksonville Republican (and attorney general candidate) Jay Fant the lone holdout. Fant has previously said that the state should not be in the “statue removal business.”

Henry said that Florida was making history by selecting Bethune, the first female African-American to get her own likeness in Statuary Hall in its 154-year history.

Born in July of 1875 in Mayesville, South Carolina, McLeod Bethune was a child of former slaves. Believing that education provided the key to racial advancement, Bethune founded the Daytona Normal and Industrial Institute in 1904, which later became Bethune-Cookman College.

She served as the president of the Florida chapter of the National Association of Colored Women for many years. In 1924, Bethune became the organization’s national leader, beating out fellow reformer Ida B. Wells for the top position.

She also became involved in government service, and advised several presidents. In 1935, Bethune became a special advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt on minority affairs. That same year, she also started up her own civil rights organization, the National Council of Negro Women.

“If we truly want to honor her legacy, we must not stop here,” Henry told fellow lawmakers. “We must continue efforts, such as providing a quality education for our young people, creating access to good paying jobs, and a quality education for our young people.”

Each state is represented by two statues, with Florida long represented by likenesses of Smith and John Gorrie, widely considered the father of air conditioning.

Smith is famous largely as the last Confederate officer to surrender a significant force at the end of the Civil War, nearly two months after Gen. Robert E. Lee gave in to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia and formally ended the war on April 9, 1865.

It’s been several years since lawmakers first took up the challenge of removing Smith from Statuary Hall, starring in 2015.

During the 2016 Session, Republican Rep. Jose Felix Diaz sponsored legislation to have the Smith statue removed and replaced by a memorial for Marjory Stoneman Douglas, credited with helping create the Everglades National Park. That bill did not move.

Similar efforts were unsuccessful during the 2017 Session, but after violence took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer regarding a Confederate monument, momentum was revived to replace Smith’s statute, with Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz demanding the Legislature remove the statue. The Legislature was not in Session at the time.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz: Parkland shooting will be different this year in guns, politics

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has seen a lot of gun massacres come and go, and, as former chair of the Democratic National Committee, a lot of gun bills come and vanish, but she told the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida Tuesday morning she’s convinced that what follows the Parkland massacre last Wednesday will be different.

“We have a generation of young voters who came of age amid an appalling number of mass shootings. And for the last decade they have been told that nothing can be done to stop this senseless slaughter,” she said.

“What I saw in Parkland after this shooting has felt different,” she said. “Listening to the powerful words of the student survivors it’s hard not to think that these kids may be ready to lead where politicians have failed to take action.”

Wasserman Schultz represents Florida’s 23rd Congressional District, just south of Parkland in Broward County, and the ties between her family’s Cypress Bay High School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, where 17 students and teachers were slain last week, are close. The schools and communities are similar and rivals, and now united, she said. On Friday she attended the funeral of one of the victims, Meadow Pollack, who was 18.

The rise of students, starting in Parkland and appearing in efforts descending on Tallahassee Tuesday and planned elsewhere in coming weeks, she said, will make the difference, if not in passing bills to tighten background checks and ban new sales of semi-automatic weapons, then in the elections that follow.

Recalling the funeral and the reactions of the family and friends brought Wasserman Schultz close to Tuesday, but the message she got was one of resolve and that they were “incredibly poised and so articulate.”

“What I saw in the faces of the students and parents last week there is an army that can literally march for these demands and they are in Tallahassee right now doing just that. And I think this is going to be a key litmus test for every race we have this fall,” she said. “It certainly is going to be huge policy difference separating [Democratic U.S. Sen.] Bill Nelson and [Republican Gov.] Rick Scott in a potential U.S. Senate race.

Wasserman Schultz, a former member of the Florida House and the Florida Senate now in her seventh term in Congress, rose to chair the Democratic National Committee. But her exit from that leadership post last year was nasty, after reports emerged alleging her heavy-handed steering of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries. But she remains a powerful figure among congressional progressive Democrats.

When asked why the Democrats did not address their biggest gun position during the period when they had control of the White House and both chambers of commerce, and Wasserman Schultz was a quickly rising power in the Democratic party, she insisted the 60 votes needed to approve most bills in the U.S. Senate made it impossible during that time.

“Enough is enough. We cannot let another day go by without demanding the common sense gun legislation come to the floor of every chamber of every body in this country. Let them vote,” she said earlier. “Whatever way it comes out. But elected officials have to be held to account by the overwhelming majority, even of NRA members, who believe that we need to take steps to make this country safer, and to rid this country of the scourge of the weapons of war that no civilians as meant to have.”

She told the Tiger Bay club she believes that other progressive causes including the Affordable Care Act preservation, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals [DACA] program, and the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault all will play key roles for Democrats in the upcoming elections. But she spoke of Democrats’ desire for gun legislation to be more of a game changer following Parkland, and the impact that shooting is having on Generation Z, if not now, then eventually.

“They know that offers of just thoughts and prayers or more promises of more mental health funding mean absolutely nothing is going to change,” she said.

Nancy Pelosi to join Debbie Wasserman Schultz for FAU town hall

Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, returns to Florida later this week when she joins fellow Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others for a town hall on the recently enacted GOP tax reform plan.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 25 at the Student Union-House Chambers on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton.

President Donald Trump signed the $1.5 trillion rewrite of the tax code last month. It’s considered the biggest legislative victory for Trump and congressional Republicans since he took over the White House just over a year ago, and the lobbying for public opinion approval is well underway.

Recent polls suggest that more Americans are supporting the plan than when it was being debated and voted on late last year.

A Survey Monkey poll conducted for the New York Times last week shows that 46 percent of Americans now strongly or somewhat approve of the law. That’s up from 37 percent when the bill was nearing passage in December.

With unemployment continuing to drop and a strong stock market, the uptick in the economy could be a much needed boost for Republicans this November, as Trump himself continues to see his approval rating in the upper 30s.

Part of the Democratic message will be that the tax plan disproportionately benefits the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. As the statement issued for the event reads, “The town hall is the latest event on a nationwide tour to shine a light on Republican tax breaks for millionaires, billionaires and wealthy corporations at the expense of working families.”

The Tax Policy Center says that while the bill would reduce taxes on average for all income groups in both 2018 and 2019, in general higher-income households will receive larger tax cuts as a percent of after-tax income.

It goes on to say that, on average, taxes would change little for lower and middle-income groups and decrease for higher-income groups by 2027.

This will be Pelosi’s first visit to the Sunshine State since last May, when she appeared with Wasserman-Schultz and Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch in Wilton Manors to highlight their support for the Equality Act. It would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to guarantee federal protections for LGBT individuals in education, employment, housing and other areas.

Vern Buchanan: Florida ‘not out of the woods yet’ for offshore drilling

Although the Donald Trump administration removed Florida from its controversial proposal to permit drilling in most U.S. continental shelf waters, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan said Monday that “Florida is not out of the woods yet” when it comes to protecting the state from another catastrophic oil spill — and wants legislation extending a drilling ban.

“Although I’m pleased the Trump Administration has backed off plans to expand drilling off Florida’s coasts for now, we need to pass my bill extending the drilling moratorium until 2027,” the Longboat Key Republican said. “Without legislation extending and codifying the ban in law, any future administration could change that policy. We need to put it in law.”

The current moratorium on drilling off Florida’s Gulf coast will expire in June 2022. Along with Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Buchanan is the co-author of the Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act, which would extend the ban to 2027. Florida Democrat Bill Nelson has filed similar legislation in the Senate.

“Florida’s beaches are vital to our economy and way of life,” Buchanan said. “Our coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean and we cannot risk another catastrophic event like Deepwater Horizon.”

As co-chair of the Florida congressional delegation, Buchanan and South Florida Democrat Alcee Hastings crafted a letter from a bipartisan group of 21 members of the state’s congressional delegation last week calling on the Interior to oppose any rollback of safety regulations adopted after the Deepwater Horizon blast in 2010.

An Interior Department bureau recently said some of the regulations adopted in response to the tragedy created “potentially unduly burdensome requirements” on oil and gas operators. The proposal to roll back safety rules was published in the Federal Register at the end of 2017.

The Trump administration’s initial decision to open up the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic coast and Florida Straits to drilling received almost universally negative reaction from Florida lawmakers, including Gov. Rick Scott. That led Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to exclude Florida from any proposed offshore drilling plans because “its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.”

Lawmakers from other states that would be affected by the proposal now are making their own cases to the Interior about why they should be exempted as well.

Only representatives from the oil and gas industry have expressed disappointment with the Interior’s subsequent decision to remove Florida from the administration’s offshore oil and gas drilling plan.

“This announcement is premature,” American Petroleum Institute President and CEO Jack Gerard said last week. “Americans support increased domestic energy production, and the administration and policymakers should follow the established process before making any decisions or conclusions that would undermine our nation’s energy security.”

Most of Florida congressional delegation protests lifting oil rig safety rules

A bipartisan group from Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter to the Donald Trump administration opposing any rollback of safety regulations adopted after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the group of 20 lawmakers — both Democrats and Republicans — warned that “an oil spill can devastate a regional economy and inflict long-term environmental damage” and asked the secretary to “reject any proposals to roll back regulations that were specifically adopted to address systemic safety failures that led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.”

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced last week that some of the regulations adopted in response to the tragedy created “potentially unduly burdensome requirements” on oil and gas operators. The proposal to roll back safety rules was published in the Federal Register at the end of 2017.

Proposals to weaken safety requirements reportedly under consideration include:

Reversing a rule that called for more frequent testing of blowout preventers — the same device that failed in the Deepwater Horizon spill, which is intended to serve as a fail-safe against explosions in undersea oil and gas wells.

No longer requiring independent auditors to certify that safety and pollution prevention equipment works under extreme conditions. This would remove any federal requirement and instead allow [the] industry to adopt their own set of standards, the guideline industry utilized prior to the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Scrapping the requirement that an investigation into equipment failure be completed within 120 days. This would enable oil companies to delay indefinitely with no required date of completion.

Removing the federal government’s authority to regulate maximum or minimum drilling pressures at new sites. This important provision maintains a safe pressure for drilling that prevents surges and potential blowouts similar to what occurred in the Deepwater Horizon spill.

The letter was led by Republican Vern Buchanan from Longboat Key and Democrat Alcee Hastings from Delray Beach. It was signed by GOP Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Carlos Curbelo, Bill Posey, Dennis Ross, Brian Mast Frances Rooney, John Rutherford and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen. Democrats who signed on included Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel, Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.

The Florida members of Congress said, “It would be a huge mistake to weaken these safety regulations and risk not only lives, but catastrophic consequences to our environment. Florida’s coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean and we should not jeopardize the state’s economy or environment by gambling on operations that lack adequate safeguards.”

You can read the entire letter below:

The Honorable Ryan Zinke

Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

1849 C Street, NW

Washington, D.C. 20240

Dear Secretary Zinke,

We are writing to convey our strong opposition to any attempts by the U.S. Department of the Interior to weaken critical oil drilling safety rules adopted in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. As Floridians know all too well, an oil spill can devastate a regional economy and inflict long-term environmental damage.

That is why we are asking you to reject any proposals to roll back regulations that were specifically adopted to address systemic safety failures that led to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill. Recently, a division of your agency, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) stated some of the regulations adopted since the spill created “potentially unduly burdensome requirements” on oil and gas operators.

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon spill spewed more than 4 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, claimed the lives of 11 workers, decimated the region’s iconic wildlife and severely damaged our fishing and tourism industries.

It would be a huge mistake to weaken these safety regulations and risk not only lives, but catastrophic consequences to our environment. Florida’s coastal communities depend on a clean and healthy ocean and we should not jeopardize the state’s economy or environment by gambling on operations that lack adequate safeguards.

As you are undoubtedly aware, BSEE adopted these regulations over the course of several years and after significant input and engagement with the public, federal policymakers, and industry stakeholders in order to enhance the safety of offshore oil and gas drilling.

Some of the most noteworthy and egregious proposals under consideration would:

Reverse a rule that called for more frequent testing of blowout preventers — the same device that failed in the Deepwater Horizon spill, which is intended to serve as a fail-safe against explosions in undersea oil and gas wells.

No longer require independent auditors to certify that safety and pollution prevention equipment works under extreme conditions. This would remove any federal requirement and instead allow [the] industry to adopt their own set of standards, the guideline industry utilized prior to the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Scrap the requirement that an investigation into equipment failure be completed within 120 days. This would enable oil companies to delay indefinitely with no required date of completion.

Remove the federal government’s authority to regulate maximum or minimum drilling pressures at new sites. This important provision maintains a safe pressure for drilling that prevents surges and potential blowouts similar to what occurred in the Deepwater Horizon spill.

Our constituents, which were severely impacted by the Deepwater Horizon spill, vehemently oppose any effort to weaken these common-sense regulations, and increase the likelihood of another oil spill off the coast of Florida. We urge you to reject these ill-advised proposals.  Thank you for your time and consideration, and we look forward to your prompt response on this critically important matter.

Sincerely,

Debbie Wasserman Schultz files ‘#MeToo’ sexual misconduct ethics bill

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz filed legislation Wednesday that would require congressional sexual harassment cases to automatically be referred to the House Ethics Committee.

The “Me Too Congressional Ethics Act,” co-sponsored by Wasserman Schultz’s fellow Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, is aimed at lifting the shroud of secrecy cloaking sexual harassment lawsuit settlements involving members of Congress or their staff members, according to a news release jointly issued Wednesday by Wasserman Schultz’ and Frankel’s offices.

The bill would trigger Ethics Committee inquiries and possible sanctions for unwanted and improper sexual behavior that generates an official action, such as a legal settlement or a finding by the Congressional Office of Compliance.

“The current process for handling sexual harassment cases in Congress too often protects the perpetrators while leaving the victims exposed,” Wasserman Schultz, who authored the bill, said in the release. “In sexual harassment cases where a settlement is reached or wrongdoing is found, the Ethics Committee should immediately initiate an investigation.

“As we’ve just seen with so many troubling legal settlements coming to light, that is simply not happening now,” she continued. “The congressional culture surrounding sexual harassment must change immediately — and it must be much more transparent and accountable. Victims of sexual harassment deserve to be heard. There should be consequences levied when the accusation is found to have merit, including and especially within the halls of Congress.”

Wasserman Schultz is from Weston; Frankel, from West Palm Beach.

“The ‘Me Too’ movement has arrived, exposing the toxic nature of sexual harassment. Members of Congress who breach the trust of their office by violating civil rights law, including acts of sexual abuse, should be held accountable both to the victim and the institution,” Frankel stated in the release. “This legislation assures swiftness and fairness in responding to an ugly chapter in the history of Congress.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz formally backs Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for CD 26

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is supporting fellow Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in her campaign for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

“I am proud to endorse Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in her campaign for Congress,” said the former Democratic National Committee chair Sunday afternoon in a statement from the Mucarsel-Powell campaign. “Debbie has spent her career working to expand health care access to underserved communities in Miami. I’ve gotten to know Debbie over the past several years, and I’ve seen how well she understands firsthand, as an immigrant and a mother, the realities so many South Florida families are facing.

“From fighting climate change to building an economy that puts the people first, Debbie has a bold vision for our future and will be a strong voice on behalf of the South Florida community.”

CD 26 runs from Miami to Key West. Republican Carlos Curbelo has held the seat since he defeated one-term Democratic incumbent Joe Garcia in 2014. And Curbelo has raised a lot of money to keep it.

Democrats have long considered CD 26 one of the ripest seats to convert from red to blue in 2018.

In an extremely competitive district, Mucarsel-Powell is emerging as the Democratic establishment choice. Palm Beach County-area Democratic Congresswoman Lois Frankel has already endorsed Mucarsel-Powell. So have EMILY’s List and a host of South Florida elected officials.

Also competing against Mucarsel-Powell in the Democratic primary are Steve Smith and Steven Machat, a Miami Beach music producer and attorney who unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate in 2016.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons