- 2020 election
- Al Lawson
- Alcee Hastings
- Alex Rodriguez
- attorney general
- Charlie Crist
- Darren Soto
- Debbie Wasserman Schultz
- Department of Justice
- Frank Artiles
- Frederica Wilson
- Ileana Garcia
- Jose Javier Rodriguez
- Kathy Castor
- Lois Frankel
- Merrick Garland
- Miami-Dade State Attorney
- SD 37
- Senate District 37
- Stephanie Murphy
- Ted Deutch
- Val Demings
After the riot
At the time, condemnation of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol complex drew immediate and sharp repudiation across the aisle.
That was then.
Now, forming a commission to look at what led to the violence that day is proving to be a partisan affair.
Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy, respective Minority Leaders in the House and Senate, announced opposition to such a panel last week. Subsequently, most Republicans in the House, including most Florida Republicans, voted against a bill establishing a commission. The legislation still passed 252-175.
Reps. Carlos Giménez and Maria Elvira Salazar, both Miami Republicans, were the only GOP members of the delegation to cross the aisle and back the commission. Rep. Dan Webster, a Clermont Republican, did not vote.
“We need to analyze the facts surrounding the assault on the Capitol building on January 6,” Giménez said. “These recommendations from the Commission will produce valuable insight on how to improve our security at the Capitol and what can be done to prevent these events from happening again. I understand the concerns many members of Congress have about Democrats politicizing this process. However, I trust the parameters of the commission successfully negotiated by my colleague Congressman John Katko, the Republican leader of the House Homeland Security Committee. The approved commission, which has a 50/50 split with Democrats, gives Republicans an equal voice at the table.”
But the role of Katko, a New York Republican and one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump for inciting insurrection, had the opposite effect on the vote of some delegation members. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican and Trump devotee, said it proved the commission would focus only on blaming Trump.
“The 1/6 commission was always a bad idea,” Gaetz tweeted. “Choosing a pro-impeachment Republican to lead negotiations was foolish from the start. [I don’t know] why we have to empower the [Liz] Cheney/Katko types before realizing the folly later, at a higher political cost. Now finally, McCarthy sees it my way.”
Those who rioted in the Capitol were Trump supporters aiming to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory, which Trump maintains was stolen. Trump’s resilient influence within Republican circles may explain the reluctance of many Republicans to back a commission. The former President issued a missive through his Save America PAC on Thursday, slamming all House members who voted to move ahead with the investigation and vaguely threatening electoral consequences.
“See, 35 wayward Republicans — they just can’t help themselves,” Trump wrote. “We have much better policy and are much better for the Country, but the Democrats stick together, the Republicans don’t. They don’t have the [Mitt] Romney’s, Little Ben Sasse’s, and Cheney’s of the world. Unfortunately, we do. Sometimes there are consequences to being ineffective and weak. The voters understand!”
Democrats in the delegation hope voters understand the virtue of creating a commission and remain confident America will be better for searching out answers.
”A bipartisan Jan. 6 Commission would investigate the domestic terrorist attack on the U.S. Capitol, report findings, and make recommendations to prevent future attacks on the Capitol,” tweeted Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat. “I’m grateful to Capitol Police and National Guard who fought off the racist mob that day.”
The bill could still face a difficult path forward in the Senate, where it takes 60 votes to move forward with much speed. About 17% of Republican representatives crossed House leadership, but even if that percentage did the same in the upper chamber, it wouldn’t make a vote filibuster-proof. And POLITICO reports McConnell may be willing to willing to unleash the filibuster for the first time of Biden’s presidency to stop the panel.
But The Washington Post earlier this week suggested McConnell hasn’t fought the panel especially hard. The paper also lists a Florida delegation who could move a commission forward and provide the supermajority needed to break a filibuster.
“If we can have a serious examination of the events leading up to, occurring, and in the aftermath of that day, we should do it,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican. “We need to learn as much as we can.”
One of Washington’s top political prognosticators issued rankings on competitive House districts in 2022, and four Florida seats made the charts. But the rankings come with one major caveat.
Sabato’s Crystal Ball, headed by the University of Virginia Center for Politics head Larry Sabato, predicts competitive races in at least four contests.
The team lists the race to succeed Charlie Crist in Florida’s 13th Congressional District as a “Tossup.” That makes it one of 19 Democrat-held seats tabulated as top tier. That’s compared to two Republican-held seats ranked as tossups nationwide.
Rep. Salazar, in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, gets categorized as Florida’s most at-risk incumbent. But her race still falls in the “Lean Republican” column.
Reps. Giménez, a Miami Republican, and Stephanie Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat, appear on the rankings respectively in the “Likely Republican” and “Likely Democratic” categories.
But Crystal Ball Managing Editor Kyle Kondik notes these rankings all assume races under current lines, making the rankings purely hypothetical. The Republican Legislature will redraw all of Florida’s Congressional boundaries next year, and the addition of an additional seat in Florida means there’s no chance the lines stay put.
Independencia de Cuba
Cuban Independence Day holds special meaning in Florida, a state just 90 miles away from the communist nation. Sen. Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, released an extended Spanish language video on May 20, 119 years after the island nation became independent from U.S. ownership. The video featured appearances by Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart as well. And Diaz-Balart, along with Giménez and Salazar, also attended a special event led by McCarthy to celebrate Cuban American contributions and decrying socialism.
The holiday, celebrated in the U.S. but not in the nation now under socialist control, comes as Rubio pursues multiple legislative efforts tied to issues with Cuba that persist today.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
On Cuban Independence Day we look forward to the day when #Cuba will be free & once again truly independent
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 20, 2021
Florida’s senior Senator joined with Sen. Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, in filing the No Trademarks Honored in America. The legislation would prohibit U.S. courts from ever validating intellectual property rights claimed by the Cuban government on business or assets confiscated by the nation. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat, filed a companion bill in the House.
“It has long been U.S. policy to support the rightful owners of stolen property. For 60 years, the despotic Cuban dictatorship — through government-controlled companies — has profited from intellectual property that was stolen and rightfully belongs to ordinary Cubans and their descendants,” Rubio said. “I’m proud to reintroduce this bipartisan bill, which ensures that U.S. courts do not recognize, enforce, or otherwise validate any trademark rights from businesses or assets stolen by the Cuban regime.”
Rubio also introduced legislation about Havana syndrome, providing compensation to U.S. diplomatic staff who have reported symptoms consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radio-frequency energy. It’s been dubbed with the name of the Cuban capital since U.S. embassy staff in 2016 became the first to report the “illness.” A similar concentration of cases later occurred among U.S. diplomats at the consulate in Guangzhou in China.
“I’m proud to reintroduce this legislation to provide the CIA Director and the Secretary of State the authorities needed to properly assist U.S. personnel who have endured these attacks while serving our nation,” Rubio said. “There is no doubt that the victims of the Havana Syndrome, who have suffered brain injuries, must be provided with adequate care and compensation.”
Scott teamed up with former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm, another fiscal hawk who once harbored presidential ambitions, to take Biden to task in The Wall Street Journal. The two Republicans criticized the administration’s “anti-production” policies and wrote the President quickly forced worker shortages and inflation.
“The U.S. economy clearly has the power to iron out the natural problems of restarting production, but the very nature of the subsidies in the $6 trillion Biden administration stimulus, relief and infrastructure bills constrain production,” the men wrote. “In its modern incarnation, socialism denies that government incentives and constraints have anything to do with people’s decisions to work, save and invest. Experience teaches otherwise.”
Since Biden’s election, Scott worked to set himself apart as a critic on economic policy. For that, teaming up with Gramm makes sense. Gramm once ran for president criticizing tax increases under President Bill Clinton and later helped craft fiscal policies for 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain.
The op-ed zeroed in on the consumer price index, which showed a year-over-year increase of 0.8% to 9.6% in April. That may be especially relevant as it’s the first time the index rate in 2020 reflects prices firmly within the pandemic.
“While the price increases are significant, broad and accelerating, are they the temporary effects of demand recovering from the pandemic shutdown more quickly than production, or is there evidence that this is the return of the inflation that plagued us for a generation and we paid such a high price to escape 40 years ago?” the piece reads.
Basic economics would forecast trouble, Scott and Gramm assert — “too much money chasing too few goods.” The increases remind of inflation rates unseen since President Jimmy Carter, notably the last Democratic President to lose reelection in 1980.
Biden signed legislation this week aimed at hate crimes committed against Asians amid the pandemic. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act cleared the House earlier, but not by the Senate’s 94-1 margin.
The lower chamber cast 62 votes against the legislation, all by Republicans.
While 147 Republicans joined with Democrats in passing the bill by a 364-62 landslide, dissenters included four members of the Florida delegation. Reps. Gaetz, Kat Cammack of Gainesville, Greg Steube of Sarasota and Byron Donalds of Naples all voted nay.
The legislation, championed by Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, came after mass shootings in Atlanta that targeted Asian Americans working at massage parlors. It’s also been part of a growing conversation about prejudice against Asian American Pacific Islander communities since the coronavirus surfaced in China.
None of the Florida lawmakers opposed to the legislation issued any public statements explaining their vote. Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican, was the lone no vote.
A Polk County mother whose deportation sparked outrage about family separations under the Trump administration has returned home. But Kissimmee Democrat Darren Soto said Congress must prevent similar incidents from affecting military spouses in the future.
Alejandra Juarez returned to the U.S. three years after her deportation to Mexico. The exile came despite her being married to an American citizen and Iraqi combat veteran Sgt. Temo Juarez and having two daughters born in the U.S. Daughter Estela Juarez was spotlighted in a video at the Democratic National Convention reading a letter to Trump about why he tore the family apart.
“While we are thrilled that Alejandra is home in Central Florida, our fight is not over until she is granted permanent stay and all separated families are reunited,” said Soto, who worked to reunite the Juarez family. The mother has returned to the U.S. on humanitarian parole.
Soto filed legislation to provide individual relief for Alejandra Juarez and introduced the Protect Patriot Spouses Act (HR 163) that would protect those married to members of the U.S. military from deportation in the future.
As Democrat Val Demings of Orlando stepped toward a gubernatorial run, then pivoting to a U.S. Senate run, former Democratic State Attorney Aramis Ayala is now stepping from a U.S. Senate run closer to a run for Demings’ seat in Florida’s 10th Congressional District.
These dance maneuvers are getting trickier in Central Florida.
Redistricting could redraw six or seven districts through Central Florida enough to change their partisan character, as Republicans search for maps that maximize their prospects in the now 28-seat 2022 Florida congressional elections.
There’s almost no way to draw a Republican district based in Orange, which is deep blue now. The same is true with the most populous corner of Osceola, the Kissimmee-Poinciana corridor, where Soto reins. Seminole County is purple, and the more outlying Lake, Polk, Brevard, and Volusia counties, red. So the trick for Republicans is to base as many of the suburban Orlando districts — Florida’s 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th and 15th Congressional Districts — as possible in the outlying counties while writing off others for the decade. Meanwhile, a new district likely has to go somewhere, and there are many, notably Republican state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, expecting it to get squeezed into Central Florida.
Demings’ seat in Florida’s 10th Congressional District is a Democratic stronghold now, and it would be hard to redraw it as anything else. And it likely will be open.
Florida’s 7th Congressional District, where Murphy prevails in election comfort, also likely open, as she, too, eyes the Senate race. CD 7 could go red or blue, depending on whether redistricting squeezes more of it into Orange and out of Seminole, or out of Orange and into Lake or Volusia.
Besides Ayala, Democrats state Sen. Randolph Bracy, entrepreneur Chris King, Orlando City Commissioner Bakari Burns, state Rep. Geraldine Thompson, and Equality Florida official and Pulse massacre survivor Brandon Wolf are among those seen trying on dance shoes right now.
But for them, too, the dance would be a two-step: get in, then find out where.
Half the job is showing up, they say. But there’s no requirement for members of Congress to come in for every vote. When Axios published data on voting records for 80 first-termers in the House and Senate, Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin was in the top five House vote skippers.
Since his swearing-in, the Congressman missed 7.8% of all roll calls. Notably, Axios found the top five newcomers with missed votes were all Republicans.
According to top skipper Madison Cawthorn, a North Carolina Republican, he missed votes to attend his own April wedding and honeymoon. Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis claimed a home state blizzard affected her attendance record.
Axios hasn’t published any explanation from Franklin; his office hasn’t responded to Florida Politics’ request for comment.
While you won’t find horse meat at the deli in any Florida grocery store, scattered cases of equine slaughter make headlines in the state with stunning regularity. Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan, the House’s only two-time Humane Society Legislator of the Year, wants a crackdown on those who have resorted to eating our horses.
He and Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky filed legislation to ban slaughtering horses for human consumption and prohibit the export of horses to slaughterhouses in Canada and Mexico. The Congressman labeled the attacks on animals as a “barbaric practice.”
“I look forward to continuing to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to ban domestic horse slaughter and end the export of horses abroad for the same purpose,” he said.
It’s not an imagined horror.
In 2019, a Palmetto family had a horse stolen, which was later found gutted; law enforcement arrested a Pinellas County man last year on grand theft and animal cruelty charges. In 2015, Sarasota and Manatee counties reported multiple slaughters.
Federal prohibitions on killing horses for food exist in the U.S. but must be extended each year. The Save America’s Forgotten Equines (SAVE) Act would make such protections permanent. Buchanan’s office notes more than 37,000 horses end up shipped to their deaths in Mexico or Canada each year, which doesn’t violate any laws.
And apparently, there’s an overseas market for buying horse meat for those who will ship it to Japan, Italy or other nations.
Buchanan and Schakowsky worked with the Humane Society, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Welfare Institute and Return to Freedom Wild Horse Conservation. All those groups issued statements of support for the bill.
“For centuries, horses have embodied the spirit of American freedom and pride. They are our companions, work partners, entertainers, and athletes,” Schakowsky said. “With such a special place in our nation’s history, it’s beyond time that we end the brutal practice of slaughtering these majestic creatures as food for humans.”
What’s it take for a new member in the minority caucus to develop relationships in the House? Axios published rankings this week that show Miami Republican Salazar getting it done by offering support to bipartisan bills.
Based on data from Quorum, the outlet identified the freshman members of Congress who co-sponsored the most legislation with colleagues across the aisle. Salazar came in third place out of 80 new senators and representatives, the highest-ranking for any Florida member.
Half the legislation Salazar co-sponsored since arriving in Congress has opposite-party sponsors. That ties her with Michigan Republican Peter Meijer.
Only California Republican Young Kim and New York Republican Andrew Garbarino have worked across the aisle more.
Likely no coincidence, Salazar also represents one of the most competitive districts in Florida; Cook Political Report gave it a D+4 partisan index before redistricting. That makes it a bluer jurisdiction than three Florida districts represented by Democrats.
On this day
May 21, 1919 — “House passes amendment granting women right to vote” via U.S. House of Representatives Archives — The House passed a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana, the first woman to serve in Congress, implored colleagues to support the legislation: “How shall we explain to them the meaning of democracy if the same Congress that voted for war to make the world safe for democracy refuses to give this small measure of democracy to the women of our country?” The Senate initially failed to pass the amendment in the 65th Congress, so it was reintroduced in the House in the 66th Congress, where it passed 304-90. The Senate concurred shortly afterward.
May 21, 2018 — “Justice Department expands probe to add ‘campaign infiltration’” via BBC — The Department said it will look for any “political motivation” in its inquiry into alleged Russian election meddling in the U.S. Trump backed the move after meeting top justice and FBI officials at the White House. He is angry that a confidential source was used during the investigation. And he has said he wants to know whether a member of the Obama team ordered such a move. But Democrats and members of the intelligence community have warned against unmasking a source because they say this puts lives at risk.
Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions by Scott Powers.