- 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
A decision by President Joe Biden’s administration to extend temporary protected status for Haitian nationals has delegation members (happily) reaching out to help individuals through the process.
“Our Haitian brothers and sisters deserve our full support and protection,” wrote Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat, in a Sunday tweet. “I strongly support this new TPS designation to protect Haitians living in the United States. Please contact my office if you need assistance applying for protected status.”
On Saturday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Haitian migrants already in the U.S. could apply for TPS for 18 months. That’s a reversal from policy under former President Donald Trump, but one heralded from both sides of the aisle, at least within the Sunshine State.
“I welcome the administration’s action to extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitians in the United States,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican and Florida’s senior Senator. “It is clear the conditions in Haiti have not improved, which is why I requested TPS be extended two months ago.”
Some members of Trump’s administration criticized the decision. Stephen Miller, a senior adviser to Trump primarily credited for the signature tough-on-immigration policies of the Republican regime, slammed the change. “There is nothing ‘temporary’ about TPS. President [Barack] Obama first granted TPS to noncitizen Haitian nationals in 2010 — 11 years ago,” Miller tweeted. “President Trump was the first President whose Administration worked to finally end these never-ending designations, fighting in court for years to do so.”
But none of Florida’s elected officials offered such criticism to date. Notably, Republicans in Florida, including Sen. Rick Scott, pressed for years, even while Trump was President, for the U.S. to offer the status to Haitian nationals. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart in April co-led a letter to Mayorkas detailing reasons Haitians still warranted TPS status.
Democratic members greeted Mayorkas’ announcement with enthusiasm and contrasted it to inaction on the part of the prior administration. “Haiti is overwhelmed by multiple political, social and economic crises, and every bit of financial and other assistance that TPS recipients can send to their families who are fighting to survive during this tumultuous period is sorely needed,” said Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Hollywood Democrat.
What’s the reason for Florida’s unity? It could be that of the estimated 687,000 Haitian immigrants living in the U.S. as of 2018, around 49% of them reside in Florida, according to the Migration Policy Institute. The national total is notably around 100,000 more Haitians in the country than in 2010, showing the dramatic increase in population since an earthquake devastated the island nation.
The bulk of Haitian green cardholders in the U.S. apply through family reunification efforts, meaning they already have family residing here. The U.S. Census as of 2018 estimated more than 1.03 million Haitian American citizens now live in America, the bulk of them in South Florida.
Days after reporting he was open to a Jan. 6 Commission, Sen. Rubio made clear he strongly opposes the House bill aiming to set up an independent, nonpartisan commission to review the siege of the Capitol.
“This is a partisan joke,” Rubio says of the bill in a video posted on Twitter Friday. “I am a no,” he added in a tweet.
The change in rhetoric came after the House approved legislation (HR 3233) and sent it to the Senate. All 217 House Democrats and 35 Republicans, including Miami Republicans Carlos Giménez and Maria Elvira Salazar, voted yes in the lower chamber.
To watch the video, click on the image below:
Last night I read the bill creating a January 6th commission
It isn’t designed to produce a serious inquiry
It’s designed to be used as partisan political weapon
I am a no pic.twitter.com/5T6l0Dkb9z
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 21, 2021
The video is the latest in Rubio’s intermittent series of bunker-style Twitter videos he began early in the coronavirus crisis — always looking like a selfie of a casually dressed Senator appearing alone in a private location.
He contends there is no need for such a commission. And he argues it would not be nonpartisan or independent because the chairman would wield strong power to tamp down Republicans’ views. He also warned Democrats will abuse their powers to embarrass Republicans.
Sen. Scott says the U.S. has entered a new Cold War — this one with China. On the same day, he called Biden too “weak” to press the communist power about whether the COVID-19 coronavirus came from a lab, a Fox News op-ed by Scott demanded a more assertive approach.
“The United States must now recognize that a new Cold War is upon us and, with our allies, confront this threat and defeat the spread of tyranny using every diplomatic and military option at our disposal,” Scott wrote.
If the U.S. stays soft on the East, Scott said, China will stop at nothing short of conquering the globe.
“Communist China’s intentions for world domination are clear in its recent $400 billion, 25-year deal with Iran to provide the Ayatollah with a steady military partner, investment source, and oil customer,” he wrote. “Communist China has now secured a pathway to further extend the reach of its Belt and Road Initiative into the Middle East, while strengthening its relationship with the world’s greatest state-sponsor of terror.”
What should be done? Scott laid out plans for an economic counterattack on the aggressors across the ocean. The first-term Senator said he filed 40 pieces of legislation the past three years to do just that.
“We need to cut Communist China off from the American economy that it relies so heavily upon to feed its oppression machine,” he wrote. “There is no point in sacrificing our interests for the hope of compromise with a country that will never live up to its end of any agreement, is openly committing genocide against millions of Uyghur Muslims, and continuously threatens not only America’s security, but that of our allies in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Panhandle Republican Matt Gaetz in recent weeks accused the Biden administration of drumming out military leaders not woke enough. Exhibit A, in his eyes, is the termination of Space Force Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier, who was fired after alleging Marxism was spreading within the military. The Air Force Inspector General recently took over an investigation of the matter, the Air Force Times reports.
During a rally in Arizona purportedly to support an election audit there, Gaetz raised the matter from the stage. “Right now, our military is being targeted by the Biden Department of Defense,” Gaetz said. “Lt. Col. Matthew Lohmeier is an American patriot who should’ve been promoted, not relieved of his command. And the thing about Lohmeier, he was punished for telling the truth. He brought forward scholarship about Marxism and the danger that it does, a message that many of our young people need to hear today.”
Gaetz would like more attention placed on the decision to drive out the Space Force leader — and probably less on other things. In Arizona, the America First-thirsty crowd cheered every word.
Meanwhile, Gaetz said he will continue to tour the nation with Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene supporting unpopular audits, calling Arizona a “launchpad” for election integrity. His next stop, he said, is Georgia on May 27. It seems likely he will continue his travels — unless prosecutors in Central Florida ever make a move on Gaetz following Joel Greenberg’s plea deal in a sex trafficking investigation.
Dock of Bay County
Panama City Republican Neal Dunn slipped into Port Panama City to celebrate an expansion of the East Terminal there. The project, in the works since 2016, will increase capacity and generate some 300 direct jobs, Dunn’s office reports.
The improvements at the port took years, thanks to natural disasters like Hurricane Michael slowing construction. But the state-of-the-art facilities should start hosting more businesses and seeing larger vessels in the dock.
“I would like to thank all of you who have played a part in making this expansion happen, especially the United States Army Corps of Engineers, for your work in constructing the East Channel deepening project,” Dunn said in a newsletter to constituents. “Like me, you all saw the potential in our area and fought to see it through.”
Dunn also gave a shoutout to Wayne Stubbs, the executive director for the port who retires this month after 20 years on the job. According to Bay County officials, over that time, $75 million in new facilities opened at the port, and cargo capacity increased threefold.
Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack represents some of rural Florida’s most underserved areas regarding internet access. Now she’s filed legislation, the Gigabit Opportunity Act, to incentivize private investment and increase connectivity. That would be done by setting up Gigabit Opportunity Zones, where costs would be driven down for providers putting in broadband capabilities.
“It’s also empowering the states — so, really taking the federal government out of it and empowering the states to designate these areas where we’re really lacking service,” Cammack told the Palatka Daily News.
While states ultimately must play a more significant role in such local matters as utility access, Cammack said her bill could improve a problem facing less densely populated areas of the country.
“It’s another tool in the toolbox that helps build out the full picture because there’s not going to be one technology or one service provider that comes in and saves the day, if you will. It’s going to be a suite of options,” she said.
She’s also closely monitoring how areas like Putnam County fare in terms of access at the start of 2021 and where things stand at the end of the year.
The subject of rural broadband access picked up momentum in the past year as many workers and school students were forced to remote access for periods of the year in the pandemic.
Stephanie Murphy will not run for Senate.
The Winter Park Democrat in a statement said she doesn’t want the effort to unseat Sen. Rubio, a second-term incumbent Republican, complicated by a Democratic primary.
“We’ve had too many close losses in Florida, and so I wanted to use my experience from winning tough races to help the party prepare itself,” Murphy said.
Murphy had been exploring a Senate bid for months. But since Demings, another Orlando area Democrat signaled she will run for Senate instead of challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis, it has looked like a more difficult road to the nomination.
Both Democrats draw from the same Central Florida pool of voters. But Demings seat representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District isn’t a battleground by any definition. Murphy, meanwhile, represents one of the closest divided in the country in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Cook Political gives it a partisan voting index of D+2, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball lists it as likely Democrat. Still, those ratings come based on boundaries before the GOP-led Legislature redistricts ahead of the 2022 elections. Demings, meanwhile, represents a D+10 jurisdiction, according to Cook and Sabato.
Having an incumbent run in CD 7 inevitably puts Democrats in a stronger place for 2022 regardless of its makeup, though seeking another term in the house brings risks for Murphy. She has won the district three times, but either in Democrat-friendly environments like 2018 or when a Democrat running for President did well in her district. Losing a Senate race may not hold any consequences long-term, and besides, she beat Republican incumbents before. She got her House seat picking off incumbent GOP Congressman John Mica in 2016.
St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist reintroduced the Civics Learning Act of 2021, previously championed by the late Alcee Hastings.
The legislation aims to increase civic engagement and learning. It would provide up to $30 million to improve the K-12 civic engagement curriculum.
“My dear friend, the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, was a fiercely passionate advocate for America’s youth, working to empower the next generation of great American leaders through education, advancement and civic engagement,” Crist said.
Proponents of the legislation cite studies in recent years that show lower levels of knowledge in adults about basic components of civic learning.
“Though he may no longer be with us, his legacy remains — and I’m proud to carry it onward by reintroducing his Civics Learning Act,” Crist said. “He knew the truth that America is strongest when our people understand and can participate in our democracy, and with this effort, we’ll do just that.”
The late Congressman Hastings introduced the Civics Learning Act in the past two Congresses before his passing in April.
Stuart Republican Brian Mast will fill an appeal on a $500 fine for refusing to wear a mask on the floor. And a panel led by another delegation member will decide on the outcome. Mast sent a letter to House Ethics Committee Chair Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat, and to that committee’s ranking member, Idaho Republican Jackie Walorski regarding the penalty.
“I am appealing Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi’s $500 fine because I was in full compliance with the CDC guidance, and it is unlawful,” Mast said. “The scientists at the CDC told us if you are fully vaccinated, you can go about your life without wearing a mask or physically distancing. So, that’s what I’m doing. It has never been about following the science for Speaker Pelosi. It has always been about power and control.”
— Rep. Brian Mast (@RepBrianMast) May 23, 2021
After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on masks, Mast took to the podium in the middle of a vote and called on members to “take off these stupid masks.”
Pelosi’s office said it’s the Office of Attending Physician who fined Mast. The leadership team also points to a CNN survey on vaccinated members; Mast is not on that list. That said, he’s not the only Florida member who said they are vaccinated and don’t appear. Both Mast and Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin say they had their doses but don’t appear on the CNN roster.
Mast, at one point, threatened to continue defying the mask rule and risk a $2,500 fine, but that has not happened yet. He’s one of three members to receive an initial penalty.
On Monday, Weston Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations condemned the latest wave of violent anti-Semitism erupting in the United States.
Then she joined in a statement from the global Inter-Parliamentary Task Force to Combat Online anti-Semitism that unequivocally condemned the recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in our countries and worldwide.
Wasserman Schultz is co-chair of the bipartisan caucus with Democrat Brenda Lawrence of Michigan and Republican Lee Zeldin of New York. She is a member of the multi-partisan inter-parliamentary task force, along with Deutch of Boca Raton, who also signed the statement.
The congressional caucus issued a statement expressing support for the Jewish community and condemning the rise of violent anti-Semitic hate.
“We stand for free speech and the historic American right to assemble and protest the policies of our country, or any other. But we unequivocally denounce and condemn the alarming rise in rampant hate, violence and harassment targeting Jewish Americans. In the past two weeks, Jews have been attacked on public streets, been spat on, and assaulted, and had their synagogues vandalized,” the statement reads.
“As Black and Jewish members of Congress, we know all too well how it feels to be marginalized and attacked because of our identity,” the statement continues. “We stand together, stronger than ever, in this time of need for the Jewish community. We will continue working tirelessly to identify, call out and eradicate anti-Semitism wherever and whenever we see it.”
The inter-parliamentary task force signatories also include members from Israel, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. The group condemned that anti-Semitic hate is breaking out worldwide and has become commonplace on many social media platforms, explicitly citing Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok.
“The recent inflammation of the conflict in the Middle East has had ripple effects everywhere,” the statement reads. “Our Jewish communities in New York, London, Montreal, Melbourne, Miami, Toronto, Los Angeles, and beyond have seen attacks on people and property. We are shocked and dismayed that many of our Jewish constituents are now thinking twice before doing things that previously were part of normal daily life.
“We are also deeply alarmed at anti-Semitic discourse online. Social media companies’ reactions to the content on their own platforms has been inconsistent and, by and large, inadequate. There is a distinct line between legitimate criticism of a country, and blatant anti-Semitism — which can lead directly or indirectly to violence, as we have seen play out in public.”
They declared the companies have a responsibility to remove anti-Semitic posts and strengthen their content moderation standards.
“As a multi-partisan group of elected officials from around the world, we stand united in our efforts to fight back against anti-Semitism whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head, and we call upon everyone to stand with us and loudly and publicly denounce this most pernicious form of hate,” the statement vowed.
Democratic candidate Adam Gentle, an anti-corruption attorney, says he’ll try to unseat Miami Republican Mario Díaz-Balart in Florida’s 25th Congressional District.
Díaz-Balart was first elected to Congress in 2002, representing parts of Miami-Dade County. Armed with an incumbency advantage, a connection to the county’s Cuban population, and buoyed by the GOP’s improvement inside Miami-Dade last cycle, Díaz-Balart could be hard to beat.
At his launch, Gentle appears to be going after Díaz-Balart for votes surrounding the Jan. 6 riot in Washington, D.C. Díaz-Balart voted to decertify the 2020 election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania and also opposed a House measure setting up a new commission to investigate the attack. Multiple Senate committees are also investigating portions of the Jan. 6 riot.
“This is an inflection point in our history; our failure to act now to address the causes of the Jan. 6 insurrection will lead this nation down the same path as Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba,” Gentle said in a statement announcing his run.
“I will not stand on the sidelines and watch elected officials repeat proven lies to further their corrupt scheme. They have tested our Constitution and the will of the American people. No mas. Floridians have an opportunity to save this nation and elect representatives that will uphold their oath of office and bring prosperity to all Floridians.”
Gentle is a member of the LGBTQ community and would be the first openly LGBTQ member of Congress from Florida if elected. But Díaz-Balart will likely be the favorite to retain the seat. Díaz-Balart didn’t even court a General Election opponent in 2020. In his last General Election race, in 2018, Díaz-Balart coasted to reelection with more than 60% of the vote.
Last year’s presidential results inside CD 25 also show Republicans in a good spot. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the district by about 10 percentage points over Obama. The 2016 vote was much closer, with Trump topping Hillary Clinton by fewer than two percentage points.
But in 2020, Trump dominated Biden, winning the district by a whopping 23 points.
In addition to covering parts of Miami-Dade, including Hialeah, Doral and Miami Springs, CD 25 also stretches across the south to Collier and Hendry counties. It’s unclear how the district’s boundaries will be affected by the upcoming redistricting process, but there would likely need to be a sharp change to make this an even race.
A Biden audience
Tallahassee attorney Ben Crump, who represented the family of George Floyd after his murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, will meet with Biden at the White House on Tuesday. Crump confirmed to The Uprising he will be there when the President meets with Floyd’s family on the anniversary of Floyd’s death and plans to discuss needed police reforms nationwide.
“I do think, if the Congress doesn’t do what they’re expected to do, then he [Biden] has to get more engaged if they don’t do what is expected,” Crump said.
But Crump hasn’t given up on legislation. He’s lobbied lawmakers and taken the anniversary of Floyd’s death to promote a bill named for the Minnesota man.
“Support meaningful police reform! Urge Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act BEFORE MAY 25 — the 1-year anniversary of George’s death!” Crump tweeted. “We desperately need reform to prevent the suffering of future marginalized minorities!”
Centers of Excellence
The Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration designated two campuses in Florida as Centers of Excellence for Domestic Maritime Training and Education. Both the Star Center in Dania Beach and the College of the Florida Keys in Key West made a list of 27 recognized institutions.
“Our collaboration with these institutions represents an important expansion of MARAD’s role in supporting maritime education and will help form pathways to good-paying American jobs in our nation’s maritime industry,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Sen. Scott congratulated the institutions in social media posts. But the real accolades could come in federal efforts at these sites in the future. The recognition means more than just a plaque to hang in the administration office. MARAD may now enter into cooperative agreements with either institution on several fronts, from authorizing student credits for military service to sending surplus vessels and equipment there.
“The CoE designations recognize the high standard of maritime education and training provided by the designated community and technical colleges and maritime training centers. These institutions play vital roles in our nation’s maritime industry by providing the training and skills students need to begin and advance careers afloat and ashore,” said Acting Maritime Administrator Lucinda Lessley.
On this day
May 25, 1961 — “The decision to go to the moon” via NASA History Office — President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. A number of political factors affected Kennedy’s decision and the timing of it. Kennedy felt pressure to have the United States “catch up to and overtake” the Soviet Union in the “space race.” Four years after the Sputnik shock of 1957, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space on April 12, 1961. While Alan Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, he flew on a short suborbital flight instead of orbiting the Earth.
May 25, 1787 — “Constitutional Convention begins” via History.com — Four years after the United States won its independence from England, 55 state delegates, including George Washington, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin, convene in Philadelphia to compose a new U.S. Constitution. By 1786, it was apparent that the Union would soon break up if the Articles of Confederation were not amended or replaced. Five states met in Annapolis, Maryland, to discuss the issue, and all the states were invited to send delegates to a new constitutional convention to be held in Philadelphia. Delegates representing every state except Rhode Island convened at Philadelphia’s Pennsylvania State House for the Constitutional Convention.
Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions by Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol and Scott Powers.