Delegation for 6.15.21: Adios Netanyahu — Chinese apps — lifesaver — censorship? — bad blood

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
Goodbye Netanyahu, censoring 'The Squad." and honoring a 7-year-old hero.

Adieu Netanyahu

Florida delegation members reacted to the news from Israel that Naftali Bennett is replacing Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu has led Israel since 2009.

Bennett, head of the ultranationalist Yamina party, took over as part of a coalition government after narrowly topping Netanyahu. Bennett will lead the country until Sept. 2023 as part of a power-sharing agreement. Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party will then take over until Nov. 2025.

So long: Benjamin Netanyahu has been Israeli Prime Minister since 2009.

“I’ve had the privilege of meeting with (Netanyahu) numerous times (and) am grateful for his partnership, which has only strengthened U.S./Israel relations,” Republican Sen. Rick Scott said in a statement following the transition of power. “I look forward to working with the Bennett administration (and) will keep fighting to support Israel in the U.S. Senate.”

Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch also committed to preserving the American-Israeli relationship going forward.

“Congratulations to the people of Israel on the formation of a new coalition government made up of a broad range of parties and representing many different views and communities,” Deutch said.

“Americans and Israelis share many values, first and foremost our commitment to upholding and preserving democratic ideals. We will continue to work together to strengthen and enhance areas of cooperation, including security, energy, science and technology. I remain deeply committed to (the) U.S.-Israel relationship (and) advancing peace (and) regional cooperation.”

As chair of the House Middle East, Deutch, North Africa and Global Counterterrorism Subcommittee, has exemplified the Florida delegation’s bipartisan support for Israel over the years. While other national Democratic leaders have been critical of Israel — particularly on the treatment of Palestinians — Deutch and other Florida Democrats joined with Republicans in supporting America’s alliance with the nation.

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz also added comments Sunday, but his remarks mainly were used to try to undercut criticism of him and former President Donald Trump.

“Bibi is not done. He will lead the opposition (and) be back leading the government after the next election,” Gaetz said of the ousted Israeli leader.

“The Bennet coalition uses Bibi hatred as its sole organizing principle. This is why they will accelerate (the) criminal process against Bibi in the short term. Sound familiar?”

Trump, Gaetz and Netanyahu each now face legal troubles.

Bill Day’s latest

There’s an app

Add DiDi to a list of apps definitely not on Sen. Marco Rubio’s smartphone. The Miami Republican on Friday called for better auditing standards for the ride-share software company, which just applied to the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering and listing on the New York Stock Exchange. 

But the Chinese Communist Party holds a stake in the business. Rubio said that could mean serious consequences thanks to the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act passed and signed into law last year if the administration has the tenacity to enforce the statute.

“America cannot continue to allow unaccountable companies based in China to ignore our nation’s laws,” Rubio said. “Every time the SEC allows companies like DiDi to list on American exchanges, it funnels desperately needed U.S. dollars into Beijing and puts the investments of American retirees at risk. The Biden Administration should take action to block DiDi’s IPO and work with us on a legislative solution to prohibit all IPOs from unaccountable actors.”

Marco Rubio is no DiDi fan.

The law requires even foreign companies on the NYSE to meet the same criteria as American companies, including allowing an audit by the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board. China won’t allow that for its companies, but that means three years after an IPO, a company should be delisted, Rubio’s office explained.

This year, Rubio also sponsored new legislation with Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey to impose a total prohibition on PIOs for companies refusing to follow U.S. regulations.

The proliferation of successful apps where the Chinese government holds a stake has pushed Rubio to come after apps like TikTok and criticize business dealings with China by Apple and Disney, among others.

Pint-sized hero

A 7-year-old Jacksonville boy earned recognition on the floor of the Senate. 

Sen. Scott on Friday read into the Congressional Record a description of the “heroic actions” of Chase Poust.

The child over Memorial Day swam into action in the St. Johns River. His four-year-old sister Abigail was pulled away by a current while swimming, as reported by WJXT; Steven Poust, the children’s father, swam after his daughter, but he too was swept in the current. At his father’s instruction, Chase swam a mile to shore upstream to inform authorities his father and sister had been pulled away in the river.

Rick Scott recognizes 7-year-old hero Chase Poust.

“The current was going the opposite way of going to the boat and the shore, so it was very hard to swim that way,” Chase told television reporters. It took the boy an hour to reach shore, but he contacted authorities, who sent a search party into action and brought his family home alive.

Scott’s tribute to Chase’s actions notes that by the time the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department came upon Steven and Abigail Poust, the two had been swept roughly two miles downriver.

“Chase’s strength and bravery is a reminder that heroes come in all ages and sizes,” Scott said. “I applaud the lifesaving actions of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and most of all, Chase, who showed remarkable grit and determination to save his dad and sister.

Campus conservatives

Florida’s 3rd Congressional District includes the liberal University of Florida student body in an otherwise reliably red region. But that didn’t dissuade Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack from espousing a need to make sure conservatives have a voice on campus. On Fox News, she and Ohio Republican Jim Jordan announced they would co-chair the Congressional Campus Free Speech Caucus, working in concert with Young America’s Foundation.

Of note, in her interview with Fox & Friends, Cammack focused more on the expression of ideas she disagreed with as she did about preserving the right for students to exercise their rights.

Kat Cammack considers U.S. universities as hostile to conservative thought.

“Let’s be honest, our college campuses these days, these aren’t higher education institutions,” she said. “These are indoctrination camps.”

Cammack, a graduate of the Metropolitan State University of Denver, said she knows well the affronts conservative students can suffer. She described a harrowing classroom experience to Fox News viewers.

“As the youngest Republican woman in Congress, it wasn’t too long ago that I came upon myself as an undergraduate student being attacked by my Latin American politics professor telling me that all White Republican men were the source of world conflict,” she told host Steve Doocy. “So I myself have experienced the harassment, the vitriol from the liberal left on college campuses, and now we have students across the country that are being attacked, that are being vilified. It is absolutely ludicrous that we as taxpayers fund this type of behavior.”

Notably, those attacks didn’t silence Cammack, who served as a student representative to the MSU Denver Board of Trustees. 

She clarified that the focus of the new caucus is as a conduit for campus conservatives and members of Congress to relay reports of indoctrination.

Squashing the Squad

Republican Mike Waltz said it’s time to censure ‘The Squad.’ 

He and two other Republicans in the House introduced a resolution to reprimand Democratic colleagues Ilhan Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib. Their sin? Conflating terrorist attacks by Hamas with military responses by the U.S. or Israeli governments.

“We cannot turn a blind eye to members of Congress openly defending terrorist attacks by Hamas against our close ally Israel nor their dangerous rhetoric which has contributed to anti-Semitic attacks across the country,” Waltz said. “I’ve seen firsthand gross atrocities against women and ethnic minorities at the hands of the Taliban. I’ve personally been fired upon by terrorists hiding behind women and children and seen the Taliban place suicide vests on teenagers. For members of the U.S. Congress to make equivalencies to Israel and the American military, which puts its own soldiers at risk to avoid civilian casualties, is ignorant of the facts, shameful, and should be condemned in the strongest terms.”

Mike Waltz would like to silence ‘The Squad.’

Waltz introduced the scolding measure along with Indiana Republican Jim Banks and New York Republican Claudia Tenney. In his own statement, Banks especially decried the Squad, who he said has “made a habit of trafficking in antisemitic rhetoric.” The four Democratic Congresswomen, who were all elected in 2018, garnered national attention as a group of young, hyper-progressive, and ethnically diverse new members. Ocasio-Cortez coined the term in an Instagram post shortly after the four were elected.

Omar, in particular, recently received criticism, including from Democrats, for harsh rhetoric about Israel. That includes stating in a hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken that “we have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” The other Squad members listed in Waltz’s resolution have not made any statements as strong but raced to defend Omar after the comments drew admonishment. 

Weak link?

The pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in manufacturing supply chains in the U.S. Now, Rockledge Republican Bill Posey wants a commission set up to reduce the nation’s dependence on other nations (read China).

He and Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan introduced the bipartisan Critical Supply Chain Commission Act, which would create a 12-member group of experts to study vulnerabilities in critical supply lines and forecast future disruptions. In addition, the commission would offer guidance for Congress to address shortages and weaknesses through policy and legislation, and hopefully, boost the now $2-trillion manufacturing sector within the U.S.

Bill Posey is looking for weak links in the nation’s supply chain.

“U.S. supply chain health is dependent on many factors including trade agreements, world economics and supply availability, and natural disasters,” Posey said. “The pandemic highlighted vulnerabilities in our critical supply chain from PPE to lifesaving medications, rare minerals, and even agricultural goods. We need to be prepared to address future events that threaten our critical supply chain, and this nonpartisan Commission will not only help secure our needs but also boost domestic manufacturing, strengthen our production capabilities, and reduce our dependence on foreign powers. I thank my colleague Rep. Tim Ryan for his leadership on this important issue.”

It’s not just about protecting the economy, but American consumers, Ryan added. “Many Americans were shocked to find that early in the pandemic, the United States lacked the ability to produce those products needed to take care of the sick and their caregivers,” Ryan said. “This legislation will make sure that the expertise and systems are in place to react quickly in providing those manufactured items that are crucial to the health and safety of all Americans.”

Blood bans

Five years after the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Orlando Democrat Val Demings wants an end to the policy that left many of Florida’s LGBTQ community at the time unable to donate blood.

She joined House colleagues in calling for the Assessing Donor Variability and New Concepts in Eligibility (ADVANCE) Study to move forward. Five other colleagues, including Mike Quigley of Illinois, Carolyn Maloney and Ritchie Torres of New York and Barbara Lee and Adam Schiff of California, joined on a letter to Food and Drug Administrator Janet Woodcock on the matter.

Val Demings wants the LGBTQ+ community to resume donating blood.

That’s in service to a hopeful goal. Demings wants an end to discriminatory practices when it comes to donating blood. Since 2015, the FDA has forbidden blood donations for men who had sex with another man over the past year. They relaxed the time frame to three months during the pandemic. But it remains a restriction that prevents even married gay and bisexual men in monogamous relationships from giving blood. The Pulse shooting in 2016 highlighted the ban, a seeming relic of the 1980s AIDS era, but ultimately nothing permanently changed.

“After the Pulse shooting five years ago, we swore to honor the victims with action, not just words. I will forever be proud of how our community came together following the shooting to offer support and comfort to the survivors and their families,” Demings noted. 

“But as dozens of our neighbors and friends were fighting for their lives, many in our LGBTQ community were prohibited from donating blood due to an outdated policy not based on science. After working on this issue for years, I am grateful that the FDA is finally taking steps to update the science and take the next steps toward finally expanding the pool of American blood donors and helping us to save lives and give every American the best possible chance to survive when tragedy strikes.”

Ocean partnerships

St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist wants the government to provide a reliable wave of funding for ocean resources. So he joined in a bipartisan effort to authorize Regional Ocean Partnerships, including the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, as federal partners in addressing coastal concerns.

Crist sponsored legislation alongside Democrat Alan Lowenthal, of California, and Republicans Steve Palazzo, of Mississippi, and Chris Smith, of New Jersey, that would provide stable funding for supporting ocean health, sustainability and resiliency.

Charlie Crist is partnering up for ocean funding. Image via Jason Delgado.

“Florida is blessed with beautiful oceans, but it is our duty to keep them healthy and thriving,” Crist said. “Regional Ocean Partnerships, like the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, have worked for years to preserve our oceans and coasts with inconsistent federal support. It’s time to give these partnerships the stability they deserve so they can continue the important work of safeguarding our oceans for generations to come.”

State governments and other stakeholders initially convene regional Ocean Partnerships. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance, for example, was formed in 2004 by state leaders in five Gulf states, including Florida, along with representatives from the Environmental Protect Agency and a dozen other federal agencies.

Look who’s loaded

The introduction by Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal of legislation to ban members from trading individual stock has drawn sudden interest in transactions by delegation members, including the sale of a substantial amount of stock by Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin of as much as $165 million worth of stocks.

In recent financial disclosures, Franklin, a first-term Congressman, revealed he just unloaded a massive portfolio, as noted by Business Insider. He sold millions in Viatris, Discover and AT&T stocks.

Scott Franklin took a massive selloff of his stock portfolio. Image via Scott Franklin.

Initially, Franklin’s disclosures indicated he might have sold as much as $165 million worth of stocks, but his office now says there was a clerical error and that he sold substantially less than that. Amended disclosures should become available soon.

The stock he sold was obviously in companies in the financial, health and communications industries where federal regulations can impact companies’ bottom lines. In Franklin”s case, he has primarily liquidated his stake in the industries, though he still holds millions worth of assets in investment accounts.

Sea cow savior

The manatee floated off the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “endangered species” list in 2017. But Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan considers it way past time to bring the sea creatures’ designation back.

“Manatees are beloved, iconic mammals in Florida,” said Buchanan, co-chair for the Florida delegation. “We should provide these gentle giants with the highest levels of federal protection.”

Vern Buchanan is demanding the return of manatees to the endangered species list.

Buchanan has desired the sea cows’ status restored for years and heavily criticized the decision to downgrade manatees from “endangered” to “threatened,” stripping the designation manatees enjoyed since 1966. 

“The decision to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act threatens the survival of the manatee, one of Florida’s most beloved animals,” Buchanan said at the time. “It needs to be reversed.”

He’s renewing a public push as the state tallies a tragic record year as far as fatalities in state waters. Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reports 761 manatees died in Florida in 2021 as of Monday. That puts the state on track to shatter the record of 804 deaths in a year, set only in 2018. “Given the alarming surge in manatee deaths this year, upgrading their ESA designation is critical,” he said.

Meanwhile, officials believe only about 6,500 Florida manatees live in the entire Southeastern U.S. “When a species becomes extinct, it is lost forever,” Buchanan said. “We cannot afford to let that happen to these iconic residents of Florida and the state’s official marine mammal.”

The increase in deaths also prompted Kissimmee Democrat Darren Soto to call for reinstatement to “endangered status” and to call on the House Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing on what’s causing the spike in manatee mortality.

Race is on

The race to succeed Crist continues to heat up. On Monday, state Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby announced her candidacy for the open seat. Rayner-Goolsby first won election to the Florida House in 2020 and would be the first openly LGBTQ+ person of color elected to Congress from a Deep South state. 

“It’s not that I want another title,” Rayner-Goolsby said. “You see an opportunity to serve and you step forward to these opportunities. You don’t shirk back.”

To watch her announcement video, click on the image below:

She joins state Rep. Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn, a former national security adviser to then-President Barack Obama, in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, 2020 GOP nominee Anna Paulina Luna unrolled digital ads on Monday, revealing a very different strategy than she employed against Crist last year. A 60-second digital ad, titled “Ditch,” walks viewers through a brief story of Luna’s life. It begins with a clarion call to conservatives. “My mom chose life over abortion and decided to have me,” she says in the ad. She also touts her service in the Air Force.

The table appears set for this to be one of the most contentious Congressional contests in the nation and the premier House race in Florida so far.

Staffer shuffle

Daniel Mulieri, a former staffer for the late Alcee Hastings, moves onto a role in Sunrise Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office.

Mulieri worked as an outreach staffer in Hastings’ office. Hastings passed away in April after a cancer battle. He was the longest-serving member of Florida’s delegation at the time.

According to a release from Wasserman Schultz’s team, Mulieri will “coordinate overall community outreach efforts” inside Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

After the death of Alcee Hastings, Daniel Mulieri, a former staffer, is taking on a role in Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office. Image via Twitter.

“I know Daniel’s strong experience will help our constituents navigate often-complex federal issues,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement on the new hire.

“His familiarity with the South Florida political landscape, including its many Hispanic communities, was an asset to my dear friend Congressman Hastings’ constituents, and I’m certain Daniel will bring those same skills to the people of District 23, as well.”

Wasserman Schultz will task Mulieri with helping Hispanic constituents “navigate the federal government landscape.” He’ll also work on outreach efforts ahead of next year’s election cycle.

Mulieri had a similar focus during his tenure with Hastings. Mulieri has also served on the Anti-Defamation League’s Hate Crime Coalition and the Broward County Parks Advisory Board.

On this day

June 15, 1775 — “George Washington assigned to lead the Continental Army” via History.com — Washington had been managing his family’s plantation and serving in the Virginia House of Burgesses when the second Continental Congress unanimously voted to have him lead the revolutionary army. He had earlier distinguished himself, in the eyes of his contemporaries, as a commander for the British army in the French and Indian War of 1754. Born a British citizen and a former Redcoat, Washington had, by the 1770s, joined the growing ranks of colonists who were dismayed by what they considered to be Britain’s exploitative policies in North America.

June 15, 1992 — “Dan Quayle’s ‘potatoe’ incident” via The Washington Post — A minor slip-up by Vice President Quayle hatched a frenzy and a long-running joke. Quayle led a spelling bee for sixth grade students while visiting an elementary school in New Jersey in 1992. Working from an inaccurate flashcard prepared by a teacher, he corrected William Figueroa, 12, when the child spelled “potato” on the blackboard — making the boy add an unnecessary “e” at the word’s end. Quayle would never hear the end of it.

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Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions by Ryan Nicol.

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