Delegation for 10.5.21: Red flag — rationing drugs — looking back — end of dementia? — whole milk

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
The defense budget isn't reliably Republican anymore.

Red flags

The National Defense Authorization Act usually can rely on the support of most Republicans, especially those with solid veteran constituencies.

But one provision in the law this year has some in the delegation vowing to vote no.

As written, the legislation would grant military judges the ability to issue ex-parte orders and deem individuals unfit to carry arms, and potentially allow authorities to confiscate weapons. Inclusion drew immediate ire from gun rights advocacy groups.

Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, said he will not support the bill if it includes such a “red flag” provision. “The right to keep and bear arms is a sacred constitutional freedom that I swore an oath to defend as a Naval Aviator and as your Congressman,” Franklin said. He blamed Democrats for including the provision through the “sausage-making” process.

Scott Franklin warns of red flags in the defense budget. Image via Facebook.

Franklin added that the measure could force a no vote from many Republicans on what should be a bipartisan bill.

“For the second consecutive Congress, radical liberals took the bill we passed out of the Armed Services Committee and loaded it up with a bunch of leftist initiatives,” he said. “One of those is a so-called ‘Red Flag’ provision that would potentially strip our service members of their Second Amendment rights without due process — something I cannot and will not support.”

Rep. Dan Webster, a Clermont Republican, was among several House members who signed a letter demanding reconsideration. “I oppose the inclusion of this red flag provision within legislation intended to support our military and defense,” he said. “I have the utmost respect for our service members. This provision threatens to unduly strip them of their arms while simultaneously disregarding due process. This is another example of Democrats’ attempts to unjustly deprive Americans of their Second Amendment rights.”

Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, also criticized the language but hasn’t said yet if it’s enough for him to vote against the bill.

“I’m strongly opposed to the provision that infringes on Second Amendment rights by implementing red flag laws,” he wrote in a newsletter to constituents. “My colleagues and I issued a letter (below) to conferees — who decide on the final content of the bill — urging them to strike the red flag law language. Every single day, brave American service members serve in harm’s way to defend our nation and the very constitutional rights that red flag provision would erode.”

But that provision alone didn’t stop many Republicans, including some in the Delegation, from advancing the NDAA, a critical budget bill. Reps. Kat Cammack of Gainesville and Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, both voted in favor of the legislation in committee, drawing anger from staunch gun rights advocates.

Regeneron rations

Sens, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott together filed legislation to stop the rationing of monoclonal antibody treatments. But the senators don’t want the Health and Human Services to wait on a legislative outcome to boost its shipments to Florida.

Florida’s Senate delegation sent a letter to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra calling the shift to rationing “disturbing” and saying Florida could run out of needed Regeneron treatment supplies if the federal agency doesn’t alter its approach.

“Under this new policy, Florida’s allocation has been set at about 31,000 doses of monoclonal antibodies, despite the fact that Florida needs about 36,000 doses each week,” the letter reads. “This stark difference in doses available as compared to doses used and rationing of supply, will jeopardize the health and safety of Floridians, increase hospitalizations, and could lead to higher mortality rates.”

In addition to demanding an increase in supply, Senators also wanted answers to several questions about how decisions get made on which states receive the medical supplies and how HHS tracked and modeled infection surges.

“Why did HHS not develop a robust plan to promote and expand the supply of monoclonal antibody therapy?” the letter asks.

It also raises the further prospect that surges in other coronavirus variants could spark new demand and asks what the Joe Biden administration has done to increase therapy antibody production.

Revisiting Afghanistan

Scott said failures in the withdrawal from Afghanistan warrant a full Congressional investigation. The Naples Republican introduced a resolution in the Senate to create a bipartisan and bicameral Joint Select Committee on Afghanistan.

“Last month, President Biden’s misguided and dangerous decisions in his botched withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan led to the United States’ most stunning, unforced and humiliating defeat in decades. Due to President Biden’s carelessness and failed leadership, 13 U.S. service members were lost, billions of dollars of U.S. military equipment was left for the Taliban, hundreds of American citizens were stranded behind enemy lines, and Afghanistan has been returned to the Taliban and now rests in the hands of the same terrorist-coddling extremists who ruled it on Sept. 11, 2001,” Scott said.

Rick Scott demands answers to the ‘failure’ in Afghanistan.

“The world is now a more dangerous place, and the American people are rightfully demanding answers. For over a month, I have called on Leader Schumer and Speaker Pelosi to launch a bipartisan and bicameral investigation into the Biden administration’s failed withdrawal of American forces. They’ve been shamefully silent. That’s why today, I am introducing a resolution to establish a bipartisan and bicameral Joint Select Committee on Afghanistan to conduct a full investigation and compile a joint report on the United States’ tragically failed withdrawal from Afghanistan. It’s time to put partisan politics aside and demand accountability.”

He wants the committee to study intelligence and hear the advice given by military leadership to Biden before he decided to hold to an August withdrawal date, only to see Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and members of his government flee as the Taliban reclaimed control of the country. Days later, an ISIS-K attack killed the U.S. service members and dozens of Afghans.

But while Scott’s resolution calls for members of both parties to investigate events, there’s no sign of any Democrats backing the move right now. He announced six originating co-sponsors, all of them Republicans.

Ending dementia

In a friendlier letter to Becerra, Rubio also joined with a bipartisan group encouraging the Biden administration to develop a strategy for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. West Virginia Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito joined in penning a message to the HHS strategy encouraging ambitious goal setting.

That’s in part because the median age of Americans continues to rise; with it, the percentage of individuals at risk for Alzheimer’s or dementia.

“Alzheimer’s disease is a public health crisis that is expanding, with a projected increase to nearly 14 million people in the U.S. with the disease by 2050. In 2021, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation $355 billion, including $239 billion in Medicare and Medicaid payments combined,” the senators wrote. “Unless we prevent, slow, or adequately treat this disease, in 2050, Alzheimer’s is projected to cost more than $1.1 trillion (in 2021 dollars) — a threefold increase both in government spending under Medicare and Medicaid and in out-of-pocket spending.”

Shelley Moore Capito joins Marco Rubio in the fight to end dementia. Image via AP.

Like so many crises, the letter states it’s a problem likely to hurt the poor and communities of color disproportionately. Rubio and company say there’s broad support and a significant number of partners to shoulder research.

“We are confident that a clear goal and strategic investments in health equity will benefit families, society, our economy, and the nation. Any success in preventing or delaying dementia will reduce financial pressure on Medicare and Medicaid; decrease the cognitive, physical, psychological, and economic burden of those living with symptoms and their caregivers; improve the quality of life of patients and caregivers, and increase the likelihood that adults can thrive and remain independent into their later years,” they wrote.

“Thank you for your commitment to ensuring our nation’s health. We urge you to redouble that commitment by setting a national goal to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. We look forward and stand ready to work with you to support this effort and appreciate your attention to this important matter.”

Whole milk

Gainesville Republican Cammack and Tallahassee Democrat Al Lawson, both members of the House Agriculture Committee, joined forces for Florida’s dairy farmers. The two led a letter co-signed by 18 other members of the Florida delegation calling on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to compensate milk-producing farms for market disruptions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dairy farmers lost upward of $35 billion collectively between January 2020 and February 2021, at points famously pouring milk into fertilizers as the supply chain completely broke down. The Pandemic Market Volatility Assistance Program passed during the pandemic sought to offset market disruptions, but Cammack said it did not accommodate those primarily producing perishable fluids with short shelf lives.

Al Lawson and Kat Cammack team up to help Florida dairy farmers.

“The pandemic shuttered businesses, schools, and supply chains that relied heavily on Florida dairies, forcing milk producers to waste valuable gallons,” Cammack said. “Our state predominantly is home to Class I producers — those producing milk, instead of cheese, yogurt, butter, or powder — and should not be limited to reimbursement under PMVAP based on size or volume. As members of the House Agriculture Committee, Congressman Lawson and I will not stop in leading the effort to ensure Florida’s dairy farmers recover from these losses.”

Added Lawson: “The dairy industry has been vital to our local economies, and it is of the utmost importance that we support our hardworking farmers. The existing rules and regulations under PMVAP create an undue burden on our Florida dairy farmers. We cannot afford to waste additional resources in this critical time of economic recovery, and I am committed to fighting for the hardworking farmers existing legislation has left behind.”

Murphy middle

The rhetorical movements of Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy in the last month became some of the most closely watched in Washington. As co-leader of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate Democrats, the Congresswoman has met privately with President Biden and done numerous national media interviews about the concern many in the center-left retain about a $3.5 trillion spending bill.

Those hoping for a resolution to talks soon indeed felt some discouragement as Murphy characterized talks with a Friday statement in dark terms: “I am profoundly disappointed and disillusioned by this process.”

In particular, Murphy hoped that by the end of September, the House could vote separately on a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package that boasts broad support. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had previously promised such a vote more than a week ago.

Stephanie Murphy is one of the moderates getting a closer look.

“The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will improve quality of life and create good-paying jobs for the American people,” Murphy said. “It will upgrade roads and bridges, expand rail and bus services, modernize air and seaports, and deliver high-speed broadband and clean drinking water. The bill will also make historic investments to combat climate change — an existential threat to our planet, our country, and the Florida way of life.

The bill is a critical component of President Biden’s agenda, passing the Senate with support from all 50 Democrats and 19 Republicans. It’s popular among Americans of all political stripes.

“While I have great respect for the Speaker, I believe her decision to again delay a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill is wrong. The Speaker pledged that the House would consider this bill on September 27 and that she would rally the votes to ensure the bill has the best chance to pass. This promise was enshrined in a House resolution that every Democrat supported. This written commitment was the only reason there were enough votes in the House to even start the reconciliation process — that is, to begin the process of writing the Build Back Better Act.”

The criticism of the most powerful Democrat in Congress shows the degree of frustration impacting talks, but Murphy puts much of the onus of deterioration on liberal members of the Democratic caucus. “The Speaker delayed the vote because some of my Democratic colleagues, in a misguided effort to gain ‘leverage’ over their fellow Democrats in the negotiations on the separate Build Back Better Act, have threatened to vote against a very good infrastructure bill. I hope my colleagues will reconsider their approach. Whether they do or not, all members of the House should be required to cast a vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill and accept the consequences of that vote.

“My position has been clear from day one. I support the passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. I also support the passage of a Build Back Better Act that is as bold as the votes will bear, that is fiscally disciplined, and that prioritizes measures to combat climate change. There is no — zero — linkage between these two bills in my mind. I will continue to assess each bill on its own merits and cast my vote accordingly. No member of Congress, and certainly no member of my own party, has the slightest leverage over my vote. I will do what I believe is in the best interest of my constituents and my country, and what comports with my conscience.”

Drug traffic

Bilirakis joined a chorus of House Republicans criticizing President Biden’s policies on the border. In a speech on the House floor, the Congressman focused on the illicit drug trade, noting seizures of 724 pounds of fentanyl and 595 pounds of heroin in the fiscal year 2021.

“These deadly drugs don’t just stay in communities along the border; they are spread throughout the country, into communities like ours in Tampa Bay. These drugs are fueling an addiction crisis and ruining countless lives,” Bilirakis said. “These are our neighbors who are dying, as Florida currently ranks second in the nation for overdose deaths. We need action now.”

Bilirakis laid the blame for a migration surge and drug trafficking on Biden’s border policies.

“Our enemies around the globe feel emboldened by what has recently transpired in Afghanistan- making the border crisis an urgent matter of national security that warrants immediate attention,” he said.

To watch the speech, click on the image below:

Stopping the flood

St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist slammed the Federal Emergency Management Agency for implementing a new pricing methodology for the National Flood Insurance Program.

“Floridians rely on dependable and affordable flood insurance. Yet, the unaffordable, astronomical premium hikes to the National Flood Insurance Program that FEMA began rolling out today will hurt homeowners and hurt the NFIP,” Crist said. “We’ve seen this time and time again. If families cannot afford to protect their homes from floods, it’s FEMA and the taxpayers that pick up the tab in a disaster. We need more homeowners to know their risk, get covered by flood insurance, and be able to mitigate risk. But we all know that unaffordable rate hikes are counterproductive — more families will be forced to drop their coverage and fewer families will voluntarily sign up for coverage. FEMA knows this too. While I will continue to fight for long-term solutions to reform the NFIP in a way that serves homeowners first, we need to stop these rate hikes dead in their tracks.”

He echoed concerns raised by Rubio and other Senators from coastal states in a previous letter about the Risk Rating 2.0 system. Crist also signed an earlier letter to Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about the expected changes.

But the first of two price changes went into effect regardless on Oct. 1. The second hike in rates will kick in this April.

Jump the Gun

Weston Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose district contains Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, refiled a bill previously called the School Shooting Safety and Preparedness Act to define the term “school shooting” and create a database to help address the problem.

Wasserman Schultz joined fellow Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Lucy McBath of Georgia to announce the bill (HR 5428). The bill borrows heavily from prior legislation former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii filed in 2019, which died the following year after clearing committee on a party-line vote.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants Congress to get a grip on the problem of school shootings. Image via AP.

If enacted, the bill would direct the departments of Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services to produce detailed, annual reports on school safety indicators, including fatality statistics, shooter and victim demographics, the types of firearms and ammunition used, and track prevention efforts like building designs and communications and response plans.

“Without all of that, a true understanding of this problem will remain just as elusive as the best solutions we need to finally end it,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Without this data, that pushback against sensible and obvious reforms to prevent further gun violence will continue to cherry-pick statistics to maintain the status quo, which is an ugly reality.”

Defining the term “school shooting,” she continued, would enable lawmakers to reliably “measure incidents, trends and the impact of any reforms.”

According to Robin Wilcox of nonprofit gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, the current back-to-school period has had more gunfire incidents on school grounds than in any similar period since the organization started in 2013.

“It’s nearly double the previous high,” he said.

If the legislation can’t pass on its own, Wasserman Schultz said it “can easily be incorporated into larger legislation to which it would be germane.”

Promotion time

Alex Smith landed a promotion in the House and will serve as Naples Republican Byron Donalds’ legislative director. “She has embodied the highest level of knowledge, professionalism, and passion for the legislative priorities of my office and has my complete confidence in this new role,” Donalds said.

“While serving as my legislative assistant, Alex established a strong foundation in my first nine months in Congress as an instrumental leader in helping me introduce six bills, co-sponsor 87 pieces of legislation, and lead numerous letters to the administration and committee leadership.”

Before serving in Donalds’ office, the South Carolina native worked for Sen. Tim Scott, first as a staff assistant and eventually as deputy legislative assistant.

Donalds also brought on Chris Ploch. a recent graduate of the University of Florida Levin College of Law, as his new legislative assistant.

On this day

Oct. 5, 2020 — “Donald Trump, infected with COVID-19, has returned to the White House” via USA Today — Should President Trump have left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center while he has COVID-19? Doctors have varying opinions on whether it was a good idea, given he’s spent three days in the hospital, required oxygen, and is on at least two medications that require IV drugs. “Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of COVID. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump tweeted Monday afternoon before returning to the White House. “We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs and knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago.”

Oct. 5, 1947 — “Harry Truman delivers first-ever presidential speech on TV” via History.com — President Truman makes the first televised presidential address from the White House, asking Americans to cut back on their use of grain to help starving Europeans. At the time of Truman’s food-conservation speech, Europe was still recovering from World War II and suffering from famine. Truman worried that if the U.S. didn’t provide food aid, his administration’s Marshall Plan for European economic recovery would fall apart. He asked farmers and distillers to reduce grain use and requested that the public voluntarily forgo meat on Tuesdays, eggs, and poultry on Thursdays and save a slice of bread each day.

___

Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions by Jesse Scheckner.

Staff Reports


2 comments

  • Eve Gray

    October 5, 2021 at 1:55 pm

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  • Alex

    October 5, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Advocating for dangerous lunatics to have and keep guns.

    How many lives might this common sense provision save?

    Good job idiot from Lakeland.

Comments are closed.


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