Delegation for 10.12.21: Indigenous People — to the House — Taiwan — cliff jump — game on

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
Time again for the annual debate over Columbus Day.

Columbus daze

Today marks 529 years since Christopher Columbus first made landfall in the Bahamas. That’s a timespan more than twice as long as the age of the United States of America.

Yet with a series of social media posts, the Florida delegation proved Monday how the explorer remains a sharply divisive figure in the year 2021.

On Monday, this year’s Columbus Day federal holiday, many Democrats in the delegation posted not in honor of the late Columbus but on Indigenous Peoples Day. That follows President Joe Biden, in a presidential first, declaring the White would show its respect Monday to American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, all societies established in the future continental United States well before Columbus “discovered the New World.”

Another Columbus Day, another battle in the culture wars. Image via AP.

“The district I represent includes Seminole and Tequesta native lands,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat. “Today, on Indigenous Peoples Day, we honor Native American culture and contributions to our nation. We also resolve to reflect on and learn from our full history. Indigenous history is American history.”

Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor, Charlie Crist, and Lois Frankel all posted Indigenous Peoples Day memes and messages throughout the day.

But Republican Party Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Byron Donalds, Cat Cammack, Brian Mast, and John Rutherford and all tweeted Columbus Day messages, showing a clear Republican-Democrat divide on the issue of what Monday was.

“Happy Columbus Day, yes, I said Columbus Day, like the way we’ve all been saying it before America went woke,” Donalds wrote. “Stop whitewashing history!”

That response seemed destined to spur debate. Columbus, who never did step foot on land that would become part of the United States, at one point held almost mythic status as the explorer to first introduce Western European culture to North America. His journeys in 1492 predated the Mayflower by 128 years and the American Revolution by 284 years, but the voyage of the Nina Pinta and Santa Maria is often cited as the one responsible for opening routes and beginning the process of colonizing the continent.

Yet a decadeslong historical reexamination of Columbus’ legacy has focused on many negative aspects of that colonization, most notably the enslavement of those civilizations already here. That includes direct action by Columbus, who violently subjugated natives in the Caribbean.

Amid the virtue signaling and academic debate, there was at least one sentiment most federal government employees could share. That was gratitude Monday brought one of 14 federal holidays on the calendar and a three-day weekend amid Washington’s current political rancor.

House bound

The debt ceiling debate bounces back to the House. Following the approval of a deal in the Senate, a proposal to raise the debt limit by $480 billion will come to the floor for an expected vote today. The Democratic majority in the House hopes to pass the deal quickly and send it to Biden’s desk.

The bill means the government won’t run out of money to operate — at least until early December. But there’s some question about the exact cost of spending ahead, with the Congressional Budget Office struggling to keep up with changes to the reconciliation legislation.

The debt ceiling fight gets bounced from Senate to House. Image via AP.

“The American people deserve more transparency and accountability,” Bilirakis, a Palm Harbor Republican, tweeted.

But on the Democratic side, members of the delegation feel anxious to bring a deal together, something that could still take some time. Rep. Darren Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat and member of the House Progressive Caucus, lobbied for the passage of Biden’s Build Back Better. That package is priced now at $3.5 trillion; a number most acknowledge will come down as moderates and progressives negotiate in the coming weeks.

Soto said the minutiae of talks miss the scale of social problems the legislation seeks to address. “2021 is [the] most expensive for disasters in U.S. history at $104.8 billion and still counting. 2020 is second all-time at $100.4 billion. It’s time to act on climate before it’s too late,” he tweeted with the #BuildBackBetter hashtag.

Celebrating Taiwan

Sen. Marco Rubio commemorated Taiwan’s 110th anniversary by standing in lockstep with the democratic nation in the face of communist China. In a news release that at one point referred to the Asian country as the Republic of China, the title preferred by the government there, the Senator condemned the People’s Republic of China, the communist nation that has tried to claim rulership over Taiwan.

Marco Rubio commemorates Taiwan’s big birthday. Image via AP.

“As Taiwan celebrates its 110th National Day, its people have much to be proud of,” Rubio said. “Even under the most difficult geopolitical circumstances, the Taiwanese have maintained a vibrant democracy that powers a world-class economy. The United States expresses gratitude for the steadfast friendship and enduring bond our nations continue to share. When the pandemic reached U.S. shores, and personal protective equipment was in short supply, Taiwan stepped in to help. When Taiwan found itself in need of vaccines earlier this year, the United States reciprocated. We look forward to further strengthening our relationship in the years and decades to come.”

Rubio has long criticized the autocratic rulership of China and defended those in Taiwan who have fought to maintain independence there. China, in turn, announced sanctions on Rubio in 2020, forbidding his entry to the country.

Cliff diving

Sen. Rick Scott has warned for months about the impact of inflation on U.S. families. But following a lackluster jobs report on September hiring, the Naples Republican asserted Biden’s economic policies, including the $3.5-billion Build Back Better package, are leading toward disaster.

Scott said:

“Joe Biden and Democrats in Washington are pushing America off a cliff. Up in Washington, the inmates are running the asylum. Look at what Joe Biden is doing. We have 11 million job openings in this country … there’s no excuse for the job numbers we are seeing from this administration outside of pure stupidity.

“Is anyone surprised that when you spend months paying able-bodied adults more to stay home than go back to work, that folks aren’t getting back on the job? No.

“Is anyone shocked that when Biden pushes billions and billions of ‘free’ money to able-bodied adults that folks aren’t getting back to work? No. Is anyone surprised that when the Biden administration chooses woke, left-wing radicals to run the government that Americans are scared to death of what the government is going to do to their taxes and constitutional rights? Of course not.

“Everything Joe Biden has done has led to more fear, less growth and fewer jobs. Joe Biden’s socialist agenda is killing the American dream.”

Of note, Scott this year will run Senate Republicans’ national efforts to retake the upper chamber in 2022. He’s also considered a potential candidate for President in 2024.

Rattler win

It looks like Tallahassee Democrat Al Lawson will soon be swimming in peanuts, courtesy of a football victory by Florida A&M University and the settlement of a bet with Majority Whip James Clyburn. The South Carolina Democrat entered into the friendly wager when FAMU, Lawson’s alma mater, and South Carolina State faced off on the field. Florida’s most prominent historically Black university won 30-7.

“This wasn’t the result we hoped for, but I know SC State will be ready to bounce back next week for our game against Morgan State,” Clyburn tweeted. “A bet is a bet — I’ll send some South Carolina peanuts your way, Rep. Al Lawson, Jr.”

A friendly bet between James Clyburn and Al Lawson is peanuts.

Those were kind words compared to the heaps of trash talk from the two Democratic leaders before the game.

”I’m looking forward to enjoying a cool glass of Florida Orange juice with my Sunday morning breakfast while reading about the South Carolina Bulldogs dominating win over the Florida A&M Rattlers,” Clyburn said in a pregame taunt.

“A puppy dog can’t handle a rattler,” Lawson predicted. “We simply ‘Bragg’ differently and don’t worry, Congressman, everyone looks good sporting orange and green.”

It’s Lawson enjoying a bounty of shells after the win at Bragg Memorial Stadium. Clyburn, meanwhile, will have to be fitted to wear some FAMU gear and settle the final terms of the gamble.

Game on

Congress’ history with the video game industry hasn’t always been friendly, but Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy has taken on the mission to change that. As co-chair of the Video Game and Esports Caucus, she has hosted Rocket League tournaments in the House and sought changes in policy perceptions around gaming.

The Congresswoman spoke this week with the Entertainment Software Association about the positive benefits of video games on youth.

Stephanie Murphy wants to bridge the gap between gamers and Congress. Image via Reuters.

“I see it in my son,” Murphy said. “He is playing games where he has to work in teams with his friends, and it’s a great way for him to learn teamwork skills, as well as hand-eye coordination.”

The conversation seems a far cry from House hearings in 1993 about whether Mortal Kombat would create a generation of killers committing fatalities in the streets.

Murphy hopes policymakers can see the benefits of esports and games for all Americans. “With my kids, I see them learning how to spell, and they are getting introduced to technology like virtual reality simulations, and those have multiple applications in other industries.”

Notably, Murphy’s district includes Full Sail University, one of the top video game schools in the country and an institution in which she is heavily invested, according to financial disclosures.

Lifting Black women

This week, Orlando Democrat and Senate candidate Val Demings received recognition from the National Coalition of 100 Black Women at their 20th Biennial Conference. She said the Public Policy Award, recognizing her work on justice, civil rights, voting rights, government accountability, and economic opportunity, was a treat.

“It was a surprise and an honor to receive the public policy award from National Coalition of 100 Black Women,” she tweeted, “When they were started back in the ‘60s, there was such a critical need for their work, and our work continues. I’m grateful every day for the opportunity to serve my constituents and our nation.”

In a video filmed at the event and released by organizers, she said crafting legislation is something she prioritizes.

“I know how important it is that the laws that we pass, the policies we promote, have the potential to impact people’s lives for decades, and I take my work seriously,” she said. “It’s a great feeling to know that this prestigious organization is noticing that work, and I want to certainly be an advocate to help further the good work that they’re doing as well.”

Research transparency

As Florida universities and other institutions deal with accusations of foreign espionage, Bilirakis announced new legislation, The Protecting the Integrity of our Biomedical Research Act, which would require disclosure of any participation in foreign talent programs as a condition of receiving any National Institutes of Health funding.

“NIH grants are intended to advance scientific research that will help Americans,” Bilirakis said. “While we want to recruit the best and brightest talent from around the globe and create a collaborative work environment, we also want to protect the proprietary nature of the scientific discoveries funded by U.S. taxpayers.”

Gus Bilirakis calls for more transparency in biomedical research.

Florida has seen scandals involving Chinese-tied research at Moffitt Cancer Center and the University of Florida.

“Americans deserve to know when their money is being used improperly, and when it’s being used to benefit foreign governments,” Bilirakis said. “We must fiercely defend the integrity of our federal research dollars and ensure that investments in treatments and cures are safeguarded against foreign threats. This bill strikes an important balance to increase transparency in the process and allow greater NIH oversight of potential conflicts.”

Trickle-down

As Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis fends off criticisms for being the only state that did not enlist in a pandemic program for federal food aid for children, Castor also hammered him for failing to grab all education dollars available.

The Congresswoman led a letter to DeSantis co-signed by all Democrats in the delegation demanding he and state Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran expeditiously distribute $4.7 billion in COVID-19 aid to K-12 schools that has been available since March. At least in this instance, she said, her former House colleague got the paperwork in. She’s hammered DeSantis for months for not even applying for the budgeted dollars.

Kathy Castor blasts Florida for ignoring billions in educational aid. Image via Facebook.

“After many months of inexplicable delay by the State of Florida, we are pleased that the State of Florida has finally submitted a plan to draw down the federal emergency aid for public schools that was passed by Congress in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) seven months ago,” Castor wrote in her latest letter.

“Under ARP, Congress and President Biden provided Florida students, educators and schools $7.4 billion to support school districts’ efforts to lift Florida K-12 public schools and address gaps caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress required that ‘[e]ach State shall make allocations to local educational agencies in an expedited and timely manner, and, to the extent practicable, not later than 60 days after the receipt of such funds.’ Despite constant pleas from parents and educators, the state, unfortunately, slow-walked these dollars.”

She slammed the Governor for fighting with county school boards rather than coordinating with the federal government to assist them.

“Keeping our children and educators safe in the middle of the pandemic is paramount,” Castor wrote. “The State’s misguided focus on penalizing local school board members and educators for temporary safety protocols during a pandemic also is misguided. Instead, Florida should be doing all it can to use all available resources to lift our students and educators in myriad beneficial ways by getting out the first 2/3 of ESSER funds to school districts.”

Business honor

Leaders for the Job Creators Network swung through Southwest Florida to present Donalds with a special honor. The organization presented the Naples Republican with a Defender of Small Business Award during a small ceremony in North Fort Myers.

“As a member of the House Committee on Small Business and a constitutional conservative, I’ll always defend our small businesses from mandates, bureaucratic red tape, and increased taxes,” Donalds tweeted.

Byron Donalds vows to always defend Florida small businesses.

The conservative organization has campaigned nationally against COVID-19 vaccine requirements and Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which leaders say threatens small businesses’ ability to hire, retain employees and thrive at a time when many continue to bounce back from the pandemic.

Undocumented felons

Hialeah Republican Mario Diaz-Balart joined with Collier County Sheriff Kevin Rambosk in sounding alarms about an influx of undocumented immigrants with felony records. “You’re going to see crime rates go up if you have this attitude from your federal government that felons should be released into the community,” Diaz-Balart said at a public meeting in Naples, according to NBC-2.

The remarks came after Collier officials reported 31 undocumented individuals from the border with criminal records had relocated there. The county works in concert with the Homeland Security Department on immigration issues.

Mario Diaz-Balart sounds the alarm over immigrant felons.

Federal law says those new immigrants with felony records shouldn’t be allowed to remain in the United States, and Diaz-Balart said he would demand answers as to why they were resettled in Southwest Florida.

The dispute comes as a record number of migrants crosses the Mexico-U.S. border, creating a major rift between the Biden administration and Congressional Republicans.

Young guns

The National Republican Congressional Committee has started its Young Guns program, which will work with Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to spotlight top prospects running for Congress in the 2022 midterms. A few Florida Republicans have already earned notice, all in districts controlled now by Democrats.

Kevin McCarthy highlights four Floridians as GOP ‘Young Guns.’

A first-round of “On the Radar” candidates include Cory Mills, a combat veteran who is running in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. He’s notably one of several Republicans running in the seat, one national Republicans hope will be an easier flip after the Florida Legislature completes redistricting.

The “On the Radar” candidates include two Republicans running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, a seat vacated by Crist. The Young Guns program took early notice of Anna Paulina Luna and Amanda Makki, who notably both ran campaigns against Crist in the past.

Soldier car-share

Could the Department of Defense soon make private car-sharing available to service members? The latest National Defense Authorization Act includes an authorization to study the potential benefits of peer-to-peer vehicle sharing, allowing owners to share their rides with other drivers using a smartphone application.

It’s a shift in how individuals can rent vehicles that some expect to disrupt the rental market the way Uber and Lyft impacted taxi and transit services.

Will Getaround become a Defense Department program?

Getaround, a P2P car-sharing service, hired Ballard Partners to lobby for a Defense program, and the study of potential benefits made it into the budget passed in the House. The provision directs the Secretary of Defense to study benefits for service members. Those may include not needing to sell a vehicle when stationed at a new base, enjoying financial assistance when deployed, and helping their spouses, whether with extra income or with savings, by eliminating a need for a second vehicle. The study will also look at broader benefits like reducing greenhouse gasses and shifting away from mass car ownership.

“As a leading digital and global car-sharing marketplace, Getaround is thrilled that the House of Representatives has validated this growing alternative to car ownership,” said Andrew Byrnes, Getaround’s deputy general counsel and global head of public policy. “Getaround stands ready to support our warfighters and their families, whether they are deployed and wish to earn income through sharing their own car or need access to a car to live or work.”

On this day

Oct. 12, 1859 — “Joshua Norton declares himself American Emperor” via Today in History — As a San Francisco business owner, Norton sextupled his fortune to $250,000, then blew it all on a bad Peruvian rice deal. A lawsuit followed, which the now-formerly wealthy business owner lost. Somewhere along the line, he appeared to have lost his mind. He proclaimed himself Emperor of the United States, his Royal Ascension announced to the public in a letter to the editor of the San Francisco Bulletin. The letter went on to command representatives from all the states to convene in San Francisco “to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring.”

Oct. 12, 1901 — “Theodore Roosevelt dubs it the White House” via POLITICO — President Roosevelt officially renamed the nation’s arguably most famous address, located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., “the White House.” At various times in U.S. history, the White House had been known as the “President’s Palace,” the “President’s House,” and the “Executive Mansion. “In 1902, Roosevelt authorized a major renovation of the iconic structure, including relocating the President’s offices from the second floor of the residence to a newly constructed site now known as the West Wing. Roosevelt’s renovations were planned and carried out by the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead and White.

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Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles.

Staff Reports


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