Delegation for 10.26.21: Deal making — cancel culture — Dr. slave — money races — clean bus

American Captial Building.
Will Build Back Better be back for real?

Deal or no deal?

The Build Back Better plan may not come in at $3.5 billion, but it appears it will pass.

This week, a deal should be ready following lengthy negotiations with Democratic holdouts in the Senate, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona.

Those senators wanted a spending plan that came with a mechanism to pay for it without putting the nation further into debt. The answer seems to be a “billionaire tax,” being developed based on Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden’s past efforts for such a levy that will focus on high-value assets and corporations instead of income.

Of course, what’s missing from the debate is any Florida involvement. With the negotiations living almost entirely in the Senate and purely within the Democratic caucus, Florida’s two Republican Senators appear to be waiting for the day to vote no on a reconciliation package.

A Build Back Better deal is forthcoming? Kyrsten Sinema is one of two Democratic holdouts. Image via AP.

Sen. Rick Scott labeled the expansion of the social services as a “reckless, socialist tax-and-spend agenda” and suggests it’s wrongheaded to think bilking the rich will work.

“The Biden administration says that inflation is a high-class problem,” he said. “If you look at the numbers, who gets hurt with inflation? Not the rich. If you own assets, the value of your assets go up.” But he said low-income families watching every dollar at the grocery store would feel the pain that results.

Most likely, whatever comes from the Senate will have the votes it needs to clear the Democratic majority in the House, though there has been wrestling in the lower chamber between progressives and moderates as well, with progressives demanding a vote on the social serves spending concurrent with a more broadly popular $1 trillion infrastructure plan.

Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat and member of the House Progressive Caucus, downplayed tension. “You may have heard that Democrats are fighting and it’s true: We are fighting for the people,” she tweeted. “We are fighting for women, children, and working families by investing in the Care Economy.” She predicted the substance of the legislation, which includes support for family leave and other help for working Americans, would ultimately prove popular.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat and co-leader of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, has faced lobbying from both sides, including messaging built on polling that shows support in Florida’s 7th Congressional District for Medicare and Medicaid expansion. At the same time, conservative groups have attacked Speaker “Nancy Pelosi‘s tax and spending scam” in television advertisements broadcasting in Murphy’s Central Florida market.

As the week goes, it will become apparent whether a package now priced at a minimum of $1.75 trillion will still include a sizable health care expansion, with negotiators now focusing on what can be funded.

But Republicans in the delegation already made clear they won’t back any deal. “Despite having nearly $1 trillion left in unspent COVID relief funds when Biden took office, and another $1.9 trillion passed soon after, Democrats and the Biden administration are yet again trying to jam through a package that will vastly expand the role of government in our lives and drive our entitlement programs into insolvency,” wrote Rep. Michael Waltz, a St. Augustine Beach Republican.

Cancel Beijing

Sen. Marco Rubio is among those demanding the 2022 Olympic Winter Games be moved from Beijing.

Rubio and Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, penned a letter to the International Olympic Committee calling for the Beijing games to be postponed, relocated, and barring the Chinese team from participation.

The latest letter steps up demands from July when Rubio and members of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China told the IOC The Games should move unless China can prove it has ceased egregious human rights abuses.

Marco Rubio keeps the pressure on to move the 2022 Winter Olympics. Image via AP.

IOC General Christophe De Kepper responded by saying the Olympics will not violate a commitment to remain politically neutral. But Rubio and Smith, ranking GOP members of the CECC, say it’s time for the IOC to do something decisive. “Director-General De Kepper’s claim that the IOC taking a similar stand would somehow compromise its commitment to “remain neutral on all global political issues” rings hollow,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Taking a stand against genocide is a moral decision, not a political one, and no exemption exists for the IOC when it comes to responsibility for moral decisions. Moral neutrality is a contradiction in terms. What is being asked of you is to refuse to dignify the [People’s Republic of China] authorities with the honor of hosting the Olympics Games in their capital when those same authorities are actively carrying out a genocide.”

Slave doctors

The trafficking of doctors from Cuba to allied communist nations has been an irritant to the international community for years. Scott wants the State Department to aggressively take legal action against the practice.

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Scott said the U.S. should act on a federal judge’s ruling last year to hold the Pan-American Health Organization liable for trafficking victims. That came after four doctors sent to Brazil left the Mais Medicos project and moved to the U.S., then brought an action in claiming that the program was effectively forced labor, the Miami Herald reports.

Rick Scott is irritated by the trafficking of doctors from Cuba. Image via AP.

“Annually, the Cuban regime collects an estimated $6-8 billion by exporting professional services, including ‘medical missions,’” Scott wrote. “Reports have indicated that nearly 40 countries across five continents have accepted Cuban medics during the pandemic, and over the past 60 years, more than 400,000 medical professionals have been sent by the Cuban regime overseas.”

Activity grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, Scott said. His letter outlines several regularly cited cases of abuse by the Cuban government known well in the diaspora within Florida. Legal action on this front is an avenue U.S. diplomats can take in applying pressure to the regime, Scott suggests. He asked the State Department to investigate claims against the PAHO and publish a list of countries contracting with Cuba for medical mission programs, possibly part of its annual Trafficking in Persons report.

“The international community must stand against the use of forced labor and the Cuban regime’s exploitation of this crisis. I look forward to your prompt response,” Scott wrote.

North Florida $$$

While a few races have the attention of the political press, most Florida incumbents chugged along through the third quarter amassing fortunes to little notice.

In North Florida, Panama City Republican Neal Dunn reported $214,983 in total receipts for the quarter and spent $114,249. That leaves the veteran Congressman with $311,869 in the bank at the end of the day. In comparison, Democratic opponent Linda Brooks raised $22,000 and spent more than that, around $29.784. She was left with $37,852 in cash as of the end of September.

Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack reported a mostly break-even quarter, raising $277,938 in total receipts and spending $276,174 of it. She held on to $415,096 at the close of the third quarter, mostly money already socked away. But that amount still overshadows what opponents have raised thus far. GOP primary opponent Justin Waters raised $8,329 on his first quarter filing and only spent $836 so far. Democrat Danielle Hawk, in her second quarter, pulled in $1,199 but spent $6,651 and closed the quarter with only $975 in the bank.

Kat Cammack hits a break-even point. Image via Fox News.

John Rutherford, a Jacksonville Republican, raised $109,051, spending $56,847 and $204,000 on hand. Donors fit the usual profile of Rutherford supporters, a combination of Northeast Florida power brokers and D.C. corporate PACs. Rutherford has one opponent who is touting strong fundraising. Republican Erick Aguilar has more than $435,000 on hand as of the end of September. However, Federal Elections Commission records reveal $405,000 of that came from the candidate himself.

Democrat Al Lawson of Tallahassee was less active. The Democrat raised $25,625 for the quarter, a low number for an incumbent, with a smattering of small checks (including $1,000 from former aide Tola Thompson, now with Ballard Partners) and PAC contributions. Lawson carried $234,773 into Q4.

Waltz, meanwhile, pulled in $430,062 and spent $241,747. He closed the quarter with $1,216,505. That’s quite a war chest considering his closest opponent in the money race — Democrat Richard Thripp — has only raised $5,666 to date and wrapped Q3 with $1,925 in cash on hand.

Bussed clean

Lawson wants more electric busses taking kids in his district to school. The Tallahassee Democrat pushed for district officials in Gadsden, Hamilton and Madison counties, all part of Florida’s 5th Congressional District, to seek out shares of $17 million set aside to upgrade old buses in underserved and tribal communities.

Al Lawson goes all-in on electric school buses.

“Clean transportation is an investment in our future, and I am thrilled to share the opportunity with our local school districts,” Lawson said. “The health of our kids and the environment must be protected. These electric buses would not only help North Florida meet climate goals but keep our children from breathing in toxic diesel exhaust. I strongly encourage eligible applicants to apply.”

The funding is available through the 2021 American Rescue Plan Electric School Bus Rebate, which will cover up to $300,000 per bus for up to four electric vehicles purchased by districts. On top of that, he notes all school districts can apply for part of some $10 million set aside for the 2021 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act School Bus Rebates program. Applications must be submitted by Nov. 5.

Central Florida $$$

Rockledge Republican Bill Posey raised $124,803 in the third quarter and spent a modest $62,693. That left the seven-term incumbent with $289,767 when September closed. No opponent filed thus far has reported $1,000 raised.

More are gunning for Darren Soto, but he’s still in a solid position. The Kissimmee Democrat raised $112,565 in the third quarter and used just $32,264. He wrapped up the quarter with $374,172 leftover to defend his seat.

Republican Olson Williams, his nearest competitor, raised $30,131 and blew through $26,523, leaving $19,418 in the bank. Another GOP challenger, Jose Castillo, pulled in a similar $24,491 and used up $22,086, ending with $6,767 at September’s end.

Meanwhile, Palm Harbor Republican Gus Bilirakis reported $138,444 in the quarter and blew through more of it, about $168,145. But he still has $324,937 amassed. Democrat Kim Walker is the only competitor in his district with more than $10,000 in the bank at the quarter’s close, and she raised only $2,574 in three months. Democrat Bill Vanhorn raised $10,806, but all but about $100 comes out of pocket.

Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor raised a quiet $84,527 for the quarter but has a war chest with $515,376 in cash on hand if she needs it. Republican Jay Collins, in his first quarter reporting, pulled in an impressive $110,308 in outside donations and spent little of it, about $18,830. Christine Quinn, Castor’s 2020 opponent, raised only $4,822 and has $787 in cash left. Democrat Christopher Bradley also filed and started with a $15,000 loan.

Kathy Castor has a low-key quarter. Image via Facebook.

Freshman Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, raked in $101,854 while spending $30,490. He has $224,608 cash left. By comparison, Democrat Eddie Geller, in his first quarter, raised $131,611 and has spent $38,684 so far.

Similar offenses?

Sarasota Republican Greg Steube said the Justice Department has unfairly applied a different standard to charges against Jan. 6 protesters and others who have disrupted the business of government. When Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, the Congressman pressed the issue.

“You even compared Jan. 6 to the Oklahoma City bombing case you worked on where 168 people were killed,” Steube said, referring to Garland’s testimony before his Senate confirmation.

Garland has also described the Capitol riots as “an assault on a mainstay of our democratic system.”

Greg Steube rakes Merrick Garland over the coals. Image via Greg Steube’s Office.

But Steube said he hadn’t seen the same rigor in bringing the force of law down on left-wing protesters. He compared Jan. 6 arrests to the more recent invasion of the Interior Department by protesters from People vs. Fossil Fuels.

That multiday event resulted in 55 arrested during a sit-in, The Hill reports, and many on the right have compared the breach of that federal facility to what occurred in the Capitol building. “Do you believe these environmental extremists who forced their way into the Department of Interior are also domestic terrorists?” Steube asked.

Garland demurred. “I’m not going to be able to reference that specific incident since this is the first time I know about it,” he said. “ … I want to be clear we don’t care if the violence comes from the left or from the right or from the middle or from up or from down. We will prosecute violations of the law according to the statutes and facts that we have.”

That took Steube aback. He held up photos of the two events and said the events clearly looked the same. Garland would not say based on whether the events should be treated the same.

No shot

Stuart Republican Brian Mast on Monday established a web portal on his official House site specifically to help those fighting federal mask mandates imposed by Biden.

“This is Big Government at its worst,” Mast said. “Joe Biden is threatening the livelihoods of millions of Americans if they don’t shut up and do what the government tells them to. He is depriving them of their personal liberties, and at the same time, failing to acknowledge any responsibility or liability for potential adverse side effects.”

Of note, Mast told Florida Politics months ago he was fully vaccinated. But he said it’s wrong to demand vaccines for workers and employees, with few exceptions allowed.

Brian Mast is there for those fighting mask mandates. Image via AP.

Biden issued an executive order requiring large employers under threat of a fine to require employees to be vaccinated or undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. That also covered health workers, and he has also issued directives with enlisted service members. The administration, for its part, said that’s not a mandate because employees can subject themselves to regular tests as well.

But Mast said the directive runs afoul of the law.

“I’ve heard from numerous employees and employers who are concerned about this mandate impacting their employment or their businesses,” he said. “They are desperate for assistance fighting this authoritarian order. I will do everything in my power to help them.”

As for what that entails, his office is working on it. But for one, the Congressman wants the government to take on liability for any adverse reactions to vaccines.

South Florida $$$

Steube reported a solid $75,021 in receipts from July through September, spending $87,909 on the way. That leaves the two-term incumbent with $524,378 as he seeks another House term. So far, nobody has raised a dime to challenge him.

Lower in the state, Mast has built up $2,158,290 in cash on hand, including a massive $994,637 in the third quarter alone. He burned through $556,464 in three months to get there. By comparison, primary opponent Melissa Martz added $31,689 but spent about as much, netting four bucks and closing September with $5,352 on hand, Democrat Corinna Balderramos Robinson in her first quarter raised $6,473.

Boca Raton Democrat Ted Deutch collected another $136,127 over the quarter and spent about $102,952 of that, leaving him with a strong $468,278 in cash to close the quarter. Closest Republican Steven Chess raised $31,558 in the quarter and had $30,990 in the bank at the end of September. Darlene Swaffer, another Republican challenger, reported $21,122 in new receipts and wrapped Q3 with $6,698.

Hollywood Democrat Frederica Wilson reported just $43,230 in new money this quarter, and she spent a mere $14,594. But she’s sitting on a significant campaign account with $458,729 as of the end of September. Christine Olivo has raised $103,416 for the Democratic primary challenge as of the third quarter but has spent all but $438. Meanwhile, Republican Lavern Spicer raised $24,179 in the third quarter and closed with $2,595 left to spend.

Delegation dean Mario Diaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican, collected $415,534 in the reporting period and used just $93,660 of that. That leaves him with $1,329,616 as of the end of September. Democrat Adam Gentle collected $18,668 while spending $35,341 and closed the quarter with $24,942. Primary opponent Darren Aquino reported little activity, raising $304 and spending $208 but closing with $41,010.

Jewish voices

A controversial position on Israel from one candidate in Florida’s 20th Congressional District drew a strong rebuke from Jewish leaders on the left. The Florida Democratic Party Jewish Caucus, which hasn’t endorsed any of the 11 candidates in the running to succeed the late Democrat Alcee Hastings, announced on Facebook that it “opposes the election of Omari Hardy because of his positions on these fundamental issues.”

That includes his opposition to funding the Iron Dome project in Israel and his support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

That all led Weston Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the co-chair of the Florida delegation, last week to press Hardy specifically at a candidate forum on the issues, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz sets the record straight on Democratic support for Israel. Image via AP.

“Let me be clear, Democrats are united behind Israel,” Wasserman Schultz said at the forum.

Indeed, support for Israel, at least in Florida, has been a matter of unity despite a growing progressive wing in Congress that has called Israel an “apartheid state.” Hastings, for his part, was a staunch defender of Israel.

For his part, Hardy responded that one can oppose Israel’s treatment of Palestinian settlements and still support the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East.

“As an idealist, I have to believe there is nothing incompatible about supporting Israel’s right to exist and Israel’s right to defend itself and also supporting the inalienable right of the Palestinians, which are grounded not just in humanity, but also international law,” Hardy said.

Red-eye

Already focused on the midterms, the Republican National Committee just held its National Weekend of Action, in which Florida Republicans held 40 events focused on voter registration. It’s part of a multimillion investment the national party has made in its ground game this year, said RNC spokesperson Julia Friedland.

“The Republican National Committee is committed to building relationships with Floridians and maintaining the momentum for the Republican Party felt across the country to turn out the vote and defeat Democrats,” she said. “The events that took place during the National Weekend of Action in Florida highlight the RNC’s extensive grassroots presence throughout the Sunshine State.”

Florida Republicans held over 40 events throughout the state, most of which were volunteer-led events focused on voter registration.

The action on the ground notably comes as the party nears registering more Republican voters in Florida than Democrats for the first time in history. As of August 31, Florida had 5,131,314 registered Democrats and 5,107,763 registered Republicans, a difference of 23,551. That compared to a Democratic edge of 134,242 registered for the presidential election last November.

On this day

Oct. 26, 1949 — “Harry Truman nearly doubles the minimum wage” via Benzinga — President Truman raised the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents. The Fair Labor Standards Amendment of 1949 nearly doubled the wage floor set in 1938 to increase consumer buying power and stimulate the economy. The amendment also expanded minimum wage coverage to air-transport workers and eliminated special industry committees that previously set sector-specific wages. The New Deal precedent had established a 25-cent hourly minimum for specific industries that rose and expanded periodically. Six years after Truman’s amendment, the wage increased to $1 an hour and slowly grew from there.

Oct. 26, 2017 — “Donald Trump declares the opioid crisis a public health emergency” via The Washington Post — President Trump said the opioid epidemic — killing more than 100 people each day — is the “worst drug crisis in American history” and said his administration is declaring it a public health emergency, pledging the nation’s total as of the third quarter resolve in overcoming it. “Addressing it will require all of our effort, and it will require us to confront the crisis in all of its very real complexity,” Trump said during a speech in the East Room of the White House, joined by First Lady Melania Trump and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, chair of a presidential commission on combating the crisis.

Happy birthday

Best wishes to Rep. Byron Donalds, who turns 43 on Thursday, Oct. 28.

___

Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions from Scott Powers.

Staff Reports



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