Delegation for 10.29.21: Delays — Amazon — The Fed — forced vax? — unsolved mysteries

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
A deal is in hand. Or is it?

Delays, delays

President Joe Biden appeared determined in recent weeks to reach a deal on his Build Back Better plan before heading to an international summit. He revealed the framework for the legislative package just before heading to Rome for the Group of 20, though it remained unclear if this legislation yet has the votes to clear the House and Senate.

The White House feels confident a $1.75-trillion deal could pass with 50 Democratic votes in the Senate, with Arizona Sen. Krysten Sinema and West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin sounding positive. “As we work through the text of the legislation, I would hope all of us will continue to deal in good faith and do what is right for the future of the American people,” Manchin tweeted Thursday evening.

Joe Biden seems to have a deal in hand. Image via The Washington Post.

Florida Democrats certainly could lay claim to various successes in the framework already released by the White House. Hollywood Democrat Frederica Wilson led a letter earlier this month pushing for educator training, which appears to have made the cut. And Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor, chair of the House Select committee on the Climate Crisis, praised the White House for including “the largest investment in clean energy and resilience in our nation’s history” in the plan.

“We promised to work with the president to Build Back Better for ALL Americans, and this framework does just that,” Castor said. “We are only getting started.”

But what was sacrificed along the way?

Expansions in family leave disappeared from the deal as it shrunk from $3.5 trillion to $1.75 trillion, days after Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat and member of the progressive caucus, took to the floor to boast about that program’s importance. Still, she embraced other family assistance measures that made it into the plan.

“This framework is the most transformative investment in children and caregiving in generations — transforming the lives of millions of children, saving parents thousands of dollars, and adding two years of free, universal schooling to our education system for the first time in over 100 years,” Frankel said. “It will be the largest effort to combat climate change in history. It will cut taxes for tens of millions of middle-class families. It is the biggest expansion of affordable health care in a decade. I’m looking forward to voting for it.”

Expectedly, Republican members of the GOP remain opposed to the package. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Panhandle, picked apart provisions, including appropriations for seasonal farmworker programs. “Joe Biden wants $70 million to help the migrant workforce Build Back Better,” Gaetz tweeted. He also critiqued $47.5 million set aside for destination marketing.

Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican, zeroed in on what he sees as unfairness to poor rural communities. “Why are Democrats stealing Medicaid money for rural hospitals who need it most?” Dunn tweeted. “The recently released House version of President Biden and the Democrats’ tax and spending package includes a cut to our neediest disproportionate share hospitals to pay for their socialist wish list. This is absurd! These rural hospitals rely on this funding to care for the poorest in their communities. How is this better for the American people?”

Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, clearly saw little reason for anyone in the minority caucus to approve of any plan. “While President Biden and Democrats in Congress scramble to get an agreement on their so-called ‘social infrastructure’ bill, you can rest assured that I will be voting NO on this multi-trillion-dollar tax and spending boondoggle,” he tweeted.

Then there’s the middle, where Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a Winter Park Democrat and co-leader of the critical Blue Dog Coalition, praised a decision to nix controversial provisions of the bill that called on financial institutions to turn over information on individuals’ cash flow. At the same time, she expressed dissatisfaction that the House still refuses to vote on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill until the details of Build Back Better come together. The House Progressive Caucus on Thursday evening successfully tabled that broadly supported legislation.

“Today, yet again, a small group of my Democratic colleagues blocked passage of the bipartisan infrastructure bill,” Murphy tweeted. “These delays are undermining the President’s agenda and embarrassing the Democratic Party. More importantly, they’re hurting our country and our constituents.”

Amazon attack

The latest investigation of working conditions at Amazon prompted Sen. Marco Rubio to demand federal scrutiny of the retailer. The Senator on Tuesday called on Biden and the Department of Labor to investigate new claims Amazon shortchanged a vast number of employees of their legal wages.

“There are plenty of American businesses that are loyal to our country, respect their employees, and want the best for their communities, but Amazon is not one of them,” Rubio said. “The company has more than enough resources to be the country’s self-appointed woke censor — banning conservative books and blocking traditional charities from participating in its AmazonSmile program — but apparently not enough to properly administer benefits owed to its employees.”

Marco Rubio goes on the offensive against working conditions at Amazon.

The rebuke of the corporation came after a report in The New York Times that recounted systemic underpayments and mishandling of leave time. That article was just the latest media investigation of work conditions at the nation’s fifth-largest employer. Undercover journalist James Bloodworth in 2018 published reports of employees peeing in bottles because they had no time off. A study by Strategic Organizing Center found workers at Amazon warehouses were far more likely to be injured than those at most U.S. warehouses.

“Amazon does not deserve the benefit of the doubt, which is why I am calling on President Biden to investigate these claims,” Rubio said. “For too long, massive companies headquartered in America have taken advantage of our laws to the detriment of working men and women. We cannot allow that to continue.”

Fed check

Sen. Rick Scott says it’s with time for the Federal Reserve to serve as a check on Biden’s policies or for there to be new leadership at the institution.

In a letter to Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell, Florida’s junior Senator wrote that he will not vote to reconfirm Powell for another term at his post if he can’t flex some independence.

“While the Federal Reserve is supposed to act as an independent body, over the past year, it has done more to enable the reckless policies of the Biden administration than actually serve the best interests of the American people,” Scott wrote. “I cannot stand idly by as the Federal Reserve continues its current path of foolishly ignoring rising inflation that is hurting American families.

Rick Scott calls on Jerome Powell to rein in Joe Biden’s spending. Image via AP.

“Further, I am gravely concerned by the Federal Reserve’s inaction in winding down its unprecedented market intervention and increased purchase of federal government debt as well as the increased politicization of the Federal Reserve itself that has occurred under your watch.”

He demanded Federal Reserve intervene in Biden’s economic policies. “I have also warned about the dangers of rising inflation, the continued significant asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the rising level of debt financing by the Federal Reserve,” he wrote. “I have also called on the Federal Reserve to further unwind and finally end historic market interventions that it has taken in recent years. These warnings have gone unheeded under your leadership.”

Ironically, Scott’s words contain outsized power right now because he could add his vote to that of progressives who want to deny Powell a second term.


At a gathering at the House Triangle, much of Florida’s Republican delegation held a news conference to speak out on Biden’s vaccine mandate. The group shared a lectern adorned with the placard: “STOP THE FORCED VAX. Anti-Mandate. Not Anti-Vaccine.”

The Gainesville Republican behind the event, Kat Cammack, said that government and health care entities requiring employee vaccinations for COVID-19 threaten the state’s workers.

Kat Cammack says no to forced jabs. Image via AP.

“Not only are these mandates costing the livelihoods of hardworking citizens across Florida, but they’re sending us down the dangerous path of government overreach,” she wrote on Facebook. “We’ve all said we’re not anti-vaccine, only anti-mandate.”

Her office now has a web portal for workers impacted by the mandate, like one unveiled last week by Brian Mast, a Stuart Republican also in attendance at the Thursday event. Reps. Neal Dunn of Panama City, Dan Webster of Clermont, Gus Bilirakis of Tarpon Springs, Byron Donalds of Naples, Mario Diaz-Balart, of Hialeah and Carlos Giménez of Miami and spoke at the event.

“Proud to stand with Rep. Kat Cammack and the Florida GOP Delegation this morning to fight back against oppressive mandates, specifically, vaccine mandates, that are negatively impacting hardworking Floridians — especially our health care professionals,” Dunn wrote on Twitter.

Of note, the Biden administration has pushed back on labeling the President’s policy a vaccination mandate, as large employers, federal contractors, and first responders can undergo weekly COVID-19 tests.

Charter flights

After chartered flights containing undocumented border crossers landed in Jacksonville, Republican Congressman John Rutherford led a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding answers. While the flights landed in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, 51 other House members joined the letter, including delegation colleagues Cammack, Michael Waltz, Bill Posey, Bilirakis, Buchanan, Greg Steube, Mast and Diaz-Balart.

John Rutherford wants some answers from Alejandro Mayorkas. Image via YouTube.

“We are deeply concerned by reports of flights with illegal immigrants being flown from the southwest border to communities across the country with no notification. The lack of transparency from the Biden Administration is unacceptable,” the message reads.

It hits the administration on the mass influx of illegal crossings. “This humanitarian and national security crisis has stretched our immigration system to a breaking point,” it reads. “Border Patrol agents work day and night to process large groups of illegal immigrants crossing our border, and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has taken in over 13,000 unaccompanied minors (UAC) every month for the last seven months.”

It also asks a series of questions on specifics as to how many were transported, where their final relocation will be, and the process for taking them to court. “If the federal government is going to move groups of people into communities where they will use local resources, such as schools, transportation and social services, it is vital that local governments and law enforcement be aware of these populations. For these reasons, we ask for a quick response to these questions,” the letter reads.

Unsolved mysteries

As a former police officer, Orlando Democrat Val Demings knows too well the difficulty for law enforcement explaining to victims of violent crime that justice may never come.

“Real life isn’t like CSI: Miami,” she said. “I saw as a law enforcement officer, detective and chief of police that gun crimes are oftentimes difficult to investigate and solve. Simply put, many agencies lack the resources they need to bring justice to these cases and closure for families. Half of gun murders in the United States go unsolved, and victims are often left with no justice and little support.”

Real-life isn’t like CSI: Miami, says Val Demings.

This week, the Congresswoman introduced legislation to provide agencies nationwide with grants for more detectives and victim services personnel to investigate shootings and support victims. The Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods (VICTIM) Act would deliver resources to hire, train and retain personnel specializing in these skills.

“This legislation would inject critical new funding into America’s law enforcement agencies to hire and train detectives and specialists specifically committed to investigate unsolved crimes, comfort victims, and bring the guilty to justice,” she said.

The legislation immediately earned support from criminal justice voices in Florida and nationwide. “The VICTIM Act is an example of criminal justice reform that should appeal to people all over the political spectrum,” said Greg Newburn, director of Criminal Justice for the Niskanen Center.The VICTIM Act will help law enforcement deliver justice, and help victims rebuild their lives after tragedy. We are excited to see a common-sense response to the entrenched violence that threatens so many American communities.”

Duking hazards

Florida knows too well it sits in the path of future hurricanes and likely quite a few powerful ones. Daniel Webster, ranking member of the House Economic Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management Subcommittee, introduced bipartisan legislation this week to ensure federal resources will always be available to the state when disaster strikes.

Resilient Assistance for Mitigation for Environmentally Resilient Infrastructure and Construction by Americans Act, or Resilient AMERICA Act, would double the funding stream for FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program and expanding access to it to private nonprofits, while also budgeting money for residential resilience retrofit block grants to states, tribes and territories to strengthen homes for maximum protection and safety. The program would also be available for more different disasters, including extreme wildfires.

Daniel Webster reminds members of Congress that Florida is no stranger to natural disasters. Image via AP.

The legislation additionally calls for banking that unspent Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to the Disaster Relief funds to keep those dollars available in the future.

“Florida is no stranger to natural disasters. Our communities face unique challenges when it comes to mitigation and maintaining resilient infrastructure,” Webster said. “The Resilient AMERICA Act builds upon reforms and lessons learned to ensure smarter funding for pre-disaster mitigation. By investing in common-sense mitigation activities, this bill will save taxpayer money, protect our communities by proactively mitigating risk and saving lives.”

He sponsored the bill with Nevada Democrat Dina Titus, his counterpart on the House Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee. Co-sponsors also include House Transportation and Infrastructure chair Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat, and ranking member Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican.

Research backs up the need for the legislation, Webster said. “Studies have repeatedly shown for each dollar of mitigation investment, disaster costs can be reduced by as much as $11,” he said. “The status quo is not working, and it’s past time to flip the equation in favor of protection and savings.”

Gas prices, amirite?

Bilirakis is slamming Biden over an energy crisis he calls “self-made.”

In a statement released Wednesday, Bilirakis blamed recent high gas prices on Biden policies, including the President’s move to scrap the Keystone Pipeline, as well as pausing new domestic oil and gas leases.

The national average price for a gallon of gas has reached its highest level since 2014, 66% higher than last year.

Gus Bilirakis says the gas is too damn high.

“This is not a fluke,” Bilirakis said in a statement. “But rather, a deliberate consequence resulting from the disastrous policies and actions of the Biden Administration.”

According to The Associated Press, the White House has pointed to temporary inflation as the economy recovers from the pandemic and lockdowns as the root of higher gas prices.

“The catastrophic path this administration has set us on must be reversed now,” Bilirakis said in a statement. “We can unleash American energy, create American jobs, and lower prices at the pump by implementing the pro-growth, common-sense policies of the previous administration.”

Bilirakis also slammed the “Heat Your Home Tax” being promoted by Congressional Democrats, saying it will eliminate jobs. The proposal would authorize the Environmental Protection Agency to assess a $1,500 tax per ton of methane emissions on energy producers, processors, transmission, storage, import/export and pipelines.

“These actions further jeopardize our nation’s energy security and will increase costs for consumers. This is a self-made crisis hurting American families, and it is time to stop the pain,” Bilirakis said on the House floor.

Jail for spammers

St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist this week demanded the Department of Justice increase penalties for spam callers.

“As the plague of scammers continues to harass and defraud Americans, I’m calling on the Department of Justice to double down,” Crist said. “We have to use every tool at our disposal to protect our people from fraudulent calls. Collect the fines the FCC is issuing and put these fraudsters in jail.”

In a letter sent by the St. Petersburg Democrat to the DOJ, Crist urged the department to prioritize the collection of fines already levied against spam callers and to consider including jail time in penalties.

Charlie Crist wants spammers behind bars. Image via AP.

“Unfortunately, the spammers are back, plaguing Floridians day and night,” Crist wrote in the letter. Crist references his Spam Calls Task Force, which has successfully reduced the number of robocalls by hundreds of millions per month.

Crist proposed the Spam Calls Task Force, which was signed into law under the TRACED Act in January 2020, to help with enforcement.

“The Task Force has done a remarkable job of identifying bad actors, but there is still much more to do in terms of enforcement — these bad actors need to feel the full consequences of their crimes,” the letter continues. “In this vein, I ask that you marshal the full arsenal of the DOJ and the Spam Calls Task Force and go after these fraudsters to the fullest extent of the law.”

Fired up

Naples Republican Byron Donalds rushed to the defense of the oil industry on Thursday, slamming House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney over a decision to subpoena six institutions and companies.

“President Joe Biden and his allies on Capitol Hill are waging war on America’s energy industry,” Donalds said. “Look no further than the ending of the Keystone XL pipeline, billions of dollars of Green New Deal funding in the reconciliation bill, and now blatant intimidation from the House Oversight and Reform Committee chair. Tying the hands of our energy industry is a threat to our national security, the health of our climate, and our stature on the world stage, and I will not stand idly by as Democrats seek to kill jobs and enrich our rivals.”

Byron Donalds demands an apology to the oil industry.

Maloney, a New York Democrat, said she sought the voluntary release of communications and records from Chevron, Exxon, Shell, BP, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, but has been met with resistance, The Hill reports.

“I do not take this step lightly,” Maloney said of subpoenas. “We need to get to the bottom of the oil industry’s disinformation campaign and with these subpoenas, we will.” In a hearing, she accused the entities of bad faith regarding threats to the environment. “Today’s witnesses refused to take responsibility for Big Oil’s decadeslong disinformation campaign, and even after agreeing that we are in ‘code red’ crisis, they refuse to stop funding groups like the American Petroleum Institute that are still blocking reforms; like expanding the use of electric vehicles.”

That prompted an angry response from Donalds and a rare public rebuke of a committee chair in the meeting, where Donalds demanded Maloney apologize to oil lobbyists.

“Today’s House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on ‘Fueling the Climate Crisis’ was a disgrace and international embarrassment under the veneer of government oversight,” he said. “Chairwoman Maloney and committee Democrats should be ashamed of the circus hearing they led today that had one goal in mind: intimidation.”

On this day

Oct. 29, 1901 — “William McKinley’s assassin is executed” via — President McKinley’s assassin, Leon Czolgosz, is executed in the electric chair at Auburn Prison in New York. Czolgosz had shot McKinley on Sept. 6; the President succumbed to his wounds eight days later. McKinley was shaking hands in a long reception line at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, when a 28-year-old anarchist Leon Czolgosz approached him with a gun concealed in a handkerchief in his right hand. A Polish immigrant, Czolgosz grew up in Detroit and worked as a child laborer in a steel mill. He claimed to have killed McKinley because the President was the head of what Czolgosz thought was a corrupt government.

Oct. 29, 1994 — “Gunman trains rifle fire on White House” via The Washington Post — A man walked down Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House, pulled a semi-automatic rifle from under his knee-length coat, and fired 20 to 30 rounds through the north fence before two bystanders grabbed the gun and tackled him. Secret Service agents arrived moments later to arrest the shooter, identified as Francisco Martin Duran, 26, of Colorado Springs. They identified the weapon as a Chinese-made SKS, a rifle on which President Bill Clinton recently imposed an import ban. Clinton heard the crack of gunfire while watching a football game upstairs, White House Chief of Staff Leon E. Panetta said, and was unhurt.

Happy birthday

Best wishes to Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, who turns 60 on Monday, Nov. 1.


Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions from Kelly Hayes.

Staff Reports


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