Delegation 11.2.21: Climate change — ‘woke’ — waste — explosive — drug costs

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
Joe Biden takes his climate agenda on the road.

Environmental Summit

President Joe Biden took his climate agenda overseas to lay out the U.S. plan to reduce greenhouse gasses. He presented an administration action plan at the United Nations Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland — the COP26 Summit.

The Democratic leader controversially apologized for the actions of his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump. “I guess I shouldn’t apologize, but I do apologize for the fact that the United States under the last administration pulled out of the Paris accord,” Biden told world leaders at COP26, according to Axios. “That kind of put us behind the eight ball a bit.”

Joe Biden lays out his climate agenda. Image via AP.

Some Republicans painted the international visits as something akin to an apology tour. “Apologist and Appeaser in Chief,” tweeted Sen. Rick Scott, Florida’s junior Senator. “Once again, Joe Biden puts America last.

At an event hosted by United Kingdom Minister Boris Johnson (notably a Trump ally), Biden said climate deniers had too long failed to acknowledge climate change was even happening, but he promised the U.S. now realizes “the sense of urgency.” He pledged to work with the European Union to cut methane emissions worldwide by 30% before 2030, The Associated Press reports. That includes new regulations in the U.S. to reduce emissions at existing oil and gas wells.

In many ways, the plan mirrors a Democratic report from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, a panel formed in 2019 and chaired by Tampa Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor since inception. The report calls for reclaiming orphan wells across the country and seeking out zero emissions. It bans methane venting on public lands and sets limits on routine flaring at existing gas and oil wells, as well as a goal of bringing all facilities into compliance by 2030.

Castor praised the President’s messaging overseas. “President Biden’s show of force in Glasgow will help rally the world on climate, as we secure more ambitious targets from other nations and partner to tackle this crisis together,” she said. “American leadership will be crucial in the fight to reduce global pollution — and we must lead through our example. That’s why Congress is getting ready to pass the largest single investment in clean energy and climate in history.”

But Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida’s senior Senator, suggested all the “bold” agenda-setting on climate comes at the expense of more urgent issues.

“When is Joe Biden going to take bold action to tackle an open border, out-of-control inflation, supply chain disruptions, a labor shortage, and the threat posed by radical jihadists and Communist China?” Rubio tweeted.

Woke corporations

While the relationship between big business and the Grand Old Party defined the institution most of the last century, Rubio said Republicans need to decouple from the corporate world to find success in the future.

On Monday, the Miami Republican was set to give a speech on his view of a populist future to the National Conservatism Conference in Orlando. Flight disruptions interfered with those plans, and he had to give the address virtually, but he shared prepared remarks to Axios ahead of the gig. “Promising to cut more regulations and corporate taxes will garner the applause of campaign donors and glowing coverage in media outlets focused on the stock market,” he wrote. “But it leaves millions of hardworking Americans who do not want a ‘woke’ socialist America with no voice in our politics and no answers to their problems.”

Marco Rubio rails once again against ‘wokeism.’ Image via AP.

It’s not a huge surprise the Senator would offer such a message these days. For months, Rubio pressed a message about woke corporations working in countermeasure to social conservatism.

Back in 2019, Rubio started promoting “common-good capitalism,” which he said is focused more on workers’ needs than the free market capitalism long associated with the Party platform.

But it’s a massive departure from when Rubio ran for President in 2016, considered at the time an avatar of the market’s invisible hand. Then a young and rising star of Republican Party politics, Rubio espoused the virtues of free trade internationally and an American economic system built around the ability for entrepreneurs to build wealth.

Appearing on the cover of Time magazine as “The Republican Savior,” Rubio was viewed as a potential reformer on immigration but a devoted believer that deregulation was the path to the American dream.

Wasteful spending?

As Scott beats the government-spending-brings-inflation drum, he found the beat challenged by a media outlet generally known for playing the same music. Florida’s junior Senator appeared on Fox News Sunday to level some shots at the $1.75-trillion-and-growing Build Back Better legislative package and a separate $1-trillion infrastructure bill.

“If you look at what they’re talking about with this — name whatever the bill is — all it’s going to do is cause more inflation,” Scott said.

Rick Scott takes aim at Joe Biden’s ‘wasteful spending.’ image via AP.

But the interview started trending on Twitter quickly thanks to host Chris Wallace pushing Scott on the flip side of the argument. Progressives have argued the bill can be covered by eliminating Trump-era tax cuts. “Should the Trump tax cuts be repealed?” Wallace asked, noting the bill for those comes in at $2 trillion over 11 years.

Scott said there was a difference. “We need lower taxes and watch how we spend our money,” he said, referencing his days as Governor of Florida when he cut taxes and saw revenue grow thanks to growth while also cutting back spending.

“I am not raising anybody’s taxes. I want lower taxes. I want to watch how we spend our money,” Scott said. “I’ve been up — I’ve been in the Senate now two years and nine months. The amount of waste is staggering.”

Come together

The Florida Congressional Delegation will meet in Washington on Wednesday to discuss water issues challenging the state.

Delegation co-chairs Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat, jointly announced the 29-member state Delegation will hear from many of Florida’s leading voices on the environment.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Vern Buchanan join to speak in one voice on the environment. Image via AP/Getty.

“Florida relies on clean water and white sandy beaches to support our economy and our way of life,” Buchanan said. “I look forward to hearing from our distinguished panelists about how we can best address the state’s water issues. It’s essential that Florida’s bipartisan congressional delegation work together to maintain Florida’s natural resources while also protecting our economy and our environment for generations to come.”

The delegation will convene in the Rayburn building from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m.

Wesley Brooks, the federal affairs director for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, will attend. So will Col. James Booth, district commander for the Jacksonville District of the Army Corps of Engineers. In nongovernmental testimony, Mote Marine Laboratory President and CEO Dr. Michael Crosby will also speak to the delegation, as will Michael Messmer, federal policy manager for Oceana.


Add blowing up metal detectors inside the Capitol to the list of things Panhandle Republican Matt Gaetz finds funny. On Sunday, a video went viral of Gaetz joking with congressional candidate Anthony Sabatini about vandalizing/detonating the security systems installed after the Jan. 6 riots in Washington, D.C.

“Is it tannonite (sic) or C4 we want to put in those metal detectors, and we blow ’em up,” Gaetz said at a Lake County rally broadcast on Right Side Broadcasting Network.

These two want to blow stuff up. Image via Instagram.

Gaetz presumably meant Tannerite, a brand of binary explosive targets.

Since Gaetz stated the metal detectors had been put in place specifically to stop Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert from bringing her Glock to the floor, the Congresswoman chimed in on Twitter, stating, “I’ll bring the Tannerite.”

As the exchange went global, Gaetz cast it as another case of hypersensitivity on social media. “If you can’t fantasize about blowing up useless metal detectors with Lauren Boebert at a Florida Halloween political rally for Anthony Sabatini, when can you?” he tweeted.

Immunity test

Panama City Republican Neal Dunn has argued any mandates for COVID-19 vaccines should consider whether individuals already have immunity. Now, he’s introduced legislation that could make it easier for him to find out.

The COVID-19 Access to Testing and Support for Immune Response Research Act of 2021 (HR 5745) would direct the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to coordinate research to better develop and coordinate T-cell immunity testing. It would also require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to cover testing, as already occurs with vaccines.

Neal Dunn says all forms of COVID-19 immunity should be in the herd immunity calculus. Image via Twitter.

“We have overwhelming scientific evidence indicating that prior infection with SARS-CoV-2 does result in substantial immunity,” Dunn said. “The Biden Administration, CDC, CMS and NIH have refused to embrace this invaluable evidence and continue to push unnecessary mandates.”

Dunn, a medical doctor who survived COVID-19 himself, previously wrote a letter with Clermont Republican Dan Webster saying any national vaccination mandates should take immunity into account. Dunn stressed he’s a strong supporter of COVID-19 vaccines and encourages their wide use, but we should consider all types of immunity if the goal is herd immunity.

“This should not be a partisan issue,” he said. “If we are to truly ‘follow the science,’ it’s time to acknowledge the evidence and increase access to immunity testing while also continuing to encourage vaccinations among those who do not have natural immunity.”

Drug pricing

Orlando Democrat Val Demings, challenging Rubio for his Senate seat, voiced anger at Democrats in the chamber she wants to join. The point of her frustration? Talks with Senate moderates appear to have dropped provisions that allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs.

“Prescription drug prices are out of control,” she tweeted. “That’s why I voted to pass legislation to let Medicare negotiate down the price of prescription drugs. The Senate has failed to pass this lifesaving policy … It’s inexcusable to not include our plan to bring down prescription drug prices in Build Back Better. Floridians pay far too much for their medicine. It’s outrageous, and we need to act.”

Val Demings has a beef with moderate Democrats.

The ability doesn’t look like it will be in a version of the legislation that West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin supports. With an evenly split Senate and every Republican planning to vote the plan down regardless, it is critical for the White House and Senate Democratic leadership to lock down every vote in the caucus.

But expect Demings to make the case next fall that such a concession need not have been made if one of Florida’s Senators simply favored the policy, one widely supported by Democrats and Republicans in the Sunshine State.

Seeing the future

St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist served as Florida’s Governor in the past. Could Lea Thompson help him land the job again in the future?

The Back to the Future actor, who played versions of Lorraine Baines McFly throughout the classic film trilogy, will headline a virtual fundraiser for the Congressman’s gubernatorial campaign. “I hope you’ll join me for a virtual fundraising event with special guest, Lea Thompson, to chat about the FUTURE of Florida,” Crist tweeted with an e-vite evoking tons of imagery from the time travel franchise.

Thompson interestingly wades into the Florida race as Crist still faces a strong primary opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. The Democratic nominee is expected to challenge Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and deny the former delegation member a second term.

Airport sanitizer

A $59,000 grant for Albert Whitted Airport landed in St. Pete, flown in by the Federal Aviation Administration. The funding must be for matters related to COVID-19, including increased janitorial services, debt service payments, and disinfecting the airport, a facility that provides 665 annual jobs and an economic impact of $79 million.

Albert Whitted is about to get a little cleaner.

“The pandemic has taken its toll on every industry, but few have been hit as hard as our airports,” Crist said. “I’m grateful to see Albert Whitted be awarded this grant that will provide economic relief to the airport, support over 650 airport workers, and keep employees and travelers safe by mitigating the spread of COVID-19.”

Opposing message

It’s unlikely at this point many, if any, Florida Republicans vote for Biden’s Build Back Better plan in any form. But they have played a vocal role in opposing it. That continues today as Naples Republican Byron Donalds leads a Republican Study Committee news conference outlining policy disagreements with the package.

“I’m looking forward to leading this news conference alongside my colleagues in the Republican Study Committee in our united opposition to the Democrats’ radical socialist spending spree,” Donalds tweeted. The event takes place at 2 p.m. in the House Triangle.

Byron Donalds is staunchly against the Build Back Better plan.

He won’t be the only Floridian at the lectern. Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack, the first-term steering representative for the RSC, will also participate in the media event.

Gator bash

This week, Wasserman Schultz took strong issue with a University of Florida decision to stop its professors from testifying in court against Florida’s new voting law.

“UF’s decision to prevent its professors from speaking out in court against a state law that suppresses minority voting rights is appalling,” the Gator alum said. “As one of three generations of Gators, this action brings nothing but shame to our alma mater.”

The New York Times reports that UF told three professors they could not contract as expert witnesses for plaintiffs suing Florida over the new statute. The state law runs contrary to efforts by House Democrats to pass a national election law focused on broadening voter access. The Florida law increases restrictions on vote-by-mail and requirements like photo ID.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz is blasting the University of Florida, her alma mater.

Wasserman Schultz said the decision to stop professors from testifying not only stands on the wrong side of history but overreaches to abridge those educators’ First Amendment rights.

“It is deeply embarrassing. We must speak out and renounce it,” the congresswoman said. “If allowed to stand, the restraint of these professors’ speech will undermine every UF claim to honor academic independence and free speech. It will damage UF’s ability to recruit and retain top faculty and stifle fundraising. UF will stand out in anti-academic exile rather than as an exemplar of higher learning. My hope is that President Kent Fuchs swiftly reverses this egregious action. Laws meant to suppress minority voting rights and undermine democracy are not in the interest of UF, its students, or the state of Florida. Nor is gagging professors brave enough to speak out and oppose such laws. The university must serve the public, not its politicians.”

For its part, university officials say they stepped in the way of testimony because professors were paid for their expertise.

“The University of Florida has a long track record of supporting free speech and our faculty’s academic freedom, and we will continue to do so,” the statement reads. “It is important to note that the university did not deny the First Amendment rights or academic freedom of professors Dan Smith, Michael McDonald, and Sharon Austin. Rather, the university denied requests of these full-time employees to undertake outside paid work that is adverse to the university’s interests as a state of Florida institution.”

Housing the underrepresented

Airbnb partnered with three caucuses promoting underrepresented to provide housing for congressional fellows. On Monday, the home-share company unrolled its pilot program with the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute to step in with financial support.

It’s part of an effort to “develop the next generation of public servants,” said Marissa Moret, Airbnb director of strategic partnerships.

Airbnb is playing its part to develop the next generation of leaders.

“As a CHCI alumnus, I understand the costs associated with moving to a new city can be challenging for many embarking on their public service careers, especially for young people from underrepresented communities. This pilot program will give fellows additional time in the nation’s capital to network and help them prepare for their work on issues impacting communities both nationwide and globally.”

For the organizations, it also helps fulfill the role of increasing diversity among staff on the hill.

“The partnership between Airbnb and CHCI helps further our mission of developing the next generation of Latino leaders by offsetting some of the financial burden our fellow may face, and facilitating their move to Washington D.C,” said Marco Davis, President and CEO of CHCI. “One of the barriers many Latinos face when deciding to accept our fellowship is the cost of living in D.C., especially when they are not familiar with the area. Through this partnership, we are able to help them better prepare for their transition to Washington, allowing them to focus on their goal — making an impact in the policy world.”

The three institutions all enjoy associations to caucuses with strong Florida representation. Kissimmee Democrat Darren Soto serves as a whip for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. Democrats Al Lawson of Tallahassee, Demings of Orlando and Frederica Wilson of Hollywood all hold membership in the Congressional Black Caucus. Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy is part of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.

On this day

Nov. 2, 1783 — “George Washington issues Farewell Orders to the Continental Army” via Revolutionary War and Beyond — General Washington issued his orders as he officially retired from the service. He talks about how astonished he is that they actually won. He mentions God’s intervention on their behalf. He also commends the soldiers for coming together from different backgrounds and cultures and working together to form a cohesive unit. Washington assures the troops that Congress will pay them as the states pony up their share of the debt incurred during the war.

Nov. 2, 1824 — “Andrew Jackson wins popular vote for President” via the National Endowment for the Humanities — This led to the end of the Congressional Caucus system for nominating candidates, and eventually, the development of a new two-party system in the United States. In the election, Jackson won a plurality of both the popular and electoral vote. But John Quincy Adams became President. Four crucial elements of our election system were highlighted in the election of 1824: the nomination of candidates, the popular election of electors, the Electoral College, and the election of the President in the House when no candidate receives a majority in the Electoral College.


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

Staff Reports


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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