Delegation for 1.11.22: Mapping — Made in U.S. — vax passports — welcome to the world — privacy

U.S. Capitol Building from the Fifty Dollar Bill
Florida is mapping out the delegation's future.

Mapmaker, mapmaker

The redistricting process for Florida’s congressional map took a significant step forward Monday. The Senate Congressional Reapportionment Committee narrowed the selection process and recommended two similar maps, where 25 of 28 proposed districts appear identical. State Senators can still change their minds on precise boundary lines, but it’s clear where the Legislature — at least in the upper chamber — is headed.

What does it all mean?

Plans were scrapped to significantly reorient U.S. House districts represented by Reps. Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch. A push to keep Rep. Kathy Castor’s district entirely in Hillsborough County seemed to falter, and her district will still straddle the Pinellas County line.

On Monday, plans were scrapped to reorient the districts of Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch.

Retiring Rep. Stephanie Murphy’s district was kept on the map with a blue lean. Before the full Reapportionment Committee sends a map to the Senate floor, the only remaining process is deciding what roads will form the borders between Florida’s 7th, 9th and 10th Congressional Districts in the Orlando area.

If nothing else, the maps proved wrong any skeptics — or partisan enthusiasts — who expected a Republican Legislature to send GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis and a conservative state Supreme Court a heavily gerrymandered map.

At least, that’s how things appear as of this week. An analysis of voting performance in either of the proposed maps shows 16 districts that voted for Donald Trump and 12 that favored Joe Biden. Today, the House delegation includes 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats, so that’s a map that could net Democrats one seat if voters pick members of Congress with the same allegiance to how they voted in 2020.

Of course, voters don’t always behave the same from election to election, and there will be plenty of battlegrounds in the state based on the proposed configurations.

State Sen. Jennifer Bradley, the subcommittee chair, recommended two draft maps — S 8038 and S 8040 — for state Sen. Ray Rodrigues to consider as he formulates a final bill.

Rep. María Elvira Salazar, a Miami Republican, ends up in a district Trump won, but with just 49.8% of the vote. Rep. Carlos Giménez, another Miami Republican, would also find himself in a swing seat under the maps. Trump won his proposed district with 52.8% of the vote share in 2020.

Castor would be in Biden country, but a district the Democrat took with only 51.7% support.

Two Democrats not seeking re-election, Reps. Murphy and Charlie Crist, will leave behind battlegrounds of varying volatility. Crist’s seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District would remain one of the most divided in Florida, as Biden won the area with 50.2% of the vote. Murphy’s district appears a little safer, with Biden having won 53.2% of the vote there last year in both configurations of CD 7 still under consideration. But in a solid Republican year, as most anticipate 2022 will be, the district could swing Republican.

Indeed, many expect that, in the short-term, the GOP could continue to grow its delegation in 2022. The map moves Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, to a deeper red district — the new Florida’s 28th Congressional District — and pours some of his Democratic voters into the new Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Salazar and Giménez both likely face a more straightforward path with the draft map districts than the current districts where they unseated Democratic incumbents in 2020. And Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, ends up in a district Trump won by more than 10 percentage points.

But it’s important to remember the process isn’t over. Florida’s Legislative Session kicked off formally this morning in Tallahassee, and what the state House plans to do with congressional maps remains unclear. While the Senate has published 13 options for consideration in the upper chamber, the state House has released two. Lawmakers have 60 days to approve maps and bring the visions together before legislation heads to Gov. DeSantis.

S 8040
S 8038

Lifting Brazil

Sen. Marco Rubio wants the Defense Department to be more engaged with South American powers to resist the influence of China. On Friday, he sent a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to boost bilateral security cooperation with Brazil.

“Brazil is an important U.S. ally and security partner with key capabilities that is willing to work shoulder-to-shoulder with our forces to ensure the security and stability of the southern Atlantic Ocean and the broader region,” Rubio wrote.

Marco Rubio urges Lloyd Austin to do more about Brazil. Image via AP.

“As such, I strongly urge you to prioritize and pursue options to expand this relationship and support initiatives to make the region safer from the CCP’s malign influence. As we have seen many times, this influence includes corruption, vaccine extortion, deceitful lending practices, party-to-party training, environmental threats and challenges to sovereignty.”

The pressure on the Defense Department comes after Cuba signed onto a cooperative plan with China for constructing the Belt and Road Initiative, which raised particular alarms in Florida.

Additionally, Rubio serves as a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.

Made in America

The pandemic exposed a reliance on Chinese imports for many medical supplies. As a surge in the omicron variant leads to fresh shortages in tests, Sen. Rick Scott wants the federal government to turn to domestic manufacturing.

He penned a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra calling on the Biden administration to prioritize American-made COVID-19 test kits and rule out buying anything from Chinese companies.

“As our nation continues its work to fully reopen and recover from COVID-19, the best way forward for defeating this virus is making sure Americans have adequate prevention and treatment options against this terrible illness,” Scott wrote. “I share the frustrations of public health leaders and the American people at the federal government’s lack of proactive leadership in fighting COVID-19, but I support the administration’s goal of making tests available to anyone who needs one.”

Rick Scott tells Xavier Becerra to buy American. Image via AP.

Scott, however, said that goal should not result in helping the “genocidal regime” of the Chinese Communist Party and General Secretary Xi Jinping.

“Every U.S. tax dollar spent must be carefully scrutinized, and it is my expectation that the Biden administration ensures that not a single dollar of taxpayer funding is used to purchase COVID-19 tests manufactured in Communist China,” he wrote. “The federal government has a responsibility to support American manufacturers, and we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that it was the Chinese Communist Party that lied about this deadly virus, tried to hide it, and has continuously covered up the origins of COVID-19. Furthermore, we know that every dollar spent on COVID-19 tests manufactured in Communist China goes directly to supporting General Secretary Xi and his genocidal regime.”

Sour note

Fort Walton Beach Republican Matt Gaetz appealed Monday to Gov. DeSantis to take corrective action against a songwriters’ festival that expects more than just music appreciation from attendees.

Gaetz asked DeSantis to strike at what he called “the illegal implementation of vaccine passports at the 30A Songwriters Festival in the 1st Congressional District of Florida.”

Time is of the essence. The festival starts Jan. 14.

Matt Gaetz is throwing a Panhandle music event under the pandemic bus.

The festival webpage asserts with “more than 175 artists, 225 performances, and 30 venues, the 30A Songwriters Festival has something for everyone.” However, the Congressman believes that not “everyone” has the same access to the festival’s aural delights.

Gaetz alleges “a blatant violation of Executive Order 21-81, ‘Prohibiting COVID-19 Vaccine Passports.’”

“Your executive order allows entities to engage in COVID-19 screening, generally, but does not permit different treatment for the vaccinated and unvaccinated,” the Congressman contends.

Indeed, Gaetz argues, the festival discriminates against the unvaccinated by requiring proof of a negative test for those who have not had their shots.

DeSantis’ office has referred the matter to the Florida Department of Health for follow-up and notes state law prohibits any such vaccine passport policy.

Special delivery

This week, St. Augustine Beach Republican Mike Waltz welcomed something more important than legislation. He announced on Monday the birth of his son, Armie, delivered at 9 pounds, 5 ounces on Jan. 7.

“Go, Armie!” Waltz tweeted. “Our hearts are full in the Waltz family.”

Mother Julie Nesheiwat also hails from Florida and has held prominent positions in the federal government, both in the military and as a former Homeland Security Adviser to President Donald Trump.

Climbing ranks

In professional news for Waltz, he was just named ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Readiness on the House Armed Services Committee. The panel oversees Defense training, logistics and maintenance, military construction, the organic industrial base, the civilian and contract workforce, the environment, military installations and real property management, family housing, base realignments and closures, and energy.

Rep. Mike Rogers, the lead GOP member of the Armed Services Committee, made the appointment. “Rep. Waltz served our nation honorably as a Green Beret and I know he will continue to be a strong advocate for the needs of our military in his new role as the Ranking Member of the subcommittee on Readiness,” Rogers said.

Michael Waltz nabs a key committee spot.

Waltz, who advised former Vice President Dick Cheney on counterterrorism, relished the mission.

“At such a pivotal time for our military, I am grateful to Ranking Member Rogers for the opportunity to lead the Subcommittee on Readiness to ensure America’s warfighters are trained and equipped at superior facilities in order to address the multitude of threats facing our country,” Waltz said. “It’s imperative that the Department of Defense has the best resources to defend against the Chinese Communist Party’s march toward global dominance, Russia’s increased malign behavior, new terrorist threats emanating from Afghanistan, the Iranian Regime’s march toward a nuclear weapon, North Korea’s nuclear arsenal proliferation and missile development, and threats to freedom in the Western Hemisphere from Venezuela and Cuba.”

Stormy

Five years after Hurricane Irma hit Florida, communities are still rebounding from the damage. Orlando Democrat Val Demings last week announced an influx of $7.5 million in hurricane resilience funding through FEMA. The money will go toward a $10 million effort by Orange County to reduce storm-related flooding in the Orlo Vista Neighborhood in the future. The Congresswoman’s husband, Jerry, serves as Mayor of Orange County.

Val Demings helps Orlo Vista weather the storm. Image via Florida National News.

“I am glad to announce this new grant in our community which will help keep Floridians safe when big storms come,” the Congresswoman said. “Hurricanes are a part of life here in the Sunshine State and it’s our job to prepare. I will continue working to keep us safe with important infrastructure upgrades and will also keep working to reduce the effects of climate change which is making storms bigger and deadlier. Keeping Floridians safe will always be my top priority.”

Privacy, please

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act since 1998 has restricted how companies collect data on children aged 13 and younger. Now, Rep. Castor wants to ensure everyone is still following the law.

She and Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois wrote inquiries to all COPPA Safe Harbor programs seeking information on how organizations meet obligations to provide “substantially the same or greater protections for children.” Recipients include the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, Entertainment Software Rating Board, iKeepSafe, kidSAFE, Privacy Vaults Online and TRUSTe. Letters note reports of shortcomings on the part of some entities.

Kathy Castor promotes online privacy for children.

“Unfortunately, there are signs that COPPA Safe Harbor organizations are not adequately doing their job. Former FTC Commissioner [Rohit] Chopra, in prepared remarks on April 4, 2019, and in a statement on May 19, 2020, said that the FTC and Congress need to take steps to ‘[beef] up oversight of the COPPA Safe Harbor program,’” the letters state. “Some of the actions then-Commissioner Chopra proposed include: ‘Limiting conflicts of interest by COPPA Safe Harbors by restricting additional fee-based consulting offered by affiliates of the Safe Harbor to participating websites and apps,’ and ‘Disclosing COPPA Safe Harbor performance data to the public, including complaints handled and disciplinary actions taken.’”

From there, the letters ask a series of probing questions. How many operators actually run the sites? Does advertising appear on the site? What are the “effective, mandatory (mechanisms) for the independent assessment of (the) subject operator’s compliance with the self-regulatory program guidelines?” Have reforms recommended in 2020 been implemented?

“We are also committed to exploring ways in which Congress can strengthen COPPA and the COPPA Rule,” the letter explains.

Relief at last

The DeSantis administration took heat for being the last state to claim its share of federal COVID-19 relief funds last fall, but now the latest installment of the $7 billion in federal aid is on its way.

The Education Department late last month accepted the state’s plan to spend the money for helping students and schools recover from the effects of the pandemic. Last week’s news release made no allusions to the sniping that occurred between the state and the federal government over other relief funds that involved COVID-19. Members of the delegation welcomed the dollars.

Despite Florida being last in line, the federal COVID-19 relief money starts flowing in.

“Florida will now receive the outstanding portion of its $7 billion … award, which will better equip school districts to safely maintain in-person learning and provide resources to support the overall well-being of students, teachers, and support staff during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic,” said Liberty City Democrat Frederica Wilson.

“Thankfully, school districts can now rely on these critical resources to meet local needs and ensure education equity.”

K Street move

Ballard Partners has hired Dave Karvelas, Buchanan’s former chief of staff and a veteran of The Associated Press.

“Dave’s experience as one of the most seasoned veterans of Capitol Hill brings an exponential dimension to our firm’s bipartisan advocacy in the halls of Congress and the Ways and Means Committee,” said Brian Ballard, president and founder of Ballard Partners. “We are honored that Dave is joining our top-tier team of Washington professionals.”

Of particular value to the lobbying firm, Karvelas comes on as a lobbyist when Buchanan appears poised to chair the House Ways & Means Committee if Republicans win the majority in November.

Karvelas worked 15 years for Buchanan, from 2006 to 2021. He served as senior adviser to the Congressman from January 2021 to June. Before that, he served as chief of staff from the start of 2007 to the end of 2020.

Buchanan is not the only Ways & Means Committee member Karvelas has served. He also worked as chief of staff to former Reps. Nancy Johnson, a Connecticut Republican, and Dick Zimmer, a New Jersey Republican.

On this day

Jan. 11, 1964 — “Surgeon General warns smokers on facts” via The New York Times — Dr. Luther L. Terry warned against being “misled by the half‐truth that we need more research before we can take action” to reduce the hazard to health from cigarette smoking. Terry told a National Conference on Cigarette Smoking and Youth that more research was needed, but on “how cigarette smoking produces lung cancer, bronchitis and other diseases, not whether it produces them.” The Surgeon General said he thought the effects of his advisory committee’s report on smoking and health the previous January were reflected in the decline in cigarette sales but that it would take “at least” 10 years to change the nation’s smoking habits.

Jan. 11, 1991 — “Congress authorizes Gulf War” via the Los Angeles Times — The Democratic-controlled Congress, closing ranks behind President George H.W. Bush at a crucial moment in American history, voted to authorize U.S. troops to attack Iraq. Bush’s victory was decisive and bipartisan, even though the authorization was strongly opposed by the Democratic leadership and most aspirants for the Democratic presidential nomination. Many Democrats abandoned their party leaders, and Republicans were nearly unanimous in supporting the President. The Senate adopted the resolution 52 to 47; the House vote was 250 to 183.

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Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, with contributions by A.G. Gancarski and Anne Geggis.

Staff Reports



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