Delegation for 3.18.22: Ukraine — effective lawmakers — bomb threats — big bank — SERV and protect

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
Mr. Zelenskiy comes to Washington (virtually, that is).

Help

The defense of Ukraine in the face of a Russian invasion continues to be a unifying issue for Democrats and Republicans in the delegation. Following a remote address to Congress by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, members from across the political spectrum called for greater support to be provided to the eastern European nation.

Vladimir Putin is viciously attacking civilians throughout Ukraine, including maternity hospitals and schools where hundreds of women and children have been killed,” said Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panama City Republican. He calls this ‘liberation,’ but it’s genocide, plain and simple. The United States must help the Ukrainian people. Our country fought for its own freedom and sovereignty many years ago. It’s time for the U.S. to answer President Zelenskiy’s pleas and provide resources that are critical to defending Ukraine against Russia’s invasion.”

Also on board was Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat and Senate candidate.

“President Zelenskiy has exemplified the courage and determination of the Ukrainian people and it was an honor to hear from him this morning. America must always stand for freedom and democracy, which is why last week I voted for military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine,” she said. “Though we have forced historically strong sanctions on Vladimir Putin and his corrupt regime, they must be stronger. I’ve led efforts to target Putin personally in Congress and I again call for additional sanctions to target all of Putin’s political allies, cripple his personal wealth, and hold him responsible for this unforgivable war of conquest.”

Volodymyr Zelenskiy heads to Congress with a big ask.

Sen. Rick Scott said he was “shaken” by the vividness of Zelenskiy’s account and pressed the Joe Biden administration to do more. “The United States has the power to give Ukraine what it needs to win and ensure Putin and his thugs personally feel the pain of this ruthless and unlawful invasion. We must use it,” Scott said.

There was near unanimity within the delegation on a vote taken Thursday in the House on suspending normal trade relations with Russia.

“The People’s House acted decisively to punish Russia and the dictator Vladimir Putin for this heinous, unprovoked invasion, as well as holding Belarus accountable for its complicity in this atrocity,” said Rep. Charlie Crist, a St. Petersburg Democrat. “When a bully threatens the free world, we do not cower.”

“Bombing hospitals and slaughtering innocent women and children make Putin a war criminal who should be ostracized throughout the world,” agreed Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican.

But not everyone is eager to send resources to Eastern Europe.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Panhandle Republican, joined with voices in the “America First” wing of his party and suggested U.S. materials are best used on the homefront. He cast one of just eight votes against the trade relationship change.

“My fellow lawmakers in both parties are obsessed over 150,000 Russians moving on Ukraine,” Gaetz tweeted. “It’s about the same number of illegal aliens that move into our country. Monthly. I’m more concerned with America’s borders than Ukraine’s.”

Sunshine

The sun has risen, at last, on Sen. Marco Rubio’s bright idea to make daylight saving time permanent — at least in the Senate.

For the first time since Rubio proposed ending the nation’s fallback, spring-forward pattern in 2018, the proposal won unanimous approval from the Senate chamber Tuesday by voice vote (apparently without some Senators noticing).

“This is an idea whose time has come,” Rubio said on the Senate floor, according to his office.

Marco Rubio sees the light. Image via AP.

As has been his pattern in previous years, Rubio recorded a video message pushing the idea just before the nation lost an hour of sleep Sunday to “spring forward” into evenings with more daylight.

“Switching in and out of daylight saving time is outdated, and is only a source of annoyance and confusion,” he said in the video message.

On the Senate floor, Rubio made his case, according to a release from his office.

“We don’t have to keep doing this stupidity anymore,” he said. “Why we would enshrine this in our laws and keep it for so long is beyond me.”

Florida in 2018 passed legislation that would make springing forward permanent, but it would have to be adopted by federal statute to go into practice.

Nineteen other states — Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming — have passed similar laws, resolutions or voter initiatives.

Codifying sanctions

Florida’s delegation has provided bipartisan pushback on moves by Biden involving Venezuela. Amid reports the administration may consider lifting sanctions on Venezuelan oil to offset a loss of Russian petroleum, Democrats and Republicans criticized any interaction with Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro.

Now, Scott wants to outlaw any possibility. He argued this week on the floor for the Banning Operations and Leases with the Illegitimate Venezuelan Authoritarian Regime (BOLIVAR) Act.

“We cannot, as the Biden administration has signaled it will, choose to empower one dictator so we can punish another,” Scott said.

If passed, the measure would prohibit any federal agencies from doing business with anyone connected to the Maduro regime.

“Nicolás Maduro’s brutal oppression of the Venezuelan people is absolutely horrific, and we can all agree that the United States should not be bolstering such a disgusting, socialist regime. That’s why it’s so disturbing that President Biden secretly sent a team to Venezuela and began negotiations about the potential purchase of Venezuelan oil and easing of sanctions,” Scott said.

“Instead of working to promote American energy independence, Biden wants to appease dictators and make us more dependent on foreign oil. That’s wrong and the American people deserve better. We can never stop fighting for freedom and democracy, especially in our own hemisphere. The Senate can and should take action today to support the Venezuelan people’s fight for freedom by passing my BOLIVAR Act and ensuring that taxpayer dollars do not support Maduro’s genocidal regime.”

To watch Scott’s floor speech, click on the image below:

Old friends

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo endorsed Rockledge Republican Bill Posey for re-election.

“Bill has a record of getting results and fighting for our America First priorities,” Pompeo said. “He is exactly who the country needs right now to get back on the right track and hold the Biden administration accountable for their failed policies and lack of transparent leadership. We need more leaders like Bill, who aren’t afraid to hold government accountable, stand up to Communist China and unleash American energy. I’m proud to endorse him.”

Posey welcomed the support.

Bill Posey’s big get for re-election endorsement.

“I am grateful to my friend, Secretary Pompeo, for his support,” Posey said. “While serving in Congress together, Secretary Pompeo and I fought for our shared conservative values and while he served in the (Donald) Trump administration, I worked alongside him to stand up to China and put America first. Now, I’m honored to have his endorsement to continue that important work and get America back on track.”

Pompeo served in the U.S. House from 2011 to 2017. Posey, a former state Senator, has served in Congress since 2009.

Picking up pieces

It could be easier for survivors of abuse to pick up the pieces of their life, thanks to a new law originally introduced by Crist.

The reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes language originally introduced in the Documents for Continued Safety Act (HR 5630), which was originally filed by Crist and Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner. The bill streamlines the ability for those fleeing domestic abuse to reobtain birth certificates, driver’s licenses and other personal identification that may have been left behind.

Charlie Crist is there to help abuse survivors pick up the pieces.

“Rebuilding your life after surviving domestic violence can feel insurmountable. That’s why we should be doing all we can to lend a helping hand to survivors and their families,” Crist said. “When fleeing violent and abusive situations, survivors often have little time to prepare, and often leave without their vital documents. After enduring such abuse, they should not be asked to pay replacement fees for things like birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports. Thankfully, with the help of my amendment, these costs can now be covered, making it easier for survivors to turn the page on the past and write their new chapter.”

González-Colón said making a process to aid survivors in moving past such family situations has been a fundamental priority.

“I’m pleased that Congress has approved the reauthorization of VAWA and included our provision that would help eliminate barriers that affect so many survivors by allowing them access to their documentation to start a new life free from abuse,” she said. “As a co-chair of the Congressional Women’s Caucus, I will always support equality and safety for women.”

Bill-irakis

Despite serving in the minority under a Democratic administration, Palm Harbor Republican Gus Bilirakis has now had eight bills become law in just this Congress. Most recently, Biden signed a bill with two Bilirakis-authored provisions.

That includes the Reducing Exposure to Burn Pits Act, which Bilirakis penned with California Democrat Raul Ruiz. The two lawmakers have worked across the aisle on several issues affecting veterans.

“We still have a long way to go as it relates to ensuring veterans exposed to burn pits have access to the care and benefits they have earned, and we must keep pushing our legislation which will achieve that moral imperative,” Bilirakis said. “However, this provision is a step in the right direction for ending a practice that is harmful for our nation’s heroes.”

Never underestimate Gus Bilirakis.

The Congressman also originally introduced the Restoring Brand USA Act, which directs visa fees to promote Brand USA abroad. This change, just signed by the President, will help make up a deficit in tourism marketing resources that resulted from a long drop in international travel thanks to the pandemic.

“The travel and tourism industry was one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic. As we seek to restore our way of life and fully recover, we cannot overlook the work that must be done to renew this powerful engine of economic growth for communities across the nation,” Bilirakis said.

“Brand USA has proved itself as a successful catalyst for spurring tourism to the United States. We need that catalyst now more than ever to help rebuild the industry and spur job growth. Common sense solutions like this will help boost the economy and help get us moving in the right direction. We look forward to welcoming these tourists back to our country, and to the job creation it will bring,”

NRCC Heavyweight

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) is looking to haul in $1 million at a fundraiser at Buchanan’s Longboat Key estate. That’s money that will be spent nationally toward Republicans’ efforts to retake a majority in the House.

“The radical left’s agenda is crippling America,” Buchanan said. “Rampant inflation, spiraling crime and non-existent border security are the direct result of insane policies pushed by Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and President Biden.”

Vern Buchanan has become a fundraising heavyweight.

Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and NRCC Chair Tom Emmer will attend the March 26 event. About half the money raised at the event was by Buchanan personally, besides more than $1 million he raised to date for House Republicans’ political arm this election cycle.

The other half of the money being raised will be credited to other Republican members of Florida’s congressional delegation. How that gets credited will depend on who brings the most in toward that goal.

Buchanan announced the seven-figure goal at a Republican conference meeting Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club.

The fundraiser comes after the eight-term congressional representative became front-runner to be the next House Ways and Means Committee chair, should the Republican Party regain a majority. He recently took over as the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee. He’s now the second most senior Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, behind retiring Texas Republican Kevin Brady.

HBCU threats

Following bomb threats to historically Black universities across the country, Naples Republican Byron Donalds called for the House Oversight Committee to hold hearings. As the committee did just that Thursday, the Congressman arrived with letters from Florida schools affected by the threats.

“It is critical that effective oversight ensure that the federal government is not dropping the ball,” Donalds said.

An alum of Florida A&M University, Donalds has pressed from his position on the committee for aggressive investigation of threats. He actually attended the Tallahassee institution the same year a pipe bomb exploded on campus.

FAMU grad Byron Donalds demands the feds not drop the ball on threats to HBCUs.

“Every year more than 250,000 Americans attend an HBCU,” he said. “These institutions are critical to providing high-value education to those who attend these institutions. Any attempt to threaten, intimidate or inflict harm on innocent college students and staff, particularly students and staff at HBCUs, impedes the right to access high quality education opportunities, and these threats also prevent students and faculty members from securing their fundamental right to safety while their well-being is being touched.”

One letter Donalds submitted into the Congressional Record came from Dr. Larry Robinson, FAMU’s president. “I remember all too well the fear that gripped our students, faculty and staff in 1999 after bombings actually occurred on FAMU’s campus,” he wrote to Congress. “We were fortunate there were no injuries during the two blasts that occurred and only minor damage to facilities; however, the psychological impact threatened our traditional activities in the days and months that followed.”

Bethune-Cookman University received a direct threat through a phone call placed Feb. 1. Interim President Hiram Powell also provided testimony to the U.S. House panel about the impact.

“Bomb threats are thieves. Bomb threats steal the equilibrium found in routines and

predictability and replace it with doubt and uncertainty,” he wrote in written testimony. “They steal time from everyone and, in its place, add unexpected and, therefore, unbudgeted expenses to the operating costs of HBCUs often struggling to balance their budgets. Mostly, bomb threats snatch away from students and others on campus any feeling that you are safe, secure, and can relax as you go and come because you are at an HBCU.”

Project SERV

While the hearing unfolded in Congress, Hollywood Democrat Frederica Wilson applauded the Biden administration for budgeting grants for HBCUs that recently endured bomb threats. The department of education just announced an expansion in eligibility for the Project School Emergency Response to Violence program.

“The threats made against our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities are far from new, and I commend the administration for finally allocating the necessary attention and recourses to HBCUs as we work to end the string of threats and bring the perpetrators to justice,” Wilson said. “No student in America — Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, or otherwise — should live in fear that their school may come under attack at the hands of people who are undeniably racist but, unfortunately, that is the fear that hundreds of thousands of predominantly Black students have had to live with since January of this year.”

Frederica Wilson seeks to SERV and protect.

Wilson serves as chair of the House Higher Education and Workforce Investment Subcommittee, and has pushed for greater response from the administration in the wake of the threats. This will help to protect campuses, she said.

“Project SERV provides critical, short-term funding to help school districts and institutions of higher education recover from violent and traumatic events that disrupt the learning environment,” Wilson said.

“I am pleased to know that America’s HBCUs will benefit from Project SERV and, in time, return to the safe and secure state they once had for the benefit of their students, faculty, and broader campus communities. This funding is only one component of a total solution to the threats made against HBCUs, and I will continue to urge the Department of Justice to move swiftly in providing Congress a classified briefing and bringing the perpetrators to justice.”

Sad memory

Boca Raton Democrat Ted Deutch and Miami Republican María Elvira Salazar were among those introducing bipartisan language in the House marking the 30th anniversary of the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina. March 17 marked three decades since the suicide bombing killed 29 individuals, including some children, and injured 242 others in Buenos Aires.

The resolution calls for still undelivered justice for victims of the attack and for Hezbollah and its supporters in Iran.

A remembrance of an act of terror. Image via María Elvira Salazar House Office.

“Antisemitism has no place in the United States nor in Latin America,” Salazar said. “This resolution is a firm marker of resolve that we will not cower in fear in the face of violent extremists. I stand tall and proud alongside our Jewish community, as well as everyone who values religious liberty and desires to live in freedom’s warm bright light.”

Deutch, a strong supporter of Israel, called the attack in Argentina a “horrifying display” of hate.

“As antisemitism and antisemitic attacks surge worldwide, the resolution introduced today is a powerful and important reminder of the dangers of unchecked hate in our own hemisphere and around the world,” he said.

“This resolution also commends the Organization of American States (OAS) for appointing a commissioner to monitor and combat antisemitism in the Western Hemisphere. As we applaud the OAS for their commitment, I hope that our country will soon follow their example by confirming our own Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism to work alongside the commissioner and confront antisemitism wherever it occurs. Today, and every day, we must stand united as a global community against extremism, terrorism, and antisemitism in all forms.”

The resolution was introduced with Democrat Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Republicans David Kustoff of Tennessee and Joe Wilson of South Carolina.

Familiar faces

With a congressional map (H 8019) approved and in place (sort of), there are some familiar faces to the delegation looking to mount House bids.

Just this week, Dennis Ross, a former Congressman, announced he’s running in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. That’s proposed as an additional seat with no incumbent and covers much of north Hillsborough County and south Pasco County, including Citrus Park, Temple Terrace, Zephyrhills and Dade City.

“I have been blessed to have previously served in Congress, but the past few years have shown that I have a responsibility to return to restore fiscal responsibility and conservative principles to the halls of Congress,” he said.

The return of Dennis Ross? Image via CQ Roll Call.

Meanwhile, Rusty Roberts, previously chief of staff to former Rep. John Mica, said he’s exploring a bid in Florida’s 7th Congressional District. Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy, who defeated Mica in 2016, isn’t seeking re-election in the seat. Her district is redrawn to stretch from the University of Central Florida in the Orlando area to Seminole County and much of Volusia to the Atlantic coast, including New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater.

“These hardworking citizens, my neighbors, need effective representation in Congress now more than ever,” Roberts said. “That’s why next week I plan to announce my intention to make a positive difference in their lives.”

On this day

March 18, 1865 — “Confederate Congress adjourns for the last time” via the Encyclopedia Virginia — The last session of the Confederate Congress adjourned. On April 2 and 3, the Confederate capital was hastily evacuated, and fires spread out of control along Richmond’s waterfront. Refugees from the flames flocked to Capitol Square for the safety of the open grounds. The arrival of Union troops at the Capitol on April 3 heralded the beginning of military occupation. The large Confederate and Virginia flags flying from opposite ends of the Capitol were removed and replaced with U.S. flags. Union troops camped on the square and Union officers organized efforts to extinguish the conflagration raging just south of the Capitol.

March 18, 2020 — “Donald Trump, Justin Trudeau agree to close U.S.-Canada border to ‘nonessential’ traffic” via The Washington Post — The United States and Canada agreed to close their 5,500-mile border to nonessential traffic Wednesday, a drastic measure that officials hope will help stanch the spread of the novel coronavirus in both countries. Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau closed the border, Trudeau said at a news conference. People can no longer traverse between the two countries for recreation and tourism, Trudeau said. It was not clear when the border would reopen.

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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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