Delegation for 3.22.22: Sunshine SCOTUS — long COVID-19 — STOP PUTIN — natural gas

capitol (1) green
Florida woman makes a splash on Capitol Hill.

Miami to high court

All week, the business of Washington swirls around a woman from Miami.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden’s first nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, will likely be remembered in history as the first Black woman to serve on the highest court in the land.

But as she laid out in her personal biography, there are also strong Sunshine State roots.

Jackson was born in Washington. But her parents, Johnny and Ellery Brown, were both Miami natives. Her parents left their hometown in 1970 to live somewhere where newly passed civil rights laws were being enforced. Both became public school teachers and instilled in their own daughter lessons about the strides America had made in their lifetime.

“My parents taught me that, unlike the many barriers that they had to face growing up, my path was clearer, so if I worked hard and I believed in myself and America, I could do anything or be anything I wanted to be,” Jackson told Senators Monday. She uttered the words as both her parents sat through the opening day of her confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate.

Florida Woman makes history. Image via AP.

The Browns had moved back to Miami when the now-nominee was just 4 years old. Her father studied law at the University of Miami. “My very earliest memories are of watching my father study,” Jackson said. “He had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books.”

She credited her father with her interest in law, but also Miami Palmetto Senior High School debate coach Fran Berger for honing her skills. The late educator took a young Jackson on her first visit to Harvard for a speech competition.

“Mrs. Berger believed in me and, in turn, I believed in myself,” Jackson said.

Of course, a list of mentors was long for the jurist, topped off by Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, the man she could soon replace on the court; she served as his legal clerk for years.

Members of the delegation on Monday also took the opportunity of her confirmation hearing to tout the nominees’ bio. Rep. Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief and a Senate candidate, noted Jackson’s uncle Calvin Ross once served as Miami’s chief of police.

“Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has two uncles and a brother who served for decades as police officers. One uncle served as Miami Chief of Police,” Demings tweeted Monday with the hashtag #FloridaProud. “She understands law enforcement, and America’s law enforcement organizations have endorsed her.”

Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Hollywood Democrat who strongly lobbied Biden to nominate Jackson, noted the family’s strong community standing. Her father, Johnny Brown, ultimately became School Board Attorney for the Miami-Dade County Schools for many years.

“What a privilege it is to witness history as the first Black woman SCOTUS nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson — of whose family I have known for many years — sits highly qualified and poised before the Senate Judiciary Committee as they hold confirmation hearings,” Wilson posted.

Long game

Sen. Marco Rubio wants to know the long-term effects of COVID-19 — on America’s education outcomes. The Miami Republican introduced bipartisan legislation that would authorize the Department of Education to include impacts of the pandemic in a longitudinal study of education performance nationwide.

“COVID disrupted the lives of students across the country, and we are only beginning to see the harm done to our kids,” Rubio said. “Understanding the pandemic’s long-term impact on students’ academic achievement and well-being is critical to avoiding future mistakes and correcting the ones we’ve made.”

What’s the deal with long-COVID-19? Marco Rubio wants answers now. Image via AP.

He introduced the Assessing Children’s Academic Development and the Emotional and Mental Health Implications of COVID-19 (ACADEMIC) Act with Democratic Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire and with GOP Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. The bill would allow the study to sample groups of students from rural and urban schools, and also look at differences in impact based on gender, race, income and grade level.

The Senators have sometimes staked different positions on how schools should respond to the public health crisis. In his own statement on the bill, Casey praised the American Rescue Plan — legislation Rubio voted against — for providing remote learning access to many students. But all the sponsoring Senators said it’s important public education leaders understand what effect that responses, including school closures, wrought on learning.

“We owe it to American students to continue to support them, and that starts with understanding the long-term impact of the pandemic on students’ academic achievement and mental, physical, social and emotional health,” Casey said. “The ACADEMIC Act will invest in research on these effects and enable us to understand how to best help our kids.”

Divest!

Sen. Rick Scott says companies relying on business with Russia or China should reconsider — now.

Last week, he filed the Stop Top Oil Producers and Protect Ukraine from Tyrannical Invasions Now (STOP PUTIN) Act, which would spark a review of all Russian oil companies and ensure they were not importing or exporting to the U.S. through any channels. The Naples Republican wants the federal government to review the United States’ Entity List every 90 days to make sure no Russian petroleum sneaks through.

Rick Scott hates Russian oil — but loves acronyms. Image via AP.

“We can all agree that the United States should not be bolstering Putin’s disgusting, tyrannical regime and we must cut off all dependence on Russian oil to stop funneling money to his war on Ukraine that’s killing more children, families and innocent civilians every day,” Scott said. “We must make completely clear to Russian oil companies that the U.S. stands for freedom; and they will be completely blacklisted and stay that way until it is proven to Congress they deserve to do business in our freedom-loving nation. … We need to revitalize American energy production now. We should not be turning to murderous regimes like Venezuela, Iran and Communist China to fill Russia’s place.”

Along the China lines, Scott also published an open letter last week to American business leaders, particularly those who cut ties to Russia amid the Ukraine invasion, to do the same in China before the eastern superpower invades Taiwan.

“Taiwan defense minister Chiu Kuo-cheng stated his belief that Communist China will launch a full-scale attack on the island. We cannot ignore his concerns,” Scott wrote. “An invasion would be brutal. It is not unreasonable to expect that Communist China’s forces would follow the same playbook as Putin and commit horrific war crimes, murder civilians and use merciless power to take control of Taiwan. When Communist China invades Taiwan, the consequences it suffers must be equal to, or even greater than, those imposed on Russia. The American people, and the world, will demand that Communist China is held fully accountable.”

Alley hoops

In a similar play, St. Augustine Republican Michael Waltz singled out one high-profile business working with China. The Congressman led a bicameral letter running a screen on the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The message to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league needs to take a firmer stance against human rights violations committed by the Chinese Communist Party against the Uyghurs and other populations.

Republicans in both chambers of Congress co-signed the letter. That included Sens. Rubio, Scott, and Joni Ernst of Iowa. Other House delegation members on the letter included Hialeah Republican Mario Díaz-Balart, Panama City Republican Neal Dunn and Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin, as well as Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Vicky Hartzler of Missouri and Young Kim of California.

Adam Silver gets another blast about NBA/China relations. Image via AP.

“The NBA has been taking orders from the CCP for years and have allowed the CCP’s political ambitions to dictate the organizations’ decision-making,” Waltz said. “Just look at the abrupt end of Enes Kanter Freedom’s NBA career. For over a decade, Kanter Freedom has spoken out against human rights abuses around the world, including standing up to Turkish President (Recep Tayyip) Erdogan, without punishment from the NBA. However, as soon as he spoke ill of the CCP and called attention to the genocide against Muslim Uyghurs in Xinjiang, the same free speech he otherwise enjoyed was no longer protected by the NBA.

“Clearly, the NBA is cherry-picking which social and political demonstrations and athletes they are willing to support based on market opportunities.”

The Boston Celtics traded Freedom last month, and he was promptly cut by the Houston Rockets in a move some saw as retribution for criticizing China.

“Despite global concern and outcry of the crimes committed in Xinjiang, little has been done by global businesses to hold China accountable because profit margins are at stake,” the letter reads. “The NBA is among the worst — refusing to stand up to blatant human rights abuses. Many of the NBA’s primary sponsors, including Nike, Adidas, and Microsoft, have products produced by forced Uyghur labor. We believe these business relationships with CCP cannot be overlooked when examining the NBA’s actions, including the status of Enes Kanter Freedom’s employment.”

It’s a gas

Republicans Gus Bilirakis, Kat Cammack, Dunn, Carlos Giménez, Brian Mast, María Elvira Salazar and Greg Steube are among early co-sponsors of a newly introduced House bill promoting liquefied natural gas. The legislation aims to expedite permit approvals for the exportation of relatively small amounts of natural gas.

Their bill is still unnumbered but will be a counterpart to S 3145, the “Small-Scale LNG Access Act,” which has drawn Rubio and Scott among four co-sponsors in the Senate.

LNG is a cornerstone of energy independence.

“Now, more than ever, it is abundantly clear that we must embrace an ‘all of the above’ energy strategy that allows us to regain energy independence and end our reliance on foreign, unstable regimes,” Bilirakis said. “New and emerging technologies, including LNG exports, will allow the United States to better harness the existing swath of available energy sources in order to strengthen our national security.”

“At a time when it’s critical to move away from our dependence on Russia and Venezuela for our energy needs, the Small-Scale LNG Act will further unlock our capacity for domestic production,” Cammack added. “Florida has an important role to play in this emerging sector and it’s past time we reinforce the importance of our LNG export capabilities.”

Price is wrong

How do Democrats address problems of inflation in an election year? Demings — someone who can talk about growing up in genuine poverty — is kicking off what her Senate campaign calls her three-day “Affordability Tour.”

Demings — whose campaign prefers the title “Chief Demings,” hearkening back to her law enforcement career, instead of “Rep. Demings” — will begin with two stops in Miami this afternoon and evening. She’ll meet with “essential workers” and the South Florida AFL-CIO. Additional details were not immediately released.

When it comes to affordability, Val Demings knows of which she speaks.

“Chief Demings will discuss how to make the American dream accessible and affordable to all as she meets and greets workers and small-business owners in South Florida,” a campaign advisory read.

Full disclosure

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Monday proposed new rules that would require corporations to make more disclosures on climate change impacts, drawing quick praise from Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor, chair of the House Select Committee on the Climate Change Crisis.

“Today’s decision by the SEC to update its climate disclosure rules is the right step forward to design rules that protect investors from harm and ensure the efficient flow of capital.”

Kathy Castor praises the SEC for making smart moves on climate change.

She applauded the SEC Chair and Commissioners for “responding to the urgent call for action from investors and business leaders alike, and for working to provide better access to consistent, reliable, and comparable disclosures of climate-related risks on investments in publicly-traded companies.”

The rules began with 2010 changes. On Monday, the SEC proposed updates including an increased focus on climate-related risks and on the consistency and adequacy of the disclosures.

The proposal followed an alarming 2020 report by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which found climate change could pose systemic risks to the U.S. financial system and concluded that the 2010 SEC guidance has not resulted in high-quality disclosure of climate change risks across publicly listed firms in the U.S.

Drill, baby?

Longboat Key Republican Vern Buchanan on Monday called for expanding oil drilling on federal lands. But he said that should be coupled with investment in alternative energy. And critically, he doesn’t want any oil exploration in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, where it could threaten Florida’s shores.

It’s part of an eight-point plan the Longboat Key Republican unveiled Tuesday that he believes will establish greater domestic energy independence. More than just a re-election platform, Buchanan’s proposal could offer a glimpse into the energy agenda for a Republican Congress should the GOP retake a majority and Buchanan ascend to chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Vern Buchanan preaches American energy independence. Is drilling a part?

“We aren’t going to become energy independent overnight but if Congress and the White House begin taking rational steps to promote domestic energy production, we can bulletproof ourselves from enemies like Russia, Iran and Venezuela,” Buchanan said. “The first step is for the Biden administration to stop trying to crush the American oil industry and start incentivizing more domestic production.”

The move seemed especially notable from Buchanan, a longtime critic of offshore oil drilling even before the Deepwater Horizon disaster galvanized Florida political leaders on the issue. Of course, the chair of the Florida congressional delegation still doesn’t list the Gulf of Mexico as the right place for oil exploration.

But he sees plenty of places where domestic production should step up. He noted in a Sarasota news conference that in the past 14 months since President Biden took office that domestic oil production has declined from 13 million barrels a day to 11.5 million.

Help Haitians?

Miramar Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick slammed the Biden administration for continuing to deport Haitians into a volatile nation. She called on the President to end Title 42 expulsions and to grant asylum to Haitians in the U.S. who fear violence if they return home.

She noted the Biden administration’s just-suspended deportation flights to Ukraine in recognition of the humanitarian crisis there, within weeks of Russia sending the military into the eastern European nation.

“As you may know this comes as the administration hits the grim milestone of expelling over 20,000 Haitians under the Title 42 policy with the residents of Haiti still experiencing instability and political violence on the island,” Cherfilus-McCormick said.

Helping Haiti: Ukraine isn’t the only humanitarian crisis in the world today, says Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick.

Haiti had been experiencing political disruption even before the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse last July. Florida leaders from across the political spectrum hailed a decision by the Biden administration to extend temporary protected status for eligible Haitian nationals living in the U.S. However, many Haitian nationals still face deportation to their home country.

Cherfilus-McCormick in January became the first Haitian American ever elected to Congress in Florida.

“It is in my opinion that the Biden administration allow the people of Haiti to determine their own political destiny and withdraw support from the de facto government; assist actors working to investigate the assassination and to address insecurity and other institutional challenges; and support free, fair, transparent and inclusive elections in Haiti only after security and political conditions allow, as determined by the Haitian people,” she said. “Policies coming out of Washington must be consistent with the will of the Haitian people, democratic ideals and the rule of law.”

Entrepreneurship

Both Salazar and Wilson on Monday hosted events featuring Small Business Administration Administrator Isabel Guzman, who toured both Representatives’ South Florida districts.

Salazar hosted an event in Miami, which included a business roundtable at Miami Dade College and a tour of locales like Calle Ocho and Old’s Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina.

“The American dream thrives when our economy is given the freedom it needs to grow and empowers our small (businesses to) do what they do best — innovate, create jobs, and provide value to their customers and community,” Salazar said. “It was an honor to host Administrator Guzman and introduce her to the heart of Florida’s 27th District. Today’s visit solidified a strong relationship between my office and the SBA, and I look forward to working together to ensure Miami small businesses can access the resources they need to thrive.”

Maria Salazar and Isabel Guzman talk about the American dream. Image via Salazar’s House Office.

Wilson, meanwhile, took Guzman to establishments in Florida’s 24th Congressional District. “Together, we toured Aero Marine Interior and met with small businesses from Miami who, despite COVID challenges, have continued to stimulate our economy thanks to historic federal relief funding!” Wilson tweeted.

Guzman shared pictures on social media of both trips and promised a commitment from the administration to small businesses in the region.

“It was inspiring to hear from small-business owners in Miami who have worked so hard to start, grow, and adapt their businesses in challenging times,” Guzman said. “I’m proud of the work the SBA is doing to help entrepreneurs in South Florida and across the country to access the capital, markets, and resources they need to thrive.”

Peak bloom

Peak bloom should begin today in Washington.

Yoshino Cherry trees dotting the capital city will likely reach their highest level of bloom of the year between today and Friday. That’s according to the National Park Service. Peak bloom is defined as the point when 70% of blossoms on trees open, and it typically occurs in late March or April.

Cool, calm weather could extend the length of the bloom. The nature of botany makes it impossible to forecast the peak bloom more than 10 days in advance, but the time is now.

Watch it: It’s the bloomin’ season.

On this day

March 22, 1972 — “Equal Rights Amendment for women passed by Congress” via The New York Times — The Senate passed the Equal Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution, which proposed banning discrimination based on sex. The ERA was sent to the states for ratification, but it would fall short of the three-fourths approval needed. The amendment, originally known as the Lucretia Mott Amendment, was first drafted by the women’s rights leader Alice Paul in 1923, three years after the passage of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women’s suffrage. Variations of the amendment were presented to every session of Congress between 1923 and 1970.

March 22, 1972 — “Senate votes 73-24 to upset Ronald Reagan’s veto of rights bill” via the Los Angeles Times — The Senate, despite last-ditch efforts by the Reagan administration and the Moral Majority, voted overwhelmingly to override President Reagan’s veto of a major civil rights bill and sent it to the House for final action. The Senate, yielding to impassioned pleas on behalf of women, minorities, the elderly and disabled who would be protected by the measure, voted 73 to 24 to override Reagan’s veto, more than the two-thirds margin needed to overturn his decision. Twenty-one Republicans broke ranks with Reagan to support the measure.

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

Staff Reports



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