Delegation for 7.12.22: Reprieve — free Cuba — pork — plane cash — cleanup

Imprint of the U.S. Capitol building on a dollar bill banknote
Venezuelans in Florida get a break on TPS.

Extending TPS

The Department of Homeland Security extended protections for Venezuelan refugees. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced Monday that Venezuela’s temporary protected status (TPS) designation would exist for an additional 18 months.

“As one of my first actions as Secretary, I designated Venezuela for TPS,” Mayorkas said. “After careful consideration, and in consultation with the Secretary of State, today I am extending that designation. This action is one of many ways the Biden administration is providing humanitarian support to Venezuelans at home and abroad, together with our regional partners. We will continue to work with our international partners to address the challenges of regional migration while ensuring our borders remain secure.”

Venezuelan TPS gets a reprieve.

According to the Migration Policy Institute, no U.S. state currently houses more Venezuelan nationals than Florida. About 53% of Venezuelan immigrants live in Florida as of 2020, the think tank reports, with Miami-Dade, Broward and Orange counties hosting the highest concentrations of any counties in the country.

It’s no surprise that the move to expand support comes after bipartisan pressure from Florida’s congressional delegation. Republican Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart and Democratic Reps. Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, all Florida Representatives, last week co-led a letter to Homeland Security Investigations Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on the issue.

The letter cites continued oppression under Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who remains in power despite not being formally recognized by the U.S. for more than two years.

“Political instability caused by Maduro’s authoritarian regime has led to massive food and medicine shortages, 94% of the population living in poverty, 60% of the population is suffering from food insecurity, and the country’s economy is crippled,” the letter reads. “Venezuela’s economy has contracted by more than 74% since 2014, which is more than twice the magnitude of the Great Depression in the United States. Venezuela has also experienced some of the highest homicide and crime victimization rates in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

A total of 30 Representatives signed the letter, including 14 from the Florida delegation. That includes all of Florida’s House Democrats, along with Díaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez and María Elvira Salazar. In fact, the South Florida Republicans were the only GOP Representatives to sign the letter. The message stressed the humanitarian crisis playing out in Venezuela.

“Food and medicine shortages have led to increased infant and maternal mortality rates, and the return of previously eradicated diseases such as diphtheria and measles,” it states. “The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this humanitarian crisis and has led to thousands of deaths. Due to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela, Venezuelans have consistently been the leading nationality requesting asylum in the United States since 2016. As of November 2021, U.N. agencies believe that over 6 million Venezuelans have fled the country. The number of displaced individuals from Venezuela only continues to grow.”

The message proved compelling to the administration, but co-signatories did not get everything they wanted. The letter also sought to expand TPS eligibility by moving the required arrival date in the U.S. to before the end of 2021. As of now, immigration relief will only be available to those who migrated from Venezuela to the U.S. before March 8, 2021.

“While I’m pleased about this essential extension, I strongly urge the President to offer that same refuge to Venezuelans who arrived after that date, because nothing has changed in Venezuela and, in fact, has only gotten worse,” Wasserman Schultz said. “They too live with the same fear of being forced to return to Maduro’s brutal and repressive state, and their safety is just as vital as we all work to restore democracy and peace to Venezuela.”

Cuba Libre

A year after protests offered a visible threat to the communist government in Cuba, Sen. Marco Rubio said freedom for the people on the island remains overdue.

“One year ago, the Cuban dictatorship’s worst nightmare became a reality,” Rubio said. “The citizens of the island it holds hostage peacefully united in repudiation of their failed Marxist policies. With the hymn of ‘Patria y Vida,’ Afro-Cuban artists ignited a movement that inspired everyday Cubans of all ages to stand up in condemnation of decades of repression, censorship, indoctrination and human rights abuses. We have a moral duty to support the more than 1,000 civilians, many of whom are underage, who remain arbitrarily detained because of their protest against tyranny.”

The Senator remains nonplussed about President Joe Biden’s ability to make good on support for protesters.

Marco Rubio says Cuban freedom is overdue. Image via AP.

“Rather than hold the dictatorship accountable, President Biden and his administration have granted the (Raul) Castro/(Miguel) Díaz-Canel regime unimaginable concessions. I reaffirm my commitment to ensuring Congress does all it can to support the people of Cuba. It is essential that they receive information untainted by the regime’s apparatus. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to swiftly pass my PATRIA Y VIDA Act, which would help Cubans acquire uncensored access to the internet.”

ADN America published an op-ed by the Senator, encouraging more resistance on the island and expressing that the U.S. must provide greater support to citizens on the island.

“Cuba’s dissidents do more justice to our national ideal of freedom than the privileged elites who demonstrate in favor of Marxism all across America today,” Rubio wrote.


In a season when many elected officials want to tout money brought home, Sen. Rick Scott advanced a resolution calling for pork-barreling to stop.

He introduced a resolution, along with Indiana Republican Mike Braun and Montana Republican Steve Daines, condemning earmarks or member projects.

“I’ve always fought for greater control of government spending and limited government, and that includes fighting what Washington calls earmarks,” the Naples Republican said.

Rick Scott is no fan of pork.

“Here’s what happens: the federal government takes the tax dollars of hardworking Americans from around the nation and uses thousands, sometimes millions, of dollars on pet projects that only benefit a small number of people. In this broken system, Washington says: Give us your money, and politicians who live across the country will redirect it wherever they like.

Of course, delegation members, Democrats and Republicans, love to tout money brought back to the district through the earmarking process.

But for every worthy project, there’s a turkey with little reason for federal involvement, Scott said. He pointed to high-priced items — in blue states — such as a $3 million allocation for a Brooklyn art gallery or $2.5 million for a museum annex in Vermont. He didn’t spotlight any Florida spending, including several projects secured by delegation members in this year’s proposed budget (see below for a smattering of recent ones).

“Americans deserve and expect fiscal accountability, not to be used as a political piggy bank,” Scott said. “I’m proud to join my colleagues in this resolution to put an end to this wasteful Washington practice and take a step toward fiscal responsibility.”

Smooth landing

Orlando International Airport will soon be the arrival destination for $50 million in infrastructure funding. Florida’s busiest airport will use the funding for expanding Terminal C with four new gates.

Orlando Democrat Val Demings announced funding would come from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law she and most House Democrats — but not Senate opponent Rubio — supported last year.

Val Demings brings federal cash in for a landing in Orlando.

“I joined Republicans and Democrats to pass the bipartisan infrastructure act because Orlando’s economy depends on our travel infrastructure. I’m proud to announce this major win for our region, which will help us continue to grow as the most visited destination in America,” Demings said. “This new funding will be used for critical expansions at the new Terminal C, which I toured earlier this year, and which will help fuel our community’s continued economic growth for decades to come.”

The new gates can serve either four wide-body or eight narrow-body aircraft. The funding comes from $1 billion in the infrastructure package for terminal expansions around the country. The funding is separate from the $47 million Demings secured for other airport improvements at MCO.

Cleaning the Bay

Millions in earmark funding will come to Pinellas County, where St. Petersburg Democrat Charlie Crist announced funding for solar power, senior centers and social service providers.

“The People’s House has been working hard to pass a budget that will put money back into working families’ pockets, cut costs, invest in the American people and protect our shores. From clean energy technology to gun violence prevention to national security — these bills invest in a stronger, safer America,” Crist said.

“I’m grateful my seat on the House Appropriations Committee gives me the opportunity to uplift Pinellas families and secure funding for our community’s biggest priorities — opportunity, safety and affordability for all.”

Charlie Crist is on a mission to make Tampa Bay sustainable.

Community projects led by Crist include $3.5 million for the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science to study environmental threats to Tampa Bay. He noted that it’s especially important after Piney Point discharges in 2021. Additionally, Crist secured $3 million for the Baypointe Regional Stormwater Treatment Facility to pay for stormwater conversions and other water quality projects.

He also pulled in $3 million for the Dr. Carter G. Woodson African American History Museum in St. Petersburg. Another $2.5 million will go to Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for a solar-powered bus facility and charging station for an all-electric fleet.

Millions more will go to senior and community centers in Gulfport, St. Petersburg and other areas.

Bethune pride

Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor is set to lead the unveiling of the Mary McLeod Bethune statue at the U.S. Capitol this upcoming Wednesday.

The ceremony will celebrate the new statue, which portrays Bethune as a representative of the State of Florida in the National Statuary Hall State Collection. Notably, she will be the first African American to represent any state in the 100-statue collection, and one of only a few women to represent a state.

Mary McLeod Bethune prepares for her big debut. Image via Twitter.

“Floridians and Americans deserve a symbol of unity and progress — one where our dynamic and diverse state can resolve to move forward together in our democratic tradition,” Castor said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the ceremony after her unveiling to welcome Dr. Bethune to her honored place in Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. I am looking forward to celebrating with all of my partners who have worked tirelessly to bring this day to fruition.”

Key to the City

Longboat Key Republican Vern Buchanan may not represent Sarasota after this election cycle thanks to redistricting, but city officials made clear they hold the Congressman in high regard. On Monday, Mayor Erik Arroyo presented the eight-term Congressman with the Key to the City.

“Congressman Buchanan has secured millions in federal funding for regional projects, including funding for the City of Sarasota’s wetland restoration project at Bobby Jones Golf Club, an environmental restoration project at the Bay Park, beach renourishment at Sarasota’s Lido Key Beach, and the design and construction of the national cemetery in Sarasota,” reads a proclamation signed by Arroyo.

Vern Buchanan gets special recognition by a grateful Sarasota.

A new map signed by DeSantis means Florida’s 16th Congressional District, where Buchanan seeks re-election, will shift north and no longer reach south of the Manatee-Sarasota County line. Buchanan, who has represented Sarasota since he first won election to Congress in 2006, embraced the honor.

“I am humbled and honored to receive the Key to the City of Sarasota,” Buchanan said. “Sarasota is a special place to live and raise a family. My sons went to school in Sarasota and my business is here. Since 2007, I have had the distinct pleasure of representing the City of Sarasota in Congress and I am pleased by the amount we’ve accomplished.”

Restoring Roe

Democratic women in the congressional delegation praised an executive order by Biden that aims to protect a woman’s right to choose and echoed his call to voters to demand change at the ballot box.

“In the face of the biggest dismantling of women’s rights in half a century, I commend and thank President Biden for his commitment to protecting reproductive freedom and access to abortion,” said West Palm Beach Democrat Lois Frankel. “The President’s order will protect the right to travel freely, safeguard patients’ privacy, promote the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics, and the ability to obtain approved medication. It is a critical step in fighting back to ensure everyone has the freedom to make decisions about their own reproductive health, regardless of their income or ZIP code.”

To watch a video of Frankel’s comments, click on the image below:

Miramar Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick promised Congress would act this year to codify Roe v. Wade into law.

“Our pro-choice Democratic House Majority continues to prepare additional legislative action to respond to the Supreme Court’s appalling decision to rip away women’s reproductive rights. Next week, we will again pass the Women’s Health Protection Act: landmark legislation enshrining the protections of Roe v. Wade into federal law. We will also pass legislation addressing the GOP’s disturbing threats to restrict Americans’ freedom to travel — reaffirming the constitutional right to seek care freely and voluntarily throughout the country.”

Free Bahamas

Hollywood Democrat Frederica Wilson used Bahamian Independence Day to push for greater relations between the U.S. and the island nation.

“Today, the Bahamian people and their spirit continue to play an integral role in South Florida’s unique culture and heritage, dating back decades to the formation and incorporation of the city of Miami,” said Wilson, the first Bahamian American in Congress.

The Bahamas celebrates its independence on July 10.

“During my time in Congress, I’ve fought to ensure that the contributions and accomplishments of the Bahamian people are rightfully memorialized in our city’s history. From helping local activist fight to preserve the historic row houses to advocating for the return of the 39th annual Goombay Festival that celebrates the richness and diversity of the Grove’s Bahamian-rooted community heritage, my dedication and passion to conserve this cultural heritage is ingrained in my family’s history and that of countless founding families of Bahamian settlers in Miami.”

Sunday marked 49 years since the Bahamas became independent from more than 300 years of colonial rule.

On the beat

Salazar co-led a bipartisan letter with New Hampshire Democrat Chris Pappas calling for the consideration of several pro-law enforcement bills in the House.

“There is no doubt that crime is on the rise and our neighborhoods, unfortunately, tend to be significantly less safe than they were just two years ago,” the Miami Republican said. “As the daughter of Cuban exiles, I firmly believe in the need for a strict and fair rule of law. That is why I am calling on House leaders to act in a bipartisan way to respond to growing concerns over crime and provide police with the support necessary to keep us all safe.”

The letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy calls for partisanship to be set aside to protect cops in the line of duty and improve public safety nationwide. It identifies 13 bills with broad support that have not reached the floor for a vote.

Maria Salazar is helping deliver a wave of law enforcement bills.

“We ask leadership to individually consider each of these bills when Congress returns from the July 4 district work period,” the letter reads. “Instead of packaging police funding bills into the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations package, voting on these bills as stand-alone legislation will increase the likelihood of receiving bipartisan support and better allow members to voice their support for law enforcement.”

Six of the bills are co-sponsored by Salazar, including the SERVICE Act (HR 5788), the COPS on the Beat Grant Program Reauthorization and Parity Act (HR 6375), HELPER Act (HR 3172), Public Safety Enhancement Act (HR 6132), HELPS Retirees Improvement Act (HR 7203) and Pathways to Policing Act (HR 7826).

On this day

July 12, 1804 — “Alexander Hamilton dies” via Trinity Church Wall Street — He was the founder of an early version of the Coast Guard, first Secretary of the Treasury, wrote more than 50 of the Federalist Papers, served as a constitutional lawyer, and campaigned for the establishment of the U.S. mint. But for all his modern accomplishments, Hamilton succumbed to an ancient vice: dueling. He died of a gunshot wound suffered the previous day in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr. Most clergy opposed dueling, as did Benjamin Franklin and George Washington. Legal opposition to dueling had also formed, and the practice was outlawed in New York. None of this dissuaded Hamilton or Burr, longtime political enemies.

July 12, 1954 — “Dwight Eisenhower proposed interstate highway system” via the Federal Highway Administration — President Eisenhower planned to unveil his highway proposition in a speech to the Governors’ Conference in New York. However, because of a family death, he could not attend. Instead, Vice President Richard Nixon addressed the Governors with the President’s notes in hand. Nixon informed them of the President’s call for “a grand plan for a properly articulated system that solves the problems of speedy, safe, transcontinental traffic, intercity communication, access highways, and farm-to-market movement, metropolitan area congestion, bottlenecks, and parking.”


Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles, edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol, with contributions by Kelly Hayes.

Staff Reports


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