Delegation for 8.12.22: Mar-a-Lago — persecution? — never enough — health care — animal testing

American Captial Building.
All eyes are on Mar-a-Largo.

Eyes on Mar-a-Lago

This week, a search warrant served at Mar-a-Lago continued to be the center of the political world. After days of demands for greater transparency, including from Florida’s Senators, Attorney General Merrick Garland asked for a judge to unseal search warrants served in Palm Beach County.

Hours later, former President Donald Trump said he also wanted the documents in the public realm as soon as possible.

All eyes are on Mar-a-Lago. Image via AP.

“Not only will I not oppose the release of documents related to the un-American, unwarranted, and unnecessary raid and break-in of my home in Palm Beach, Florida, Mar-a-Lago, I am going a step further by ENCOURAGING the immediate release of those documents,” Trump posted on Truth Social.

Legal experts have asserted both the Department of Justice and Trump could produce documents, but both now appear to be awaiting instruction from the bench on the matter.

“The Department filed the motion to make public the warrant and receipt in light of the former President’s public confirmation of the search, the surrounding circumstances, and the substantial public interest in this matter,” Garland said at a news conference.

Persecuted?

Meanwhile, Trump remains the likely next election opponent for Democratic President Joe Biden. Sen. Marco Rubio told journalists in Kissimmee that any legal operations against Trump are viewed as political persecution.

That includes this week’s FBI search of Mar-a-Lago for classified documents Trump may have taken with him when he left the White House in January 2021. It also includes this summer’s nationally televised congressional committee hearings investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol and various other actions going back to the beginning of Trump’s presidency, Rubio argued.

Political persecution?

Rubio has previously criticized the FBI action, the Jan. 6 Commission hearings, and other legal proceedings against Trump and his associates. In a news gaggle in Kissimmee, he put them together as long-running evidence of Democrats persecuting an opposition leader.

Rubio didn’t offer any suggestion of a prospect Gov. Ron DeSantis might be the Republican presidential nominee instead of Trump in 2024.

“The FBI had to have known that this is someone who is not just the current President’s biggest political rival; he’s likely his next opponent in the election. So, the bar for carrying out an operation involving 30 agents in a high-profile way is extremely high,” he said of the action at Trump’s home.

Rubio charged that Trump is facing almost daily “one-sided persecution.”

He said Democrats being investigated for various things don’t face that heat.

“At a minimum, even if you give all the benefit of the doubt, for the FBI to not have an awareness of what that would look like, how it undermines public confidence in the FBI, and how it leads a lot of people to conclude that this is politicized, is beyond me,” Rubio said.

“Honestly, it feels like what you see in these other countries where political opposition is criminalized,” Rubio continued.

Rubio responded to a reporter’s request that he elaborate on his concerns about the Mar-a-Lago raid, particularly with the prospect that the FBI found classified documents at Trump’s Florida compound.

“If in fact there were classified documents there, then there were multiple ways for them to secure them. My understanding, according to the (former) President and the National Archives is that the (former) President has already turned over 15 boxes of it,” Rubio said.

Never enough

The Consumer Price Index showed a welcome break from inflation, but Sen. Rick Scott said that’s not good enough. With basic goods like food still 8.5% more expensive year-over-year, he said there needs to be immediate reform — and he said Biden isn’t pursuing it.

“Washington is broken and backward. While I have been demanding an end to reckless spending, Democrats in Washington have responded to a 40-year high in prices by greenlighting another nearly $1 trillion in deficit spending in just the last two weeks through the CHIPS Act and so-called ‘Inflation Reduction Act,’” Scott said.

With Joe Biden, nothing is ever good enough for Rick Scott.

“You can’t fight inflation with a nonstop spending spree, but that’s all we can expect from Joe Biden and the radical socialist Democrats here in Washington. Even as Biden drives the country into a recession, all the Democrats seem capable of is cutting Medicare, spending your money and raising your taxes. The Biden administration has made clear that it is waging a war on our seniors, a war on American families and a war on our economy. Until this incompetent President is out of office, Florida families will continue to suffer.”

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports prices for all urban consumers went unchanged in July after jumping 1.3% in June. But Scott said some products remain at record highs, highlighting the worst price hikes including that gasoline is still up 44% and eggs are 38%. For economists who love a good guns and butter model, things have turned pricy with butter and margarine rising 26.4% in cost over the past year.

In a tweet, Scott asserted Biden shouldn’t stick around in the job at all.

“Joe Biden doesn’t care. He needs to step aside,” Scott said. “America deserves a leader who gives a damn.”

Expanse

As the Inflation Reduction Act comes up for a vote in the House, Rep. Val Demings, an Orlando Democrat and candidate for Senate, wants to make sure drug importation survives the process. She penned a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi calling for rejecting any amendments that would weaken or remove drug pricing reforms included in the bill as passed by the Senate.

“I support the historic Prescription Drug Pricing Reform provisions in Section B that are designed to drive down the costs of expensive medications,” Demings wrote. “I urge you to reject the possibility of any amendments that remove these critical drug pricing reforms.

Val Demings wants more accountability from drug companies.

“The reforms included in Section B, along with extending the Affordable Care Act Subsidies in Section C, will provide lifesaving medications and health care services to the American people. Initiatives such as allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, cap Medicare out-of-pocket costs, provide free vaccines for seniors, and increasing Medicare Part D subsidies while stabilizing Medicare Part D premiums will not only hold drug companies accountable, but also provide thousands of dollars of savings for millions of Americans.”

She said allowing Medicare to negotiate on imported pharmaceuticals will help reduce the cost of health care, as will an expansion of the Affordable Care Act to cover an additional 13 million Americas, including millions in Florida.

South of the border

Winter Park Democrat Stephanie Murphy led a bipartisan delegation of lawmakers to Latin America, with stops in Brazil, Paraguay and Panama. The Congresswoman characterized the trip as an important effort by Congress to promote democracy in a region of the world where fair elections fall under siege.

“As autocracies try to project power around the world, we need to reassure our allies of our commitment to democratic ideals,” Murphy said. “I led a bipartisan congressional delegation to meet with our partners in Brazil, Paraguay and Panama. Our delegation spoke with U.S. and foreign government officials about strengthening our defense and economic relationships, and we conducted oversight of intelligence and special operations activities in the region.”

Stephanie Murphy goes on tour.

Also on the trip were Democrats Kathleen Rice of New York and Kurt Schrader of Oregon, as well as Tennessee Republican Mark Green.

Lawmakers convened in Paraguay with President Mario Abdo Benítez, along with U.S. Ambassador Marc Ostfield. While in the country, the U.S. Representatives also met with officials at the Taiwanese embassy in Asunción.

The group in Brazil met with U.S. diplomats, experts and the Brazil American Chamber of Commerce. In Panama, meetings were held with U.S. chargé d’affaires and other American diplomatic and military officials, with senior members of the Panama government.

Fighting ailments

Health afflictions facing Florida’s seniors consumed much of Palm Harbor Republican Gus Bilirakis’ attention this week. He filed legislation Thursday that would tackle Parkinson’s disease. The Congressman filed the legislation with New York Democrat Paul Tonko. He shared the matter holds particular significance in his family.

“This issue is very important to me as I’ve watched a close family member struggle with Parkinson’s,” said Congressman Bilirakis. “This disease takes a terrible toll on the physical, mental, emotional, and economic well-being of everyone involved. The lack of treatment options leave patients, families, and the American taxpayers in a terrible quandary. We must change our approach in order to get better results, which is exactly what our bipartisan legislation will do. It builds upon past success and strives to replicate other national project models that have helped advance our health care goals. This critical legislation will provide hope to those who are suffering and hopefully lead to better patient outcomes with less expensive disease management.”

Gus Bilirakis leads the fight against Parkinson’s disease.

The National Plan to End Parkinson’s Act would create an advisory council comprising members of every federal agency that supports research, care and services for Parkinson’s, plus caregivers, patients and other nonfederal experts. The body would aim to direct resources toward treatment and, with hope, a cure for the condition. Bilirakis’ office noted Parkinson’s treatment costs U.S. taxpayers an estimated $52 billion annually, which could rise to $80 billion by 2037.

Bilirakis met Thursday in Lutz with medical professionals dealing with Alzheimer’s patients. His office said that affliction impacts 580,000 Floridians over 65, a figure also on the rise. As with Parkinson’s, Bilirakis said he wants to find solutions. Experts stressed the need to reauthorize the National Alzheimer’s Project Act and increase research support.

“I appreciate the input from our local Alzheimer’s community. We must raise awareness about the daily struggles Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers face as we strengthen the coalition of those supporting increased federal investment in critical research to find better treatments and a potential cure,” Bilirakis said. “Together we can end this debilitating disease.”

Coasting

Charlie Crist lobbied Biden to interject himself in the debate over a local environmental project. The St. Petersburg Democrat sent a letter to the White House seeking intervention on an Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to require the Pinellas County government to obtain easements from property owners along Pinellas County’s shoreline.

“For decades, the Army Corps of Engineers has been an important partner in supporting our tourism-based economy and protecting our community from the threats posed by climate change,” Crist said. “But this latest decision by the Army Corps puts all of that progress at risk. It is unconscionable that the Corps would even consider canceling such a critical economic, environmental, and public safety project. I am calling upon President Biden to right this wrong and take action to protect the future of the Pinellas County Shore Protection Project.”

Charlie Crist calls for action on a local environmental project.

His office cast the requirement on county government as an “arduous and impossible task,” requiring deliberation regarding 461 separate properties. He lobbied the Army Corps the past two years to re-evaluate the demand. Crist said that the failure of bodies to agree puts at risk an environmental restoration effort that has now spanned six presidential administrations.

“Mr. President, I know this may appear to be an arcane matter that should be settled between lawyers and engineers. Believe me; we have tried — for years,” Crist wrote. “This appeal to you is to elevate a critical public safety and economic matter to stop the Corps from making a consequential decision that will have a lasting negative impact on a coastal community at risk of severe weather and sea level rise. It is a decision that would be completely at odds with the important focus you and your Administration have brought to climate resiliency and preparedness. This standoff must come to an end immediately.”

Testy

Dogs have long held the title of “man’s best friend.” Sarasota Republican Greg Steube said it’s time man stick up for a buddy.

He introduced legislation this week to bar any testing on dogs for any biological, medical or behavioral research conducted at the National Institutes of Health.

“The NIH uses over $40 billion in taxpayer dollars annually to fund its research projects, including many recent, cruel examples using dogs,” Steube said. “Americans don’t want to enable the heinous abuse inflicted on puppies and dogs in the name of research. My legislation will cut every dime of NIH’s federal funding for these ruthless dog experiments.”

Greg Steube has the animal instinct.

Stuebe’s family includes four rescue dogs: Luke, Leia, Chance and Matty. He notably leveled criticisms last year at NIH National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci when research on beagles became publicized.

His new bill enjoys support from the fiscal watchdog White Coat Caste Project. “We applaud Congressman Steube for introducing the Protecting Dogs Subjected to Experiments Act and for his outstanding work to ensure taxpayers aren’t forced to pay for cruel, unnecessary and wasteful NIH testing on puppies and dogs,” said Justin Goodman, a vice president with the group. “As White Coat Waste Project’s #BeagleGate investigations have revealed, NIH-funded white coats are wasting millions of taxpayer dollars to inject puppies with cocaine, de-bark and poison dogs, infest beagles with flies and ticks, and force dogs to suffer septic shock.”

Feeding time

The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) shifted course and will participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer Program for 2022 — a decision made just as many families return their children to school for the new academic year.

The Florida Policy Institute praised the decision.

“We thank Florida’s Department of Children and Families for doing the right thing for 2.6 million Florida children by applying for $1 billion in SNAP through the USDA’s Summer P-EBT program,” said Institute CEO Sadaf Knight. “These federal dollars are crucial to help reduce food insecurity for families who are already struggling to make ends meet. Last year, Florida was the very last state to apply for Summer P-EBT and opted into this program only after dozens of organizations urged the state to take action. It is because of those community groups’ continued advocacy that our state has opted to participate in 2022.”

The program will provide an estimated $391 worth of food assistance per eligible child, automatically loaded only to eligible families’ existing EBT cards.

Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor praised the decision. “Good news to lower costs for #Florida families!” she tweeted. “And healthy children have a better chance of success in life and that helps all Floridians.”

Kathy Castor seeks to improve food options for SNAP recipients.

Notably, Tallahassee Democrat Al Lawson in July pressured the state DCF to work with the USDA and guarantee benefits came through.

Advocates praised the Florida delegation for pushing for the change.

“We thank Florida’s congressional delegation who supported this bill and championed our families and children,” Knight said.

Be prepared

Hollywood Democrat Frederica Wilson this week toured a Miami health center in hopes of raising awareness of what the facilities provide communities. She visited the Borinquen Health Care Center along with state Rep. Marie Woodson and highlighted the work done especially since the 2020 start of the COVID-19 pandemic — and as the nation faces new threats.

“Community health centers across South Florida and the nation play a significant role in our work to achieve health equity in their mission to service large populations of vulnerable populations and people of color,” Wilson said. “As the backbone of our American health care system, they provide families with excellent access to health care and are a trusted place for school-required immunizations as our children head back to school next week.

Frederika Wilson will ensure constituents have better access to health care options.

“As we continue to combat COVID-19 and now face a surge in the monkeypox virus, we’re once again turning to community health centers like Borinquen to make testing more convenient, expand access to treatments, and educate our community, especially those who are most vulnerable to monkeypox.”

Community health centers should help citizens seeking to protect themselves from either monkeypox or the coronavirus causing COVID-19, she said.

On this day

Aug. 12, 1867 — “Andrew Johnson suspends Secretary of War Edwin Stanton” via Shiloh National Military Park — When President Johnson took office in April 1865 after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, he did not change the Cabinet. Stanton remained as Secretary of War. The two soon found themselves at odds over Johnson’s plan to readmit the seceded states without guaranteeing civil rights for the freed slaves. Stanton sided with the radical Republicans in Congress, who passed legislation over the President’s veto including military occupation of southern states to guarantee rights for the formerly enslaved people. Stanton feared allowing Johnson to appoint his successor and refused to resign.

Aug. 12, 2017 — “Trump blames Charlottesville violence on ‘many sides’” via NBC News — Trump sparked a backlash when he suggested “many sides” were to blame for the deadly violence at a White nationalist rally in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. Democrats criticized the President for failing to single out White nationalists, and several Republicans issued statements mentioning White nationalism or White supremacists. In remarks from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he has been on a working vacation, Trump made the following statement: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

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

Staff Reports



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