Delegation for 10.7.22: Kumbaya — missing — lobster roll — breakthrough

capitol u.s. green 9.30.19
Hurricane Ian did what many thought impossible.


Hurricane Ian did what few thought possible — brought together political forces in a show of unity not normally found weeks ahead of Midterm elections.

As President Joe Biden toured deep-red Southwest Florida, Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott joined him for a critical briefing.

“The strength and resilience of Floridians are inspiring, and I am glad President Biden and First Lady (Jill) Biden could be here to witness it firsthand,” Rubio said. “Florida has a long road to recovery ahead. I plan to make sure our state receives the emergency relief it needs to fully rebuild.”

So far, the state government under Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under Biden worked in concert on such efforts as rescue and recovery, waiving redevelopment regulations, and speeding up the delivery of federal resources.

A bit of dispute peeked through the visit — on lives saved as a result.

Politics are put on hold — mostly. Image via AP.

DeSantis reported 2,400 rescues, while Biden mentioned 3,800, with FEMA suggesting the difference may stem from whether it included rescues conducted by nonemergency personnel.

Regardless, everyone stressed the need to work together and showed an eagerness to do so.

“The only thing I can assure you is that the federal government will be here until it’s finished,” Biden said.

Scott also spent time with linemen, philanthropists and soldiers helping with recovery for a part of the state especially important to the Naples Republican.

“I’m so grateful for the thousands of Red Cross, Salvation Army and Cajun Navy volunteers who have come to Florida from all across the country to help Floridians impacted by Hurricane Ian,” he said.

“The devastation and destruction in Fort Myers is unimaginable. People have lost their homes, their businesses and their loved ones. We’re struggling, but the Red Cross, Salvation Army and Cajun Navy have stepped up to provide hundreds of thousands of meals and shelter to thousands of Floridians who have lost their homes. These amazing volunteers are sacrificing time away from their own families to provide meals, shelter, relief supplies, internet and above all, hope. Because of them, we are making it through.”

Looking at the cast of figures locking arms feels especially striking to close political observers. DeSantis, Rubio and Scott all receive frequent mention as potential presidential candidates in 2024. Yet all, along with Biden, seem aware of a need to broadcast unity and a strong recovery as the state and federal government marshal resources together.

Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican also present for the briefings, said that’s no surprise. Asked by pool reporters why politics were put aside so he and partisan cohorts could stand alongside a President of a different party, Donalds offered a quick answer. “Because our area needs all the help it can get,” he said, “so we’ll deal with the politics later.”

“The response has been good. Everybody has been all hands on deck, which is what we needed.”

Another missed vote

But politics still goes on, and natural disasters haven’t completely been a third-rail topic. In particular, a congressional party-line budget vote offered a chance last week for Democrats to criticize every Florida House Republican — and Scott — for voting against disaster funding mid-recovery.

The one Florida Republican who didn’t vote “no” on the resolution — Rubio — didn’t vote at all.

Democratic Rep. Val Demings’ Senate campaign slammed the incumbent’s absenteeism after she cast a vote in the House in favor of funding.

“Time and time again, Marco Rubio has failed the communities he’s supposed to serve,” said Demings spokesperson Christian Slater. “He doesn’t show up for work, and when he does, he threatens the relief Florida families need to recover from Hurricane Ian. While Chief Demings is fighting to ensure Floridians have the resources they need to rebuild, Marco Rubio is playing partisan games that will cost him his job in November.”

Demings shared a new ActBlue video that pointedly attacked Rubio for skipping votes, then for telling ABC This Week that had he been in Washington at the time and the bill contained any pork, he would have voted against it.

While the video just shows Rubio asked directly about a “no” vote and saying, “sure,” he offered a longer explanation on air.

“If (Florida isn’t) asking for it, and we’re saying we don’t need it, and it has nothing to do with emergency relief for Florida, then why would it be in there?” Rubio said. “Why would somebody add something from another state that’s not impacted by the storm? So, it shouldn’t come to that fork in the road because it’s an unnecessary thing. It’s our request. That’s what I’ll ask my colleagues to support.”

To watch the video, please click on the image below:

Stand-alone vote

For his part, Scott said he would like the Senate to reconvene at once and consider legislation that only funds Ian relief.

“Since Ian made its devastating landfall in Southwest Florida, I have been traveling to impacted communities — what I have seen is heartbreaking,” he said. “Floridians are resilient, and the catastrophic damage caused by this storm can be overcome, but it will take the full support of government and community partners at every level to get families and businesses back to normal. The federal government has a big role to play in Florida’s recovery, and the minute that FEMA and our state and local officials determine the true funding needs, we must act.”

But Scott said there should be a clean vote.

Rick Scott wants a clean disaster recovery vote.

“I will do everything in my power as a U.S. Sen. to get a robust Hurricane Ian supplemental aid package passed, and today I am urging Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to commit to immediately putting a clean bill on the floor,” he said.

“Once we have the information we need from FEMA and our state and local officials, we cannot delay action on a clean aid package. If that means reconvening the Senate, then that is what we must do. While we wait for this critical information, I will keep fighting to make sure that FEMA and the entire federal government are working in total collaboration with state and local officials, so we continue to get resources and aid deployed quickly.”

House push

Rep. Greg Steube, a Sarasota Republican whose district took heavy damage from Hurricane Ian, also led a letter to the House Appropriations Committee urging members to prioritize an emergency supplemental package that responded specifically to Ian.

Greg Steube calls for an expedited Ian package.

“As you know, this category four hurricane is one of the most catastrophic and deadly hurricanes to make landfall in Florida in the last 50 years,” the letter reads. “It has left many communities without basic needs, such as food, water, power, and shelter. Therefore, we believe Congress must take the appropriate action to help fund the hurricane relief and recovery efforts that have severely and significantly transformed the lives of millions of Floridians. This funding will allow the state to have the proper resources needed to rebuild damaged infrastructure and utilities.”

A total of 12 members of the delegation, all Republicans, signed onto the House letter, including Steube, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Donalds, Carlos Giménez, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, María Elvira Salazar, Michael Waltz and Daniel Webster.

Lobster rolling

Add fish farming to those groups with dedicated caucuses fighting for their interests in the House. Gainesville Republican Cammack just established the Aquaculture Caucus, along with Hawaii Democrat Ed Case, California Democrat Jimmy Panetta and Mississippi Republican Steven Palazzo. The four lawmakers serve as inaugural co-Chairs for the bipartisan caucus, which will be dedicated to sustainable domestic aquaculture across the country.

“Aquaculture should be one of the United States’ priorities as we grow our focus on food security. In Florida, we’ve seen the benefits of aquaculture firsthand, breeding, raising, and harvesting shellfish, fish, and aquatic plants in our waters. We’ve demonstrated that it’s possible to provide healthy, fresh food that’s produced sustainably at home to support our growing population,” Cammack said. “The Aquaculture Caucus shares our enthusiasm for pushing these industries and their innovations forward while growing our infrastructure and market domestically.”

Go fish: Kat Cammack goes all-in on aquaculture.

Cammack’s membership notably comes as Florida’s new congressional map swishes Florida’s 3rd Congressional District to the Gulf Coast.

Things seem to be going swimmingly for the group, which already netted the support of the National Aquaculture Association and Stronger America Through Seafood.

“The growth of American aquaculture would create new jobs across the seafood supply chain while supplying our communities with local, sustainable seafood. For the U.S. to realize the full economic potential of aquaculture, federal legislation is needed,” said SATS member and Red Lobster counsel Horace Dawson III.

Science spies

It’s time for the administration to get serious about weeding Chinese spies out of U.S. research institutions, according to St. Augustine Republican Waltz. He led a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and White House Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar expressing concerns about China’s Thousand Talents Program.

Michael Waltz gets aggressive about weeding out Chinese influence. Image via Getty.

“The Chinese Communist Party has been stealing our research and technology for decades through its foreign talents programs and it’s critical to our national security that we put an immediate stop to their espionage efforts,” Waltz said. “Republicans on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee specifically crafted policies to prohibit China’s recruitment programs and the Biden Administration must be transparent in its implementation of these policies.”

The letter was co-signed by all Republicans on the House committee, including by Posey, a Rockledge Republican.

Waltz documents concerns from Strider Technologies, which researched and found 162 scientists formerly employed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico who later went back to China to support the nation’s domestic and military research. The letter characterizes “malign foreign talent programs” and calls out concerns with recently passed legislation like the CHIPS and Science Act that does not address concerns about the exploitation of U.S. research resources by China.

DACA doom?

While many an eye was on hurricane recovery, a court decision also delivered a hit to many beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals considered the executive-driven policy to be illegal, threatening millions of immigrants who came to the U.S. as children.

The case was sent back to a Texas federal judge, and existing DACA recipients stay valid for now. But groups like FWD.US say Congress needs to take immediate action or many could face deportation.

Val Demings blasts a court ruling against Dreamers.

“The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy has given 24,000 Florida immigrants the ability to legally live, work, and study in the U.S. for more than a decade,” said FWD.US Immigration Director Ted Hutchinson. “These protections — and the integral role they play in our communities and economy — are at risk unless Congress takes immediate action to provide Dreamers with an earned pathway to citizenship.”

Earlier this Congress, Demings introduced the American Dream and Promise Act, and said the House needs to act on the legislation.

“For most Dreamers, our nation is the only home they have ever known,” Demings said. “As teachers, small-business owners, scientists, nurses, doctors, neighbors, friends, and family, our Dreamers are a fundamental part of America. It is simply wrong to force millions of people to live in constant fear and uncertainty when they have followed the rules their whole lives after coming to America as children.”

Penalty kick

A sweeping investigation of verbal abuse and sexual misconduct in the National Women’s Soccer League has led to resignations by executives and team coaches. Now, Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor, co-Chair of the Congressional Soccer Caucus, said the findings must lead to real change.

She released a statement expressing alarm at “deep systemic abuse” that runs through all women’s sports across the nation, according to the report.

“I urge the U.S. Soccer board of directors and leadership team to honor their commitment to do everything in their power to ensure that all players have a safe and respectful place to learn, grow and compete as they implement the recommendations from the report. I also encourage all coaches, leaders, and all of those involved, at all levels of the game, to continue to stand up for women across the sport, especially in youth leagues,” Castor said.

Kathy Castor pushes to clean up abuses in the National Women’s Soccer League.

“Abuse in sports should never be normalized; I stand with, believe in, and support the women who suffered abuse through their careers. I look forward to seeing U.S. Soccer’s action plan in the upcoming year and expect that those who deserve it receive the disciplinary action needed to create lasting and significant change throughout the sport.”

Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates led the investigation, which confirmed abuses by three coaches that, at the time, resulted in no career consequences.

Notably, Florida has one team in the league: the Orlando Pride. Coach Amanda Cromwell was put on administrative leave during the investigation due to a League recommendation, but no further details have been released. The Pride also announced new executive hires the week the report came out.


Small governments often bear the greatest need for financial aid, a fact worsened as communities cleaned up after Hurricane Ian. But those governments also have smaller staff sizes and fewer resources to commit to grant applications.

Lakeland Republican Scott Franklin wants that changed. The Congressman just filed legislation in Congress, the Simplifying Grants Act, which could make it easier for local governments serving less than 50,000 people to seek federal support.

He’s filing the bill in the House today.

Scott Franklin wants to expedite recovery grants to smaller towns.

“Federal grants are funded by all taxpayers, but larger cities receive a disproportionate share because of their size advantages,” Franklin said. “Smaller, often rural counties pay taxes, too, and deserve a fair shot at obtaining these funds. The Simplifying Grants Act will not only streamline the grant process for disaster relief, but also put rural communities on a more level playing field.”

Franklin started his political career at the local level, as a Lakeland City Commissioner. While that city of 110,000 would not be affected by the bill, several others in Polk County would.

And if you look at the makeup of Florida’s 18th Congressional District, where Franklin is seeking re-election following Florida’s redistricting process, the Congressman’s jurisdiction in the next Congress will include many small counties in the Florida Heartland.

Rubio filed similar legislation (S 4799) in the Senate in September. But the issue carries relevance now. A number of counties in Florida’s Heartland were in the storm path for Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in Cayo Costa last week. Of the 19 counties declared major disaster areas afterward, two have populations of less than 50,000 — DeSoto and Hardee counties. But many municipal jurisdictions in the state would benefit as well.

At least 30 other members of the House will be originating sponsors on the legislation, according to Franklin’s office. That includes delegation members Posey and John Rutherford.

Breakthrough coverage

All seniors should have access to breakthrough medications, according to Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, and he filed legislation to guarantee access.

The ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee filed a bill to help ensure coverage of potentially lifesaving drugs and new treatments for Medicare beneficiaries. The Mandating Exclusive Review of Individual Treatments (MERIT) Act would require CMS to evaluate treatments and cures individually rather than as a class of drugs.

Vern Buchanan goes to bat for Florida seniors.

That came months after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) unilaterally restricted coverage for Aduhelm, the first new Alzheimer’s disease treatment developed in decades.

“The federal government should make it easier for seniors to access breakthrough treatments, not unreasonably restrict potentially life-changing drugs for our nation’s most vulnerable patients,” Buchanan said. “Unfortunately, the Biden administration and Democrats in Washington have continuously pursued policies that will stifle innovation, halt progress toward revolutionary cures and move manufacturing overseas — particularly to China.”

But notably, he did have a Democratic co-introducer for the bill, California Democrat Nanette Barragán.

He also had the immediate support of the Alzheimer’s Association, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s and the Global Alzheimer’s Platform Foundation.

“No two treatments are the same, even if they are in the same class of drug, and CMS should not determine coverage based on type of treatment,” said Robert Egge, Alzheimer’s Association chief public policy officer. “Thank you to Representatives Buchanan and Barragan for introducing this critical, bipartisan legislation and supporting people living with Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.”

Big man on campus

A member of the Nebraska delegation is about to become a Florida man leading the University of Florida — and part of his record is bound to upset faculty who undoubtedly contribute to the blue hue of Alachua County.

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska became the sole candidate the UF’s presidential search committee recommended to succeed Kent Fuchs, who has led the state’s flagship university since 2015.

The move won praise from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, an ally in the education reform movement.

Sasse was considered a member of the “Never Trump” contingent but then was endorsed by President Donald Trump. But the former President later mocked the Nebraska Senator as “a quiet little boy,” a “loser” and a “sleaze bag.”

Sasse voted to impeach Trump after Jan. 6.

Some of his comments when the marriage equality ruling came down in 2018 were not being recalled favorably by some Thursday. He called the ruling “a disappointment to Nebraskans.”

On this day

Oct. 7, 1765 — “Stamp Act Congress meets to protest unfair taxation” via Mystic Stamp Company — Since the end of the French and Indian War, the British Parliament had been looking for new ways to increase its revenues from overseas colonies. Among the steps they took was the passage of the Stamp Act of 1765, which placed direct taxation on the colonies for the first time. Many of the colonists were outraged. The Massachusetts Assembly sent a letter to the various colonies to arrange a meeting to discuss the situation. Nine colonies (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina) selected delegates to attend the Congress.

Oct. 7, 1991 — “Anita Hill makes public accusations against Clarence Thomas” via CBS News — Some 24 hours before a Senate vote to confirm Thomas was held, a bombshell in the form of allegations of sexual misconduct, impropriety and harassment came flying down the halls of Congress from a former colleague and co-worker. Hill, a law professor who had worked with Thomas at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, came forth with a freight train full of instances of sexual remarks from Thomas, including the infamous Pubic-Hair-On-The-Coke-Can incident and bringing the name Long Dong Silver to public prominence.


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

Staff Reports

One comment

  • Mike Villegas

    October 8, 2022 at 11:22 pm

    Charlie Crist and Val Demmings …….. WHO ???????

Comments are closed.


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