Delegation for 2.17.23: Debt — service — thanks — heartbeat — gun safety

Watercolor sketch or illustration of a beautiful view of the US Capitol building in Washington DC in the USA
Rick Scott says the national debt falls on Joe Biden's shoulders.

Deficit disaster

The Congressional Budget Office releaseAd projections for the national debt to reach $45 billion in the next decade. Sen. Rick Scott quickly assigned blame to a frequent foe, President Joe Biden.

A day after hammering the President over a 6.4% consumer price index hike in January, Scott said the time is ticking for Biden to reign in out-of-control spending.

Rick Scott is blaming Joe Biden for the ballooning national debt.

“The left, the big government crowd and even Wall Street, has found a very clever way to keep America forever stuck in a vicious tax-and-spend cycle where spending always goes up, debt always goes up,” Scott said.

“If you dare to disagree — they assert that ‘you are the problem’ and you are advocating that America default, sending the world into free-fall, and causing biblical plagues that even Moses would flinch at. Rivers of blood, locusts, frogs, you name it. We all know that’s a lie and no one is buying it.”

For the White House’s part, the group dismissed parts of the CBO projection, particularly the estimation of student debt forgiveness programs at $400 billion. “CBO called its own estimate ‘highly uncertain.’ We agree,” reads a White House memo.

But the administration scoffed at congressional Republicans attacking the potential increase in debt while proposing massive tax cuts.

“They claim that reducing the debt is so urgent it warrants endangering the entire U.S. economy through debt limit brinkmanship,” reads a statement from the White House. “But their legislative agenda to date points in a very different direction — with proposals that would increase the debt by over $3 trillion.”

That also was a dig at Scott and philosophical cohorts. Scott has maintained Congress should not raise the debt limit without major spending cuts attached. He also suggested Biden’s recent attacks on Scott for proposing sunsets on federal spending intended to distract from the real financial challenge for the nation.

“Today, the CBO made clear what I’ve been saying for weeks — Congress has months to craft a plan that gets America’s fiscal house in order, stops reckless spending and prevents a default,” Scott said.

“Long before President Biden’s cheap stunt at the State of the Union, Republicans have been clear that we would fight to protect and preserve Social Security and Medicare. Those are totally off the table in these discussions. Now, if the president wants to get serious, he needs to come to the negotiating table. It’s time for behavior change in Washington. There is no excuse for inaction, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to get something done.”

The White House also took issue with another proposal coming from a leader in Florida’s congressional delegation. Rep. Vern Buchanan, Republican Co-Chair of the delegation, filed legislation to prevent Donald Trump-era tax cuts from expiring.

“In 2017, Republicans delivered the most comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than three decades and achieved historic economic growth,” Buchanan said. “With Americans continuing to suffer under the weight of record-high inflation and an uncertain economic future, we need to provide some much-needed relief and certainty to hardworking families and Main Street businesses and ensure these tax cuts do not expire.”

But Biden’s team said that would be a bad idea, signaling that even if Buchanan’s bill clears both chambers of Congress it will face a roadblock in the Oval Office.

“House Republican leaders have also committed to extend the expiring Trump tax cuts, a $2.7 trillion debt increase that would give the top 0.1% (with incomes over $4 million per year) a $175,000 annual tax cut, over 2.5 times a typical family’s annual income,” the White House statement reads.

Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, exposed the political logic of Congressional Republicans’ fiscal hypocrisy. He told Republicans their focus should be ‘not the deficit’ after all: it’s to shift public discussion to cutting spending, paving the way for more tax cuts for the wealthy.”

Trans troop ban

A controversial ban on transgender troops in the military left with former President Donald Trump. But Sen. Marco Rubio wants the restrictions back with more stringent screening than ever.

He filed the Ensuring Military Readiness Act, showing a feeling that limiting who serves is a part of better preparing the military for engagement.

“The military has strict standards for who can and cannot qualify to serve,” the Miami Republican said. “For example, under President Biden, you can’t serve with a peanut allergy. Biden has turned our military into a woke social experiment. It is a stupid way to go about protecting our nation. We need to spend more time thinking about how to counter threats like China, Russia, and North Korea and less time thinking about pronouns.”

Marco Rubio wants stricter standards for those who serve in the military.

While Rubio is doing nothing about allergies, he does not want any new recruits with gender dysphoria unless “they have been stable … in their biological sex” for three years before service. While he doesn’t want to drum out any service members already in uniform if a potential ban becomes law, he doesn’t want health insurance coverage for any gender confirmation or hormone therapy.

The legislation would see anyone who has already gone through a sex reassignment immediately disqualified, and the military would not recognize any gender besides the one assigned at birth.

Rep. Jim Banks, an Indiana Republicans and Senate candidate, will carry the bill in the House.

Evict the traffickers

Rep. Kat Cammack said she is tired of housing undocumented criminals while they await prosecution. Now she’s introducing legislation to cut off benefits for accused drug and human traffickers.

“Over the last two years, we’ve seen the horrific consequences of the Biden Border Crisis, including the devastating toll on our communities nationwide from drug and human trafficking,” the Gainesville Republican said, asserting there is now a crisis nationwide.

“In Marion County, Florida, our Sheriff’s department has recovered bricks of fentanyl with stamps from border cartels, alongside pill presses and sophisticated distribution plans. Our first responders gear up each day to save lives from fentanyl overdoses occurring almost daily, putting their own lives at risk.”

Kat Cammack said she is tired of housing undocumented criminals while they await prosecution.

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican, will carry the Senate bill.

Cammack characterized it as fraud for those awaiting trials to obtain government housing made available to refugees, sometimes escaping the exact criminal environments these individuals are accused of creating.

“Those responsible for trafficking drugs and people into our country at our borders and in our waters should not receive federal assistance after violating our laws,” she said. “Not only is it wrong, but it rewards those who have perpetuated this deadly crisis. I’m pleased to join Sen. Blackburn on this effort and look forward to growing this legislation’s support with my colleagues.”

Future forum

A congressional caucus focused on climate change met in Orlando this week. Future Forum held a town hall at the University of Central Florida to discuss environmental challenges with students.

Rep. Darren Soto, Future Forum’s Co-Chair for Policy and Programs, headlined the event, where Rep. Maxwell Frost was also in attendance. The two Democratic congressmen shared a stage with Rep. Haley Stevens, a Michigan Democrat, as well as Chris Castro, Chief of Staff for Office of State and Community Energy Programs at the U.S. Department of Energy. Local environmental activist Eric Rollins moderated the discussion.

Soto and Stevens also visited Valencia College to tour workforce skills programs there. Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, said it is important to find ways to spur job creation and act on climate simultaneously, something being accomplished in the Florida institutions of higher learning.

Medicaid Formula

Many of Florida’s hospitals see a disproportionate share of Medicaid and low-income patients. Two members of the delegation said they will push legislation this year to ensure they have fair resources made available by the federal government.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Palm Harbor Republican, reintroduced the State Accountability, Flexibility and Equity (SAFE) Hospitals Act, an overhaul of Medicaid sharing in the U.S. Rubio filed a Senate companion bill.

Gus Bilirakis is pushing for more access to Medicaid services.

“I am proud to reintroduce the SAFE Hospitals Act because it will ensure that our safety net hospitals in Florida actually receive their fair share of federal health care funding,” Bilirakis said. “Our bill updates the current antiquated formula from the early ’90s to reflect the true needs of each state. The bottom line is that this bill will enable states like Florida to obtain the funding needed to better serve our most vulnerable citizens.”

The bill would update the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital formula to base state allotments on low-income earners living in each state, to prioritize hospitals caring for the most vulnerable patients, to expand definitions of outpatient services, and to allow hospitals to reserve funding for future years.

“For far too long, Florida has not received its fair share of funding for hospitals that serve the most vulnerable patients,” Rubio said. “The current metric used to determine funding is outdated and unfair to hospitals in Florida and across the country. I’m proud to reintroduce this proposal to reform Medicaid DSH, and it is my hope that this bill will become a framework for future reform.”

Sign of appreciation

Rep. Greg Steube experienced firsthand the abilities of Sarasota Memorial Health Care’s trauma treatment. He needed emergency attention after a 25-foot fall at his home and spent three nights at the trauma center.

Greg Steube praises medical staff as he recovers from a fall last month.

“God placed Dr. Ali al-Rawi and his gifted team in my path the day of the accident, and I remain endlessly grateful for the care I received during my recovery at Sarasota Memorial Hospital,” the Sarasota Republican said.

“The expertise in trauma care combined with quick response times played a significant role in jump-starting my recovery. Sarasota Memorial Hospital has some of the lowest mortality rates in the country, and well below the national average. Our community is so fortunate to have this skilled team of experts to serve Floridians in times of crisis and need.”

At an appreciation ceremony, Steube presented the hospital with two flags flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of the team.

“We are incredibly proud of our highly skilled Trauma team, which stands ready 24/7 to deliver lifesaving, top-quality care to thousands of severely injured patients each year,” said Sarasota Memorial President and CEO David Verinder.

“We are thankful we have the experts, resources and advanced technology in place so we could provide immediate care to Congressman Steube, and we’re grateful he’s on the road to recovery.”

Panel protection

Would having electric paddles in more businesses prevent more deaths by cardiac arrest? Rep. Scott Franklin wants to give it a try. The Lakeland Republican introduced the bipartisan Cardiac Arrest Survival Act, which would establish liability protections for businesses that buy and install automated external defibrillators (AED).

If that term sounds too medical, picture the letters AED emblazoned on the emergency medical equipment in many public settings.

Scott Franklin seeks to give cover to businesses that invest in AEDs.

“Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the third leading cause of death in America,” Franklin said.

He noted a recent high-profile incident when an NFL athlete had a heart event during a nationally televised game.

“The recent shocking incident involving Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin demonstrated how sudden and critical a cardiac arrest event can be. Quick deployment of an AED saved his life,” Franklin noted. “Conflicting state laws and concerns over lawsuits have prevented wider access to this lifesaving technology. We need nationwide uniformity in protections to encourage higher use of AEDs in the event of an emergency.”

Franklin’s bill won’t require businesses to carry AEDs, but it will remove any liability for companies in the event the devices are used improperly.

He filed the bill with Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat. “This legislation will ensure we don’t allow fear of liability or a patchwork of differing protections across the states to prevent an individual or business from taking all necessary measures to save a life,” he said.

About 365,000 individuals have sudden cardiac arrest outside of hospitals each year and nine of 10 of those die, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. But survival rates can be as much as triple if bystanders provide emergency care like CPR.

Charging into debate

As a co-founder of the Advanced Nuclear Caucus, Rep. Byron Donalds has long advocated more expansive use of micro-reactors around the country. Now the Naples Republican has filed a legislative package he said could light a way to a better future.

“In 2023, nuclear energy is still an underutilized asset in the arsenal of American domestic energy production,” Donalds said. “By expressing the unique benefits of nuclear energy, we can shift the ‘negative’ stigma associated with the use of this safe and clean source of energy. Also, by creating a national strategy to use microreactors in the aftermath of natural disasters and by deferring (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) regulatory fees for small businesses, we can mitigate future energy challenges. Finally, for the NRC to reach its full potential, personnel must know that they can provide constructive criticism of agency operations through an anonymous survey — without fear of retaliation.”

Byron Donalds has long advocated more expansive use of micro-reactors around the country.

He filed four pieces of legislation that would require the crafting of a national nuclear strategy, express congressional support for nuclear as an alternative energy source, defer any regulatory fees for qualified small businesses that want to employ nuclear power, and seek anonymous input from the industry and regulatory commissioners on how to improve federal regulation of the industry.

“These four bills emphasize my commitment to growing the production and utilization of nuclear energy in America,” he said. “The introduction of this nuclear energy package is only just the beginning of my advocacy for this safe, reliable, and green alternative energy source in the 118th Congress. I seek to be a champion for the promotion and implementation of bipartisan nuclear energy policies in Congress, and the time is now to focus on using both conventional and advanced nuclear technology to achieve a superior domestic energy matrix for tomorrow.”


The anniversary of the Parkland shooting officers is a ritual reminder that bipartisan efforts to end gun violence do exist.

Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican, and Jared Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat, refiled the EAGLES Act, which would reauthorize and expand the U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center (NTAC) to conduct more research and training to prevent targeted violence.

Mario Díaz-Balart and Jared Moskowitz refiled the EAGLES Act, which would conduct more research and training to prevent targeted violence.

Scott and Rubio are carrying a companion measure, along with Democratic Sens. Catherine Cortez-Masto and Joe Manchin, Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Chuck Grassley, and independent Sen. Angus King.

The bill, first introduced in February 2019, would enable the NTAC to consult, share information and develop best practices with outside organizations on threat assessments to better safeguard schools from violence.

“Sadly,” Díaz-Balart said, “after Parkland, these targeted attacks have become more common.”

Further, it would establish a national program on targeted school violence prevention, provide funding to hire additional NTAC personnel and authorize creation of an interactive website sharing information and data on targeted school violence prevention.

The bill is named for the mascot of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, which Moskowitz attended and later represented as an elected county, state and federal official. Tuesday marked five years since a gunman killed 14 students and three faculty members at the school, prompting calls for gun safety reforms. Moskowitz, then a Florida House member, helped push through the state’s first major gun safety measure in decades.

“We must do everything we can to leverage our best resources to keeping our kids safe, (and) by naming the legislation the EAGLES Act, we will always remember the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and the importance of preventing future school tragedies,” Moskowitz said.

On this day

Feb. 17, 1801 — “Thomas Jefferson elected as third President” via — The election constitutes the first peaceful transfer of power from one political party to another in the United States. In addition to drafting the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson had served in two Continental Congresses, as Minister to France, as Secretary of State under George Washington and as John Adams’ Vice President. Vicious partisan warfare characterized the campaign. By the end of January, Jefferson and Aaron Burr emerged tied at 73 electoral votes apiece. Adams came in third with 65 votes. This unintended result sent the final vote to the House of Representatives.

Feb. 17, 1947 — “Voice of America hits airwaves in the USSR” via Voice of America — “Hello, this is New York calling.” The words, in Russian, were the first Russian broadcast of the Voice of America. The broadcasts were an integral part of the United States’ propaganda campaign against the Soviet Union, which was seen as the new threat once World War II was over in 1945. Voice of America, which began during the war to convey American news and policies to occupied areas, told its Russian listeners it was meant to “give listeners in the USSR a picture of life in America.”


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

Staff Reports


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