Delegation for 7.14.23: Foreign funding — Scott free? — playing ball — citrus struggles

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Republicans and Democrats are battling over foreign spending priorities.

Foreign affairs

As the Republican-controlled House puts together a federal budget, partisanship is surrounding certain silos.

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, now wielding the gavel for the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, advanced a funding bill signaling the majority’s priorities.

“I am proud of this legislation which funds our national security by drastically reducing wasteful spending overall,” the Hialeah Republican said. “There were two critical components I considered within every decision made — our national debt and our national security. This bill includes real cuts with a 24% reduction from the Administration’s request and a 12% reduction from last year’s funding level.

“I am proud of the hard work that went into this important legislation. We scrubbed every program to ensure efficiency, transparency, and effectiveness. Directly tied to our national security, is confronting our adversaries. To address the growing national security threat posed by China, this measure prioritizes countering the malign influence of the People’s Republic of China and, for the first time, provides Foreign Military Financing grants to help democratic Taiwan deter PRC coercion and aggression.”

Mario Diaz-Balart is laying out the GOP House’s priorities in terms of foreign funding. Image via CQ Roll Call.

The budget bill provides $4.4 billion for allies in the Indo-Pacific to fight the influence of China, including shipping $500 million directly to Taiwan. There’s another $400 million for an influence program to counter China’s outreach efforts to developing nations.

Closer to home for Díaz-Balart, the budget also includes $30 million for pro-democracy efforts in Cuba.

But so far, not a single Democrat has come out in favor of the plan. That includes cohorts with the Florida congressional delegation. Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat, serves on the Subcommittee but voted with all Democrats against the funding bill.

“This bill diminishes our leadership in the world, making us less safe and less prosperous. It slashes funding to cooperative international programs, reneging on our promises to partners and allies around the world, and backtracks on investments that stabilize communities,” Frankel said. “The bill also restricts access to reproductive care and includes far-right, culture war talking points that harm American credibility as an international partner in advancing health care and human rights.

“These Republican cuts hurt the most vulnerable people around the world, slashing funding for women’s health care and family planning, prohibiting access to abortion, and undermining America’s role as a leader for human rights in order to score political points with the extreme right-wing Republican voter base.”

She slammed a $1.4 billion cut to Development Assistance programs in developing nations and the slashing of $114 million for family planning programs abroad. She also expressed dismay at calls in the budget to withdraw support from many international accords and from virtually all global climate initiatives. Overall, despite increases in funding to undermine China and Cuba, the overall budget shrinks by 31%, or $81.3 billion, from prior years.

Díaz-Balart said that’s the sensible thing for a conservative majority to pursue, curbing big government while showing strength around the globe.

“This bill represents a significantly different approach, but it is also straightforward. If you are a friend or an ally of the United States, this bill supports you. If you are an enemy or are cozying up to our enemies, then you will not like this bill,” he said.

“Organizations that advance freedom and deliver results favorable to American interests are supported. Organizations that elevate human rights abusers, conspire with autocrats, reject transparency, and tolerate antisemitic sentiment do not merit support. This bill represents a significant departure from the status quo as we demonstrate a fresh approach to foreign affairs, one that recognizes the importance of safeguarding American interests, supporting our allies, and ensuring fiscal well-being.”

Leasing space

As space travel increasingly becomes privatized, efforts like the burgeoning Space Force rely on partnerships with commercial providers. But Sen. Marco Rubio said the newest military branch still lacks the authority to meet requirements of those private partners.

He’s introduced the Enhancing Spaceport Operations Act in hopes of changing that. The legislation would help accommodate additional launches between commercial providers and the Space Force.

Marco Rubio is looking to streamline cooperation between the Space Force and private spaceflight companies. Image via AP.

“In order to keep the United States as a global leader in space, we must continue to invest in our launch infrastructure,” the Miami Republican said. “This legislation is a commonsense approach that will ensure American commercial and military space operations remain competitive.” 

As written, the bill would give authority to the secretary of the Space Force to support both federal and commercial space launch capacity at any domestic real estate controlled by the branch. That should allow the Space Force to enter contracts with providers like SpaceX and Blue Origin, which have a strong presence on the Space Coast already, to provide supplies, equipment and construction for commercial launches.

Rubio’s bill would directly benefit Space Launch Delta 45, a unit headquartered at Patrick Space Force Base and the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The Senator also said this will keep the American force ahead of China and Russia in a new military space race.

The Scott slot

Florida’s reputation as a swing state remains in doubt after 2022’s Sunshine State-focused red wave. Still, Democrats intend to put up a challenge to Sen. Rick Scott, a Republican incumbent who five years ago unseated Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson by just over 11,000 votes. The party just hasn’t settled on who that challenger will be.

According to a report in POLITICO, Washington has its favorite. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wants former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Miami Democrat being wooed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That report came after NBC News’ Matt Dixon tweeted a shot of Mucarsel-Powell meeting with Val Demings, the last Democratic nominee for Senate who challenged Rubio in November, at Florida Democrats’ Leadership Blue fundraiser.

Could Debbie Mucarsel-Powell be the Democrats’ pick to take on Rick Scott in 2024?

If Mucarsel-Powell jumps in, it won’t necessarily clear the field. Former Rep. Alan Grayson, an Orlando Democrat, has already filed for the contest. And POLITICO reports Phil Ehr, a Democrat who previously challenged Rep. Matt Gaetz for his House seat, also wants to run. There’s also speculation about whether Florida House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell could enter the field.

Despite Florida Republican overperformance in the Midterms, many suspect Scott, who won three consecutive Midterm Elections by about 1 percentage point, could be vulnerable in a Presidential Election year. On top of that, President Joe Biden appears anxious to repeatedly raise a “Rescue America” plan put out by Scott in the Midterms that Democrats deride as an attempt to end Social Security.

Cluster run

The administration’s decision to send cluster bombs to Ukraine has upset members of Congress on the Left and Right. Rep. Gaetz, a Fort Walton Republican with an anti-war record, joined as a co-sponsor for a measure also backed by a group of liberal Democrats seeking to stop the weapons transfer.

“These cluster bombs will not end the war in Ukraine and will not build a more stable country,” Gaetz tweeted. “Children will be left without limbs and without parents because of this decision if we do not work together in a bipartisan fashion to stop it.”

Matt Gaetz is joining some Democrats in pushing back against the U.S. offering cluster bombs to Ukraine as the war rages on. Image via AP.

Rep. Sara Jacobs, a California Democrat, announced last week she would submit an amendment to the House’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to block shipping cluster munitions.

“Our international coalition is strong because we’re united together and because we’re living up to our values — but sending cluster munitions defies these two tenets,” she said. “Many of our partners don’t support this move with many having already banned cluster munitions from their stockpiles. We’ve seen Russia’s horrific use of cluster munitions in Ukraine — and we shouldn’t cede the moral high ground by criticizing their actions and then deciding to send cluster munitions ourselves.”

True bill

Medical care isn’t a product where consumers have the luxury of shopping around. But Rep. Aaron Bean still says people deserve the chance to compare prices. The Fernandina Beach Republican advanced a bill that would require accurate billing practices by hospitals across the country.

“Health care is the only industry where a consumer purchases something without knowing the price or value,” Bean said, “and that needs to change.”

Aaron Bean wants more price transparency in the health care market.

Bean, in the House Education and Workforce Committee, crafted an update to legislation, the Transparency in Billing Act (HR 4527), that had been offered by Chair Virginia Foxx for markup.

The bill language is now part of a four-tiered partisan health care package successfully advancing in the House.

Firearm access

Meanwhile, Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost is focused on the impacts of Defense Department weapons training on the homefront.

The Orlando Democrat filed an NDAA amendment calling for a study on the benefits of military firearm and ammunition standards and practices. The military requires weeks of training before it will issue a firearm to a service member, and also enforces standards on handling and storage of weapons.

“How is it that members of our military have to go through intense training and evaluations before they are even able to pick up a firearm, yet virtually any person in our country is able to walk into a store and purchase a firearm they don’t know how to use or store?” Frost said.

Maxwell Alejandro Frost says U.S. military firearm training could offer a blueprint for civilian requirements.

He wants recommendations developed on the benefits of applying training requirements on firearms to civilian gun ownership in the U.S. The amendment has support from gun control advocates, including March For Our Lives and Brady.

“In many states, civilians aren’t required to go through any training before obtaining many of the very same, or similar, firearms as the military,” said Zeenat Yahya, policy director for March For Our Lives, which emerged after the 2018 Parkland shooting in Florida. “Yet the military requires training to ensure service members are qualified to use their weapons and use them safely. These military standards provide a perfect test case to compare commonsense regulation against the current free-for-all that exists in many states, and we’re excited to see this proposal to mandate a comparison study.”

Frost said applying the safety standards of America’s well-armed military to domestic policy should reduce gun violence.

“Our nation, through its armed forces, has effectively developed and created a system capable of ensuring the safety and training of gun users,” he said. “It’s time we take that knowledge and apply it outside of the military to our communities so we can save lives.”

What trafficking?

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna wants to know why sections of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) website on child sex trafficking disappeared from the site.

Her team sent out a release tying the edits to the premiere of Sound of Freedom, a feature film about a special agent investigating sex trafficking by powerful elites.

“Both the Justice Department and mainstream media have put a lot of effort this month into erasing and delegitimizing the international sex trade of children,” she tweeted. “Seems weird.”

Luna’s Office sent out excerpts from the DOJ’s site that have been removed, including on efforts to intercept sex trafficking of children at the border. Sections on child prostitution also were deleted.

Anna Paulina Luna says U.S. government sites should do more to spotlight child sex abuse.

In a statement put out by Luna’s Office, the Congresswoman suggested the administration was not only soft on enforcement, but supportive.

“DOJ’s blatant move to distance Joe Biden’s harmful policies from the global crime of sex trafficking should be no surprise to any of us who have seen the blatant sexualization and abuse of children this Administration is comfortable with promoting,” the statement reads.

For the record, the DOJ website still has pages devoted to fighting human trafficking, a term the site explicitly says includes sex trafficking. But the page doesn’t identify child sex trafficking specifically.

Play ball

Sparring with reporters often happens in the halls of Congress. Once a year, it takes place in the dugout

The Congressional Women’s Softball Game the weekend pitted female lawmakers from both parties against members of the national media. The Members of Congress roster included three Florida members, Republican Rep. Kat Cammack and Democratic Reps. Kathy Castor and Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The annual congressional women’s softball game always goes toward a good cause.

Castor donned the jersey in honor of a constituent, breast cancer patient and medical doctor Vondalyn Wright.

“The Congressional Women’s Softball Game is a friendly rivalry that supports the important cause of raising awareness of breast cancer and highlights the importance of young women taking seriously their breast health, getting their screenings and understanding their family history,” Castor said.

“I was honored to play for Dr. Vondalyn Wright, whose inspiring work to educate, empower and engage Black women on their breast cancer risks is saving lives.”

Ultimately, the media-savvy Bad News Babes won the game 15-9. But the biggest winner remained the Young Survival Coalition, the beneficiary of all proceeds.

Chemical attacks

Chemical facilities remain a target for terrorists, and a member of Florida’s delegation will shepherd legislation through Congress on continued protection from attacks.

Rep. Laurel Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican, carried a bill (HR 4470) on the topic. The legislation extends Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) authority forward and dictates updates. The House Homeland Security Committee has passed the proposal. It now awaits a vote on the House floor.

“The CFATS program identifies and regulates high-risk chemical facilities across the U.S. to ensure they have security measures in place to reduce the risks associated with certain chemicals and terrorist threats posed by foreign actors,” Lee said. “My bill will ensure that the CFATS program remains authorized so that Department of Homeland Security Officials can continue working with these facilities to keep our communities safe.”

Laurel Lee is spotlighting the threat of a chemical facility attack.

In a modern world, threats are becoming increasingly complex, she said.

“With cyberattacks on the rise, collaboration between industry leaders and the Department of Homeland Security has never been more important,” she said.

Spousal support

A Lithia woman named Rachael Booth lost out on financial assistance from the military when her husband was convicted of abusing her and discharged. Now, Rep. Vern Buchanan is fighting to protect the benefits of spouses in such situations.

The Longboat Key Republican earlier this year introduced the Rachael Booth Act (HR 975) in the House. Now, the legislation has made its way into the NDAA in the House.

“Just as our men and women in the Armed Forces sacrifice for their country, so too do military spouses. In times of crisis, it’s critical that they are able to access these benefits in a timely and efficient manner,” Buchanan said. “I’m pleased to see our legislation included in this year’s NDAA to help domestic abuse victims like Rachael get back on their feet as soon as possible.”

Vern Buchanan is stepping up to make sure abused military spouses don’t lose out on benefits.

Should the change become law, dependents for service members will be able to apply for Traditional Compensation if the service member gets convicted of domestic abuse and ends up discharged for any other cause. Today, a spouse in such a situation could wait years for eligibility for benefits to be determined.

Buchanan co-sponsored his bipartisan measure with Rep. Steven Horsford, an Arizona Democrat. Meanwhile, Rubio has championed Booth’s cause in the Senate during the last Congress and this one.

Indicting the messenger

Congressional Republicans pounced at information from an overseas source suggesting Biden personally benefited from his family’s overseas business while he served as Vice President. Now, the sole source of that information, Gal Luft, has been indicted for evading sanctions against Iran and serving as an unauthorized agent for China.

To Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat, it’s time to turn the tables as far as congressional investigations go. He sent letters to House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul, Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers and China Select Committee Chair Mike Gallagher calling for an investigation of Luft and how he became a keystone source for a House Oversight probe.

Jared Moskowitz is calling out Republicans for using a now-indicted man to go after President Joe Biden.

“Based on the serious indictment by the Department of Justice, Americans and my colleagues should be dramatically concerned that the Oversight Committee is enabling and elevating a fugitive Chinese agent and illegal arms dealer who’s doing business with Iran and evading Iranian sanctions,” Moskowitz said.

“It’s mind-boggling that the Chairman still wants to get testimony from somebody with such little credibility, all so the GOP can continue peddling deranged theories to influence the 2024 election.”

House Oversight Chair James Comer has relied heavily on information from Luft as accusations against Biden mounted.

Bitter fruit

One of the most difficult seasons in history for Florida citrus has officially come to a close. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released a final crop estimate for the industry in Florida, and calculated Florida citrus growers produced 15.85 million boxes of oranges, 1.81 million boxes of grapefruit and 480,000 boxes of tangerines and tangelos in the 2022-‘23 season.

That’s about 80,000 more boxes than the USDA projected in an estimate last month, with oranges making up for lower-than-expected yields on the other fruits.

But the totals were a far cry from Florida citrus’ glory days. In the 1997-98 season, growers in the state produced 244 million boxes of oranges. This season’s yield represented just over 6% of that total.

“We’ve closed the door on a difficult season, but with great hope for a bright future in which Florida’s citrus groves are healthy and thriving,” said Matt Joyner, CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual.

Farmer Roy Petteway looks at the damage to his citrus grove from the effects of Hurricane Ian in Zolfo Springs. Image via AP.

He noted that Hurricane Ian touched 375,000 acres of citrus groves in Florida last year, with the USDA estimating $675 million in damages just to Florida citrus. And the industry was already facing a crisis in the form of citrus greening.

But industry advocates hope that relief is on the way. The group continues to support legislation championed by Rep. Scott Franklin that would make Florida growers impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole eligible for USDA block grants.

“There are so many reasons to be hopeful,” Joyner said. “We continue to see advancements in breeding towards HLB tolerant and resistant trees, and the new treatment methods to combat citrus greening are proving effective. The state invested significantly this year to support continued research, development of new varieties and citrus marketing. Legislation to provide citrus growers with hurricane relief is moving through Congress with the help of Florida’s Congressional delegation. Florida growers are optimistic about the future of Florida’s signature crop.”

On this day

July 14, 1850 — “John Gorrie demonstrates ice-maker” via Wired — The Florida physician used his mechanical ice-maker to astonish the guests at a party. It’s America’s first public demonstration of ice made by refrigeration. William Cullen had demonstrated the principle of artificial refrigeration in a University of Glasgow laboratory in 1748, by allowing ethyl ether to boil into a vacuum. American Oliver Evans designed in 1805 — but never built — a refrigeration machine that used vapor instead of liquid. Jacob Perkins used Evans’ concept for an experimental volatile-liquid, closed-cycle compressor in 1834. Nonetheless, mid-century cooling in the tropics and subtropics — and in the temperate summer — relied on natural ice blocks carved from frozen lakes and rivers in the North.

July 14, 1976 — “Jimmy Carter nominated for President” via Today in Georgia History — Constitutionally barred from a second term as Governor and still young at 50, Carter thought his outsider status, strong principles, and reform agenda as Governor would appeal to a nation weary of scandal in the wake of Watergate. Lacking national recognition, Carter spent a year traveling, building his political and financial bases. It was an uphill climb: no candidate from the Deep South had been elected since the Civil War, and Carter’s lack of national experience turned off many mainstream Democrats. But he won the Iowa caucuses in January 1976, and a string of Primary victories followed: New Hampshire, Florida and Illinois.


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

Staff Reports


  • Dont Say FLA

    July 14, 2023 at 11:38 am

    Florida’s red tide in 2022 resulted in pure GOP government for Florida. Floridians have been living with that, and that right there is a surefire recipe for a blue wave of Democrat votes in Florida in 2024.

  • LucyChris

    July 14, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    I earn 200 dollars per hour working from home on an online job. I never thought I could accomplish it, but my best friend makes $11,000 per month doing this profession and that I learn more about it.
    For Detail——————————————————➤

Comments are closed.


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