While inflation slows across the U.S., rising just 0.2 percentage points last month after three years of surging costs worldwide, Florida remains a hotspot for ballooning prices with the highest rates in the country.
Atop the list is the Tampa-St. Pete-Clearwater area, which has seen a year-over-year CPI uptick of 7.3%, an analysis by Miami-based finance website WalletHub.
The other is the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach area, known also as Greater Miami, where residents have seen the CPI rise 6.9% over the past year.
Republican U.S. Reps. María Elvira Salazar and Anna Paulina Luna, who represent the Miami and St. Petersburg areas, respectively, have both listed curbing inflation among their legislative priorities. Both have also been outspoken opponents of President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.
But what have they actually done to address the issue? Florida Politics looked into it.
Salazar: Some bills and bipartisanship
Now in her second term following a commanding re-election victory in November, Salazar has dedicated a small portion of the 15 bills she filed so far during the first Session of the 118th Congress to cutting costs for Floridians.
In May, she and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio introduced legislation aimed at lowering South Florida’s sky-high housing costs by shielding the local real estate market from “excessive foreign demand” and increasing “affordable housing opportunities.”
Another measure (HR 4305) is intended to provide homeowners with a tax credit for disaster-mitigation expenditures.
Her latest bill, titled the “RECLAIM Taxpayer Funds Act,” aims to reclaim $200 billion in fraudulent PPP loans distributed during the pandemic by the Small Business Administration. The measure, also sponsored by Republican U.S. Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, cleared the Senate Small Business Committee by a unanimous vote Wednesday and is headed to the House for consideration.
“This reflects the Congresswoman’s commitment to smart and sensible government,” said Joshua González, Salazar’s Press Secretary.
“Since taking back the House in the Midterms, Rep. Salazar and House Republicans have made fighting inflation a top priority. For starters, we put a full stop to President Biden’s inflationary spending wish list. Rep. Salazar does not believe in the fantasy of Bidenomics — pumping more money we don’t have into an already inflated economy.”
González noted Salazar’s “yes” vote for the Fiscal Responsibility Act, which raised the national debt ceiling while reducing government spending by an estimated $1.5 trillion over the next decade. Biden signed the measure June 3.
Salazar’s signature legislation, the “Dignity Act,” is designed to save Americans money on border security while addressing illegal immigration. The voluminous reform package she first introduced last year would, among other things, enable previously undocumented migrants to pay their way into permanent residency or citizenship, with much of that money going toward customs and border control.
More than half the bills she’s filed this Session are largely concerned with foreign affairs and culture war issues. They include measures sanctioning officials in Argentina, denouncing socialism, prohibiting the removal of Cuba from a list of terrorism sponsors and barring the Biden administration from referring to Latinos and Hispanics with the gender-neutral “Latinx” term in official documents.
Three deal with environmental issues. One would create a federal grant program for minority youths to go on fishing trips “to the ocean and Great Lakes.”
Luna: One disaster aid bill and a lot of partisanship
During her successful congressional campaign last year, Luna said her two major focuses upon winning office would be helping veterans and battling inflation. So far, the Air Force veteran has yet to file a single measure to do either, though she has supported efforts by others.
Unlike Salazar, she voted against the bipartisan Fiscal Responsibility Act after an alternative spending package she and other members of the House Freedom Caucus proposed failed to gain traction in the Senate. The Congressional Budget Office estimated Luna’s preferred package, the “Limit, Save, Grow Act,” would have lowered government spending by $4.8 trillion over the next decade — more than thrice what the Fiscal Responsibility Act is projected to do.
The measure also includes provisions to repeal Biden’s proposed loan forgiveness program for college students, clawbacks for unspent COVID-19 money, and cuts to expansions in IRS funding and various ecological projects.
“The only path forward I’m willing to take on the debt in our country is one that radically obstructs Washington’s out-of-control and weaponized spending habits,” Luna told Florida Politics by email. “I am pursuing all options on the table to reverse the dangerous trajectory of our national debt and crippling levels of woke and wasteful spending.”
She added, “I didn’t come here to be a shill for funding elite pet projects and increased inflation.”
Since taking office, Luna has introduced 10 bills, including one she filed Monday (HR 4686) that could help residents handle disaster-related costs. It would give property owners a grace period for nonpayment of flood insurance coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program until the Federal Emergency Management Agency establishes a monthly payment schedule.
A whopping five bills Luna filed consecutively were designed to censure Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who as the former Chair of the House Intelligence Committee led investigations into then-President Donald Trump.
Two bills concerning wind energy would require the U.S. Government Accountability Office to report on the impact of the technology on military readiness and object to China-sourced turbine materials. Another would prohibit federal involvement and support of Chinese government research.
Florida is home to more than 35 companies and nearly 50 facilities involved in the wind energy industry, including Siemens, GE Energy and DeTect. However, no wind farms exist in the state yet, according to the Southeastern Wind Coalition.
The last bill, filed in March, would require active-duty military personnel to receive monthly self-defense training against sexual assault.
Luna joined Salazar and all but one of the GOP House majority in March to vote through HR 1, a sweeping energy package that would cut environmental regulations, and expand oil and gas drilling on public lands and waters.
Notably, the measure would repeal several environmental programs, including the Methane Emissions Reduction Program created under the Inflation Reduction Act and the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, which supports the rapid deployment of low- and zero-emission technologies.
Luna is also one of 63 co-sponsors to the “Save Our Gas Stoves Act,” which the House passed in mid-June. The bill, if passed, would place limits on energy conservation standards for certain kitchen appliances and bar the Department of Energy from setting standards that could make those appliances unavailable due to the type of fuel they use — a move that could economically help the 8% of Floridians that still use gas stoves.