Delegation for 8.29.23: Hurricanes & hate crimes — post-debate — fan service
Dark storm clouds above the US Capitol building in Washington DC

Dark storm clouds above the US Capitol in Washington DC
This week, hurricanes and hate crimes are dominating the discourse in Florida.

Eye on Idalia

This past weekend, hate crimes and hurricanes took a sudden and unrelenting grip on discourse in Florida.

Most pressing for Florida’s west coast is a tropical depression thrust into the Gulf of Mexico, which reached hurricane force Tuesday morning. Now past Cuba, Hurricane Idalia moved into the Gulf of Mexico, where it is expected to grow in intensity to a Category 3 storm by day’s end. Forecasts show the storm on track to make landfall in the Big Bend on Wednesday morning, but a hurricane warning as of early Tuesday extended from Longboat Key in Southwest Florida north to Indian Pass in the Panhandle.

President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida, dating back to Aug. 27 when Gov. Ron DeSantis first issued a state order. Biden’s approval authorizes the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate disaster relief efforts in multiple counties to alleviate hardship and suffering because of the emergency.

Ron DeSantis pauses his campaign to help with hurricane prep.

The emergency declaration applies to Alachua, Bay, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Columbia, DeSoto, Dixie, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Hardee, Hernando, Hillsborough, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota, Sumter, Suwannee, Taylor and Wakulla counties. DeSantis has since expanded the state order, and the federal government is expected to follow suit as needed.

Biden and DeSantis also spoke on the phone Monday as the storm threatened the coast. “President Biden said Florida will have his full support as they prepare for Idalia and its aftermath,” read a statement from the White House.

The conversation felt especially notable as the two men have become political rivals since the last major hurricane hit Florida. The Governor is seeking the GOP nomination to challenge the Democratic President’s re-election. But notably, the political leaders worked closely together as needed in the wake of Hurricane Ian last year, even as DeSantis ran for re-election as Governor.

Meanwhile, Florida’s congressional delegation members advised constituents to prepare for the storm.

“Idalia is now a hurricane, and it’s getting stronger by the hour,” Rep. Kat Cammack, a Gainesville Republican, posted on X. “If you have any final preparations that have not yet been completed, do so NOW. Our region could start to see rain and heavy winds later this evening before the storm comes ashore.”

Cammack’s district sits directly in the storm’s forecast path, but even inland Representatives turned their focus from politics to the Gulf.

“We urge folks across Central Florida to take this storm seriously,” posted Rep. Maxwell Frost, an Orlando Democrat. Let’s hope for the best but also be prepared for the worst.

Hate crime

A tragedy in Jacksonville also demanded the emotional attention of several delegation members. On Saturday evening, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office reported a shooter killed three people: Angela Michelle Carr, 52; A.J. Laguerre, 19; and Jerrald Gallion, 29.

All victims were Black and Sheriff T.K. Waters said screeds at the White shooter’s home confirmed the crime was indeed racist.

T.K. Waters says Jacksonville is better than this. Image via AP.

Rep. John Rutherford, a former Jacksonville Sheriff, posted on social media that the attack hurt the entire community.

“I join the Jacksonville community in grieving the tragic loss of innocent lives at the hands of a deranged person,” the Jacksonville Republican posted on X. “My prayers are with the victims’ families, our local law enforcement, and residents of Northeast Florida as we come together to cope with this tragic loss that has been suffered.”

Rep. Aaron Bean similarly spotlighted the loss. “Today’s violence and tragic loss of life was a direct result of the hatred and evil that sadly lives within our community,” the Fernandina Republican posted. “May God give their families the strength to cope with this unexpected loss.”

But for Black delegation members, the tragedy struck a different chord.

Rep. Frederica Wilson said the events showed racism remains a deadly force within society.

“This is the painful truth: racism plagues our state, and it’s time to confront it head-on,” the Hollywood Democrat said. “We can’t shy away from this harsh reality. The authorities have rightly called this heinous act racially motivated, a term that should jolt us into action. We cannot turn a blind eye to the hate that powers such acts of violence. The dehumanization of Black people has hit a breaking point. We must declare an emergency and demand accountability. When those in power peddle hate, we must respond. Divisive rhetoric ignites hatred and empowers those with violent intent.”

Similarly, Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick said more must be done to contain the problem.

“While the incident is under investigation, it has become undeniable that this killer was motivated by a deep and malicious hatred of Black individuals. Today’s shooting was a repugnant hate crime and a direct attack against Florida’s Black community,” she said. “We must stand firmly against hatred — and those who peddle it — before extremism engulfs our state and more Black lives are needlessly lost.”

Fed dread

According to Sen. Rick Scott, it’s time for new leadership at the Federal Reserve. The Naples Republican is calling for the resignation of Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell following years of inflation.

On Friday, Powell gave a speech in Wyoming about inflation, acknowledging it has exceeded target rates for too long.

Rick Scott wants to kick Jerome Powell to the curb. Image via AP.

“It is the Federal Reserve’s job to bring inflation down to our 2% goal and we will do so. We have tightened policy significantly over the past year,” Powell said. “Although inflation has moved down from its peak — a welcome development — it remains too high. We are prepared to raise rates further if appropriate and intend to hold policy at a restrictive level until we are confident that inflation is moving sustainably down toward our objective.”

That did little to assuage Scott, who has given weekly updates on the state of inflation since the start of the Biden administration.

“The only announcement that Jay Powell should be making today is his resignation, effective immediately,” Scott said. “His gross mismanagement of the Federal Reserve has stolen the American Dream from millions of families and caused massive damage to our economy.”

The Senator also noted he has filed legislation to make the Fed more accountable to Congress and to establish an independent auditor for the economic authority.

What debate?

Less than a decade ago, Sen. Marco Rubio enjoyed moments on a Republican presidential debate stage. But last week, the Senator didn’t even bother to tune in.

At least, that’s what he told a crowd at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches.

The Miami Republican missed the start of the debate, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports. When he got home, he watched Swamp Kings, a documentary about Urban Meyer’s reign as football coach at the University of Florida, Rubio’s alma mater.

Marco Rubio had better things to watch.

The Senator thus couldn’t offer the audience an assessment of who won or lost the debate. And he doesn’t plan to endorse in the race between DeSantis and former President Donald Trump anyway. Fresh off re-election and seemingly uninterested in another run for President soon, Rubio doesn’t need to worry about electoral politics for another five years.

He focused instead on foreign policy matters. There, he discussed how, even as a believer in free trade, he saw a desperate need to curb the power derived from China’s ability to produce for less.

“What happens when the market outcome is not good for your country because the market outcome says the most efficient thing to do is to rely on China for 88% of the active ingredients in your medicines?” Rubio said. “That’s not good for America.”

Michael’s aftermath

As a storm points toward the Big Bend area, Rep. Neal Dunn just a week ago praised local crews continuing to clean up after the region’s last major storm. But in hindsight, that seems a stark reminder the community remains, in some ways, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in 2018.

Dunn, a Panama City Republican, visited the Bay County Emergency Operations Center to survey the cleanup of debris and downed trees from the storm. He praised county officials and Team Rubicon, a nonprofit that helps communities with disaster response.

Neal Dunn visits the Bay County Emergency Operations Center to survey the cleanup of debris and downed trees from Hurricane Michael.

“Bay County’s road to recovery has been a long one and it’s far from done. But we are getting there, step by step,” Dunn said in an Aug. 19 statement. “I’m grateful to Bay County officials and veteran-led Team Rubicon for teaming up to take another important step forward. This partnership proves that we are unstoppable when our community rallies together. I hope to see more partnerships like this in the future.”

In the five years since the storm made landfall, Dunn has fought for block grants to the timber industry and relief to agriculture in the region totaling $3 billion. He’s also still fighting for full federal reimbursements to local governments.

Getting returns

In less than a year in Congress, Rep. Cory Mills said he’s already helped constituents gain $11 million from federal agencies.

Cory Mills, in his first term, has been effective to the tune of $11M. Image via X.

“This amount includes benefits federal agencies were holding up from my constituents, such as IRS returns, VA benefits, securing passports and more,” the Winter Park Republican said. “My team and I fought to get them benefits they were rightfully owed from the federal government.”

One of the biggest hauls came with aiding a Port Orange constituent owed $136,000 in Social Security benefits, Mills said.

Protecting from predators

In 2008, Congress authorized Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) task forces to target sex traffickers victimizing minors. A pair of South Florida Representatives sought an update on the work in the region and the long-term ramifications of the PROTECT Our Children Act, which is set for reauthorization.

“I am proud to have authored the Protect Our Children Act that embedded the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force into federal law,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the longest-serving Democrat in Florida’s delegation.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz touts her role in the Protect Our Children Act.

“Seeing up close the work they do, it’s heartbreaking to see the unfathomable and horrific crimes these teams help prevent and prosecute, but I also see the unmet needs that must be tackled as the perpetrators become even more tech-savvy. After seeing the ICAC Task Force’s latest efforts, I remain committed to fortifying these vital child protection teams, and I’ll fight for the record funding that I helped secure in the FY 2024 House appropriations bill.”

Wasserman Schultz sponsored the original bill with Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican. Notably, the Senator carrying the bill back then was a Delaware Democrat named Biden, who continues to hold some clout in D.C.

The Weston Democrat and Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat, saw behind-the-scenes work by a unit based in Fort Lauderdale. Moskowitz, a first-term lawmaker, stressed technology allows predators to become more sophisticated every year, and law enforcement must follow suit.

“The exploitation of children on the internet has hit record highs. There is nothing more disturbing than an individual exploiting a child. These unfathomable actions taken by sick individuals not only destroy the lives of young children, but they destroy families and communities,” he said. “Working alongside Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz, we will renew our efforts to ensure law enforcement has every tool available to help protect our children from individuals who wish to destroy a child’s life.”

Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick also sent staff on the visit.

Not a fan

Regarding proposed regulations on small manufacturers, Rep. María Elvira Salazar says she’s not a fan. More importantly, she said the makers of fans will suffer.

María Elvira Salazar says she’s a fan of fan manufacturers.

She pressed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on the new standards, which have drawn considerable blowback from congressional Republicans. The Miami Republican said her South Florida district, which has many fan manufacturers, could feel undue heat due to the new rules. One proposed change would decrease the maximum energy consumption permissible for large-diameter and belt-driven ceiling fans. This would require a massive redesign of products, and Salazar’s office estimates this could put between 10% and 30% of small business ceiling fan manufacturers out of business.

“Small businesses in Miami are hurting from the Biden Administration’s cruel and unruly regulatory agenda,” Salazar said. “Biden’s Department of Energy is proposing rules that would put thousands of ceiling fan manufacturers across my District and the country out of business. Make no mistake — Biden’s energy agenda is anti-Miami and anti-America.”

Soft landing

Landing in the Florida Keys should be safer, thanks to a federally funded system installed at Key West International Airport. Rep. Carlos Giménez, a Miami-Dade Republican, attended the groundbreaking for the system after successfully lobbying the Biden administration for a grant to finance the Engineered Materials Arresting System (EMAS).

Hurricane Ian damaged an existing system last year. The EMAS operates at the end of the runway to slow aircraft that overrun the landing strip, with planes’ wheels sinking into a softer ground material. Repairs were completed in May.

Carlos Giménez sticks to the landing at Key West International Airport. Image via Reuters.

Monroe County Mayor Craig Cates credited Giménez with securing the resources for the system.

“Congressman Giménez continues to show up for Monroe County residents,” Cates said. “His quick actions at the federal level helped our locals affected by Ian get much-needed financial help, and the hurricane damage repairs at the airport moved along faster.”

Giménez and his wife, Lourdes, attended a ceremony with Cates, Mayor Pro Tem Holly Merrill Raschein, Commissioners David Rice, Michelle Lincoln and Jim Scholl, County Administrator Roman Gastessi, Assistant County Attorney Pedro Mercado, and Airport Director Richard Strickland.

Battleground rising?

But the biggest news out of Giménez may be about the next public office he wants to land, and that could be a return home of sorts.

Radio journalist Roberto Rodriguez Tejera reported on Actualidad Radio that Giménez may run next year for Miami-Dade Mayor against incumbent Daniella Levine Cava, who succeeded him in the role after his election to Congress. Giménez confirmed to multiple media outlets he was considering a bid.

Carlos Giménez is eyeing a run against Daniella Levine Cava for Miami-Dade Mayor.

So, what does that mean for the delegation? Giménez unseated incumbent Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Miami Democrat, in 2020. Mucarsel-Powell notably just launched a Senate bid against Scott next year, so it seems unlikely she would attempt a return to the House.

But the seat would instantly become a top-tier race with Giménez out. He coasted to re-election in November with 64% of the vote over former Democratic state Rep. Robert Asencio. Still, he won with just 52% of the vote against Mucarsel-Powell two years prior. In 2018, Mucarsel-Powell unseated GOP Rep. Carlos Curbelo with 51% of the vote.

Trump in 2020 took just about 53% of the vote in the district when he ran for President, a little better than he performed statewide. But expect Democrats to make a go of flipping the race blue — and Republicans do what they can to keep the seat red.

On this day

Aug. 29, 1786 — “Shays’ Rebellion starts in Massachusetts” via the National Constitution Center — A popular uprising began in Massachusetts. Shays’ Rebellion was one of several critical events that led to the calling of a Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. Daniel Shays, a former Continental Army captain, led a group of upset western Massachusetts residents who were upset about how the state government handled wartime debt and high taxes. The tax protest showed that under the Articles of Confederation, the weak federal government couldn’t put down an internal rebellion. It had to rely on a state militia led by General Benjamin Lincoln and sponsored by private businesspeople.

Aug. 29, 2005 — “Hurricane Katrina makes third landfall in Louisiana” via The Times-Picayune — Katrina now has maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, still a strong Category 4 storm. With a track slightly eastward of earlier forecasts, local emergency preparedness officials said it could result in less flooding in leveed areas of the metropolitan New Orleans area. But it’s still too soon to say how much of the area will be flooded by storm surge and waves in Lake Pontchartrain and over wetlands along both sides of the Mississippi River. A tornado watch has been extended until noon for the New Orleans area, as tornadoes could be embedded in thunderstorms in rain bands surrounding Katrina’s eye.


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

Staff Reports


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