Delegation for 10.20.23: No vote — lithium — consent — Gaetz hate — explicit content

U.S. Capitol Washington, D.C.
The third time was not the charm.

Another day, another vote

Among House Republicans, the third time wasn’t the charm.

After another vote this week to select a new Speaker of the House, Republicans seem as far from that goal as ever.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan lost a third consecutive vote.

While Jordan’s people have threatened to hold a fourth vote this weekend, several GOP members have already said they will go home. That means holding a vote could run a serious risk of electing Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, who has seen a unified Democratic block behind him across all ballots. That’s short of a majority, of course, but a handful of absences within the majority could allow him to win, if only long enough for Republicans in the majority to file a new motion to vacate.

Things are not looking good for Jim Jordan. Image via AP.

Of course, there’s always a Florida angle. Despite Jordan’s relative popularity among Florida’s Freedom Caucus-heavy delegation, more GOP dissenters cast votes against DeSantis than ever voted against Kevin McCarthy across 15 ballots. At his lowest point, McCarthy saw protest votes in January from Reps. Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna.

But he eventually won over two of the three — Donalds and Luna — before finally securing the gavel. It’s unclear if any path to the Speaker’s office for anyone exists.

Punchbowl News reported that Jordan met privately Thursday with a group of representatives who voted against him. That included all four Florida Republicans who voted against Jordan on the second ballot: Reps. Vern Buchanan, Mario Díaz-Balart, Carlos Giménez and John Rutherford. On the third ballot, none had reconsidered.

Díaz-Balart and Rutherford supported Majority Leader Steve Scalise. Buchanan backed Donalds. Giménez supported reinstating McCarthy.

Giménez made clear he has no interest in a deal to put Jordan in charge. He echoed Gaetz in January, whose only ask of McCarthy in negotiations for the Speaker’s gavel was for McCarthy to drop out. Giménez similarly said most came to the meeting with Jordan wanting “nothing” from him.

“He doesn’t have the votes to be Speaker,” Giménez told The Associated Press.

At the same time, it’s unclear whether any alternative can win support. Giménez has advocated for installing Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry as a temporary Speaker for an extended period of time, a plan Jordan supports. Right now, McHenry holds little power besides the ability to gavel the House in and out of Session.

But the proposal didn’t go over well at Thursday’s four-hour GOP Conference meeting. Buchanan told reporters of the proposal, “Just reading the room, I think it’s dead.”

Gaetz, who considers Jordan a personal mentor, said a temporary Speaker would be a “constitutional desecration.”

“We need to stay here until we elect a Speaker,” Gaetz said. “And if someone can’t get the votes we need to go on to the next person. But twisting and torturing the constitution to empower a temporary Speaker is having a Speaker-light. That is not constitutionally contemplated, it is deeply infirm, and I will do everything possible to stop it.”

But if there’s no support for a temporary Speaker, there’s also no consensus on a permanent one. Democrats in the House repeatedly have called for a bipartisan solution. Majority Whip Katherine Clark in a nominating speech suggested Republicans back Jeffries, though the chance of that seems beyond remote. “I will NEVER support socialist Hakeem Jeffries and anything to the contrary is a fabrication and a flat-out lie,” Giménez posted on X.

It may be more likely moderate Republicans cut a deal for a Republican Speaker to be elected with the support of moderate Democrats. But to date, most Republicans blocking Jordan dismiss the idea of collaborating with Democrats on this decision. That said, Rep. Mike Lawler, a New York Republican, appeared on MSNBC alongside Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat, supporting empowering McHenry.

“It’s going to have to be a bipartisan path forward, should Democrats empower the Pro-Tem, and all of a sudden, we go back to the way it was and that deal is going to fall apart. We are where we are,” Moskowitz said.

Major minerals

There are concerns about China’s human rights violations against the Uyghurs or its military threats on Taiwan, and then there are concerns about getting the newest iPhone.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio co-led a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing about U.S. dependence on essential minerals in China. Florida’s senior Senator has long criticized China and its economic threat to the U.S., a problem made clear when considering the Eastern superpower controls the mining of high-demand elements like lithium.

Chinese rare earth minerals should raise concern with anyone looking for the latest iPhone.

Rubio, a Miami Republican, issued a joint statement with Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat and Intelligence Committee Chair, about the need to wean America off its dependence on mining in China.

“As global demand for critical minerals continues to grow at exponential rates, the U.S. must identify secure sources of these minerals that are essential components for technologies critical to national security, including military equipment and defense systems, vehicles, and our energy grid,” the statement reads.

The statement notes that China boasts near complete control of the world supply of many minerals. But the Senators also suggest cooperation with global partners could rewire the market.

That will require a concerted effort by government and private stakeholders and likely solid investment in mining for materials in other parts of the world.

“Currently, China dominates the mining, refining, and processing for a vast number of these minerals — in many cases controlling nearly 100% of the end-to-end supply chain — and is actively seeking to control additional resources,” the statement reads. “To ensure the U.S. has a resilient supply chain for these critical minerals, the U.S. must, alongside allies, proactively secure investments in and operations of critical minerals projects in the U.S. and abroad.”

No consent

While Israel boasts strong bipartisan support, both of Florida’s Senators faced obstacles in forcing extreme sanctions against Iran and individual supporters of Hamas.

Sen. Rick Scott brought the Stop Taxpayer Funding of Hamas Act legislation to the Senate floor. The bill would bar any U.S. aid to Gaza unless the administration could offer assurance no money would go to terrorist organizations and unless there were no U.S. hostages held at the time by Hamas.

“The administration must do better and fully control where American taxpayer money is going,” Scott said in a floor speech. “We can make sure American taxpayers aren’t funding terrorists.”

Rick Scott once again clarifies — no money to Hamas. Image via AP.

Meanwhile, Rubio took a measure to the floor seeking to revoke the access of any foreign nationals in the U.S. who participate in demonstrations sympathetic to Hamas.

But both drew opposition from Democratic Senators, preventing fast-track passage through unanimous consent.

Invoking Reagan

Scott again invokes former President Ronald Reagan to decry Democratic and progressive policies — this time through a $3 million ad campaign.

Titled “Losing Our Country,” the one-minute clip will air on TV in every Florida media market over the next month.

Scott’s campaign called it “the largest ad buy of any GOP Senate candidate so far this election cycle.” It’s Scott’s second TV ad this fall.

Production-wise, the new spot couldn’t have cost much. It features only Scott sitting at a microphone in a recording studio, opining on the current state of U.S. security, criminal justice, foreign affairs, the economy and culture war issues.

He said America’s 40th President would be appalled at how things are today.

“If Ronald Reagan were here right now, he would say, ‘What in the hell have you guys done to my great country?’” Scott says in the ad before rattling off a list of grievances.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

Democratic side

Meanwhile, the Democratic field of challengers to Scott next year just winnowed significantly.

Democrat Phil Ehr ended his Senate campaign. Instead, he will challenge Rep. Carlos Giménez, a Miami-Dade Republican, in Florida’s 28th Congressional District.

Phil Ehr changes his mind.

He announced the move ahead of a Miami news conference with former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the Democrat Giménez unseated in 2020.

“I am running to represent the people of South Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys with integrity,” Ehr said. “The incumbent joined MAGA extremists in creating dysfunction and chaos in Congress. Floridians want their individual freedoms protected and a democracy and economy that work for them. I will fight for this every day in Congress.”

Mucarsel-Powell and Ehr faced one another in the Democratic Primary to choose a challenger to Scott’s re-election. But now, Ehr is endorsing Mucarsel-Powell.

“I look forward to supporting Debbie as she takes on Rick Scott,” Ehr posted online. “Together, we are going to win next November.”

Taking the lunge

For the second time this year, a protracted Speaker battle nearly landed Gaetz in hand-to-hand combat with a colleague.

According to reporting by The Daily Beast, a GOP conference meeting almost devolved into violence with the Fort Walton Beach Republican at the center. Things reportedly heated up after ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy started yelling at Gaetz, the lawmaker who orchestrated his removal as the House’s presiding officer. Then, Rep. Mike Bost, an Illinois Republican and Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was seen allegedly “lunging at Gaetz.”

Matt Gaetz pisses off the GOP — again. Image via AP.

It was a story that quickly spread on social media and was seemingly confirmed by Luna, a St. Petersburg Republican in the room.

“Someone tried to fight Gaetz in conference,” she confirmed on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Those who recall the 15-ballot battle that put the Speaker’s gavel in McCarthy’s hand in January know this isn’t the first time debate with Gaetz turned physical. C-SPAN cameras caught Rep. Mike Rogers, now Chair of the House Armed Services Committee, charging for Gaetz on the House floor before being physically restrained by colleagues.

McCarthy later suggested there was broad anger at Gaetz for sending Congress into chaos.

“I think the entire conference screamed at him,” McCarthy said. “Listen, the whole country, I think, would scream at Matt Gaetz right now.”

Get your gun

Women’s marches on Washington often focus on progressive issues. But Rep. Kat Cammack welcomed the chance to stand with Women for Gun Rights during a news conference in Washington this week.

The Gainesville Republican supported legislation from Rep. Richard Hudson, a North Carolina Republican that would limit the powers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Kat Cammack is locked and loaded.

“The Second Amendment is clear: shall not be infringed. I was glad to stand with my colleagues and advocates for women’s rights to keep and bear arms,” Cammack said. “Thank you to Congressman Hudson and the advocates who traveled to the Capitol today to share their support for this fundamental right.”

The female gun owners group stressed self-defense as a reason citizens should have unfettered access.

“Women for Gun Rights is proud to stand with Congressman Hudson and other members that work to protect the rights of citizens to be able to protect themselves,” said Dianna Muller, founder of Women for Gun Rights. “Witnessing the horror of citizens being murdered in their homes in Israel has really shed light on the importance of our Second Amendment and highlighted why we feel safer being armed.”

Explicit content warning

Book bans in Florida generated negative attention around policies on challenging academic materials in schools. Rep. Aaron Bean, Chair of the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee, held a hearing on “explicit content in school libraries,” where he pushed back on coverage.

“Like every flashpoint in America’s culture war, the media has distorted the truth and fueled public outrage and discontent,” the Fernandina Beach Republican said.

Some parents say ‘Gender Queer’ is a little too explicit for high school.

“Today, the Committee will set the record straight for the American people: inappropriate books are in school libraries, and local communities are within their rights to remove them.

Florida’s removal of books — like “Gender Queer” — sparked outrage about censorship within the LGBTQ community. But Bean there also suggested anger was baseless.

“Now some of my Democrat colleagues will inevitably accuse Republicans of engaging in a widespread campaign to ‘ban’ books because of racial animus or prejudice against LGBT students. However, none of the evidence suggests books are being removed for any reason other than inappropriate, explicit content,” he said.

“In fact, seven of the 10 most frequently removed books feature explicit heterosexual content. Additionally, the LGBT books being challenged by parents, such as ‘Lawn Boy’ and ‘Gender Queer,’ are so sexually explicit that their respective authors have advised that ‘nobody below a teenager is ready for that book’ and ‘I don’t recommend that book to kids.’

But notably, ‘Gender Queer’ author Maia Kobabe didn’t suggest her book should not be in the hands of anyone under the age of 18.

“It’s very hard to hear people say ‘This book is not appropriate to young people’ when it’s like, I was a young person for whom this book would have been not only appropriate but so, so necessary,” Kobabe told NBC News. “There are a lot of people who are questioning their gender, questioning their sexuality and having a real hard time finding honest accounts of somebody else on the same journey. There are people for whom this is vital and for whom this could maybe even be lifesaving.”

Venezuelan divide

Matters of foreign policy normally unify Florida’s hawkish delegation. But an evolution in diplomacy with Venezuela has delegation members dividing along partisan lines.

President Joe Biden this week announced a deal with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to ease sanctions on oil in exchange for allowing international monitoring of next year’s elections in the South American nation, The Washington Post reported. That’s a radical move a few years after former President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would not even recognize Maduro as the nation’s leader and heavily sanctioned the country.

Joe Biden cuts a deal with Nicolás Maduro.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Co-Chair of the Venezuelan Democracy Caucus, praised Biden’s move.

“President Biden’s Venezuela policy is based on the fact that negotiations are the best path to end the political crisis. This has informed his application of tough sanctions to secure must-have concessions on free elections, political prisoners, and humanitarian access,” the Weston Democrat said.

“I’m confident that the President will swiftly reimpose sanctions if Maduro falls short of his commitments. After reviewing the terms of the deal, I believe that the U.S. maintains more than enough leverage to enforce compliance. It’s imperative that the U.S. responds immediately and forcefully with snapback sanctions to any violation of this accord, bearing in mind the regime’s repeated failures to live up to its promises.”

But Díaz-Balart considered the gesture foolish. The Hialeah Republican, who chairs the House State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Subcommittee, called a deal giving relief to Maduro “dangerous.”

“I vehemently oppose the announced ‘deal’ with the Maduro dictatorship to promote fake elections in Venezuela. After years of political persecution, repression of independent media, and brutal human rights abuses, I am convinced that no agreement with Maduro will genuinely ensure freedom in Venezuela,” Díaz-Balart said.

“The Maduro regime is allied closely with Russia, Iran, Cuba, and the (People’s Republic of China). Easing sanctions will jeopardize our national security by aiding our dangerous adversaries. I urge the Biden Administration to halt sanctions relief for halfhearted measures. Cosmetic changes to elections won’t make them fair. We cannot afford to weaken our stance against the dangerous, anti-American Maduro regime. Instead, we must strengthen sanctions and stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people in their pursuit of free and fair elections, respect for human rights, and an end to repression.”

However, Wasserman Schultz sees the deal as a test of whether progress is possible and where results will dictate the next steps.

“Sanctions are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Most of the penalties are staying in place until the regime follows through. This is a ‘prove it’ deal: one last shot for Maduro to deliver the reforms his people deserve,” she said.

“This agreement is a clear demonstration of President Biden’s dedication to the restoration of democracy and prosperity for the Venezuelan people through free elections and a framework for a transition away from the era of dictatorship.”

Landing some cash

More than two decades after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Giménez worries that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) hasn’t dispatched the best technology to screen passengers and luggage before they board planes.

The Miami-Dade Republican, who chairs the Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee, held a hearing on air travel security and suggested the TSA neither spends enough nor quickly on needed equipment.

The TSA needs an upgrade.

“Earlier this year, Administrator David Pekoske informed this subcommittee that the agency projects it will fully integrate the new computed tomography, or CT, machines used to screen carry-on luggage and the second-generation Credential Authentication Technology, or CAT-2, systems used for passenger identity verification by Fiscal Years 2042 and 2049 respectively,” Giménez said in opening remarks. “These timelines mean that the agency will take over 20 years to adopt the technologies it needs today. Frankly, this is too slow.”

But the TSA for the coming fiscal year requested $70 million for equipment, a lower amount than the budget allows. Giménez worries the lack of urgency in spending the money will slow implementation further. By his estimates, it will take 26 years to move to the next generation of ID technology.

He wants to change a funding model and redirect a security tax charged since the 9/11 attacks toward investment instead of agency debt.

“I believe it is time that we revisit the Fee Diversion and discuss ways in which ending it would help the agency develop and deploy new technologies faster,” he said. “With regard to focus, I believe that TSA ought to be prioritizing its new technological systems more. Anyone can do anything with an unlimited budget, but even within a limited budget, I still believe TSA can be doing more to bring these new technologies online more quickly. In addressing this critical issue, we can ultimately ensure that American air passengers are safer and American citizens are getting a good return on their security fee.”

Florida House

An open house at the Florida House is coming up Tuesday as the state embassy in Washington, D.C., celebrates its 50th anniversary. There, business leaders can connect with some delegation members expected to be in attendance.

A little slice of Florida in D.C.

Fine Florida food will also be available for visitors. “Indulge in the flavors of Florida with a curated selection of local delicacies from around the Sunshine State,” reads an e-vite. Florida House Trustee Chair Susanne Clemons and Executive Director Diana Beckmann are also expected to attend.

The event is Tuesday, Oct. 24, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Second Street home.

On this day

Oct. 20, 1803 — “Senate approves Louisiana Purchase” via the United States Senate — The Senate approved ratifying a treaty with France by which the United States purchased the Louisiana Territory. As a result of this treaty, the nation doubled in size, adding territory that would become the states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and parts of Minnesota, New Mexico, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado. The vote was 24-7. President Thomas Jefferson, worried French control of the Mississippi River might close off the American West, instructed the American minister in Paris to try to purchase the city of New Orleans and the Florida Panhandle, for which Congress had appropriated $2 million.

Oct. 21, 2015 — “Joe Biden won’t run for President in 2016” via CNN — Vice President Biden ended months of intense speculation about his political future with a sudden announcement he wouldn’t seek the presidency, putting Hillary Clinton in a stronger position to capture the Democratic nomination. With his wife, Jill, and President Barack Obama at his side in the White House Rose Garden, Biden said the window for a successful campaign “has closed,” noting his family’s grief following the death of his son, Beau. Still, Biden, who a representative said made his decision Tuesday night, positioned himself as a defender of the Obama legacy, implicitly suggesting that he still views himself as the best possible successor to the President.


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

Staff Reports


  • PeterH

    October 20, 2023 at 4:23 pm

    Hopefully Republicans will work through the weekend and select a new non-MAGA candidate to address the Speaker vacancy. The clock is running out on the budget approval process. Time is of the essence!

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