Delegation for 1.30.24: War drums — bad loans — help wanted — stillborn
US Capital in Washington,DC.

US Capital Building.
A drone strike kills three U.S. Service members; Republicans blame the administration.

Cause of war

President Joe Biden promised a U.S. response after drone attacks that killed three U.S. service members, a hostile attack his administration attributed to Iran-backed militia groups.

Now, Republicans in Florida’s congressional delegation have assailed the administration as weak regarding its Iran policy.

Three U.S. service members were killed by a drone attack in Jordan.

“Two months ago, I warned that if Biden didn’t impose direct consequences on Iran, these attacks would spread beyond Syria and Iraq and kill Americans,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, a Miami Republican and ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee. “Tragically, it has now happened just as I warned.”

Rep. Michael Waltz, a St. Augustine Republican, said the administration should publicly acknowledge its level of blame for the deaths.

“Here’s the message that Iran has gotten very clearly,” he told Fox News. “They clearly didn’t get the message to stop that Biden thought that they got. The message they’ve received is that, yes, they are in a proxy war with us. They are unleashing their militias, not just on Israel but on us and global shipping through the Houthis, and they’ve gotten the message loud and clear that they can get away with it.”

Throughout the GOP contingent of the delegation, lawmakers noted the deaths but pegged the administration.

“Praying for the families and loved ones of the three American service members killed and the 25 wounded by an Iran-backed terrorist attack in Jordan,” posted Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican. “It is long past time for President Biden to hold Iran and its proxies accountable for their increased attacks on American troops.”

However, there was less agreement among the members on how rapidly the administration should respond. There, a frequently visible fissure showed between hawks eager for retribution to be delivered with haste and those who wanted Congress to weigh the use of military force.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a St. Petersburg Republican, retweeted a post from Utah Sen. Mike Lee saying, “There is no ‘Iran is bad’ exception to the constitution.”

“I’d like to remind our Senators that this requires CONGRESS to declare war,” Luna posted.

Similarly, Rep. Cory Mills, a Winter Park Republican, joined Rep. Matt Gaetz on the Fort Walton Beach Republican’s podcast, where both hammered “neo-conservatives” for an eagerness to bomb Iran.

“We should pass some law for Congress that when you pass an actual war act, or you basically try and declare war, you better throw that uniform on yourself, and let’s see how many of these people continually yell war, war, war,” Mills said.

Reevaluating loans

The Federal Reserve announced an end to new loans from the Bank Term Funding Program (BTFP) as of March 11. Just last week, Sen. Rick Scott pushed Fed Chair Jerome Powell to cease using the emergency program, and the Naples Republican said he believed that forced the policy change.

“This week, we are finally seeing some accountability from the Federal Reserve after I demanded important changes to its Bank Term Funding Program,” Scott said.

Jerome Powell gets an earful from Rick Scott.

“It’s astonishing that the Federal Reserve failed to take steps sooner to fix this program, allowing big banks to game the system and profit off American taxpayers. Sadly, this gross mismanagement of the Fed is exactly what we’ve come to expect from Chair Powell. I am encouraged by the steps the Federal Reserve has finally taken to fix this program and look forward to further changes to its ill-advised programs and practices.”

Officials at the Fed, though, characterized the shift as an expected development and said the program has served a purpose in stabilizing the economy. Banks will still have access to a discount window to assure liquidity, a release from the Fed states.

“This rate adjustment ensures that the BTFP continues to support the goals of the program in the current interest rate environment,” the release said. “This change is effective immediately. All other terms of the program are unchanged.”

Recruitment deficit

The military continues to face challenges in meeting recruitment goals and Rubio blames politics.

In a Washington Examiner op-ed, he outlined concerns and possible solutions where he questioned some matters once considered political dogma on the Right and Left. “We must understand how politics is turning young people away from the military,” he wrote.

But he threw in plenty of politically controversial statements to make that point, including asserting that “the far Left has proclaimed that the United States is an evil country.” He called for Congress to end funding for any diversity, equity and inclusion programs in the Pentagon, which he said generate “polarizing politics” within the military.

The U.S. military struggles to get new recruits to sign on the dotted line.

He also tossed some unexpected cold water on hawkish policies championed in the 2000s by a Republican administration, calling out “mission creep” in the Middle East.

“More than 250,000 people enlisted in the wake of 9/11,” he wrote. “They joined to defend the United States from terrorism and exact justice for a day that was one of our darkest. They ended up serving in long-term counterinsurgency and nation-building efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Conventional wisdom

For a man no longer running for President, Gov. Ron DeSantis spent much of the last week discussing federal issues. That reached peak levels when he held a news conference to endorse calls for four federal constitutional amendments.

At a podium with a “Hold Washington Accountable” affixed to the front, DeSantis said it’s time to restrict Washington’s worst excesses. “Let’s stop complaining about Washington and do something to restrain Washington for a change,” he said.

Ron DeSantis weighs in on federal issues.

DeSantis called for four separate amendments to the U.S. Constitution, which would impose term limits on members of Congress, require Congress to pass a balanced budget each year, provide the President with line-item veto power, and prohibit imposing any law on citizens that doesn’t apply to members of Congress.

The choice of venue for the announcement deserved some attention. Rather than hosting the event in Tallahassee, he traveled to Naples, Scott’s hometown.

There could be multiple reasons. Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, another Naples Republican, endorsed two constitutional amendment proposals already passed in the House but not yet taken to the floor. Florida House Speaker Paul Renner already passed concurrent resolutions calling for constitutional conventions on term limits and a balanced budget.

But as crowds in Naples cheered the Governor and former Congressman who still has ambitions to run for President in the future, the event also fed rumors DeSantis could have his eye on a Senate seat, and there’s only one of those up for election before 2028.

Scott, meanwhile, rolled out endorsements from dozens of state lawmakers Tuesday, a move aimed to shore up his grip on the GOP nomination. Notably, most amendments backed by DeSantis were part of the Make Washington Work agenda Scott ran on during his first U.S. Senate campaign in 2018.

Dedication to service

The threat postal workers face from dangerous dogs may seem like the stuff of Sunday comic strips. But the 2022 death of letter carrier Pamela Rock in Putnam County after being attacked by escaped dogs demonstrated the consequence of treating the matter trivially.

Now, the House has passed legislation filed by Reps. Aaron Bean and Kat Cammack to rename a Melrose post office after Rock.

Pamela Rock was killed on her route by an aggressive dog.

“Pam had a servant’s heart, and it was obvious in the way she lived her life. While her time on this earth was tragically cut short, she served the U.S. Post Service with passion and integrity,” said Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican. “Designating the Melrose post office in her name will honor her legacy in the community she loved. I am proud this legislation overwhelmingly passed the House and is one step closer to memorializing Pam’s memory and commitment to Floridians.”

Cammack no longer represents Putnam County after redistricting but did at the time of Rock’s death.

“I’m pleased to join Rep. Bean in honoring Ms. Pamela Rock by renaming the post office in Melrose after her,” the Gainesville Republican said. “Last Congress, when we served Putnam County, our entire community was heartbroken by her loss, and I know we’re all comforted knowing her legacy to the community and career she loved will live on. I look forward to visiting the facility in Melrose that will soon bear her name.”

Aligning registries

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) retains a cancer registry separate from state databases. But Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick said patients in the VA system would be better off if more data were shared between agencies.

The Miramar Democrat introduced the Counting Veterans’ Cancer Act with Rep. Jen Kiggans, a Virginia Republican. Cherfilus-McCormick serves as ranking Democrat on the House Veterans Affairs Technology Modernization Subcommittee, which Kiggans chairs.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick seeks better communications between agencies.

“By requiring the VA to share cancer rate data with states, we can get a more accurate picture of the health challenges we need to tackle,” Cherfilus-McCormick said. “This bipartisan legislation would give cancer researchers and doctors the data they need to save lives.”

In addition to the VA and states sharing registries, the bill also calls for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to serve as a go-between, ensuring maximum cooperation with all government parties involved.

As things work now, the CDC separately maintains its own National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Institutes of Health has a separate Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program. The VA Central Registry doesn’t feed into either database.

“As a veteran and geriatric nurse practitioner, I’ve seen firsthand the devastation that cancer has wreaked on Americans, particularly in our veteran community,” Kiggans said.

“Ensuring that every veteran has a VA health care system they can trust and be proud of is a goal I work toward every day. By increasing cooperation and data sharing between the VA and state cancer registries, I’m hopeful my bipartisan legislation will provide the doctors and researchers caring for our veterans with the tools they need to more effectively fight cancer.”

Stillbirth revisited

Before abortion became legal in Florida, lack of care nearly cost Rep. Frederica Wilson her life. The Democrat, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, recounted her personal story anew in an op-ed published by The Hill.

Wilson’s story doesn’t date back to any period of premarital activity but to her days as a young schoolteacher excited to conceive her first child with her husband. But joy turned to sorry seven months into her pregnancy.

Lack of abortion care nearly cost Frederica Wilson her life.

“Our world crumbled when our baby boy Wilson died in my womb,” Wilson wrote. “If the pain of losing a child wasn’t already enough, the law forbade the doctor from inducing labor because, at that time, Roe v. Wade had not yet become the law of the land. The pain of losing my child was compounded by the weight of abstract legal restrictions that would soon threaten my life.”

Wilson first told the story publicly a year ago on the House floor. Because the law forbade a surgical abortion even after the death of the fetus, Wilson had to carry the pregnancy to term as the remains disintegrated in her womb. She may have died decades prior but could have simply had an abortion during the 50 years of Roe. With that overturned, she’s afraid of what comes next.

“From state to state, including my home state of Florida, out-of-touch politicians are restricting abortion without exceptions,” Wilson wrote. “For God’s sake, America, do not let us slide into a new, darker period in the relentless assault on reproductive rights.”

Fresh sanctions

Court meddling in Venezuela has members of Florida’s delegation fuming about the integrity of democracy in South America. And the outrage can be found on both sides of the aisle.

Venezuela’s Supreme Justice Tribunal upheld a ban on Maria Corina Machado, the opposition nominee to challenge President Nicolás Maduro, who is holding office in the country.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic Co-Chair of the delegation, said it was time to revisit sanctions against Venezuela’s regime.

A ban on Maria Corina Machado’s candidacy renews calls for Venezuela sanctions.

“I am horrified but not at all surprised that Maduro’s kangaroo court upheld its baseless ban on Maria Corina Machado’s candidacy for president,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“The United States offered Maduro one last chance to hold free and fair elections against his opponent, who received over 90% of her primary vote. It’s clear Maduro has no plans to put his record of trashing human rights, jailing opponents, and undermining democracy on the ballot. Therefore, we must be equally clear: I urge the President to snap back sanctions on Maduro and his regime immediately.”

Scott also slammed the actions of Venezuelan courts, which he said were acting in the interest of Maduro.

“We’re closely following Maduro’s attacks and persecution against democracy activists in Venezuela, especially the inner circle of Maria Corina Machado,” he posted online.

“Maduro won’t facilitate free and fair elections. Biden needs to reverse the lifting of sanctions and end his appeasement NOW.”

Ultimately, the executive branch agreed. According to Reuters, the Biden administration announced it would restore sanctions, with a rollback of oil sanctions expiring this week.

Reservoir ribbon-cutting

A water quality project in the Everglades took a massive step forward with the completion of Stormwater Treatment Cell 1 in the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir Project.

After years of contention over how much federal spending goes to the Everglades, the celebration brought figures together in celebration. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart pressed for funding in the federal budget dating back years.

Mario Díaz-Balart celebrates forward movement on the EAA Reservoir.

“I was proud to champion the inclusion of the EAA Reservoir in the Water Resources Development Act of 2018 and applaud the work by the State of Florida, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers,” the Hialeah Republican said, “and the South Florida Water Management District to preserve more water in our water infrastructure system while restoring the Everglades. I look forward to continuing cross-agency and local stakeholder collaboration that aids in critical advances to restore and preserve one of our great state’s treasures: the Everglades.”

DeSantis has also pushed for funding and said the project has promised to redirect algae-plagues waters and address water supply and quality in Lake Okeechobee.

“The EAA Reservoir is the crown jewel of Everglades restoration, ensuring that we are sending water south and reducing harmful discharges into our waterways,” DeSantis said at a ribbon cutting. “The opening of this stormwater treatment cell is a key milestone in the EAA Reservoir project and will help ensure the health of the Everglades for generations to come.”

Homestead hotlist

Rep. Carlos Giménez visited with officials in Homestead to collaborate on federal funding requests. The Miami-Dade Republican assembled a list of five priority projects in the growing community.

Those include seeking $750,000 for police bodycams, $2 million for a septic-to-sewer project, $1 million for a Downtown Revitalization and Resilient Electrical Infrastructure Project, $3.5 million for pump station upgrades and $3.5 million for SW 162nd Ave. Roadway and Bridge expansion.

Carlos Giménez develops a to-do list for Homestead’s needs.

Giménez built out the list after meeting with Homestead Mayor Steve Losner, Police Chief Alexander Rolle, and Council members Clemente Canabal and Larry Roth.

“As the City of Homestead’s Representative in Congress, I am proud to spearhead projects prioritizing our communities’ needs,” Giménez said. “I look forward to continuing working collaboratively with Mayor Losner, the City Council, and the entire City of Homestead team to deliver federal funding for public safety and infrastructure initiatives in Southern Miami-Dade County.”

On this day

Jan. 30, 1815 — “Library of Congress reestablished” via the Library of Congress — President James Madison approved an act of Congress appropriating $23,950 to purchase Thomas Jefferson’s library of 6,487 volumes. After capturing Washington, D.C., in 1814, the British burned the U.S. Capitol, destroying the Library of Congress and its 3,000-volume collection. Jefferson, in retirement at Monticello, offered to sell his personal library to the Library Committee of Congress to rebuild the collection of the Congressional Library. Jefferson’s library not only included more than twice the number of volumes as had been destroyed, but it expanded the scope of the library beyond its previous topics — law, economics and history — to include a wide variety of subjects in several languages.

Jan. 30, 1968 — “Tet Offensive shakes Cold War confidence” via — In coordinated attacks all across South Vietnam, communist forces launched their largest offensive of the Vietnam War against South Vietnamese and U.S. troops. Dozens of cities, towns and military bases — including the U.S. embassy in Saigon — were attacked. The massive offensive was not a military success. Still, its size and intensity shook the confidence of Americans, who were led to believe by the administration of President Lyndon Johnson that the war would shortly be coming to a successful close. During the Tet holiday cease-fire in South Vietnam, an estimated 80,000 troops of the North Vietnamese Army and National Liberation Front attacked cities and military establishments throughout South Vietnam.

Happy birthday

Best wishes to Rep. Michael Waltz, who turns 50 on Wednesday, Jan. 31.


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

Staff Reports


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