Delegation for 2.13.24: Aid package — LNG — ports of call — manifests — censorship

The United States Capitol building at sunset, Washington DC, USA.
The Senate advances an aid package, without the help of Florida's Senate delegation.

Foreign aid advances

The Senate moved ahead with a $95.3 billion aid package, staying on the Hill into the early hours Tuesday morning to pass a bill.

But the deal still may have a treacherous path in the House.

The package provided funding for allies in Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine. The measure ultimately passed by a 70-29 vote, with 17 Republicans crossing the aisle to vote “yes” on the deal. However, Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott did not support the final agreement.

Mitch McConnell managed to get a bipartisan aid package through the Senate. Image via AP.

Scott made clear on social media he’s opposed to the package in its current form. He also led a news conference last week criticizing GOP leadership’s handling of negotiations within the closely divided Senate.

“America is being invaded every day at our Southern border,” the Naples Republican posted on X. “Why would we vote to send money and resources to secure Ukraine’s border before we secure our own?”

Rubio, meanwhile, made his concerns clear with a series of proposed budget amendments, all of them related to immigration or to sanctions on Hamas. The Miami Republican has maintained that President Joe Biden can do more to stop a flood of migrants at the border simply by reinstating several of former President Donald Trump’s executive orders that were reversed when the Democrat took office in 2021.

“Assistance to our allies abroad is important, but America’s priority must be protecting our citizens from the invasion occurring along our southern border,” Florida’s senior Senator said. “President Biden continues to fail at his most basic responsibilities. We cannot continue sending money to protect our allies’ borders without first securing our own.”

The Senate has not taken up any of Rubio’s amendments, and he voted against the bill.

The body heard legislation about Hamas that Scott put on the floor Monday but ultimately refused to pass it.

“I think this process has destroyed the Senate and ignores the great history of our nation,” Scott said during a 40-minute presentation of his amendment in the Senate chamber. There, he compared prioritizing Ukraine over the U.S. border to the French Revolution.

“One of the first decisions facing our new Republic was whether to engage in the conflict raging between French revolutionaries in the alliance of European nations led by Great Britain. As we all know, President George Washington ultimately decided to remain neutral in that conflict, knowing that our new nation was not prepared to assume the grand responsibilities of supporting the cause no matter how noble.”

During the late-night session, Rubio gave a speech on the floor, also predicting problems at the nation’s southern border.

“This invasion of the U.S. is going to get worse,” he said. “We are consistently ignoring the needs of everyday, hardworking Americans and putting something or someone above them, over and over and over again. That’s why people lose faith in their institutions.”

But both Democratic and Republican leadership in the Senate said abandoning an ally in Europe would create a much greater problem for the U.S. and its engagement in the world.

“With this bill, the Senate declares that American leadership will not waiver, will not falter, will not fail,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat.

“Today, on the value of American leadership and strength,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, “history will record that the Senate did not blink.”

Since more than 60 Senators voted for the deal, there’s no likely way to stall the legislation in the upper chamber anymore. However, The Associated Press reports Speaker Mike Johnson could still face resistance within his caucus, where most GOP Representatives oppose the deal.

Anger over LNG

A pause in export permits for liquefied natural gas has members of Florida’s congressional delegation considering the impact on the state economy.

Scott and Rep. John Rutherford, both Republicans, led a bicameral letter to Biden expressing concern about the administration’s action. Amid pressure from climate activists, Biden temporarily stopped all pending and future applications to ship out LNG, and some expect to delay any new plants under consideration until after the Presidential Election in November, Reuters reports.

John Rutherford argues that LNG is a major economic driver in Florida.

Rutherford made clear he finds that misguided.

“U.S. LNG exports provide our allies a source of stable, clean, American-made fuel that they rely on to meet their energy needs,” the Jacksonville Republican said. “I am proud to join Sen. Scott and my colleagues in the Florida Delegation in pushing back on President Biden’s reckless pause on LNG exports. Our country and the world are stronger and safer when America is leading in energy production.”

Most GOP delegation members co-signed the letter, including Rubio and Reps. Aaron Bean, Gus Bilirakis, Kat Cammack, Mario Díaz-Balart, Byron Donalds, Neal Dunn, Scott Franklin, Anna Paulina Luna, Cory Mills, Bill Posey, María Elvira Salazar and Daniel Webster.

The letter spotlights particular concerns for the state economy.

“Florida plays a pivotal role in the broader landscape of U.S. LNG exports, and any decisions made in this regard will have a direct impact on our state’s economy and security,” the letter reads.

“We believe that a thorough consideration of Florida’s unique circumstances and advantages is essential in shaping national policy on LNG exports. And further, a proper understanding and consideration of U.S. LNG exports on global energy markets and U.S. and allied interests is required before instituting such a shamefully transparent giveaway to radical climate activists.”

It also suggests Florida exports help many allied nations — including Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and India — ensure energy security. Meanwhile, many nations hostile to the U.S. enjoy energy independence.

“Florida’s unique position in exporting LNG also aligns with efforts to reduce emissions. By restricting American LNG exports, global emission reduction goals are hampered by encouraging malign, anti-American regimes with less stringent environmental regulations, such as Russia, China, Venezuela and Iran, to increase energy production and encourage energy consumers to use less clean forms of energy,” the letter adds.

“Further, in the long term, this misguided policy propels these adversaries to develop or gain more future LNG market share, contravening U.S. policy by enriching Putin, Maduro, and the mullahs in Iran and diminishing the impact of U.S. and global sanctions.”

Open ports

Whatever happens at the border, Scott said he doesn’t want commercial ports of entry in the U.S. shut down. He and Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican, filed the Keeping International Land Ports of Entry Open Act, which would prohibit the Biden administration from closing commercial ports to divert Customs and Border Patrol staff to process migrants illegally entering the country.

Rick Scott seeks to keep the U.S. Land Ports of Entry open, despite the border crisis.

“Democrats do not care about border security, and everything that the Biden administration does proves that fact to the American people,” Scott alleged. “We must do everything possible to force Joe Biden to secure the border and limit his ability to make stupid decisions that hurt U.S. trade. This good bill does just that, and I urge the Senate to pass it immediately.”

Logistics advocates sided with the GOP Senators.

“As policymakers work to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis at the border, it is critical to also protect our supply chain, American businesses, and communities by keeping goods flowing between the U.S. and Mexico,” said Ian Jefferies, CEO of the Association of American Railroads.

Safe shipping

Personal data won’t be included as part of cargo manifests, thanks to a new law introduced by Waltz and signed by Biden.

The Moving American’s Privacy Protection Act (HR 1568) will require Customs and Border Protection to remove personally identifiable information, including Social Security and passport numbers, from manifests before public disclosure of those records.

“The personal information of every American should be safe and secure,” Waltz said. “However, due to the current public disclosure of cargo manifests, our service members and their families experience a higher risk of identity theft and fraud as they move abroad. We must secure international travel and help safeguard the livelihoods of Americans. That’s why I am proud to pass this bill through the House and Senate and have it signed into law.”

Mike Waltz hopes to keep cargo manifests free of personal data.

Walts carried the bill with Rep. Bill Pascrell, a New Jersey Democrat, in the House.

“Our plan will protect Americans from having their personal information compromised,” Pascrell said. “I am proud to co-lead this crucial, common-sense measure with the gentleman from Florida, Mr. Waltz. We are talking about protecting people’s privacy, including service members and their families serving abroad. This is a no-brainer.”

Logistics advocacy groups supported the legislation as it made its way through the House and Senate.

“The American Trucking Association’s Moving & Storage Conference is proud to serve our military and other families when they return home to the United States,” said American Trucking Association President and CEO Chris Spear. “Our members handle both household items and personal information with care, which is why they have long advocated for Congress to make common-sense changes to disclosure requirements on shipping forms.”

Fighting censors

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted several social media companies to limit users from sharing plenty of questionable science. But several Republican lawmakers think that decision stemmed from the federal government twisting arms and effectively censoring citizens.

Now, several delegation members have signed onto an amicus brief of a lawsuit against Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Delegation members join a lawsuit against Vivek Murthy.

“The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that the federal government will not infringe on the right to free speech for all Americans and remains the most effective protecting of speech in the world,” said Webster, a Clermont Republican. “I am committed to holding Big Tech and the Biden Administration accountable and protecting our constitutional rights.”

The brief supports a lawsuit from the state of Missouri against the administration, and also makes mention of media censorship of a New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s stolen laptop, though that article was published when Trump was President.

Representatives signing onto the brief also include Reps. Bean, Cammack, Matt Gaetz, Luna, Greg Steube and Waltz.

Heart felt

The fight against heart disease has Reps. Bilirakis and Darren Soto working across the aisle to save lives. The Palm Harbor Republican and Kissimmee Democrat introduced the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation to direct funding through the Health and Human Services Department for research and awareness.

“As a co-founder of the Congenital Heart Caucus, I’ve become familiar with the struggles patients with congenital heart disease and their families face,” Bilirakis said. “Our legislation will bring us one step closer to enhancing better treatment options and improving outcomes for all patients suffering with this condition. We’ve seen that this program yields positive results, and I urge my colleagues to join us as we work to help future generations live longer healthier lives.”

Congenital heart disease is as serious as a heart attack.

Congenital heart disease remains the most common birth defect in the U.S. with nearly 40,000 born with the condition each year. Medical advances through the decades have improved life expectancy for those patients, and now 2 million adults live today despite being born with heart problems. The legislation, filed by Bilirakis and Soto along with Republican Rep. Buddy Carter of Georgia and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, would study how specialized routines and health care could extend those lives farther.

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing the Congenital Heart Futures Reauthorization Act of 2024. It is crucial that we continue advocating for heart disease research and support monitoring programs,” Soto said.

Funding for Poly?

Small research institutions face added challenges seeking a limited amount of federal funding. At a House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing, Franklin sought information from experts on how Florida Polytechnic University could secure those dollars.

“I have a polytechnic university in my district that has 2,000 students,” the Lakeland Republican asked academic research experts. “How would you recommend that smaller research institutions position themselves to better compete for the Federal University Partnership funds that are out there?”

Scott Franklin asks “What about Florida Poly?’ Image via Florida Poly.

He notes that a research pilot program authorized by Congress will dole out $2.6 billion in six years. Franklin is pressing Tess DeBlanc-Knowles, a policy associate at the National Science Foundation, on what metrics will determine where the money goes. She said factors will include the number of users served and the “educational thrust” level for research projects.

Dr. Louay M. Chamra, engineering and computer sciences dean at Oakland University, said the federal government should work to ensure technical colleges of all sizes get their share of federal support.

“Federal agencies should dedicate certain funding to these smaller schools and because it’s important to recognize that these smaller schools, whether 2,000 or up to 10,000 students, they have different types of students,” he said.

“Actually, the smaller school attracts students from all geographical areas, from all walks of life. And I really think federal agencies should give them more resources to develop curriculum as well as research.”

Flood zone

Flood insurance remains a driving force in ballooning insurance costs in Florida. Now Reps. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat, and Díaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican, want more homebuyers to know the risks before purchasing property within flood zones.

The Flood Risk Transparency for Homebuyers Act would require the Housing and Urban Development Department to provide a disclosure notice to homebuyers of properties owned by the HUD located in special flood hazard areas.

“In Florida, we’ve experienced firsthand the devastating impact of hurricanes and other storms,” Díaz-Balart said. “Property owners have borne the brunt of this, especially with flood damage. Many homebuyers discover too late that their property is located in a flood zone. For this reason, ensuring full transparency for homebuyers before purchasing a HUD-owned property is paramount. It’s a privilege to co-lead this legislation alongside my Floridian colleague Rep. Lois Frankel, and I commend Sen. Marco Rubio for his leadership on this critical issue affecting all Floridians.”

Lois Frankel wants homeowners to be fully aware of the risks of flooding.

The legislation, as written, would require disclosure of the estimated insurance costs on any home based on the flood risks within a property’s ZIP code and would also require consumers to be told if the property has been deemed a “repetitive loss” by the National Flood Insurance Program.

“Floridians know all too well about hurricanes and tornadoes,” Frankel said. “These disasters often cause floods, which lead to extensive damage to families’ homes and pocketbooks. This bill would require that HUD put homebuyers on notice if they are purchasing a HUD property within a flood zone so buyers can make an informed purchase regarding flood risks.”

Scholarship period

Rep. Frederica Wilson issued a call for students interested in policy to apply for scholarships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation.

“As a lifelong educator and advocate for equal opportunity within education, I understand how vital these scholarships are to so many students nationwide,” the Hollywood Democrat said. “These scholarships are one step toward breaking the barriers to higher education. If you are a qualified, driven student in Florida, I strongly encourage you to apply.”

Frederica Wilson puts out the call for students who want to study policy.

Applications are being accepted for the 2024 United Health Foundation, Louis Stokes Health Scholarship Program, Ally Financial Law Scholars Program, and Public Policy Scholars Program Scholarships, along with the Stephen Feinberg Scholars Program and Multi-Year Program Scholarships, CBC Spouses Education Scholarships, CBC Spouses Essay Contest Scholarship, CBC Performing and Visual Arts Scholarships and CBCF HBCU Scholarship.

The scholarships are available to Black students enrolled at accredited institutions and who maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5 or 3.0.

Invest West

The Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party completed an investigation of U.S. venture capital firms — GGV Capital, GSR Ventures, Qualcomm Ventures, Sequoia Capital China, and Walden International — with connections to the Eastern nation. An investigation found that between all five, the U.S. investors in those firms put $3 billion into companies providing China with military and surveillance technology.

Rep. Carlos Giménez, a Miami-Dade Republican serving on the House Committee, supported letters sent to each firm discouraging further spending.

U.S. investors are helping China with surveillance technology.

“American money must never be used to fuel Communist China’s war machine, their repressive surveillance state, and the genocide of the Uyghur people,” Giménez said. “Communist China’s policy of military-civil fusion ensures no technology company can escape the evil tentacles of the CCP. We must immediately and fully decouple from Communist China, and I look forward to continuing working with my Select Committee on China colleagues to curb the malign influence of the CCP.”

On this day

Feb. 13, 1861 — “Abraham Lincoln’s election becomes official” via the Library of Congress — The Lincoln party left Cincinnati at 9 a.m. on a five-hour journey to Columbus, Ohio. The train stopped in many small towns along the way, where Lincoln was greeted with cannons firing and large, enthusiastic crowds of well-wishers. In Columbus, Lincoln gave a speech that minimized the difficulties of the country, stating that “there is nothing going wrong.” At 5 p.m. Lincoln received word that the electoral votes had been counted, and he was officially elected president.

Feb. 13, 2017 — “Michael Flynn resigns as National Security Adviser” via The New York Times — Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top White House officials about his conversations with the Russian Ambassador to the United States. Flynn, who served in the job for less than a month, said he had given “incomplete information” regarding a telephone call he had with the ambassador in late December about American sanctions against Russia, weeks before Trump’s inauguration. Flynn previously had denied that he had any substantive conversations with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, and Pence repeated that claim in television interviews.


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

Staff Reports


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn