Delegation for 3.22.24: None shall pass — taxman — pick a side — zombie guns

The United States Capitol, often called the Capitol Building, is
If it's Friday, Congress is facing yet another looming shutdown.

If it’s Friday

Another government shutdown looms if Congress cannot pass a budget Friday. But Speaker Mike Johnson has signaled that he believes the support exists to pass a budget out of the Republican-controlled House with broad support.

The expedited bill in the lower chamber will require a two-thirds vote. That sounds like a tall order, given that many Republicans, including from Florida’s congressional delegation, have already openly criticized the legislation.

Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a St. Petersburg Republican, shared a video online of migrants overrunning the National Guard while crossing the border in Texas and wrote that the budget deal will enable more of this.”

To watch the video, please click the image below:


“At 3:13 last night, we got this monster of a bill,” Luna said in another video on X, “which, to be clear, is an omnibus, meaning that everything in there is full of pork spending, i.e., frivolous spending that we literally cannot afford. I mean, as a new mom, let me put it in perspective. My son’s grandchildren will be paying the monstrosity of whatever this is back because Congress doesn’t want to balance the budget.”

Still, Johnson told reporters, “It will pass. We’re whipping the bill, and I expect a good number,” according to The Associated Press. Of recent historical significance, a separate budget vote earlier this month passed on a 339-85 vote despite 12 of Florida’s 30 Representatives voting against it.

When the last bill passed, much of the “pork” that Luna criticized helped whip votes in favor of it. Many GOP members, like Rep. Neal Dunn of Panama City, issued news releases citing the millions in local spending at stake if Congress failed to pass a budget. Others, like Rep. John Rutherford of Jacksonville, spotlighted billions in cuts even as some Republican critics criticized the remaining spending.

Still, Rep. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican, told The Associated Press that he expects more Republican downvotes this time than last. Meanwhile, Rep. Matt Gaetz said he was still trying to whip enough votes to kill the deal. Both voted against the budget passed earlier this month.

Last time, the budget act passed easily in the Democrat-controlled Senate, even without GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott supporting it. So even if a two-thirds vote of the Florida delegation feels unlikely, such a vote from Congress seems likely to get the bill to President Joe Biden’s desk before the start of the business day Monday.


Democrats have long criticized Scott as an enemy of Social Security. But at a hearing this week, the Naples Republican suggested that Biden isn’t doing enough to protect the program.

At a hearing of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Scott questioned Social Security Administrator Martin O’Malley about whether Biden’s proposed budget would help keep the federal program viable.

Rick Scott has been a longtime enemy of Social Security.

Scott noted that Social Security is expected to run out of resources in 2034, just 10 years away.

“Aren’t you surprised that there’s nothing in the budget to deal with the solvency issue of Social Security?” Scott asked.

O’Malley said he knows, as a former Maryland Governor, that it’s important to address problems with pension plans. He reformed a system in his state and said it’s important for the federal government to do the same.

“There was nothing in the budget that actually protects Social Security from the standpoint of, it didn’t reduce when it was going to go bankrupt,” O’Malley said.

Scott noted that he filed legislation last year to protect Social Security and asked if O’Malley thought that was more important than putting more IRS agents in the field. O’Malley said Congress does not need to make that choice.

Pick a side

Rubio says lobbyists need to choose between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party. This week, the Miami Republican introduced the CCP Lobbying Divestment Act, which requires Department of Defense contractors with U.S. contracts to fire lobbyists working with China.

“Too many lobbying firms are reaping the financial benefits of representing clients with DOD contracts while also working for those with ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” Rubio said. “My CCP Lobbying Divestment Act would end this clear conflict of interest. It mandates that companies make a definitive choice: either work with U.S. government contractors or support Chinese government entities, but you cannot do both.”

Marco Rubio tells lobbyists to pick a side.

Florida’s senior Senator has long criticized China’s attempts to influence American domestic and foreign policy. In 2022, he filed legislation that would prohibit registered lobbyists in Washington from representing Chinese interests.

But Rubio said that, at the very least, contractors working for the U.S. military shouldn’t employ anyone who is also helping to hoist up one of the nation’s greatest international rivals.

Embassy watch

Meanwhile, Rep. Cory Mills wants to stop any Chinese involvement in the structure of America’s embassies overseas. The House this week passed a bill he introduced, the Embassy Construction Integrity Act (HR 6306), which would require the State Department to safeguard embassies abroad from Chinese espionage. He filed the bill after discovering a Chinese company had built a U.S. embassy in South Asia.

Cory Mills says U.S. embassies are off-limits to the Chinese.

“It is of great concern to learn that at least one American embassy was constructed with the involvement of the CCP,” said Mills, a New Smyrna Beach Republican. “We cannot permit malign actors, like the Chinese Communist Party, to continue attempting to infiltrate our systems. I am honored that the House passed my legislation to counter this threat and ensure Congress is able to conduct proper oversight over embassy construction.”

The bill awaits consideration now in the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

Rescuing firefighters

Legislation filed by a Florida member could help firefighters who breathed in polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on the job.

Rep. Darren Soto filed The Firefighter PFAS Injury Compensation Act, which would require a fund managed by Health and Human Services (HHS) that would take appropriate claims from eligible firefighters.

Darren Soto backs a fund to help firefighters who breathe in toxic chemicals.

The Kissimmee Democrat said, “Since my days in the Florida state Legislature, I have been committed to addressing the public health and environmental risks posed by PFAS.”

“Years ago, we saw a cancer cluster affect many of our firefighters in Ocala, Florida, and we’re still seeing so many families suffer at the mercy of these dangerous ‘forever chemicals.’ I’m proud to introduce the PFAS Injury Compensation Act today to create a program at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to address these issues and provide compensation to affected families. This is a major step in the right direction as we work to eliminate these chemicals from the ecosystem.”

Sen. Cory Booker, a New Jersey Democrat, filed a Senate companion. Environmental groups also endorsed the bill.

“This fund would be a major victory for firefighters across the country, providing them critical financial support as they battle an array of cancers and other life-altering diseases incurred by PFAS exposure,” said Environmental Litigation Group Principal Gregory A. Cade. “These heroes shouldn’t have to suffer as a result of selflessly protecting their communities and this legislation is a major step to ensure they are protected. I thank Sen. Booker for his sponsorship and support of this legislation.”

Zombie guns

Ending gun violence has largely defined Rep. Maxwell Frost’s activist and elected career. He’s continuing that effort by filing the Destroy Zombie Guns Act.

The Orlando Democrat said many government agencies inadvertently fuel an illegal firearms market when they dispose of retired, seized and surrendered guns. Then, those weapons get sold as parts through the black market.

“A ‘zombie gun’ is exactly what it sounds like — it’s a gun that should not be living, it shouldn’t be able to operate, it shouldn’t be in use, and it shouldn’t be able to harm or claim another life — but it does,” Frost said.

Maxwell Frost: Zombie (gun) hunter.

“Closing the loophole that has allowed gun destruction companies to collect taxpayer dollars for only destroying one part of the gun and not the whole thing is undoubtedly contributing to the gun violence we are seeing in our communities today. I refuse to see another life taken or another family devastated because of gun violence. We need to destroy zombie guns now.”

He introduced the bill with several other Democrats in the House, including Reps. Gabe Amo of Rhode Island, Adam Schiff of California and Jill Tokuda of Hawaii.

The legislation also has the support of a gun control group founded in Florida, March For Our Lives. The group launched after the 2018 Parkland shooting, and Frost became active in the organization before running for Congress.

“The Zombie Gun Loophole is not just a technicality; it’s a glaring vulnerability that is fanning the flames of the gun violence epidemic,” said Natalie Fall, Executive Director of March For Our Lives.

“Far too many firearms re-enter circulation through this deceptive practice, creating a secondary gun market that leads to more guns ending up in the hands of those responsible for gun violence. March For Our Lives is pleased to support the Destroy Zombie Guns Act to close this deadly loophole. We thank our friend and partner, Rep. Maxwell Frost, for highlighting this critical issue and look forward to working with him on closing this loophole.”

Cruise control

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee advanced Rep. Dan Webster’s bill to fund and reauthorize the Coast Guard.

The Clermont Republican chairs the House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee, where he crafted the bill with Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri and Democratic Reps. Rick Larsen of Washington and Salud Carbajal of California.

“The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2024 provides the necessary investments and authorities required to maintain the Coast Guard’s critical missions. These investments are especially important to ensure border security given the increase in interdiction and repatriations of those illegally attempting to land on Florida shores. The measure will also help turn the tide on the Service’s recruiting challenges and provides for additional surface and air assets, as well as resources to begin replacing the Service’s crumbling shoreside infrastructure,” Webster said.

Dan Webster celebrates his bill to keep the Coast Guard afloat.

“Following the troubling revelations of Operation Fouled Anchor, this legislation incorporates the Coast Guard Protection and Accountability Act of 2024 that Ranking Member Carbajal and I introduced, along with (Chair) Graves and Ranking Member Larsen, which strengthens protections for members of the Coast Guard from sexual assault and harassment and increases transparency within the Service. I appreciate (Chair) Graves, Ranking Member Larsen, and Subcommittee Ranking Member Carbajal for their work in passing this important bipartisan legislation out of Committee.”

Heart attack

A recent cyberattack on Change Healthcare has caused Rep. Vern Buchanan to be worried about the security of America’s medical systems. The Longboat Key Republican led a letter, signed by every Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, to HHS Secretary Xavier Beccera demanding answers on securing patient information.

Vern Buchanan calls for increased security of medical patients’ private info.

“I am extremely concerned about the status of the investigation by HHS into the devastating cyberattack on Change Healthcare,” Buchanan said. “The administration needs to focus their attention on patients first and foremost to make sure they are still able to receive access to timely, quality care while ensuring their private and sensitive health care information is protected.”

Buchanan chairs the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee in the House.

According to Buchanan’s Office, the attack on Charge Healthcare in February has cost the health care industry billions each day. However, the office also noted a discouraging 21% increase in mortality rates in hospitals that suffer a cyberattack.

Securing Haiti

All Democrats in the Florida congressional delegation want Gov. Ron DeSantis to side with them on funding security measures in Haiti.

Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick and Debbie Wasserman Schultz led a letter to the Republican Governor claiming a shared concern that a mass migration for the island will impact Florida. But while DeSantis has focused on stopping the arrival of migrants, the lawmakers say they need his support for federal spending to curb gang violence on the island nation.

Haitian American Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick worries about the influx of refugees from her native land.

“To curb the mass migration of Haitians desperately fleeing Haiti, we must address the root cause of the migration,” the letter states.

The message describes the situation on the ground in Haiti, where 80% of Port-au-Prince, the nation’s capital, has fallen under gang control.

“Last year alone, there were nearly 5,000 murders, 2,000 kidnappings and more than 310,000 people who had been internally displaced,” the letter reads. “Gangs have weaponized sexual violence against women and young girls and have threatened to start a civil war. Approximately 1.4 million Haitians are nearing famine. Finally, about 4,000 gang members were freed from Haitian jails during a mass jailbreak.”

The letter noted that the Biden administration supports establishing a Multinational Security Support (MSS) mission that would financially back a United Nations-supported police force led by Kenyan authorities to re-establish law and order on the island. Canada, Germany, Spain, France, Jamaica and Benin have all agreed to support the effort. But to date, Republicans in Congress have blocked the release of any funding.

Democrats in the delegation suggested the Republican Governor’s support could sway his former colleagues in the House.

Cherfilus-McCormick, a Miramar Democrat, has described her own parents’ experience fleeing Haiti decades ago. She said the gang violence overtaking the island must be addressed with foreign intervention.

“As the only Haitian American in Congress and Co-Chair of the Congressional Haiti Caucus, I know the suffering of the Haitian people firsthand,” Cherfilus-McCormick said. “The stability of Haiti is in the national security interest of the United States. Congressional Republicans need to release their hold on funds for Haiti’s security and stability, in order to prevent mass migration to Florida.”

Bashing Maduro

Wasserman Schultz and Rep. María Elvira Salazar, a Coral Gables Republican, also cheered a bipartisan bill advancing in the House calling for a crackdown on Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

The House Western Hemisphere Committee, which Salazar chairs, approved the VERDAD Reauthorization Act, which would extend key sanctions on Venezuela that were originally put in place in 2019. Wasserman Schultz co-chairs the bipartisan Congressional Venezuelan Democracy Caucus and helped Salazar shape the bill.

Maria Salazar is leading the charge for more sanctions on Nicolas Maduro. Image via AP.

“We are grateful that members of the Foreign Affairs Committee share our outrage regarding the Maduro regime’s renewed assault on democracy in Venezuela and stand in solidarity with the Venezuelan people, who continue to suffer under the boot of the dictatorship,” the two said in a joint statement.

The two commented on ongoing anti-democratic actions Maduro has taken to prolong his time in power.

“The Maduro dictatorship’s recent ban on opposition presidential candidate María Corina Machado’s candidacy represents a clear violation of the Barbados Agreement, which requires free elections in exchange for sanctions relief,” the statement reads. “We urge Congress to swiftly pass this legislation so the President can institute critical measures to enforce the agreement.”

Keeping the faith

The Senate confirmed former state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez as an Assistant Secretary of the Department of Labor, capping a yearslong effort to place him in the job.

The chamber voted 50-48 Thursday, with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia casting the sole “no” vote from the Democratic side.

José Javier Rodríguez gets a top job at the Department of Labor.

Rodríguez’s nomination had been in stasis since late November when Manchin and Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey joined Republicans in a 51-44 vote to block him from advancing.

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also voted “no” for procedural reasons.

At the time, a representative for Manchin said he had “concerns about (Rodríguez’s) political activism and lack of experience.”

Rodríguez, a workers’ rights lawyer, served in the Florida Senate from 2016 to 2020. There, he represented coastal Miami-Dade County cities, including Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Key Biscayne and downtown Miami.

Biden nominated Rodríguez July 2, 2021, to serve as assistant director of Employment and Training in the Department of Labor Biden resubmitted the nomination at the beginning of 2022, and the process began anew but again hit a wall — now surmounted — on Nov. 28.

Shortly after the confirmation, Rodríguez wrote on X, “Keep the faith.”

Cooke’s dying wish

Biden nominated Coral Gables attorney Detra Shaw-Wilder as a U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida. The University of Miami School of Law graduate currently serves as general counsel for Kozyak Tropin & Throckmorton, where she previously served as managing partner.

The nomination was part of a round of judicial appointments announced by the White House this week.

Shaw-Wilder already has some support in the delegation. Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat, said she was pleased to see a Black woman appointed to the bench.

Frederica Wilson helps make Marcia Cooke’s dying wish a reality.

“Today, I stand with immense pride — not solely as a member of Congress witnessing a constituent’s remarkable journey, but also as a Black woman, deeply touched on a personal level,” Wilson said.

“Over two years ago, the late U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke asked me to advocate for the nomination of a Black woman to succeed her as she contemplated her legacy following a cancer diagnosis. Her passing, exactly one year later, filled her words with the weight of a final plea, a resounding call to action to embrace diversity. Since then, I have worked tirelessly with the White House and the Senate to honor Judge Cooke’s wish. And today, Judge Cooke’s dying wish and that of her community will be fulfilled as President Biden has nominated prominent trial attorney Detra Shaw-Wilder to fill a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.”

Wilson thanked Rubio and Scott for making the nomination possible.

On this day

March 22, 1972 — “Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress” via — First proposed by the National Woman’s political party in 1923, the Equal Rights Amendment was to provide for the legal equality of the sexes and prohibit discrimination based on sex. More than four decades later, the revival of feminism in the late 1960s spurred its introduction into Congress. Under the leadership of Rep. Bella Abzug of New York and feminists Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, it won the requisite two-thirds vote from the House of Representatives in October 1971. In March 1972, it was approved by the U.S. Senate and sent to the states.

March 22, 1790 — “Thomas Jefferson becomes first Secretary of State” via the Department of State — Jefferson served until Dec. 31, 1793. Jefferson brought remarkable talents to a long career guiding U.S. foreign affairs. He successfully balanced the country’s relatively weak geopolitical position and his fear of expansive federal powers with his desire for U.S. territorial and commercial expansion. Jefferson was born into the Virginia planter elite. He graduated from the College of William & Mary, studied law, and was admitted to the Virginia bar. He was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses in 1769 and served until the British dissolved the House in 1774. Jefferson was a leading activist in the U.S. independence movement.


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

Staff Reports

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    March 22, 2024 at 3:34 pm

    Rhonda is constantly talking about closing the land border between the USA and Mexico. He even puts on stunts to show his support for a total shutdown of the land border.

    A closed land border means immigrants arrive by boat. With boats behind Rhonda’s preferred method of immigration, what’s his problem with boats of Haitians?

    Is Rhonda’s big problem that he didn’t get Florida’s Atlantic beaches strung with barbed razor wire yet because he was concentrating those efforts on the Gulf of Mexico side?

    Or does think his Sheriffs will get confused between spring breakers and Haitians?

    What is it Rhonda? What’s the problem?

    Oh, Rhonda, Hi. It’s you. You’re the problem. It’s you!

Comments are closed.


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