Delegation for 4.9.24: Sham elections — rap battle — gun resales — trans athletes

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Ahead of elections in Venezuela, the delegation is rallied bipartisan support to slam the legitimacy of the process.

Venezuelan election sham

Ahead of elections in Venezuela this Summer, Sen. Marco Rubio rallied bipartisan support to slam the legitimacy of the process. He issued a joint statement with Sens. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat, and Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, criticizing the anti-democratic efforts of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s regime.

“The Maduro regime has disregarded the Barbados Agreement and shown the world it will stop at nothing to undermine its opponent, María Corina Machado,” the joint statement reads.

“Machado is up against a narco-regime that holds on to power by repressing and censoring the people of Venezuela. Any attack against Machado’s integrity, including arbitrary arrests, must be met with an international response.”

Congress hopes to rally support for slamming Venezuelan elections.

Judges allied with Maduro have kicked Machado, the winner of an opposition Primary, off the ballot. But Rubio spotlighted other actions by the government there, including consideration of an allegedly anti-fascist law that would outlaw criticism of the government in Venezuela and abroad.

All this calls into question whether Maduro’s government will live up to conditions for election transparency in return for lifting U.S. sanctions last year.

“Let there be no doubt, the upcoming elections will not be free, fair, nor democratic, and both the (Joe) Biden administration and the international community must hold Maduro accountable,” the bipartisan statement reads.

“The recent move to pass Venezuela’s so-called anti-fascist law is further proof that civil society, political opposition, and freedom of the press have no place in Venezuela. The United States must follow through with the public parameters it laid out under the Barbados Agreement, as well as consider individual sanctions for those directly responsible for the repressive actions against political candidates, business leaders and campaign officials. As the Venezuelan dictatorship seeks to prolong its illegitimate grip on power, the United States and the international community must respond swiftly and hold the regime accountable.”

The remarks were the latest condemnation of Maduro from a Florida congressional delegation leader. Reps. María Elvira Salazar, a Coral Gables Republican, and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat, issued a statement last month seeking sanctions reinstitution over Machado’s treatment.

The two Florida Representatives have introduced the VERDAD Act (HR 6831) to reinstate sanctions. The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the bill on a 41-9 vote and awaits further action.

Rubio introduced a companion measure in the Senate (S 3363), but it has yet to be heard.

Remembering Bustamante

Yet again, Sen. Rick Scott is paying tribute to one of his key staffers during his time as Governor. This time, he will get assistance from Rubio.

Six years ago, the untimely death of Jeri Bustamante shocked the Florida political scene.

The universally liked and respected Bustamante was Scott’s Press Secretary. She often traveled with him around the state, provided counsel and friendship, and even helped him learn the Spanish language.

Rick Scott leads another push to honor Jeri Bustamante in the Senate.

Bustamante was just 33 years old when she was killed in a boating accident in South Florida. She died after a boat she was riding in “crashed into mangrove branches lining a narrow channel in Islamorada,” as reported.

“I can’t believe it’s been six years since the world lost Jeri. Six years since we saw her bright smile, heard her contagious laughter or felt her magnetic and kind presence when she entered a room. Jeri will forever hold a special place in the hearts of all of us who had the honor of meeting her because she would automatically become your best friend and biggest cheerleader,” Scott reflected.

“She was always quick to offer a helping hand to others working to achieve their dreams as she pursued her American dream of one day standing at the White House press podium. And Jeri would have gotten there — she was an unstoppable force. As we traveled the state for long days of events when I was Governor, I was amazed at how she captivated everyone around her, gaining the respect of Floridians and members of the press and never losing her positive attitude.”

Rap battle

Rep. Matt Gaetz is used to entering rhetorical battles with politicians on both sides of the aisle. But it appears a Florida Politics-headed Spaces put him in a sparring match with one of Florida’s most famous rappers.

Luther Campbell, of 2 Live Crew fame, has told the Miami Herald he may challenge Democratic Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick in a Primary. That topic arose when Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch and consultant Kevin Cate interviewed Gaetz in a FlaPol After Dark X Spaces discussion.

Uncle Luke is looking to Primary Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick. Image via AP.

“Uncle Luke talks big but won’t step up to the Politics After Dark Spaces,” Gaetz said. “The only thing I know about Luther Campbell is when you had to pay players under the table in Miami-Dade County to go to FSU or UF or Miami.”

But Campbell took a swing back when he appeared on the Dan Le Batard Show. “Bro, you talkin’ about how I paid off players, but then you bought p***y,” Campbell said.

“An elected official in the state of Florida, and you don’t know who the f*** I am? That’s a problem. It means you lived a sheltered life, and I guess that then goes to you buying p***y.”

There’s a lot that’s worth Googling there.

However, it leaves a certain appetite for how delegation meetings would play out with these two headline makers representing the Sunshine State together.

At-risk gun dealers

In his first term in Congress, gun control measures have been a central agenda priority for Rep. Maxwell Frost. Last month, he added to the effort when he filed the Prevent Illegal Gun Resales Act with Reps. Robin Kelly and Delia Ramirez, both Illinois Democrats.

The bill would increase license application requirements for gun retailers. It would also create a federal classification for “high-risk dealers,” sellers who receive a notice or fine for a violation over three years, who report lost or stolen firearms within a year or who were the source of two or more guns used in a crime over three years.

First-termer Maxwell Frost leans hard into gun control.

“Gun sellers who turn a blind eye to the person purchasing a gun from them are a danger to our communities,” said Frost, an Orlando Democrat. “These sellers should be held more responsible for the lives lost, the families destroyed, or the neighborhoods forever changed by gun violence. They only care about making a sale. The Prevent Illegal Gun Resales Act is one of the steps we need to take to get to the root of the problem and hold gun retailers accountable for their part in enabling straw purchasing and for the pain and hurt they inflict on our people.”

The legislation was endorsed by the Florida-based March For Our Lives, a group Frost was active in before his election to Congress.

“Gun sellers have operated with near impunity for far too long. If we want to be serious about ending gun violence, we need to address upstream access and ensure that sellers and manufacturers act responsibly to prevent illegal resales of firearms,” said Natalie Fall, Executive Director of March For Our Lives. “The Prevent Illegal Gun Resales Act does just that, and March For Our Lives is proud to stand alongside our friend Rep. Maxwell Frost in supporting this bill.”

Submerged anxieties

Submarines are small and isolated environments. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna said she wants the Navy to consider sailors’ mental health when sending them underwater for too long.

The St. Petersburg Republican, along with Reps. Brandon Williams, a Texas Republican, and Derrick Van Orden, a Minnesota Republican, sent Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro a letter regarding an increasing number of mental health incidents reported for those stationed at sea.

Anna Paulina Luna wants the Navy to consider sailors’ mental health when sending them on submarine missions.

“The strength of our military relies greatly on the mental well-being of our service members,” Luna said. “Unfortunately, we have been hearing frightening reports about how our Submarine Force has been experiencing an increase in mental health incidents among sailors because of safety concerns, the unnecessary separation of families, and unfair investigations by the Inspector General when sailors report their concerns.”

The letter also details concerns about the physical condition of submarines, which apparently has weighed on the minds of sailors living inside of them. The message relays a “widespread belief” from service members that the government has not prioritized the safety of seamen.

“The Secretary of the Navy is responsible for taking care of his personnel and ensuring that all vital equipment has undergone vigorous safety inspections to operate safely while underway,” Luna said. “This is why I’m taking the lead in sending this letter, along with some colleagues, to the Secretary of the Navy, asking him about the recent spike in mental health incidents and safety concerns within the Submarine Force. We must ensure that all facets of our military operate at peak efficiency and that our service members’ safety is a top priority.”

Olympic decision

As the sports world debates whether trans athletes should compete with women, Rep. Greg Steube said Congress needs to step in and outlaw the practice. He filed legislation that would prohibit athletes assigned as male at birth from USA Women’s Olympic Sports.

The House Judiciary Committee advanced his The Protection of Women in Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (HR 7187), though on a narrow 16-15 vote. The partisan divide on the issue should not stop the House from taking up the bill, the Sarasota Republican said.

Greg Steube pushes to keep trans athletes out of women’s sports.

“The mainstream Democratic Party continues to push radical, anti-women policies at the expense of female athletes at every competition level,” he said, “I thank my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for supporting legislation today that honors the integrity of USA Women’s Olympic events and amateur sporting competitions. I urge swift floor action.”

Policies vary by sport. USA Boxing, beginning this year, adopted a policy just this year allowing transgender women to compete in female events. But the International Olympic Committee has also declared that any transgender athlete competing in an event based on their gender identity must have transitioned before age 12, a restriction not in place for prior games.

Pro-mother’s life

The federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) requires hospitals to provide lifesaving emergency care to patients, including abortions if the life of a mother is at risk. But that has run counter to many abortion bans being implemented by conservative states, and the conflict must now be resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Every Democrat in Florida’s congressional delegation thus signed onto an amicus brief urging the high court to uphold a district-court ruling that hospitals still must comply with the EMTALA. The courts became involved after the Biden administration sued Idaho over a state law criminalizing any doctor performing an abortion even in cases when their patient will die.

Kathy Castor doubles down on letting hospitals provide abortions as part of emergency care. Image via AP.

Florida signatories on the brief include Reps. Kathy Castor, Cherfilus-McCormick, Lois Frankel, Frost, Jared Moskowitz, Darren Soto, Wasserman Schultz and Frederica Wilson.

The Supreme Court will hear two cases, Moyle v. United States and Idaho v. United States, later this month.

Trump prison tower?

If Congress wants to start naming facilities after Donald Trump, Moskowitz suggests they start with a prison where he may soon stay.

The Parkland Democrat, along with Democratic Reps. Gerry Connolly of Virginia and John Garamendi of California, introduced a bill that would rename a Miami area facility the Donald J. Trump Federal Correctional Institution.

Jared Moskowitz has a novel idea about naming a facility after Donald Trump. Image via AP.

“Everyone knows President Trump loves to write his name in gold letters on all his buildings,” Moskowitz said. “But he’s never had his name on a federal building before and as a public servant, I just want to help the former President. Help us make that dream a reality.”

The Democratic Representatives filed the bill a week after several House Republicans proposed renaming Dulles Airport in Washington after the former President.

Connolly suggested that the Democratic proposal is more fitting, as Trump faces criminal charges in two federal jurisdictions, including a classified documents case in Florida, as well as state charges in New York and Georgia.

“He has been found liable of sexual abuse and, subsequently, for defaming the victim of that abuse,” Connolly said. “He has been fined hundreds of millions of dollars in a civil fraud case. It is only right that the closest federal prison to Mar-a-Lago should bear his name.”

Shaking Taiwan

An earthquake in Asia had Taiwan’s strongest advocates in Congress calling for rapid aid. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart issued a joint statement with other Co-Chairs of the Taiwan Congressional Caucus, including Republican Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky and Democratic Reps. Ami Bera of California and Connolly.

“Our thoughts are with the people of Taiwan who have lost loved ones and are affected by the recent earthquake,” the statement reads.

Mario Díaz-Balart sends hope and prayers to those suffering from the Taiwanese earthquake. Image via AP.

“We commend both the Taiwanese authorities and emergency services who acted swiftly to react to the aftermath of the earthquake as well as the countless civilians who are stepping up to help their fellow neighbors in need. The people of Taiwan are strong and have repeatedly proven their resilience amidst difficulty. As rescue and recovery efforts continue, we stand with Taiwan and extend our full support to our steadfast partner in the region.”

An earthquake on April 3 killed at least nine people in Taiwan and briefly closed major tech manufacturing facilities, according to Nikkei Asia.

Bigger and Becker

Becker, a national lobbying firm based in Fort Lauderdale, just hired Neri Martinez as a Senior Government Relations Consultant in its Washington Office. Martinez brings experience in the executive branch and on the Hill.

Most recently, she served as Chief of Staff to Sen. Tim Scott. She also previously worked for the South Carolina Republican’s staff director for the Senate Committee on Aging. She worked previously in the Energy Department under former Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette as Chief of Staff at the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity.

Becker bolsters its Washington footprint by hiring Neri Martinez.

“Neri’s deep bench of experience, long list of accomplishments and results and diverse community engagement will be a great resource for our clients,” said Omar Franco, Chair of Becker’s Federal Lobbying Practice.

Martinez, a member of the Hispanic Lobbyists Association and a board member at RightNow Women PAC, said she valued the opportunity to join Becker.

“I am thrilled to be joining the collegial, bipartisan federal lobbying team at Becker, where I have known several of the talented government relations consultants for years,” she said. “It will be great to collaborate and contribute to the continued success of the group and our clients.”

On this day

April 9, 1865 — “Robert E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox” via the National Constitution Center — The overall Confederate surrender took place in stages over the following two months, with other Confederate armies reaching surrender agreements after the Confederate General met with Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. But the loss of Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia was a fatal blow to the Confederacy. Lee’s troops had been besieged by Grant’s Union forces at Petersburg and Richmond for 10 months starting in June 1864. Lee used his considerable experience as a combat engineer to have his troops dig trenches to slow the Union advance.

April 9, 1968 — “Atlanta’s 4-mile goodbye to Martin Luther King Jr.” via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Tens of thousands clogged nearly every horizontal surface surrounding Ebenezer Baptist Church, from hilltops to rooftops, all craning for a view of the dignitaries, celebrities and the hearse bearing King’s body. Five days had passed since the assassination. Respect for the moment was evident in the way people were dressed. Men wore hats, suits and ties. Women wore their best Sunday hats, dresses and stoles. Most knew they would not get into the church for the first service, which was private. In fact, they wouldn’t even get close to the building.


Peter Schorsch publishes Delegation, compiled by Jacob Ogles, edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol, with contributions by A.G. Gancarski.

Staff Reports


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