Delegation for 4.16.24: Warranty — splish splash — Jackie Robinson — shrimp

U.S. Capitol
The fight for FISA reforms heats up.

FISA & brimstone

A battle between privacy advocates and national security hawks closely divided the House, including members of Florida’s congressional delegation. Two first-term lawmakers within the delegation played specific roles as the debate over the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act split the chamber along somewhat atypical lines.

The argument centered around the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act (HR 7888), legislation sponsored by Rep. Laurel Lee that reauthorizes the FISA program. When the Thonotosassa Republican first introduced the bill in February, she promised it would bring significant reforms to the program, ensuring the accuracy of all applications for FISA warrants and penalizing authorities who abuse the investigatory powers.

Laurel Lee is spearheading the push to reform FISA warrants.

But hard-liner privacy advocates pushed for more reforms in amendment form. They most notably would have required specific warrants on any American citizen or permanent resident who may be surveilled while intelligence agencies spy on foreign entities. That measure failed, but on a House-splitting 212-212 vote.

Florida’s House delegation, for its part, favored the change, but by a very narrow 15-13 vote. Like the chamber as a whole, “yes” votes covered a gamut of ideologies. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican ally of former President and FISA critic Donald Trump, cast a vote alongside Rep. Maxwell Frost, arguably the state’s most liberal federal lawmaker. Meanwhile, national security hawks like Rep. Michael Waltz, an adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney during the war on terror, voted with progressive but pro-Israel Democrats like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Notably, Lee seemed fine with the additional change, and the tie vote effectively killed the matter. The one-vote failure has many America First Republicans furious now at Speaker Mike Johnson, who voted “no” on that amendment. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a St. Petersburg Republican, fought one of the most bitter protests of the bill ever after its apparent passage.

The House voted 273-147 Saturday to approve the bill, though hard-liners objected to closing the matter. When Lee called for a motion to reconsider the bill and then vote it to the Senate, Luna demanded from the floor a new vote Monday. She sent a letter that day to House members begging them to reconsider, noting reports of abuse based on a history of abuses, much of that based on race or bias against those of Middle Eastern descent. But the bill passed again Monday on a 259-128 vote and headed to the Senate.

“The swamp won today,” Luna later posted on X. “The intel bros, uniparty, and deep state won two more years of warrantless surveillance. Ty to all the reps, regardless of party affiliation, that took a stand for the Fourth Amendment. This is one of the slimmest majorities we have had in history. I plan to use it.”

But Lee and many members supported its passage. “FISA is an indispensable tool that protects us from national security threats within the United States and abroad,” Lee said when she first filed the bill.

Splash fund

Florida’s Senate delegation pressed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to include critical projects in the state in its federal budget this year, including full funding for the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott wrote a letter to Army for Civil Works Assistant Secretary Michael Connor outlining specific needs and the long-term implications for Florida’s environment.

Florida’s Senators are hoping to keep the money flowing to the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir.

The Senators wrote, “Floridians depend on the expertise and diligence of the USACE—often in partnership with non-federal interests — to study, design, construct, maintain, and operate important water resources infrastructure across the Sunshine State.”

The Army Corps must produce a work plan for its budget. Rubio and Scott said they expect the reservoir funding and the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration (SFER) program to make the plan.

“We thank you for approving this authority and strongly urge you to direct the Army Corps of Engineers to authorize programmatic incremental funding clause authority for the entire SFER program,” the senators wrote. “Doing so for the entire SFER program would expedite the construction of (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan) project components and reduce the overall cost of the program.”

Beyond that, the Florida Republicans list dozens of specific water and infrastructure projects in communities throughout Florida. The letter also calls for help with operations and management for dozens of ongoing environmental efforts in the state.

Flag play

Rubio visited The Villages Charter School and met with the girls’ flag football team. A college player himself, the Miami Republican proclaimed his love of the pigskin, but used the opportunity to spotlight his advocacy for adding women’s flag football as an NCAA-sanctioned intercollegiate sport.

“It’s promising to see the support The Villages Charter School is providing women’s flag football,” Rubio said at his stop, according to The Villages Daily Sun.

Marco Rubio heads to The Villages to talk flag football. Image via Rubio’s Senate Office.

“I look forward to the future of our female athletes succeeding in flag football programs, which is now an Olympic sport and I hope it will become an NCAA intercollegiate sport.”

The sport will debut as an international Olympic sport at the 2028 Summer Games.

Rubio sent a letter earlier this year with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, to NCAA President Charlie Baker calling for colleges and universities to include the women’s sport in its athletic offerings.


Finding kids

Legislation reauthorizing and updating the Missing Children’s Assistance Act (MCAA) cleared the House. The bipartisan bill (HR 5224) was co-authored by Rep. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, with Rep. Joe Courtney, a Connecticut Democrat. It seeks to help the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children find children faster and prevent victimization in sexual and violent crimes.

A bill from Aaron Bean could help find missing kids faster.

“As a father of three, I cannot imagine the pain of a missing or exploited child,” Bean said. “Reauthorizing the MCAA gives hope and encouragement to loved ones during a time of immense heartbreak and uncertainty. Time is a critical factor in the search effort and this bill will modernize the reporting system, so law enforcement can quickly find missing children and bring closure to countless families. Today’s vote is an important step in the fight to prevent child victimization, sexual exploitation and abductions, and I look forward to seeing this bill signed into law.”

Honoring an icon

Reps. Waltz and Darren Soto filed a bill designating Jackie Robinson Ballpark and the Daytona Tortugas as a National Commemorative Site. Rubio sponsored a companion bill in the Senate.

Jackie Robinson, the first Black baseball player to sign a Major League Baseball contract and cross the color barrier from the Negro Leagues, played his first exhibition game in Daytona Beach in 1946.

A new bill honors the baseball icon Jackie Robinson. Image via

“Jackie Robinson changed the course of history forever on March 17, 1946, in Daytona Beach when he set foot in the then-named Daytona City Island Ballpark,” said Waltz, a St. Augustine Beach Republican. “Since that day, Daytona Beach’s ballpark has been a historic landmark and reminder of Jackie Robinson, the Civil Rights Movement, and the integration of modern professional baseball. We must preserve and honor Jackie Robinson’s legacy and the impact he had in Daytona Beach and across America.”

Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, pitched in as a bipartisan co-sponsor.

“I am thrilled to introduce this bill, honoring Jackie Robinson’s legacy by designating the Daytona Beach ballpark as a National Commemorative Site. It’s a vital step toward preserving his historic contributions,” Soto said. “Jackie Robinson’s legacy is a beacon of courage, resilience and equality. His groundbreaking journey through adversity not only transformed the game of baseball but ignited a movement for social change that continues to inspire generations worldwide.”

The entire Florida delegation signed on as co-sponsors for the bill, which the MLB and Rachel Robinson, widow of the baseball legend, have already endorsed.

“Jackie’s transcendent legacy as a Hall of Fame player, activist and civil rights pioneer remains an inspiration to communities across our nation,” said April Brown, Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility, Major League Baseball. “We are proud to join Rachel and the Robinson family in supporting efforts to celebrate these important landmarks connected to Jackie’s history-making journey.”

Rubio said this paid due respect to Robinson’s place in history.

“Jackie Robinson wasn’t just a phenomenal baseball player; he was a trailblazer who broke barriers both on and off the field,” Rubio said. “In 1946, he played at the Daytona City Island Ballpark, where his courage transformed not only the sport, but also our nation. I’m introducing the Jackie Robinson Ballpark Commemorative Site Act to honor and protect the site where Jackie played his first game and to remind us of the strength and impact one person can have on the world.”

Apron hangar

Soto also announced a $61.9 million grant for Orlando International Airport. The funding from an infrastructure program administered by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) will help expand the apron, where aircraft are parked.

“We were thrilled to help deliver over $60 million to Orlando International Airport as part of FAA’s Airport Infrastructure Grants,” the Kissimmee Democrat said.

Darren Soto brings some cash in for a landing at Orlando International.

“I was proud to vote for the Infrastructure Law, which has enabled us to expand our airport’s infrastructure and better serve passengers. Thanks to the Infrastructure Law, we’ve allocated over $200 million in federal funds for enhancements, such as new gates, a pedestrian bridge and runway upgrades. Terminal C now features state-of-the-art technology to cater to an extra 10-12 million passengers annually.”

Airport officials welcomed the sizable federal grant.

“The improvement to expand the existing Terminal C apron will help us in our efficiency, optimize our operations and ensure we continue to maximize Terminal C as a world-class asset,” said Kevin J. Thibault, CEO of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Capitol concert

As part of a news conference on language and the arts, Frost hosted a mini-concert in his Washington office, with the music provided by Orlando band Venture Motel.

The Orlando Democrat introduced the CREATE Art Act, which would establish four new grant programs for professional musicians to cover a wide variety of costs from instruments and studio time to marketing and travel costs.

“Artists contribute value to our community’s culture and economy but are asked to assume the risk and expense,” Frost said.

“The same way we assist small businesses in getting off the ground, we should be supporting emerging artists. The CREATE Art Act would help usher in a new era of support and equity across countless creative industries and the local economies they empower. Central Florida wouldn’t be the world-class destination for arts that it is without the creatives that live there. It’s time we invest back into them.”

Frost introduced the bill with fellow Democratic Reps. Greg Casar of Texas, Dan Kildee of Michigan, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. The bill has the backing of the Recording Academy, the AFL-CIO, and several artists’ associations.

“As an organization that exists to serve and elevate all music creators, the Recording Academy is thrilled to celebrate today’s introduction of the CREATE Art Act,” said Todd Dupler, Chief Advocacy & Public Policy Officer for the Recording Academy. “Music is essential to the well-being of our communities, and we are grateful for Rep. Frost’s work to ensure emerging musicians have the resources they need to thrive. Today is just the beginning, and together we can champion the next generation of creativity.”

Members of Venture Motel welcomed the opportunity to bring their sound to the Hill.

“This was seriously the coolest thing we’ve done yet, very grateful to Rep. Maxwell Frost for giving us this opportunity and always treating us so kindly. We got to meet a lot of very good people in our short time there and we had so much fun!



Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Palm Harbor Republican, said America’s shrimping communities need help.

Thanks to the dumping of foreign products in U.S. markets, many domestic shrimpers face choppier economic waters. Some of those woes come courtesy of federal funding funneled through international financial institutions and supported predatory actions from overseas competitors.

Bilirakis rallied lawmakers from coastal communities, including in Florida, to introduce the Save Our Shrimpers Act.

Shrimpers need saving, and Gus Bilirakis steps up to help.

“This America-first initiative would ensure U.S. tax dollars are not used to subsidize foreign competitors within the shrimping industry,” Bilirakis said. “Florida’s 12th Congressional District is home to many thriving shrimpers who are being disadvantaged by the current policy that allows their hard-earned tax dollars to prop up foreign competitors. It is only common sense to prohibit this practice and protect our local shrimpers.”

Some of Bilirakis’ Gulf Coast colleagues, including Reps. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican, and Luna, are co-sponsors.

“Domestic businesses, manufacturing, farming, and food production have been the pillars of American strength that have upheld our nation as a global power,” Luna said.

“Foreign interests know this and have been targeting every industry, including the shrimp industry, to diminish our markets and hurt America. For decades, Congress has allowed our tax dollars to fund foreign shrimping operations, resulting in unfair competition and a weakened U.S. shrimp industry. It’s time to end this. I’m proud to be an original co-sponsor of the Save Our Shrimpers Act of 2024. No longer will we allow our tax dollars to go to international institutions that seek to cripple our economy and our domestic food supply. Our shrimpers deserve a fighting chance, and it’s time our government stops working against them.”

Donalds said it’s especially important to help shrimpers in Southwest Florida, which is still dealing with the consequences of Hurricane Ian in 2022.

“The impact of Hurricane Ian on our local seafood industry was devastating,” he said. “As our community rebuilds, shrimpers must also deal with a market that is oversaturated with U.S. taxpayer-financed foreign product. I am proud to stand with Rep. (Troy) Nehls in demanding that American taxpayer dollars are not used to sabotage Southwest Florida’s seafood industry. Government must always put the American people first.”

Luna said the bill would end unfair practices in place for decades.

“Domestic businesses, manufacturing, farming and food production have been the pillars of American strength that have upheld our nation as a global power,” Luna said. “Foreign interests know this and have been targeting every industry, including the shrimp industry, to diminish our markets and hurt America. For decades, Congress has allowed our tax dollars to fund foreign shrimping operations, resulting in unfair competition and a weakened U.S. shrimp industry. It’s time to end this.”

In the wilderness

Three House members representing communities around the Big Cypress National Preserve are pushing back on any Interior Department proposal to redesignate the area as wilderness.

Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart, Donalds and Scott Franklin said that would limit not only public enjoyment of the preserve but severely restrict the Miccosukee and Seminole Tribes living there. The three Republicans led a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and rallied 15 other Florida colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

“As the first-ever National Preserve in the National Park Service, this land stands as one of the most ecologically diverse areas of our country,” said Díaz-Balart, a Hialeah Republican.

Redesignation could be bad for visitors to Big Cypress National Preserve.

“Any proposed wilderness designation by the (Joe) Biden Administration would pose significant threats to the sacred cultural sites of the Miccosukee Tribe and Seminole Tribe, and way of life enjoyed by the Tribes, constituents and tourists who visit America’s first preserve for camping, fishing and hunting. As the Member of Congress representing a majority of the preserve, I remain steadfast in my commitment to safeguarding its future.”

Donalds said any such change would be “debilitating federal overreach.”

“I proudly stand with my constituents, local stakeholders, and environmental officials from across the Sunshine State in demanding that the Biden administration does not proceed with any wilderness designation of the preserve. It is imperative that we block this disastrous and completely unnecessary potential action by out-of-touch bureaucrats in Washington,” he said.

The letter stresses that Florida as a state has taken significant steps to step environmentally compromising activity or overdevelopment of the space.

“In Florida, we know no one is better at preserving our state’s natural beauty than the locals who have lived with and alongside the land for generations,” said Franklin, a Lakeland Republican. “If the Biden Administration finalizes this determination, it will be in vehement opposition to the will of our state’s agencies, Tribal Nations and the affected counties in my district. I thank my Florida colleagues for joining the effort to stop this overreach from the federal government.”


A decade after Rep. Frederica Wilson led a call to “Bring Back Our Girls,” the Miami Democrat filed a House resolution reminding there’s still work to do.

The measure calls for renewed efforts by the U.S. and Nigeria to defeat the terrorist group Boko Haram, which in 2014 kidnapped 276 girls out of schools. To date, 98 of those Chibok girls have not returned home.

Fredericka Wilson recommits to ‘Bring Back Our Girls.’

“As a mother and educator, I can only imagine the terror the families have felt not seeing or knowing if their loved ones were alive,” Wilson said. “That led me to start my 7-year journey to #BringBackOurGirls, and every week, I did not let up in my advocacy. From press conferences to wearing red to traveling to Nigeria multiple times, I was determined to #BringBackOurGirls. Since that journey, we did bring back many of the girls and I had the chance to meet many of them. Sadly, some were never found.

“That’s why, today and every day, I am committed to doing everything I can to destroy the cruel terrorist group of Boko Haram. As part of this effort, I have introduced a resolution in Congress to recommit ourselves to defeating Boko Haram. Let us remember the victims of Boko Haram today because while the world might have forgotten about them, the girls and their families will never forget.”

Soto and Wasserman Schultz were among the co-sponsors of the new resolution.

CORAL Florida

Two South Florida representatives want Congress budgeting funding to save Florida’s coral reefs.

Reps. Carlos Giménez, a Miami-Dade Republican, and Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat, introduced the Conserving Our Reefs Along Lower (CORAL) Florida Act, which would establish a $5 million grant program to states, local municipalities, nonprofits and non-governmental organizations to carry out coral restoration efforts.

South Florida delegation members take up the battle against coral bleaching.

“South Florida’s coral reefs are crucial to our vibrant coastline, support our rich and diverse marine life and aquatic ecosystem, and attract millions of tourists to our great state,” Giménez said. “Proud to work on this bipartisan effort to ensure Florida’s reef managers, scientists, and conservation organizations have the resources they need to carry out their critical mission of saving our reefs.”

The bill will benefit local institutions like Mote Marine Laboratory in the Florida Keys, which wants to continue research into coral bleaching and other issues affecting sea life.

“Florida’s coral reefs support diverse marine life, protect our coastlines from flooding, and help attract millions of visitors and billions of dollars in economic impact to our state,” Wasserman Schultz said. “Ensuring the health of our beautiful coral reefs is not a partisan issue, it’s a Florida issue, and one with global health implications. I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to restore South Florida’s aquatic ecosystems.”

On this day

April 16, 1862 — “Confederates pass first Conscription Act” via The Civil War Months — The Confederate war effort was in decline. Federal forces were closing in on Richmond, New Orleans and vital points along the Mississippi River and Atlantic coast. The Confederates had lost thousands of men, and many who enlisted in the Confederate army for 12 months when the war started were about to go home. All these factors led to a growing call for conscription, a topic intensely debated in the Confederate Congress. Opponents argued it violated the civil liberties Southerners had seceded to uphold. Some claimed that forcing men into the army showed weakness.

April 16, 1963 — “Martin Luther King Jr. writes ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’” via — Days after being jailed in Birmingham, Alabama, for a series of anti-segregation protests, King penned a response to his critics on some scraps of paper. This open letter offered a forceful defense of the protest campaign. It is now regarded as one of the greatest texts of the American Civil Rights Movement. First circulated as a mimeographed copy around Birmingham, King’s letter was later published in numerous places. The letter was addressed to eight white “Fellow Clergymen” who had criticized the protest campaign in a joint statement


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

Staff Reports


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