Delegation for 4.23.24: Foreign aid — Florida’s 404 — FISA — Niger

The United States Capitol building at sunset, Washington DC, USA.
Three Florida delegation members (from both parties) take a hard pass on Israeli aid.

Aid abroad

The passage of two foreign aid bills ensured that U.S. aid would go to Ukraine and Israel, but neither spending package earned the support of all 28 members of Florida’s House delegation. A funding package for Israel saw three “nay” votes from Sunshine State representatives. Spending for Ukraine saw 14 members, half of Florida’s House contingent, among the dissent.

Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost and Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz and Cory Mills voted against the $18 billion Israel bill, which was approved 366-58.

Three Florida Delegation members took a hard pass on Israeli aid.

“I cannot in good conscience support a bill that will send offensive aid to support Netanyahu’s war at a time where over a million people are on the brink of famine, the hostages remain in danger, and tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed, while there has been no indication that a change in course is near,” said Frost, an Orlando Democrat.

Gaetz and Mills took a hard line on spending in other nations without tying U.S. border security to proposals. Mills, a New Smyrna Beach Republican, took to social media to defend his votes, including against critics from the right. “Nothing isolationary about putting America First,” Mills posted on X.

Frost joined with all House Democrats to support funding for Ukraine. But 14 of Florida’s 22 GOP House members refused to support that $60 billion bill. The measure still passed 311-112, with more than 10% of “no” votes coming from Florida Republicans.

“The Senate refuses to consider individual spending bills or real border security legislation that will stop the border invasion. President (Joe) Biden has refused to reverse any of the nearly 100 open border policies he has put in place,” said Rep. Bill Posey, a Rockledge Republican. “The Senate will only take up ‘Too Big to Read’ bills that fail to close border enforcement loopholes and includes unaccountable deficit spending that further adds to our growing $34 trillion national debt.”

A package providing aid to Taiwan and allies in the Indo-Pacific region drew support from all but four Republicans from Florida: Reps. Anna Paulina Luna, Brian Mast, Greg Steube and Gaetz. The latter was the only Sunshine State member to vote against every aid bill.

However, most Democrats and a handful of Republicans said that the U.S. support for allies overseas was critical.

“After a dangerous, needless delay, I’m proud that a large, bipartisan majority of House Members passed a strong supplemental security package for our allies in Ukraine, Israel and the Indo-Pacific,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat. “It was long overdue, as the Senate passed a similar package months ago. Yet I welcome Speaker (Mike) Johnson’s decision to end this horribly harmful holdup.”

Ultimately, seven Democrats and eight Republicans from Florida supported both spending bills and defended breaking a monthslong deadlock.

“Protecting Americans and providing for our national defense is the fundamental duty of the federal government,” said Rep. John Rutherford, a Jacksonville Republican. “As deadly and violent conflicts escalate on three world stages, I voted in support of the national security package passed today by the House to invest in U.S. weapons stockpiles and support U.S. military missions near areas of concern. Restocking American defense reserves and supporting our allies with munitions and resources to fight back against our adversaries is the only way to protect national security at home and prevent further American involvement in dangerous and deadly missions abroad.”

Codifying the 404

When the Environmental Protection Agency in 2020 gave Florida permitting authority in state wetlands, Florida became only the third state granted that power under the Clean Water Act. But it was only for a short time. The Center for Biological Diversity and other environmental advocacy groups took the federal government to court weeks after the decision.

Now, Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott want Congress to codify the state’s authority and have introduced legislation to do so.

Marco Rubio and Rick Scott want to make Florida’s wetland permitting authority permanent.

“The federal government should seek to delegate authority to the states whenever it can, especially when the procedures are clearly provided in law,” said Miami Republican Rubio. “My bill would codify the State of Florida’s Clean Water Act permitting program, consistent with Congressional intent, to ensure permitting decisions affecting Florida are made by Floridians, not by one-size-fits-all Washington bureaucrats.”

Scott, as Governor, signed state legislation seeking authority and favored federal decisions.

“Florida has unique waterways and natural resources that shouldn’t be regulated by a one-size-fits-all federal structure,” the Naples Republican said. “This bill protects Florida’s Clean Water Act, permitting authorities that I fought for as Governor and secured as Senator under the prior administration, and ensures our state has the power to make the best decisions for Floridians while protecting our natural resources for future generations.”

Rep. Aaron Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican, has already filed House legislation on the same issue.

“The ability for states to take the lead in regulating their natural resources is vital, especially in the Sunshine State,” Bean said. “Florida’s 404 permitting program remains essential for protecting our iconic wildlife and valued wetlands while reducing wasteful duplication and improving responsiveness to applicants and the communities’ projects they serve.”

Reforming FISA?

As ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Rubio praised Congress for reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). But the Republican said significant reforms would keep in check abuses that had turned many Republicans against the program.

He said support of Section 702 authority to spy on terrorists remained critical.

Rubio is all-in on the reauthorization of FISA.

“702 is an indispensable national security tool. Without it, the United States would have lost our ability to spy on foreign adversaries,” Rubio said. “This reauthorization gives lawmakers the opportunity to evaluate the impact of important reforms that directly address past abuses, including those conducted by the (President Barack) Obama Administration FBI. This is an important step toward rebuilding trust while keeping Americans safe.”

A FISA warrant in 2016 led to spying on Russian agents speaking with Americans connected to former President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, something Trump has long characterized as an abuse of power intended to meddle in the election. However, officials with the FBI maintain that the program shouldn’t be torn down because of any warrants issued when the FBI was investigating actions in the Trump campaign.

Read the impeachment

Scott practiced perseverance by sending articles of impeachment again to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The move comes after the Democratic-controlled Senate dismissed House charges without a trial and after Mayorkas admitted he didn’t even read the papers.

Alejandro Mayorkas didn’t even read the papers on his impeachment.

“Under oath, you testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that you have not taken the time to complete even the most basic responsibility to read the impeachment charges made against you by the U.S. House of Representatives,” Scott asserted in a letter.

The Senator said Mayorkas’ “admission that you have failed to even read the criminal charges against you shows a level of disregard for your failures that surprises even your most vocal critics.”

He added that his constituents “know” that Mayorkas should have been convicted.

Niger negligence?

While foreign spending in Ukraine and Israel attracted the most media attention last week, Gaetz also urged more attention to U.S. activity in Niger. He released an investigative report from his office arguing that troops based in the African nation face “imminent risk.”

He said the State Department has actively covered up intelligence from the ground.

Matt Gaetz wants the U.S. to keep an eye on Niger.

“They’ve sent intelligence reports stating that they rarely get safe water. They can’t get diplomatic overflights to receive medicine, fresh troop rotations or even basic supplies,” Gaetz said on the House floor.

“They have no mission. And the local authorities are becoming increasingly hostile. The current government of Niger has called the U.S. presence in the country ‘illegal.’ Why have you not heard these pleas? Because the U.S. Embassy in Niger has been BLOCKING the intelligence. This cover-up exists to conceal the humiliating failures of the Biden Administration in Niger, throughout Africa and around the world. I fear, as we speak, the conditions may be forming to create another Benghazi-style attack.”

That references a 2012 attack on a U.S. Embassy in Libya that resulted in the death of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three U.S. service members there.

Clay doors open

As he nears the end of his first term, Bean is opening doors and expanding his office presence. The Fernandina Beach Republican just opened a Clay County district office in Fleming Island.

Aaron Bean expands his constituent service to Clay County.

“I’m thrilled to share that our new office in Clay County is open for business,” Bean said. “While my team will still maintain a presence in our district offices in Nassau and Duval, this additional office location will allow us to have greater accessibility to all Northeast Floridians. Serving you is what we do, and I take pride in representing your views and assisting with federal agencies. My staff and I are here to help you — providing real results for real people.”

The office will provide basic constituent service including issues with Social Security, the IRS, Veterans Affairs, passports, Medicare or other federal government interactions.

Honoring Kittinger

A Casselberry post office could soon bear the name of a Seminole County Air Force veteran. Mills, a New Smyrna Beach Republican, announced his bill renaming the Live Oaks Boulevard facility after Col. Joseph Kittinger had advanced from committee.

Joseph Kittinger is closer to having a post office renamed in his honor.

“I’m honored my legislation to commemorate a hero here in Florida’s 7th has passed the House Oversight Committee markup,” Mills said. “Colonel Kittinger’s service as a Command Pilot, including time spent as a POW, as well as his dedication to aerospace research, exemplify his bravery and commitment to our nation. I have no doubt Colonel Kittinger’s numerous achievements will inspire aviators and members of our community for generations to come. I look forward to seeing this bill come to the House floor in the near future.”

Kittinger boasts some notable achievements from his time in the air, including holding the world record for the highest parachute jump ever, a 102,800-foot jump in 1960.

Local officials support the facility renaming.

“I had the privilege of knowing Col. Joe Kittinger for many years, and it was a great honor for me to be a part of his selection to Seminole County’s Veteran of the Year in 2020,” said Seminole County Commissioner Bob Dallari. “Naming this post office, in some ways, honors all our veterans and thanks them for their service. Col. Kittinger embodies the best of Seminole County’s legacy of veterans who sacrificed so much for our country.”

Bead beneficiaries

Federal benefits for Medicaid recipients shouldn’t keep going after the recipient dies, says Rep. Gus Bilirakis. The Palm Harbor Republican filed a bipartisan bill to stop improper payments from continuing well after citizens no longer have use of the earthly services.

Gus Bilirakis thinks Medicaid should end when you do.

“As we work to ensure the long-term solvency of critical safety net programs, like Medicaid and Medicare, we have an obligation to ensure we are serving as good stewards of taxpayer dollars,” Bilirakis said. “This means we must prevent fraud, waste and abuse whenever possible. By implementing simple safeguards like the ones in this bill, we can strengthen these programs and help ensure they are meeting their intended purpose of providing access to quality care for our most vulnerable citizens.”

He filed the Leveraging Integrity and Verification of Eligibility for (LIVE) Beneficiaries Act with Rep. Angie Craig, a Minnesota Democrat. The bill follows an audit that showed $249 million in Medicaid capitation payments wrongly sent to deceased enrollees in 14 states. The money all passed through Managed Care Organizations, and the bill would require regular cross-referencing between those state-run entities and the Social Security Administration’s death master file.

Save the children

A decision by Florida officials to disenroll nearly 23,000 children from Florida KidCare, as first reported by Florida Politics, has Rep. Kathy Castor demanding compliance with federal law. The Tampa Democrat said Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration ran afoul of federal law by enacting any barriers for children to receive coverage.

“On Jan. 1, 2024, a new federal protection for children went into effect nationwide: continuous eligibility for Medicaid and (Children’s Health Insurance Program) coverage for children for 12 months,” Castor said. This means that once children are determined eligible for Medicaid or CHIP anywhere across the nation, they keep their health coverage for an entire year. It is a vital reform that is being celebrated across America — except by Florida’s Governor.”

Kathy Castor believes the state is in noncompliance when it dropped 23K children from Florida KidCare.

She said Florida had become the only nation in the entire country to refuse to pay children’s Medicaid premiums despite explicit instruction to do so. She wants that to change immediately.

“I have been contacted by parents whose sick children have been dropped from KidCare and can’t receive the timely health services they need. This should not be happening,” she said.

“At the same time, the State of Florida is suing the Biden administration to overturn this 12-month protection for children nationwide, simply because they don’t want to follow the law. This has led to a delay in the expansion of KidCare to children up to 300% of the federal poverty threshold, which is estimated to provide coverage to an additional 165,000 Florida children in five years. The Governor and his administration are trying to twist the narrative but don’t believe them: they are violating the law and harming children and families.”

Supporting Israel

The House has passed a bipartisan resolution championed by Rep. Jared Moskowitz condemning Iran’s recent missile attack on Israel. The language was part of a united front supporting Israel that the Parkland Democrat has continued to organize.

“What the world witnessed this weekend was a Declaration of War by the Iranian regime against an American ally,” Moskowitz said. “Seeing missiles being intercepted right above the Temple Mount emphasizes Iran’s disregard for Muslim, Jewish, and Christian holy sites and innocent civilian life. America must make it clear through this resolution that this escalatory and disproportional attack is intolerable and that we stand with Israel against state sponsors of terrorism like Iran.”

Jarod Moskowitz is one of the most prominent voices to condemn missile strikes against Israel.

The first-term lawmaker also made clear that hate against the Jewish State would not be tolerated domestically either. He traveled to Columbia University to stand in solidarity with Jewish students threatened by pro-Hamas protesters at the New York campus.

“I should be with my family today for Passover. Instead, I’m here at Columbia University standing with Jewish students who are being harassed on their campus,” he posted on X. “To the Columbia President, DO NOT make the same choice as the Presidents of UPenn and Harvard. Protect your students.”

The art of federal green

The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami is getting a $3 million boost from the federal government, and Rep. Frederica Wilson will present the big check on Wednesday.

“The Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami is a beloved hub in our community, drawing visitors from across Miami-Dade County,” the Hollywood Democrat said in a prepared statement. “With acclaimed exhibitions and robust educational initiatives, they seamlessly infuse art into the community, acting as a vibrant gathering spot that sparks curiosity and fosters connections.”

Frederica Wilson is stopping by the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami to drop off a check for $3 million.

The money will go toward improving the 28-year facility and also boost efforts to present internationally renowned exhibits and support education and public programs.

The museum went through a rocky patch 10 years ago, leading to reports that left the future of the museum in doubt. But now comes this federal funding from the 2023 fiscal year.

“Having witnessed its impact firsthand for decades, I was proud to champion investments that will enhance its influence on the region’s identity, education, and economy, ensuring it remains a vital cultural cornerstone in all Miami-Dade County,” Wilson said.

Defending the media?

Before serving in Congress, Rep. María Elvira Salazar spent years as a broadcaster covering geopolitics in Latin America. Now, she and Rep. Carlos Giménez have honored a Columbian journalist doing the same.

The Miami-Dade Republicans recognized Vicky Dávila, Director of the Colombian news outlet Revista Semana, for investigative journalism regarding Colombian President Gustavo Petro. Salazar hosted Dávila in Washington.

María Elvira Salazar and Carlos Giménez give recognition for investigative journalism on Colombian President Gustavo Petro.

“It is an honor to receive Vicky Dávila in the U.S. Capitol, the heart of American democracy,” Salazar said. “We in Congress are here to defend journalists like Vicky and to defend Colombia’s honor.”

Petro has come under fire for moving away from U.S. ties and realigning Colombia with community powers like Cuba. Semana has closely followed developments and reactions against the Petro administration.

But Petro has pushed back on such coverage, accusing journalists like Dávila of “brutalizing” Colombian society and contributing to “stupidification” of the nation.

On this day

April 23, 1975 — “Gerald Ford says Vietnam War finished for America” via — At a speech at Tulane University, President Ford said the Vietnam War is finished as far as America is concerned. “Today, Americans can regain the sense of pride that existed before Vietnam. But it cannot be achieved by re-fighting a war.” This was devastating news to the South Vietnamese, who were desperately pleading for U.S. support as the North Vietnamese surrounded Saigon for the final assault on the capital city. The North Vietnamese had launched a major offensive in March to capture the provincial capital of Ban Me Thuot (Darlac Province) in the Central Highlands.

April 23, 2015 — “Senate confirms Loretta Lynch as Attorney General after long delay” via The New York Times — After one of the nation’s most protracted Cabinet-level confirmation delays, the Senate approved Lynch to be Attorney General. She is the first African American woman to hold the position. Lynch, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, was confirmed 56-43, with 10 Republicans voting for her. Her confirmation took longer than all but two other nominees for the office: Edwin Meese III, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan, and A. Mitchell Palmer, who was picked by President Woodrow Wilson, according to the Congressional Research Service.


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

Staff Reports


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