Delegation for 4.30.24: Protests — oversight — solar — puppet? — moving day

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Two pro-Palestinian college campus protests have completely different outcomes.

UF-Columbia contrast

A contrast in university responses to student protests between Florida and New York captivated the attention of Florida’s congressional delegation.

As the conflict escalated overnight with the occupation of a university building, four members of the Florida Democratic congressional delegation are among the 21 Democratic Representatives signing a letter telling Columbia University’s trustees to pack up the controversial, pro-Palestine student encampment — or they should pack it in as trustees.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey is leading the effort that has the endorsement of Reps. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Jared Moskowitz of Parkland, Darren Soto of Kissimmee and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston. The demonstrations, which they say have become a breeding ground of antisemitic attacks on Jewish students, are violating the federal law that guarantees a safe and secure environment for all students.

Pro-Palestinian protests at UF have a considerably different outcome than those at Columbia University. Image via Fresh Take Florida.

The students appear unwilling to budge, according to the missive. And it’s keeping Jewish students from attending class, entering the library and leaving their dorm rooms.

“The time for negotiation is over; the time for action is now,” the letter reads. “It is ultimately the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to act. If any Trustees are unwilling to do this, they should resign so that they can be replaced by individuals who will uphold the University’s legal obligations.”

Meanwhile, Republicans in the delegation are pointing to a Florida campus as a model for how schools should address disruptive protests and encampments.

The University of Florida, where former Nebraska GOP Sen. Ben Sasse serves as president, handed out flyers to protesters that if they didn’t adhere to time, place and manner restrictions, the school would issue protest orders and threaten a three-year suspension. The flyers explain that speech and signs are allowed, but amplified sound, camping, and blocking students from accessing buildings will not be tolerated.

“Well done, Ben Sasse and UF!” posted Rep. Kat Cammack, a Gainesville Republican. “This is how you protect free speech and the peace. The violence and threats we have seen on campuses around the country is unacceptable.”

University Police arrested nine protesters, at least four of them students, according to Fresh Take Florida.

“This is not complicated: The University of Florida is not a day care and we do not treat protesters like children — they knew the rules, they broke the rules, and they’ll face the consequences,” UF representative Steve Orlando said in a statement. “For many days, we have patiently told protesters — many of whom are outside agitators — that they were able to exercise their right to free speech and free assembly.”

A list of the rules of engagement.

Some members of the delegation, meanwhile, think Congress and the federal government need to take further action against students making campuses feel unsafe. Sen. Rick Scott, who has called for federally defunding Columbia, also wants Congress to look at its student loan programs and has criticized President Joe Biden’s administration for considering forgiveness of loans even to students agitating on campuses.

“Antisemitic students calling for harm against the Jewish community should be expelled and totally prohibited from all student loan forgiveness programs,” he posted on X. “We cannot allow Biden to use your tax dollars to bail out extremists who support religious persecution and terrorism.”

VA oversight

After a Florida surgeon who lost his state license continued providing care to Veterans Affairs patients, Sen. Marco Rubio wants stronger oversight at the federal agency.

The Miami Republican sent a letter to VA Secretary Denis McDonough regarding identified flaws with the agency’s community care program (VCCP).

“Veterans across the country deserve to know that when they are referred to a community care provider the VA has ensured that the provider is one that will provide the safe, appropriate, reliable, and necessary care that the veteran deserves,” the Miami Republican wrote.

Denis McDonough gets an earful from Marco Rubio. Image via AP.

He cited an Office of the Inspector General’s report showing program-wide issues identifying ineligible providers who still worked with the VA. Rubio’s letter references a specific Sunshine State problem, though it does not list the physician or facility.

“While this is an issue that needs to be addressed nationwide, one specific instance the VA OIG has considered in recent months resulted from a case involving a surgeon who had a medical license revoked in Florida but later would participate as a provider in the VCCP,” Rubio wrote.

“The OIG found that the surgeon voluntarily relinquished a Florida medical license after being investigated by the Florida Department of Health and notified of a ‘potential termination for cause.’”

The issue appeared to be some uncertainty on the part of Optum, part of the UnitedHealth Group, whether the loss of Florida license should impact credentialing with the federal program, something not addressed in the contract with the provider.

Rubio said this problem has persisted for years, noting a 2021 report showing 1,600 providers in federal systems who had revoked or suspended licenses or who had died but were still listed in the system.

Solar carveout

Chinese solar cells keep finding their way into America’s ports, and Scott wants that to stop. The Naples Republican said that’s because the Biden administration has allowed Chinese manufacturers to bypass tariffs by shipping through smaller nations and claiming those as products’ place of origin.

Scott noted that Congress last year passed a Congressional Review Act championed by himself in the Senate and Rep. Bill Posey, a Rockledge Republican, in the House that rescinded a Commerce Department rule allowing for the shipping practice.

“Instead of standing against child labor and slavery and supporting American-made solar manufacturers by signing my CRA, Biden chose cowardly appeasement of the genocidal regime in Communist China and vetoed it,” Scott said.

Rick Scott seeks to close back channels allowing imported Chinese solar panels.

“American and allied nation businesses have been left struggling to fight for a level playing field ever since Biden put his thumb on the scale in favor of illegal trade activities. After two years of allowing Communist Chinese companies to benefit (from) Biden’s weakness, the President has the opportunity to finally do the right thing and hold these companies accountable. This would be the right move, and if Biden wants to leave the American people better off when he leaves office than they are today, he’d reverse the rest of the terrible policies he’s used to destroy our economy and undermine the national security of the United States.”

In a veto message last year, Biden said U.S. manufacturers could not offset foreign production of solar equipment if he accepted the legislation Congress passed.

“America is now on track to increase domestic solar panel manufacturing capacity eightfold by the end of my first term,” he wrote. “But that production will not come online overnight.’’

McCarthy puppet?

Did ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy plant Rep. Matt Gaetz’s Republican Primary opponent? Shortly before the April 26 qualifying deadline in Florida, Aaron Dimmock, a Pensacola Republican, paid his $10,440 fee to appear on the GOP Primary ballot in Florida’s 1st Congressional District.

Federal Election Commission reports show he filed a statement of candidacy the night before, and the Aaron Dimmock For Congress campaign committee supporting his bid utilizes Maria Wojciechowski as its treasurer.

A Kevin McCarthy puppet? Apparently so.

The Virginia-based Wojciechowski also serves as treasurer for the American Patriots PAC, a super PAC controlled by McCarthy.

Voting records show Dimmock has been registered as a Republican in Orange Park, Florida, since 2003. While Clay County is outside the district, federal candidates must only live within the state they will represent in Congress.

But after a report in the Daily Caller connected Dimmock to McCarthy and scoured his LinkedIn page, finding supporting statements about Black Lives Matter, Gaetz railed against his political opponent on X.

“Meet Aaron Dimmock — the BLM supporting DEI instructor running against me in the Republican Primary,” Gaetz posted. “I knew former Rep. McCarthy would be getting a puppet of his to run. I didn’t know it would be a Woke Toby Flenderson!”

Dimmock does not yet have a campaign website established.

Flag ban

A foreign aid package passed in the House following months of negotiation, and many Democrats waved small Ukraine flags on the floor. Cammack, who voted against sending money to Ukraine, said she never wants to see placards for a foreign power in that setting again.

The Gainesville Republican filed a resolution prohibiting representatives from bringing or displaying a flag of a foreign nation, even an allied one, on the House floor.

Ukrainian flags on the House floor have raised the ire of Kat Cammack.

“On the floor of the United States House of Representatives, there should only be one flag on display: ours,” Cammack said.

“We make serious decisions on behalf of the American people and their taxpayer dollars on the House floor. This business should be carried out beneath no other banner than our stars and stripes to remind us of who we represent and why this nation is the greatest in the history of the world. I’m glad to have earned the support of dozens of my colleagues who join me in standing up for the American people and putting our nation before all others.”

Other Republicans, including Reps. Byron Donalds, a Naples Republican, and Anna Paula Luna, a St. Petersburg Republican, joined the call for the ban and voted against sending aid to Ukraine.

“Last Saturday, out-of-touch politicians sent tens of billions of your taxpayer dollars to Ukraine and rubbed it in our faces,” Donalds said. “Members of Congress should never wave the flag of another nation on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. I proudly stand with Rep. Cammack to ensure that disgraceful acts like this never occur again. Our government must put the American people first.”

Luna added: “It’s a disgrace how Democrats waved Ukrainian flags on the House floor as they were selling off our children’s futures, sending Ukraine over $60 billion. This resolution is vital to ensure this does not happen again. The only flag that belongs on the House floor is the American flag.”

Kentucky support

During qualification week, numerous Florida congressional delegation members drew Primary challengers. The most high-profile may be former state Rep. Anthony Sabatini’s run from the right against Rep. Dan Webster.

But Webster has gained the support of Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, a national figure in the America First movement.

Thomas Massie endorses Dan Webster, much to the chagrin of Anthony Sabatini. Image via AP.

“Daniel Webster is a stalwart friend and ally. He puts principle above personal ambition, and that is rare in Washington,” Massie said. “Rep. Webster is a proven defender of freedom and liberty. I need him fighting alongside me now more than ever.”

Massie notably also endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid this year. Webster endorsed Donald Trump and said Trump has endorsed him, though Sabatini has questioned that in a lawsuit.

Webster embraced Massie’s support.

“Throughout my time in Congress, Thomas Massie has displayed courage in our fights to reform Washington and cut wasteful government spending,” Webster said. “Basic liberty and freedoms are under attack by the radical left, and it is my honor to defend the Constitution with fellow conservative fighters like Congressman Massie! I am grateful for his support of my campaign.”

Tax Armageddon

Rep. Vern Buchanan filed legislation last Congress to extend Trumpera tax cuts, but that has gone nowhere with a Democratic Senate and White House. Now, the Longboat Key Republican will head a panel exploring the impact of letting the tax breaks expire.

He will chair the House Ways and Means American Manufacturing Tax Panel, which will examine what Republicans have dubbed “tax Armageddon.”

“America is at an economic crossroads, fighting for competitiveness in an increasingly global 21st century,” Buchanan said.

Vern Buchanan wants to see how much economic damage will be if the Trump tax cuts expire.

“As someone who spent 30 years building businesses and has created thousands of jobs, as well as a former Chairman of the Ways and Means Tax Subcommittee, I know from experience that making our tax code more competitive means greater prosperity for American families, businesses and manufacturers. I’m pleased to be leading this important Tax Team, which will focus on expanding, revitalizing and reshoring American manufacturing — one of the largest sectors of the U.S. economy.”

Buchanan’s office noted a Deloitte study showing that Florida’s 14,000 manufacturers employ 410,000 people in the state and contribute more than $70 billion to the state economy annually. Those jobs pay an average salary of $74,647, 17% higher than the average salary nationally.

The same study said that manufacturers need to grow the national workforce by 4 million by 2033, but 1.9 million of those positions will go unfilled “if we do not inspire more people to pursue modern manufacturing careers.”

Buchanan oversaw the 2017 approval of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act while he chaired the House Ways and Means Tax Subcommittee and crafted the tax package that was set to expire.

Right to choose

On May 1. Florida will implement a ban on most abortions six weeks into pregnancy. Ahead of that change in law, Rep. Lois Frankel held a news conference in West Palm Beach with two doctors in the area.

“Wednesday marks the start of a dark, life-threatening new chapter for women in Florida and across the South,” Frankel said. “It’s a near-total ban, as many women — probably most — don’t know they’re pregnant until after six weeks.”

She shared a podium with Franc Sachs of Emergency Medical Assistance, a fund aiding women in need of an abortion, and Dr. Jeff Litt, a Jupiter obstetrician.

Lois Frankel gets a doctor’s note on how bad Florida’s new abortion ban can be for women.

“My practice sees about 60 to 80 new pregnancies every month,” Litt said. “Most are normal, healthy pregnancies. However, issues arise, things like unwanted pregnancies, early miscarriages, pregnancies in unknown locations like tubal pregnancies, and then second-trimester complications. With the enacting of the six-week abortion ban, it’s going to affect our ability to treat many of those pregnancies and many other complications.”

The message comes as Democrats in Florida make reproductive rights a central issue in the 2024 election cycle.

“Let us make it very clear today: Abortion is a medical decision, and politicians should not be interfering in a personal medical decision between Floridians and their doctors,” Frankel said. “Doctors, nurses, and other care providers should not have to risk criminal prosecution to treat a patient.”

Recreating Oct. 7

In a large-scale piece of political performance art, the Nova Music Festival was recreated in New York City earlier this month amid the Oct. 7, 2023, attack by Hamas. The event attracted Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat and outspoken supporter of Israel.

He visited with Rep. Mike Lawler, a New York Republican and political ally.

“Today, we paid our respects to the 364 innocent people killed and 44 kidnapped at the Nova festival on Oct. 7,” Moskowitz and Lawler said in a joint statement.

Jared Moskowitz tours an NYC art installation that mimics the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. Image provided.

“We encourage our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to visit this exhibit and see firsthand the brutal and evil nature of Hamas’ attack on Israel. The festival attendees were not participating in anything political — they were enjoying life in the same way we all have a right to do. This exhibit is to honor and remember all the victims who were affected during that horrific day.”

The exhibit includes actual bombed vehicles and artifacts from the attacks, along with a memorial wall with pictures of victims killed at the festival. Hamas terrorists killed more than 360 at the event and took 44 individuals hostage.

Flight of passage

Birds migrating south for the winter should soon get a little lift from congressional spending. Legislation sponsored by Rep. María Elvira Salazar, a Coral Gables Republican, was signed by Biden and will establish grants for habitat conservation, research and monitoring, and community outreach and education about migratory birds.

“The passage of this bill represents a historic step forward in the protection of our South Florida ecosystem,” Salazar said. “The federal government has made a significant investment in protecting our migratory birds by directing critical funding toward research and conservation efforts. This is a major win for South Florida — birds and humans alike.”

Maria Salazar is for the birds — and their migration.

The Migratory Birds of the Americas Conservation Enhancements Act (HR 4389) passed by voice votes in the House and Senate with broad bipartisan support. The bill builds on the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, which has existed since 1970.

The National Audubon Society said that legislation funded 700 projects and positively impacted more than 5 million acres of migratory bird habitat in the U.S. and neighboring nations in Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

The bill is the seventh introduced by Salazar to become law during her two House terms.

Movers for America

Members of Florida’s congressional delegation may be closely monitoring the beleaguered effort by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) to outsource responsibility for all military moves. The attempt, which would drive those moves to a newly formed entity called HomeSafe, just hit another wall of objections. Nearly 200 moving professionals — including agency owners, company employees, labor contractors, and independent owner-operators — announced a coalition called Movers for America last week to point out flaws in the slow-to-implement Global Household Goods Contract, or GHC.

Attempts to monitor military moving faces unexpected pushback.

The stakes are high for Florida, one of the nation’s most veteran and military-friendly states and home to 21 bases for all branches of our nation’s military. But U.S. military families across the country and around the world will feel the pain if the new system fails to deliver. The Movers for America website warns that the contract will create an anti-competitive monopoly, pushing professional drivers out of the military moving market, leaving no backup if the new system falls apart, as some have predicted.

Approximately 300,000 active-duty military families relocate to new mission postings each year, and the new GHC puts one private consortium in charge — one that had apparently never handled a single military move until last week. Amid supply chain issues, inflation, and a driver shortage crisis, members of Florida’s congressional delegation have to be questioning why TRANSCOM is moving to a new system that experienced movers and truckers don’t think is viable.

On this day

April 30, 1562 — “Jean Ribault Claims Florida for France” via the University of South Florida — Ribault was sent from France to explore the area and begin a new colony. Ribault sailed with three ships that carried 150 people: Huguenots, or French Protestants. France wanted to control this new land and drive out the Spanish settlers. Ribault landed near the St. Augustine area. As he sailed further north, he found the St. Johns River. Because he did not like the river’s Spanish name, he renamed it the “River of May.” Ribault built a stone monument at the mouth of the river to mark his visit and claim it for France.

April 30, 1803 — “Louisiana Purchase treaty signed” via the National Archives — Originally, negotiators Robert Livingston and James Monroe were authorized to pay France up to $10 million solely for the port of New Orleans and the Floridas. However, when they were offered the entire territory of Louisiana — an area larger than Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Portugal combined — the American negotiators swiftly agreed to a price of $15 million. Although President Thomas Jefferson was generally a strict interpreter of the Constitution, he wondered if the U.S. Government (especially the President) was authorized to acquire new territory. However, his desire to expand the United States across the continent trumped his ideological beliefs.


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

Staff Reports

One comment

  • What happen to americanism

    April 30, 2024 at 4:23 pm

    All this mombi Jimbo. Someone somewhere is looking for alpha look at the countries protesting you now

Comments are closed.


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