Delegation for 5.3.24: Antisemitism — campus protests — Graham farewell — stormy

U.S. Capitol
A bill defining antisemitism passes, but not without pushback from some delegation members.

Antisemitism on display

The U.S. House passed an antisemitism measure with bipartisan support, though 91 lawmakers from both parties found reason to object. That included four members of Florida’s congressional delegation: Republican Reps. Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna, as well as Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost.

Gaetz said he felt the definition of antisemitism in the bill (HR 6090) was too broad and could cover even simple recitations from the Bible. He laid out his concerns in a post on X, though those quickly drew criticism for repeating a trope placing responsibility for Jesus’ crucifixion of Jews.

“Antisemitism is wrong, but this legislation is written without regard for the Constitution, common sense, or even the common understanding of the meaning of words. The Gospel itself would meet the definition of antisemitism under the terms of this bill!” Gaetz, one of 21 Republicans who voted against the bill, posted.

A bill defining antisemitism passes, but not without pushback from some delegation members.

“The bill says the definition of antisemitism includes ‘contemporary examples of antisemitism’ identified by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). One of those examples includes: ‘ … claims of Jews killing Jesus …’ The Bible is clear. There is no myth or controversy on this. Therefore, I will not support this bill.”

Frost, for his part, said he’s “troubled and outraged” by the hate against Jewish students on college campuses but considered the bill “messaging” that brushed aside protecting all students. He was among 70 Democrats voting against the measure.

“The legislation we voted on this week actually undermines the ability for the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to investigate all kinds of antisemitism under the limited definition included in the bill, and it forces universities to have to over-police students’ free speech to be compliant so that they don’t lose their federal funding. It’s for similar reasons that a definition of racism has not been codified,” he said.

“I cannot in good conscience support a bill that would not protect Jewish students but actually infringe students’ constitutional rights. Instead, I’ve co-sponsored the Countering Antisemitism Act, which would take real action to appoint a National Coordinator to fight against antisemitism and oversee a coordinated task force to protect Jewish folks across the country.”

But other members of the delegation from both sides of the aisle said the legislation was important to pass amid growing antisemitism nationwide.

Rep. Daniel Webster, a Clermont Republican, cited the protests on college campuses where Jewish students have increasingly faced confrontation.

“The behavior we’re seeing from antisemitic mobs threatening the safety of Jewish students on colleges and universities is unconscionable,” Webster said. “There is no excuse for college leaders failing to act and stop these antisemitic encampments on college campuses. This bill ensures that (the U.S. Department of Education) is holding colleges accountable for the safety of their students while providing clarity between what is free speech and what is antisemitic discrimination and harassment.”

Rep. Lois Frankel, a West Palm Beach Democrat, addressed the concern and also pointed to other hateful displays of anti-Jewish symbols in recent years. Her Office noted data from the Anti-Defamation League documenting 5,204 antisemitic incidents in 2023 alone. That included 922 incidents on campuses, most after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks. She also noted a 320% increase in antisemitism in Palm Beach County, which encompasses her district.

“We are currently witnessing one of the worst periods of widespread antisemitism in our country’s history, with the ongoing destructive campus protests nationwide as the latest example,” said Frankel, who is Jewish. “Students can’t learn if they don’t feel safe. Today’s vote will assist the Department of Education in identifying and addressing hateful acts going forward, working to ensure safe and welcoming school environments.”

The bill heads now to the Senate, where Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott both co-sponsored a companion bill introduced this week in the upper chamber.

Campus policing

Scott, a Naples Republican, visited George Washington University to meet with Jewish students there about campus demonstrations and the ongoing conflict in Israel.

“I want to thank the George Washington University Jewish and Pro-Israel community for meeting with me tonight, and I commend their courage in the face of horrific antisemitism and violence that is spreading like a cancer across college campuses,” Scott said. “My daughter attended GW and what I am seeing on that campus today is something I never could have imagined.”

He also condemned demonstrations on the campus.

“Our Jewish students deserve to have a place where they can live and learn without fearing for their safety — starting with university leadership that has the backbone to stand for their safety or step aside,” Scott said. “We also need local and state leaders willing to condemn this behavior and take action against this hate. Unfortunately, we see Mayor (Muriel) Bowser here in D.C. refusing to do so. My message to these protesters is clear: if you choose to engage in these vile incitements to acts of violence against Jewish students and Jewish members of the community, you should be held fully accountable, prosecuted and expelled.”

To watch Scott’s video, please click the image below:


He visited protest areas and joined a pro-Israel demonstration alongside House members, including Donalds and Luna.

Donalds told the media that existing laws allow university leadership to address increasingly violent demonstrations.

“There is a DIFFERENCE between peaceful protest and breaking the law,” he posted on X. “Extensive lawbreaking is happening at GW. GW’s leadership wants these lawbreakers OUT. Mayor Bowser refuses to act.”

Luna, meanwhile, grabbed a megaphone and delivered counterprogramming (with amplified sound).

“Rage against the propaganda machine,” she later posted on X. “These people don’t actually care about Palestinians. Otherwise, they would be condemning Hamas.”


Air traffic control

Rubio also focused on keeping military planes landing at Homestead Air Reserve Base (HARB).

The Miami Republican filed two amendments to the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act (HR 3935) this week. One would ensure that the Homestead base remains a facility used strictly for military missions. That’s something he advocated for in a Miami Herald op-ed in March.

Marco Rubio hopes to keep Homestead Air Reserve Base exclusively for military aircraft.

“As the world grows more dangerous, the need to protect HARB from intrusive development remains strong. Without HARB, we would be left vulnerable. Much of the world’s oil, food, and natural gas is exported through the strategic marine chokepoint between Florida and Cuba,” he said.

“We cannot discount the possibility that this area will become a combat zone in a future global conflict, just as it was during World War II when German U-boats sank dozens of ships in the Gulf of Mexico. We may not have to worry about U-boats today, but new threats are emerging.”

The Senator also wants the bill to codify regulations allowing parents to hold infants and babies under 2 years of age in their laps on commercial flights and bar airlines from forcing families to buy seats for infants.

The bill will reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, which will expire May 10.

Honoring Graham

The Senate unanimously passed a resolution honoring a former delegation member, Bob Graham. The Coral Gables Democrat represented Florida in the upper chamber for three terms after two terms as Florida’s Governor. He died last month.

The Senate says goodbye to one if its own.

Scott, another Governor-turned-Senator, introduced a Senate resolution. He noted that the measure achieved a rarity, being co-sponsored by every sitting member of the Senate.

While Graham was from a different party, Scott said the former Governor always treated him with respect. Scott referenced interactions between him and his wife, Ann, and Graham and his First Lady, Adele.

“Bob Graham was a good man and a great Floridian who dedicated his life to our state,” Scott said.

“His legacy will live forever, not because of any title he held, but for what he did with those opportunities to improve Florida and the lives of families in the Sunshine State. Ann and I are heartbroken to learn of his passing. He and Adele have been so kind to our family and we will cherish the time we spent together. Please join us in praying for the Graham family and all who mourn Bob’s passing.”

The resolution was co-sponsored by every sitting member of the Senate.

From the shore

Legislation significantly extending the reach of Florida’s protected coastline cleared the House this week.

Rep. Michael Waltz’s Extending Limits of U.S. Customs Waters Act (HR 529) would authorize the Coast Guard and the Coastal and Border Protection Air and Marine Operations to patrol and intercept bad actors 24 nautical miles from shore, double the federal government’s current reach into international waters. That affects Florida more than most states, as the peninsula boasts the longest shoreline in the continental U.S.

The St. Augustine Beach Republican said current international affairs — and weak border enforcement by President Joe Biden’s administration — necessitate the change.

Mike Waltz wants to extend the reach of Florida’s protected coastlines.

“We cannot leave Florida’s coastline wide-open like the Biden administration has our southern border,” Waltz said. “We must protect Floridians and all Americans by securing our country’s borders, especially as the situation in Haiti worsens. That is why I am proud to pass this important legislation in the House to double the distance offshore for CBP and our Coast Guard to intercept migrants and drug smugglers trying to illegally enter our country from the water. Now, I hope to see this bill pass in the Senate and signed into law.”

Regardless of the rhetoric, the bill drew broad support, passing the House by a 402-6 margin with the support of every Florida representative present for the vote.

Storm prep

Floridians know well the annual call to prepare for hurricane season. A bipartisan measure from two Florida delegation members could give a few people the means to do so.

A legislative package reauthorizing the Weather Act (HR 6093) included the substance of a bill filed by Frost and Webster, the Fixing Gaps in Hurricane Preparedness Act (HR 6080).

Maxwell Frost seeks to give Florida more tools to prepare for hurricanes.

That legislation requires the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration to review how several at-risk populations receive and react to emergency notifications and evaluate how they can prepare themselves in the event of a storm. This should help seniors, people with disabilities, non-English speakers, and rural and urban populations, all of which happen to have high concentrations in Central Florida.

“Our emergency communications systems need to be able to reach folks where they’re at — efficiently and effectively,” said Frost, an Orlando Democrat. “I’m proud to say that my bipartisan Fixing Gaps in Hurricane Preparedness Act will do just that by focusing on how every single person in our communities is able to prepare themselves for the worst Mother Nature sends our way. My legislation and the Weather Act will help save lives.”

When he introduced the bill, Webster stressed the broad number of Floridians who would benefit from the improvements to the law.

“As Floridians, we are not strangers to the terrible power and ravages of hurricanes and tropical storms, and we recognize the need for emergency relief when such tragedies occur,” he said.

Of note, Rep. John Rutherford, a Jacksonville Republican, was the only Florida representative voting “no,” one of only 19 members of the House to do so.

Improving coverage

Two delegation members promoted legislation this week to improve health care coverage and quality.

Rep. Gus Bilirakis, a Palm Harbor Republican, introduced the Medicare Enrollment Protection Act with a bipartisan group of representatives. The bill will close a coverage gap for the Medicare Part B-COBRA loophole, which penalizes people 65 and older who don’t enroll quickly after leaving their jobs with higher premiums and a later start to Medicare.

Gus Bilirakis is trying to plug a hole in Medicare coverage.

“We want to ensure the transition from private health care to Medicare is easy,” Bilirakis said. “The current law does not meet that objective. Additionally, the law does not properly reflect the need for flexibility due to the various challenges that those exiting the workforce face in today’s economy. Our bill empowers seniors to make the health care decisions that best fit their individual needs without fear of a lifetime penalty, and I look forward to its quick passage.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, advanced the Personnel Integrity in Veterans Affairs Act through the House Veterans Affairs Committee. That would require the administration to permanently file and share when investigations result in resignations or retirements for Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) employees.

“Sadly, the VA has normalized reaching settlements with resigning employees under investigation or reassigning employees as a means to address allegations of misconduct within their agency,” Franklin said.

“This practice sweeps potential wrongdoing under the rug and prevents a full account of the facts. We cannot allow VA staff — or any federal government employees — to hide behind these loopholes to avoid scrutiny and repercussions. No matter the operation, accountability is necessary for mission success. My bill is a common-sense fix to increase accountability and outcome for veterans at the VA.”

Medical diversity

Rep. Kathy Castor says ensuring all populations access to medical coverage will require the medical workforce to reflect America better. She introduced a House resolution this week affirming that need and stressing the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) programs in medical education institutions. Castor introduced her resolution with Rep. Joyce Beatty, an Ohio Democrat who co-chairs the Congressional Black Caucus’ DEI Task Force.

“The health and well-being of all Americans depends on medical professionals who understand and respond to the needs of their diverse patients. Understanding biases, racial discrimination, and historic barriers to diagnosis and care are vital parts of medical education and training today. A highly competent and diverse health care workforce helps avoid mistreatment and close the gaps in health disparities,” the Tampa Democrat said.

Kathy Castor says the American health care system should be more representative of the country’s diversity.

“As Co-Chair of the Congressional Academic Medicine Caucus, I value graduate medical physician training that emphasizes culturally competent care for patients from a variety of backgrounds so that patients feel respected, safe and understood and receive the high-quality care they need. Rep. Beatty’s strong leadership in support of a robust and diverse medical workforce is vital at a time when some seek to dismiss the role that DEI plays in positive patient outcomes and the quality of health care delivered.”

The move comes as Florida’s Republican-led state government works to eradicate DEI programs in the state’s public colleges and universities. The resolution has the support of higher education advocates for medical institutions.

“Medical schools are in the best position to identify how to prepare their students to meet the needs of the physician workforce and must have the autonomy and flexibility to do so,” said Dr. David J. Skorton, President and CEO of the Association of American Medical Colleges. “When a medical school recognizes the benefits associated with cultivating student belonging — fostering educational benefits associated with all types of diversity, ensuring equal educational opportunities for their students and providing instruction on evidence-based knowledge they deem to be fundamental — it is within their purview and their responsibility to pursue those efforts.”

Saving the children

Add Rep. Laurel Lee to the list of lawmakers who successfully introduced measures to the floor this week. Congress unanimously passed the Revising Existing Procedures on Reporting via Technology (REPORT) Act (S 474), a measure Lee introduced and championed in the House.

“The REPORT Act will help fight against the exploitation of children online by strengthening existing reporting procedures and requiring companies to disclose crimes involving child sexual abuse to NCMEC,” the Thonotosassa Republican said.

“I applaud both the House and Senate for passing this crucial legislation that will help law enforcement quickly identify and prosecute perpetrators to protect our children from threats online.”

Laurel Lee stands tall for protecting children from threats online.

Lee introduced the House version of the bill last August. The Senate passed the bill in December, and the House took it up on the floor this week.

The legislation boosts reporting obligations for the federal CyberTipline to provide any information on child trafficking or sexual exploitation to appropriate law enforcement authorities. That includes info submitted on websites about criminal activity and the potential enticement of victims.

The CyberTipline is managed by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

Education on eating

Are medical schools focusing enough attention on nutrition that might prevent the health challenges facing Americans? Rep. Vern Buchanan co-led a bipartisan letter urging the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) to better incorporate nutrition education into graduate medical education.

“As we work together to combat the rising obesity epidemic, increased nutrition education is critically important for professionals working in the medical field,” the Longboat Key Republican said. “We need to ensure that medical practitioners provide patients with the knowledge and resources necessary to help them lead longer, happier and healthier lives.”

Nutrition should be a larger part of graduate medical education, Vern Buchanan says.

He and Rep. James McGovern, a Massachusetts Democrat, delivered the message to Dr. Thomas Nasca, president and CEO of the ACGME. They cited much of the information presented to congressional leaders at the Council’s Summit on Medical Education in Nutrition.

“Given the lessons learned at the summit and subsequent conversations on this topic, we were surprised to learn that ACGME recently issued new program requirements for training in Pediatrics that include no requirements for training in nutrition,” the letter reads. “We are interested to learn why the ACGME did not take this opportunity to meaningfully expand access to nutrition education.”

The House passed a resolution last Congress expressing that the burdens of diet-related diseases in the U.S. fed health care challenges and that better education on nutrition would prove valuable.

Not soon enough

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she was pleased to see updated guidance on when women should be screened for breast cancer. However, the Weston Democrat and cancer survivor questioned the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendations and whether they went far enough.

“Unfortunately, the USPSTF only recommends biennial mammograms for average-risk women beginning at age 40 rather than annual screenings. This will again create a discrepancy between the USPSTF’s recommendations and the majority of oncologists, cancer experts, and patient advocacy organizations who advocate for annual mammograms,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Is the U.S. going far enough in recommending mammograms? Debbie Wasserman Schultz says no.

“This decision will create gaps in access to preventive care for younger women, placing additional lives at unnecessary risk. It also creates confusion for providers and their patients during counseling, appointment scheduling, and follow-up care or additional screenings. I am concerned that the USPSTF’s risk-benefit calculation in this regard is off-base and, with hundreds of thousands of new breast cancer diagnoses every year, will result in later-stage detection. This two-year period between screenings will allow many cancers to go undetected; these recommendations essentially write off many women.”

The 57-year-old Congresswoman was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 41. She noted that early diagnoses were critical in certain ethnic groups, including Ashkenazi Jews and Blacks, who face a higher risk of developing breast cancer before age 50.

“I also am concerned with the USPSTF’s decision not to recommend coverage for supplemental or secondary screening for women with dense breasts,” Wasserman Schultz said.

“For these women, additional screening is vital, but it is unfortunate that the USPSTF concluded they have insufficient evidence to balance benefits and harms of supplemental screening, regardless of breast density. The harms of missing breast cancer in a young woman outweigh the harms outlined in USPSTF’s findings, and access to advanced imaging addresses their misguided concerns.”

Vets helping vets

Veterans spend their time serving, growing trust between one another. It makes sense that when many seek help from police, they feel reassured to get aid from someone who wore a service branch uniform.

Rep. María Elvira Salazar introduced a bipartisan bill, the Supporting Every at-Risk Veteran In Critical Emergencies (SERVICE) Act (HR 8140), to launch a federal pilot program to fund local veteran response teams. These teams would include military veteran law enforcement officers who would handle calls from other veterans in need.

María Elvira Salazar is working to fund veteran response teams fully.

“Research shows that when a veteran is in crisis, they are most receptive to help and support provided by fellow veterans,” said Salazar, a Coral Gables Republican. “Nearly 20% of our U.S. law enforcement has served in the military, and they are undoubtedly the most well-equipped to respond to other veterans in need.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our freedoms, and we owe them the best care possible when they return from their service. I am proud to co-lead the SERVICE Act to provide support to our brave men and women in uniform.”

She filed the measure with GOP Rep. Dale Strong of Alabama and Democratic Reps. Lou Correa of California and Glenn Ivey of Maryland. Co-sponsors include Franklin, a Lakeland Republican.
Veterans Affairs data shows that about a quarter of law enforcement officers nationwide have some background in military service.

On this day

May 3, 1968 — “They demanded courageously: The Northwestern Bursar’s Office takeover” via Northwestern University — Members of Black student organizations For Members Only and Afro-American Student Union had presented a list of demands to the Northwestern University administration in response to discriminatory campus policies and practices. More than 100 African American students occupied Northwestern’s business office when the demands were unmet. After a 38-hour demonstration, Black students and the Northwestern University administration came to a resolution of developing advisory boards around the admissions process, recruitment of Black students to the University and open housing in Evanston and establishing the Department of African American Studies and a Black student union.

May 3, 1948 — “Supreme Court decides Paramount antitrust case” via — The forerunner of the case was a 1928 antitrust lawsuit brought by the Federal Trade Commission against the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation (the forerunner to Paramount Pictures) and nine other major film studios. Declared guilty of violating antitrust law in 1930, the studios were nonetheless able to resume functioning as usual after concluding a controversial deal with the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt under the auspices of the National Industrial Recovery Act. In July 1938, the government reversed its stance toward Hollywood. The court ruling affirmed the earlier verdicts and declared seven major studios guilty of violating antitrust law.

Happy birthday

Best wishes to Rep. Luna, who turns 35 on Monday, May 6.


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

Staff Reports

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