Delegation for 5.7.24: Veeps — limitless — NPR — FIFA security — student drivers

The United States Capitol building at sunset, Washington DC, USA.
Auditions for VP have begun — can Florida stay in the mix?

Veepstakes or crisis?

The weekend brought the Republican National Committee to Palm Beach County for a financial retreat — and a bit of an audition to be Donald Trump’s running mate.

Reporting from the event signaled that three Florida lawmakers were clearly on the veepstakes shortlist.

Axios reported words from a Mar-a-Lago ballroom that the presumptive 2024 nominee offered for Sen. Marco Rubio (“His name is coming up a lot for Vice President”), Reps. Byron Donalds (“Somebody who’s created something very special politically”) and Michael Waltz (“When I want to know about the military, I call him”).

Only one can become VP. But who? Image via Donald Trump campaign.

But with every option comes an inevitable conversation about Article II of the Constitution. Despite vast confusion, there’s no absolute prohibition on a presidential candidate and running mate running from the same state. Still, there is a restriction on members of the Electoral College as it lays out the process for choosing a President and Vice President.

“The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for two persons, of whom one at least shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves,” the Constitution reads.

In other words, Florida electors could not cast their votes for Trump to be President and for a Florida running mate to be Vice President. It may not matter, of course. noted in a 2016 article that this wouldn’t have disrupted elections where a ticket had a solid electoral lead, including those won by former Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan. Since the article’s publishing, one could say the same for President Joe Biden’s 2020 win or, for that matter, Trump’s 2016 win. None of those elections came down to a single state.

Ironically, the last time a President was considered a home state running mate, the whole election came down to one state. And relevant to this newsletter, it happened to be Florida.

In 2000, Republican George W. Bush won the White House with 271 electoral votes, one more than needed to win. That made his 537-vote margin of victory in Florida critical, securing him 25 of those votes.

The 2000 recount became the stuff of political legend, but months prior, Bush made another ultimately decision to pick Dick Cheney as his running mate. Cheney had once represented Wyoming in Congress but lived in Texas, Bush’s home state, at the time of the decision. To avoid any Article II questions, Cheney shifted his residency to Wyoming.

If he hadn’t, Texas’ then-32 electoral votes would have prompted a possible constitutional crisis. Electors could not have voted for both Bush as President and Cheney as Vice President.

Whether Florida will be in play in November appears far from certain right now. Many swing state polls aren’t even bothering to survey the Sunshine State. But the state’s 30 electoral votes could easily be the tipping point determining who wins. If Trump wins, the Electoral College should have no problem certifying his win, but if Florida’s votes make the difference, electors here won’t be able to vote for two Florida men in the same White House.

What would be the solution? Campaign officials have already reportedly explored whether the Vice-Presidential prospect could move. Rubio dodged a question about that on Fox News Sunday.

But to do that before an election would demand a steep price for any of these delegation members. Donalds and Waltz could not seek re-election. Rubio would have to leave office two years after winning a third term.

No limits

Members of Florida’s congressional delegation may now raise unlimited sums to support or defeat an abortion measure on the November ballot.

The Federal Election Commission on May 1 issued an advisory opinion effectively eliminating any limits on federal candidates raising money regarding ballot initiatives. The decision came after a query specifically about a Nevada ballot initiative regarding abortion laws there. However, the opinion impacts federal candidate activity in any ballot measure.

The campaign against the abortion ballot measure can now raise unlimited funds. Image via AP.

The opinion says candidates may raise money for advocacy groups supporting or opposing initiatives “both before and after the initiative has qualified for the ballot, as described in the request, without regard to the amount limitations or source prohibitions.”

That reinterprets a long-standing understanding of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which has imposed restrictions since 1971 on candidates appearing on the same ballot as such measures.

The advisory opinion still says candidates can’t get involved with measures with the “principal purpose” of getting out the vote or driving voter registration.

That said, many ballot measures of substance impact those activities regardless. Indeed, Democrats have said since the Florida Supreme Court approved a proposed amendment effectively reversing Florida’s six-week abortion ban that the measure puts Florida in play for the Presidential Election.

Similarly, many have speculated if a proposed amendment to allow recreational marijuana to use in Florida would drive turnout in November. Florida lawmakers may still convene a Special Session and place other initiatives on the ballot that could have political impacts.

National media have noted that this clears Biden and Trump to assist state efforts for or against ballot measures.

However, the rule also allows federal candidates up for re-election this year, including Sen. Rick Scott and every member of Florida’s U.S. House delegation, to raise unlimited amounts on initiatives. That includes prolific fundraisers like Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, or Rep. Maxwell Frost, an Orlando Democrat, who both represent districts that appear safe in November based on partisan makeup.

Notably, federal restrictions did not impact another candidate who ran for federal office this year: Gov. Ron DeSantis. When he suspended his political campaign, such limits immediately dissolved. That means he could already raise unlimited amounts for and against ballot measures.

Small defense

Rubio wants more small businesses landing Defense Department contracts.

The Miami Republican introduced the Defense Innovation and Small Business Momentum Act, which would expand and extend a pilot program changing pricing thresholds for small businesses to disclose specific pricing data.

Marco Rubio wants startups to have a chance in rewarding defense contracts.

Florida’s senior Senator said loosening those requirements will allow more domestic startups to compete for contracts.

“Overbearing rules and regulations have made it hard for small businesses to win Department of Defense contracts,” Rubio said. “There is already a temporary solution to help give America’s small businesses a better chance by not requiring as many bureaucratic roadblocks; my bill will make this solution permanent.”

He filed the bill with Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican. Rubio will also raise the issue during the discussion on the Fiscal Year 2025 National Defense Authorization Act.

NPR bias

Florida’s junior Senator is voicing his concerns about America’s overly left-leaning public radio landscape.

Scott wrote Laura Gore Ross, the Chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and a 2018 Trump appointee, to raise concerns about what he calls “disturbing allegations of bias in NPR’s reporting, stemming from leadership that has been accused of politicizing the editorial process and favoring liberal narratives.”

This “has created a crisis of confidence in public radio’s ability to provide objective, fact-based news to the American public,” according to Scott.

Rick Scott is concerned about the leftward lean at NPR.

“As both Florida’s governor and my state’s U.S. Senator, I have worked with local NPR affiliates to shed light on important issues facing families in my state. From covering local news to providing lifesaving guidance to Floridians during hurricanes, local NPR affiliates play a critical role in keeping families across the Sunshine State informed and safe,” Scott said.

He added, “Floridians must be reassured that the objective reporting we have come to expect and appreciate from local NPR affiliates, and the confidence they have in these stations, will be maintained.”

NPR CEO Katherine Maher has pushed back on allegations of bias in the newsroom.

“The newsroom is entirely independent,” she said last month. “My responsibility is to ensure we have the resources to do this work. We have a mandate to serve all Americans.”

Pier pressure

During a tense exchange between Gaetz and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the Congressman pressed the Cabinet member on the odds of sparking a U.S. war with Hamas. Gaetz’s chief concerns surrounded U.S. service members taking control of a pier that allows humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.

“If someone from land and Gaza shoots at our service members who are on the $320 million pier that we’re building, you’re telling me our service members can shoot back,” Gaetz told Austin at a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

“They have the right to return fire to protect themselves,” Austin confirmed.

The U.S. is taking control of a floating pier for humanitarian aid for Gaza.

But Gaetz expressed a fear that sets up a scenario that could lead to direct conflict between Hamas and the U.S., as opposed to the current situation where the Biden administration has provided millions in foreign aid to Israel while also contributing to humanitarian efforts for civilians in Gaza.

Assigning some 1,000 service members to the pier and arming them heightens the chance of violence, Gaetz said.

“You guys seem to be sort of saying that boots on a pier, connected to the ground, connected to service members shooting into Gaza, doesn’t count as boots on the ground,” he said.

“They’re going to find the American people have a different perspective on that. And if we’re going to have people shoot into Gaza, we probably should have a vote on that pursuant to our war powers.”

Farm collective bargaining

New rules allowing migrant workers to unionize could destroy Florida’s agriculture industry, according to Rep. Scott Franklin.

The Lakeland Republican filed legislation that would rescind a Department of Labor (DOL) rule allowing U.S. workers on an H-2A visa to provide protections for U.S. workers even for those who plan to stay in the country only temporarily.

“This new DOL rule is the latest crippling regulation hoisted on Florida growers by the Biden administration. If it is implemented, it will have disastrous effects on our ag industry,” said Franklin, a House Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee member.

Unionization of migrant farmworkers is a recipe for disaster, says Scott Franklin.

“Producers already struggle to meet their labor needs and compete with supply from Mexico, which is not subject to the same restrictions. The federal government should be engaging with industry to learn how to optimize the H-2A program to benefit both producers and farmworkers, not pursuing burdensome mandates.”

The regulation comes as Florida agriculture leaders already contend with new state laws signed by DeSantis requiring verification of employee immigration status.

Florida agriculture leaders cheered Franklin’s proposal.

“Our growers tell us time and time again of the long-term relationships they have with their farm employees, many of which return to work on the farm season after season,” said Mike Joyner, President of the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association.

“They know that caring for their workforce is simply the right thing to do. As an industry, we do not tolerate any employer who violates laws and regulations intended to protect farmworkers. Yet, in the DOL’s new H-2A program rule, a broad stroke is painted, assuming misconduct by all. This type of aggressive bureaucratic rule-making threatens the sustainability of an industry that helps feed, clothe and fuel the nation.”

Several Florida Republicans signed on as co-sponsors for the bill, including Reps. Aaron Bean, Gus Bilirakis, Donalds, Neal Dunn, Carlos Giménez, John Rutherford, Greg Steube and Daniel Webster.

“The finalized rule from Biden’s Department of Labor is a clear attack on the agriculture industry,” said Webster, a Clermont Republican. “Agriculture is one of the three pillars of Florida’s economy and farmers and ranchers all over the country grow and raise the food that ends up on our kitchen tables. I will always work to protect our farmers and ranchers from unnecessary and restrictive Washington mandates.”

Grand old flag

When the U.S. sends foreign aid packages around the globe, Rep. Brian Mast wants the nation’s fingerprints visible. The Stuart Republican filed legislation requiring the American flag to be prominently displayed on all aid packages.

Mast’s office noted that Trump issued an executive order during his presidency requiring such displays. That has never been repealed, but Mast said various agencies have found workarounds to avoid the display at multiple points.

Brian Mast wants everyone to know where foreign aid is coming from.

“U.S. taxpayers provide billions in international assistance every year, but many of the recipients of that aid have no idea where it comes from,” Mast said. “President Trump understood better than anyone how important the American flag is as a symbol of freedom around the globe. It’s one of our best tools for building goodwill abroad.”

The American Flag for American Aid Act is co-sponsored by Rep. María Elvira Salazar.

“The American flag is a symbol of freedom for millions of people around the world,” Salazar said. “We should display the stars and stripes proudly at every possible opportunity.”

Student driver

If children are the future, why wait to get them registered to vote?

Rep. Frederica Wilson, a Miami Democrat, introduced the High School Voter Empowerment Act in the House. The legislation would authorize voter registration at public high schools, increasing grant eligibility and potentially student voter participation.

“My generation does not have all the answers, and it’s critical for the future of our democracy that we empower our youth and give them the resources they need to raise their voices,” Wilson said.

Register voters early, says Frederica Wilson.

“Elections are the bedrock of our democracy. I learned that when I was a child because my father was a civil rights leader in Miami-Dade County, and even when the Ku Klux Klan threatened our family, he persisted.”

The legislation won’t change the age at which individuals can vote but would instruct schools to conduct registration drives.

The bill also allowed schools to work with Election Supervisors nationwide to use real voting machines for student elections and other activities to prepare students for voting. Under the bill, the U.S. Department of Education could reimburse any costs for such activities.

Sen. Laphonza Butler, a California Democrat, sponsored the Senate companion. The Center for Voters Initiative and Action endorsed the bill.

“It is only possible to achieve true change through persistent, meaningful dialogue,” reads a statement from the Voters Initiative.

“Senior staff member Vedansh Garg recalls having had to ‘often leave school early to advocate in Washington to fight for the possibility of (students) to have a seat at the table through electoral education.’ Garg has missed over 10 days of school fighting to advocate for the bill and commends’ Congressional leaders for taking action to ensure the next generation’s civic education be one to open doors to equality, stability, and happiness.’”

Pushback at Petro

Co-Chairs of the Latino-Jewish Caucus, including Republican Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart and Salazar, as well as Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, condemned a decision by Colombian President Gustavo Petro to sever alliances with Israel.

The three Florida officials issued a statement along with Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and, Adriano Espaillat of New York, and GOP Rep. Tony Gonzales of Texas.

“As bipartisan friends of the Colombian and Israeli people, we unequivocally condemn President Petro’s decision to unilaterally sever diplomatic relations with Israel,” the joint statement reads.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro faces pushback on his decision to sever alliances with Israel.

“This inflammatory and unwarranted decision is unacceptable from a Major Non-NATO Ally of the United States, counterproductive to Petro’s ostensible goal of securing the release of hostages, and deeply damaging Colombia’s national interests and objectives.”

According to the Pew Research Center, about 31% of Colombians in the U.S. reside in Florida. Members of Florida’s delegation, particularly in South Florida, have played vital roles in international relationships in Latin America and have highlighted a distinct souring of U.S.-Colombia relations since Petro’s election in 2022.

“President Petro’s vitriolic rants comparing Israel to the Nazis, embrace of Hamas’ terrorist ideology, and justification of violence targeting Israeli civilians, create tangible risks for Colombia’s Jewish community which is facing a surge in antisemitism,” the caucus statement reads.

“Yesterday’s action adds insult to injury, especially for the family of Elkana Bohbot, an Israeli-Colombian dual national and hostage of Hamas for 208 days. Shamefully, Petro’s decision emboldens Hamas, undercuts global pressure to seek the return of hostages, and undermines the tireless efforts of serious world leaders to seek justice on behalf of Israeli and Palestinian victims of Hamas. These actions do not reflect the views or interests of the Colombian people, who have benefited for decades from security and economic cooperation with Israel and the United States.”

Security gooooals

As the U.S. prepares to welcome the FIFA World Cup in 2026, South Florida lawmakers want the administration to plan security now.

South Florida Republicans Díaz-Balart, Giménez, and Salazar sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas suggesting that his agency’s 2025 budget didn’t properly account for the international sporting event.

“We are concerned that Congress has not been provided with the administration’s plan to protect Americans and visitors to the United States during the events of the World Cup,” the letter reads.

South Florida lawmakers want security preparations for the FIFA World Cup in 2026 to start now.

“The President’s fiscal year 2025 budget request did not include adequate funding to support increased security planning and other logistical support for the World Cup. Only a meager $16 million for the Secret Service and $800 thousand for DHS’s Intelligence and Analysis operations were requested to begin security preparations. These funding requests did not include plans, schedules or details on precisely how the requested funding will be spent.”

The World Cup plans to host games at 11 sites, including Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens. Already, representatives say the logistics industry is feeling the coming challenge of security.

“Miami International Airport (MIA) authorities have informed us that they need additional personnel to respond to the security and logistic burdens that will result from the immense increase in international travelers through that airport,” the letter reads. “Travelers at MIA already face long delays during peak times, and without significant preparation in advance of the World Cup, the delays at MIA will be unmanageable.”

The lawmakers called for information on what Homeland Security will do to manage the flow of international visitation to Florida and other areas hosting events.

“The World Cup will be a remarkable opportunity to showcase many beautiful cities in the United States,” the letter states. “Most importantly, we must be prepared to ensure the World Cup is safe and secure for Americans and our international visitors.”

On this day

May 7, 1792 — “First presidential inaugural ball held” via the Grateful American Foundation — The first Presidential Inaugural Ball was hosted by sponsors in New York City, one week after the swearing-in of George Washington. This event did not become a tradition until 1809, when Dolley Madison hosted a gala at Long’s Hotel in Washington after her husband’s inauguration, James Madison, the fourth U.S. President. A total of 400 tickets were sold for $4 each. By 1833, two balls were held for the second inauguration of Andrew Jackson and in 1841, a third ball was added for the inauguration of William Henry Harrison.

May 7, 1975 — “Gerald Ford ends ‘Vietnam Era’ and terminates G.I. wartime benefits” via The New York Times — At the same time, the President sent to Congress legislation that would set June 30 as the final date on which an individual enlisting in the military could qualify for educational benefits under the G.I. bill. “America is no longer at war.” Mr. Ford said in a statement. “The time has now come to terminate wartime benefits which apply to the new peacetime volunteers.” The Presidential proclamation was issued two years after the withdrawal of American combat forces from Vietnam and one week after the fall of Saigon.

Happy birthday

Best wishes to Gaetz, who turns 42 today, May 7.


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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