Delegation for 5.10.24: Speaker spat — Big Cypress — remote learning — battle ready — horseplay

U.S. Capitol
Democrats come to the rescue of House Speaker Mike Johnson.

Not this time

For the second time in less than a year, a Republican filed a motion to vacate the House Speaker. But this time, plans fell flat. No Florida Republican supported Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene’s attempt to oust Speaker Mike Johnson.

That included Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican who infamously set in motion the historic firing of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy last October. He and 18 other Republicans in Florida’s House delegation voted to table Greene’s motion, effectively killing it. But Gaetz said that’s not because he’s satisfied with Johnson’s leadership.

Democrats throw Mike Johnson a lifeline, saving him from Marjorie Taylor Green’s removal attempt.

“Marjorie Taylor Greene made a truthful, compelling case against Mike Johnson. She should be commended for this work,” Gaetz said.

“I voted to table the motion for one principal reason — with a two-seat majority in an election year; I believe two to three Republicans could be susceptible to bribes to resign or even vote for a Democrat. Democrats would then instantly deem (Donald) Trump an ‘insurrectionist’ to bar him from the ballot. House Republicans must do better. We must be led better. We must return Trump to the White House.”

Of note, only two of the eight Republicans who supported McCarthy’s firing also voted against tabling Greene’s motion: Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs and Eli Crane. But in total, there were nine other Republicans who wanted to vote on firing Johnson, meaning as many as 11 were ready to move on from the Johnson era, not seven months into it.

Democrats, however, helped save the Speaker. Most minority caucus members, including seven from Florida, voted to kill Greene’s motion. That’s a significant difference from last October when every House Democrat supported Gaetz’s motion to eliminate McCarthy.

“We will not cede this country to the Jew Laser Lady,” posted Rep. Jared Moskowitz, a Parkland Democrat, mocking Greene.

The lone member of the delegation, though, to vote against the measure was arguably its most liberal member, Rep. Maxwell Frost. The Orlando Democrat signaled beforehand that if a motion to vacate Johnson came to the floor, he would support it.

“I’m not going to vote to save someone who is actively fighting all the things that I believe in,” Frost posted.

He and 31 other Democrats voted against tabling Greene’s measure, nearly three times the number of Republicans who would have supported the motion.

Wilderness exploration

As the Department of Interior explores redesignating some 730,000 acres of South Florida as a wilderness preserve, Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Scott Franklin want Congress to step in and stop the change.

The Republican lawmakers filed Senate and House versions of the Prohibiting Wilderness Designations on Big Cypress National Preserve Act. That would follow up legislatively on a request from the Miccosukee Tribe to abandon any planned changes in the preserve’s status.

Rick Scott and Scott Franklin hope to stop the push to expand the Big Cypress National Preserve.

“Big Cypress is a cherished natural resource, and its proper management is crucial to preserving its ecological integrity while maintaining access opportunities for the public,” said Scott, a Naples Republican. “The Interior Department’s proposal to designate Big Cypress as a wilderness area is a massive overstep by the federal government that would significantly diminish the conservation and recreational activities that those who live on and visit the preserve take very seriously to foster a connection between the public and nature today.”

Franklin, a Lakeland Republican, announced several Florida co-sponsors for the bill in the House, including Republican Reps. Mario Díaz-Balart, Byron Donalds, Carlos Giménez, John Rutherford, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz and Daniel Webster. Moskowitz also joined, adding bipartisan flavor.

“In Florida, we know no one is better at preserving our state’s natural beauty than the locals who have lived on the land for generations,” said Franklin, whose district includes much of the Big Cypress National Preserve. “This overreach by the (President Joe) Biden administration is not only unnecessary to protect this land; it’s in vehement opposition to the will of the affected counties in my district, our state’s agencies and local Tribal Nations.”

Díaz-Balart represents the bulk of the preserve and said a re-designation would create more problems than it solves.

“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,” the Hialeah Republican said. “Any proposed wilderness designation by the 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.”

Distance learning

Soldiers paying for their education with the help of the G.I. Bill only receive half the housing benefits if they take classes remotely. With so much distance learning available, Sen. Marco Rubio said it’s time to update that rule.

The Miami Republican filed a bipartisan bill with Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, which would allow veterans with families to access the full housing benefits.

Marco Rubio wants to put remote learning on par with in-class education for service members.

“Ensuring our veteran parents can access their G.I. Bill benefits without sacrificing their parental duties is not just a matter of fairness, but of honoring their sacrifices,” Rubio said. “The Education Flexibility for Veteran Parents Act seeks to remove unnecessary barriers while recognizing education shouldn’t be a privilege that conflicts with parenthood, but a right that empowers both.”

The bill introducers said the legislation would benefit soldiers who are establishing families and want to study without uprooting their children’s lives.

“We should not force veterans who are parents to choose between pursuing higher education and taking care of their family,” Rosen said. “I’m helping introduce this bipartisan bill to make sure veterans who have dependents can receive their full housing stipend even if they pursue full-time online education.”

Ready for battle

Is the military ready if war breaks out in the Pacific? Rubio and Waltz crafted a bipartisan “Congressional Guidance for a National Maritime Strategy,” which they said would provide vital support during a threat.

“The United States desperately needs to modernize our maritime capabilities to compete with China’s rapidly growing navy and ensure the freedom of international seas,” said Waltz, a St. Augustine Republican and an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney during the war on terror. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues across the aisle to revitalize our shipping sector and strengthen our national security.”

Is the U.S. military ready for a new war in the Pacific?

The report emphasizes China’s access to the sea, particularly in the Eastern Hemisphere. The Florida Republicans worked with Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat and Navy veteran, and Rep. John Garamendi, a California Democrat and the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness.

Kelly, a Merchant Marine Academy graduate and former astronaut, said getting the U.S. boating fleet back in order was critical. “It won’t be easy, but America has always been a maritime nation — and the stakes are too high for us to fail,” he said.

Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said the military must recognize the rising tension with China and be prepared for any outcome.

“As China vies for global influence, the United States must project strength and security in the maritime domain,” Florida’s senior Senator said. “Congress must act swiftly to adopt a maritime strategy that invests in our industrial base, reestablishes a strong workforce, and strengthens our national security.”

Grander Central

Downtown Orlando’s central bus station will soon get a makeover that should help it better withstand the next hurricane in the region.

Frost announced a $5.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the LYNX Central Station Resilience Improvement Project. The renovation includes replacing all windows in the public transit hub to enhance building resiliency and meet hurricane mitigation requirements.

Maxwell Frost wants the Orlando main bus terminal to be hurricane hardened.

“As experts predict a dangerously active hurricane season, it’s critical that our communities are built to withstand any storm,” said Frost, an Orlando Democrat.

“Ensuring our public transportation system can prepare for, recover from, and adapt to the worsening effects of the climate crisis is crucial to making sure folk who rely on our bus system can continue to do so. This $5.8 million grant to LYNX Central Station will play a huge role in making sure the buses continue to run on time and the safety and longevity of our transportation system is protected.”

The funding comes from the Federal Highway Administration’s Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-Saving Transportation (PROTECT) Discretionary Grant Program.

“We are grateful for the support from Congressman Frost. This is a prime example of support for the local community by extending the usefulness of our almost 20-year-old main administration building and public transportation hub in the heart of downtown Orlando,” said Tiffany Homler Hawkins, CEO of LYNX.

“The awarding of this grant is a great reminder to the community that the safety of the LYNX employees, passengers and facilities is a priority.”

Rock stars

Lawmakers in the delegation also want to make sure China doesn’t have an edge over the U.S. when it comes to mining minerals. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, co-led a bipartisan letter with Rep. Rob Wittman, a Virginia Republican, urging the House Appropriations Committee to fully fund the Energy Department’s work on mining for critical minerals.

“Rising demand for critical minerals in the U.S. is leading to increasing dependence on foreign sources of critical minerals and their downstream products,” the letter reads.

Kathy Castor says the U.S. must keep its edge over China in mining minerals.

“Crucially, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) controls most of the market for processing and refining cobalt, lithium, rare earth elements, and other critical minerals. According to a White House interagency report, the PRC’s dominance of these supply chains stems from Beijing’s aggressive deployment of industrial policies, including research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) investments and strategic international partnerships, and market manipulation.”

Waltz and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, an Illinois Democrat, also co-led the letter, which 10 lawmakers signed.

“The Fiscal Year 2025 Appropriations bill creates an important opportunity for Congress to advance CMM innovation and develop next-generation industries free from CCP influence,” the letter states.

Save the children

Biden signed legislation crafted by Rep. Laurel Lee aimed at stopping the exploitation of children. The Revising Existing Procedures on Reporting via Technology (REPORT) Act (S 474) will update reporting requirements when digital tips come into the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s CyberTipline.

Laurel Lee stands tall against the online exploitation of children.

“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,” said Lee, a Thonotosassa Republican. “I am glad to see this crucial piece of legislation make its way to the President’s desk and be signed into law.”

Rubio helped carry the Senate version of the bill.

Specifically, the new law adds sex trafficking of children and enticement crimes to reporting obligations by websites and social media platforms, increases maximum penalties for a failure to report to $850,000, requires websites and social media platforms to report violations and increases the time evidence submitted to the CyberTipline must be preserved to give law enforcement more time to investigate and prosecute.

No horseplay

Rep. Vern Buchanan doesn’t want U.S. tax dollars funding the slaughter of horses. The Longboat Key Republican co-led a bipartisan letter to the Department of Agriculture asking that the agency’s budget permanently prohibit inspections of horse slaughter plants, which would effectively bar the meat products from entering the U.S. marketplace.

Vern Buchanan takes a hard pass on the slaughter of horses for consumption.

“The slaughter of horses for human consumption is a barbaric practice that has no place in our country,” Buchanan said. “As co-chair of the Animal Protection Caucus in Congress, I look forward to continuing to lead the effort with Congresswoman Schakowsky to protect these majestic creatures.”

He co-led the letter with Rep. Jan Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat.

While Buchanan has successfully added provisions to the budget most years since 2014 that attack the sale of horse meat, he and Schakowsky now want a permanent ban. One hundred twenty lawmakers, including Democratic Reps Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Frost, Darren Soto, Frederica Wilson, and Republican Reps Bill Posey and Steube, signed their letter.

Stopping tele-abortions?

As more states outlaw abortions, Steube doesn’t want women using telehealth to evade restrictions. Sarasota Republican Steube filed the Women’s Protection in Telehealth Act, which will outlaw any health care provider from providing a chemical abortion for a patient without conducting a physical, in-person examination and without also scheduling a follow-up visit.

Greg Steube is dead set against telehealth chemical abortions.

“I believe in the right to life for our country’s most vulnerable citizens, our children,” Steube said. “While all abortions are horrific, progressive leftists want abortions to be as easy as online shopping with same-day delivery. Tele-abortions have exploded in the last few years, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Supreme Court’s rightful decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. As abortionists circumvent state laws to end the lives of unborn children, telehealth must not be weaponized to terminate a human life.”

The legislation could impact patients in Florida, who now live under a prohibition on most abortions in the first six weeks of pregnancy. State law additionally requires two doctor visits, set at least 24 hours apart, before a woman can obtain an abortion in the state.

Halt Haitian deportation?

A pair of Florida Democrats slammed the Biden administration’s and Congress’s response to a Haiti crisis. Cherfilus-McCormick, Co-Chair of the Haiti Caucus, helped organize the event on the House presser, with Wilson also participating.

The Caucus called on the administration to extend Temporary Protected Status to Haitian refugees fleeing the island, where gangs have effectively driven out the government.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is seeking to block Haitian deportations.

“In the face of the crisis in Haiti, our moral compass and international duty compel us to step forward, not just to alleviate the immediate suffering of the Haitian people, but to address the systemic problems forcing Haitians to flee their homeland,” said Cherfilus-McCormick, a Miramar Democrat and Haitian American.

“The extension and re-designation of Temporary Protected Status, alongside an expedited parole program and an immediate halt to deportations, are critical first steps. But our responsibility does not end there. We must confront the root causes of migration by (1) ensuring that Haitians can live safely and peacefully within their own borders, (2) taking a firm stand against the trafficking of firearms from places like Florida to Haiti, (3) holding those who perpetuate violence and instability accountable.”

Instead, the administration has been repatriating some fleeing the island and sending them back to Port-au-Prince.

“To deport people back to Haiti is a cause and kiss of death,” said Wilson, a Miami Democrat. “There is nothing in Haiti but suffering, so we have to say to the President of the United States, ‘Stop the deportation.’ Not only expand TPS but stop the deportation and support the new government that we are putting together in Haiti. The international community, the United States government, and the Caribbean community are supporting this government; it is Haitian-led. We must fund them just as we do other countries.”

Getting down to business

Small businesses pack a big punch — about 44% of the nation’s gross domestic product. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Saturday workshop is all about showing their owners what federal tools can maximize their operations.

Registration starts at 8 a.m. at Nova Southeastern University’s Miniaci Theatre at its Huizenga School of Business in Davie. The Weston Democrat will speak at about 9 a.m., according to her office. Dilawar Syed, the Small Business Administration’s Deputy Administrator, will deliver the keynote speech.

Small business is the bedrock of the nation’s GDP.

According to a news release, federal, state, and local partners will also provide marketing, management, and financial guidance through a series of seminars in English and Spanish.

“Small businesses are the backbone of America’s economy and at the heart of South Florida’s thriving communities,” the release about the annual event. “Most Americans get their first job through more modest-sized companies, and it’s important that owners and entrepreneurs have all the tools they need to turn good ideas and hard work into a flourishing business.”

Sweet talk

Several sugar workers traveled to Washington to speak about how U.S. sugar policy favoring domestic production can benefit union workers.

Members of the International Association of Machinists appeared on Capitol Hill to advocate for protecting U.S. sugar producers. Their push comes as the twice-a-decade Farm Bill is being developed.

Domestic sugar production is sweet for union workers, say industry representatives.

“U.S. sugar policy provides so much opportunity for people in the rural communities,” said Cornelius Fowler, a truck driver for Florida Crystals. “They have great benefits, great programs that allow individuals that want to further their career.”

In Florida, sugar production primarily occurs in the Glades, an area sparsely populated relative to the state’s many major metro areas. That makes steady employment all that more important to these workers.

“Our community, basically, survives off the sugar industry,” said Terry Crawford, a central control room operator for U.S. Sugar born in Pahokee and lives in Belle Glade. “We’re a rural area; we’re an agricultural community.”

On this day

May 10, 1865 — “Capture of Jefferson Davis” via the New Georgia Encyclopedia — Though still intact, the Confederacy government was largely ineffective. Confederate President Davis retained hopes for the future of the Confederacy. Privately, he harbored a desire to reinforce the armies. Publicly, he was forced to flee the Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia, with a cadre of trusted advisers, which, in effect, became a government in exile. The Confederates fired not one shot. Through some confusion, Davis made a quick dash toward the creek. He had thrown his wife’s raglan, or overcoat, on his shoulders. This led to the persistent rumor that he attempted to flee in women’s clothes.

May 10, 1924 — “J. Edgar Hoover appointed to lead FBI” via the Federal Bureau of Investigation — Attorney General Harlan Fiske Stone appointed the 29-year-old Hoover as the Bureau’s acting director. By the end of the year, Hoover was named Director, where he served for almost 48 years. During his historic tenure, Hoover implemented numerous programs to enhance and improve law enforcement training. He also made great strides in recruiting for the FBI and expanded the use of forensic analysis in federal, state, and local law enforcement investigations. Aspects of Hoover’s administration came under intense criticism, especially after his death, but it was under Hoover that the FBI grew in responsibility and importance.

Happy birthday

Best wishes to Rep. Buchanan, who turned 73 on Wednesday, May 8.


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

Staff Reports


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