Delegation for 5.14.24: Armed — lawfare — affordability — cosmetics — redirection

The United States Capitol building at sunset, Washington DC, USA.
A delegation member files another article of impeachment against Joe Biden.

Leveraging arms

A decision by President Joe Biden to condition arms shipments from Israel agitated a broad swath of Florida’s congressional delegation.

Most notably, Rep. Cory Mills filed articles of impeachment against the President on Monday. That came days after Biden told CNN he would not send shells and bombs if the Israeli government intended to attack civilian population centers in Rafah in its effort to root out Hamas. Mills’ impeachment resolution specifically quotes that interview and cites the tactic as an improper use of his executive authority.

“President Biden abused the powers of his office by soliciting a ‘quid pro quo’ with Israel while leveraging vital military aid for policy changes,” the New Smyrna Beach Republican said.

Cory Mills files more articles of impeachment for Joe Biden.

However, the decision also concerned members of Biden’s party. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic Co-Chair of the delegation, stated concern that the decision might signal a schism between the U.S. and Israel that shouldn’t be aired on the international stage.

“Any perceived daylight between our governments emboldens our enemies, undermines Israel’s ability to destroy Hamas’ foothold in Gaza and could be detrimental to bringing home hostages safely,” she said.

The Weston Democrat said policy disagreements between the U.S. and Israel should be discussed privately. She noted reports that, rhetoric aside, equipment continues to ship to Israel.

“I share the President’s concern for Palestinian civilians used as human shields and understand the risks posed by a full-scale invasion of Rafah,” she said. “However, we must remember that Hamas is eager to sacrifice as many Palestinian lives as possible and wants to maximize the civilian toll of this operation as part of their cowardly PR campaign. While I was relieved to hear that the administration has no plans to block weapons necessary to conduct Israel’s operation in Rafah, I worry that this public discourse could embolden Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and other Iran-allied partners.”

Many Republicans weren’t so diplomatic about Biden’s decision.

“The President must stop strong-arming Israel into capitulating to Hamas and deliver the shipments as expeditiously as possible,” said Rep. Scott Franklin, a Lakeland Republican. “Congress has already approved these sales — and the President has signed it into law. Any delay is sanctimonious posturing that gives Hamas time to regroup and strengthen while tying Israel’s hands.”

But Rep. Maxwell Frost, an Orlando Democrat and the delegation’s youngest member, offered a dissenting opinion. He had co-signed a letter from House progressives urging Biden to use weapon shipments as leverage to dissuade a full-scale invasion in Rafah and cheered when the President said he would do so.

“Thank you, President Biden. Over 1.4 million Palestinians are in Rafah with nowhere to go,” he posted on X. “Now, we need a cease-fire to stop the bloodshed and get all the hostages home.”

International lawfare?

Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio, from his Senate seat, wants to stop international interference in the war. He criticized the International Criminal Court (ICC) after reports that The Hague may accuse Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of war crimes and seek his arrest.

Rubio and Sen. Jacky Rosen, a Nevada Democrat, co-led a bipartisan letter to Biden urging him to openly oppose efforts to target Israel politically and to use America’s authority to intervene. The letter paints Israel’s military response as a legitimate response to the October terrorist attacks by Hamas that targeted civilians.

Marco Rubio wants to prevent an international intervention targeting Benjamin Netanyahu.

“Since Oct. 7, Israel has exercised its right under international law to self-defense in response to an armed attack,” the letter reads. “Israel has taken significant actions to protect Palestinian lives as Hamas uses civilians as human shields. It is outrageous that the ICC would make a political calculus to target Israel, which only further undermines the Court’s legitimacy.”

The letter also asserts Biden has the power to stop the legal targeting of an allied nation.

“Under the American Servicemembers Protection Act of 2002 (P.L. 107-206), the President is granted broad authorities to respond to these types of actions by the ICC, and we urge you to fully implement the law should the Court move forward with action against Israel,” the letter states. “It is critical that you strongly oppose the ICC’s efforts to target Israel and stand firmly with Israel in the face of the Court’s overreach.”

Tornado relief

After tornadoes struck Tallahassee and other North Florida communities last week, federal lawmakers promised to advocate for support in Washington.

Rep. Neal Dunn, a Tallahassee Republican, personally experienced the storms and was awakened by storms at 5 a.m. on May 10. Immediately, his team opened communication channels with local governments and stakeholders.

“While every effort is being made to restore power as quickly as possible, including mutual aid being deployed to the most impacted areas, it is going to take a little time,” he posted on X.

Rick Scott tours the devastation in Tallahassee.

“As I’ve said many times, the people of Florida’s 2nd Congressional District are incredibly resilient and I’m so proud to represent you.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Rick Scott noted that he called Tallahassee home for eight years as Florida’s Governor. The Naples Republican returned to Florida’s capital city on May 11 to survey damage inflicted by the tornadoes.

“I want to first thank our law enforcement, first responders, linemen and emergency management professionals for the work they have done to ensure everyone is safe following the severe weather and tornadoes that swept through the area,” Scott said. “It is absolutely heartbreaking what we have seen in Tallahassee today — but if there is one thing I know about Floridians, it is that we are resilient.”

He also promised a swift response from Washington.

“As I told Sheriff (Walter) McNeil today, I am confident Tallahassee will come back from this and I will continue to make sure that the federal government is a good partner,” he said.

Dunn also sought out some haste from Washington in dealing with North Florida citizens’ needs. That included sending a letter to IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel calling for checks to be sent in the mail on any money owed to his constituents.

“I am demanding that the IRS prioritize the tax returns of North Florida residents to help them bear the financial burden of this recovery,” Dunn posted on X. “Many North Florida families cannot afford extensive home repairs and replacing necessities after last week’s severe weather.”

Delivering respect

A post office in Northeast Florida will now bear the name of a letter carrier killed on the job.

Last week, Biden signed a measure (HR 3947) championed by Republican Reps. Aaron Bean of Fernandina Beach and Kat Cammack of Gainesville. The legislation renames a Melrose post office after Pam Jane Rock.

Aaron Bean and Kat Cammack successfully get a Melrose post office named after Pam Jane Rock.

“Pam had a servant’s heart, and it was obvious in the way she lived her life. While her time on this earth was tragically cut short, she served the U.S. Post Service (USPS) with passion and integrity,” Bean said. “Designating the Melrose Post Office in her name will honor her legacy in the community she loved. I am very proud to see our bill signed into law officially memorializing Pam’s memory and commitment to Floridians.”

This is Bean’s first bill that became law since his election to Congress in 2022.

Rock died while on her route after five pit bulls attacked her in Interlachen in 2022, as reported by First Coast News. Prosecutors filed no criminal charges against the owners, but the death made national news.

Bean’s office noted that dogs attacked more than 5,400 postal workers in 2021 alone, and 201 such incidents were reported in Florida last year.

Every member of Florida’s congressional delegation sponsored legislation naming the postal facility in her honor.

“It’s been a long time coming to honor Ms. Rock’s memory, and I look forward to soon seeing her name on the side of the post office in Melrose,” Cammack said. “We hope this measure brings some comfort to her family and those who had the honor of working alongside her for many years.”

The Rock family welcomed the recognition.

“We would like to thank Congressman Bean and Congresswoman Cammack for their tireless efforts in securing the name of this USPS facility for our beloved sister Pam,” a family statement reads. “Pam was a devoted USPS employee who was sadly taken away from us while working in the line of duty. The naming of this facility honors Pam and her life of service and is a comfort to all of us.”

Affordability efforts

Frost in Orlando this week delivered $1.6 million in federal checks to Orange County. In addition to bringing funding, he also held an hourslong town hall with Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings.

The Congressman and Mayor discussed improving public transit and bringing more affordable housing opportunities online. That includes policies like incentivizing studio housing in the Orlando area and bringing more creative jobs in the film industry and the arts.

Maxwell Frost gets to drop a $1.6M check for affordable housing for Orange County.

“As elected officials, it’s always important to hear directly from the folks we represent about the issues top of mind, and to have the opportunity to discuss how we can address what the community’s needs are, head on,” Frost said. “I look forward to continuing to partner with the Mayor and Orange County government to keep delivering for our people.”

The funding came in the form of three separate checks. One supported a multicultural senior center. Another funded a program to provide air conditioning to low-income seniors. There were also investments in two transportation mobility hubs in the county, one near Orange Technical College and another at a transfer center in Pine Hills.

Bleeding mascara

The Centers for Disease Control continues studying whether parabens create health concerns. However, scientists have found that women have several-fold higher concentrations of the chemicals in their urine.

Now, Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, a St. Petersburg Republican, wants the products banned from cosmetic and personal care products in the U.S. She filed a bipartisan bill with Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a Colorado Democrat, which would declare such products with parabens like para-hydroxybenzoic acid as “adulterated.”

“Do any of us actually know what we’re putting on our skin? It’s not good,” Luna said. “Cosmetics and personal care products containing chemicals that are dangerous to our health are marketed and sold to millions of Americans with little to zero regulation. I urge members from both sides to support my bill enacting a simple ban on parabens. Our women and families deserve better.”

Anna Paulina Luna is looking to ban parabens from U.S. cosmetics.

Cosmetic companies use parabens in products to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus. But, according to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, some studies have linked the chemicals to skin cancer and developmental and reproductive toxicity.

Caraveo, a physician, said scientists have already confirmed that the chemicals show up in high concentrations in the systems of too many Americans for health care professionals to ignore.

“As a physician, I’m concerned about the potential harms of parabens, including skin cancer, hormonal disruption and birth defects. And yet, these days, parabens are everywhere — cosmetics, lotions and skin care products, just to name a few. The dire reality is that nearly every adult in the U.S. displays traces of paraben contamination,” Caraceo said.

“This bill would help reverse that trend and help ensure that Americans can safely use makeup, sunscreen, and hair care products without having to worry about how it might impact their health.”

Health care connection

Research in Israel has often fed scientific advances in the U.S. Two delegation members think now is a good moment to strengthen the connection on the health care front.

Reps. Vern Buchanan, a Longboat Key Republican, and Darren Soto, a Kissimmee Democrat, introduced legislation last week to facilitate closer coordination between the nations on medical technologies.

Darren Soto and Vern Buchanan want to keep the tight bond between the U.S. and Israel in health care research.

“Similar to the United States, Israel is a leading hub for new and innovative health-related technology,” Buchanan said. “I am pleased to introduce this important bipartisan legislation with Congresswoman Miller-Meeks and Congressman Soto to help foster and build stronger ties in health care between the United States and our greatest ally in the Middle East, Israel.”

The Maximizing Israel-U.S. Research Advancement and Collaborative Leadership in Emerging (MIRACLE) Medical Technology Act, co-introduced with Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa, addresses a range of areas in which the nations could cooperate economically.

The bill would promote research and development partnerships, protect intellectual property shared between the nations, improve hospital cybersecurity protections, support health care innovation hubs, enhance telemedicine communications, and promote exchange programs and training initiatives. It would also establish a U.S.-Israel Health Care Collaboration Center.

“I am proud to work with Congressman Buchanan on this effort to strengthen collaboration between the United States and Israel in the health care space,” Soto said.

“As the U.S. secures itself as a leader in the global community, we must welcome opportunities to improve our development of medical devices, pharmaceuticals, and other solutions such as early-stage clinical trials. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this innovative proposal forward.”

Army Corps redirection

Is a high-profile bridge collapse in Maryland delaying the opening of the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir? Rep. Brian Mast sent a message to the Army Corps of Engineers, insinuating that resources be redirected back to South Florida.

The Stuart Republican sent a letter to Army Corps of Engineers Col. James Booth, Jacksonville District Commander, questioning the decision to divert $831,070 from Florida water infrastructure projects to Maryland to affray costs of the Francis Scott Key bridge collapse.

Congress is considering moving Army Corps funding for Florida to the repairs on the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Maryland.

“The Army Corps is going to take away money from water projects in Florida to rebuild the bridge that was struck and collapsed in Maryland without giving us answers about what effect it will have on our state,” Mast said.

“We don’t know if this money could be better used here in Florida. We also don’t know what insurance the state of Maryland or the shipping company has to cover the loss.”

In his letter, Mast said the Army Corps only emailed members of Florida’s congressional delegation about the decision, which prompted immediate bipartisan pushback.

“Now, we understand that the Army Corps has the authority to take this action and its last-minute outreach to Congress was more of a notification than a request for a signoff,” he said.

Mast intends to raise the matter today at a House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the bridge collapse and has called for full information about financial resources available to Maryland and Florida to address now-competing needs.

Honoring Urra

Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart celebrated Mother’s Day early, bringing over $3.5 million in gifts to the Allapattah Community Action Center.

On May 10, the Hialeah Republican presented the city of Miami with some $1.7 million in federal funding for child care facilities at the center and more than $2.8 million for elder care facilities.

Mario Díaz-Balart spends part of Mother’s Day honoring Miriam Urra of the Allapattah Community Action Center.

“Had a wonderful time at the City of Miami’s Allapattah Community Action Center’s Mother’s Day Celebration!” he posted on X.

“I’m proud to have secured funding to upgrade the Childcare & Elderly Centers facilities with new flooring, roofing repairs, lighting and more. I was also honored to recognize the Executive Director, Miriam Urra, with a Congressional Record in honor of Women’s History Month for her exemplary leadership, dedication, and impact on Allapattah.”

The projects are funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, which Biden signed in March.

Mipyme loophole

Since taking office, Biden has gradually rolled back economic restrictions on business with Cuba. But Rep. María Elvira Salazar said some administration policies have tried to work creatively around federal law.

The Coral Gables Republican co-led a letter with Rep. Bill Huizenga, a Michigan Republican, to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen questioning the use of a policy allowing trade with independent small businesses in the communist nation. She called that a “mipyme” loophole, using a Cuban term for small- and medium-sized enterprises.

María Elvira Salazar laments the loophole that reopened relations with Cuban small businesses.

“Despite the Cuban regime’s long-standing record of undermining U.S. national security and aligning with foreign adversaries such as Iran, China, and Russia, the Biden administration has taken numerous steps to reopen relations with Cuba’s authoritarian regime since taking office,” the letter reads.

“Any efforts to diminish or circumvent the current embargo on Cuba are in contravention of U.S. law and play into the hands of our foreign adversaries, Russia and China, who are closely aligned with Cuba.”

Salazar said money sent to many businesses benefiting from the policy in fact, lands in the hands of businesses directly connected to the Cuban government.

Rep. Carlos Giménez, a Miami-Dade Republican, co-signed the letter.

On this day

May 14, 1949 — “Harry Truman establishes rocket range at Cape Canaveral” via Astronautix — President Truman authorized the establishment of a joint long-range proving ground at the eastern Florida site, and a month later, the Banana River Naval Air Station was reactivated. In August 1950, the facility became Patrick Air Force Base, home to the Air Force Missile Test Center. Initial responsibility for the Cape and Patrick AFB construction fell to the Jacksonville District of the Corps of Engineers. Tasked in May 1950 with building the pad for the first missile launch at the Cape, the District succeeded in having the facility ready in time for the July 24 liftoff of a V-2 with a WAC Corporal upper stage.

May 14, 1804 — “Meriwether Lewis and William Clark depart to the Northwest” via — One year after the United States doubled its territory with the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition leaves St. Louis, Missouri, on a mission to explore the Northwest from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. Before the U.S. concluded purchase negotiations with France, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned his private secretaries, Lewis and Clark, to lead an expedition. On May 14, the “Corps of Discovery” — featuring approximately 45 men (although only approximately 33 men would make the entire journey) — left St. Louis for the American interior.


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

Staff Reports


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