September 30, 2016

President Obama to campaign for Clinton in Miami

Obama Campaign 2016 Clinton (1)

President Barack Obama will campaign for Hillary Clinton in Miami next week, her campaign announced Friday, without providing many details.

"President Obama will lay out the high stakes of November's election for Florida families and highlight Clinton's vision for an America that is stronger together, with an economy that works for everyone, not just those at the top," the campaign said. Obama will also encourage Floridians to register to vote.

The public can request tickets online.

The president is scheduled to attend a Miami Beach fundraiser Wednesday evening for the Democratic Governors Association. He'll be in Tampa earlier in the day to deliver a healthcare speech.

On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden will campaign for Clinton in Orlando and Sarasota.

Photo credit: Carolyn Kaster, Associated Press

President Obama's coming to Miami Beach next week

FullSizeRender (17)@PatriciaMazzei

President Barack Obama will be a "special guest" next week at a Miami Beach fundraiser for the Democratic Governors Association, according to an invitation obtained by the Miami Herald.

The reception, at the home of Democratic fundraiser and local lobbyist Alex Heckler and his wife, Tiffany, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. and will also feature DGA chairman and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy.

It seems likely that the president while in town would also campaign for Hillary Clinton, as he and Michelle Obama have started to do, but the Clinton campaign has yet to announce any local events Wednesday.

President Obama will also be in Tampa that day, giving a healthcare speech.


September 29, 2016

President Obama to give health care speech Wednesday in Tampa

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama will deliver a speech on the Affordable Care Act on Wednesday at University of South Florida in Tampa, the White House said.


"Located in Hillsborough County, which has a strong health care system, USF offers a diverse set of training programs for health professions and has led efforts to sign up people for health insurance," the White House said. "Further details about the President's travel to Florida will be made available in the coming days."

It's unclear whether Obama will do another event for Hillary Clinton, though he is expected to hit the road on her behalf in October.

Zika funds finally approved in late-night vote



Lawmakers had to stay late to get it done, but House passage of $1.1 billion in Zika prevention and research funds after a more than seven-month delay finally sends the bill to President Barack Obama's desk.

Despite having originally sought $1.9 billion in emergency Zika aid in February, Obama was expected to sign the broader $1.1 trillion stopgap appropriations measure that included the revamped Zika in a bid to break the partisan impasse over the money to combat the virus.

Just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, the House voted 242-85 to pass the larger spending measure funding the federal government through Dec. 9. Seventy-five Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against it, none from Florida.

The House vote came hours after the Senate approved the spending packing with Zika funds by a 72-26 vote. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Orlando both voted for the measure.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was still not ready to forgive completely GOP lawmakers who'd targeted Planned Parenthood partner clinics in Puerto Rico and added extraneous provisions to the original Zika bill, moves that contributed to its delay.

"After more than 900 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Florida, House Republicans finally allowed us to pass most of the emergency funding we need to curb this public health crisis," the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman said.

While she called the Wednesday-night vote "a welcome start for Florida's pregnant women, business owners and families affected by the Zika virus," Wasserman Schultz added: "It has come many months later than it should have."

Dr. Andrew W. Gurman, head of the American Medical Association, praised the new Zika aid.

"It has been clear over the past several months that the U.S. has needed additional resources to combat the Zika virus," Gurman said. "With the threat of the virus continuing to loom this funding will help protect more people -- particularly pregnant women and their children -- from the virus' lasting negative health effects."

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to Zika because it can cause birth defects such as microcephaly, which causes abnormally small brains and heads in newborns.

A large chunk of the $1.1 billion for Zika would go to Florida, New York and Puerto Rico, which combined have far more infections of the virus than any other states or territories.

The National Institutes for Health would receive more than $160 million of the Zika funds to continue its recently launched first clinical trial for a vaccine and to conduct other research.

Florida had 921 Zika cases as of Wednesday, including 92 involving pregnant women. One-hundred fifteen of the state's infections were transmitted directly by mosquitos.

The virus is carried primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

Sen. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, praised bipartisan efforts of South Florida lawmakers to push the Zika funding.

"This is a tremendous victory for the South Florida delegation who has tirelessly worked together, from both sides of the aisle and both chambers, to raise the importance of this issue and help resolve it," he said.

In a floor speech late Wednesday, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, also from Miami, acknowledged that "the process of getting this funding across the finish line has been frustrating at times and bogged down in unnecessary political gamesmanship."

Saying that Zika represented "an ongoing threat to the health of residents and to the economic vitality of businesses in South Florida," Curbelo praised final passage.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Palm Beach Democrat running for the Senate against incumbent Republican Marco Rubio, said the Zika funds "could not be more urgent as Florida quickly approaches 1,000 cases."

Republican Reps. David Jolly and Vern Buchanan, who had pushed their House Republican colleagues to approve Zika funding for months, also hailed the successful vote.




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September 28, 2016

Clinton super PAC features Obama in Florida TV ad targeting black vote

via @learyreports

A fired-up President Obama appeals to black voters in a new Priorities USA Action TV ad in Florida and other battleground states. It comes among some concern that they key Democratic constituency is not excited to vote.

“Votes Matter” is part of a "multi-million dollary buy" that will run until Election Day in Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, the group said.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Zika funding inches forward in DC, but obstacles remain




Overcoming its earlier divisions on Zika funding, the Senate on Wednesday approved $1.1 billion in research and prevention aid as it passed a bigger appropriations bill to fund the federal government into December.

Sen. Bill Nelson, aware of a looming potentially divisive House vote later in the day or this week, greeted the Senate's 72-26 vote with guarded optimism.

"We had a small victory today in our ongoing fight against the Zika virus," Nelson said.

Sen. Marco Rubio, who's made Zika funding his top priority as he runs for re-election against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, criticized the "political games" that had held it up for seven months.

"This anti-Zika package rightfully prioritizes Americans in Florida and Puerto Rico," Rubio said. "I'm encouraged that my calls for action have been answered, and that real assistance from the federal government is finally on its way."

The Zika money tucked inside a 10-week stopgap funding measure, the larger $1.1 trillion appropriations package went to the House, with a potentially divisive vote looming in the wake of Friday's end of the current fiscal year.

A large chunk of the $1.1 billion for Zika, less than the $1.9 billion President Barack Obama requested in February, would go to Florida, New York and Puerto Rico, which the virus ravaged during the summer.

The National Institutes for Health would receive more than $160 million of the Zika funds to continue its recently launched first clinical trial for a vaccine and to conduct other research.

The virus is carried primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

Florida had 904 Zika cases as of Tuesday, 109 of them locally transmitted through mosquitos.

Ninety-one of Florida's Zika infections involved pregnant women, an especially vulnerable group because of the birth defects the virus can cause in newborns.

Microcephaly, which causes infants to be born with abnormally small brains and heads, is the worst known defect.

The Senate vote Wednesday represented a turnaround for Zika funds in the higher chamber. In three earlier summertime votes, Senate Democrats joined by some Republicans rejected stand-alone Zika bills because of extraneous provisions.

The most contentious provision sought to deny any of the new Zika money from going to Planned Parenthood partner clinics in Puerto Rico.

The island has almost 19,500 cases of Zika, some 84 percent of all cases in the United States and far more than any other state or territory.

The divisive Planned Parenthood clause is no longer part of the Zika funding measure in the overall spending bill. The Puerto Rico clinics will be allowed to seek reimbursement for Zika treatment except for abortions, for which federal money has been banned from paying for four decades.

While Nelson, an Orlando Democrat, and Rubio voted for the $1.1 trillion bill, about 1 percent of it for Zika, 11 Republican senators and 10 Democratic senators voted against it.

That bipartisan split among opponents foreshadowed potential pitfalls in the House, which was expected to take up the appropriations measure later Wednesday.

About $400 million of the $1.1 billion in Zika funds is offset in spending cuts to a range of other programs supported by Democratic lawmakers.

Some conservative Republicans, by contrast, want all the new $1.1 trillion in spending offset by cuts elsewhere in the federal budget, which is not achieved.

Democratic Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters of Michigan voted against the larger measure because it did not include $500 million they'd requested to clean contaminated water and replace lead pipes in Flint.

Negotiators promised to provide $170 million to Flint in a separate water bill moving through Congress, but that didn't satisfy Stabenow and Peters.

Image credit: Marco Ruiz, Miami Herald















September 23, 2016

Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?



WASHINGTON Senate Republican leaders revealed what they called a breakthrough in Zika funding Thursday under renewed pressure from Florida lawmakers and mayors to break a seven-month political impasse.

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Democrats, however, said disputes over funding other urgent needs could still block any final deal, with the Zika money now part of a larger appropriations measure meant to fund the federal government through Dec. 9.

Just a few hours after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine met with South Florida members of Congress and visited the White House to push for the stalled Zika money, the Senate Republicans disclosed the new Zika effort.

For more, read here:

Photo credit: C. M. Guerrero, El Nuevo Herald


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September 21, 2016

PolitiFact's Obameter: A broken promise on path to citizenship

Obama Campaign 2016 ClintonphiliAP


In June, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 over a Texas case related to President Barack Obama's efforts to help millions of illegal immigrants temporarily avoid deportation. That ruling and other events are stopping Obama from keeping his campaign promise on a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Obama's programs were intended to help certain people who came here as children and their parents. While it would not have provided a permanent lawful status to applicants, it would have made it easier for them to work and study here.

The decision was another blow to Obama's efforts to change immigration laws and promise to provide a path to citizenship.

We rated Obama's 2008 pledge as In the Works after the Senate unveiled an immigration bill in 2013 that included several hurdles for undocumented immigrants, including fines, background checks and a waiting period, before they could be on a path to citizenship. But the bill stalled in the House when leadership refused to bring it up for a vote.

Keep reading from PolitiFact's Obameter here.

Photo by the AP

September 13, 2016

'Just call me POTUS': Obama goes live on Miami R&B radio for Clinton

Obama Campaign 2016 Clinton

Listeners who tuned in to Miami’s Hot 105 radio for the usual afternoon banter and R&B tunes got something a little different Tuesday: a voting pitch directly from President Barack Obama.

“Y’all stayin’ out of trouble?” he said by way of greeting when he called in and went on air with hosts Rick Party and Benji Brown.

When Party and Brown quipped that they didn’t know how to address him — “PBO? Or Barry B? Or BO?” — Obama replied: “You know, just call me POTUS, man.”

A hard-hitting interview it was not.

Instead, Obama got a chance to do some campaigning for Hillary Clinton to African-Americans in Democrat-rich Miami-Dade County. A few hours earlier, he had rallied Clinton supporters in Philadelphia.

“Hillary Clinton is somebody who I have worked with, who I know, who I have confidence in, who has a track record of working on behalf of civil-rights issues and voting-rights issues and criminal-justice issues and health care and children’s-poverty issues,” he told Hot 105. “And the other guy, you know, I don’t know what he’s done to help somebody other than himself.”

More here.

Photo credit: Matt Rourke, Associated Press

August 30, 2016

Florida lawmakers urge tough steps against Venezuela



Florida's congressional delegation has the biggest presence in a bipartisan letter urging Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to extend sanctions and take other tough steps against the Venezuelan government.

Nine of the 30 lawmakers who signed the letter to Kerry and Lew are from the Sunshine State, among them South Florida Republican Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo, plus Democratic Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Lois Frankel and Frederica Wilson.

Also on the letter are Republican Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and John Mica of Winter Park, plus Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch of West Boca Raton.

"People are literally starving, suicide rates are rising and the government continues to repress its people," the lawmakers wrote.

Congress in July passed legislation sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami, which President Barack Obama signed into law, extending sanctions on human rights abusers in Venezuela.

"However, the are scores of other Venezuelan officials, including within the Supreme Court, federal judiciary, judges in various states, national and state prosecutors, and police and security officers who have reportedly directly engaged in human rights abuses, efforts to undermine democracy and public corruption," the lawmakers wrote to Kerry and Lew.

The 30 House members called on Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro to hold a recall referendum this year, release all political prisoners, follow democratic principles, permit the delivery of emergency food and medicine, and stop government support for drug trafficking.

To read the letter: