July 14, 2015

Florida politicians react to Iran nuclear deal


The big news of the day in politics and the federal government is the announcement that a group of countries, led by the U.S., negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program have reached an agreement. 

Some Florida Republicans had harsh words for President Obama's administration over the deal, and at least a couple of Democrats sounded skeptical. Here are their statements:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

First thing is to not tear down this agreement before the ink is even dry, before we even read it. Congress has a role now, by law, and it's to thoroughly scrutinize the details of the agreement. We're not going to approve something that doesn't keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and doesn't give us the ability to inspect and verify that Iran abides by all the terms.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

It was announced today that a final agreement with Iran has been reached.  Unfortunately, it appears that all key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will remain in place. Preliminary information suggests that the agreement not only fails to completely prevent Iran from gaining nuclear capabilities, but it also strengthens the regime’s ability to support terror in the region, both militarily and financially. In addition to the many troubling aspects of what looks like a weak deal that gives Iran undeserved concessions, it’s important to note that Iran still holds American hostages. 

Protecting the security interests of the United States and our allies is of the utmost importance.  While Congress will carefully review the details, the initial reports do not give me confidence that an acceptable deal has been reached.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to Iran nuclear deal" »

July 13, 2015

'Success' in prostate cancer surgery for Bill Nelson


Florida Sen. Bill Nelson underwent prostate cancer surgery Monday that his office called "a complete success."

Bill wants to thank all the people in Florida and elsewhere who sent prayers and well wishes," his wife, Grace, said in a statement following the operation. "The doctors, nurses and staff caring for him are all just great."

His office said Nelson's recovery is expected to take a least a week. The senator disclosed the incidence of the disease and his planned surgery last Thursday.

July 09, 2015

Bill Nelson to undergo surgery for prostate cancer caught 'early'


Florida Sen. Bill Nelson will undergo surgery in Washington D.C. on Monday to remove prostate cancer, his office said Thursday.

The disease was caught "early" as part of a routine exam, according to a statement from Ryan Brown, Nelson's press secretary. The 72-year-old Democrat had no symptoms.

"Extensive scans showed no signs of the cancer spreading outside the prostate," Brown said. 

He added that the diagnosis won't affect Nelson's plan to seek re-election in 2018. He was first elected to the Senate in 2001.

"I've been blessed with good health, which has allowed me the great privilege of public service -- and I look forward to continuing serving our country and Florida," Nelson said in the statement. 

July 06, 2015

Scott sidesteps questions on possible 2018 Senate run


Florida Gov. Rick Scott was offering no hints on Monday about whether he is considering running for the U.S. Senate in 2018. Asked about that prospect, in light of him spending almost $300,000 on political consultants since April, Scott wouldn’t bite.

"I’m continuing to work at my job as governor," Scott said following a ceremony inducting five new members into Florida’s Veterans Hall of Fame. "I just went through an election last year and I’ve got three and a half more years as governor and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this is a place this a where you want to raise your family."

Besides spending money on consultants, Scott has also been airing television ads statewide through his Let's Get To Work fundraising committee and has tried to elevate his national profile by hosting 7 GOP presidential candidates at an economic summit he hosted in Orlando in June.

Scott's current term as governor runs through 2018, when U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, would be finishing his third term in the Senate. Some high dollar donors have said Scott privately has told them he has interest in running for the seat, though he has not said so publicly.

July 01, 2015

On Cuban embassy news, Marco Rubio restates vow to oppose ambassador


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a key voice opposing the United States’ opening to Cuba, reacted to the news that the two nations are set to establish their embassies by repeating his vow to oppose one of the next steps in the thawing process -- the confirmation of an ambassador to the island nation -- until certain conditions are met.

The opening to Cuba was first announced in December. It is a multi-pronged effort that has already relaxed some travel and financial restrictions and is quickly moving toward the establishment of a greater diplomatic presence in Havana. On Tuesday, word leaked that the two nations were planning to open embassies in their respective capitals; a formal announcement on that is expected Wednesday.

The thawing could eventually lead to a full lifting of the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba and open travel there. The White House can accomplish some steps on its own, while Congress would need to weigh in on other aspects.

Rubio, a Republican from West Miami who is in the top tier of GOP presidential candidates for the 2016 nomination, is a leading voice against the Cuban opening. While the politics of the Cuban opening are somewhat mixed, other GOP lawmakers tend to defer to Rubio on the issue.

Continue reading "On Cuban embassy news, Marco Rubio restates vow to oppose ambassador " »

June 26, 2015

Florida politicians react to SCOTUS legalizing same-sex marriage


The U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states Friday. Here's how Florida politicians reacted to the 5-4 ruling, updated as they come in:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida and 2016 Republican presidential candidate

I believe that marriage, as the key to strong family life, is the most important institution in our society and should be between one man and one woman. People who disagree with the traditional definition of marriage have the right to change their state laws. That is the right of our people, not the right of the unelected judges or justices of the Supreme Court. This decision short-circuits the political process that has been underway on the state level for years.

While I disagree with this decision, we live in a republic and must abide by the law. As we look ahead, it must be a priority of the next president to nominate judges and justices committed to applying the Constitution as written and originally understood.

The next president and all in public office must strive to protect the First Amendment rights of religious institutions and millions of Americans whose faiths hold a traditional view of marriage. This is a constitutional duty, not a political opinion. Our nation was founded on the human right of religious freedom, and our elected leaders have a duty to protect that right by ensuring that no one is compelled by law to violate their conscience.

I firmly believe the question of same sex marriage is a question of the definition of an institution, not the dignity of a human being. Every American has the right to pursue happiness as they see fit. Not every American has to agree on every issue, but all of us do have to share our country. A large number of Americans will continue to believe in traditional marriage, and a large number of Americans will be pleased with the Court’s decision today. In the years ahead, it is my hope that each side will respect the dignity of the other.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, 2016 Republican presidential candidate

Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage.  I believe the Supreme Court should have allowed the states to make this decision.  I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments.  In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.  It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedom and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida

Today's ruling reaffirms one of the paramount principles of America that we're all created equal and have the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Continue reading "Florida politicians react to SCOTUS legalizing same-sex marriage" »

June 23, 2015

Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson back advancing Obama trade bill

via @learyreports

Florida Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio helped a key trade bill clear a hurdle today, setting it up for final passage.

Both faced opposition.

Nelson was facing pressure from liberals and employee unions to oppose the deal for fear of hurting jobs and wages in the U.S.

Rubio was urged to oppose the deal from at least one tea party group in Florida. A message from the Martin 9/12 Committee urged members to call Rubio and say:

- You OPPOSE the Trade Promotion Authority, and do not believe President Obama can be trusted to negotiate anything that might affect immigration law.

- President Obama has already unilaterally usurped the power that belongs to Congress to change immigration laws, and Congress has NO business giving up more of its authority to him.

- Trade agreements have been used in the past to increase immigration and President Obama is currently negotiating several trade agreements that will encompass three-fourths of the world's economy!

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

June 17, 2015

Bill Nelson makes good on Stanley Cup push-up bet

via @learyreports

Sen. Bill Nelson, born Sept. 29, 1942, this afternoon dropped and did 46 pushups to make good on a bet over the Stanley Cup with Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois.

He was supposed to do 23, the number of goals scored in the showdown between the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning. But Nelson, who underwent NASA training many years ago and went into space, bargained with Durbin so that he wouldn't have to make a special trip to Tampa for Cuban sandwiches, which were part of the bet.

"Are you up for it?" Durbin asked.

Removing his jacket, loosening his collar and tucking his gold tie into a blue buttondown, Nelson hit the carpet. Durbin counted them off as an amused -- and surprised -- press corps and gaggle of interns looked on.

"1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46."

"Hey!" Durbin shouted at the end. "Thank God that you lost and I didn't. They'd be taking me out of here on a stretcher."

Nelson is up for re-election in 2018, and if there was any doubt about his energy level, he just put that to rest.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

May 01, 2015

Bill Nelson to file bill opposing Obama's Atlantic oil drilling plans

via @learyreports

Sen. Bill Nelson says he will file a bill Friday that would block an Obama administration move to allow oil and gas explorers to conduct seismic tests off Florida’s Atlantic coast.

“Drilling off Florida’s Atlantic coast would be unwise and impractical,” said Nelson, a Democrat. “It would interfere with military operations off of Jacksonville and rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center and Patrick Air Force base, not to mention the environmental hazards it would pose. If you’re not going to drill there, then why do the seismic testing?"

There is a ban on putting drilling rigs off Florida’s Gulf Coast until 2022, but the moratorium does not apply to the Atlantic coast.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 27, 2015

Florida Democratic Party fundraiser to feature Bill Nelson


Florida Democrats, gearing up for another presidential election in which the Sunshine State will play a pivotal role, plan to hold a fundraising reception Sunday featuring their only statewide elected official, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

"The Presidential Election has already begin and, as you know, Florida is the largest swing state in the country," Nelson said in an email blast from the party. "That means that once again the national spotlight will be on us, and what we do here in Florida will determine the direction of our country."

The fund-raiser will take place at the bayfront North Miami home of Larry Pierre, executive director of the Center for Haitian Studies. Party Chairwoman Allison Tant is scheduled to be in attendance.

The minimum requested donation is $250. A $2,500 contribution is rewarded with the honorary title of "event chair."