September 28, 2016

September 27, 2016

Nelson breaks with Democrats to back budget deal

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson broke with his party this afternoon to support a stop-gap budget deal that contains $1.1 billion to fight Zika.

The measure did not include funding for Flint, Mich., which drew Democratic opposition. But Nelson and three other Democrats voted to advance the bill, which failed.

"While I support the people of Flint, my priority is the people of Florida. This bill provides a clean $1.1 billion to help stop the spread of Zika virus with no political riders, and I will support it," Nelson said last week.

Sen. Marco Rubio also supported the bill.

"Today's vote proves some Senate Democrats are looking for any excuse to shut down the government‎ because they think it will help them in the upcoming election," Rubio said. "Bill Nelson and I came together to support this bill to fund the government and the fight against Zika, and Senate Democrats should follow our lead and quit playing political games."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Rubio, Nelson honor José Fernández with Senate resolution

203 Marlins Braves DS

via @learyreports

Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson today introduced a Senate resolution honoring Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández, who died Sunday in a boating accident with two friends.

“José Fernández was the embodiment of the American Dream,” said Rubio. “He risked his life escaping tyranny in Cuba to seek liberty and opportunity in America. José was thrown in jail by the Castro regime for attempting to flee, and when his mother fell overboard into choppy waters during their journey, José risked his life to save her so they could arrive in America together. It is a testament to the kind of person he was. This resolution honors José’s life, legacy and contributions to the people and state of Florida."

Neson said, “José Fernández was a remarkable young man whose talent and passion for the game of baseball brought joy to so many in South Florida. He will certainly be missed both on and off the field, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this difficult time.”

Read the resolution here.

Photo credit: José Fernández pitching in 2015. David Santiago / Miami Herald

September 23, 2016

Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?

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@jamesmartinrose

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.


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

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

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

 

September 15, 2016

Rubio defends Nelson after Scott Zika attack

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott’s attack on Sen. Bill Nelson didn’t go over so well in Washington. First Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen rebuked Scott for partisanship then Sen. Marco Rubio defended Nelson, though without naming Scott.

“I would remind everyone that the Senate did act on this issue back in May in a bipartisan way,” Rubio said Wednesday afternoon in a floor speech about Zika. “And I would like to take this moment to point out that my colleague, Senator Bill Nelson from Florida, has been great to work with on this and multiple issues but on this one in particular and I thank him for his partnership and hard work in this regard.

"I enjoy our partnership on many issues involving the state of Florida including a water bill before the Senate. But on this issue of Zika in particular.”

Scott did not back down Wednesday, a day after saying Nelson turned his "back" on Florida by voting against a Zika funding bill that included provisions Democrats say attacks Planned Parenthood. Rubio voted for that bill but also supports a so-called clean funding bill.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 14, 2016

Competing demands crowd Zika money

  

@jamesmartinrose

WASHINGTON Turns out, Zika isn’t the only urgent problem that needs federal funds fast.

Florida lawmakers pushing to get $1.1 billion for Zika prevention and research into a rapidly evolving broader appropriations bill are competing with members of Congress from across the country who want their needs addressed.

On his second day in Washington to push for Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott met with members of Congress from the state who briefed him on the rapidly evolving negotiations over federal spending.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s jousting with other panel members seeking vital funding for their districts and states.

Lawmakers from Louisiana want billions for flood relief. Congressmen from Michigan want millions to clean contaminated drinking water. Others are pushing for more money for veterans’ healthcare.

“Florida’s not the only state with urgent needs,” Diaz-Balart told reporters after he and other Florida lawmakers met with Scott.

The governor said that Florida can’t wait any longer to receive federal aid to help with treating the almost 800 people in the state infected with the virus and preventing it from spreading further.

“We need help, and we need help now,” Scott said.

Scott criticized Sen. Bill Nelson for joining other Democrats in having voted down earlier Zika bills because they contained extraneous provisions related to abortion, Planned Parenthood and the federal health insurance law.

Scott’s criticism drew a rebuke from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a fellow Republican from Miami.

“We don’t need to be calling people out,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Sen. Nelson has been trying to help get Zika funding.”

Beyond the competition among different funding needs, there was disagreement on Capitol Hill over how much time the omnibus spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution, should cover going forward.

Appropriators sought a short-term measure that would keep the government operating into December. Some conservatives wanted it to be funded until March. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress were pushing for a bill to cover the entire next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 and lasting through Sept. 30, 2017.

Video credit: Ken Cedeno, McClatchy

 

 

September 13, 2016

Perhaps eyeing 2018, Scott slams Nelson over Zika funding vote

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Less than a minute into his news conference this afternoon calling for an end to politics over Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott swung hard at Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson for voting against a funding bill last week that Democrats say is an attack on Planned Parenthood.

“He turned the back on Floridians,” Scott charged, a striking accusation lobbed the second floor of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Moments earlier Scott declared: "I'm here because the time for politics is over. The time for political debate has passed."

Scott on Tuesday began a two day tour of Capitol Hill to press for funding. He did not reach out to Nelson, whom could see Scott challenge him for re-election in 2018.

"In a health care crisis, there is no excuse for partisanship," Nelson said in interview earlier Tuesday. "That's all I can say." In a statement after Scott spoke, Nelson added: “Just as we’re about to reach a deal to pass a clean emergency Zika funding bill, the governor chooses to fly up here and stir things up politically. He should know better. This is a serious situation, not a time for partisan politics.”

Democrats have objected to a GOP bill that included policy riders, including one they say is designed to prevent money to Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico. The Zika virus can be transmitted sexually.

Nelson has joined in that criticism but has been a vocal advocate on the Zika issue and has worked with Sen. Marco Rubio, who agrees a "clean" bill should be taken up, even though he's voted for the measure Scott knocked Nelson over. On Tuesday, Nelson joined a bipartisan group of House members in calling for more urgent action.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 09, 2016

Patrick Murphy touts Bill Nelson 'endorsement' after Nelson defended Marco Rubio

Nelson murphy - jjr may 2016

@ByKristenMClark

Democrat Patrick Murphy's U.S. Senate campaign on Friday heralded what it cast as a fresh endorsement from current Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson -- just days after Nelson undercut Murphy's latest attack on his Republican opponent.

Earlier this week, Nelson defended incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, the man Murphy wants to unseat in November.

Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, began the week off by attacking Rubio for not doing enough to get a Zika funding bill passed through Congress. But Nelson told reporters on Capitol Hill hours later that the fault lies not with Rubio but with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

"Remember, (Rubio) voted for the $1.9 billion and he was my co-sponsor. And he voted for the $1.1 billion with no riders," Nelson said, diminishing Murphy's criticism that Rubio had failed to "deliver" on a "clean" Zika bill.

Murphy's campaign on Friday also tried to cast Nelson's endorsement as recent, noting that Nelson is someone who "has openly supported Murphy since the (Aug. 30) primary."

But Nelson has actually "openly supported" Murphy for more than a year -- at least 15 months, to be exact.

Nelson gave Murphy's campaign a $5,000 donation in June 2015, the Herald/Times reported last fall. And Nelson hasn't been shy about praising Murphy's candidacy in the months since.

For instance, Nelson had this to say about Murphy in May, when addressing a crowd of Democrats at a Miami fundraiser for state Senate candidate Jose Javier Rodriguez

"This is the man, if you look at the kind of credentials -- what you’re going to be offered if you’re a Democrat in the Democratic primary or if you’re a Republican, what you’re going to be offered in the general election between him and his opponent -- I think you’ll see why I’m excited by Patrick as well."

Nelson was among the Democratic heavyweights in the party establishment who either quietly or unabashedly supported Murphy in his contested primary against fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson -- a strategy that vaulted Murphy into front-runner status and kept him there by paving the way for further endorsements and lucrative campaign donations.

Murphy's campaign said Friday that Nelson will begin headlining campaign events for Murphy. No details have been announced.

Photo credit: Kristen M. Clark / Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau

September 07, 2016

Bill Nelson comes to Marco Rubio's defense on Zika funding

Nelson_ap

@ByKristenMClark

One of Patrick Murphy's key supporters in his bid for U.S. Senate has undercut the Democratic congressman's recent attack on Marco Rubio over federal Zika funding.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson came to Rubio's defense Tuesday following another unsuccessful vote in the Senate.

Nelson told reporters on Capitol Hill that it's not Rubio, Florida's Republican incumbent, who has failed to deliver on the federal aid -- as Murphy alleged in a media conference call earlier in the day.

"The person that hasn't delivered the Zika funding bill is (Senate Majority Leader) Mitch McConnell. We already passed it in the Senate, clean, without the political riders," Nelson said, adding that Rubio "can point to that he has voted for it in the past."

"If McConnell would insist that the House not put the political riders on it, we'd have it done," Nelson added.

Murphy earlier Tuesday criticized Rubio for "not being able to deliver" on a "clean" Zika bill and for having "very little pull there with leadership in the Senate."

But that accusation doesn't match Rubio's own voting record.

"Remember, he voted for the $1.9 billion and he was my co-sponsor. And he voted for the $1.1 billion with no riders," Nelson said, adding that he doesn't care so much about individual politicians getting credit. "I don't care how we get it done; I just want to get this thing addressed head-on."

Murphy campaign spokesman Joshua Karp said in a statement Wednesday that Rubio's membership in the Senate majority and his ties to McConnell should translate into better influence -- on this issue, in particular -- but haven't.

"Senator Rubio, who was begged to run again by his at-risk majority leader, clearly doesn't have the pull he brags about," Karp said. "Speaker (Paul) Ryan clearly won't do Patrick or Democratic leadership any favors, and Patrick's pull with the Republican House speaker isn't at issue."

Nonetheless, Karp said, "over the past several weeks, Patrick has worked hard to cut through the Washington dysfunction." For instance, Murphy -- like Rubio and other members of the Florida delegation -- unsuccessfully called on Congress to return early from its summer recess to approve the Zika funding.

Murphy -- a two-term congressman from Jupiter whom Nelson endorsed -- has repeatedly attacked Rubio in recent weeks for Congress' inability to pass a "clean" bill for $1.9 billion in aid to fight the Zika virus. Murphy, who twice voted against funding proposals, said he specifically wants a measure that's for the full amount requested and that's free of "de-funding of health clinics or any other nonsense games."

One proposal stalled last month over language excluding funds for Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico, causing Democrats and Republicans to point fingers at each other -- including Murphy and Rubio.

Reporter Lindsay Wise of McClatchy's Washington D.C. bureau contributed to this report.

Photo credit: AP

August 25, 2016

Rubio raps FEMA over algae blooms

Senate 2016 Rubio_Ordo (1)-082516

@jamesmartinrose

Sen. Marco Rubio criticized the Obama administration for again declining to issue a federal disaster declaration in response to toxic algae in Florida's waterways.

"Even though the end to this disaster is not in sight, the President is telling our state we are on our own," the Miami Republican said Thursday in a statement.

Barack Obama did not appear to be involved in the decision. In a brief letter earlier Thursday, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate rejected Gov. Rick Scott's appeal of his agency's earlier denial of extra money to help fight the algae blooms from Lake Okeechobee discharges intended to protect its aging dike.

"After a thorough review of all information contained in your initial request and appeal, we reaffirm our original findings that supplemental federal assistance under the Stafford Act is not appropriate for this event," Fugate wrote to Scott. "Therefore, I must inform you that your appeal for an emergency declaration is denied."

The thick algae blooms look like guacamole and smell bad. The algae has fouled Treasure Coast waterways fed by Lake Okeechobee.

"The Administration has chosen yet again to turn a blind eye to the livelihoods of Floridians who are affected by this toxic algae," Rubio said.

For more on Rubio's response:

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article86989367.html#storylink=cpy