October 24, 2013

Bill Nelson: "somebody ought to get fired" for Obamacare website fiasco


Sen. Bill Nelson today called the fiasco over the Obamacare enrollment website "inexcusable” and “somebody ought to get fired.”

But first he said the administration needs to fix the problems.

Nelson's comments came this afternoon during an interview with reporters in his Tampa regional office.  They echoed ones he made late yesterday in an interview with one of the state’s veteran political journalists, Michael Putney.

 “They should wait and get the thing up and running, and then determine and let somebody be held accountable,” Nelson told Putney, who hosts "This Week In South Florida with Michael Putney" on Miami's ABC affiliate, WPLG-Channel 10.

 “That’s the problem in government today,” Nelson said.  “People are not held to account.”

October 22, 2013

Following Prez. Clinton, Sen. Bill Nelson endorses Phil Levine for Miami Beach mayor


If endorsements decided elections, Philip Levine would be Miami Beach's mayor by now.

On Tuesday, a few days after former President Bill Clinton endorsed Levine, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson followed suit.

"I know him. I believe in him," Nelson said. "I know his willingness to step outside of his comfort zone and enter public service."

Nelson referenced the importance of Clinton's endorsement in the heavily Democratic area, but he said that Levine isn't sitting back in his race against Commissioner Michael Gongora and personality Steve Berke.

Nelson said Levine's door-knocking work ethic reminds him of his first races decades ago.

"I pounded the  streets, along with my wife. It is amazing what you learn about the needs and wishes of people when you are knocking on doors and listening to people," Nelson said. "It's also amazing what you learn about dogs. I have a profound profound respect for postmen."

October 17, 2013

Bill Nelson tapped for (doomed to fail?) bipartisan budget-compromise committee


Pardon the parenthetical in the headline above. It's tough to see how anything in Washington can succeed if it has these three words: "budget," "compromise" and "congress."

Good luck to them all. And good luck to us.

Here's the press release:

Continue reading "Bill Nelson tapped for (doomed to fail?) bipartisan budget-compromise committee" »

October 04, 2013

Sen. Bill Nelson: 'reckless right-wing' House members instigated gridlock

An email to supporters from Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, parlaying off the finding of most polls finding that Americans are more inclined to blame the GOP from the current logjam in Congress:

I want to apologize for the partisan gridlock over the budget that a handful of irresponsible and reckless right-wing members of the U.S. House of Representatives have instigated.

They have managed to shut down many of the federal government's services and programs simply because they couldn’t get their own way and get rid of the country's health care law.

Continue reading "Sen. Bill Nelson: 'reckless right-wing' House members instigated gridlock" »

October 01, 2013

Scott blames Obama for congressional inaction on flood insurance

Gov. Rick Scott used the onset of flood insurance rate hikes Tuesday to call attention to the impact a federal law could have on thousands of homeowners who could be locked into their homes because of soaring flood insurance rates.

But at a press conference in Clearwater today, Scott refrained from placing the blame on Congress, which has failed to halt the Oct. 1 effective date of a key provision of the Biggett Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act, despite widesperad acknowledgement from the law's supporters that an unintended consequence is harming the real esate recovery. Instead, Scott turned to a familiar line and blamed President Barack Obama.

“We are calling on President Obama to take immediate action to prevent these flood insurance rate hikes on Florida’s families, and families across the state,'' Scott said, according to a press release from his office. "This is unfair and could devastate the Tampa Bay area’s real estate market. The buck ultimately stops with the President. The time for leadership is now.”

Dan McLaughlin, spokesman for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, called Scott's blaming of Obama "a publicity stunt." Within the hour, Nelson is joining U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), David Vitter (R-La.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), and John Hoeven (R-N.D) at a press conference to discuss national flood insurance reform. Rubio has rejected calls for a delay but has said he opposes the rate hikes. 

“Sens. Nelson and Landrieu have succeeded in getting a bipartisan group together that is working on a legislative fix right now,'' McLaughlin said. "We have told Gov. Scott it would be less of a distraction, and more of a help, if he would contact members of his own political party that are blocking action in Washington.  His request of the president should be seen for what it is – a publicity stunt.” 



September 27, 2013

Rick Scott not ready to push Marco Rubio to back House flood-insurance rate fix


Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t sound ready to ask U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to change his position and back a U.S. House flood-insurance measure to temporarily halt hefty rate increases starting Oct. 1

Scott referenced the House measure in a letter last week to Rubio and Sen. Bill Nelson, who then proposed legislation to delay rate increases for a year. But Rubio didn’t go that far in a Thursday response, where he expressed his concerns, but faulted the House proposal.

When asked Friday about Rubio’s response, Scott said “my concern is for our economy, our families and our state.” He mentioned the issue was discussed this week at the Florida Cabinet meeting with St Petersburg’s mayor, Bill Foster.

Continue reading "Rick Scott not ready to push Marco Rubio to back House flood-insurance rate fix" »

September 24, 2013

Nelson to Scott: Help me lobby Republicans for flood insurance delay

With the Oct. 1 deadline bearing down on Florida homeowners who face hefty increases on their flood insurance, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson asked Gov. Rick Scott and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater on Tuesday to help him lobby to win support for a delay in the next week.

Nelson included a copy of his proposed legislation and wrote, "but the current state of gridlock in Congress, caused by a small minority, has prevented us from getting much of anything passed."

Here is his letter: 

Continue reading "Nelson to Scott: Help me lobby Republicans for flood insurance delay" »

September 10, 2013

After Obama meeting, Sen. Bill Nelson credits president's gun-boat Syria diplomacy


The right and left are spinning over the latest Syria developments: is the president lucky/clueless or calculating/bold in the Russia-brokered chemical-weapons deal with Bashar al-Assad's regime?. Enter Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson with this statement after meeting with Obama:

"It is the threat of military force that has brought Assad to the point of considering international control of his chemical weapons.  What Congress should do is authorize a request, if it comes to a vote, to back the president's use of limited, short-duration retaliation aimed at degrading Assad's chemical weapons capability and to deter him from using any of them again.  Authorizing such a strike in Syria may also be enough to convince Assad he must surrender all his chemical weapons to international control and sign the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention outlawing their production, use and stockpiling.  To ensure this happens, I believe a credible threat of American military force must remain on the table."

Meantime, Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (a no vote that cancels out Nelson's on a war resolution) was interviewed live in CNN shortly after the Russia deal was announced. He didn't have much to say that he hasn't said in the past (find what moderate rebels we could and try to arm them, bash Obama for not doing so sooner), and said he was still studying the matter.

Prediction: He'll weigh in soon (wild guess: FOX?) and fault the deal or the president. Consider: When Obama's administration was instrumental in deposing Libya's dictator, Rubio and some other Republicans went out of their way to give credit.... to the French and the British.

August 28, 2013

Marco Rubio’s deafening silence on Syria


**Update: Rubio issued a statement hours after this blog was posted.

From threatened oyster habitats to the problems with Obamacare, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has commented on the headlines of the day recently.

Except one: Syria.

Though a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rubio hasn’t issued any statements about this most-important of topics now that President Obama is weighing military action after what appear to be chemical-weapons use in Syria.

Should Obama strike Syria? How? And does the president need Congressional authorization to do so? Rubio (or his office) isn’t ready to say. It's a notable silence because not only is Rubio voluble, he has made an effort to showcase his chops on foreign policy.

We've asked for two days for a statement, but nothing. Rubio's Reclaim America PAC, though, just sent out a message from Rubio about the need to help Ken Cuccinelli, a Virginia candidate for governor.

Meantime, other Florida congressional members are weighing in on Syria policy.

Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the House’s Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, said in a just-released statement that Obama needs congressional authorization for a strike on Syria. Ros-Lehtinen sounds willing to vote for “multi-lateral airstrikes” as long as the United States exercises “extreme caution when weighing our options in Syria. Putting boots on the ground is not an option.. At this point there’s no easy decision. We’re stuck with the least worst option.”

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August 13, 2013

Water wars rise: Florida to sue Georgia over condition of Apalachicola Bay

A day after the federal government declared that Florida's oyster harvesting region was a disaster area, Gov. Rick Scott announced the state will file a lawsuit against the state of Georgia for the excessive consumption of water that has harmed the ecosystem and economy of Apalachicola Bay.

The lawsuit, to be in the U.S. Supreme Court in September, challenges Georgia's "unchecked and growing consumption of water, which is threatening the economic future of Apalachicola,'' Scott said in a statement after a hearing on the controverial issue in Franklin County on Tuesday. Conducting the hearing was U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio.

"You have an entire industry that is on the verge of being extinct because of governmental inaction,'' Rubio said after the tour.

Scott noted that he and the Legislature put $4.7 million into the region to retrain workers hurt by the ailing economy. "Georgia has taken our water,'' he said after the tour. "We've had meetings. No progress has happened in those meetings." 

He called it "a bold, historic legal action for our state."

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