January 13, 2017

Miami congressman joins bipartisan group extending Trump offer to work together on infrastructure, tax reform

@PatriciaMazzei

A bipartisan group of members of Congress extended an invitation to President-elect Donald Trump on Friday to work together on issues with broad appeal across political-party lines, such as rebuilding infrastructure and reforming the tax code.

Among the 23 representatives taking part in the self-titled "Problem Solvers" caucus: U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Miami Republican who didn't vote for Trump but said he's willing to work with him in areas where they share common ground. Curbelo was recently appointed to the Ways and Means Committee that writes tax law.

"Washington is running out of time to restore citizens' trust in our government," they wrote. "People are angry and they have a right to be. But we believe the next administration and Congress have a brief window to turn it around; to show the people that we are capable of coming together to fix the problems that are harming the health, wealth and well-being of so many families."

Read their letter here.

January 03, 2017

2 Miami Republicans favor gutting congressional ethics office

@PatriciaMazzei

UPDATE: In an emergency meeting Tuesday, House Republicans agreed to reverse their decision to curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics, after facing public backlash and skepticism from President-elect Donald Trump. Here's an updated statement from Curbelo:

"The House ethics process needs to be reformed in order to better investigate allegations of misconduct. I support referring this matter to the House Ethics committee where Republicans and Democrats can work together on bipartisan reforms that would ensure Members of Congress are‎ held accountable while given due process to address accusations."

A full, updated story has been posted here.

ORIGINAL POST: U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Tuesday they backed the Republican conference's move to gut the independent Office of Congressional Ethics.

The OCE, created eight years ago after a series of congressional scandals, would be renamed the Office of Congressional Complaint Review and, instead of being independent, report to the GOP-controlled House Ethics Committee.

Republicans' decision, proposed by U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and made without notice in a private party meeting on Monday, a federal holiday, prompted immediate rebuke from Democrats, government watchdog groups and even some Republicans. But don't count Ros-Lehtinen and Curbelo among them.

"I voted for Rep. Goodlatte's amendment to improve and reorganize the renamed Office of Congressional Complaint Review (OCCR) because it includes much needed oversight and accountability from the House Ethics Committee," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement to the Miami Herald. "The reforms will allow for due process rights for all parties involved and will ensure a fair hearing as Members of Congress seek to better serve our constituents."

Curbelo spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez said in a statement to the Herald that Curbelo also backs the changes.

"Coming from a district that knows firsthand the impact corruption has on a community, Congressman Curbelo has always been committed to ensuring members of Congress are held accountable and allegations of misconduct are investigated seriously<" she said. "The Office of Congressional Ethics has not lived up to its stated mission and reforms are long overdue to strengthen its ability to take complaints from the public, complete independent investigations, and provide due process for those facing allegations of misconduct. The Congressman supports Speaker [Paul] Ryan's commitment to protect the Office's independence and he is dedicated to making sure that commitment is honored.

"The Congressman will be supporting H.Res. 5, the complete Rules Package for the 115th Congress on the House Floor later today."

Ryan opposed the ethics amendment, which the GOP conference agreed to with a 119-74 vote. Because the vote took place in a private party meeting, there is no public disclosure of how each member voted.

The third Miami Republican in Congress, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, told the Herald in a statement that while the ethics office needs an overhaul, he doesn't think the rules legislation is the way to change things.

"The Office of Congressional Ethics is in dire need of reform," Diaz-Balart said. "Members of Congress must be held accountable to the highest standard in a process that is fair and just. I strongly believe the way to do this is in a bipartisan, open discussion through legislation, not through the rules package."

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday morning that dealing with the ethics office shouldn't be Congress' first priority, though he still called the office "unfair." He used the hashtag "#DTS," from his campaign mantra to "drain the swamp."

This post has been updated to include Diaz-Balart.

December 08, 2016

Curbelo makes National Geographic TV debut on climate change

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami got plenty of love Wednesday night as a Republican willing to take action in Congress to combat climate change.

Curbelo was prominently featured on a "Years of Living Dangerously" episode on the National Geographic channel that featured environmental activists' efforts to get congressional action.

"Why can't there be more Republicans like this guy?" asked actor Bradley Whitford, the episode's host. He's a liberal activist best known for his role as Josh Lyman in NBC's former TV series "The West Wing," and he's praised Curbelo on national TV in the past, to promote the NatGeo series.

The episode showed, among other things, a meeting of a small "climate change" caucus in Congress -- which means other South Florida representatives got some air time, too. U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, the Democrat who created the caucus with Curbelo, got a speaking role, and U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican, also appeared on screen.

Here are two clips cut by Curbelo's office. Watch the full episode (number seven) here.

December 01, 2016

USDOT awards FIU $1.4M grant to study bridge restoration

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida International University won $1.4 million from the federal government earlier this week. The grant, from the U.S. Department of Transportation, is intended to pay for research on how to restore aging bridges and build new ones.

Miami members of Congress pushed for the money, according to U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a Republican whose district includes FIU's main campus. The grant is part of USDOT's University Transportation Centers program, which was signed into law last December. Curbelo had introduced the program in a bill he filed in September 2015.

"FIU's work to address substandard bridges is critical to restoring our transportation infrastructure in South Florida and across the county," Curbelo said in a statement. "I'm grateful for the support of my colleagues Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and the Florida Delegation for championing this effort with me."

Atorod Azizinamini, chairman of the structure and bridge engineering program at FIU, said in a statement issued through Curbelo's office that supporting FIU "will benefit South Florida and the country as we improve our aging infrastructure."

November 30, 2016

Analysis shows Miami voters crossed party lines to support Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen -- and Clinton

An new analysis of how Florida's congressional districts voted in November by Democratic data guru Matt Isbell shows that voters crossed party lines heavily in two Miami-Dade districts to re-elect Republican incumbents, despite overwhelmingly support for Democrat Hillary Clinton. Florida Congressional Districts Trump v Clinton

Isbell's data shows that if voters who supported Clinton had stuck with Democrats in the congressional vote, there would be 14 Repubicans in Florida's congressional delegation and 13 Democrats, instead of 16-11 split that was elected.

The principle takeaway: the partisan battleground lies in Miami but the battle grounds are already clear for 2018: newly-elected Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist better be wary, his district barely embraced Clinton; and Republican U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart's Miami district also only narrowly gave Trump the edge. 

The crossover votes came in Miami District 26, where Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo fended off a challenge from his former rival, Democrat Joe Garcia 53 to 41 percent, with independent Jose Peixoto getting 6 percent of the vote. In Miami District 27, where Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen kept her decades long hold on an otherwise Democratic district by defeating Democrat Mark Fuhrman 55 to 45 percent. 

Here's the breakdown via Matt Isbell of @mcimaps: 

Continue reading "Analysis shows Miami voters crossed party lines to support Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen -- and Clinton" »

In op-ed, Curbelo calls on Trump administration to be 'inclusive'

From a Miami Herald op-ed column penned by newly reelected Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo:

A long and uninspiring election season has come and gone. Americans from all regions of the country, with diverse backgrounds and beliefs, cast ballots for candidates who best represented their vision for the future. Since Election Day, we have seen a wide array of emotions, from celebration to protest. As the dust settles and we look towards the future, officials at all levels must put politics aside and serve the people who elected them to make government more efficient.

I have been given the honor of returning to the U.S. House of Representatives for another two years to represent our South Florida community in Congress. Throughout the campaign, the theme I reiterated to constituents was the need for civility, the need to put people and ideas above petty politics. Campaigns might focus on personalities and personal attacks, but governing requires thoughtfulness and consensus-building. Those who govern must lead serious discussions of ideas for making our community and the country better places to live and raise a family. This is the only way we can hope to restore Americans’ trust and confidence in government and its institutions.

[...]

But we won’t be able to accomplish anything noteworthy unless all parties have a seat at the table to share their views and contribute. I encourage the new administration to be inclusive. It didn’t take me long to learn that without bipartisan cooperation little gets done in Washington. The best laws are often products of compromise and negotiation.

More here.

November 09, 2016

Big win over Garcia keeps Curbelo in Congress

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via @AndresViglucci @glenngarvin @Chabelih

Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo handily held onto his seat on Tuesday in one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country after turning back a challenge from the Democrat he unseated two years ago, Joe Garcia.

With most of the vote counted, Curbelo was ahead by 12 points in the battleground 26th Congressional District, which sprawls from Westchester to Key West, despite a redrawing that pushed its electoral make-up to the left after the Republican ousted Garcia in 2014. The new district’s demographics put the incumbent, who fashioned himself as one of a dwindling species — a moderate Republican — at something of a disadvantage.

But Curbelo carefully threaded the political needle, pointedly repudiating GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, while bolstering his credentials with conservative Cuban Americans in the ethnically and politically diverse district by criticizing Garcia, a former head of the Cuban American National Foundation, for his support of President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba.

Curbelo, who at one point compared Trump to the late Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chávez, also said he would not vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton, but never publicly revealed his presidential vote despite persistent goading from Garcia.

More here.

Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald

October 27, 2016

West Wing's Josh Lyman calls Curbelo one of 'real heroes' on climate change

@PatriciaMazzei

Actor Bradley Whitford, best known for his portrayal of Josh Lyman on NBC's "The West Wing," was probably not on Carlos Curbelo's list of political campaign surrogates.

Yet there was Whitford, who's known to be a Democratic activist, being interviewed on NBC's "Today Show" Thursday morning -- and mentioning the Miami Republican congressman by name.

Whitford was plugging his work for National Geographic's "Years of Living Dangerously" series. An upcoming episode titled "Gathering Storm" features Whitford exploring the Citizens' Climate Lobby's efforts to get Congress to act on the threat of climate change.

"My particular thing was dealing with Republicans who have been resistant to acknowledge the science on climate change," Whitford told "Today." "And there's some real heroes in Congress: Carlos Curbelo from the 26th district in Florida has shown that he really wants to work on this."

Curbelo and his Republican allies have been campaigning on his climate-change stance -- a key issue in his Westchester-to-Key West district. His Democratic challenger is former Rep. Joe Garcia.

 

 

October 25, 2016

DCCC compares Curbelo to Trump in new TV ad

@PatriciaMazzei

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee keeps trying to link Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo to Donald Trump, even if Curbelo isn't backing him for president.

In a new TV ad, the DCCC compares Curbelo to Trump on offshore oil drilling, immigration and Social Security. Curbelo is being challenged by Democrat Joe Garcia.

"Curbelo supports drilling offshore -- just like Trump," the ad says. "Curbelo's been sending campaign cash to help anti-immigrant politicians.... Carlos Curbelo calls Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme.' You know who else says that? Donald Trump."

The ad is a mash-up of past DCCC Curbelo ads, including one PolitiFact Florida found misleading on the oil-drilling claim. Curbelo asked TV stations to yank the ad as a result.

As for funding other politicians, Curbelo created a committee he said would support other Republicans who back immigration reform. Some of the committee's beneficiaries, however, have sounded less than eager to adopt reforms, though Curbelo insists they're privately open to at least talking about it.

Curbelo and Trump have both called Social Security a Ponzi scheme.

'Scandals. Corruption. Convictions': House GOP-backed super PAC debuts anti-Garcia ad

@PatriciaMazzei

Democrat Joe Garcia gets a dramatic, black-and-white treatment in a new attack ad by a House Republican super PAC.

The ad, to begin airing Tuesday, refers to the convictions of Garcia's former chief of staff in a pair of campaign-related cases.

"Scandals. Corruption. Convictions," the ad says. "We can't let Joe Garcia run his scheme on us again."

Paying for the political commercial is Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC backed by the House GOP caucus. It's spending $1.4 million to try to help Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo hold on to the swing 26th district. The super PAC originally thought its campaign would cost $1.7 million, but the media buy was a bit less costly than expected.)

"Joe Garcia has spent more time answering for scandals, corruption, and convictions than standing up for Floridians," Congressional Leadership Fund spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement. "Floridians have had enough of Joe Garcia's schemes. That's why they've rejected him once, and they’ll do it again."

Garcia has repeatedly noted that he was never charged with any wrongdoing.