July 13, 2015

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo appointed to defense bill conference committee

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has chosen a Miami Republican to sit on a committee hammering out a defense bill the House GOP used earlier this year as a way to vote against immigration.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who is pro-immigration reform, was one of only 20 Republicans (including fellow Miami Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen) to vote against an amendment that stripped the National Defense Authorization Act from a provision that would have pushed the Pentagon to allow young people brought into the country illegally as children to serve in the military.

Now Curbelo will be on the committee to try to iron out differences between the more conservative House and the less conservative Senate over the bill. But his appointment is not about immigration, Boehner said, but about his district, which extends from Westchester to Key West.

 "Rep. Curbelo works tirelessly for the Coasties stationed at US Coast Guard Sector Key West, and as the representative of our country's southern-most Congressional district, has unique insights into the eradication of drug trafficking," Boehner said in a statement provided by Curbelo's office.

"As Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation, it is a privilege to represent my South Florida constituents while working on the very important issues affecting our military servicemen and women," Curbelo said.

It is the freshman's first conference committee appointment.

July 09, 2015

Reaction from members of Congress directly affected by Florida Supreme Court redistricting order

@PatriciaMazzei

Eight incumbent members of Congress were directly affected Thursday by the Florida Supreme Court's ruling that state lawmakers redraw their districts. (Other representatives will likely be indirectly affected by new boundaries.) 

Here's what the members of Congress had to say:

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami (District 27)

I look forward to representing the constituents of whatever district the court decides should be drawn up. It has been an incredible experience to have represented every part of Miami-Dade County during my years of public service so in whatever form the district ends up, it will be like coming home again. No worries.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami (District 26)

Since arriving in Washington I have been focused on improving the quality of life in South Florida and making our country stronger. The potential of new district lines is not a distraction for me nor will it diminish my desire to represent and serve the community in which my wife and I are raising our family.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami (District 25)

At this stage, I am still reviewing the Florida Supreme Court's opinion, and will be interested to see what the State Legislature will do.

Continue reading "Reaction from members of Congress directly affected by Florida Supreme Court redistricting order" »

The 8 congressional districts the Florida Supreme Court wants redrawn

@PatriciaMazzei

The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that legislators must go back to the drawing board for eight of the state’s 27 congressional districts:

• District 5, held by Rep. Corinne Brown, D-Jacksonville

• District 13, held by Rep. David Jolly, R-Tampa

• District 14, held by Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa

• District 21, held by Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton

• District 22, held by Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach

• District 25, held by Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami

• District 26, held by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami

• District 27, held by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

Let the Alan Grayson-Patrick Murphy messaging-poll wars begin

@PatriciaMazzei

In fact, they began even before Alan Grayson announced his campaign Thursday.

Wednesday night, some voters -- at least in Miami -- were robo-polled by the Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling firm about Grayson and Patrick Murphy, his chief rival for the 2016 Florida Senate nomination.

PPP won't disclose which private client it's working for. But the poll tried to gauge which messages -- read: attacks -- resonate against the two congressmen.

Questions about Grayson asked in detail about his messy divorce and about the possibility that his girlfriend might run for his Orlando House seat. Questions about Murphy asked about his being a former Republican.

The strongest barbs will surely be coming soon to a TV near you.

--with Jenny Staletovich

Carlos Curbelo PAC says it's raised $75K for pro-immigration House Republicans

@PatriciaMazzei

A political action committee created by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo has collected more than $75,000 since January to back GOP members of the U.S. House who support immigration reform, Curbelo said Thursday.

The so-called leadership PAC, a type of organization that can fund a candidate's non-campaign expenses and contribute to other candidates, is named What a Country!, or "WACPAC."

"I am working hard every day in Congress to make immigration reform a reality, and WACPAC is an important part of these efforts," Curbelo said in a statement.

"There is growing momentum among House Republicans for overhauling and modernizing our country's immigration laws, and WACPAC will continue backing candidates who have the courage to lead on this important issue. Now is the time to secure our borders, reform our visa system, and find a fair solution for the many undocumented residents who are contributing to our economy."

Curbelo said the PAC has already contributed to the campaigns of 30 sitting House Republicans, though he didn't immediately name them or say how much each had received. 

Many are likely to have opposed an amendment to a national defense bill in May that erased language that would have pushed for immigrants brought into the country illegally as children to be allowed to serve in the U.S. military. Twenty House Republicans voted against the amendment, including Curbelo and fellow Miami Republicans Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

While the three local Cuban Americans face no backlash for their pro-immigration stance in a majority Hispanic community, many of their GOP colleagues do not have similar support from their constituents.

Watch Alan Grayson's U.S. Senate announcement

@PatriciaMazzei

Via WKMG in Orlando:

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has backed Grayson's chief opponent, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, and has no love lost over Grayson, didn't even mention the Orlando congressman by name in a statement released shortly after the announcement.

"Patrick Murphy has spent his career fighting for Florida families, women, seniors and the environment, and he has proven himself to be a hard-working and responsible representative for his constituents," DSCC Communications Director Justin Barasky said. "The contrast between Patrick Murphy and whichever Republican emerges from their chaotic primary will be stark, and we look forward to highlighting those differences." 

Grayson's camp quickly fired back with an email titled "What the DSCC Should Have Said About Alan Grayson..." The email body read "...if they had any class." It included a copy of the Democratic National Committee's statements when Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley and Lincoln Chafee jumped into the presidential race against Hillary Clinton. DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz welcomed their candidacies.

In a statement of his own, Murphy said, "I look forward to a clean, honest discussion of the issues in this primary.

"I have built a strong record of working together to get things done, while remaining true to core Democratic principles like protecting Social Security and Medicare, fighting for a woman's right to choose, and strengthening the middle class.  I look forward to sharing that record with Floridians across the state."

He then followed up with a fund-raising pitch to his supporters.

This post has been updated.

July 08, 2015

WaPo: Debbie Wasserman Schultz, budding healthy-foods cook

From the Washington Post:

An hour before midnight on a recent Wednesday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was carefully positioning roasted Brussels sprouts, fresh pomegranate seeds and sauteed portobello chunks on a fluffy sea of quinoa.

Then, aiming her iPad straight down, she began shooting pictures. By dawn, a tempting photo and the recipe would appear on Instagram. By noon, the dish that her husband and two of their three children back home in Florida would never have eaten would be savored by co-workers here, along with a second cook’s offering: also quinoa, but with a Mexican accent.

Since December, 15 Democratic National Committee staffers and Wasserman Schultz, their chairwoman, have nourished one another Mondays through Thursdays when Congress is in session. In the Vegetarian Lunch Club, they strive to share good food, save money on restaurants and maybe drop a few pounds, with each person cooking just twice a month.

More here.

July 07, 2015

How much has Florida reduced carbon emissions?

Republicans in Congress recently voted for legislation that would prevent the federal government from implementing new emissions regulations on power plants -- in part, some argue, because utilities are already cutting carbon levels on their own.

U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, said that HR 2042, known as the Ratepayer Protection Act, would protect states from costly rules that aren’t necessary. The bill would delay the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce nationwide carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by 30 percent by 2030. The legislation also would allow states to opt out of the reduced emissions requirement.

"The EPA’s proposal on this rule has drawn widespread concern," Bilirakis said in a speech on June 24, 2015, before the GOP-majority House passed the legislation along party lines. "It placed a heavier burden on Florida than other states, despite the fact that Florida has reduced its carbon emissions by 20 percent since 2005."

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found.

Alan Grayson on TPP, All Aboard Florida and Rand Paul

As he appears he is getting ready to announce a bid for Senate, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, gave an interview over the weekend in which he talked up his own legislative record, bashed his opponent about a controversial train project and offered a hint of praise for Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul.

The interview with News 13 in Orlando offers a preview as to the types of issues Grayson will focus on in a likely campaign. Grayson is expected to announce his bid for Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat this month. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced his campaign in March.

Grayson talked about his opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and said that his video about it drew one million hits on Facebook and tradetreachery.com. And he also boasted about his own legislative record:

“I passed more amendments since I returned to Congress than any member of Congress. I passed more bills than any member of Congress." Later in interview, Grayson said he had 19 of his bills and 15 amendments pass.

Grayson criticized Murphy for his votes related to All Aboard Florida -- the Miami to Orlando train. Grayson is in favor of the train while Murphy is against it. The Palm Beach Post wrote that there has been bipartisan concern about noise and road closings within Murphy’s Treasure Coast district.

Continue reading "Alan Grayson on TPP, All Aboard Florida and Rand Paul" »

Group calls for Congressional investigation into Rep. Alan Grayson's hedge funds

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed a request with the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson’s hedge funds.

The question raised in the request is whether Grayson, an Orlando Democrat, is violating a House rule by using his name on the hedge funds.

“Not only does the rule explicitly ban members from receiving “compensation for affiliating with or being employed by such an entity in any capacity,” but it also prohibits a Member’s name to be used by such an entity “regardless of whether the organization compensates the Member,” states the July 6 request for an investigation.

The request for an investigation into Grayson has occurred as he appears poised to announce his campaign for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s seat. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced in March and has the backing of the party establishment.

Celeste Bush, chair of the Democratic Party of St. Lucie County who supports Murphy, filed a similar request for a Congressional investigation Tuesday.

The requests for an investigation follow a story in Politico that suggested Grayson was violating House rules. Grayson says he has complied with House rules although financial experts questioned his explanation.

“Alan broke no laws, violated no ethics rules and fully disclosed everything,” Grayson spokesman Kevin Franck told the Miami Herald. “Supporters of former Republican ​Patrick Murphy​ are on the attack because  they can't defend Murphy's conservative record of siding with Wall Street and they know that Alan Grayson can't be bought or bossed around.”

Any investigation -- should it move forward -- won’t become public for months until and if it gets to the House ethics committee. About one-third of investigations the Office of Congressional Ethics starts end up going to the ethics committee for further review.