July 25, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz to hold tele town hall on health care

DWSAPmug

@amysherman1

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, will hold a tele town hall about health care Tuesday night.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote on a motion to proceed with debate about repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Wasserman Schultz has been a champion of President Barack Obama's signature legislation passed in 2010 although she has called for some fixes.

Among the problems, she told WPLG Channel 10, is that in numerous places around the country there is "very little choice in terms of competition among companies that provide policies."

Wasserman Schultz's spokesman Michael Liquerman said that a tele town hall allows her to reach a greater audience than an in-person event because thousands can participate.

But it also allows Wasserman Schultz to avoid in-person confrontation by critics, including supporters of her primary opponent Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor who has advocated for single payer health care.

Although Democratic support for single payer health care is rising, it doesn't appear to be going anywhere in Congress. There is a great deal of disagreement among experts regarding how much single payer health care would cost.

A single payer bill, H.R. 676 Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, sponsored by U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, was introduced in February but has received no votes.

Wasserman Schultz is not one of the 115 cosponsors of the single payer bill. She has spoken in favor of a public option which would provide competition for insurers. 

Wasserman Schultz beat Canova by about 14 percentage points in August in the district which stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County. She easily beat her Republican challenger, Joe Kaufman, in the left-leaning district.

The tele town hall is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. although that could change depending upon the House vote schedule. Constituents will receive a robocall with the phone number. Wasserman Schultz is expected to take questions from constituents and the media.

This post has been updated to include additional information from Wasserman Schultz's office

 

July 21, 2017

At key moment, Cuban-American lawmakers adopt Venezuela cause as their own

Venezuela Political Crisis

@patriciamazzei @alextdaugherty 

For months, Cuban-American lawmakers have deployed familiar rhetoric to warn Washington colleagues of a democracy under threat in Latin America, where people are deprived of food and the ballot box, and where economic collapse could empower Russia uncomfortably close to home.

“This is a dysfunctional narco-state that is in a death spiral in terms of its ability to function,” said Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.

“We are talking about a nearly failed state in our own hemisphere,” said Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

“We will have a swift and firm response from our own administration,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami.

But the tough talk isn’t about Cuba. It’s about Venezuela.

The fight for a free Cuba — a fight carried in their bones, transcending all politics — has fueled Cuban-American lawmakers for decades in their campaign against Fidel and Raúl Castro. But President Donald Trump has already taken a tougher line toward Cuba, as the legislators wanted. So, the unfolding Venezuela crisis has become Cuban Americans’ new crusade.

“Just like it has been too long for the Cuban people, most people are coming to the understanding that this is part of the same movement, the same cancer that has been sickening the Cuban people and the Venezuelan people for decades now,” Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo said in a Capitol Hill speech to Venezuelan activists and lawmakers Wednesday.

Cuban-American Republicans and Democrats agree President Nicolás Maduro must be stopped. Their united front could amplify their clout: As with Cuba, one of their own — Rubio — has proven to be the White House’s go-to legislator on Latin America.

Rubio, a Republican who’s spent years in Congress criticizing Maduro, says he’s been in regular touch with Trump and especially Vice President Mike Pence about how to sanction Venezuela if Maduro moves forward with a planned July 30 election. That vote would create a constituent assembly empowered to rewrite the nation’s constitution, effectively replacing a democratically elected legislature with Maduro loyalists.

“The United States will not stand by as Venezuela crumbles,” Trump said in a statement Monday, released as Rubio made similar remarks on Twitter. “If the Maduro regime imposes its Constituent Assembly on July 30, the United States will take strong and swift economic actions.”

Rubio, Ros-Lehtinen, Curbelo and fellow Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart back banning Venezuelan oil imports, a drastic measure once considered unthinkable against the No. 3 oil supplier to the U.S. But also in favor is a local Democrat, Weston Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents thousands of Venezuelans.

The message: On Cuba, Rubio and company faced significant opposition, both on Capitol Hill and in Trump’s administration. On Venezuela, they don’t.

“There’s not a single senator that I’ve seen, and no House member that I’ve heard from, who still supports this regime,” Rubio told the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute in bilingual remarks Wednesday. “Once there were people who sometimes backed [former Venezuelan President Hugo] Chávez, or said things about Chávez in the past. But that doesn’t exist anymore. No one here supports Maduro.”

Even Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat who worked with the late Chávez, frequently traveled to Venezuela during Chávez’s presidency and is the only sitting member of Congress who attended Chávez’s funeral, supports sanctions.

“We are compelled to take a stand on what’s right,” Meeks said. “Sanctions that are being considered are the right things to do.”

Behind the bipartisan push is a deeply held belief that Maduro is just another Fidel — and a sense that if Cuban Americans and their allies don’t defend Venezuela in Washington, no one will.

“We need to let the Venezuelan people know that they are not alone in this fight, that we stand together with them, that we will not rest until Venezuela is free from oppression and is once again a nation of democracy and the rule of law,” Ros-Lehtinen said in an impassioned speech Wednesday.

The position is certainly heart-felt, but politics aren’t entirely out of the picture: Venezuelans fleeing Chávez and now Maduro could emerge as a significant voting bloc in Florida, the nation’s largest swing state.

Read more here.

 

July 17, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz spends six figures after Tim Canova announces rematch

Pjimage (2)

@alextdaugherty 

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, spent over $200,000 in the latest quarter of fundraising after Hollywood law professor Tim Canova announced a rematch with the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman in mid-June. 

Wasserman Schultz raised $217,526 in the second quarter of 2017 and spent $238,332, according to Federal Elections Commission reports. The longtime incumbent has $215,220 on hand. The totals include all fundraising and spending from April 1 to June 30, so the bulk of Wasserman Schultz's financial activity occurred before Canova announced his bid. 

Canova, who began the period with just $3,343 on hand, raised $38,117 and spent $32,819 for $19,641 cash on hand. Canova also loaned himself $10,000. The majority of Canova's contributions, $33,822, were small-dollar donations under $200. 

Wasserman Schultz beat Canova in the Democratic primary by 14 percentage points in 2016. The Broward-based district that includes portions of northeastern Miami-Dade is heavily Democratic. 

July 13, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduces amendments that would revoke Jared Kushner's security clearance

Kushner-7bde83e8-5226-11e7-b064-828ba60fbb98

@alextdaugherty 

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced two amendments on Thursday that would revoke Jared Kushner's security clearance if they pass Congress. 

Both amendments failed on a party-line vote after a debate in the House committee that determines federal spending. 

The first amendment prohibits federal funding for presidential security clearances for someone who is under a criminal investigation by a Federal law enforcement agency for aiding a foreign government. The second amendment bars funding for security credentials for anyone who "deliberately fails" to disclose a meeting with a foreign national if the disclosure is required as part of the individual's security clearance credentialing process. 

In June 2016, Kushner, met with a Russian attorney who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton, according to emails between Donald Trump Jr. and a music publicist. Kushner's lawyers failed to disclose the meeting on his security clearance form. Knowingly omitting the meetings is a crime but Kushner's lawyers say omitting the meeting was a non-intentional mistake. 

"This is an intentionally narrowly drawed amendment," Wasserman Schultz said. 

Donald Trump's digital operation during the campaign, headed by Kushner, is also under investigation by Congress and the Justice Department over whether the campaign helped to guide Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to a report by McClatchy DC. Kushner is a senior Trump adviser who has access to classified information. 

Wasserman Schultz's amendments were inserted into the annual Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill during a markup on Thursday.

The amendments did not garner any Republican support. 

July 12, 2017

Diaz-Balart casts crucial vote that could allow horse slaughters in U.S.

Mario for fabi

@alextdaugherty 

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart voted against a long-approved ban on federal funds for horse slaughter inspectors on Wednesday, opening the door for horse slaughter to resume in the United States if the measure passes Congress.

The final vote tally was 25 in favor of the ban and 27 against. Diaz-Balart, R-Miami, previously voted in favor of the ban, meaning his switch was critical in sinking the ban this time around.

The ban was an amendment tacked on to the annual Department of Agriculture funding bill, and a tie vote would have resulted in the ban failing. Diaz-Balart voted in favor of the ban in 2014 but said the ban “did not yield the positive results that many envisioned and I had hoped for” and voted against the ban the last three years.

The ban on horse slaughter inspector funding passed the House committee in 2014 and 2016 but failed in 2015. The Senate overruled the House’s decision that year.

Horses raised in the United States are not intended to be eaten by humans, but U.S. horses can be transported to other countries and slaughtered for meat according to European Union standards. Horse meat is considered taboo in the United States, but it is eaten in parts of Europe and Asia.

Diaz-Balart argued that U.S. horses are still slaughtered outside the country, where they are not subject to inspections and oversight by the Department of Agriculture.

“The reality is, if these horses are not dealt with in USDA certified and inspected facilities, they will be hauled off to a foreign market where the conditions are much more cruel and less humane,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement. The Government Accountability Office “found that the ban shifted slaughter facilities to other countries, including Mexico, where humane methods and responsible oversight are not as rigorous as those in the U.S. GAO has also observed that there is not enough space in rescue facilities in the U.S. to handle abandoned horses.”

The GAO report said horse exports for slaughter to Mexico increased by 680 percent from 2006 to 2010, after Congress stopped funding slaughter inspections.

“Since domestic horse slaughter ceased in 2007, the slaughter horse market has shifted to Canada and Mexico,” the report said. “As a result, nearly the same number of U.S. horses was transported to Canada and Mexico for slaughter in 2010 – nearly 138,000 – as was slaughtered before domestic slaughter ceased.”

Republicans from western states with large populations of wild horses were the primary opponents of the ban, arguing that current methods of controlling wild horses aren’t enough. Wild horses, which have no natural predators, can disrupt food sources for other animals, but horse advocates say allowing horse slaughter is a handout to ranchers who dislike the horses because they compete with their cattle for food on public range land.

Four Republicans, including Florida Rep. Tom Rooney, voted in favor of the ban, while Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar was the only Democrat to vote with the Republican majority. The bipartisan amendment was cosponsored by California Democratic Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard and Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Charlie Dent.

Appropriations Committee member Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, spoke in favor of the ban during Wednesday's markup, arguing that population-control problems for wild horses is not a reason to open the door for horse slaughter.

“The inability to deal with that challenge does not make it okay to leave the door open for the possibility of horse slaughter in the United States of America,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Wasserman Schultz compared the slaughtering of horses to the slaughtering of greyhounds in Florida, which she said was banned while she worked in the Florida Legislature. Even though adoption programs for greyhounds didn't work, the state continued to find solutions that didn’t involve killing greyhounds.

“Those are the steps that we should be taking, not literally holding a machete to the neck of a horse in order to make sure that we can solve a problem that I’m sure in the states where it is an issue needs solving,” Wasserman Schultz said. “We should not do something that most Americans find abhorrent and allow even a step toward the slaughter of horses.”

Roybal-Allard argued that funding horse-slaughter inspectors doesn't have anything to do with controlling wild horses and only serves to benefit ranchers who want to slaughter horse meat for consumption abroad.

“Let me reiterate the fact that this bill does not address the issue of wild horses,” Roybal-Allard said. “It deals only with domestic horses slaughtered for human consumption. Let us not fall victim to the notion that horse slaughter would be humane if somehow done in the United States because no amount of regulation will change the essential nature of a horse and make it a humane practice.”

The Department of Agriculture funding bill still needs pass the House, so there is still a chance the ban on horse slaughter inspections could be reinserted.

July 03, 2017

Tim Canova reports he raised $32,000 in first two weeks

Canovamic

@amysherman1

Tim Canova's campaign reported that he raised about $32,000 during the last two weeks of June after he kicked off his rematch against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Canova raised $31,928 through 1,323 in small donations with an average donation of $24, according to his campaign. Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor who lives in Hollywood, has made campaign finance reform a key platform of his campaign and pledged not to take donations from corporate interests or political action committees. During his failed 2016 bid against Wasserman Schultz, he criticized her for taking money from Wall Street banks.

Wasserman Schultz raised about $269,000 through March and hasn't yet announced what she raised through June. She represents the left-leaning Congressional District 23 which stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County.

The first fundraising period for Canova is so short that it doesn't provide much of an indication of his fundraising prospects this cycle. In 2016, Canova hit the $1 million mark about four months into his first campaign for elected office.

Campaigns must submit fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission by July 15.

 

June 22, 2017

Debbie Wasserman Schultz says former DHS secretary is "utterly misinformed" about contact regarding DNC Russian hacks

ELECTION0831 WASSERMAN CTJ@alextdaugherty

Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Thursday that former Department of Homeland Security secretary Jeh Johnson was "utterly misinformed" after Johnson testified to Congress under oath on Wednesday that the Democratic National Committee refused his organization's help regarding Russian hacking in the 2016 election. 

"The former secretary of homeland security testified yesterday about the Russian hacks during the election and he flat out said that the DNC refused his department's help. You put out a statement afterward basically saying that Jeh Johnson was wrong, where is he wrong?" CNN's Kate Bolduan asked Wasserman Schultz.  

"He's wrong in every respect," Wasserman Schultz said. "Let me just be very clear, at no point during my tenure at the DNC was I contacted by the FBI, DHS or any government agency, or alerted or made aware that they believe the Russians, an enemy state, was intruding on our network." 

Johnson said the opposite during a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday. 

"I spelled out in my opening statement -- my prepared statement, the first time I recall hearing about the hack into the DNC," Johnson said. "And I recalled that it had been some months before I was learning of this that the FBI and the DNC had been in contact with each other about this. And I was not very happy to be learning about it several months later, very clearly." 

Wasserman Schultz stepped down as head of the DNC on July 24, 2016 after leaked emails from WikiLeaks showed that Wasserman Schultz expressed contempt towards Bernie Sanders' campaign manager. She vehemently denied that Johnson or anyone from the Department of Homeland Security directly contacted the DNC about Russian hacking beyond phoning the organization's tech support. 

"The FBI and other federal agencies did virtually nothing to make sure that when they were aware or concerned that there was an intrusion on our network by the Russians that they did virtually nothing to sound the alarm bells to make us aware of that," Wasserman Schultz said. 

Video below: 

 

 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz take on the media — in softball

Image1

@alextdaugherty 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had her shot to one-up the Fourth Estate on the softball field Wednesday night, as she suited up against Washington reporters decades her junior who spend their days needling members of Congress about Donald Trump’s latest tweet or trying to snag a quote for their story.

But just after Ros-Lehtinen took her place in right field in the first inning of the ninth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, NPR reporter Tamara Keith blooped a single that scooted underneath the glove of the longtime Miami Republican.

“Sorry!” Ros-Lehtinen yelled as she ran after the ball.

Sprinting after her was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the ultra-competitive second baseman for congressional team, ready to field Ros-Lehtinen’s cutoff throw.

But their combined efforts couldn’t stop two runs from scoring, and the play turned out to be the decisive blow in a close 2-1 game won by the reporters.

“We come out here to practice two or three mornings a week and for an old lady like me it feels really good,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

Wednesday’s game was more than just an opportunity for reporters and politicians to take out their frustrations on one another, it was also a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.

The annual game was started by Wasserman Schultz and former Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., in 2009 to build bipartisanship and raise funds for a charity dedicated to helping young women identify and treat breast cancer.

Wasserman Schultz was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and when she decided to go public in 2009, Emerson approached her about starting the game.

“The idea was the baseball game was played by men but we didn’t really have a sport the women played,” Wasserman Schultz said.

The first game in 2009 pitted members of Congress against their staffers, but “they were much younger so we didn’t do very well,” Waserman Schultz said. Ever since, members of Congress have played the press.

Wednesday’s game raised $292,097.59 for the Young Survival Coalition and the game has raised more than $1.1 million for charity since 2009.

“It’s so personal for me and all these women on the press team,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The softball field is a politics-free zone.”

But it’s not a competition-free zone.

Wasserman Schultz, a team captain along with Ros-Lehtinen, was involved in numerous collisions at second base and pumped her fist when Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida made an accurate throw to her to nail a runner.

“I’m a little competitive,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Read more here. 

June 21, 2017

Bernie Sanders isn’t backing Tim Canova in his second bid against Wasserman Schultz

Canova

@alextdaugherty 

In the summer of 2016, Tim Canova was the South Florida proxy for the dying embers of Bernie Sanders’ presidential bid.

After Sanders endorsed — on national television — Canova’s bid to oust Debbie Wasserman Schultz from her congressional seat, the Nova Southeastern University law professor raked in millions from disaffected liberal Democrats around the country upset with her leadership of the Democratic National Committee and her perceived favoritism toward Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary.

“Clearly I favor her opponent, his views are much closer to mine than to Wasserman Schultz’s,” Sanders said in May 2016.

Last week, Canova announced he will challenge Wasserman Schultz again in 2018 despite a 14-point loss in the Democratic primary to the longtime congresswoman from Weston.

But this time around, Sanders isn’t on board.

“I have no idea about Tim Canova, I honestly don’t,” Sanders said when asked if he plans to support Canova’s second bid against Wasserman Schultz. “I know nothing about Tim Canova.”

Sanders declined to answer whether he thinks Wasserman Schultz should face a primary challenge from a more liberal-leaning Democrat.

The Canova campaign said the lack of support from Sanders doesn’t matter even though it could mean millions in contributions from supporters of the Vermont senator.

“In 2016, Tim Canova did not seek endorsements from any elected officials, including Senator Sanders,” Canova campaign spokesperson Deborah Dion said in an email. “Tim was therefore as surprised as anyone when Senator Sanders endorsed him five months into his campaign. Tim announced his candidacy for 2018 only last week and again he has not sought any endorsements from any politicians at any level, Senator Sanders' remarks do not change anything in our campaign or messaging.”

In an email, Canova acknowledged the importance of Sanders’ endorsement last year, even though Sanders did not come to Florida to campaign with Canova.

“I was thrilled when he endorsed me last year,” Canova said. “His endorsement gave us an important lift and I'm forever grateful for his support at such a critical time.”

Canova faces an uphill challenge against Wasserman Schultz, a prolific fundraiser who has widespread support among many constituencies in her Broward-based district that extends into northeastern Miami-Dade County. He’s now a second-time candidate facing off against an opponent who won reelection by double digits weeks after being ousted as DNC chair.


Read more here. 


June 15, 2017

Here's what Canova told media about Wasserman Schultz rematch

Canovamic

@amysherman1

Tim Canova announced a rematch against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz Thursday at a meeting of the Broward County Democratic progressive caucus.

After his speech, the Nova Southeastern University law professor took a few questions from the Miami Herald and Sun-Sentinel about his second campaign, his January Facebook post about DNC staffer Seth Rich who was murdered, and about U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders who endorsed his 2016 bid.

Here is a transcript of part of the interview:

Question: “Last year she was at her most vulnerable ever and you couldn’t beat her six weeks after that [DNC email] scandal...”

Canova: “She was not at her most vulnerable ever. There was a presumption that she was maybe even going to be in a Hillary Clinton White House or cabinet, your premise Amy is a little bit off there. She was not at her most vulnerable at all.”

Question: “She faced the most public criticism and biggest downfall we had ever seen. You couldn’t beat her then...”

Canova: “I had a been candidate for less eight months -- three months before we did a poll that showed me down by something like 60 points. It was a remarkable achievement to come as close as we did.”

Question: “What will you do differently this time?"

Canova: “Announce a lot earlier.”

Question: “In terms of issues? strategy?”

Canova: “I will say this: the reason we came from so far behind was because of the issues in many ways. We knocked on a lot doors, we spoke to voters -- we learned what their issues were and it's not surprising that their issues were our issues. Most people want good jobs, they want economic security, they want health care and education -- that’s what we focused on -- that’s what we keep focusing on.”

Question: “What is it you’re going to do differently besides announcing six months earlier?”

Canova: “I didn’t say I was going to do a lot differently. I said we were going to keep focusing on the issues.”

Question: “[DNC staffer] Seth Rich -- do you still believe he was murdered because of the DNC leaks?”

Canova: “I do believe he was murdered -- yes. I am sure my opponent would also like to know who killed Seth Rich.”

Question: “But do you think he was killed because of the DNC email leaks?”

Canova: “I have no idea ... What I said on Facebook was that folks had suggested it and we should find out what happened. It's that simple.”

Question: “Do you think it has anything to do with the DNC?”

Canova: “I have no idea. I wondered what the DNC under Wasserman Schultz was capable of but I don’t know. That’s not the issues that I am focusing on. I know that’s the issue that Wasserman Schultz would like you to ask me, but that’s not the issue that I spoke about today.”

Question: “Have you talked to Bernie Sanders about your run this time and will he be involved?”

Canova: “No comment.”

Miami Herald 2016 file photo