July 08, 2016

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen files bill to study rising seas' effects on coral reefs

@PatriciaMazzei

Here's something noteworthy: A Republican lawmaker has proposed legislation dealing with one of the effects of sea-level rise.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami introduced a bill -- dubbed, yes, the "CORAL Act" -- that would widen the scope of coral-reef research to include "the impacts of ocean acidification, warming seas and invasive species." The law would also allow the federal government to more quickly respond to problems like coral disease and bleaching, and give agencies a more active role in restoring reefs.

The GOP has been reluctant to take on sea-level rise, but the issue is unavoidable for South Florida Republicans with coastal districts, such as Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who signed on to the coral bill. Both face opponents who have stressed climate change as a key issue.

"Having fled the oppressive Castro regime in Cuba with my parents decades ago, I know that South Florida is special because it serves as a place of hope for so many," Ros-Lehtinen said on the House floor Wednesday. "We cannot allow changing ocean conditions to rob us of our livelihoods, of our lifestyle, or of our identity as an optimistic community."

 

June 23, 2016

Rubio and fellow Miami Republicans react to SCOTUS immigration decision

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lauded the Supreme Court on Thursday on its decision to keep blocking a plan by President Barack Obama to let scores of people in the country illegally remain in the U.S.

The court, still missing a ninth member after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, deadlocked 4-4 on the issue. That left standing an earlier appeals court decision prohibiting the Obama administration from implementing its Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.

"This is the right decision," Rubio said in a statement. "No matter what solutions one may prefer to fix our broken immigration system, those policies must be pursued and passed into law by Congress."

But he and the other South Florida politicians -- all of whom have supported immigration reform -- also said Congress must also act.

"While the Supreme Court's decision makes clear that President Obama has acted lawlessly, it does not leave Congress off the hook either," Rubio said.

Miami's three Republican House members -- Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo -- were even more critical of lawmakers (many of them in the GOP) who have failed to address immigration issues.

"The Supreme Court has spoken, but today's decision does not resolve the issue," they said in a joint statement. "The American people expect Congress to work together to secure our borders, adhere to the rule of law, offer a humane solution to those living in the shadows, modernize our visa system, and bolster the economy. We are committed to fixing our broken immigration system once and for all."

Joining the Miamians in their position were Republican Reps. Fred Upton of Michigan, Mike Coffman of Colorado, Dan Newhouse of Washington, David Valadao of California, Jeff Denham of California, and Bob Dold of Illinois.

June 22, 2016

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo back Marco Rubio

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio picks up the backing of two fellow Miami Republicans who areprobably relieved at the prospect of having Rubio on the November ballot:

June 20, 2016

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen gets AFL-CIO endorsement

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, has been endorsed by the South Florida AFL-CIO and the United Teachers of Dade.

Ros-Lehtinen's district was redrawn and is now slightly Democratic but she is still considered a safe incumbent as a social liberal who has been in Congress since 1989. She is expected to draw a Democratic challenger: Scott Furhman, a political newcomer who has national Democratic backing.

Ros-Lehtinen represents District 27 which stretches from North Bay Village to Cutler Bay.

 

June 07, 2016

Unanimous House support for Holocaust bill authored by South Florida reps

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Boca Raton Rep. Ted Deutch want Germany to provide more financial resources to Holocaust survivors, who are elderly and in some cases, according to the members of Congress, struggling to get by.

On Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution sponsored by the two South Floridians calling on Germany to do more. Both Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican, and Deutch, a Democrat, spoke on the bill's behalf on the House floor.

"These survivors are passing away" without the care they need, Ros-Lehtinen said.

Deutch talked of "infirm, isolated and poor Nazi victims" facing caps for the number of hours a day they can get home care as an example of what some cash-strapped survivors face.

The measure is largely symbolic, but important to Jewish constituents for both members of Congress in South Florida. It received a vote of 363-0.

"Germany has long acknowledged its obligations to Holocaust survivors, and though it has taken steps to address the needs of survivors, the assistance has been inadequate and often caught up in time consuming bureaucracy," Ros-Lehtinen told the Miami Herald in a statement. "Survivors endured unspeakable horrors and atrocities, yet they continue to suffer lingering injustices. They deserve to live out the remainder of their days in dignity and comfort."

The resolution now heads to the U.S. Senate, where it's sponsored by Florida Democrat Bill Nelson and Maine Republican Susan Collins.

 

June 02, 2016

Democrat plans to challenge Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

@PatriciaMazzei

In the year of Donald Trump, no Republican may be safe — not even the dean of Miami-Dade County’s congressional delegation. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Friday will draw a Democratic challenger, the first serious candidate to launch a campaign against her in eight years.

Scott Fuhrman, a political newcomer and third-generation fruit-juice bottler, has national Democrats’ backing to try to unseat Ros-Lehtinen, a beloved, socially liberal Republican who has been in Congress since 1989.

“I don’t have all the answers, but I think it’s time to try something new,” Fuhrman said Thursday in an interview with the Miami Herald.

Fuhrman, 34, of South Miami, speaks openly about numerous past brushes with the law. He has been registered without political-party affiliation in the past and plans to kick off his “unorthodox” candidacy with a web video Friday. He acknowledged his campaign will be “an uphill battle.”

Ros-Lehtinen, 63, isn’t considered a vulnerable political target, even after Congressional District 27, which stretches from North Bay Village to Cutler Bay, was redrawn to lean slightly Democratic. The nonpartisanCook Political Report, which analyzes congressional races, lists the seat as “solid” Republican, and the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report rates it “safe” Republican — even though the district voters favored President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by 7 percentage points in 2012.

Yet Democrats hope Trump might change the equation, if enough voters who oppose him also punish the rest of the Republicans on the ticket. South Florida already boasts one of the most competitive congressional races in the country: Freshman Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo is trying to fend off two Democrats in a Westchester-to-Key West district that leans even more Democratic than Ros-Lehtinen’s. Neither Curbelo nor Ros-Lehtinen, both in Hispanic-majority districts, plans to vote for Trump.

More here.

May 24, 2016

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: 'Venezuela is on the verge of total collapse'

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Tuesday to blast Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his administration.

"To put it simply, Mr. Speaker: Venezuela is on the verge of total collapse," Ros-Lehtinen said. "And what an impact that will have throughout our hemisphere. It is not a matter of if. It is a matter of when."

 

May 16, 2016

In emotional plea, Miami congresswoman and family push for transgender rights

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and her husband joined forces with their son in a new campaign to promote transgender rights and acceptance.

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen is a transgender man. His parents -- the longtime congresswoman and former Miami U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen -- are the face of a new public-service announcement created by the advocacy group SAVE.

From el Nuevo Herald videographer Jose A. Iglesias:

Take a look at the PSAs, in English and Spanish:

May 14, 2016

Miguel Diaz de la Portilla had special guests at his state Senate campaign launch, too

Image1

@ByKristenMClark

The contentious Florida Senate race for District 37 in Miami-Dade County has attracted big guns for both the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Last week, Democratic state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez had help from both U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and U.S. Senate candidate and U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, at his kick-off fundraiser.

But just three days later, it turns out, his Republican opponent -- current state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla -- quietly had many special guests of his own at a similar event.

Diaz de la Portilla's campaign announced Friday that it had held a kick-off party for the senator's re-election bid on May 6.

The campaign said it was held at Casa Juancho, a Spanish restaurant in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood, and featured a "standing room-only crowd comprised of more than 200 friends and family."

Among the guests in attendance, the campaign said: Miami Republican U.S. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart; state Sens. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; outgoing state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami; Miami-Dade County Commissioners Barbara Jordan, Rebeca Sosa, Xavier Suarez, Javier Souto, Steve Bovo and Sally Heyman; and City of Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo.

Image3"Miguel has shown a unique ability to effectively represent our entire community. We need him in Tallahassee, fighting and delivering results for all of us," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement provided by Diaz de la Portilla's campaign.

District 37 represents much of the city of Miami and stretches south along the coast to include Coral Gables, Key Biscayne and Cutler Bay. It leans Democratic and is heavily Hispanic.

Diaz de la Portilla and Rodriguez, both of Miami, officially launched their campaigns a couple months ago, but their fundraisers marked the start of what's expected to be a heated election season this summer and fall. The race is already starting to bring in a lot of cash, with Diaz de la Portilla holding the edge over Rodriguez, as of April 30.

Diaz de la Portilla, one of the Florida Senate's more moderate Republicans, hopes to hold on to his seat. But through Rodriguez, Democrats are eyeing District 37 as one of a few seats they could pick up in November to narrow the Republican majority in the chamber.

"If you're from this diverse community, you get it: We work together for the common good," Diaz de la Portilla said in a statement Friday. "I am thankful for all the support I have received and look forward to continuing to work in Tallahassee for the entire community."

Photos courtesy of Miguel Diaz de la Portilla's re-election campaign

May 06, 2016

Miami congresswoman confirms she won't vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton

Ilean21 cuna new hmg

@PatriciaMazzei

Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen confirmed to the Miami Herald on Friday that she won't back either presumptive presidential nominee.

"I will work with whomever is chosen by the American people to serve as president, because I deeply respect the American constitutional system," the congresswoman said in a statement. "In this election, I do not support either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton."

Ros-Lehtinen did not respond in time for our story earlier this week about where Miami Republican members of Congress -- all previous Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio backers -- stood on Trump as their de facto nominee. We cited her telling a Spanish-language network two weeks ago that she didn't think she could cast a ballot for Trump. "I don't feel in my heart that I could support him," she said at the time.

The only local congressman who says -- albeit indirectly -- that he'll vote for Trump is Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who in his statement to the Herald referred to the Republican nominee but not Trump by name. Rep. Carlos Curbelo said he won't vote for Trump or Clinton.

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said he couldn't back Trump yet. On Friday, Ryan's office said the speaker will meet with Trump and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus next week. Trump will also meet with other House leaders.

Photo credit: Hector Gabino, el Nuevo Herald