February 25, 2014

Miami Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen files Venezuela legislation in Congress

@PatriciaMazzei

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen filed legislation Tuesday in Congress deploring violence in Venezuela and calling for dialogue between the government and opposition protesters who have taken to the streets for two weeks.

The Miami Republican's measure is part of an effort by Florida politicians of both parties to try to bring attention to the turmoil and to pressure the Obama administration to continue condemning repressive tactics against the opposition.

According to a news release by Ros-Lehtinen's office, House Resolution 488 also urges the Organization of American States to convene its Permanent Council to seek a way to end the violence, which has resulted in the deaths of at least 16 people. Panama, an OAS member, requested Tuesday that the organization consider the Venezuela situation.

On the House floor Tuesday, Ros-Lehtinen, who chairs the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, criticized the detainment of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, who was jailed a week ago.

"We cannot stand idly by while democracy and due process are trampled on in our own hemisphere," she said, adding that the U.S. and other countries have a "moral responsibility" to support peaceful student protests.

UPDATE: Among the bill's co-sponsors as of Wednesday are eight members of the Florida congressional delegation, including Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami and Democratic Reps. Joe Garcia of Miami, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens.

 

February 13, 2014

UPDATED South Florida members of Congress weigh in on deadly protests in Venezuela

@PatriciaMazzei

Amid fears that the Venezuelan government is cracking down on political opponents in the wake of deadly student-led protests, Miami members of Congress criticized President Nicolás Maduro and called for peace to prevail over violence.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, all Republicans, each issued statements Thursday siding with the protesters. Rubio also directly called out President Obama's administration, urging him to condemn any violence from groups affiliated to the Venezuelan government.

On Twitter, Rep. Joe Garcia, a Miami Democrat, responded Wednesday to a tweet by El Nuevo Herald by saying, in Spanish, "El pueblo venezolano se merece paz, estabilidad, y democracia!" (The Venezuelan people deserve peace, stability and democracy.)

UPDATE: On Friday, Garcia released a full statement of his own, which has been added to the bottom of this post.

The statements are below:

Continue reading "UPDATED South Florida members of Congress weigh in on deadly protests in Venezuela" »

February 04, 2014

Diaz-Balart to sugar baron: Hey, Alfy, try crying for democracy in Cuba instead of lost mansion

@MarcACaputo

And the hits from the Cuban exile community keep coming.

Outraged by a Washington Post report about Florida Crystals' Alfonso Fanjul appearing to sidle up to Cuba's regime, Republican Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Sen. Marco Rubio are hammering away at him. Meantime, Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia has held his fire.

Alfy is the Democratic side of the sugar company's duo; with brother Pepe contributing to Republicans. So consider the criticism by the Republicans is a political two-fer:

Continue reading "Diaz-Balart to sugar baron: Hey, Alfy, try crying for democracy in Cuba instead of lost mansion" »

January 28, 2014

In Spanish-language State of the Union response, Miami congresswoman will tout GOP as party of opportunity

@PatriciaMazzei

One of Miami's own will deliver a Republican response Tuesday to President Obama's State of the Union -- in Spanish.

Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will use her speech to portray the GOP to Hispanics as a party looking to empower families, and not the government, to build a better future. (Florida Sen. Marco Rubio delivered Republicans' rebuttal last year, in English and Spanish.)

The remarks, according to released excerpts, will mostly track those that will be delivered by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris of Washington in English.

"Tonight, the president made more promises that sound good but won't solve the problem our nation faces," Ros-Lehtinen's prepared Spanish-language remarks say. "I want you to have a better life. The president wants that too. But we disagree on how to get there."

She intends to share details from her personal history, saying, as she often does, that her family left Cuba after Fidel Castro's revolution and she "would have never believed" she'd become the first Hispanic woman in Congress. The Republican Party, Ros-Lehtinen will argue, is the party that can give other Hispanic immigrants similar opportunities.

Ros-Lehtinen plans to say that Obama should focus less on closing the income-inequality gap and more on the "opportunity gap" for people looking to better themselves.

"That's why the first step in our strategy to close this gap is to secure well-paying jobs for individuals skilled to carry them out," her prepared remarks say.

She plans to devote only two paragraphs in the second half of her speech to immigration reform, without delving into specifics. "It's time to honor our history of legal immigration," her speech says, calling for a "permanent solution" of some sort.

Ros-Lehtinen will close with a prayer for a U.S. Marine corporal from Homestead who died in Afghanistan in 2009. Christian A. Guzman Rivera was 21 when he died, along with three other Marines, after a roadside bomb exploded the Humvee they were riding in the western Afghan province of Farah.

November 14, 2013

Poll shows immigration haunting Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart

@MarcACaputo
 
More than 6 in 10 voters in Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s district say he needs to be more aggressive pushing immigration reform this year, according to a new poll showing that a higher number of them favor a comprehensive bill that he hasn’t yet backed.
 
The 605-voter survey, conducted by Public Policy Polling for the liberal-leaning Florida New Majority, is a sign of the troubles Diaz-Balart has faced while trying to get a bipartisan bill passed in the U.S. House, where GOP leaders have kept the issue from a vote.
 
For months, the Miami representative and others have met in secret and tried to hammer out a bill that a majority of the Republican House caucus would back.
 
But with no bill yet as the year ends, the meetings have started to haunt Diaz-Balart because advocates and voters in District 25 want to see more results.
 
“This is what happens when you’re legislating and not grandstanding,” said Diaz-Balart, who represents a majority Hispanic House seat that runs from Miami-Dade through Broward, Collier and Hendry counties.
 

October 07, 2013

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen announces new policy-legal adviser: Keith Fernandez

From a press release:

Miami, Florida - Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced the appointment of Keith Fernandez as her Legal Counsel and Director of Communications. The appointment, effective immediately, places Fernandez at the head of the Congresswoman's media and communications operation in both Miami and Washington, DC. Fernandez will also serve as a close advisor to Ros-Lehtinen on legal and policy matters.

Said Ros-Lehtinen, "I'm excited to have Keith on our Congressional team. His political work and issue advocacy are well-known in South Florida and he is a valuable addition to our already great staff. Keith's insights on current events and policy will assist me in representing South Florida and will provide a valuable perspective on policy decisions."

Background: Keith Fernandez, a Miami native, is a graduate of the University of Florida, Levin College of Law and Florida International University. He previously served in various political roles for Ros-Lehtinen and served as a judicial intern to the Honorable Bertila Soto. Fernandez is actively engaged on several policy issues and looks forward to working for his friends and neighbors in South Florida.

October 02, 2013

Ros-Lehtinen calls shutdown 'political posturing' with 'terrible consequences'

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican from Miami, has little sympathy for her colleagues who are trying to make an ideological point with the goverrnment shutdown.

"While financial and budget issues are often the cause of much noise from Washington, this year’s ultimate failure is a reminder that political posturing can quickly lead to terrible consequences for the everyday lives of American families, businesses, and their futures,'' said the statement released by Ros-Lehtinen's office this morning.

"The American people send us to Washington to work together for the betterment of our great nation; not for ourselves,'' Ros-Lehtinen was quoted as saying. "It’s way past time for all parties to work together in a genuine, bipartisan and adult manner to end this unnecessary government shutdown. This is not some abstract exercise. It has real consequences for our communities and our families. It’s high time to end the political showmanship, and together, create a solution." 

Her statement called the federal shutdown "an alarming event" caused by federal leaders who "were unable, or unwilling, to reach an agreement on how to fund its operations." 


September 08, 2013

Want straight answers on Syria? That's classified

@MarcACaputo

The Obama Administration, in media-marketing parlance, is trying to “sell” a war.

But the American public and its caveat-emptor Congress aren’t buying.

The administration’s so-called product — a bombing campaign in Syria — has a series of non-disclosure clauses bound up with an implicit government promise: “trust us.”

Continue reading "Want straight answers on Syria? That's classified" »

August 28, 2013

Marco Rubio’s deafening silence on Syria

@MarcACaputo

**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.”

Continue reading "Marco Rubio’s deafening silence on Syria" »

July 26, 2013

Reps. Ros-Lehtinen, Diaz-Balart join chorus of critics over Steve King's DREAMer-drug-mule comments

@MarcACaputo

Miami’s three Cuban-American members of Congress have a message for fellow U.S. Rep. Steve King, who said more DREAMer immigrants are drug mules than valedictorians: Be quiet.

King’s statements, which drew swift rebukes from Republican congressional leaders earlier in the week, have become the latest flash-point in the immigration debate in the conservative House, which is divided over whether and how to reform the system.

“These comments are outrageous and reflect only this particular member’s views,” Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican House member like King, said in a statement. “Such statements are factually untrue, hurtful and seem designed to divide rather than to bring our nation together.”

Continue reading "Reps. Ros-Lehtinen, Diaz-Balart join chorus of critics over Steve King's DREAMer-drug-mule comments " »