October 12, 2016

Rubio gets 'zero' from gay rights group, but other Florida Republicans score far better

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio’s support for LGBT issues declined in recent years, according to scoring by Human Rights Campaign.

The group has released its rankings for the 114th Congress and Rubio scored a zero. That was down from 22 percent in the 113th Congress and 47 percent in the 112th.

Human Rights Campaign based its current report on several issues, including a budget amendment from Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, that would have ensured same-sex couples have access to Social Security and veterans benefits.

Rubio also voted against a failed amendment from Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, that included LGBTQ non-discrimination protections or runaway and homeless youth programs. In a couple instances, Rubio missed votes that group scored.

Rubio’s score was higher the previous year because he voted against an amendment to the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 striking provisions prohibiting discrimination against victims of domestic violence based on sexual orientation as well as eliminating protections relating to Native American and immigrant victims. He voted against a similar amendment the year before.

Continue reading "Rubio gets 'zero' from gay rights group, but other Florida Republicans score far better" »

October 11, 2016

Democratic challenger wipes foreign affairs page from website as Ros-Lehtinen hits him on Israel


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen mailed a new flier Monday attacking Democratic rival Scott Fuhrman over Israel and Iran policy proposals laid out in his website.

Make that, formerly laid out in his website.

As of Monday night, Fuhrman's "Foreign Affairs" issue page had disappeared from scottfuhrmanforcongress.com. 

Ros-Lehtinen's camp says the page was still up in Saturday when they sent the flier to print. Google shows a cached version of the page from a week ago.

In the now-deleted page, Fuhrman said the U.S. shouldn't "walk away" from trying to negotiate a peaceful two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

"This is an opportunity to make forward strides in peace," he said. "I believe congress should take leadership and put forward its own parameters for a negotiated resolution. The goal is to keep as many children and families safe from terror while encouraging equitable diplomacy in much needed areas."

In her flier, Ros-Lehtinen claims Fuhrman's "dangerous foreign policy pledges to undermine relationship with Israel."

Continue reading "Democratic challenger wipes foreign affairs page from website as Ros-Lehtinen hits him on Israel " »

October 10, 2016

SEIU backs Republican Ros-Lehtinen


The Service Employees International Union, which tends to back Democrats, has endorsed the reelection of Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

"Through her work on behalf of South Florida's working families, Ileana has shown a record of results for our community," SEIU Florida Monica Russo said in a statement. "The members of SEIU are proud to endorse Ileana because she is a partner in our quest to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour, raise living and working conditions for health care and other professionals as well as for the most vulnerable, our seniors. She also supports a functional immigration system that will strengthen families and communities."

Ros-Lehtinen faces Democratic challenger Scott Fuhrman in Miami's 27th congressional district.

"I'm honored to receive the support of the hardworking men and women of the SEIU," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "I work every day for South Florida families. I look forward to their help throughout the campaign as I speak with voters about my focus on improving our economy."

October 08, 2016

Miami GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen calls on Trump to withdraw


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urged Donald Trump on Saturday to withdraw as her party's presidential nominee, joining a growing number of GOP members of Congress asking for his resignation.

"Trump doesn't represent our nation. I was not with Trump before and I'm not with him now. Trump must withdraw," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "In April, before Trump even clinched the nomination, I announced I could not and would not support Donald Trump in this election. I'm now calling on Donald Trump to drop out of the race for the good of our nation."

Ros-Lehtinen, a veteran lawmaker, first backed Jeb Bush and then Marco Rubio for president. After both dropped out, she said she wouldn't vote for Trump or Democrat Hillary Clinton, saying she'd write-in Bush's name first.

On Friday, after The Washington Post broke the news about a 2005 recording in which Trump bragged about making sexual advances at women, Ros-Lethinen denounced Trump's comments.

She went a step further Saturday afternoon, after her opponent, first-time Democratic candidate Scott Fuhrman, said in a statement that "anything short of a complete rejection of [Trump's] candidacy and support of Secretary Clinton can only be seen as an endorsement of him and his behavior."

"When even staunch Republicans are outright rejecting his candidacy, no one who claims to be moderate and bipartisan has any excuse to again stand idle in the face of such ugliness," he said.

Ros-Lehtinen represents the 27th congressional district, which now leans Democratic, though she has not been considered among the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress this year.

Photo credit: Hector Gabino, el Nuevo Herald

October 04, 2016

Democratic challenger hits Ros-Lehtinen on TV over Cuba


In a play to win over Hispanic and independent voters, Miami Democrat Scott Fuhrman is using his first TV ads as a congressional candidate to cast Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as out of touch on one of her signature issues: Cuba policy.

Fuhrman's ads, which started airing Tuesday in English and Spanish, begin with a clip from President Barack Obama's historic speech earlier this year in Havana. 

"I offer the Cuban people el saludo de paz," Obama said -- the greeting of peace.

Then it cuts to Fuhrman.

"Historic: opening the U.S. to Cuba. A chance at a better life for millions of Cubans. For Cubans here, a chance to finally visit home," he says. "But Ileana Ros-Lehtinen clutches to the past, standing in the way of progress, turning her back on the Cuban people."

Fuhrman concludes by saying, "I will support the president's leadership -- not stand in his way." If he were to defeat Ros-Lehtinen, though, he'd only serve a few days under Obama before a new president came into the White House.

Fuhrman's campaign said the $250,000 ad buy will play over the next 10 days on local stations and cable.

More here.


Ros-Lehtinen says Trump's dealings in Cuba 'merit more scrutiny'


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Donald Trump's business dealings in Cuba "merit more scrutiny," after a report last week said Trump broke the U.S. trade embargo against the communist island.

"I look forward to seeing more facts and information regarding these allegations," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement Monday to the Miami Herald.

Ros-Lehtinen was the only one of Miami's Cuban-American Republican lawmakers who hadn't weighed in on the Newsweek report about Trump last week. She had been in Israel attending former President Shimon Peres' funeral.

The longtime congresswoman, a Cuba policy hardliner, has refused to back Trump for president.

Through a spokesman, the usually media-friendly Ros-Lehtinen declined to give an interview.

"Reports about the Republican nominee seeking to do business in Cuba merit more scrutiny," she said in the statement. "It's interesting to now see press reports highlighting that doing business with the Castro dictatorship is legally questionable at best. I hope that this inquisitive spirit continues instead of the 'Cuba is open for business' euphoria that has pathetically become the norm."

October 03, 2016

In new TV ad, Ros-Lehtinen says she's fought sea-level rise


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen casts herself as something of an environmentalist in a new TV ad her congressional reelection campaign released Monday.

The spot features Ros-Lehtinen at a factory where she talks about the importance of creating jobs and focusing on South Florida's economy -- which is why, she says, she "worked to arrest the effects of sea-level rise: because our community's jobs depend on pristine beaches and natural beauty."

Especially notable is that the ad is running in both English and Spanish. In South Florida's ethnic politics, most candidates typically address the environment in English, trying to appeal to non-Hispanic whites who more frequently cite that as a top issue.

Over the summer, Ros-Lehtinen a filed legislation to promote coral-reef restoration, which they said would help limit potential destruction from higher storm surge given sea-level rise. Earlier this year, she also supported a bill requiring foreign companies to be on the hook for more cleanup costs for oil spills in nearby foreign waters.

Ros-Lehtinen and Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo are seeking reelection for the first time under redrawn districts that lean more Democratic, and both are now campaigning on their positions on the environment, which is unusual for Republicans.

Ros-Lehtinen faces a challenge from Democrat Scott Fuhrman, whom she has slammed on the airwaves for weeks. He has made climate change a key issue in his campaign. 

September 23, 2016

Ros-Lehtinen, Ortega toss verbal grenades at each other

NP-ILR-092316-Florida_Candidates 05 EKM


Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the Nicaraguan government traded bitter criticisms Friday over charges of intimidation and repression.

The exchange started with a statement by the Managua government opposing an effort in Congress led by Ros-Lehtinen to restrict its access to loans in what would be a form of economic sanctions.

Without citing the Miami Republican by name, Nicaragua accused her and other lawmakers of having "been involved in disinformation and intimidation campaigns in the media against Democratic, pluralistic and progressive processes in Latin America and the Caribbean."

The alleged interference in Latin America appeared to be a reference to lawmakers' past criticism of the Cuban and Venezuelan governments.

Ros-Lehtinen has been especially critical of Cuba and its allies in Venezuela and Nicaragua, along with Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and other Cuban-American members of Congress.

Ros-Lehtinen fired back at the Nicaraguan government's latest salvo.

"Ortega's baseless accusations are just his latest attempt to detract attention away from the human rights abuses and the acts of corruption and intimidation he has been perpetrating in Nicaragua, but nobody is fooled," she said.

While Ros-Lehtinen targeted Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, the statement criticizing her bill came from the government he heads, not from him personally, although he all but certainly approved it.

And although Ros-Lehtinen said Ortega had attacked her, the Nicaraguan government statement did not mention her or any other lawmaker by name.

The House on Wednesday unanimously passed a measure that would place U.S. limits on loans to the Ortega government unless it accepts international observers and other steps toward holding free elections.

Ros-Lehtinen and Rep. Albio Sires, a Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey, were lead sponsors of the legislation. The Senate has not pass a companion bill.

Ros-Lehtinen said her measure's main aim was to “stop Ortega from accessing international funds until he adopts reforms that promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law, respect human rights, and celebrate free, fair, and transparent elections supervised by electoral observers.”

For more, read here.

Photo credit: Emily Michot



Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?



WASHINGTON Senate Republican leaders revealed what they called a breakthrough in Zika funding Thursday under renewed pressure from Florida lawmakers and mayors to break a seven-month political impasse.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

Democrats, however, said disputes over funding other urgent needs could still block any final deal, with the Zika money now part of a larger appropriations measure meant to fund the federal government through Dec. 9.

Just a few hours after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine met with South Florida members of Congress and visited the White House to push for the stalled Zika money, the Senate Republicans disclosed the new Zika effort.

For more, read here:

Photo credit: C. M. Guerrero, El Nuevo Herald


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy


September 14, 2016

Competing demands crowd Zika money



WASHINGTON Turns out, Zika isn’t the only urgent problem that needs federal funds fast.

Florida lawmakers pushing to get $1.1 billion for Zika prevention and research into a rapidly evolving broader appropriations bill are competing with members of Congress from across the country who want their needs addressed.

On his second day in Washington to push for Zika funding, Gov. Rick Scott met with members of Congress from the state who briefed him on the rapidly evolving negotiations over federal spending.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said he’s jousting with other panel members seeking vital funding for their districts and states.

Lawmakers from Louisiana want billions for flood relief. Congressmen from Michigan want millions to clean contaminated drinking water. Others are pushing for more money for veterans’ healthcare.

“Florida’s not the only state with urgent needs,” Diaz-Balart told reporters after he and other Florida lawmakers met with Scott.

The governor said that Florida can’t wait any longer to receive federal aid to help with treating the almost 800 people in the state infected with the virus and preventing it from spreading further.

“We need help, and we need help now,” Scott said.

Scott criticized Sen. Bill Nelson for joining other Democrats in having voted down earlier Zika bills because they contained extraneous provisions related to abortion, Planned Parenthood and the federal health insurance law.

Scott’s criticism drew a rebuke from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a fellow Republican from Miami.

“We don’t need to be calling people out,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “Sen. Nelson has been trying to help get Zika funding.”

Beyond the competition among different funding needs, there was disagreement on Capitol Hill over how much time the omnibus spending bill, called a Continuing Resolution, should cover going forward.

Appropriators sought a short-term measure that would keep the government operating into December. Some conservatives wanted it to be funded until March. President Barack Obama and his Democratic allies in Congress were pushing for a bill to cover the entire next fiscal year, starting Oct. 1 and lasting through Sept. 30, 2017.

Video credit: Ken Cedeno, McClatchy