December 02, 2015

Reaction to Florida Supreme Court redistricting ruling

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami:

No matter how the lines are drawn Florida 26 will always be a competitive district deserving a representative with a strong track record of working with Republicans and Democrats to get things done for ‎our community and the country. I have received a lot of support and positive feedback from the residents of Kendall, South Dade, and the Florida Keys during my first year in Congress, and I look forward to continuing my work on their behalf in the future.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

My love for South Florida knows no boundaries and every part of it is special to me. How can it not be when we live in paradise? I know it’s a humbling honor to represent our community and I’ll continue to work hard every day to continue to earn the trust so many have placed in me. I’m ready for the road ahead and hope South Floridians will join me in working to improve our home.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens:

To say that I am deeply disappointed by the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to approve the redistricting map drawn by the Fair Districts Coalition is a gross understatement. From the start, I strongly opposed the map known as CP-1 because it strips from District 24 several economic drivers and cultural attractions and threatens to return our community to its former status as the nation’s “most suffering” district. CP-1 removes from the district PortMiami, Bayside marketplace, AmericanAirlines Arena, Watson Island, Jungle Island/Parrot Island, and Bayfront Park, to name a few.

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New chief of staff for Miami's Ileana Ros-Lehtinen


Arthur "Art" Estopiñan, the longtime chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, is retiring, prompting several moves in her congressional offices.

Estopiñan, who has worked for Ros-Lehtinen for more than a quarter century, will act as senior adviser to the Miami Republican effective Jan. 1, the congresswoman said in a statement.

Estopiñan's deputy, Maytee Sanz, who has worked for Ros-Lehtinen for 25 years, will become the new chief of staff in charge of all of the congresswoman's offices. Legislative Director Joshua Salpeter will run Ros-Lehtinen's D.C. office and also advise on legislation. Both are South Florida natives.

In a statement, Estopiñan noted his son's health as a reason for leaving for the more lucrative private sector.

"While this is a challenge, it is one I am looking forward to," he said. "It will allow me to enter a new phase of life where I can provide for my family, particularly raising a severely disabled child who has a rare genetic muscular disease."

Ros-Lehtinen thanked Estopiñan and called the two staffers she promoted "consummate professionals."

"Art's hard work and dedication to South Florida are well known by our community leaders and his contributions to mentoring and guiding staff and interns have earned him much respect throughout his years on the Hill," she said. "Art's grace in the face of adversity has inspired us all and his leadership in our office will be missed."

October 28, 2015

Miami congresswoman and transgender son preach acceptance in Telemundo interview


Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen has opened up in recent years over her son Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, a transgender man, and the journey the Lehtinen family went through during his transition.

So hearing her and her son discuss the topic again on television this week wasn't surprising. What was more striking was that the interview was aired on Telemundo, the Miami-based Spanish-language network.

Ros-Lehtinen regularly appears on Spanish media, especially locally. But some of those outlets tend to be more conservative on social issues. To hear the congresswoman and her son both speak at length on the national network about how parents should welcome their transgender children seemed particularly poignant.

The title of the piece? "Love that breaks barriers."


Miami members of Congress back immigration reform - and Paul Ryan, who won't bring it to vote under Obama


When Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said he'd likely run for U.S. House speaker, Miami's three moderate GOP members of Congress quickly threw their support behind him -- even though Ryan has said he won't take up one of the lawmakers' top issues: immigration reform.

Ryan said he would not bring immigration legislation to a vote under Democratic President Barack Obama, whom many Republicans say can't be trusted. They accuse Obama of playing politics with immigration to keep Hispanic voters casting ballots for Democrats.

No one expected an immigration vote during the remainder of Obama's term. But Ryan's assertion nevertheless offered Democrats a way to jab pro-reform Republicans for supporting his bid for speaker.

Nonsense, according to the Miami Republicans.

"I'm strong proponent of fixing our dysfunctional immigration system," Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "I deeply wish the U.S. Congress could come together and address this issue but I know of Ryan's reluctance to make a deal with the Obama administration. Ryan has also said he believes in the pressing issue of immigration reform. However, instead of working with Congress, President Obama has taken steps that undermine this effort by taking unilateral executive actions that bypass the legislative branch and this develops deep mistrust." 

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October 25, 2015

2 local members of Congress unhappy with University of Miami football coach


When Canes fans also happen to be members of the U.S. House of Representatives:

October 08, 2015

As McCarthy drops speaker bid, South Florida lawmakers react


The shocking news that Kevin McCarthy dropped out of the race to be speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives is still sinking in on Capitol Hill. McCarthy, a Republican from California, dropped out after it was clear he wouldn’t get the necessary votes to succeed.

A bloc of the most-conservative members of the U.S. House -– the House Freedom Caucus -– on Wednesday said it would support Rep. Daniel Webster, a Republican who represents the Orlando area. And while Webster is not perceived to have much chance of winning wide enough support to grab the speakership, his caucus does have the ability to throw a serious wrench into the works.

The shocking news that McCarthy was pulling out follows the equally shocking news last month that John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, would resign.

Some initial reaction from South Florida lawmakers, which will be updated:

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican: “I’m sad to see a good man like Kevin pulling out of the speaker’s race because he is a principled legislator who has guided us on the House floor through difficult votes. Speaker Boehner should reconsider his decision to resign as speaker because we need his steady leadership through these stormy seas.”

Boehner, in a statement, said he will serve as speaker until the House votes to elect a new one. “I’m confident we will elect a new speaker in the coming weeks,” he said.

October 05, 2015

Heavy hitters introduce Carlos Lopez-Cantera in Washington

10052015_140541_clc_meet_and_greet__8colvia @learyreports

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Lopez-Cantera has some influential Washington backers hosting a meet-and-greet for him later this month.

The Oct. 21 lunch will be held at the Capitol Hill Club and is hosted by Cesar Conda, former chief of staff to Marco Rubio, and Scott Weaver, a top bundler for Rubio’s presidential campaign

Special guests include Reps. Ileana Ros-LehtinenMario Diaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo, an invite shows.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

October 01, 2015

Hillary Clinton emails reveal aide exchanges about Marco Rubio, with Ileana Ros-Lehtinen


via @learyreports

High ranking aides to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton feared Sen. Marco Rubio would hold up a nominee in retaliation for the proposed Obama administration's prisoner exchange with Cuba in 2011.

A statement Rubio issued went up the chain of command to Clinton, now of course a presidential rival of Rubio’s.

“Rubio statement re negotiations around Alan Gross,” an aide wrote in a October 2011 email to Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s chief of staff. “In expressing his frustration, he alludes that he’ll take it out on Roberta during the confirmation process.”

Rubio did put a hold on Roberta Jacobson from being confirmed as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, but cited a different issue. Rubio dropped the hold in March 2012 but Obama got his exchange in 2014.

It’s not unusual that Clinton and her team would monitor issues related to Foggy Bottom. The Rubio mention was among Clinton emails made public on Wednesday, part of the massive disclosure of her private email server.

Another email Clinton got, in March 2011, was a copy of a Haiti-related article in Miami Herald quoting Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami.

Ros-Lehtinen, who had been chair of the House Foreign Affairs committee, emailed Mills in January 2011 to nail down a trip to Haiti.

“I’m good to go! Ily,” the lawmaker wrote.

“Can’t wait - we will take good care of  you,” Mills wrote.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 25, 2015

House Speaker John Boehner resigns

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, will resign at the end of October, shaking up the leadership of the Congress.

Boehner has been under constant criticism from conservatives, who have demanded a more confrontational approach to President Barack Obama. The latest flashpoint is the desire to stop federal financing of Planned Parenthood, which some conservatives insist be tied to any measure keeping the government open when appropriations expire Sept. 30.

Boehner had signed onto an alternative plan that would allow the government to stay open, and give conservatives a separate vote on Planned Parenthood funding, which ultimately would fail with an Obama veto.

When U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio announced at the Value Voters Summit this morning that Boehner would be resigning it drew cheers and a standing ovation from the crowd.

Here is Boehner's Truth-O-Meter record from PolitiFact.

Here is the reaction from the South Florida Congressional delegation and other political figures (this post will be updated):

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September 15, 2015

Miami Republicans in Congress sign on to climate-change resolution


In a symbolic move ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Congress, a group of Republicans plans to file a resolution acknowledging climate change caused at least in part by human activities and pledging to address its detrimental consequences.

Among those U.S. House members signing on are Miami Republicans Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, both of whom represent coastal South Florida districts. Curbelo's district includes the low-lying Florida Keys.

"South Florida is the frontline of climate change, where we have seen its negative impact in the form of rising sea-levels and the erosion of our coastal communities," Curbelo said in a statement. "In Miami-Dade County alone, more people live less than a mere four feet above sea level than any state in the union with the exception of Louisiana. In fact, 40 percent of Florida's population is at risk of rising sea levels, posing a clear and present danger.

"Our goal with this resolution is to shift the debate from whether climate change is real to what we can do to mitigate its effects."

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., would commit the House to "working create and support economically viable, and broadly supported private and public solutions to study and address the causes and effects of measured changes to our global and regional climates, including mitigation efforts and efforts to balance human activities that have been found to have an impact."

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