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128 posts from November 2017

November 28, 2017

Bill Nelson to Republicans on tax plan: try again


via @learyreports

Sen. Bill Nelson and Democrats are hopeful that Republican divisions over the tax package will result in failed vote later this week and insist they are ready to work on a do-over.

“If this attempt can be defeated, then the flowers of bipartisanship will start to spring up,” Nelson said during a news conference Tuesday in which more than a dozen Democrats denounced the current legislation.

“Why not test us?” said Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, suggesting a revamped bill could get plenty of Democratic support.

Nelson, in an interview, blasted the corporate tax cuts in the bill. “Why give a huge, multinational corporate tax cut, which in essence swells the defict $1.4 trillion and the same time gives little relief, if any, to the middle class?”

Some tax cuts aimed at the middle class expire after a number of years – “widow dressing,” in Nelson’s terms. He also cited a CBO report showing that over a decade, people making $75,000 or less would see a tax increaes.

Nelson said another unfairness is small businesses would pay a higher rate than the 20 percent for corporations.

“Nothing about it is fair,” Nelson said.

Asked about the child tax credit increase fellow Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pushing, Nelson replied, “That’s just nibbling around the edges.” The current proposal calls for doubling the current credit to $2,000 but is not fully refundandable, which Rubio himself objects to.

Nelson did manage to get something in the bill, with an assist from Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who co-sponsored the amendment Citrus growers would get a deduction for new trees replacing those savaged by greening disease.

But it’s a blip — $30 million over a decade — in the overall package.


This Miami Republican won’t vote for spending bill unless Dreamers are protected

0445 IMPAC Immigration Summ

@newsbysmiley @alextdaugherty

Congress faces a Dec. 8 deadline to fund the federal government, and Republican leaders are usually reliant on Democratic support to pass federal spending proposals that rankle deficit-conscious conservatives.

As the deadline approaches, Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican who usually supports House Speaker Paul Ryan, said Tuesday he won’t support any funding legislation unless there’s a deal to help undocumented young adults who came to the U.S. as young children. If enough Republicans follow Curbelo’s path, Ryan could be forced to find a solution in order to keep the government running.

“House leadership knows it is a major priority for me to get this done before the end of the year,” Curbelo said in an interview. “I know that we have until March [before an Obama-era executive order expires], but there’s no sense in waiting that long.”

Curbelo has faced criticism from Democrats for not signing onto the Dream Act, a legislative solution to the Obama order that protects Dreamers from deportation. Instead, Curbelo is pushing his own bill called the Recognizing America’s Children Act, which he touts as a more conservative version of the Dream Act. Curbelo has said he will support any legislation that helps Dreamers if it comes to the floor for a vote even if it isn’t his bill.

President Donald Trump said he will not renew the Obama-era executive order, known as DACA, which will end in March 2018.

It is possible that congressional leaders will propose a short-term spending bill to keep the government running through Christmas, which gives Democrats and Republicans more time to hash out a final plan. Curbelo said his position on first helping some 800,000 young immigrants applies specifically to “any appropriations bill that funds the government beyond Dec. 31.”

Read more here. 

Potential Democratic presidential hopefuls push their own Puerto Rico rebuilding plan



As congressional leaders mull another disaster relief package for Puerto Rico, a group of Democratic senators with potential presidential aspirations are pushing their own plan. 

Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kristen Gillibrand and Kamala Harris, all possible Democratic presidential contenders in 2020, are sponsoring a bill that aims to put disaster recovery "in the hands of the people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands," a contrast to a $44 billion disaster relief request from the Trump administration last week that encompasses Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida and other areas around the country affected by recent hurricanes, floods and wildfires.

A host of Florida lawmakers voiced displeasure with Trump's disaster relief request for varying reasons. 

The bill, which is also supported by Trump critic and San Juan mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, focuses on making the territory more resilient to future storms, a potential sticking point for some deficit-conscious Republicans. Rep. Darren Soto, the only Puerto Rican in Congress from Florida, and Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Stacey Plaskett are sponsoring the House version of the bill.

"In the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world, millions of people in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are still struggling with basic needs more than two months since the hurricane struck," Sanders said in a statement. "However, we cannot simply rebuild Puerto Rico the way it was. We must go forward to create a strong, sustainable economy and energy system in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands that corrects for years of unequal treatments of the islands.”

The bill specifically addresses Puerto Rico's ballooning debt, damaged electric grid, Medicare and Medicaid and requires FEMA to use local workers in disaster recovery efforts. The bill also seeks to stop the privatization of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands' electric grid, schools and roads along with debt relief. 

"Puerto Rico is struggling with an unsustainable $74.8 billion of debt, much of which is held by Wall Street creditors, with an additional $49 billion in unpaid pension obligations," a press release for the bill said. "A small group of hedge fund billionaires have demanded extreme austerity policies to decimate public services, including firing teachers and closing schools. That is unacceptable. Puerto Rico will require substantial debt relief so they can focus on rebuilding, not paying back Wall Street." 

Republicans are likely to oppose the bill but the new effort from Sanders, Warren, Gillibrand and Harris could have political impacts for Democrats as Puerto Ricans are relocating to the U.S. mainland in droves after Hurricane Maria destroyed power and communications throughout the island. The Trump administration's disaster response has been criticized by lawmakers from both parties, and Democrats have cautioned that Maria will become Trump's Hurricane Katrina. 

Democrats in Florida and are hopeful that an influx of Puerto Ricans will help them at the ballot box, though Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio have also voiced concerns with the Trump administration's disaster response. 

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló recently asked for $94 billion in disaster relief, a massive sum that the Trump administration is unlikely to approve. Rosselló, in contrast to Cruz, has refrained from directly criticizing the Trump administration. 

"The bill that Senator Sanders has introduced in the United States Congress is a comprehensive plan that provides the blueprint for the transformation of Puerto Rico," Cruz said in a statement. "While dealing with all major areas of immediate concern: energy, health and education it also sets the foundation to make Puerto Rico a more equitable, just and fair society for all."


November 27, 2017

Bill Nelson for governor? Nah


via @learyreports

In announcing he would not run for governor as a Democrat, John Morgan said Sen. Bill Nelson should.

But that's not going to happen.

"Nelson is running for reelection," a spokesman flatly told the Tampa Bay Times.

Florida's only statewide elected Democrat, Nelson, 75, is seeking a fourth Senate term in 2018. He faces a likely challenge from Gov. Rick Scott, who cannot run for reelection in 2018.

Morgan, however, suggested Nelson would be "happier" as governor and is the Democrats' best chance. "In the Senate he accomplishes nothing," he told Politico. "As governor, he could have a legacy."Currently, Nelson is the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee and second on Armed Services.

November 26, 2017

Rubio: Franken 'should consider resigning'

Marco Rubio 3

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio said Sunday that Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota "should consider resigning" over accusations that Franken inappropriately groped women before and after being elected to the Senate.

"I think the accusations against him, many of which he's admitted, are horrifying," Rubio told Miami Herald news partner WFOR-CBS 4's Jim DeFede. "The things he's already admitted to I find to be outrageous and offensive -- and I do think on that alone he should consider resigning."

Putting Franken aside, DeFede asked, "Is groping a woman's butt, is that grounds for expulsion from the Senate?"

"I believe it is," Rubio said.

Asked about Roy Moore, the Republican Senate candidate in Alabama, who has been accused of preying on adolescent girls, Rubio reiterated that, if elected, Moore will immediately face ethics investigations in Congress.

"I find the accusations against him to be incredibly credible. I don’t think anything he’s done or said in the last two weeks has been convincing or effective," Rubio said. "If he's elected to the Senate … he will find himself immediately in an ethics situation or some other hearing where perhaps even more will be revealed."

Photo credit: Aaron P. Bernstein, Getty Images 

A Miami Republican makes enemies in Washington

Curbelo (1)


Carlos Curbelo is picking fights.

He attacked the NRA for opposing his bill to ban a firearm accessory that allows semi-automatic rifles to fire like automatics. He attacked the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, currently made up of all Democrats, for denying his membership application.

And he is attacking the Trump administration and fellow Republicans who oppose efforts to combat climate change.

These spats give the second-term Republican congressman from Miami ground to attacks both sides of the political spectrum for unyielding partisanship, and they allow Curbelo to deliver a message to his constituents and voters that the right and the left are both responsible for Washington’s dysfunction.

That talking point rings hollow for some Democrats, who say Curbelo is a political opportunist who will do or say anything to survive in a South Florida district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by 16 percentage points. And certainly, Curbelo represents the most Democratic-leaning congressional district in the country currently held by a Republican who is up for reelection in 2018.

He has spent the last four years trying to position himself as a political moderate.

“Most Americans are sick of the games, the hypocrisy, and honestly if that’s what’s required to be successful here, I’d rather go home,” Curbelo said. “It’s the only way worth doing this work. You can either go along to get along and just be polite all the time and ignore the underlying reality or you can kind of call things the way you see them and expose what’s really going on around here.”

Curbelo’s done plenty of exposing.

Over the past few weeks, he publicly called out multiple Hispanic Caucus members who stalled or opposed his membership application after previously working with them on various issues.

When California Democratic Rep. Tony Cárdenas told a reporter that Curbelo was “playing both sides” and “stabbing the Latino community in the back” by asking to join the Hispanic Caucus, Curbelo responded by calling him a hypocrite.

“This guy and I worked together last year,” Curbelo said. “He approached me on the floor about starting a caucus called the Connecting the Americas Caucus. We worked really well together, had a great relationship. Now, suddenly because I want to join the other caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, I’m a horrible person.”

Read more here.

November 24, 2017

John Morgan leaves Democratic party

via @harrisalexc

One of Florida’s most prolific Democratic donors, a bourbon-swilling, salty-tongued lawyer with his own slogan and medical marijuana as his pet cause, is out.

In a series of tweets Friday morning, John Morgan announced his flirtation with running for governor as a Democrat is over, as is his affiliation with either political party.

“While it’s amazing to be leading the polls for Governor without being a candidate I can’t muster the enthusiasm to run for the nomination,” he wrote.

He said he plans to register as an independent and vote for “the lesser of two evils.” If he were to run, he said, he would run as an independent. 

This likely isn’t great news for Florida’s Democratic Party, which has traditionally counted on Morgan to open his wallet for its candidates. He’s been known to host fundraising dinners for Hillary Clinton and charge thousands of dollars a plate.

But Morgan said the tweets don’t mean he’s out of the race altogether.

“As a Democrat, yes,” he said. “I’m not sure about what I want to do, but I know what I don’t want to do.”

More here.

Photo credit: Brendan Farrington, Associated Press

Medical marijuana advocate is out of governor’s race — and the Democratic party, too



One of Florida’s most prolific Democratic donors, a bourbon-swilling, salty-tounged lawyer with his own slogan and medical marijuana as his pet cause, is out.

In a series of tweets Friday morning, John Morgan announced his flirtation with running for governor is over, as is his affiliation with either political party.

“While it’s amazing to be leading the polls for Governor without being a candidate I can’t muster the enthusiasm to run for the nomination,” he wrote.

He said he plans to register as an independent, vote for “the lesser of two evils” and, if he were to run, run as an independent.

Click here to read the rest.

Political Leftovers: Joe Carollo starts his holiday naughty list

105Carollo22 NEW PPP

@NewsbySmiley and @joeflech

Miami politics can be a lot like Thanksgiving dinner: at times, there's so much goodness it's just too much to consume in one sitting.

That's what makes leftovers so great.

And so, at the end of a short week in which former Miami mayor Joe Carollo returned to office, opponent Alfie Leon sued to keep him out, ex-Congressman David Rivera finally mounted a legal defense over a 2012 elections scheme, police scrambled to downplay Art Week terrorism concerns, former Miami mayor Tomas Regalado gave an expletive-laced goodbye, and his daughter, Raquel Regaladowithdrew from the Republican Primary to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, we wanted to come back with a piece of political fodder from Carollo's Tuesday election night victory that we just couldn't squeeze in before the holiday:

After running a gloves-off campaign for Miami City Commission that focused as much on his enemies as his own platform, the sharp-edged Carollo dedicated plenty of time on election night to naming his foes in his half-hour victory speech and in subsequent media interviews.

Carollo, who can be sworn into office Dec. 2, basically laid out who'll be getting coal this holiday season.

Here's who made the list:

Continue reading "Political Leftovers: Joe Carollo starts his holiday naughty list" »

November 23, 2017

Raquel Regalado bows out of Republican primary for Ros-Lehtinen seat

Regalado Congress


Once considered a strong candidate to replace the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen a congressional seat sought heavily by Miami Democrats, former school board member Raquel Regalado is dropping out of the Republican primary for Florida’s 27th district.

Regalado announced her decision to bow out of the race in a letter Wednesday to the Miami Herald Editorial Board, saying she was disenchanted with the “ineffective and circus-like” atmosphere around the highly polarized federal government. She said she will “continue to fight for our community, especially for the most vulnerable among us. But for now I will do so as a private citizen.”

“I refuse to compromise my values and beliefs; I refuse to accept disrespect, intolerance and vulgarity as our new norm and I refuse to be part of this two-party pantomime,” Regalado wrote. “I am and will remain a moderate voice.”

Though she described her decision as one based on beliefs and principles, Regalado had struggled the last several months to raise money. She reported raising only $15,000 through the end of September, which she attributed to Hurricane Irma. And her ability to raise money — which she displayed during a failed bid for Miami-Dade mayor last year — likely only diminished this month with her father, Tomás Regaladoleaving office as mayor of Miami and her brother, Tommy Regaladofailing to win a seat on the Miami City Commission.

To read the rest, click here.