U.S. Senate Archives - Page 3 of 28 - SaintPetersBlog

Bill Nelson: NASA reauthorization bill requires feet on Mars

NASA will be required to commit to putting people on Mars in the latest U.S. Senate NASA reauthorization bill, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday.

The Bill, S. 3346, was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday authorizing NASA to spend $19.6 billion budgeted for the agency and setting a few new requirements, including that NASA commit to a human settlement on Mars.

That’s NASA’s plan already, though it’ll take 20 years.

Nelson, the Orlando Democrat who sponsored the bill, declared Wednesday that provision and others aim to set consistent policy at the agency through future presidential administrations.

“Fifty-five years after President Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon, the Senate is challenging NASA to put humans on Mars,” Nelson stated in a news release issued by his office. “The priorities that we’ve laid out for NASA in this bill marks the beginning of a new era of American spaceflight.”

Not mentioned in the bill nor Nelson’s comments is neither Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton nor Republican candidate Donald Trump has said much about space policy, nor made any definite commitments for the agency’s “Journey To Mars” program, which now is driving much of NASA’s agenda.

The bill requires NASA to develop and submit a plan to Congress on a strategic framework and critical decision plan, based on current technologies, to achieve the exploration goals and objectives of a human mission to Mars.

The committee’s passage of the bill Wednesday may be significant but getting the bill into law remains a challenge. No NASA authorization bill has passed both chambers and gotten signed into law since 2010.

That earlier bill, written by Nelson and Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, remains the agency’s blueprint for operations and planning, including authorization to build America’s biggest, most powerful rocket ever, the Space Launch System, and a space capsule called Orion, which would be used to take astronauts to Mars.

S. 3346 also requires continuation of the SLS and Orion programs, as well as the agency’s commitments to encourage the development of private space companies and programs, and to turn over much of the lower-Earth orbit business to them. That includes ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station, starting as early as next year.

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Patrick Murphy releases new TV spot aimed at Marco Rubio’s position on abortion

Patrick Murphy is taking a swing at Marco Rubio’s stance on abortion.

In a new advertisement, a 30-second spot called “Reckless,” the Murphy campaign tries to highlight Rubio’s position on abortions, saying the Miami Republican is “reckless on choice.” The new campaign spot comes on the heels of an endorsement from Planned Parenthood.

“Marco Rubio is reckless on a woman’s right to choose, radical in his attacks on women’s health funding, and irresponsible in his anti-woman rhetoric. Florida women deserve a senator who will stand up for their right to make their own health care decisions, but instead Marco Rubio opposes a woman’s right to chose even in cases of rape or incest,” said Murphy in a statement. “Florida families deserve a senator who will lead on funding for Zika research, but instead Marco Rubio attacked women’s health care funding. Marco Rubio has no right to make decisions for Florida women. Floridians deserve a fighter, and I will always stand with Florida women to protect their right to make their own health care decisions. I look forward to showing up and working hard as Florida’s next senator.”

Planned Parenthood announced Tuesday it was backing Murphy in the Florida’s U.S. Senate race. In a statement, Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said Murphy “has been a fighter for Florida women.”

A spokeswoman for the Rubio campaign said Murphy “is distorting Marco’s record like he distorted his own resume.”
“Not only does Murphy support using taxpayer money to fund abortions, he also supports late-term abortions,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for the Rubio campaign. “Murphy’s extreme positions on abortion put him out of touch with the vast majority of Floridians.”

Murphy will face Rubio in the November general election. The race is expected to be close, and new polling released Tuesday showed Rubio leads Murphy, 47 percent to 45 percent.

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Marco Rubio campaign hits Patrick Murphy over resume in new ad

Another day, another TV ad raising questions about Patrick Murphy’s credentials.

Marco Rubio released a new ad aimed at Murphy and allegations he embellished his resume. In June, CBS Miami ran a two-part report where it revealed he did not meet the minimum requirements to become a CPA in Florida and wasn’t a small business owner.

“In an ad called ‘Truth,’ Marco Rubio manages to lie three times in 30 seconds. These discredited lies are all Marco Rubio has to run on after he lied about showing up for Florida in the U.S. Senate and abandoned Floridians on the issues that matter,” Galia Slayen, a spokeswoman for Murphy’s campaign, said in a statement. “Marco Rubio should stop smearing Patrick and tell Floridians the truth about why he won’t commit to a full Senate term. Hint: so he can abandon Florida again to run for President in 2020.”

PolitiFact rated a similar ad by the National Republican Senatorial Committee “mostly false.”

The new 30-second spot — called “Truth” and released by the campaign Tuesday — features clips of the CBS Miami report as well as a report focused on his academic achievements.

“Patrick Murphy has trouble with the truth. … No wonder a non-partisan study ranked Murphy one of the least effective members of Congress,” a narrator says in the spot. “Patrick Murphy: Just too many lies.”

Rubio faces Murphy in the November general election. The race is one of the most-watched Senate races in the nation, and outside organizations are expected to pour millions of dollars into the race.

The Rubio campaign also released a Spanish-language ad Tuesday. The spot — a translated version of one he’s already airing — is airing in Miami, according to the Miami Herald.

 

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Poll: Marco Rubio leads Patrick Murphy, 50% to 43%

Sen. Marco Rubio has a seven-point lead in the latest Quinnipiac University poll.

The survey of likely Florida voters found Rubio leads Rep. Patrick Murphy, 50 percent to 43 percent. Six percent of respondents said they still didn’t know who they would vote for.

Quinnipiac University polled 601 likely Florida voters between Aug. 31 and Sept. 7. The survey has a margin of error of 4 percent.

Rubio leads 55 percent to 35 percent among men, but lags behind Murphy when it comes to female voters. Among female voters, Murphy leads with 51 percent support, while Rubio has 45 percent.

The Miami Republican also has a leg up among white males, with 63 percent saying they would vote for him. The survey found 27 percent of white male voters picked Murphy.

The race is more evenly divided among white females, with 49 percent picking Rubio compared to 48 percent picking Murphy. Among non-white voters, Murphy received 56 percent support, while 38 percent pick Rubio.

Rubio has a double-digit lead over Murphy when it comes to independent voters. The survey found 53 percent of independent voters said they would vote for Rubio, compared to 37 percent who picked Murphy.

The race is one of the most-watched in this election cycle, and could be key to control of the Senate. Outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into the state, and both candidates have already spent weeks attacking each other.

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Abortion rights group hits Marco Rubio over Zika

A top abortion rights organization is taking a swing at Sen. Marco Rubio.

NARAL Pro-Choice America released a new campaign ad Tuesday, hitting Rubio over his decision to support legislation that didn’t fund women’s health clinics in the wake of the Zika outbreak. The advertisement — part of a six-figure ad campaign — also takes a swing at Rubio for not allowing women infected with the disease to get an abortion.

“Sen. Rubio is putting the interests of extreme right-wing groups ahead of the women of Florida. Rubio’s actions are putting women and families in Florida, ground zero for this outbreak, at much greater risk,” said Sasha Bruce, senior vice president for campaigns and strategy at NARAL, in a statement. “Women deserve a full range of health care options, including abortion, not options limited by Sen. Rubio’s extreme and out-of-touch political beliefs. This is true always, but especially during a public health crisis. Sen. Rubio should stop playing politics and do the right thing for women and families of Florida.”

Rubio backed several Zika funding bills, including a House GOP-backed bill that, among other things, included provisions to defund Planned Parenthood in Puerto Rico. Senate Democrats blocked that $1.1 billion funding bill in June.

The Senate is expected to take up the bill again Tuesday.

“The Zika virus is here; it’s dangerous to pregnant women, and it has no cure. But Marco Rubio voted against funding health clinics that provide critical care during this public health emergency,” an announcer says in the ad. “Marco Rubio continues to be against a woman’s right to choose an abortion even they’re infected with the Zika virus. Tell Marco Rubio to stop putting his agenda ahead of the health and safety of women and families.”

The ad will air on TV in Orlando and West Palm Beach, while digital ads will run across the state.

“Patrick Murphy is the only candidate to have voted against every measure to fund Zika – once again putting himself and his political aspirations before Floridians,” said Olivia Perez-Cubas, a spokeswoman for Rubio’s campaign. “Marco was one of the first Republicans to support the president’s funding request and has supported every single Zika proposal that has come up in the Senate. Meanwhile, Murphy continues to exploit this public health and economic emergency in order to score political points.

There were 705 cases of Zika in Florida as of Sept. 1. According to the Department of Health, 80 of those cases involved pregnant women, while 49 cases were locally acquired cases.

The organization is running similar ads in Tennessee and Mississippi.

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Bill Rufty: Polk becoming a two-Party county?

Polk County will likely never return to the Democratic bastion that was home to four U.S. senators, three governors, and four presidents of the Florida Senate.

But from Tuesday’s primaries and the fielding of candidates for the Nov. 8 general elections, Polk Democrats are slowly learning to make the now-GOP bastion a two-party county again.

There was a big Democratic Primary in eastern Polk County for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, but not one of the four candidates were from Polk.

However, for the first time in a decade, there was a Democratic Primary for Florida House District 41, which is fully contained within the county’s borders.

As the I-4 corridor begins to turn Democratic in performance, eastern Polk County appears to be following the trend. But the western side, which includes Lakeland, Bartow and Mulberry, is still the Republican stronghold it has been since 1996.

The highest level race in the county and much of Central Florida was a congressional race where a Democrat is almost certain to win a general election run after court-ordered redistricting.

State Sen. Darren Soto’s win over former Alan Grayson aide Susannah Randolph, Grayson’s wife Dr. Dena Grayson, and former Osceola County Democratic Party Chair Valleri Crabtree can be credited to the significant margin in Osceola County, a Democratic stronghold among the three counties making up the district. He barely won the Orange County section and came in third in the Polk County section of his district.

Democrats in Polk County are hoping to win a Florida House seat in Polk County for the first time since 1998.

Former Circuit Court Judge Bob Doyel handily won the Democratic Party’s nomination over Nicholas Garcia in the primary and now faces former contractor and Republican fundraiser Sam Killebrew, a formidable Republican activist.

Killebrew won the GOP nod by a narrow margin over former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Charles Davis.

It was Davis’ first run for a partisan political office and, although running as a Republican, he failed to adhere to what has become a tenant of the GOP: get the absentee voters first.

Davis won at the polls Tuesday, but longtime political planner and activist Killebrew won the race with the mail-in and early vote ballots.

The anticipated overhaul of the sometimes intransigent and stagnant Polk County School Board wound up about 50-50. After a scandal involving the then-superintendent and a top aide and the board’s slowness to do anything, many believed there would be tight contests for the four school board seats up for election this year.

One board member drew no opposition, while another, perhaps in part sensing public anger, did not seek re-election. That left two seats with incumbents and an open seat for the nonpartisan election in Tuesday’s primary.

Incumbent Lori Cunningham received more than 50 percent of the vote and was returned for her fourth four-year term.

But the other incumbent, Hunt Berryman, was a very distant second to the first-time candidate and school board critic Billy Townsend in the three-way race. Still, Townsend must now contend with Berryman in a runoff.

Becky Troutman, wife of former Florida House member and potential 2018 Cabinet candidate Baxter Troutman, led by 9,000 votes in the four-way race for the open school board seat, but did not get the required 50 percent of the vote. She will face Sara Beth Reynolds in the general election.

The most surprising win from a vote-margin standpoint was the re-election of Polk County Judge Susan Flood Barberdisciplined for an alleged romantic relationship with her bailiff.

She had been the target of some Republican leaders, who released photos of her looking at state attorney’s evidence against her while a deposition was in recess. Barber apparently didn’t realize the room’s security cameras were on, they said. It is a nonpartisan race, but so what? Parties don’t care when trying to elect one of their own.

But Barber was returned to the bench, winning by a margin of 5,500 votes over challenger Carson Bassett, due in part to a last-minute Facebook post from a well-known local attorney who endorsed her.

The results of Tuesday’s Primary elections in Polk County:

Polk Democratic Primary 9th Congressional District

Susannah Randolph – 4,791/34.67 percent

Dena Grayson – 4,534/32.81 percent

Darren Soto – 3,526/25.52 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 968/7 percent

Democratic Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Darren Soto – 14,496/36.26 percent

Susannah Randolph – 11,267/28.18 percent     

Dena Grayson – 11,122/27.82 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 3,093/7.74 percent

Polk Republican Primary 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 9,662/66.33 percent

Wanda Rentas – 4,904/33.67 percent

Republican Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 22,725/67.56 percent

Wanda Rentas – 10,911/32.44 percent

Polk Republican Primary Florida House District 41

Sam Killebrew – 5,134/51.26 percent

Charles Davis – 4,881/48.74 percent

Polk Democratic Primary Florida House District 41

Bob Doyel – 5,360/64.95 percent

Nicolas Garcia  2,892/35.05 percent

Polk County Commission (Universal Ballot)

Bill Braswell – 40,889/66.21 percent

J.C. Martin – 20,868/33.79 percent

Polk County Judge

Susan Barber – 36,026/54.13 percent

Carson Bassett – 30,530/45.87 percent

Polk County School Board District 1

Billy Townsend (Runoff) – 27,978/42.64 percent

Hunt Berryman (Runoff) – 21,500/32.77 percent

Ed Shoemaker – 16,135/24.59 percent

Polk County School Board District 2

Lori Cunningham (Elected)  33,391/51.99 percent

Ronnie L. Clark – 17,202/26.78 percent

Kevin J. Kitto – 7,000/10.90 percent

Tim James – 6,634/10.33 percent

Polk County School Board District 4

Becky Troutman (Runoff) – 25,105/38.26 percent

Sara Beth Reynolds (Runoff) – 16,466/25.10 percent

Ed Smith – 16,085/24.52 percent

Rebekah Ricks – 7,956 /12.13 percent

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Paul Stanton ousts Augustus Sol Invictus from Libertarian Senate primary

Libertarians have rejected goat-blood-drinking, LSD-dropping, neo-nationalist candidate Augustus Sol Invictus of Orlando and picked Paul Stanton of Deland to be their nominee this year for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat.

Stanton beat Invictus 74 percent to 26 percent in Tuesday’s Libertarian Party primary for the U.S. Senate.

Stanton, a computer programmer and “pro-peace” Army veteran, entered the race in May after Invictus’s penchant for shocking people with his behavior and statements became too much for Libertarian Party leaders. Stanton quickly picked up almost all Libertarian endorsements, starting with presidential candidate Gary Johnson.

Stanton pushes much of the Libertarian Party’s general platform, including ending U.S. military involvements in the Middle East, decriminalizing drugs, and overhauling the tax system.

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jolly

Charlie Crist waits for winner of David Jolly v. Mark Bircher GOP primary

He’s been Florida’s Republican governor, was considered a potential vice presidential candidate and almost became a U.S. Senator. But Charlie Crist is aiming a bit lower for his political comeback in 2016, running for the U.S. House after switching his party to Democrat.

The always smiling, always suntanned Crist is running against U.S. Rep. David Jolly in a redrawn district including his hometown of St. Petersburg, following a redistricting process widely seen as eroding advantages of incumbents and possibly allowing Democrats to gain a few seats.

He will be unopposed in the Democratic primary Aug. 30. But the two Republicans competing for their party’s nomination on the same day feel the former governor’s complicated political past will make him vulnerable. Crist – who once called himself a Reagan Republican – now gives opening speeches for Hillary Clinton when she campaigns in town .

At least one political expert says the district is Crist’s to lose – but then again, he’s been up in polls before, and lost.

“He’s got universal name recognition and most people who meet him, like him a great deal. He’s got as great political skills as any candidate in the state of Florida,” said Darryl Paulson, an emeritus professor of government at the University of South Florida.

Crist, 60, never seems to forget a name or fail to shout “I love you back” when a supporter expresses admiration.

“His downside is his political ambition. He has seldom held a job that he’s run for a second time. He’s developed an image for someone who is always looking for the next position,” Paulson said.

Crist, an attorney who was Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011, was cited as a possible VP pick for John McCain in 2008. He ran for Senate as a Republican in 2010 but lost to Marco Rubio in the primary. Crist then switched parties, ran in the general as an independent and lost. He then switched parties again, becoming a Democrat, and ran unsuccessfully for governor against Rick Scott in 2014.

Jolly, 43, who has been in office only two years, earlier had announced he would run for U.S. Senate. But when Marco Rubio dropped out of the presidential race and said he would run for re-election, Jolly got out of the race .

First, Jolly must defeat a challenger in the Republican primary. His race against Mark Bircher is something of a microcosm for Republican races around the country: Jolly is among the incumbents who are uneasy, or unwilling, to endorse the controversial top-of-the-ticket candidate, Donald Trump.

Jolly isn’t supporting Trump. But Bircher, a retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general, commercial pilot and lawyer, favors the New York Republican.

Jolly says his biggest accomplishments are taking on campaign finance reform and backing a bill that would prohibit members of Congress from directly soliciting campaign contributions. He also knows that his views on Trump are setting him apart.

“It is obvious we are a divided party. Anybody who says otherwise is disingenuous,” he said. “Party matters a little bit less than community does. I have not endorsed Trump, nor do I defend him. He is not somebody that I am supporting.”

Bircher, 63, spent most his life outside of the political realm. He first ran for office in 2014. He came in third in the primary, receiving 25.5 percent of the vote in the election Jolly won.

He says Jolly hasn’t been conservative enough, citing Jolly’s votes for immigration amnesty, the Affordable Care Act and his bill to prohibit people on the FBI’s watch list from buying a firearm in the United States.

Bircher says he will donate his net salary to Pinellas County charities if elected.

He endorsed Trump in the summer, writing in a statement that he welcomed “the change he has brought to the political process run by the establishment.”

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy look confident before Florida’s Senate primary

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Congressman Patrick Murphy are campaigning as if Tuesday’s primary was already over and they won their parties’ nominations for U.S. Senate.

And it may be for good reason. Rubio’s main challenger, Carlos Beruff, appeared to throw in the towel, essentially shutting down the campaign he’d sunk $8 million of his own money into. And Murphy’s main challenger, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, has been damaged by ethics and domestic abuse allegations, leaving Murphy to focus on Rubio.

That leaves congressional races as some of the more exciting to watch during Tuesday’s primary, the first since court-mandated redistricting undid advantages for some incumbents and prompting one of the liveliest campaigns in many seasons. Congresswoman and former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is receiving an unexpectedly strong challenge from a Bernie Sanders-backed political novice.

Voters will also decide whether to amend the state constitution to allow a property tax break to promote solar power. And many of the state’s congressional primaries almost certainly assure the victor will be elected in November because of the political makeup of the district.

Republican primaries to replace retiring GOP Congressmen Jeff Miller, Ander Crenshaw, Curt Clawson and Richard Nugent will likely decide who is sent to Washington in November. The same goes for the Republican primary to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who is exploring a run for governor after her district was redrawn in a way that favors the GOP. Democratic primaries to replace Grayson and Murphy will also likely choose the next members of Congress in those districts.

Still, the Senate race is the main event, and one that took several twists along the way. Rubio wasn’t even supposed to be on the ballot, declaring he’d run for president instead of seeking a second term. Rubio dropped out of the presidential race when Donald Trump trounced him in Florida, but he still said he was done with the Senate. Then, two days before the deadline to get on the ballot, he changed his mind, chasing all Republicans but Beruff out of the race.

The Democratic primary pits former Republican and party establishment favorite Murphy against Grayson, a fiery liberal whose outspoken candor makes him unelectable in the minds of party leaders. Despite voting with Republicans far more often than Grayson, Murphy is backed by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Grayson has run a maverick campaign, condemning his party’s leaders and saying Murphy will be a puppet for leadership and special interests.

With comfortable leads in the polls, Rubio and Murphy took a similar strategy: Ignore the primary opposition. Both declined to debate their opponents, choosing instead to attack each other.

Rubio said he didn’t debate Beruff because there wasn’t enough time.

“He didn’t really seem that interested in debates not that long ago,” Rubio said in the days leading up to the primary. And when asked about the primary, Rubio turned the subject to Murphy, saying, “I take every race seriously. I’ll have more events today than Patrick Murphy will have all week.”

Rubio’s campaign has been issuing near-daily attacks on Murphy while virtually ignoring Grayson.

It was clear, though, that Beruff wanted a debate, particularly investing so much money trying to build his name recognition. He repeatedly criticized Rubio for not agree to an exchange, saying he should “man up” and calling him a coward.

Murphy called off the only debate schedule with Grayson after the mother of Grayson’s children said he abused her over the two decades they lived together, an accusation he has denied. Instead, Murphy focused nearly all is attention on Rubio. Murphy’s second ad of the campaign, released four weeks before the primary, attacks Rubio for missing votes while running for president.

During a phone interview, Murphy said Rubio is more concerned about his political ambition.

“He constantly says ‘I’m in this for Florida,’ but he’s clearly not running for Senate for Florida. He’s never been there for Florida; he’s never been there for a local issue; he’s never shown up for work. He’s in this for himself,” Murphy said.

It’s a similar message Grayson has made about Murphy, that there is no substance behind the candidate. Grayson repeatedly points out that Murphy was a Republican until he decided to run for Congress. He has voted with Republicans on bills that would have weakened Obama’s health care overhaul and he supported a committee to investigate Hillary Clinton’s handling of the attacks that killed four Americans at a compound in Benghazi, Libya.

“They’re desperately trying to take this empty suit and make him into a plausible candidate for U.S. Senator and they’re failing,” Grayson said.

Republished with permission of the Associated Press.

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Marco Rubio schedules four city campaign swing ahead of primary

Marco Rubio is making a final push to the primary.

Rubio will meet with activists and volunteers to rally support ahead of Tuesday’s primary.

“I look forward to meeting with supporters throughout the state of Florida on Monday,” said Rubio in a statement. “The final days leading up to the primary are the most crucial and I am excited to talk to voters about why I am the clear choice to serve as Florida’s U.S. Senator.”

Rubio will kick off the four-city tour at 9 a.m. at the Cape Coral Military Museum in Cape Coral.

From there, he’ll head to Bay County where he’ll hold an event at 12:30 CST at Robert’s Hall in Lynn Haven. He’s then scheduled to hold an event at 3 p.m. CST at Seville Quarter in Pensacola.

Rubio will round out the day with an event in Miami at 8:45 p.m.

The Miami Republican faces Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, in Tuesday’s primary. He is widely believed to win the primary, with recent polls showing him with a double-digit lead over Beruff.

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