The Delegation – Insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State – 3.17.17

in Peter by

Next month marks the 40th anniversary of the release of the original Star Wars trans-generational blockbuster. While the setup for the George Lucas classic points to a time and place “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away,” present day Washington is ripe for comparisons.

Democrats in the Florida Delegation have joined their colleagues from other states by fully deploying their verbal Lightsabers in the vitriolic debate surrounding the American Health Care Act (a.k.a. Trumpcare, Ryancare, whatever). Not so long ago, and not so far away, Republicans did the same during conception of the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare and for the next three election cycles after that.

Back in our galaxy, the fear that NASA would see big budget cuts was not well-founded. This week’s proposal from the Trump Administration should please supporters of the space program, especially Florida’s rocket man, Senator Bill Nelson. Despite the Administration’s decision to cancel direct flights from Cape Canaveral to an asteroid, future shuttle service to Mars is still in the mix.

Nelson likes to remind people about his trip to the stratosphere years ago, but back home he apparently needs to re-introduce himself to several Florida voters, according to recent polling. That’s what campaigns are for.

More wars are coming starting Monday. Nelson and Marco Rubio will be watching and commenting as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Neither are members of that committee.

Donald Trump planning another weekend at Mar-a-Lago – President Trump is planning to spend this weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach per White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Though Spicer didn’t say how long the president was planning to stay, a Federal Aviation Administration advisory gave away that Trump will arrive Friday and leave Sunday.

The trip will mark the fifth weekend Trump has spent at the resort since he took office in January.

Palm Beach County commissioner mulling over ‘Trump Tax’ – President Trump has spent a good deal of time at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, causing the county to spend millions on security and road management befitting a presidential visit.

In mid-February, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw said security costs alone for the presidential visits had hit the $1.4 million mark, and commissioners’ attempts to get the federal government moving on reimbursing that money are at a standstill.

The costs have led county Commissioner Dave Kerner, also a former Democratic state representative, to explore a tax on the value of any “special benefit” doled out to Mar-a-Lago.

Kerner is looking into having the resort classified as a “municipal service benefit unit” in order to make up some of the outlay, and has instructed County Attorney Denise Nieman to look into how to go about with the plan.

In addition to county services, the Lantana airport has been forced to shut down during Trump’s visits, which the owner said has already caused a $27 million economic impact.

Florida Man’s ad highlights Trump’s ties to Russia — Stand Up Republic launched a new television and digital ad campaign this week urging Congress to conduct a comprehensive investigation into Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. The 30-second spot — called “Sunlight” — was produced with the help of Tallahassee-based GOP consultant Rick Wilson of Intrepid Media, and will initially air for two weeks on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN in D.C., and on social media and digital platforms nationwide.

“Since the inauguration, not a week has gone by without new, troubling revelations regarding the possible Russian compromise of President Trump and his closest advisors,” said Evan McMullin, the co-founder of Stand Up Republic and a former 2016 presidential candidate, whom Wilson worked with. “Russia’s multifaceted attack on our democracy is a matter of grave national security concern and requires a serious congressional investigation. The standing intelligence committees currently conducting the investigation have neither the resources nor scope of jurisdiction to execute an adequate investigation of this matter.” (Click on the image below to watch the video.)

Trump’s NASA budget preserves Mars mission, cuts Earth science, asteroid trip, education via Ledyard King of USA Today – POTUS is proposing a $19.1 billion budget for NASA in 2018 that is about the same as the current year’s $19.3 billion allocation – not bad considering the president is proposing deep cuts in many non-Defense programs. EPA alone would see a 31% reduction.

But Trump’s vision for NASA calls for some dramatic shifts from the priorities the space agency pursued under President Obama, according to a broad budget outline the White House released Thursday. Line-item details on the administration’s proposed spending plan for NASA and other executive branch agencies are expected in the coming weeks.

“The budget increases cooperation with industry through the use of public-private partnerships, focuses on the nation’s efforts on deep space exploration rather than Earth-centric research, and develops technologies that would achieve U.S. space goals and benefit the economy,” the outline reads.

What the Trump budget would not do is continue development of the Asteroid Redirect Mission, or ARM, that NASA has been pitching as a fruitful and relatively low-cost steppingstone to Mars. Many Republicans, who did not like how Obama scrapped a return to the moon under the Constellationprogram, never bought into the asteroid mission.

VPOTUS could be visiting Jacksonville – Mike Pence could be back in Jacksonville Saturday, a new Federal Aviation Administration notice suggests. Announced flight restrictions match – three nautical miles around, 3,000 feet up —  correspond to Pence’s travel restrictions. Thirty nautical mile restrictions, and up to 18,000 feet, are normally used for Trump.

Micro-op-ed via Dr. Darryl Paulson – If U.S. Senator Bill Nelson walked into the Cheers bar, nobody would shout his name. Despite a four- decades long political career in Florida, a full one-third of Floridians are neutral or have never heard of Nelson.

“Offend no one” has long been a key to Nelson’s political success. Very few Floridians could name a single political issue where Nelson has assumed a leadership position.

Nelson served in the Florida House (1972-78), the U.S. House (1978-91), served as Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner (1995-2001) and has served as U.S. Senator since winning election in 2000.

The only political defeat suffered by Nelson was not at the hands of a Republican, but was a loss to Democratic icon Lawton Chiles in the 1990 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Chiles, a late entrant in the race, trounced Nelson 69.5 to 30.5%.

Nelson’s first campaign for the U.S. Senate seat in 2000 was his only close campaign. Even though George W. Bush carried Florida by 538 votes, Nelson defeated Republican Bill McCollum 52.1 to 47.2%.

Six years later, Nelson easily defeated Republican Katherine Harris 60.3 to 38.1%.  Harris, widely criticized for her partisan role in the 2000 Florida presidential race, was never able to unite Republicans behind her candidacy.

In 2012, Nelson defeated Connie Mack IV, the son of the senator who retired his position in 2000 allowing Nelson to win. Mack was beset by both political and personal issues which undermined his campaign. Nelson won by 13%.

Some call Nelson the luckiest politician in Florida. He has consistently faced one weak Republican opponent after another in winning the senate seat. Will Nelson’s political magic continue in 2018, or will Nelson once again face defeat within the Democratic Party?

Some Democrats believe that Nelson, who will be 76 in 2018, needs to be “primaried.” Many Democrats believe that Republican Governor Rick Scott would be a difficult opponent for Nelson. One Democratic activist said Nelson “just doesn’t look fresh–he doesn’t appeal to young Democrats.”

Other Democrats see a potential Democratic primary battle as pure lunacy. Nelson, after all, is the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Florida. Democratic fundraiser Ben Pollara commented, “If Democrats are lining up to primary Bill Nelson, it’s less a sign that Bill Nelson is weak and more a sign that Democrats are inherently cannibals.”

Will Nelson’s political magic continue, or has he pulled the last rabbit from his hat?

Florida Democrats sound off ahead of Supreme Court nomination hearings — For Our Future joined representatives from Emerge USA, Sierra Club, SEIU 32BJ and New Florida Majority to denounce Neil Gorsuch ahead of his confirmation hearing on Monday. Leaders expressed concern that Gorsuch would prioritize he interests of corporations at the expense of everyday Americans and threaten the safety, stability and rights of Muslim, immigrant, black, and middle class communities. Dwight Bullard, political director of the New Florida Majority: “One of my greatest concerns of Judge Gorsuch sits in the realm of criminal justice. Judge Gorsuch has been scored as too conservative in his previous role in the court of appeals and it’s a serious concern of mine as a black male that someone who has such a checkered past as it relates to racial justice would be sitting on the Supreme Court.” Jonathan Ullman, Sierra Club: “If you care about environmental issues in Florida, you should be very concerned about Neil Gorsuch. The Sierra Club is urging all of our members to contact their Senators right now and say ‘reject Neil Gorsuch.’ Why is he bad for Florida? He has consistently pushed polluter rights over public rights.” Khurrum Wahid, criminal rights attorney and national board co-chair of EmergeUSA: “Popular law is not always right law, and we have to make sure that we have a backstop in place. That backstop is our judiciary. We have seen over the last several months how lawyers and judges have been able to uphold the constitution against an executive order or orders that our bad for the country and are unconstitutional. If we do not hold fast and make that sure our Supreme Court nominee is similarly someone who will uphold the constitution and uphold the values of America, then we have collectively lost what we value as Americans.”

Nelson to support Alex Acosta for Labor Secretary – Florida’s senior Democratic senator plans to support Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, according to a Nelson spokesman. Acosta is a Miami native and the dean of Florida International University’s law school. His confirmation hearing is scheduled for next week.

Happening today – Communication Workers of America health care workers and their allies will protest Rubio and Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Rally begins 11 a.m. at the plaza outside Rubio’s Orlando office, 201 S Orange Ave.

Rubio meets with Costa Rican president — The Miami Republican met with Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solis and Foreign Affairs Minister Manuel Gonzalez Sanz this week to discuss transnational drug trafficking, Cuban migration across Central America, and the ongoing political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.

“The United States and Costa Rica have long been united by our shared democratic values, and it was my honor to welcome their president to Washington today,” said Rubio, the chairman of the Senate’s western hemisphere subcommittee. “While Costa Rica’s neutrality in foreign affairs has made it an oasis of stability in the region, it has nonetheless been affected by illicit trafficking, violence and migratory crises that spill across its borders.

In a statement, Rubio said he urged the men to make sure the Costa Rican government works closely with “U.S., international relief agencies and non-profits to ensure Cuban migrants stranded in their territory are treated humanely and given an opportunity to make their asylum claims.” He also stressed the importance of all democracies in the Western Hemisphere speaking in one voice to call on “the Organization of American States to invoke the democratic charter against the Maduro regime.”

“I will continue pushing to make sure our allies and partners throughout the region understand the urgency of dealing with the political and humanitarian crisis Maduro has imposed on Venezuela, and I will continue to stand on the side of the Venezuelan people,” said Rubio

Rubio accepting applications for service academy nominations — Students looking to attend one of the four service academies can apply through the website of Sen. Rubio, he announced this week.

In order to attend the U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy, U.S. Air Force Academy or U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, prospective students need a nomination from a member of congress.

“Each year, I am honored to have the opportunity to nominate young men and women from across Florida who demonstrate leadership, commitment and integrity, the qualities required to pursue the top military training our nation has to offer,” Rubio said. “I encourage all interested students to apply, and I wish applicants the best of luck as they go through the admission process to our service academies.”

Students looking to enroll in the fall of 2018 need to have their applications in by Sept. 6. Rubio also encouraged students to apply with Sen. Bill Nelson and their U.S. Representative.

Rubio not cool with Snoop Dogg video — Who figured that Florida’s junior senator and the rapper Snoop Dogg could wind up in the same story? Rubio had words of warning and a mild admonishment for the hip hop entertainer upon the release of a new video containing a scene of the Dogfather firing a replica gun at the head of a clown looking like Trump.

“I think people can disagree on policy, but we gotta be very careful about that kinda thing,” Rubio told TMZ, “because the wrong person sees that and gets the wrong idea and you can have a real problem, so I’m not sure what Snoop was thinking.”

Trump responded wondered on Twitter what would happen if Snoop Dogg, “failing career and all,” had done such a video involving President Obama. “Jail time” was the answer to his own question.

In a Roll Call story about the video, Rubio is described as being a “long time hip hop fan.” (Click on the image below to watch the video under debate.)

Rubio gets visit from CLC – Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera met with  Sen. Rubio during a trip to Washington D.C. Wednesday, according to his official schedule.

The visit came before CLC was set to attend the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association federal-state relations meeting, and details of the meeting between two of Florida’s top Republican officials were not made available.

When asked for comment on the meeting, a Rubio spokeswoman said the pair “are personal friends and Senator Rubio always enjoys seeing him when he is in D.C‎.”

Lopez-Cantera spent part of last year campaigning to take over for his pal in the U.S. Senate, but backed out of the race after Rubio reneged on his plan to not run for re-election.

CBO says Republican health plan is bad for Florida — The newly revealed Republican health care plan could spell trouble for Florida, which already has one of the highest uninsured rates in the nation.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that most of the 1.74 million Floridians who got insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange will not be able to afford their premiums under the Republican plan, while an additional 4.3 million children, pregnant women, low-income elderly and disabled Floridians would see cuts in care through Medicaid.

Those who manage to hang onto their health care plans will likely see a spike in premiums, too, especially those who buy their own coverage outside of work.

The CBO predicts that prices could spike for such plans by as much as 20 percent before finally starting to go down in price around 2020.

In addition to the drop in the number of insured Floridians, the Republican plan’s proposed cuts to Medicaid could do a number on Florida hospitals.

“To go back to that,” Florida Hospital Association President Bruce Rueben said, “at the very time that the federal government would also cut funding to the states for Medicaid means you have double jeopardy here. … It’s going back to the way it was, only worse, potentially.”

American Action Network launches 1 million robocalls to support American Health Care Act — Constituents in three Florida districts could be getting calls from the advocacy organization encouraging them to contact their representative about the American Health Care Act.

The American Action Network launched the robocall campaign in 30 congressional districts, including Reps. Ted Yoho, Ron DeSantis, and Bill Posey. The campaign comes on the heels of a TV ad buy launched last week, and is meant to encourage voters to call lawmakers to tell them to support repealing the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, and replace it with the American Health Care Act, which is backed by President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Obamacare has been a nightmare for millions of Americans. We are calling activists across the country to urge them to call their member of Congress to ensure they do the right thing and stand with President Trump and Speaker Ryan in repealing this failed law,” said Corry Bliss, the group’s executive director. “The American Health Care Act will lower costs, increase competition, and reduce the deficit, while protecting those with pre-existing conditions. These conservative reforms will make health care truly affordable and patient-centered – that’s what all Americans deserve.”

The effort is part of an issue advocacy campaign worth about $10 million, according to the organization.


Florida Democrats pounce on CBO health care report — As expected, the scoring of the Republican health care plan in Congress affirmed many of Democrats’ biggest warnings. Democrats in the Florida delegation were quick to jump on the report from the Congressional Budget Office, while Republicans…not so much.

“It is wrong to take away health insurance for 24 million people, as well as increase the cost to seniors,” wrote Bill Nelson, while Charlie Crist used the Bible to say “the Gospel of Matthew teaches us that we will be judged by how we treat the ‘least of these.’ But this bill treats the least among us in the most inhumane way possible.”

Val Demmings stated “the GOP plan is not better than the Affordable Care Act and the Republicans know it.” Ted Deutch posted on Facebook that “this bill does not make good on the claims that Speaker Paul Ryan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price, and others have made to try and sell it.”

Debbie Wasserman-Schulz pledged to “do everything I can to stop this train wreck.” Among the calmest statements came from Stephanie Murphy who said “we need to slow down, bring both parties together, and get health reform right so there aren’t any unintended consequences that hurt families, seniors, and small businesses.”

Scott silent on Republican health care plan –  The Naples Republican has been one of the Affordable Care Act’s chief opponents, but he has yet to weigh in on whether he thinks Republicans are moving in the right direction with the newly unveiled American Health Care Act.

The Republican governor has so far sidestepped questions about the bill, including how he views the Congressional Budget Office report that estimates Florida’s uninsured rate could spike back up to pre-ACA levels.

“I’m encouraged that there’s a real good conservation going on up in D.C.,” Scott said. “I know there’s a debate about all the numbers, I’m going to continue to work on getting a good bill.”

Scott made his opinion heard during Donald Trump’s campaign, and has been one of the more vocal advocates for repealing and replacing the ACA.

His 2010 campaign for governor, his first step into politics, was marked by his staunch opposition to the ACA. During that run, he started a group called Conservatives for Patient Rights that blasted the law in television ads.

Gaetz votes for health care bill to “continue the conversation” — Despite a lack of enthusiasm, the Panhandle Republican cast another vote for the Republican health care bill on Thursday. As expected the House Budget Committee passed the American Health Care Act by a vote of 19-17.  Mario Diaz-Balart also voted in favor with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz voting against. Three Republican members from the House Freedom Caucus also voted no.

Before the vote committee meeting and vote on the bill, Gaetz wrote to his constituents saying he “wanted to like it, especially after hearing from Obamacare’s victims.” He then seemed to take a subtle swipe at the Freedom Caucus.

“It’s easy to vote ‘no’ and blame others for not bending to my will,” he wrote. “It’s harder to

persuade others the conservative way is the Better Way.”

The measure now goes to the House Committee on Rules, where it will likely then move on to the full House. Among committee members are nine Republicans and four Democrats, including Alcee Hastings.

Op-ed: “Keep working to repeal and replace Obamacare” via Matt Gaetz for Florida Politics

Gaetz visits with middle school students — Pryor Middle School students in D.C. last week for a field trip got a little face-to-face time with their congressman. Gaetz took some time to snap photos with the class, who stopped by his office during a trip to the nation’s capital. The Fort Walton Beach Republican also encouraged constituents to reach out to his office if they need help planning a trip to D.C. In an email to constituents, Gaetz said constituents can visit his House website to “reserve tours of the Capitol, White House, Library of Congress or to attend a Supreme Court Lecture.”

Matt Gaetz with Pryor Middle School students during their visit to DC.

Murphy, Demings, Sotoannounce funds for Pulse shooting victims —The Florida Democrats announced an award of nearly $8.5 million to assist victims of last year’s terrorist shootings at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub. The funds, which come through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, will help victims, witnesses, and first responders.

In addition, the funds will reimburse local agencies for the costs incurred in operating the Family Assistance Center. Hundreds of people were helped by the center in the aftermath of the tragedy.

“After the Pulse nightclub shooting our community stepped up to take care of the victims, their families and the first responders through the Family Assistance Center,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We could not be more proud of Central Florida’s response to this tragedy.”

The funds will be allocated to the Florida Attorney General’s Office, who will distribute them as appropriate.

“I am thrilled that my office will receive additional funding to help victims of the Orlando attack,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi. “I want to thank the U.S. Department of Justice for awarding us the funds we requested so that we can continue to make payments and assist victims in any way possible.”

Tough column: “Bilirakis sees only what he wants to on health care law” via John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times

Steny Hoyer returns to Florida for Crist fundraiserThe Maryland Democrat will be back in Florida March 24 as special guest at a fundraiser for the St. Petersburg Democrat.

Hoyer represents Maryland’s 5th Congressional District, and served as House Majority Leader from 2007 until 2011. Prior to that, he served as House Majority Whip from 2003 until 2007. In October, Hoyer was in Sanford to stump for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid.

Crist, the freshman lawmaker representing Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District, sits on the House Financial Services and Science, Space and Technology committees.

Buchanan tours Sarasota bandage factory – Headquartered in Sarasota, ASO Corp. is the world’s second largest bandage manufacturer and has added 85 jobs since 2011, partly due to investments by mega retailer Wal-Mart.

“ASO has a world-class facility here in Sarasota,” said Buchanan, who toured the facility Tuesday. “This is a true manufacturing success story.”

Rep. Buchanan meets with ASO officials during a recent tour of Sarasota facility.

Buchanan was led around the facility by ASO vice president of sales and marketing Charles Hart, who praised the congressman and credited Wal-Mart for the company’s growth.

“I’d like to thank Congressman Buchanan for his commitment to jobs and for visiting us today,” he said. “Our partnership with Wal-Mart is a major contributor of ASO’s growth in employment and infrastructure for the U.S and more specifically Sarasota.”

Buchanan to host town hall in larger venue — The Sarasota Republican will hold a town hall on Saturday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall in Sarasota. The event was originally scheduled for an auditorium at New College. Van Wezel has a seating capacity of over 1,700 people.

“We moved the event to a new location to accommodate a larger audience,” said Buchanan spokeswoman Gretchen Andersen, “We want to make sure everybody gets a chance to attend and is not turned away for lack of seats.”

The press release announcing the switch carried a bold-face sub-headline “Same day, BIGGER Venue,” obviously a reference to complaints of venues deemed too small. For example, Ted Yoho’s recent town hall was civil among the 300 inside, but violence erupted outside among agitators unable to get in.

Liberal activists have complained that Buchanan hasn’t had a town hall yet this year, but the release states that Saturday’s event will be his 75th since being elected to Congress in 2006.

In op-ed, Francis Rooney says Venezuelan regime is on its last legs — The first-term Republican from Naples says the regime of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela is ready to collapse, which should be of great interest to the United States. In an op-ed penned this week titled Time for Change in Venezuela, Rooney wrote “time is running out” for Maduro and “the only question that remains is how long it can last.”

He points out that Venezuela has “links to terrorist groups in the Middle East” which is why what happens in Venezuela and Latin America “should be a major focus of U.S. policy makers.”

Rooney, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and expresses both political and humanitarian concern for the people of the South American country. “Unfortunately, the humanitarian crisis in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is escalating.” He pointed to a recent study showing “starvation has caused Venezuelans to lose an average of 19 pounds over the last year.”

Rooney calls on the U.S., the Organization of American States and regional leaders to help “hasten the end of Maduro’s desperate attempt to hold onto power.”

Mast linked to company accused of million-dollar marketing scam — The freshman lawmaker has been linked to a Florida marketing company under investigation by federal regulators for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars in a patent scam, reported Heather Caygle and John Bresnahan with POLITICO.

According to the report, World Patent Marketing and its owner, Scott Cooper, are accused by the Federal Trade Commission of defrauding thousands of clients of several years to the tune of millions of dollars and then harassing customers who threatened to report the scam.

Mast was appointed as a member to the company’s advisory board in February 2016, shortly before Cooper donated more than $5,000 to Mast’s election campaign. In an interview, Mast said he only met Cooper face-to-face twice — including a party celebrating his victory.

The Treasure Coast Republican has said he will return the $5,400 in donations from Cooper.

Mast, a paraplegic veteran, raised nearly $3 million through his campaign account for the 2016 cycle. He bested Democrat Randy Perkins on Election Day with 53 percent of the vote to Perkins’ 43 percent.

According to POLITICO, the Federal Trade Commission alleges Cooper, through his two companies World Patent Marketing and Desa Industries, charged customers thousands of dollars to patent and market their inventions. Customers were initially charged $1,300 for a research report from the marketing company. Weeks later, salespeople would pitch the same clients on patent protection and invention promotion packages.

Mast, Curbelo, Ros-Lehtinen co-sponsor resolution acknowledging climate change — The Treasure Coast Republican joined fellow Republican Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to co-sponsor a resolution calling on the House to commit to working on economically-viable solutions to address the risks of climate change.

“If we’re going to make progress to protect our environment, it’s critical that people on both sides of the aisle speak out about the serious impact that climate change will have on our environment and our economy,” said Mast, a member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, in a statement. “Treasure Coast residents know all too well about the crippling impact on both the quality-of-life and economy when environmental disaster strikes. We must act now to find economically-viable solutions to address the risk of climate change.”

The resolution calls for better environmental stewardship through “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,” according to Mast’s office.

“We cannot ignore these challenges and every Member of Congress has a responsibility to our constituents and future generations to support market-based solutions, investments, and innovations that could alleviate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient,” said Curbelo in a statement. “Our goal with this resolution is to shift the debate from whether climate change is real toward the tangible efforts to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate its effects.”

The trio were joined by 14 other members of Congress.

“These leaders understand that there’s a Republican climate solution and that America’s birds and people don’t have time for more political trench warfare,” said David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society. We need bipartisan solutions to our changing climate, and we need them now. It took guts for these Republicans to step forward today, and we welcome their ideas. Climate change threatens the birds we love, the places they and we need, and the legacy we’ll leave our kids—all values that lead us to say that conservation doesn’t have a party.”

Tweet, tweet:

Rundown of delegation bills filed:

Nelson, Rubio, Chris Coons and Debbie Stabenow introduce legislation to improve bankruptcy court system – Bankruptcy Judgeship Act

Rubio, Ben Cardin introduce bill targeting Chinese aggression in South China Sea – The South China Sea and East China Sea Sanctions Act

Rubio, colleagues propose legislation to protect young athletes from sexual abuse – Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act of 2017

Rubio, Tom Cotton and Mike Lee introduce legislation that would save Social Security Disability Insurance from bankruptcy – Return to Work Act of 2017

Rubio-sponsored NASA bill supporting Space Launch System and Orion programs heads to president’s desk – S 442

Rubio, Ted Cruz, Robert Menendez introduce bill renaming street in front of Cuban embassy in honor of murdered dissident – S 539

Rubio, Tim Kaine, John McCain, Chris Murphy introduce bipartisan resolution recognizing sixth anniversary of Syrian Civil War

Curbelo, Crist introduce legislation to expand National Flood Insurance Program – Flood Insurance Fairness Act

Deutch, Lamar Smith of Texas reintroduced legislation to criminalize certain acts of animal cruelty – Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture (PACT) Act

Ross introduces bill to encourage companies to compete for federal construction projects – Fair and Open Competition Act

Ross introduces legislation to account for federal employees use of official time – HR 1293

Florida may turn to Congress if Supreme Court favors Georgia in water dispute – The decades-old water dispute between Florida and Georgia could be going to Capitol Hill, reports Shelley Sigo of The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled for a closed-door conference on a report by its appointed special master, Maine attorney Ralph Lancaster, who presided over a suit filed by Florida against Georgia in 2014. The report’s conclusion was favorable to Georgia in the dispute over the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River Basin, a significant source drinking, marine and agricultural water in Georgia, Florida and Alabama. If the high court agrees with Lancaster, there will be no relief to Florida, which has spent more than $40 million on legal fees on the case. Lancaster’s report would give authority for water allocation to the Army Corps of Engineers through its dams and reservoirs. The report has also spurred Florida’s Congressional Delegation to action, including a bill filed by Nelson requiring the Army Corps of Engineers to send more freshwater from Georgia into Apalachicola Bay. Republican Neal Dunn, who represents Northwest Florida including Apalachicola Bay, has also filed a Congressional review act resolution to prevent the Corps from implementing the “harmful” rule.

Florida scientists urge Trump to keep funding for NASA and NOAA – A group of Sunshine State scientists sent a letter to President Trump Monday asking him to maintain funding for NASA and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association.

The letter leads off telling the president that “American scientists have historically been at the forefront of scientific discoveries and innovation” and that the country “should invest heavily” in NASA and NOAA programs.

The scientists focus on funding for earth science research, preserving scientific integrity and recognizing coastal properties at risk. The group points out Trump’s own Mar-a-Lago resort as vulnerable to sea level rise.

“Climate change can be viewed as a threat or as an opportunity,” the group concludes in the letter. “NOAA and NASA both play a crucial role in helping us to understand those risks. We are confident that the many discoveries accomplished thus far are only the beginning. With continued research, Americans can better understand future challenges and find ways to solve them.”

The Washington Post reported last week that Trump’s proposed budget would put coastal communities at risk. NOAA acting administrator Benjamin Friedman did not deny the claim, although he said that the cuts were only proposed.

Spotted: Jon Adrabi with LSN Partners in New York Post story about rumblings Gov. Andrew Cuomo is gearing up for a 2020 run.

Personnel note: Florida State University hires new federal relations director  D.C. veteran Jonathan Nurse has joined Florida State University as the new director of federal relations, Vice President for Research Gary K. Ostrander.

Nurse will serve as the university’s liaison to federal funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation as well as the state’s congressional delegation. He will be based out of Washington, D.C., and travel to Tallahassee monthly.

Chester Spellman, the organization’s chief executive officer, and Sam Seevers, the organization’s chairman, traveled to the nation’s capital last week to meet with members of Congress and their staffers. The duo chatted with Sen. Marco Rubio, and Reps. Ron DeSantis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Matt Gaetz, Francis Rooney, and Daniel Webster. They also met with the staffs of Sen. Bill Nelson, and Reps. Carlos Curbleo and Tom Rooney. Spellman and Seevers talked with officials about the importance of federal funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the impact it has on Florida.

Are DC’s beloved cherry blossoms doomed? – After a late-winter cold wave, combined with a Nor’easter that hit Washington Monday night, Benjamin Freed of the Washingtonian reports that  cherry-blossom watchers are bracing for the possibility of the first spring where the city’s celebrated crop of Japanese cherry trees fails to reach peak bloom. More than that, even if the trees manage to endure a week of freezing temperatures, snow and ice, the sheer number of visitors and a collapsing tidal basin could bring a “more perilous future.”








Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.