Al Día: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell calls-out Florida leaders as COVID cases rise

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell calls-out Florida leaders as COVID cases rise

The Latina Congresswoman, who is not afraid to be vocal on COVID-19 issues will likely be facing a Republican challenger in November.

By Ericka Conant

July 02, 2020

Last Sunday, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the first South American immigrant to become a U.S. congresswoman, spoke with Jorge Ramos about the situation of the coronavirus in Florida.

She criticized Miami Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for repeating the Trump administration’s message that the increase in cases is due only to increased testing.

Mucarsel-Powell told Ramos that Florida should start tracking contacts, increase quarantine measures, demand masks and increase testing as much as possible.

“What did we do wrong in Florida?” Ramos asked.

She responded that it boils down to a lack of leadership, shown in cases such as Arizona, Texas and Florida, where leaders decided to open up the states too soon.

“The way this was executed in Florida obviously wasn’t the right way, and now we’re seeing the effects of that,” she told Ramos in the interview.

The Univision TV ad is not the first time Mucarsel-Powell has spoken out about his state’s lack of leadership during the global coronavirus pandemic.

“This has gotten out of control. The lack of leadership has devastated our community and my heart is broken for what we are enduring. We need contact tracers, more testing, more education, and the hard decisions need to be made faster. We need to act now,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Just 20 days ago, Mayor Gimenez foolishly said he’d reopen Miami-Dade’s beaches. In the last 3 days, Florida has reported 27,057 new coronavirus cases. Now, the beaches are closing again,” Mucarsel-Powell tweeted on June 28.

She went on to say the Mayor and Governor DeSantis insisted on a false and reckless choice between restarting the economy and safety. Now, she says businesses and families will suffer longer and such high tolls were preventable.

“Complete and total failure in leadership, as Miami-Dade opens without systems in place to curb the spread,” Murcasel-Powell tweeted days later.

A Precursor to November

“My reelection is going to be one of the toughest reelections in the country,” Mucarsel-Powell said during a virtual campaign event.

Mayor Giménez is challenging her congressional seat. A member of the Republican party, he is a prominent figure in Miami and Dade County.

President Donald Trump lost Mucarsel-Powell’s district by 16 points in 2016, but data shows voters in her district tend to lean Republican in races lower on the ballot.

Like Governor DeSantis, Mayor Giménez has also come under nationwide scrutiny for his lack of coronavirus response. Mucarsel-Powell blasted his “absolute failure to keep Miami-Dade residents safe from coronavirus” during a press conference last Wednesday.

In any case, Mucarsel-Powell is facing a challenge from a popular Latino figure in her community.

The way politicians respond to the pandemic crisis now will be a determining factor in the winners this Fall, but as we’ve seen with the politicization of things like face masks, it could go either way.

Read the full article here.

Florida Politics: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell expects CD 26 contest to be ‘one of the toughest’ in the country

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell expects CD 26 contest to be ‘one of the toughest’ in the country

Mucarsel-Powell faces tough competition as the GOP seeks to regain a seat in Congress.

By Ryan Nicol on April 21, 2020

U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is expecting another close contest in Florida’s 26th Congressional District this cycle, telling volunteers her race will be “one of the toughest” in the nation.

Mucarsel-Powell won the CD 26 seat in 2018, narrowly ousting incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo by 2 percentage points. Three Republicans are now vying for the chance to reclaim the seat in November.

Mucarsel-Powell outraised all three in the first quarter of 2020 — including Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez.

“A lot of that was due to many of you who have helped me get there,” Mucarsel-Powell told campaign volunteers on a Tuesday evening Zoom call. “But this will be a challenging race.”

Mucarsel-Powell praised the work those volunteers have done, as the campaign — like many others — has shifted away from in-person events amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

“I’ve heard that we’ve already texted 10,000 people and called over 1,000 constituents in our district,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

“I cannot thank you enough because what our constituents need the most is that outreach. They are in dire, dire need to be connected to resources.”

As Mucarsel-Powell discussed some of the legislation Congress has passed — such as a $2.2 trillion relief act — she turned back to the work her campaign has ahead.

“While we’re doing all this work in Congress, I’m running for reelection. My race, once again, is going to be one of the toughest races in the country.”

Still, Mucarsel-Powell sounded confident she would be able to defend her seat.

“I know that we’re going to be able to win,” she told her supporters.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has shared Mucarsel-Powell’s outlook for 2020. The DCCC placed the incumbent in its Frontline Program, which funnels resources to potentially vulnerable Democratic incumbents in the House.

But Mucarsel-Powell has also generated plenty of resources on her own. She added more than $740,000 in the first quarter of 2020. That was her highest fundraising total of the cycle so far. She ended the month of March with around $2.2 million on hand.

Giménez added $415,000 in his first quarter since joining the contest. That’s well ahead of the other two Republican candidates: restaurateur Irina Vilariño and Omar Blanco, the former head of Miami-Dade Firefighters Local 1403. Vilariño pulled in just over $10,000 in Q1. Blanco raised about $8,000.

But while Giménez dominated his Republican rivals, his total fell more than $300,000 short of Mucarsel-Powell.

The Congresswomen acknowledged Giménez will be helped by a “very high name ID” as he competes in the district, which spans the southern portion of Miami-Dade and also includes Monroe County.

Still, with uncertainty swirling around the region’s response to the virus, as well as the virus’s unknown effect on the coming election, it’s unclear who will have the upper hand come November. As of Tuesday, the Cook Political Report gives Mucarsel-Powell a slight edge.

Mucarsel-Powell closed her portion of the call by thanking her volunteers for their work both on her campaign, as well as informing the public regarding resources for the virus’s impact.

“What you are going right now is the true definition of grassroots organizing,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

“It’s going to make a difference in people’s lives.”

Trump Victory Spokesperson Emma Vaughn, in a statement later, sought to contrast Tuesday’s event with the congressional response to the outbreak.

“The only thing Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s constituents want to know is when she’ll stand up to [Nancy] Pelosi and [Chuck] Schumer for denying critical coronavirus aid to Floridians,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn is alluding to a days-long negotiation between Republicans and Democrats over a deal to replenish small business aid being sent through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). That fund recently ran out of money.

Democratic leadership agreed on the need for additional PPP money but also sought funding for hospitals, state and local governments, and other institutions responding to the crisis.

Congress did agree to a deal Tuesday, which only included some of Democrats’ demands. Additional funding for state and local governments was left out of the current bill.

Mucarsel-Powell cut short her meeting Tuesday evening to fly back to Washington for a scheduled vote this week on that plan.

Read the full article here.

Florida Politics: VP contender Kamala Harris endorses Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in CD 26

VP contender Kamala Harris endorses Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in CD 26

Harris’ thumb on the scale shows how hard Democrats are fighting to keep the seat blue.

By Ryan Nicol on June 29, 2020

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California — a leading contender to be the Democratic vice presidential nominee — is endorsing U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell‘s reelection bid.

“In the middle of an economic and public health crisis, Donald Trump uses the power of his office to divide us,” Harris said in a Monday statement.

“In the face of Trump and his Republicans’ extreme agenda, Debbie has been a champion for the people, a fearless watchdog of this administration, and has delivered time and again for her district on expanding health care, protecting South Florida’s environment, and fighting to reduce gun violence. We need strong voices like Debbie’s in Congress, and I am proud to support her reelection.”

Harris is also the former California Attorney General. She won a U.S. Senate seat in 2016 and mounted her own presidential run this cycle, before pulling out of the race late last year.

Reports have pegged Harris as a potential pick to serve on the ticket alongside presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Mucarsel-Powell is seeking a second term representing Florida’s 26th Congressional District. She won that seat from Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo by 2 percentage points.

Harris’ endorsement is in some ways unsurprising, as Mucarsel-Powell is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Still, Harris’ decision to step into this contest shows how much Democrats want to protect the seat. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed the Mucarsel-Powell in its Frontline Program, which sends resources to potentially vulnerable House Democrats.

“I am honored to have Sen. Kamala Harris’ endorsement. The Senator and I share a commitment to a simple premise: that all Americans deserve the same chance at a better life that my family had when we moved here from Ecuador,” Mucarsel-Powell added.

“Together, Sen. Harris and I will continue to work for the people while we tirelessly fight the Republicans’ agenda that puts the wealthy and special interests first.”

On the Republican side, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez and Omar Blanco, the former head of Miami-Dade Firefighters Local 1403, are battling for the nomination in CD 26. They will face off in the Aug. 18 primary for the chance to take on Mucarsel-Powell in the general election.

Read the full article here.

NBC6: South Florida Congresswoman Scubas to Make Stance on Offshore Drilling

By Phil Prazan • Published June 13, 2020 • Updated on June 13, 2020 at 11:21 am

Miami area Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell dove dozens of feet under water to make a point.

In a new digital ad released by her re-election campaign for Congress, Rep. Mucarsel-Powell is recorded scuba diving with a large sign saying she will “never” support offshore drilling.

Energy companies continue to pressure lawmakers in Congress and the Trump Administration to open up waters on the West Coast of Florida to drilling.

The Department of the Interior flirted with the idea in 2018 but decided against it after bipartisan backlash.

A moratorium on drilling is expected to expire in 2022, so the issue will likely come up in the next Congressional term.

It is estimated 3.6 billion barrels of oil lay beneath the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

In the past, Mucarsel-Powell helped pass the Defending Our National Marine Sanctuaries from Damaging Chemicals Act to ban the use of coral-killing contaminants in marine sanctuaries.

Mucarsel-Powell will likely face Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez in the November election if he survives the August 18th primary.

On this issue of drilling, the two candidates actually agree.

In a statement to NBC 6, Mayor Gimenez said, “Drilling off the coast of Florida is harmful to our environment and our economy. In Congress, I’ll fight to ensure that Florida’s marine ecosystem is protected and our coasts are free of unsightly oil rigs”

View the original article here.

Pod Save America: “Impeachment: We’re In It.”

In this episode:

Trump says he’s open to background check legislation, House Democrats announce they’re in the middle of an impeachment inquiry, Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide is investigated, and the media focuses on Joe Biden’s latest gaffes. Then Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell talks to Jon L. about impeachment, immigration, and more.

CBS Miami: “Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell Visits South Miami-Dade Facility For Unaccompanied Migrant Children”

SOUTH MIAMI-DADE (CBSMiami) – The Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday, that it is keeping a temporary emergency migrant shelter in Oklahoma ready to open at a moments notice and has no plans to send children there, but the department still has no update on the future status of the South Miami-Dade facility for unaccompanied migrant children.

As the announcement was sent out nationwide, Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell returned to the South Miami-Dade facility as an oversight visit and member of the judiciary committee.

Saturday was her seventh visit.

“Every time, I leave as disturbed as my first visit,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

The congresswoman said there were just more than 600 children at the facility and many are 17-years-old.

“I met a young woman today who pleaded with me because she knows what’s going to happen. She has been told she will be sent to ICE on her 18th birthday,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

The numbers Saturday show a large decrease from numbers released Monday. HHS said there were close to a 1,000 children at the facility.

“It’s surprising to me since I’ve been asking for these kids to be reunified with their families since February. Apparently, in two weeks they found the will to do this,” said Mucarsel-Powell.

HHS said, on average, children are at the facility for less than two months. Department leaders say new policy shortened the stay, the number of people crossing the border is down and additional unaccompanied children are going to permanent facilities instead of temporary ones like the South Miami-Dade facility.

“I still have not received a clear outline where these kids have gone. I want to make sure they are with their appropriate family members and sponsors,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

Caliburn, the company running day-to-day operations said sponsors are being vetted for the safety of children.

As for one of the children inside, the congresswoman said she met one who didn’t come alone and her father is in New York.

“She has been separated from her grandmother at the border, she hasn’t heard from her grandmother since,” Mucarsel-Powell said.

HHS describes an unaccompanied minor as one who doesn’t have a legal guardian or parent in the United States or the parent/guardian can’t care for the child or have physical custody.

In a statement on the status of the facility in Oklahoma, a spokesperson said,

“Over the last several weeks HHS has experienced a decrease in Department of Homeland Security referrals of unaccompanied alien children (UAC). Additionally, HHS has been placing UAC with sponsors at a historically high rate. As such, the UAC Program does not have an immediate need to place children in influx facilities.  For this reason HHS operations at Fort Sill will be placed in warm status, retaining site access to ensure continuity of operations in the event of an increase in UAC referrals or an emergency situation.  Please note, no UAC have been placed at Fort Sill since its current activation. DoD has been an exemplary partner in this humanitarian response to ensure temporary shelter is available in a time of potential need. DoD facilities are activated as a last resort to shelter UAC. We appreciate and look forward to DoD’s continued partnership as we develop efficient, cost-effective strategies to address variations in border crossings by UAC. As HHS continuously states, migration patterns are unpredictable and we are likely to see an uptick in the number of referrals made to HHS this fall, based on historical trends. Therefore it is prudent to continue coordination and site preparation with DoD should full activation be required in the future. We will continue to keep Congress, local officials, and stakeholders informed of future actions pertaining to the Fort Sill site.”

ABOUT THE FACILITY 

The South Miami-Dade shelter, which is the only for-profit child detention center in the country, houses children ages 13 to 17 years old.

It is the largest child detention center in the United States for unaccompanied minors.

The facility is run by Caliburn International, a Virginia based company awarded a government contract to manage the center.

President Donald Trump’s former Chief of Staff, General John Kelly, is on the company’s board.

Caliburn International operates the facility under a no-bid contract that is worth more than $350 million.

They are waiting to be reunited with their families or paired with sponsors once they are screened by the U.S. government.

Many of the children are fleeing gang and domestic violence and will end up seeking asylum.

Children sleep up to 12 per room in steel-framed bunk beds, and warehouse-sized, air-conditioned white tents where minors attend classes and watch movies.

The facility has a command center. Inside are cameras, computers, and staff members who watch over the kids. They keep track of how many kids are in the shelter and how many are moved.

The children have school six hours a day and there are recreational activities.

At night, lights go out in the rooms at 10 p.m. but are left on in the hallways. The children are awakened each day at 6:30 a.m. for a full day’s program of activities and classes.

During the day, the kids are provided breakfast, lunch, dinner, and three snacks.

The children meet with their attorneys once a week. They also have access to clinicians and social workers.

On their arrival, they are given a five day supply of clothes, laundry is done every other day.

The facility, contracted by the Department of Health and Human Services, is surrounded by chain-link fence, but there is no barbed wire. There are guards, but they are not armed. Doors have been removed from the dormitory bedrooms.

View the original article here.

Sunshine State News: “Rubio, Mucarsel-Powell Team Up on Coast Guard Infrastructure Bill”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is pairing up with a South Florida Democrat on a proposal to help the Coast Guard clear its infrastructure backlog.

Rubio and U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, brought out the “Coast Guard Shore Infrastructure Improvement Act” this week.

Pairing up with U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-La., U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., brought out the “Coast Guard Shore Infrastructure Improvement Act” last month.  Pointing to a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which showed a project backlog of $2.6 billion and which found that 45 percent of shoreside assets have exceeded their service lives, the two representatives insisted the bill would help alleviate those problems. The bill would have the Coast Guard commandant create a plan to “standardize Coast Guard facility assessments, establish baseline measurements to track effectiveness of maintenance and repair investments, and implement the GAO’s recommendations to better manage its maintenance projects.

Rubio brought out the Senate of the bill on Tuesday.

“Florida is home to four Coast Guard Sectors and multiple units, including stations, equipped with shore infrastructure assets that are vital to executing Coast Guard missions,” Rubio said. “This legislation seeks to address the Coast Guard’s maintenance backlog, which includes construction and improvements to facilities damaged by recent hurricanes. We must ensure that this critical infrastructure is up to par to support our servicemen and women who are always ready to protect our nation.”

“The brave men and women of the U.S. Coast Guard do an amazing job protecting the homeland day in and day out and often on a moment’s notice, in some of the toughest conditions,” Sullivan said. “By implementing the GAO’s recommendations proposed in this bill, we can ensure that our Coast Guard’s shore side infrastructure is up to the standards these men and women deserve and need to effectively serve our nation.”

“I am proud to introduce this bipartisan bill to standardize maintenance of Coast Guard installations as we prepare to bring our national defense to the 21st century and combat the effects of climate change at home,” said Mucarsel-Powell when she introduced her bill last month. “At U.S. Coast Guard stations in my district, Coast Guard members spend off-duty time doing repairs and maintenance on their station – instead of resting and preparing for their next assignment. The infrastructure maintenance backlog is hurting our Coast Guard’s readiness and making us less secure, and I’m pleased that we can tackle this serious issue on a bipartisan basis.”

“America’s prosperity, security and future rely on the global economic advantage of our maritime transportation system – and that system depends on the Coast Guard and its partnership with industry to keep waterborne commerce moving safely and efficiently,” said Graves. “With an aging fleet and facilities that are falling apart, the Coast Guard’s readiness is jeopardized. This solution just makes sense – we can save taxpayers money and keep our Coasties focused on delivering the services our economy and national security depend upon.”

Rubio’s bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on Tuesday.

The House passed its version of the bill on a voice vote on Wednesday when it was included into the Coast Guard Authorization Act.

Mucarsel-Powell took to the House floor to urge its passage.

“I rise in support of this bill, which incorporates the Coast Guard Shore Infrastructure Improvement Act that I introduced with Representative Garret Graves of Louisiana. It directs the Commandant of the Coast Guard to tackle the maintenance backlog of its shore infrastructure. The Coast Guard currently has a $2.6 billion project backlog, and 45 percent of its assets have exceeded their service lives,” she said. “We must rebuild our Coast Guard in a strategic way – one that accounts for stronger storms that will only worsen with climate change. This bill will ensure that the Coast Guard has the processes in place to carry out crucial shore infrastructure repairs.

“Coasties often spend their personal time working on infrastructure improvements. It is unacceptable that they have to sacrifice their rest and family time to repair crumbling buildings,” she added. “Passing this bill will help ensure America’s security, the success of our Coast Guard, and the well-being of our service members.”

View the original article here.

WATCH: Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s full questioning of Robert Mueller | Mueller testimony

View the original video here.

Miami Herald: “VENEZUELA Democrats will force a House vote on TPS for Venezuelans. They’ll need GOP support”

An urgent push by Democrats to pass a measure in Congress that would give Venezuelans temporary legal status in the U.S. is running up against the clock, with the House of Representatives set to go into summer recess Friday.

To get the measure to a vote, House Democrats are suspending the rules so they can quickly take up a bill to grant Venezuelans Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, sponsored by Florida Reps. Darren Soto, D-Kissimmee, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami. But suspending the rules, a move normally used for noncontroversial bills like renaming post offices, comes with a catch: To pass, the bill must win support of two-thirds of the House instead of a simple majority.

That means about 55 Republicans — the exact number depends on how many members show up to vote on the bill — will need to side with Democrats on a bill that allows a specific group of undocumented immigrants to live and work legally in the U.S. without winning conservative concessions like funding for a border wall.

Miami-Dade must hold partisan elections for sheriff, court clerk, Supreme Court says

“I wanted to get this done before we went on our August recess,” said Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Miami, the first member of Congress born in South America. “I think that this is a moment when Republicans are going to have to make a decision on whether they truly support Venezuelans or not.”

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Though President Donald Trump has made promoting democracy in Venezuela a key pitch to South Florida voters ahead of the 2020 election, he hasn’t instructed his administration to grant TPS for Venezuelans despite rampant hunger, inflation and political violence in the country. The Department of Homeland Security runs the program with consultation from the State Department. The Department of Homeland Security hasn’t moved forward with TPS for Venezuelans a full seven months after the U.S. recognized Juan Guaidó as the country’s legitimate leader even though Nicolás Maduro maintains control of the military and lucrative oil fields.

“President Trump has, with sanctions and other actions that I’ve certainly supported, taken steps to put pressure internally on Venezuela,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, who represents one of the largest Venezuelan communities in the country. “The most immediate thing we can do is grant them TPS. It is the morally right thing to grant TPS because it’s what we can do in our control completely. If the bill reaches his desk, would he even sign it? It shows you how committed he is.”

Democrats don’t know if enough Republicans will join them on TPS to pass the bill immediately, with one aide putting the chances of passage at about 30 percent. Soto and Diaz-Balart’s bipartisan bill passed the House Judiciary Committee in May on a 20-9 vote, a threshold that is just over the two-thirds majority needed to pass the entire House of Representatives.

Diaz-Balart, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, urged Democrats to put the bill on the floor back in May.

“I urge the Democratic Leadership to bring this important legislation to the floor, and I commend my dear friend and colleague, Representative Soto, on his hard work in bringing attention to this legislation that would meet the acute need to provide Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelan nationals in the United States,” Diaz-Balart, a Republican, said in a statement.

Passing the bill would give Venezuelan citizens currently living in the U.S. the ability to stay and work legally for 18 months, and it would prevent them from being deported.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, a key advisor to the White House on Venezuela policy, noted that deporting Venezuelans is not a priority given the political situation and lack of commercial flights. But Venezuelans can still be detained inside the U.S. and 336 Venezuelans were deported in the last fiscal year, according to DHS.

Wasserman Schultz said she anticipates a majority of Florida Republicans will back the fast-tracked bill. But other Republicans who typically balk at voting for immigration bills without conservative provisions could be wary of backing the bill.

Soto said he’s hopeful that more Republicans will back TPS after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Orlando Sentinel “we’re looking at it” in an interview on Sunday.

“Time is of the essence … however, seeing Pompeo’s statements just yesterday gives me a sense that they might be reconsidering their position and we welcome it,” Soto said. “Anything immigration-related becomes controversial under the Trump administration. I suspect that many Republicans are caught between general anti-immigrant rhetoric, which has become popular, along with the understanding that Venezuela needs our help.”

Passing the bill with a bipartisan vote would put pressure on the U.S. Senate to act. Rubio and New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez have a nearly identical TPS bill, though it hasn’t moved through committees in the GOP-controlled Senate. Senators are in session until Aug. 2, giving them an additional week to consider the bill if the House passes it.

Wasserman Schultz said the bill could move quickly in the U.S. Senate and Trump could sign it into law before the August recess, depending on the priority given to it by Republican leaders.

“If they want to pay more than lip service, they will help us fast-track this legislation and send it to the president’s desk and not put undue pressure on Venezuelans,” Wasserman Schultz said.

View the original article here.

South Dade Newsleader: “Good News for South Florida Funding”

Over the past few weeks, the House has been busy debating how each part of the federal government – including our national defense – will be funded. I’m pleased that in these bills there is good news for South Florida!

We approved funding that invests in South Florida and ensures our priorities – including investments in clean energy, the fight against climate change, critical resources for Everglades Restoration, and water infrastructure – are national priorities. I’m proud we’re funding local health and education programs I fought for, because our economy and wellbeing depend on healthy Everglades and healthy communities. We stood up against President Trump’s proposed extreme cuts to our environment and ensured Florida’s ecosystems are protected. This funding made essential investments in our infrastructure, economy, environment, and communities, so we can all thrive.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is a top concern for the Miami area, which has the highest rate of new diagnoses in the country, with racial and ethnic minorities making up three of four new cases. During this process, I led a provision that is critical for Miami-Dade County: an increase in the allocation of funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative Fund by $5 million, bringing the total for the Fund up to $65 million. We can end HIV/AIDS in our lifetimes, but only if we make meaningful investments in research and outreach.=

But there were plenty more wins.

We approved funding for critical community development and housing assistance for South Florida, including our request for $170 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation, known as NeighborWorks America. NeighborWorks America provides financial support, technical

assistance, leadership development and training for community-based development in the United States. Affordable housing is not easily accessible to many families, so I will keep fighting so everyone in South Florida can have reliable quality housing.

Of all the funding we approved, I am most proud to be supporting our veterans. They have sacrificed immensely for our country, and we must fulfill our promise to take care of them and their families after their service is over. The House approved $222 million for veteran suicide prevention and outreach and included a provision to ensure the veteran crisis line provides an immediate response. The House also stressed the importance of hurricane-resistant buildings that serve our veterans. We cannot allow a hurricane to keep veterans from accessing life-saving services.

We also passed this year’s National Defense Authorization Act – funding that we need to build a strong, smart national defense strategy that prioritizes the fight against one of our biggest threats:

climate change. We cut down on wasteful spending while advocating for our men and women in uniform. I’m proud to have fought and voted for a 3.1 percent raise for men and women serving our great country.

We included important measures to help servicemembers and their

families transition back to civilian life when they choose to do so. If you serve your country, you should feel confident your government will have your back.

Our focus is working for the people – but that also means, especially in South Florida, fighting the devastating attacks of climate change. 97% of climate scientists, NASA, and the Department of Defense agree that climate change is real and a threat, yet some big corporations and the politicians they’ve bought in Washington deny the problem exists and risk leaving the real threat of climate change unaddressed.

We need to keep pushing forward legislation to reach our carbon emissions

reduction goals. We need to be ambitious, and we need to think big, but we need to do so thoughtfully. If we act now, we can protect our kids’ health while spurring innovation, making our economy stronger, and eventually saving Americans thousands of dollars a year in energy and health care costs.

The cost of inaction is becoming too great – we see it in South Florida every day. We can’t delay investments in environmentally-friendly infrastructure, so we can create the good-paying jobs of the future that South Florida needs.

Despite what you may see in the news, there is significant bipartisan

support for a lot of the measures I mentioned above. I have been working with Republicans to fully fund Everglades Restoration for the first time in years; protecting our coral reefs has been a priority for Congressman Francis Rooney and me; and the increased funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative Fund was approved with overwhelming bipartisan support.

My colleagues and I will continue to put pressure on the Senate to move these important initiatives forward, and we need you to make your voice heard, too.

I always want to hear from you, so I best advocate for you in Congress. So please contact me via my website and I promise to keep working so our government works for you.

View the original article here.