Southwest Florida reps vote to shut down government helping Southwest Florida–Updated

Fort Myers Beach after Hurricane Ian. (Image: News10)

Oct. 1, 2022 by David Silverberg

Updated 9:00 am with Senate votes.

As Southwest Florida digs out from Hurricane Ian, its representatives in Congress voted to shut down the federal government that is aiding the devastated region.

Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) all voted against the Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2023 (House Resolution (HR) 6833), to keep the government operating.

Despite their opposition, the bill passed the US House by a vote of 230 to 201, with 10 Republicans voting in favor of it. It had earlier passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 72 to 25. Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) voted against the bill, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) was absent.

President Joe Biden signed it into law last night, Sept. 30, just before government funding ran out.

Under the bill, the government will continue operating at current spending levels until Dec. 16.

The bill includes $18.8 billion in spending for disaster recovery efforts. In addition to Florida’s needs, it funds efforts for Western wildfires and flooding in Kentucky.

The bill also funds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is assisting hard-hit Southwest Florida. The region sustained what is likely to be many billions of dollars in damages from the direct strike from the Category 4 hurricane.

Charlotte and Sarasota counties in Steube’s 17th District were especially devastated.

If Donalds, Steube and Diaz-Balart had succeeded in stopping the bill with their negative votes, the government would have shut down and there would be no money for search and rescue, emergency response and the beginning of recovery.

In addition to keeping the government functioning, the bill provides $12.4 billion to assist Ukraine in its fight for survival against Russia.

However, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) emphasized the aid to Florida in a speech supporting passage of the bill.

“Alongside this critical package for Ukraine, this legislation directs significant funding to help American families devastated by disaster,” she said.  “We continue to hold all the families affected by Hurricane Ian in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time, but we need money to help them.  The $2 billion or more in the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funding in this bill will go toward supporting Florida as well as Puerto Rico, Alaska and other communities hit by disaster.  But again, we need more. 

“And we’re also allowing FEMA to spend up to its entire year of funding, giving the agency access to an additional $18.9 billion from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to quickly respond to disasters, especially appropriate now with Ian. And we will need more,” she said.

Despite many public statements and social media postings related to Hurricane Ian, Southwest Florida’s congressmen did not explain their votes against funding the federal government and disaster recovery money.

In his many tweets related to Hurricane Ian and his support for other measures to aid Southwest Florida, Donalds did not address his vote to shut down the government.

His Democratic opponent, Cindy Banyai had to evacuate her home and was without communications. “I rode out the Hurricane and have surveyed the damage. My job is to speak truth to power and that means we need some answers,” she tweeted, issuing a statement saying that “I know many people want to see unity at this time. But if you’re mad, like me, after all is said and done with Hurricane Ian, we need something better.”

For his part, Steube noted in a tweet that FEMA had approved assistance for affected individuals in Polk County but did not address his vote against further government funding.

Diaz-Balart also made no statement regarding his vote against federal funding and operations.

In contrast, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-23-Fla.) noted: “We cannot leave communities behind that are still picking up the pieces from disastrous floods, wildfires and hurricanes and even basic water system failures. This funding bill comes to their rescue.”

Even Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a determined and relentless critic of Biden, had to acknowledge the importance of the federal role in coping with the storm and its aftermath. “My view on all this is like, you’ve got people’s lives at stake, you’ve got their property at stake and we don’t have time for pettiness,” he said before Ian made landfall. “We gotta work together to make sure we’re doing the best job for them, so my phone line is open.”

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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Primary election sets up epic battles in November—Updated

Collier County Commission candidate Gerald Lefebvre and a supporter of school board incument Jen Mitchell outside the North Collier Park polling place yesterday. (Photo: Author)

Aug. 24, 2022 by David Silverberg

Updated with additional information on Congressional District 17, official counts from Lee County and spelling correction.

The Sunshine State and its southwest corner are headed into what will definitely be epic battles for key offices in the Nov. 8 general election.

Incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will face Rep. Charlie Crist (D-13-Fla.) for governor.

Incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will face Rep. Val Demings (D-10-Fla.) for United States Senator.

Incumbent Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) will face Aramis Ayala (D).

Republican Wilton Simpson will face Democrat Naomi Blemur for Agriculture Commissioner.

In the 19th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) will be facing Democratic candidate Cindy Banyai.

In the new 26th Congressional District (formerly the 25th), incumbent Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R) will face Democrat Christine Alexandria Olivo.

In the 17th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) will face Democrat Andrea Doria Kale. The Republican primary in the 17th District was canceled when Steube ran unopposed.

Collier County

Collier County had all its precincts reported and the full election count completed by 8:08 pm.

In the race for Collier County Commissioner District 2, Chris Hall won his race with 50 percent of the vote and will face Democrat Barbara “Bebe” Kanter.

Daniel Kowal won his race for Collier County Commissioner District 4 with 42 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Penny Taylor.

In the non-partisan school board races for districts 1, 3 and 5, no candidate won 50 percent of the vote plus one, meaning that all districts will be decided in the general election among the top two vote getters.

In District 1, incumbent Jory Westberry will face Jerry Rutherford.

In District 3, incumbent Jenn Mitchell will face Kelly Lichter.

In District 5, incumbent Roy Terry will face Timothy Moshier.

In the non-partisan election for County Judge Group 3, Chris Brown defeated Pamela Barger by 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent.

Lee County

According to official results from the Lee County Supervisor of Elections, in State House District 77, Tiffany Esposito defeated Ford O’Connell by 70.68 percent to 29.32 percent.

For the Lee County School Board, only Armor Persons made it over the 50 percent mark in District 5, with 54.85 percent of the vote.

Otherwise, in District 1, Sam Fisher will face Kathy Fanny in the general election.

In District 4, incumbent Debbie Jordan will face Dan Severson.

In District 6, Jada Lanford Fleming will face Denise Nystrom.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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Primary election sets up epic battles in November

Voters cast their ballots in 2018. (Photo: Author)

Aug. 23, 2022 by David Silverberg

The Sunshine State and its southwest corner are headed into what will definitely be a rockin’ and rollin’ general election.

The results of the 2022 primary elections set up epic battles for key offices.

Incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will face Rep. Charlie Crist (D-13-Fla.) for governor.

Incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will face Rep. Val Demings (D-10-Fla.) for United States Senator.

With 56 percent of precincts reporting, incumbent Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) will face Aramis Ayala (D).

With 55 percent of precincts reporting, it appeared that Republican Wilton Simpson would face Democrat Naomi Blemur for Agriculture Commissioner.

In the 19th Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) will be facing Democratic candidate Cindy Banyai.

In the new 26th Congressional District (formerly the 25th), incumbent Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R) will face Democrat Christine Alexandria Olivo.

Collier County

Collier County had all its precincts reported and the full election count completed by 8:08 pm.

In the race for Collier County Commissioner District 2, Chris Hall won his race with 50 percent of the vote and will face Democrat Barbara “Bebe” Kanter.

Daniel Kowal won his race for Collier County Commissioner District 4 with 42 percent of the vote, defeating incumbent Penny Taylor.

In the non-partisan school board races for districts 1, 3 and 5, no candidates won 50 percent of the vote plus one, meaning that all districts will be decided in the general election among the top two vote getters.

In District 1, incumbent Jory Westberry will face Jerry Rutherford.

In District 3, incumbent Jenn Mitchell will face Kelly Lichter.

In District 5, incumbent Roy Terry will face Timothy Moshier.

In the non-partisan election for County Judge Group 3, Chris Brown defeated Pamela Barger by 52.7 percent to 47.3 percent.

Lee County

The Lee County supervisor of elections had not posted official results as of this writing. However, WINK TV was reporting results as of 8:40 pm.

In State House District 77, Tiffany Esposito was leading Ford O’Connell by 71 to 29 percent.

For the Lee County School Board, only Armor Persons made it over the 50 percent mark in District 5, with 55 percent of the vote.

Otherwise, in District 1, Sam Fisher will face Kathy Fanny in the general election.

In District 4, incumbent Debbie Jordan will face Dan Severson.

In District 6, Jada Lanford Fleming will face Denise Nystrom.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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SWFL reps vote against clean energy, drug price reductions, tax equality but can’t stop House passage of Inflation Reduction Act

Final vote is huge win for Joe Biden, Southwest Florida, seniors.

Members of the House of Representatives and others applaud last night as House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi displays her final, signed copy of the Inflation Reduction Act. (Photo: Reuters, Leah Millis)

Aug. 13, 2022 by David Silverberg

The United States House of Representatives last night, Aug. 12, passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (House Resolution 5376) by a straight party-line vote of 220 to 207.

All Southwest Florida representatives, Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) and Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.), along with 204 other Republicans voted against the bill.

The House vote finalizes legislative consideration of the measure, which had already passed the US Senate. President Joe Biden may sign it into law at any time.

The bill invests $370 billion in clean energy and reducing harmful, climate-changing emissions. It moves to cap and lower drug costs for seniors and all Medicare recipients. It also protects lower and middle income Americans from crippling insurance increases, as well as many other measures.

Among elements relevant to Florida, the bill makes major new investments in solar energy and provides tax credits for people and businesses that go solar. It provides funding for prevention and mitigation of wildfires and other climatic impacts.

For coastal communities like those in Southwest Florida, the bill appropriates money for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to take resilience actions against climate change and funds improved weather forecasting. NOAA will also be able to buy new hurricane-hunting aircraft.

“When you hear about what this means to America’s working families, how can you vote against lowering health care costs and prescription drug costs for seniors and underserved communities as we continue to fight inflation?” asked House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) in a floor speech.

“How can you vote with Pharma at the cost of America’s seniors and America’s working families?

“How can you vote against protecting future generations from rising sea levels, raging wildfires and crippling droughts? 

“How can you vote against reducing the deficit or asking billionaires and companies and wealthy avoiders of taxes to pay their fair share?  And I’m not talking about people who work the system.  I’m talking about people who illegally do not pay their taxes,” she said.

However, Donalds, among other Republicans during the 3-hour debate spoke against the bill in his own 1-minute floor speech, in which he argued that “this terrible bill” will increase energy costs.

“This bill will only make the economic pain & suffering worse,” he also argued on Twitter. “Why would I vote for a bill that increases taxes & royalties on American energy when prices are skyrocketing?”

In another tweet he denounced increased enforcement of tax laws. “The American people are tired of having the government breathing down their necks. Yet, that’s exactly what the Democrats want more of. The addition of 87,000 NEW IRS agents is more government intrusion on your life and mine. We The People just want to be left alone.”

Steube was similarly scornful, tweeting: “This bill wastes over $350 billion on Green New Deal priorities like tax breaks for people who buy ‘green appliances’ and solar panels. The American people want relief from inflation – not more spending.” In another tweet he stated: “We cannot spend ourselves out of this recession. The Democrats’ Inflation Expansion Act cuts jobs and raises taxes on millions of Americans across all incomes during 40-year high inflation.”

In his own tweet Diaz-Balart called the bill “the Manchin-Biden deal” after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WVa.), whose support was critical in getting it through the Senate. He stated it “does not reduce inflation. Americans are paying $2 more per gallon on gas since Biden took office. Food, housing prices & rents are UP, hurting American families. It raises taxes on Americans. More reckless spending is not the solution.”

On the other hand, Cindy Banyai, Democratic candidate in the 19th Congressional District, was jubilant at the bill’s passage, tweeting, “Thank you Democrats for passing the Inflation Reduction Act! Time to invest in America!”

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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US House passes abortion rights and access bills; all SWFL reps oppose; Banyai blasts Donalds

The House side of the US Capitol. (Photo: Architect of the Capitol)

June 15, 2022 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives this afternoon passed a pair of bills ensuring a woman’s right to choose and access to abortion services.

Southwest Florida’s members of Congress opposed both bills along with most other Republicans in Congress.

The first bill was the Women’s Health Protection Act (House Resolution (HR) 8296), which passed by a party-line vote of 219 to 210. It prohibits any restrictions on women’s access to abortion services, essentially codifying the rights and protections contained in Roe vs, Wade.

The second bill was the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act (HR 8297), which passed by a vote of 223 to 205. The bill prohibits interference with a person’s ability to travel to another state to access abortion services. Three Republicans voted with the majority: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-1-Pa.), Adam Kinzinger (R-16-Ill.) and Fred Upton (R-6-Mich.).

“By passing this legislation, we will preempt and prevent state-level bans and restrictions put forth by extremist, anti-women state legislators,” said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) in a floor speech prior to the votes.  “We’ll ensure that all Americans enjoy the same fundamental rights to reproductive care – regardless of background or ZIP code.  And we offer hope to the American people who treasure our freedoms and who are overwhelmingly with us in our mission to defend them.”

Southwest Florida’s representatives, already on the record opposing women’s choice, were outspoken in their rejection of the bills.

Rep. Byron Donalds and response

“The Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 is an affront to our system of Checks and Balances and blatantly ignores the Court’s ruling which allows states––not Congress––to enact abortion-related policy,” stated Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) in a tweet just prior to the vote. “I will vote NO on any effort to expand abortion access in America.”

In a more extended statement he called the Democratic Party “the party of abortion on demand and without limits, including the unconscionable practice of infanticide. This ideology is sick, perverse and erodes our nation’s moral compass.”

Cindy Banyai, the Democrat challenging Donalds in the 19th District tweeted: “Thank you Democrats for standing up for women’s rights and access to abortion care. It’s beyond time to codify Roe.”

She also blasted Donalds: “Rep Byron Donalds has made it clear – his religion trumps your health and your right to body autonomy. Donalds is pro-forced birth. And his insinuation that Democrats support infanticide is disgusting and dangerous misinformation.”

Jim Huff, a Republican challenging Donalds in the 19th Congressional District primary, stated in a message to The Paradise Progressive: “Had it been me in office I would have surveyed my district the instant Dobbs was finalized for a better justification to back up these votes. The state forms the local guidance, but the federal government protects the freedom to seek alternatives in other states. For example, certain types of weapons are legal in some states and not in others, yet people have the right to choose where they may live. I have to represent the majority of my district for these hard decisions, not my personal beliefs.”

Steube and Diaz-Balart

Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.), a long-time opponent of women’s choice, tweeted: “Over 63 million children have been murdered since Roe was decided. That’s not freedom – that’s genocide.” He also made a one-minute speech against the bill in which he denied there had ever been a right to abortion under the US Constitution.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) did not issue a statement on any platform in the immediate wake of the vote.

The bills now go to the Senate where they are not expected to gain the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and be passed into law.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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SWFL Reps. Donalds, Steube, vote against active shooter alert system; Diaz-Balart breaks ranks

Lee County sheriff’s deputies practice an active shooter drill. (Photo: Lee County Sheriff’s Office)

July 14, 2022 by David Silverberg

The US House of Representatives last night, July 13, voted to establish a national system to alert and coordinate federal, state and local responses to active shooter incidents despite the opposition of Southwest Florida Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and 167 other Republicans.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) broke ranks with his colleagues and party and voted for the bill.

The Active Shooter Alert System Act (House Resolution 6538) passed the House by a vote of 260 to 169, with 43 Republicans joining the Democratic majority.

The bill creates a federal coordinator for an Active Shooter Alert Communications Network similar to the Amber Alert System for missing children. The coordinator will work with federal, state and local governments to operate the network and establish procedures to respond to active shooters. The Government Accountability Office will monitor progress on the system.

“This vital legislation that we’re doing today will quickly warn communities when a gunman opens fire: a common-sense, life-saving measure widely supported by law enforcement,” said House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) in a floor speech

The bill passed in response to a spate of mass shootings including the one on May 24 at Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed following a botched, uncoordinated law enforcement response. It was introduced in February by Rep. David Cicilline (D-1-RI).

Initially, the bill failed in the House in June when congressional supporters were unable to gain a two-thirds vote of the entire chamber to suspend the usual House rules and vote for passage. Yesterday’s vote required a simple majority.

As of this writing, none of Southwest Florida’s representatives had issued statements on any platform explaining their votes.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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On momentous day, SWFL reps vote against final gun violence bill, praise fall of women’s choice

Protesters outside th e US Supreme Court yesterday. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Ted Eytan)

June 25, 2022 by David Silverberg

Yesterday, June 24, Southwest Florida’s representatives in Congress voted against the final version of a bill to dampen gun violence and had fulsome praise for the US Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end the right to abortion.

Reps. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) all voted against the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (Senate 2938), which imposes new restrictions on gun purchases, helps states establish “red flag” laws, funds mental health programs and increases school security. It was constructed as an amendment to a measure proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) renaming a court house in Tallahassee.

The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 193. Fourteen Republicans voted with the majority to approve the bill.

Having been approved by both chambers of Congress, the bill now goes to President Joe Biden for signature. (UPDATE: President Biden signed the bill into law this morning.)

While that vote was taken in the afternoon, at 11:00 am that morning the Supreme Court released its ruling in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women’s Health Organization, striking down Roe v. Wade by a 5 to 4 vote.

Southwest Florida’s congressmen were quick to praise the Supreme Court ruling.

“Today, we saw the rule of law established under the Constitution prevail,” tweeted Donalds. “This monumental decision ends a once unconstitutional ruling riddled w/ judicial activism. Now the right to abortion rests in the hands of the people, where it belongs.”

“More than 63 million unborn children have been murdered by abortion since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973,” tweeted Steube. “I applaud the Supreme Court’s courageous decision today to reverse Roe v. Wade.”

“Today, the Supreme Court of the United States has applied sound constitutional principles to arrive at its opinion,” stated Diaz-Balart in a lengthy statement. “This decision is long overdue. The Supreme Court is to be commended.”

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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US Senate passes major gun reform bill; Fla. Sens. Scott, Rubio oppose; passage likely in House

The final vote on Senate 2938 last night. (Image: US Senate)

June 24, 2022 by David Silverberg

By a vote of 65 to 33, he United States Senate last night passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to make American communities safer (Senate 2938) by regulating gun sales and possession.

Both of Florida’s Republican senators, Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, voted against the bill.

The bill now returns to the House of Representatives for final approval, which may occur as early as today.

In a bizarre bit of legislative maneuvering, the major provisions were tagged onto a bill that Rubio introduced in May renaming a US courthouse in Tallahassee after Joseph Woodrow Hatchett, a former US Appeals Court judge.

The bill expands criminal background checks for gun buyers, bars a larger group of domestic-violence offenders from being able to purchase firearms, and funds “red flag” programs that would allow authorities to seize guns from troubled individuals.

“Many are comparing the bill being considered in the Senate to what we did in FL. However, they aren’t the same at all,” stated Scott in a tweet explaining his vote.

In 2018, as governor, Scott signed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Act, which went further than the Senate bill in restricting gun sales and establishing “red flag” provisions to allow seizure of guns from people considered a danger to themselves and others. Nonetheless, stated Scott, “The Senate bill is unacceptably weak on protecting due process & automatically restores gun rights to convicted domestic abusers. That’s why I can’t support it.”

As of this writing, Rubio had not issued a statement on any online platform explaining his vote.

Immediately after the 9:42 pm vote in the Senate, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) issued a statement: “On behalf of the House, we applaud the Senate for passing its gun violence prevention package on a strong bipartisan vote.

“Every day, gun violence steals lives and scars communities — and this crisis demands urgent action.  While we must do more, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward that will help protect our children and save lives,” she stated.

“First thing tomorrow morning, the Rules Committee will meet to advance this life-saving legislation to the Floor.  When the Rules Committee finishes its business, we will head immediately to the Floor.  And we will send the bill to President Biden for his signature, with gratitude for his leadership.”

All of Southwest Florida’s members of Congress voted against the bill when it was first considered in the House.

Some indication of their likely votes came yesterday, June 23, after a Supreme Court decision striking down a New York restriction on concealed weapons. Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) tweeted: “Today’s SCOTUS ruling is a massive win for our Republic and the Constitution that guides it. As Justice Thomas stated, the Second Amendment is NOT a second-class right, and this 6-3 ruling sets that in stone. DON’T TREAD ON ME & MY RIGHT TO KEEP & BEAR ARMS.”

Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) similarly praised the Supreme Court decision.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.) did not issue any statement.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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SWFL Democratic and Republican politicos react to Jan. 6 hearing

The Jan. 6 Committee hearing last night, June 9. (Photo: AP pool)

June 10, 2022 by David Silverberg

The first hearing of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, held last night, June 9, evoked starkly different reactions—though hardly surprising ones—among Southwest Florida Democrats and Republicans.

“This hearing was shocking. We knew so much, but the details are amazing,” tweeted Cindy Banyai, Democratic candidate for Congress in the 19th Congressional District. “My heart is aching and I am so angry at those who deny the severity of this clearly planned attack.”

Banyai maintained a real time Twitter commentary on the hearing as it unfolded.

“These hearings are a microcosm of the division in our country – some define what happened as seditious conspiracy, some as legitimate political discourse,” stated Annisa Karim, chair of the Collier County Democratic Party in a message to The Paradise Progressive.

Despite Republican characterization of the attack on the Capitol as “legitimate political discourse,” Karim pointed out that such discourse doesn’t include members of Congress fleeing for their lives, nooses displayed, or incitement to violence.

“We need to take our partisan hats off and watch these hearings as Americans to understand that our Democracy is fragile and it needs to be protected and defended against all enemies foreign and domestic,” she wrote.

On the Republican side, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.) agreed in a tweet with Republican colleague Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-21-NY) that the hearings were a “witch hunt” but “I’ll add something else—[Americans] aren’t going to watch.”

Why wouldn’t Americans watch? “1. Tonight is Game 5 of the NHL playoffs. 2. Most Americans are more concerned with $5+ gas prices & skyrocketing grocery prices. 1/6 is for the history books, not an MSM [mainstream media]-sponsored DNC [Democratic National Committee] ad.

Rep. Mario Diaz (R-25-Fla.) was similarly dismissive. “Tonight’s J6 committee hearing is the most blatant attempt to distract the American people from the disastrous and failed policies of the Democratic Party,” he tweeted.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.) also followed the Party line, tweeting: “Rather than addressing all of the crises that Biden created for the American people, House Democrats will be putting on a professionally produced show tonight. This is a desperate attempt to shift attention away from the real issues.”

To come: More on the Jan. 6 committee investigation and Southwest Florida

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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SWFL congressmen vote against bill to prevent gun violence

Rep. Byron Donalds is interviewed by Ari Melber on MSNBC to explain his opposition to anti-gun violence legislation. (Image: MSNBC)

June 9, 2022 by David Silverberg

Last night, June 8, Southwest Florida’s congressmen voted against the Protecting Our Kids Act, intended to reduce the incidence of gun violence.

The bill, House Resolution (HR) 7910, passed by a vote of 223 to 204. It now goes to the Senate where a small, bipartisan group of senators are negotiating the terms of their own gun safety bill.

The vote on the House bill was complex because there were separate votes on each of its seven clauses, or titles, to determine if they would stay in the bill. This allowed members of Congress to reveal on the record which anti-violence measures they supported or opposed.

The vote followed a day of dramatic testimony from 11-year-old Uvalde, Texas massacre survivor Miah Cerrillo, Uvalde parents and the mother of a victim wounded in the Buffalo, NY massacre.

All seven titles in the bill passed with majority votes, as did the bill itself.

Rep. Byron Donalds (R-19-Fla.), who does not live in his district, voted against Title I, which raised the age for sales of semi-automatic weapons from 18 to 21. He then sat out votes on Title II, which prohibits straw purchases of firearms and firearms trafficking, and Title III, which prohibits untraceable or “ghost” guns. He voted against Title IV, which requires safe storage of guns to protect children; Title V, which prohibits “bump stocks,” that allow semi-automatic weapons to function as automatic weapons; and Title VI, which prohibits high-capacity magazines.

He did, however, vote in favor of Title VII, which requires the Justice Department to file an annual report on the people who have been denied gun permits. The reports will include their “race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender, age, disability, average annual income, and English language proficiency, if available.”

He then voted against the bill in its entirety.

Rep. Greg Steube (R-17-Fla.), voted against all titles except Title VII, which requires the annual report. He also voted against the entire bill.

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-25-Fla.), like Steube, voted against all titles except Title VII, which requires the annual report. He too voted against the entire bill.

At an appearance Tuesday morning with Everytown for Gun Safety activists, House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-12-Calif.) asked: “Why would someone be against raising the age so that teenagers do not have AK-47s?  Why would someone not want protection in their home so that the children cannot have access – dangerously – to guns in a deadly way?  Why would we?  Why would we not side with our law enforcement and say these ghost guns are a danger to all of us in our society?”

She continued: “So, for the children, I say to our colleagues: we really don’t want to hear about your political survival.  Your political survival means nothing compared to the survival of our children.”

Immediately following the vote Donalds, who has a long record opposing gun safety and anti-violence bills in both the state legislature and Congress, issued a statement saying: “The knee-jerk proposals we are voting on today will do little to nothing to curb the infliction of heinous violence plaguing America committed by lawless maniacs hellbent on devaluing innocent life.” He called the effort to curb gun violence “an unabashed crusade on our Second Amendment” that “exposed the Democrat’s [sic] disdain and lack of respect for our fundamental rights established in our founding documents.”

Rep. Greg Steube slides a clip into his pistol while appearing remotely before a hearing on gun violence of the House Judiciary Committee. (Image: YouTube)

Steube, an ardent gun possession advocate who waved a loaded pistol during a remote appearance at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, tweeted, “Why are we punishing law-abiding Americans and taking away their Constitutional right to protect themselves because 0.3% of the population commits violent crimes? I won’t stand for it.” He joined Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-3-Colo.) and host Laura Ingraham on Fox News to denounce the measures.

As of this writing, Diaz-Balart, who has switched positions on gun-related issues in the past, had not issued a statement on his votes.

Another gun violence measure, The Federal Extreme Risk Protection Order Act (HR 2377) is expected to come up for a vote as early as today. This is essentially a national “red flag” law establishing procedures for “federal extreme risk protection orders” and is similar to Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Act, which was passed into law in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., massacre in 2018. These prohibit arms sales to people deemed a risk to themselves or others. Such people will be prohibited from possessing, shipping, transporting or receiving firearms.

In an appearance yesterday, June 8, on the Ari Melber show on MSNBC, Donalds expressed his opposition to red flag laws.

“There are serious Fifth Amendment, constitutional issues with red flag laws because essentially your property can be taken from you by a court of law without you being able to defend yourself in said court of law. Those are the constitutional issues with red flag laws,” he said.

Liberty lives in light

© 2022 by David Silverberg

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