Trump Iran deal announcement looms; how Nelson, Rubio, Palm Beach County reps voted in 2015

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson disagreed on the Iran nuclear deal in 2015. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

President Donald Trump announced Monday on Twitter that he’ll reveal his decision on whether the U.S. should remain in the Iran nuclear deal this afternoon at 2 p.m.

The Iran deal was a landmark of former President Barack Obama‘s administration, but three Democrats in Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation — Reps. Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach —  opposed it in 2015. Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who crossed the aisle to vote with Republicans on several issues, supported the Iran deal.

The House voted against the deal by a 269-to-162 margin in September 2015. No Republicans supported the agreement and 25 Democrats joined them in opposing the president.

A majority of the U.S. Senate, including Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, opposed the deal as well. But under Senate procedural rules, Republicans needed 60 votes for a resolution opposing the deal to go forward. They fell short as Florida Democratic  Sen. Bill Nelson and 41 other Democrats voted to block consideration of the resolution.

In a Forum Club of the Palm Beaches appearance two weeks before the Senate vote, Nelson called the Iran deal flawed but better than the alternative.
“Right now, if we walk away from the agreement, Iran can develop a nuclear weapon in two to three months,” Nelson said. “If we agree to this agreement, which has its flaws, at the very least they will not produce a nuclear weapon until after 10 years and probably after 15 years.”
Nelson also said that he was satisfied that if Iran tried to secretly develop a nuclear weapon “we would find it.”

 

Transcript, photos: Trump, Melania, Rubio, Scott meet cops after Parkland school shooting

Sen. Marco Rubio (near American flag at left), first lady Melania Trump, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, President Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi with first responders in Fort Lauderdale on Friday night. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

FORT LAUDERDALE — President Donald Trump, first lady Melania Trump, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi met Friday night with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel and about two dozen law enforcement officers and first responders who were called into action for Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Click here for a full story on Trump’s Friday arrival at Palm Beach International Airport and visit to Broward Health North Hospital and the sheriff’s office.

Here’s a transcript of the meeting with first responders as provided by the White House:

I just got back from the hospital. A young woman was shot — four bullets, two in her lungs. And they got her over to the hospital in less than 21 minutes. She had no chance, and, between the first responders, your people who got her — you know who I’m talking about — they got her there, Scott.

What a job you’ve done, and the doctors did a great job over at the hospital — a combination which is incredible. And I hope you’re getting the credit for it. Because, believe me, you deserve it. The job you’ve done is unparalleled.

President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all very much. Fantastic community here. Thank you. What a great job you’ve done, and we appreciate it very much. An incredible job, and everybody’s talking about it.

SHERIFF ISRAEL: You know what? I’m giving them all raises next week. (Laughter.)

THE PRESIDENT: Give them a raise. Give everybody here a raise.

SHERIFF ISRAEL: Mr. President, these are the leaders. They led SWAT teams; they led staging areas; they led command posts. These are the leaders who led the first responders for police and fire, our deputies who were able do the amazing things we did in Broward County.

So these men and women are — and we’re — so appreciative and honored that you and the First Lady could come down and spend time in Broward County and let us know what it means to you. So thank you very much.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, Scott, and you did fantastically.

You know, I know Broward very well. I’ve been here many times. I don’t live very far away. I’m right up the road. We actually drove down. We landed over at Palm Beach International and we drove down. And this was supposed to take place on Sunday or Monday. And I said, “No way.” And then Marco said, “Hey” — he wants to go down early too. We didn’t want to wait. We didn’t want to wait.

Maybe we could ask you each to say your name and a little bit about what you do. You have a lot of folks here. I’d like to get the world to see the great job that you’ve done.

So the governor of Florida, we all know — Rick Scott has done a fantastic job. Fantastic governor. Truly a state that’s doing well. We know that Rick, right?.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: Yeah. (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT: So I just want to thank you. (Inaudible) say something.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: First off, I want to thank you for coming down. As soon as it happened, Kirstjen Nielsen called me, and made sure that — if there was any federal resources, you know. And thank you for the conversation we had. And you promised any resources the federal government could provide.

I know everybody in law enforcement here is grateful to the Sheriff, and everybody has worked really hard. As you said, the hospital did a really good job. We’ve had the opportunity to visit the patients over there. The kids are — it’s horrible what happened, but they’re very optimistic about the future. So I just want to thank you and the First Lady for being down here —

First lady Melania Trump shakes hands with Coconut Creek officer Michael Leonard, who arrested the gunman, as Broward Sheriff Scott Israel and President Donald Trump look on. (Allen Eyestone/The Palm Beach Post)

 

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: — and showing your gratitude for all the individuals that took care of everybody.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Rick. Fantastic job. Fantastic governor.

Attorney General Pam Bondi.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI: Thanks, President, and thank you and the First Lady, again, for being here. And, Sheriff, thank you for the great job you did. And, FBI, thank you for everything you did. And Governor, of course, you.

We were on the ground with our advocates from all over the state. They came on at a moment’s notice. And we had the very difficult job of being with the deceased’s families. There is no easy way to talk to someone about losing a child, especially (inaudible). And so it was very, very difficult.

And then, today, we went to the hospital and got to see what you saw. So some very good coming out of that. And we’ve also seen a lot of good with the citizens coming forward, wanting to help and wanting to help our first responders. And from all over the country, people have been reaching out — in such horror and tragedy.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: The Attorney General has great victim advocates. She’s done it (inaudible) at Pulse, and then she — after the Las Vegas shooter, she took a lot of her individuals out with her to help out there. And she’s done a great job here, bringing her child advocates and helping people — or victim advocates helping people.

ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI: Thanks, Governor.

THE PRESIDENT: I’ll tell you who appreciates it, too, are the parents. Because I was at the hospital with a lot of parents. And they are really thankful for the job you’ve done. Now, in those cases, their child is in really great shape considering they, in most cases, would not have been. But they are really thankful to everybody. Thanks, Pam.

UNDERSHERIFF KINSEY: Steve Kinsey, I’m the undersheriff for Broward Sheriff’s Office. Thank you for coming, Mr. President and Ms. First Lady. We really appreciate your support of law enforcement. You and the Governor are always behind us.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

COLONEL POLAN: Jim Polan. I’m a colonel assigned to operations for the Sheriff’s Office. Again, thank you for being here.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Jim.

COLONEL DALE: Jack Dale. I’m the colonel of investigation. So we led the investigative effort.

THE PRESIDENT: Great. Good job.

DEPUTY WIRTH: Chris Wirth. I’m a deputy with the Sheriff’s Office assigned to the bomb squad responders (inaudible).


THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Chris.

LIEUTENANT CARDINALE: Chris Cardinale from Sunrise Police. I was one of the first responders there, along with Captain Bradley, Jim McLean (ph) from Coral Springs, and Deputy Carbocci from BSO. And the victim you were talking about earlier, this gentleman here, along with Jim McLean brought her out first, and then we got her on a — got her some rescue.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. And you found her in a very odd place, too. Not easy to even find. What a job you did. Thank you very much.

MR. BRADLEY: Gareth Bradley. I was one of the SWAT medics that responded —

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Great job. I’ve heard about that. Heard about you. Great job. Thank you.

DEPUTY HANKS: Mr. President, I’m Deputy Hanks. I’m assigned to the Parkland district. I was part of a small contingent of the Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and Coral Springs officers that made the initial entry into Building 12, where the incident happened.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

FIRE CHIEF FERNANDEZ: Mr. President, Joe Fernandez, fire chief for Broward County under Sheriff Israel. Thank you for your support for the fire rescue service. We’re in a much more forward-leaning posture thanks to your support, equipment, and we were able to work tightly with law enforcement to save those lives.

THE PRESIDENT: You did. Thank you.

FIRE CHIEF FERNANDEZ: Thank you.

COLONEL PALMER: Good evening, Mr. President. My name is Colonel Gary Palmer. I’m executive director of the Department of Detention, where he’s being housed currently.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s right. Great job, thank you.

SPECIAL AGENT FORCELLI: Mr. President, Pete Forcelli, special agent in charge of ATF’s Miami field division. Thanks for your support, and it’s great to work with these fine people. The law enforcement and public safety community down here in South Florida is like no other I’ve had the honor of working with. Amazing people.

THE PRESIDENT: That’s very nice. That’s very nice. Thank you very much.

SPECIAL AGENT LASKY: Robert Lasky, special agent in charge, FBI. We’re happy to lend a hand and be a part of the team to overcome these events. Of behalf of me and the thousand people that work for me, thank you for all your support and thank Broward County. They’re a tremendously professional organization.

THE PRESIDENT: Great job, Bob. Really great job. And you had a lot FBI guys down here, quickly. So great job. Thank you very much.

SPECIAL AGENT LASKY: Thank you, sir. Appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Marco. We know Marco.

SENATOR RUBIO: Mr. President, we just want to thank you and the First Lady for coming. Obviously, the Governor and the Attorney General for their response. And the stories of the heroism from the schools that inspire — teachers; the administrators, some who lost their lives; and the men and women of law enforcement who rushed into this building not knowing what’s on the other side.

This is a community and a state that’s in deep pain. And they want action to make sure this never happens again. It’s happened too often. And I know, and I hope, and I pray we’ll come together. And I know you want to solve this, and —

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re behind them. I can tell you that, Marco. I spent a lot of time with Marco. He’s behind you, 100 percent, as is the Governor, as is Pam, as we all are. Really, as we all are.

You have a great story to tell. Go ahead.

OFFICER LEONARD: Mr. President, thank you for having me here. My name is Officer Michael Leonard. I’m with Coconut Creek Police Department. I was the one that located the shooter. With the assistance of my backup, once they arrived — Sergeant (inaudible) of the Coral Springs Police assisted me in handcuffing and taking him into custody.

THE PRESIDENT: That was so modest. I would have told it much differently. (Laughter.) I would have said, “Without me, they never would have found him.” (Laughter.)

But, you know, their story is amazing because Coconut Creek is not that close. And they heard he wasn’t around, and they can’t find him, and there was a description, and you were in a different area. And you said — it must have been sort of strange because you were so far away. You said, “I think that maybe is the shooter.” And very few people would have done what you did. I think it was a fantastic job

OFFICER LEONARD: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: So now I’ve told the real story. (Laughter.)

First Lady, would you like to say anything?

THE FIRST LADY: Thank you all for what you do, and saving our children. That’s the most important. They’re our future. And let’s take care of them because they will go through a lot with what they experienced two days ago. And we need to take care of them. Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: Very nice. Thank you.

SHERIFF ISRAEL: Mr. President, I just want to, on behalf of this agency, thank you. You know, when you get to spend time with the President of the United States and the First Lady, it’s something you’ll never forget. But our conversation is not what I’m going to remember most. I’m going to remember about a half hour that you and the First Lady spent with the son of — who was shot — of one of our injured deputies. I’ll never forget that, and for you to do something like that is amazing. And it shows what you think of law enforcement, and we appreciate it.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. He’s a good boy. (Inaudible.)

Congratulations. Let’s sit down, and thank you all very much.

Watch Florida Sens. Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio address Parkland mass shooting

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio both gave Senate speeches today addressing Wednesday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland that left 17 people dead.

Here is Nelson’s speech:

And here is Rubio’s speech:

 

 

 

How your member of Congress voted on latest budget deal…

Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, broke with most House Democrats early this morning and voted for a spending bill that keeps the government open through March 23 but doesn’t address DACA — the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that shields from deportation young non-citizens who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The Senate passed its version of the bill at 1:31 a.m. on a 71-28 vote with both Florida’s senators — Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Bill Nelson — in support.

The House passed the spending bill at 5:32 a.m. on a 240-to-186 vote. There were 167 Republicans and 73 Democrats in favor, with 67 Republicans and 119 Democrats opposed.

In Palm Beach County’s House delegation, Deutch joined U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, in support. Reps. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, and Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, were opposed.

Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, a candidate for governor, voted for the spending bill. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, a Palm Beach County native who now represents a Central Florida district, also voted in favor of the bill.

Marco Rubio fires chief of staff for ‘improper conduct’

Marco Rubio speaks to Iowa caucus-goers in 2016. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio fired chief of staff Clint Reed on Saturday night after determining Reed had “violated office policies regarding proper relations between a supervisor and their subordinates.”

In a statement released at 11:48 p.m. Saturday, Rubio said he learned of the allegations Friday afternoon and concluded Saturday they “amounted to threats to withhold employment benefits.” He said he flew from Florida to Washington on Saturday night to terminate Reed’s employment immediately.

During Rubio’s unsuccessful 2016 presidential bid, Reed was his Iowa state director, helping Rubio to a stronger-than-expected third place finish in the Iowa caucuses. When Rubio’s presidential bid ended and he decided to seek re-election to the Senate, Reed was his campaign manager. Reed became chief of staff in Rubio’s Senate office in January 2017.

Here’s the full statement Rubio released late Saturday night:

“Yesterday afternoon, I was made aware, for the first time, of allegations of improper conduct by my Chief of Staff while under the employment of my office. These allegations were reported directly to me instead of our General Counsel or the Congressional Office of Compliance. Immediately upon receiving this complaint, I along with our General Counsel, began an investigation of this matter.

“By early this afternoon, I had sufficient evidence to conclude that while employed by this office, my Chief of Staff had violated office policies regarding proper relations between a supervisor and their subordinates. I further concluded that this led to actions which in my judgement amounted to threats to withhold employment benefits.

“This evening, I traveled from Florida to Washington D.C. and terminated his employment effective immediately.

“We have taken steps to ensure that those impacted by this conduct have access to any services they may require now or in the future. Pursuant to the wishes of those victimized by this conduct, we will not be disclosing any further details about the incidents which occurred. We will be formally notifying the appropriate Congressional and Senate administrative offices of this matter when they return to work Monday morning.”

Rep. Brian Mast among top Republicans for co-sponsoring Democratic bills

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City.. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, crosses the aisle to co-sponsor Democratic legislation at a higher rate than all but three of his Republican colleagues in the House, according to figures from Quorum Analytics, a Washington firm that tracks federal legislation for trade associations, lobbyists and others.

Mast has been a co-sponsor on 123 bills in the 115th Congress, including 37 — or 30 percent — that were sponsored by Democrats, according to Quorum’s research.

Among House Republicans, only Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami (38 percent), Walter Jones of North Carolina (35 percent) and Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania (31 percent) were co-sponsors on a higher percentage of Democratic bills.

Democrats are more likely than Republicans to sign on as co-sponsors of bills sponsored by the other party because of their status as the minority party. More than two-thirds of the bills that Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., has co-sponsored have Republicans as the lead sponsor, and five other House Democrats are above 50 percent.

Palm Beach County Democratic U.S. Reps. (from left) Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings and Lois Frankel.

Within Palm Beach County’s House delegation, according to Quorum, Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, is the 69th most bipartisan Democrat out of 193 House Democrats,  with 32 percent of the bills she has co-sponsored having a Republican as lead sponsor. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, ranks 102nd in the Democratic caucus at 27 percent and Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, ranks 111th at 26 percent.

The Democratic legislation Mast has co-sponsored includes a few ceremonial and post office-naming bills, but also a bill sponsored by Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., to limit President Donald Trump‘s ability to waive sanctions against Russia, a measure to establish a Climate Solutions Commission, the Marine Oil Spill Prevention Act, the U.S.-Israel Common Defense Authorization Act, the U.S.-Israel Joint Missile Defense Act, a Frankel bill to ease the sale of foreign-flagged yachts in the U.S. and several defense and veteran-related bills. Mast is a decorated Army veteran who lost both his legs after a bomb blast in Afghanistan.

In an October analysis, Quorum Analytics said Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio were among the most bipartisan members of their parties with regard to co-sponsoring bills. For Nelson, 52 percent of the bills he co-sponsored had Republicans as lead sponsor. For Rubio, 35 percent of co-sponsored bills had Democratic sponsors.

Shutdown: Some Senate Dems from Trump states vote with GOP; Florida’s Bill Nelson does not

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) supported a short-term spending measure to avert a federal government shutdown; Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson was opposed. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Five Democratic senators from states that President Donald Trump carried in 2016 broke with party leadership late Friday and voted for a spending plan to avert a federal government shutdown.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson — up for re-election this year in a state Trump carried by 1.2 percentage points over Hillary Clinton — was not among them.

With Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., insisting the measure include protections against deportation for young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, Nelson and most of the Democratic caucus voted to block consideration of a stopgap spending measure that would have kept the government running for four more weeks.

With 60 votes needed under Senate rules, the motion fell short with only 50 votes. Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio joined most of the Republican caucus in voting for the measure while four Republicans opposed it. (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also cast a “no” vote for procedural reasons to allow him to bring the measure up again.)

Four of the five Democrats who broke ranks — Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Claire McCaskill of Missouri — are up for re-election this year in states Trump won in 2016. The fifth Democrat, Sen. Doug Jones of deep-red Alabama, won an upset special election over Roy Moore last month and faces re-election in 2020.

Said Nelson: “These short-term funding bills are hurting our national security and, at some point, we have a responsibility to say enough is enough. Now efforts have intensified at a bipartisan solution. I am hopeful that an agreement may be reached in the next couple of days.”

Republicans hoping to unseat Nelson this year pounced on his vote.

“Bill Nelson proved yet again tonight that his loyalty lies with Chuck Schumer and Elizabeth Warren, not with Florida,” said Republican National Committee spokeswoman Ellie Hockenbury. “By participating in such blatant political games, Bill Nelson voted against our service members and children’s health care. Floridians won’t forget this betrayal when they go to the polls in November.”

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders also piled on in a statement just before midnight: “Senate Democrats own the Schumer Shutdown. Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans. We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands. This is the behavior of obstructionist losers, not legislators.”

Nelson’s expected 2018 opponent, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, tweeted late Friday night that “Washington needs to do its job and keep the federal government running. A government shutdown is not fair to Florida taxpayers.”

>>RELATED: Government shutdown – What’s closed and what happens to government checks?

 

Florida pols weigh in on Trump recognizing Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in Israel on a trade mission, praises President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Florida politicians had mixed responses to President Donald Trump‘s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to instruct the State Department to develop a plan to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott, in Israel on a trade mission, posted a video of himself and wife Ann Scott at the Western Wall praising the president’s announcement.

Palm Beach County’s U.S. House delegation for the 115th Congress, clockwise from top left: Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City; Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach; Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach.

“This is a great day,” Scott said. “I stand with Israel, I stand with all the citizens of Israel. The state of Fla stands with all the citizens of Israel. This is an outstanding day for both Israel and the citizens of the United States of America.”

Said Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio: “Today’s announcement is an important step in the right direction. Unequivocal recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will be complete when the U.S. embassy is officially relocated there.”

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, in an interview with Fox News,  said Trump’s announcement is cause for “a day of celebration.” Mast criticized Hamas and others calling for a “day of rage” in response.

“For those that are saying this is going to cause unrest, you talk about groups like Hamas out there calling for a day of rage, it shows exactly who any blood would be on the hands of – it’s those that would go out there and ultimately bring about violence and not anybody else to blame. They’re constantly looking for a reason to go out there and cause disruption and it’s not a surprise that they’d try to use this,” Mast said.

Even U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, an ardent Trump critic, voiced cautious approval.

“The President’s decision today is a recognition of existing U.S. law that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and that the U.S. embassy should ultimately be located in the capital,” said Deutch in a joint statement with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, a fellow member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa.

The Deutch and Ros-Lehtinen statement continued: “There is no debate that the Jewish people have a deep-rooted religious, cultural and historic tie to Jerusalem, and today’s decision reaffirms that connection. The fact is that Jerusalem – an ancient and holy city to all three monotheistic faiths – will remain the capital of the Jewish state in any iteration of a negotiated two-state solution. Today’s decision does not preclude our shared goal of two states for two peoples to be negotiated between the parties themselves. Now is the time for urgent progress towards the President’s stated objective of achieving a real and lasting peace.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, was critical.

“I believe that Jerusalem is and should remain the undivided capital of Israel. To deny the Jewish connection to Jerusalem would be to deny world history. That being said, the manner in which the Trump Administration has announced its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is of great concern,” Hastings said.
“In the context of peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the sensitivity of the status of Jerusalem cannot be overstated…The United States has long held that the final status of Jerusalem should be determined as part of an agreement negotiated between the State of Israel and the Palestinian leadership. The President’s announcement undercuts this position, as well as the role of the United States as an honest mediator of the conflict,” Hastings said.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, offered this response: “The President’s announcement today is consistent with current U.S. law and reaffirms what we already know: Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. The U.S. must recommit to our long-standing goal of a negotiated solution that leads to two states for two people. Only direct negotiations between the parties will allow Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition.”

 

Donald Trump, Marco Rubio differ on Chinese communist Xi’s ‘political victory’

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago in April. (Doug Mills/New York Times)

As President Donald Trump visits Chinese President and former Mar-a-Lago guest Xi Jinping in Beijing, he and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are expressing decidedly different views of China’s communist leader.

Trump, in a Wednesday tweet, said he’s looking forward to meeting with Xi, “who is just off his great political victory.”

Xi recently tightened his grip on power at China’s 19th Communist Party Congress, which added Xi’s name and ideology to its constitution. Trump called it an “extraordinary elevation” in an Oct. 25 tweet.

In a tweet this afternoon, Rubio didn’t mention Trump but clearly took aim at the president’s assessment of Xi.

“President Xi’s further consolidation of power, in a one-party communist state, was not a political victory,” Rubio tweeted. “It was a tragedy for human rights advocates, reformers and thousands of political prisoners. Chinese Govt must be challenged to abide by int’l commitments & rule of law.”

Rubio presses Trump administration on Lake Okeechobee dike pledge

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio near a map of Lake Okeechobee during a 2016 visit to the South Florida Water Management District headquarters in West Palm Beach. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is pressing President Donald Trump’s administration to put some money behind the president’s recent pledge to accelerate repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

Trump — heeding the pleas of Florida Gov. and key political ally Rick Scott — endorsed a speeding up of renovations, which are now scheduled for completion in 2025.

But the White House statement on the dike was short on specifics — such as a target date for completing construction or the amount of money the administration is proposing to accelerate the job.

In a letter today to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, Rubio thanks Trump for his pledge and notes that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plan to complete the dike fix by 2022 would cost $776.6 million.

“That plan requires specific funding levels of $212.4 million in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, $242.1 million in FY20, $203.9 million in FY21, and $118.2 million in FY22,” Rubio’s letter says. “Given that budget requests below these funding levels would threaten to leave South Florida communities along the dike vulnerable for longer than necessary, I am seeking to clarify that your commitment to an expedited rehabilitation timetable includes your support for these required funding levels.”

Rubio, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told Mulvaney he’s ready to help Trump “fulfill his commitment.”