Trump preview: ‘We are building a safe, strong and proud America’

President Donald Trump at West Palm Beach Fire Rescue Station 2 last month. (Bruce R. Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

The White House has released some excerpts as prepared for delivery when President Donald Trump delivers his first State of the Union address later tonight:

Together, we are building a SAFE, STRONG, and PROUD America.

• We want every American to know the dignity of a hard day’s work; we want every child to be safe in their home at night, and we want every citizen to be proud of this land that we love.


Just as I promised the American People from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.

• Our massive tax cuts provide tremendous relief for the Middle Class and small businesses.

• Since we passed tax cuts, roughly 3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses – many of them thousands of dollars per worker.

• This is our New American Moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American dream.

• Tonight, I want to talk about what kind of future we are going to have, and what kind of nation we are going to be. All of us, together, as one team, one people, and one American family.

• Americans love their country. And they deserve a government that shows them the same love and loyalty in return.

• For the last year we have sought to restore the bonds of trust between our citizens and their government.

• In our drive to make Washington accountable, we have eliminated more regulations in our first year than any administration in history.

• We have ENDED the war on American Energy – and we have ENDED the War on CLEAN COAL. We are now an exporter of energy to the world.

• America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth.

• America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just one year – isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take ten years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?

• I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.

• Struggling communities, especially immigrant communities, will also be helped by immigration policies that focus on the best interests of American Workers and American Families.

• So tonight I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties, Democrats and Republicans, to protect our citizens, of every background, color, and creed.

• As we rebuild America’s strength and confidence at home, we are also restoring our strength and standing abroad.

• Last year I pledged that we would work with our allies to extinguish ISIS from the face of the earth. One year later, I’m proud to report that the coalition to defeat ISIS has liberated almost 100 percent of the territory once held by these killers in Iraq and Syria. But there is much more work to be done. We will continue our fight until ISIS is defeated.

• Past experience has taught us that complacency and concessions only invite aggression and provocation. I will not repeat the mistakes of the past Administrations that got us into this dangerous position.

Tonight: Deutch, Frankel tap symbolic guests for Trump’s State of the Union

Democratic U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, hopes to draw attention to America’s longest-held hostage while Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, will highlight workplace sexual harassment when President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address tonight.

With each House member getting one guest ticket for the speech, Deutch invited Christine Levinson, the wife of Bob Levinson, a Deutch constituent from Coral Springs who has been missing in Iran for nearly 11 years.

Frankel’s guest is Laura Germino, co-founder of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, active in fighting sexual harassment and advocating for higher wages for farm workers.

“Laura’s tireless efforts to provide workers with a safe, dignified workplace is an example that all industries – from farms, to hotels, to Hollywood – can follow,” said Frankel. “Our nation is in the middle of a cultural revolution, where workers are demanding respectful workplaces that are free of sexual harassment. I’m bringing Laura and her success story to Washington to echo that call.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach, in engaging in a different kind of State of the Union symbolism. Hastings, a frequent Trump critic who skipped last year’s inauguration, is not attending tonight’s speech. He gave his guest ticket to Florida House delegation co-chair Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key.

Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, planned to give his ticket to his wife. She was unable to attend, however, and Mast’s office did not know Monday how the guest pass would be used.

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.

Today: Nancy Pelosi in Boca Raton to slam ‘disastrous’ Trump tax cuts

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi campaigning in Boca Raton for then-candidate Lois Frankel in 2012. (Richard Graulich/The Palm Beach Post)

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will be at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton this morning as part of a nationwide tour to slam the $1.5 trillion tax cut approved by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last month.

U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, and Darren Soto, D-Orlando, are also expected at the 9:45 a.m. event at the FAU Student Union Building.

Congressional Democrats — including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and Palm Beach County U.S. Reps. Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel — opposed the tax bill, saying it disproportionately benefits wealthy taxpayers.

The Tax Policy Center, a Washington-based research group affiliated with the liberal Brookings Institution, says about 80 percent of taxpayers across all income groups will get a tax cut and the average income tax filer will see a tax reduction of $1,610 in 2018.

Those making between $48,600 and $86,100 — the middle 20 percent of all taxpayers — will see an average tax reduction of $930, according to the Tax Policy Center analysis, while the top 1 percent of earners, with incomes above $732,800, will see an average tax cut of $51,140. The top 1 percent of all earners made about 21 percent of all U.S. income and paid about 39 percent of all income taxes in 2014, according to IRS data.


Shutdown ends: How Palm Beach County members voted, Trump’s analysis

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.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, voted for a short-term spending measure to end the federal government shutdown on Monday night while Palm Beach County’s three Democratic House members — Reps. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton and Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach — voted against it.

The final vote was 266-to-150, with 221 Republicans and 45 Democrats in favor of the bill to finance the government through Feb. 8.  Voting no were 144 Democrats and 6 Republicans.

The House voted after most Senate Democrats, including Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, reversed course from Friday night and allowed the stopgap spending bill to proceed.

“Big win for Republicans as Democrats cave on Shutdown,” President Donald Trump tweeted late Monday night. “Now I want a big win for everyone, including Republicans, Democrats and DACA, but especially for our Great Military and Border Security. Should be able to get there. See you at the negotiating table!”

Here’s what Palm Beach County House members said about their votes:

Mast: “I’m relieved to say that the government is going to be back open, but this was an entirely avoidable crisis. The bill passed today by the Senate is fundamentally the same as the one the House passed last week. The fact that a minority of Senators were able to hold the government hostage for 3 days—and make no real changes to the bill—shows just how broken the system really is. Sadly far too many people in Washington remain more interested in helping themselves than the people they represent.

“With this manufactured crisis behind us, we need to get back to work—fix the broken system, stop governing from crisis to crisis, get our country’s finances back on track, cut wasteful spending and do what we were sent here to do: put power back in the hands of the American people.”

Frankel: “I want government open, but short-term funding is ridiculous and the failure to protect DREAMers is wrong. Month to month federal funding, in this case 17 days, endangers our national and domestic security. Without stable fiscal planning, all our federal agencies, including our military, are hampered. I will continue to fight alongside my fellow Democrats to get a deal for the DREAMers and pass a responsible long-term funding bill that allocates appropriate resources to important areas such as defense, veterans, infrastructure and medical research, and pressing crises facing Florida, like opioid abuse and hurricane recovery.”

Deutch: “Governing by chaos is not governing. Using band-aids to move from one emergency to another is irresponsible and dangerous. Americans need to know that their government will be there for them. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership has failed them. We need a spending bill that will ensure certain, stable, and robust funding of both domestic and military spending for the remainder of the year. We need to instill confidence and ensure stability. We owe it to our military, our troops, our veterans, and our national security. We owe it to our seniors and low-income families, to Social Security beneficiaries and Medicare and Medicaid recipients. We owe it to the groundbreaking and life-saving federally-funded medical research, and to those still struggling to recover from the disastrous natural disasters.

“This bill offers no assurance for a long-term spending bill. It’s time to govern – responsibly and in a bipartisan way. The American people deserve better.”

Hastings: “The Trump Shutdown was the first in modern history where one party controlled the House, Senate, and White House. Our country is just four months into the fiscal year, yet the Republican-run Congress has needed four short-term continuing resolutions to keep the government running. It is absolutely shameful that Congress has needed to pass a three week spending bill, kicking-the-can down the road yet again. This is no way to run our government.

“The clock is ticking. Over the next 17 days, the American people will face grave uncertainty. This is not leadership, this is no way to function, and it must stop.



Shutdown vote reveals 2018 vs. 2020 Democratic divide

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson were back on the same side in today’s vote to end a government shutdown. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Less than 72 hours after  voting for a federal government shutdown, Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and most of his Democratic colleagues reversed course today on a vote clearing the way to reopening the government.

The Senate voted 81-18 to end debate and move toward passage of a short-term spending bill to reopen the government. A final vote on the spending bill itself is expected later this afternoon.

While Democrats insisted Friday that a spending bill include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) protections against deportation for young non-citizens who were brought to the U.S. by their parents, today’s agreement only includes a pledge from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. to begin debate on an immigration bill by Feb. 8.

Today’s vote revealed a divide within the Democratic caucus, as Nelson and eight other senators up for re-election this year in states that Donald Trump carried in 2016 voted to end the shutdown. (The lone exception was Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, who faces re-election this year in a state Trump won by 20 points.)

The 18 votes against the shutdown deal included 16 Democrats and conservative Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah.

With the Democratic party’s liberal base strongly supporting DACA and other reforms to create a pathway to citizenship, the Democratic “no” votes included several senators who have been mentioned as potential 2020 candidates for president: Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who caucuses with Democrats and sought the party’s 2016 nomination, also was a “no” vote.


Feeling shutdown heat, Dem Bill Nelson amends explanation, stresses bipartisanship

Sen. Bill Nelson in his West Palm Beach office last year. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s Friday night vote against keeping the federal government open is drawing criticism from Republicans — and an amended explanation from Nelson, who’s up for re-election this year in a state Donald Trump won by 1.2 percent in 2016.

Nelson this morning sought to position himself as part of the solution, tweeting that he’s working with Republicans to end the budget stalemate.

Nelson voted with most Senate Democrats on Friday night to block consideration of a stopgap spending measure that would have keep the government running for four weeks and extended a children’s health program. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Democratic leaders insisted the measure include protections against deportation for young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents.

Only five Democrats broke with party leaders on the Friday night vote. Four of them are up for re-election this year in states Trump carried.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee took aim at Nelson and four other Democratic senators from states won by Trump  in Facebook ads released Saturday. And the Republican National Committee targeted Nelson in robocalls aimed at more than 780,000 Florida voters over the weekend.

The RNC calls are going to voters in five states that have Democratic senators and were carried by Trump. They claim Democrats “prioritized illegal immigrants over American citizens.”

Nelson initial explanation for Friday’s vote said: “These short-term funding bills are hurting our national security and, at some point, we have a responsibility to say enough is enough.”

Nelson’s office came back on Sunday with an expanded, more Florida-centric justification.

“Another reason I voted against the Continuing Resolution Friday night was that it omitted the desperately needed hurricane disaster assistance to help Florida recover. Especially hurt is Florida’s citrus industry, which lost most of its oranges in the storm. They are now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy unless we can get them some help immediately.”


Eric Trump says dad would be ‘hugely impeded’ if Dems take Congress

Eric Trump and wife Lara speaking to Republican activists at the West Palm Beach Marriott today. (Damon Higgins/The Palm Beach Post)

WEST PALM BEACH — Eric Trump thanked local Republican activists for their grass-roots efforts today and warned that his father’s agenda would be “hugely, hugely impeded” if the GOP loses its majorities in the House and Senate in the 2018 midterm elections.

Eric Trump, wife Lara Trump and Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel spoke to about 100 party activists at a training session at the West Palm Beach Marriott. They are in town for a $100,000-per-couple fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago tonight for President Donald Trump‘s re-election campaign.

The president was scheduled to headline tonight’s fundraiser, but his attendance is now unlikely because of the federal government shutdown.

Eric Trump said his father won in 2016 because Republicans had a better ground game than Hillary Clinton and Democrats.

“You are the soldiers on the front line. We have your back. We truly love you,” Eric Trump told the group.

He said their efforts will be needed in this year’s midterm elections.

“I am so proud of my father. He’s done an amazing job for this country…He pledged one very simple message and that’s to make America great again and that’s what he’s doing and we have to continue the fight,” he said.

Republicans have majorities in the House and Senate, but more than eight decades of historical trends favor the party that is out of the White House in non-presidential election years and polls show Democrats have an advantage in generic ballot tests against the GOP.

“We’re very, very lucky that we have majorities in the House and Senate. I mean, we’re very, very, very lucky. But let’s not take that for granted as a party because honestly 2018 will be as important as ever,” Eric Trump said. “His great work is hugely, hugely impeded if we lose that I’m going to fight every single day between now and those elections to make sure that those majorities are stronger than ever.”

Lara Trump said her father-in-law “is draining the swamp and he is making America great again…It is so important the we keep him there, that we keep the majority in the House and the Senate.”




Trump’s first year: JFK comparisons, golf, missiles, the 561 Cabinet, other Palm Beach highlights

Presidents in Palm Beach: JFK and Jackie with kids on Easter in 1963; Donald and Melania Trump at Easter last year. (Kennedy photo from JFK Library; Trump photo by Melanie Bell/Palm Beach Daily News)

PALM BEACH — John F. Kennedy was America’s first Palm Beach president, but Donald Trump is redefining the role.

Today marks the one-year anniversary of Trump taking the oath of office to become the 45th president. About 10 percent of Trump’s presidency has been spent in Palm Beach County — mostly at his Mar-a-Lago estate or the Trump International Golf Club in unincorporated West Palm Beach.

President Donald Trump teeing off at Trump International Golf Club, from a video shot by golfer Taylor Funk.

Trump has played an estimated 32 rounds of golf during his South Florida trips, but also conducted consequential national and international business.

Click here to read the full story — including the al fresco situation room, the 561 Cabinet, the missiles of Mar-a-Lago and other highlights — and find out how Trump’s Palm Beach visits compare to JFK’s.