Senators back solar tariffs, oppose prairie bird safeguards
The Senate has approved a measure that would reinstate tariffs on solar panel imports from several Southeast Asian countries after President Joe Biden paused them in a bid to boost solar installations in the U.S. Lawmakers also approved a separate plan late Wednesday to undo federal protections for the lesser prairie chicken, a rare grouse that’s found in parts of the Midwest and Southwest, including one of the country’s most prolific oil and gas fields.
Texas bill proposes up to $25K for armed school 'sentinels'
Texas schools could offer up to $25,000 stipends to teachers and staff who accept the dual role of being armed campus “sentinels” with specialized mental health training under a proposal that state lawmakers advanced Tuesday in response to the Uvalde classroom shooting.
By boat and jet ski, volunteers assist in Ian rescue efforts
As authorities in Florida try to reach people who have been trapped by floodwaters or isolated on barrier islands since Hurricane Ian came ashore last week, concerned members of the public have been springing into action to aid the official rescue efforts.
Mike Pence, potential 2024 presidential candidates coming to Texas for GOP fundraising blitz, donor appreciation event
States pass their own virus aid, not waiting on Washington
– Not waiting for more federal help, states have been approving their own coronavirus aid packages, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to help residents and business owners devastated by the the pandemic's economic fallout. Directing federal money to state governments has been so contentious that the idea was stripped from the previous congressional aid package passed in December. “The cascading effect, it’s actually a problem that most states are grappling with ... waiting for the relief money out of the feds,” she said. They also are still figuring out how to spend another $1.8 billion in federal money that Congress approved in December. And for some of those who do receive it, the extra state money represents just a fraction of the financial hit they have taken during the pandemic.
Donor backlash fuels GOP alarm about Senate fundraising
The GOP already faces a difficult Senate map in 2022, when 14 Democratic-held seats and 20 Republican ones will be on the ballot. That includes at least two open seats that Republicans will be defending because of the retirements of GOP Sens. One of those lawmakers, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, is the new chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, a post that makes him the public face of the Senate Republican fundraising efforts. But two senior Republican strategists involved in Senate races say the cumulative effect of the companies' decisions could have a bigger impact. That puts more pressure on the NRSC and the leading Senate Republican outside group, Senate Leadership Fund, to cover the difference.
US gives Florida wider authority over wetland development
Florida accounts for about a fifth of the country’s wetlands and includes the Everglades, among the state’s most important environmental jewels. “The fact is that Florida’s proposed program to take over wetlands permitting doesn’t comply with federal environmental laws,” she said. Florida becomes the third state to gain broader permitting authority of wetlands under the federal Clean Water Act. Florida's request to gain sole permitting authority was launched under the administration of Gov. Ron DeSantis, also a Republican, took on that mantle and earlier this year formally petitioned the federal government to transfer that authority.
Florida's Sen. Scott has coronavirus, 'very mild symptoms'
Scott, 67, has been quarantining at home all week after coming into contact in Florida on Nov. 13 with someone who subsequently tested positive. Scott, a Republican, said he was “feeling good” despite the mild symptoms and would be working at his home in Naples. “I want to remind everyone to be careful and do the right things to protect yourselves and others,” Scott said in a statement. House members could be regularly tested in the Capitol starting this week, but there is still no testing protocol for senators. The absence Scott and Grassley on Tuesday helped Democrats block the nomination of Judy Shelton, Trump’s controversial pick for the Federal Reserve.
Too soon? Georgia draws next class of White House hopefuls
Georgia would like a few moments of presidential campaign time. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas senator widely viewed as having presidential ambitions, will campaign in central Georgia on Friday. Meanwhile, Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley has sent a flurry of fundraising emails coaxing rank-and-file Republicans to bankroll the Georgia runoff campaigns. That popularity makes it politically risky for Republicans with White House ambitions to call out Trump’s falsehoods. On Cotton’s future plans, Colas said, “The senator remains focused on 2020.”For Democrats, there’s less future presidential intrigue to blend into the Georgia campaign.
Biden's agenda at stake, battle for Senate pushes to January
Instead, the sprint to the Jan. 5 runoffs for two seats in Georgia will determine whether the Senate becomes a Republican-held check on Biden's agenda or a Democratic partnership with the new White House. With a Democratic Senate, Biden would have allies to easily confirm his nominees, including for cabinet positions, and shape passage of legislation. If Republicans keep control, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell can block Biden's agenda. Senate Republicans need Trump — and his voters — on board for the Georgia race. Loeffler and Perdue stunned many this week when they jointly called their own state election system an “embarrassment" as Biden was leading over Trump.
Florida, butt of election jokes, believes system is ready
State leaders eliminated computer punchcard ballots, implemented statewide recount laws and made it easy to cast and process ballots before Election Day. Though there are other scenarios that make elections officials nervous, the computer punch-card ballots that fueled 2000's chaos are buried in history's landfill. Casting valid ballots and processing them is now easier, even before Election Day, and the Legislature has enacted clearer laws governing recounts. If the statewide margin then is within a half-percentage point — likely about 55,000 votes — a machine recount would occur. These voters are notified and have until two days after the election to prove their identity, but many won’t respond.
Trump drilling reversal could boost coastal GOP senators
COLUMBIA, S.C. With one stroke, President Donald Trumps abrupt reversal on offshore drilling this week has loosened a political vise that was tightening around three Republicans senators running for reelection in coastal states where drilling is widely opposed. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue of Georgia, all Democratic targets. Brian Kemp, another Trump ally, and his Republican predecessor, Nathan Deal, have opposed drilling off the state's 100-mile (160 km) coast. The decision by President Trump to include South Carolina meets the desires of our coastal communities and states leadership, Graham said. I very much appreciate President Trump for listening to our state and delivering for our people.___Ben Nadler in Atlanta contributed to this report.
Beyond November: At GOP convention, there's a 2024 subplot
WASHINGTON Republicans this week are focused squarely on their convention's star, President Donald Trump, and securing his reelection in November. Theres a lot happening behind the scenes already," said Republican strategist Alex Conant, who worked for the 2016 campaign of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Also allotted time slots: Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Florida Sen. Rick Scott and Donald Trump Jr. "Theres others out there, but nobody else is even close in that stratosphere.Much will depend on whether Trump secures a second term. In her convention speech Monday night, Haley gave an unabashed endorsement of the president while spending time introducing herself to viewers.
Laura Loomer wins GOP primary to challenge Rep. Lois Frankel
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. A far-right social media provocateur whose hate speech got her banned from social media won her Republican primary on Tuesday and will challenge Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel for Congress in November. Laura Loomer also won praise from President Donald Trump early Wednesday, who tweeted that she has a great chance." Loomer received 43% in a six-candidate Republican field, garnering 14,500 votes. Frankel, running against a political newcomer, received 75,000 votes, or 86% in the Democratic primary, which had 87,000 votes cast. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, PayPal, Venmo, GoFundMe, Uber and Lyft have banned her, but her messages get out through tweets by supporters and other workarounds, the Palm Beach Post reported.
Unemployment woes a mounting strain on Trump in Florida
She burned through her savings while awaiting financial relief from Floridas unemployment office. DeSantis has acknowledged that the unemployment system known as CONNECT was like a jalopy in the Daytona 500 being left in the dust." And that relates to management of the system.Florida's unemployment woes add to the troubles for Trump five months from Election Day. In April, Floridas unemployment rate hit 12.9%, up from 2.8% in February. Its one of those things where once the issue is solved, its going to disappear, said Florida Republican Party chairperson Joe Gruters.