Donald Trump

Nelson to Trump: Don’t outsource space!

iss054e022063Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida who likes to remind you he’s traveled into outer space, is criticizing a proposal by President Donald Trump to privatize the International Space Station after its current U.S. funding expires in 2024.

“The administration’s budget for NASA is a nonstarter,” Nelson said in a release. “If we’re ever going to get to Mars with humans on board and return them safely, then we need a larger funding increase for NASA. The proposal would also end support for the International Space Station in 2025 and make deep cuts to popular education and science programs. Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we’re pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense.”

Trump’s budget proposal for 2019 has NASA turning over operations of the station to commercial operators or the other nations partnering on the space platform after 2024. Nelson’s already griped about the president’s position on NASA.

The station costs about $3 billion a year to run.

The station is currently expected to be in use through 2028, the 30th year after its first component was launched into orbit.

President Barack Obama in 2008 extended the U.S. operational portion of the ISS until 2024.

— By Jim Turner.

Left out of immigration debate, Levine takes out his checkbook

In a one-two advertising punch, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is taking on both President Donald Trump and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, lashing them for promoting hate and intolerance.

The former Miami Beach mayor’s campaign is launching a one-week $250,000 buy in Florida for a 30-second television ad that slams Corcoran for “broadcasting a message of hate,” referring to the Republican House speaker’s ad on “sanctuary cities” and a shooting involving an undocumented immigrant.

Levine’s camp announced the ad buy a day before Corcoran is scheduled to debate Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat facing off against Levine in a primary later this year.

“I have zero tolerance for intolerance. Speaker Richard Corcoran is attempting to divide our state and our country by attacking and bullying those who do not look like him, on a cynical belief that this will propel his campaign for governor,” Levine said in a statement. “Those are the qualities of a bully, not a leader.”

In a more unusual move, Levine’s campaign is also doing a $20,000 targeted cable buy for the ad in Washington, D.C., running on the Fox News and CNN channels, aiming at Trump.

“I want President Trump to know that his efforts to divide us through intolerance is intolerable, and the people of Florida and this country stand united against his divisive rhetoric and policies,” Levine said in a statement.

Political consultant Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to Levine’s campaign, told reporters Monday morning the campaign is going to keep up an “aggressive push” on digital media as well.

“We are going to continue to do that to make sure that this type of race-bating by the speaker is rebutted directly with Floridians and they hear a different message from our campaign, one of respect and inclusion,” Ulvert said.

Here’s the transcript of the ad, which is also running Spanish:

Levine: In Washington these days, they’re taking shots at immigrants who’ve devoted their lives to this country.

Levine: Now one Tallahassee politician is broadcasting a message of hate aimed at every man, woman and child that doesn’t look like him.

Levine: It’s bad enough we hear this from a President who bullies for a living. What’s worse are those who encourage it.

Levine: I want Florida to show America that we won’t be threatened by anyone, because we believe in everyone.

Announcer: Philip Levine for Governor.

— By Lloyd Dunkelberger

NELSON: Trump “going to have a fight” over NASA proposal

iss054e022063U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, lashed out following a report that the Trump administration plans to cut off funding for the International Space Station by 2025.

“If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they’re going to have a fight on their hands,” Nelson, a onetime astronaut from the state’s Space Coast region, said in a press release yesterday. The Commerce Committee oversees the space industry.

“Such a move would likely decimate Florida’s blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress has directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that,” Nelson, who could be facing a match-up against Republican Gov. Rick Scott this year, added.

The Wall Street Journal was among a number of sources on Thursday reporting that the White House’s next NASA budget will feature public-private missions tied to a trip to the moon, while eliminating funding for the International Space Station around 2025.

We love the headline on the WSJ story: “Trump’s NASA Budget: More Moon, Less Space Station.”

By Jim Turner.

Brogan faces Senate committee confirmation

Florida homeboy Frank Brogan — a former Sunshine State lieutenant governor, education commissioner and university-system chancellor — appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions on Thursday.

Brogan was nominated in December by President Donald Trump to be assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Republican from Tennessee, noted that the letters of support for Brogan included a missive from Gov. Jeb Bush, Brogan’s top-of-the-ticket running mate in 1998 and 2002.

Brogan left the state in 2013 to become chancellor of Pennsylvania’s university system, a position he held until this past summer.

If you have an hour to kill hearing Senators offer pontificating questions and Brogan’s response, here ya go.

By Jim Turner.

AG candidates lassoed for Federalist’s Disney confab

Four candidates for attorney general are expected to appear together at a Federalist Society powwow near Orlando next month.

Democrat Ryan Torrens  and Republican Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville, Rep. Frank White of Pensacola and former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody have agreed to participate in a panel discussion on Feb. 3 as part of the annual Federalist Society Florida Chapters Conference at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Report in Lake Buena Vista, according to an announcement released Wednesday.

State Reps. Ross Spano, a Republican from Dover, and Sean Shaw, a Democrat from Tampa, have also invited, but have yet to reply, the Society noted on Wednesday.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Cabinet post last year and seeking re-election to the job, will appear at the conference on Feb. 2.

Two officials from President Donald Trump’s administration — EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — and Florida Attorney General Pamela Bondi are also slated to appear.

By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

Hannity hearts DeSantis

An endorsement from President Donald Trump is probably the biggest coup for a Republican candidate trying to garner support from conservative, base voters in a statewide primary election.

But a resounding thumbs-up from conservative icon Sean Hannity is arguably a runner-up.

And that’s what U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis scored, with Hannity, who has a condo in Naples, telling the Palm Coast Republican, “You’re going to be my future governor, I hope,” during a radio interview.

DeSantis is facing up against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose amassed a considerable campaign war chest as he serves up Florida OJ at his “Up and Adam” breakfasts throughout the state. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is toying with a run for governor, and former state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is facing possible criminal charges after resigned last month amid investigations into sexual harassment, is still in the race.

Putnam’s made a noticeable pivot to the right as he gears up for the August primary. And we’re not usually keen about endorsements. But the support of Trump and Hannity could translate into considerable dosh and being onstage with Trump couldn’t hurt, either.


Bipartisan passion for Dreamers

IMG_2516Tallahassee insiders have long joked that there’s a dumpster outside of the nation’s Capitol reserved for memorials passed the state Legislature.

But that didn’t stop Florida state Sen. René García, a Hialeah Republican who was born in Cuba, from making an impassioned plea to Congress to do something to address the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. The Obama-era policy protects from deportation individuals who were brought, as children, to the U.S. illegally by their parents.

President Donald Trump announced in December he was terminating the policy, which could put 800,000 DACA recipients in danger of deportation.

Sen. Daphne Campbell, a Haitian-born Miami Democrat, is sponsoring a memorial (SB 882), which sends a message to Congress to do something to protect the hundreds of thousands of children who entered the country when they were kids.

Tuesday’s debate about the memorial came amid discussions in Washington about immigration reform, and raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents throughout the country, including in Florida.

“Why send them back to a country that they have never known? Would we be having this discussion if the kids came from Norway or a similar country where the inhabitants are mostly white?” Campbell, said, referring to Trump’s reported characterization of her homeland and African countries as “shitholes.” Trump allegedly said the U.S. should welcome more immigrants from nations like Norway.

Garcia, who is running for Congress, weighed in after the committee heard from supporters of the memorial, including a handful of foreign-born students advocating on behalf of their DACA-eligible friends.

Patrick Ariel Sabillon said he moved to Texas to be with his father after “multiple dead bodies were found in my elementary school” in Nicaragua.

“I can’t explain to you guys the anxiety, the sadness, the fear and the anger that the immigration crackdown has brought to our communities,” Sabillon, a 20-year-old Florida State University student, said. “People are worried about going to the market.”

Sen. Doug Broxson, R-Gulf Breeze, said he thought it was “inappropriate” to consider the memorial while Congress is debating the issue.

But García said that’s exactly why the Legislature needed to send Congress a strong message of support for Dreamers, who, he said, are exactly the kind of immigrants the nation wants.

“You went to school. You did your part. You did your job. You stayed out of trouble . and yet now, because of politics, you (face the) potential of being deported,” he said before the committee’s 3-2 vote in favor of the proposal. Broxson and Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, voted against the measure.

“The Dreamers are those that understand what it is to be an American. The Dreamers are the ones that are dreaming to have a better life … not only for their families, but for their communities. That’s why it is so critical that we send this message back. That’s why it’s so important that we say stop. Stop with the Democrats, with the Republicans.”

Congress to has to act, García said.

“Can President Trump sign an executive order? Absolutely… But it has to be Congress that has the intestinal fortitude, Democrats and Republicans … and put aside the next election cycle and fix it once and for all.”

It’s unlikely the House will approve a similar measure. The chamber on Friday passed a controversial plan that would ban “sanctuary” cities in the state.