On January 3, Florida’s 26th district new representative Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell was sworn into the House of Representatives and began serving her constituents immediately. At the official ceremony, 40 plus members of Mucarsel-Powell’s family attended, including her father’s Ecuadorian relatives, illustrating how she brings diversity and variety to the incoming freshman class. Mucarsel-Powell took the time to speak with the Weekly from her new Capital Hill office.
“It was impactful and emotional, especially having my kids on the floor with me. It was truly the best experience of my life. But it also came with understanding the responsibility of the job. We immediately got to work that day,” said Mucarsel-Powell. The new congresswoman worked well past 10 pm on her first day working on re-opening the government.
“It’s our priority to re-open the government in order to get to work and do the things we were elected to do. We can’t deal with healthcare or climate issues if the government isn’t functioning,” said Mucarsel-Powell. She further went on to explain the significant impact the shutdown has had on the Keys.
“In Florida, we have about 13,000 federal workers without pay. The Everglades is shutdown during its busiest season and losing revenue on a daily basis, so it’s effecting our local economy. Our Coast Guard based in Islamorada is facing dire situations. They aren’t receiving paychecks and don’t have a lot of savings to pay their rent. They don’t have huge salaries to begin with, and we can’t expect federal workers to go without pay,” said the congresswoman. She points out that most of the terrorist threats come from our ports and airports, not our southern border, so weakening the Keys’ Coast Guard or Miami TSA can be detrimental.
She cited “no reason why we should hold our American government workers hostage because this administration and the President have a completely skewed view on what is effective national security. We have already spent 40 billion on the border in the past decade, so it’s not that we aren’t concerned about the border,” continued Mucarsel-Powell. She highlights the fact this administration has already passed a tax bill adding 1.8 trillion dollars to our deficit, yet vital government programs are still being cut. “It’s not fiscally responsible to put another five billion in the southern border when it won’t provide the most effective national security.”
She said, “We need to put pressure on this administration to understand the impact of this government shutdown. This is not a game. Let’s open the government so we can have a debate about what’s best for our borders.”
Lastly, Mucarsel-Powell was encouraging about the House’s intentions in the coming weeks.
“All of the bills we are working on so far are truly bipartisan bills. We want to show the Senate that we need to get these things done sooner rather than later. I am hoping the Senate takes it seriously.”
And as for Florida’s new Governor Ron De Santis taking office this week, Mucarsel-Powell said, “I want Florida to thrive, expand Medicaid, improve education and take action on climate change. I hope our new governor will do the right thing for all Floridians. I wish him the best and look forward to working with him in any capacity.”