Notes from the Hill: Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell gives the Weekly a report on the action in D.C.

Notes from the Hill: Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell gives the Weekly a report on the action in D.C. - A woman talking on a cell phone - Debbie Mucarsel-Powell

In news from the hill: on March 14, U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell shared some significant achievements in her first three months representing our district. She is moving forward on the issues that she committed to during her South Florida campaign, like supporting common sense gun control and environmental efforts. The House Democrat has recently joined two very high profile committees, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Judiciary.

Locally, Mucarsel-Powell plans on meeting in the Keys with the Army Corp of Engineers this week to discuss water quality and leaky septic tanks affecting the Florida Keys as well as Miami Dade (Miami Dade has roughly 90,000 tanks). 

“I am leading efforts to get stronger funding. It’s a request to deal with the leaky septic tanks throughout the Keys and Miami Dade. It’s a part of the Florida Keys Water Quality Improvement Program,” said Mucarsel-Powell, who also is concerned with the poor water quality from Lake Okeechobee reaching us in the Keys.

“I asked for the meeting in the Keys because they need to hear from us. It’s an important opportunity for residents to weigh-in, because we have footed the bill down here.”

Mucarsel-Powell is also focused on the coral disease affecting our reefs, and constituents from the Keys have visited her office about the situation. 

“I am working with Mote Marine,” she said. “My focus is to obtain funding to support coral research along the coast. Especially funding research and providing support to find answers to why the reefs are dying from this bacteria. It’s a critical issue, and we aren’t talking about it daily.”

At a federal level, the representative has been involved with the House introducing the Equality Act. With strong support from both the House and Senate, Mucarsel-Powell expects it to pass. The bill modifies existing civil rights legislation to ban discrimination against LGBTQ people as a national nondiscrimination law.

“This country was built on freedom and equality, and it’s time we finally pass this bill so that we guarantee LGBTQ Americans are not discriminated against because of who they choose to love,” she said. 

Mucarsel-Powell also helped introduce, through the Judiciary committee, the Dream and Promise Act, HR6, providing “dreamers” — beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) — a path to citizenship. 

“These people are our neighbors, our friends, part of our community, and have been here for decades,” she said. “They need to stop living in a state of limbo and know they can legally remain here. They have all been vetted. We need to allow them to participate in our economy and provide services we need, as nurses, educators, and healthcare providers. I am very excited about that bill.”

The first bill Mucarsel-Powell co-sponsored — the For the People Act of 2019, HR 1 — just passed the House. “It’s the largest anti-corruption voter protection bill that has ever passed through the House. It was a vote to take dark money out of politics. It stops voters from being purged off the rolls. We have had a lot of those problems in Florida.” 

“It restores faith in democracy,” she said. 

She also co-sponsored the Background Checks Act of 2019, or HR8, which passed through the House; the proposal is a step toward tighter gun control in South Florida. 

“That was another huge achievement for me and our community, because I made a promise I was going to do everything I could to pass common sense gun reform laws. HR8 is the biggest piece of gun reform legislation passed in the past 25 years through the House.”

“I don’t stop,” Mucarsel-Powell said.“I take advantage of every moment in D.C. I go back to the main reasons why I ran: issues important to Florida, like healthcare and gun reform.”

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Hays Blinckmann is an oil painter, author of the novel “In The Salt,” lover of all things German including husband, children and Bundesliga. She spends her free time developing a font for sarcasm, testing foreign wines and failing miserably at home cooking.