A visit with U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo

Typically I catch up with our U.S. Congressman Carlos Curbelo in warmer conditions, but last Friday I had the opportunity to drop in (literally) on the young U.S. Representative during session at our nation’s capital.   

As the temperatures outside a snow-covered D.C. were teetering below freezing, the bowels of the Capitol building were steaming with issues ranging from the environment to health care.

After several years of incessant political news streaming from every device, the personal experience was uniquely surreal. On my way to meet Congressman Curbelo, I bumped right into Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and her posse, who almost ran me over in a stampede of documents and leather messenger bags. Suddenly, the entire political process, which seemed like a four-year primetime drama on television, was happening live right in front of me like Jefferson Smith naively promoting the Boy Rangers.

Graciously, Curbelo stepped out of a Ways and Means Committee meeting to chat. Obviously weary from extended sessions (some lasting well beyond 4 am on a given evening), the congressman quickly caught a third wind and said, “Sorry it took a moment to come out, but we were working on an important VA measure that affects our veteran’s ability to choose their doctors.”

During my brief tour, the Congressman led us through the Republican “Cloak Room” and stepped onto the House floor to cast a vote using what resembled a debit card being inserted into an electronic receiver. And later, from a private capitol-building balcony overlooking the Washington Monument, Curbelo briefed the Weekly on his most recent activity.

“This has been a busy week. Climate change continues to be a primary focus for me and has been a major point of emphasis this week,” said Curbelo, who recently co-sponsored the Republican climate change resolution and has gained national notoriety for his bipartisan efforts.   “And of course, Health Care is a major focus this week and I’m working to ensure the most vulnerable of Americans have access to health care without the burden of increased costs, fewer health options and the threat of fraud. And then today, we are working to do right by our veterans by offering them the ability to choose their doctors while granting our leaders the authority to hold the employees at the VA accountable.”  

Typically, we see Carlos during his constituent visits and can easily forget how chaotic and demanding his role is. Moreover, it was eye opening to see just how far our Congressman had come in such a short time. As one of the younger representatives, it was apparent that his bipartisan reputation (a rare attribute in D.C.) has earned him respect on both sides of the aisles—and it would come as no surprise if the 37-year-old Representative from the 26th District of Florida is destined for greater roles in D.C.

But with monumental issues such as health care, climate change and VA measures on deck—I asked Curbelo what he was most looking forward to over the next few days.  And with a sincere grin, the Congressman quickly replied —“I’m heading home today to see my family for a few days. And I can’t wait.”

I also need to thank Nicole Rapanos, Charles Castagna, James Todd and Congressman Curbelo’s staff for their hard work, and also facilitating the visit.

— Britt Myers is the publisher of the Key West Weekly Newspaper.


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