Editorial: Hastings’ seniority, voice a plus if Dems take back House


After 26 years representing Florida’s 20th Congressional District, some believe that U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings should be tired of fighting — on issues both local and national. They would be wrong.

With a sharpness and vigor that belie his 81 years, Hastings remains one of the key voices for Democrats in Congress on issues ranging from immigration to foreign affairs to health care. The Post Editorial Board endorses him to retain his seat in the upcoming Aug. 28 primary.

And with Democrats poised to take back control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the November midterm elections, voters in this sprawling district stand to have an influential committee chairman representing them. Hastings is the senior member in the powerful House Rules Committee, as well as ranking member on the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process, which deals with legislation regarding relations between Congress and the Executive Branch (read: a check on the White House).

Hastings is being challenged for the seat by political newcomer Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a 39-year-old attorney and CEO of Trinity Health Care Inc., a Miramar-based home health-care business. Cherfilus-McCormick believes Hastings has become too complacent, especially on health-care issues. Otherwise, she shares the same progressive priorities.

While we share her frustration over a stagnant, do-nothing Congress, the blame for that can’t be laid at Hastings’ feet. No Democrat has been able to get a significant bill passed since the Republicans took over the House in 2010. And other than a deficit-blowing $1.5 trillion tax bill, neither has any Republican. That includes a budget.

For example, Hastings told the Editorial Board that Democrats have introduced 43 measures dealing with gun control since the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, “and not a single one has been brought up for a vote.”

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Hastings, despite his reputation as a Democratic firebrand, says he still looks for opportunities to compromise. In January, he and Florida delegation co-chairman Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, sent a letter to the Trump Administration opposing any rollback of safety regulations adopted after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The Boynton Beach Democrat said he is focused on winning back the House so that Democrats’ voices can be heard on issues like extending Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for tens of thousands of Haitians living and working in District 20. The same goes for the GOP’s chipping away of the Affordable Care Act rather than fixing its glitches, he said.

But for a sprawling district that encompasses a large swath of western Palm Beach and Broward counties, Hastings is emphasizing the passage of a long-overdue infrastructure bill that could boost job creation from the Glades to the Port of Palm Beach.

And having a representative already in a senior position makes that more likely.

***

Read all of The Post’s endorsements online at www.MyPalmBeachPost.com/2018-endorsements.



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