Grayson and Brown clash with Posey and Murphy over funding for Orlando to Miami Rail

Members from Congress here in Central Florida battled over whether to allow federal funding for a rail system that would eventually run from Orlando to Miami, on Tuesday.

Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) and Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville) voted against an amendment being sponsored by Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) that would have prohibited federal dollars from the project. The amendment was defeated by a vote of 260 to 163. The only Democrat to vote for the measure of Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-Plantation), who is running for the Democratic nomination for the Senate next year, and could potentially square off against Grayson, who has said “probably yes” to a run.

“All Aboard Florida will improve the lives of thousands of Floridians,” said Grayson “Mr. Posey’s amendments will limit investment in projects like All Aboard Florida, and put us even farther behind the rest of the world when it comes to high-speed rail. We have an opportunity to improve the environment, get cars off the roads, and help the economies of both Miami and Orlando with this project. It makes zero sense to do anything that slows it down.”

The All Aboard Florida project would create a privately owned and operated passenger rail system that connects South Florida to Orlando International Airport, with stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The project’s backers tout billions of dollars in economic impact, and hundreds of millions in local, state and federal tax revenues in the next several years. They also believe project is also expected to create as many 10,000 construction jobs.

“My colleague Rep. Bill Posey offered several amendments to the Transportation spending bill this week to prohibit funding for All Aboard Florida. I’m very disappointed to see that the House did not approve his amendments, but we’ll continue to work together to stop All Aboard Florida. ‪#‎NotAllAboard‬” said Murphy on social media.

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Local Leaders gather at dedication of new Lake Nona VA Hospital

Elected leaders and officials from all levels of government were on hand for the dedication of the new VA Hospital at Lake Nona. A state of the art facility that will serve Central Florida’s 400,000 Veterans that call the region home.

The entire Central Florida Congressional Delegation was on hand including Representatives John Mica (R-Winter Park), Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville), Daniel Webster (R-Winter Garden), Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), Ron DeSantis (R-Ponte Vedra), Bill Posey (R-Rockledge), and Jeff Miller (R-Pensacola) Chairman of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs. Also in attendance was Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange Count Mayor Teresa Jacobs, and State Representative Mike Miller. The Keynote Speaker for the event was the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob Mcdonald.

“Today is a day of celebration” said Dyer, who was just one of the many leaders to speak and praised the bi-partisanship of the project. “This is for you” said Webster. Alan Grayson took a part of his time to praise McDonald saying “he’s an endangered speicies in Washington. He’s a straight shooter”. DeSantis, a Veteran himself, pointed out the historical importance of the occasion. Congressman Mica used his time behind the podium to remember a soldier who recently died on a peace mission shortly before the Memorial Day Holiday. And displayed a picture of his Father, who died waiting for care in a VA facility.

Secretary McDonald praised the work at the local level but admitted the embattled VA still has a lot of work to do, to eliminate it’s backlog and to provide better care to Veterans. “I can tell you as a resident of Orlando, and as a Veteran, I’m extremely excited to see this facility open. It’s great for all of the Veterans of Florida and great for the VA”

The Hospital faced serious delays and budget issues caused by disputes between contractors and the VA. Several departments such as Optometry, Dental, and Audiology are already open, and more expect to be open by the end of the year. Officials say that when it is fully operational, it will be the finest Veteran’s facility in the country.

State Representative Mike Miller and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

State Representative Mike Miller and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer

Congressman Ron DeSantis and VA Secretary Bob McDonald

Congressman Ron DeSantis and VA Secretary Bob McDonald

Congressman Daniel Webster, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

Congressman Daniel Webster, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs

It was standing room only at the dedication

It was standing room only at the dedication

Congressman Mica holding up a picture of his Father, who passed away waiting for treatment in a VA Care

Congressman Mica holding up a picture of his Father, who passed away waiting for treatment in a VA Care

Officials at the ribbon cutting

Officials at the ribbon cutting

Cent. FL Congressional Delegation laud projected Greenlight for Sunrail Phase II funding

Yesterday, on the anniversary of SunRail’s first trip, U.S. Representatives John Mica, Alan Grayson, Corrine Brown, and Daniel Webster, along with U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, received notice from the Federal Transit Administration that the signing of a full funding grant agreement, allowing Phase 2 South to move forward, is expected this fiscal year.

Specifically, the FTA has come to an agreement with FDOT on a final cost, scope, schedule and operating costs for the SunRail Phase 2 South project reflecting and confirming that the updated overall project rating for the project is Medium High, based on a Finance rating of Medium-High and a Project Justification rating of Medium.

The next step is for FTA and FDOT to begin developing a formal schedule for the signing of the FFGA, expected to take place this fiscal year.

Members in the Central Florida Congressional Delegation had the following response.

Rep. John Mica:

“While this news was not unexpected, it is certainly welcome, as it will allow us to expand service schedule and move us toward a regional passenger rail system for all Central Florida.”

Rep. Alan Grayson:

“I thank Acting Administrator Therese McMillan for her support of this project, and look forward to continuing to work with her and the rest of my Central Florida colleagues to ensure that all of Central Florida’s residents receive the SunRail service they have been promised.”

Rep. Corrine Brown:
“On the one year anniversary of SunRail, this is great news for Central Florida’s traveling public and will allow for the continued expansion of this critical system.”

Sunrail celebrated it’s anniversary by offering free coffee, and donuts to it’s riders yesterday. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer along with officials from the Florida Department of Transportation to a 3 county celebratory ride to mark the occasion.