WELCOME TO THE 116th CONGRESS
THE WAYS AND THE MEANS – In this new Congress, Rep. Murphy is taking on some new and powerful roles. She was appointed to the influential Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues that directly affect the people of central Florida, including economic development and revenue, critical federal programs like Medicare and Social Security, and trade. Murphy will be the only Florida Democrat on the committee in this Congress, and the first one to sit on the committee since 2010. Prior to this year, only 19 women have served on the Ways and Means Committee since its creation in 1795. Murphy will serve on the Subcommittees on Trade and Worker & Family Support.
CASE OF THE BLUES – Murphy is also leading the Blue Dog Coalition in the 116thCongress, a group focused on fiscal responsibility and a strong national defense which now boasts 27 members—the largest it has been in recent memory. The group has undergone a dramatic transformation under Murphy’s leadership.
As the Washington Post put it:
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) is living proof that the Blue Dog Coalition has morphed into something its founders would struggle to recognize.
“This is not your father’s Blue Dog caucus anymore,” Murphy, 40, said in a recent interview.
So far, the Blue Dogs have already been successful in pushing for fiscally responsible measures such as Pay-As-You-Go (PAYGO), which was included in the rules package passed by the House in early January, and most recently in urging the President and congressional leadership to develop a plan that ended the shutdown.
A NOD TO THE FUTURE – As if all that wasn’t enough, Murphy is also now Chair of Future Forum, a group of young House Democrats who advocate for issues and opportunities important to younger Americans. This year, the organization’s membership is set to double in size to approximately 50 members and will continue its focus on issues like gun violence prevention, college affordability, and equality of opportunity. Most recently, after urging House leadership, Future Forum successfully incorporated Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) in H.R. 1—democracy reform legislation that is set to be a top priority in this Congress.
Murphy and the Future Forum leadership team
RISING STARS – The central Florida congressional delegation is slowly gaining more prominence. Take a moment to read this piece by the Orlando Sentinel’s Steve Lemongello on the growing influence of the three Democrats representing the region.
LONGEST SHUTDOWN IN HISTORY
NO WINNERS, ONLY LOSERS – The last government shutdown lasted a record-breaking 35 days, costing American taxpayers more than $3 billion and forcing thousands of federal workers to struggle to make ends meet after weeks without pay, including 16,000 in the State of Florida. Following a big push by the Murphy-led Blue Dog Coalition, the President and congressional leaders agreed to reopen the government for three weeks to allow for bipartisan, bicameral negotiations. Those negotiations resulted in a compromise bill where both sides gave a little, avoiding another devastating government shutdown.
This is what Rep. Murphy had to say about the deal:
“The compromise deal offered by bipartisan negotiators balances the urgent need to avert another government shutdown with reasonable steps to secure our border. I voted for it because I know this is a good compromise & one that should serve as an example for future negotiations.”
CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT TOO – However, President Trump later announced that while he would sign the bill, he would also declare a national emergency, drawing bipartisan criticism and alarm over the dangerous precedent it would set.
Here is how Murphy reacted to the news:
NO ESCAPE – While Congress and the President managed to avoid another costly government shutdown, some hard lessons were learned from the last one. Among those was the idea that since Members of Congress seem to be the only ones who get paid during a shutdown, then they should at least be required to work during a shutdown. Murphy introduced the bipartisan Keep Congress Working Act, legislation that would force Congress, in the event of another shutdown, to stay in town and work around the clock until it strikes a deal. The bill would force Members of Congress to stay in Washington by not allowing Congress to adjourn for more than 12 hours. Learn more here.
THE STATE OF OUR UNION IS: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
It’s hard to think this all comes aftera State of the Union address delivered by President Trump that called for bipartisanship and unity. While Murphy welcomed increased bipartisan cooperation, she also urged him to “first abandon his divisive, partisan rhetoric and work across the aisle with Congress.” Here is her full response.
WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER – Congresswoman Murphy launched an essay contest last month to offer a lucky high school student from central Florida a chance to attend the event as her guest. As the Chair of Future Forum, Murphy used this historic occasion to elevate the voices of young people in her district. The winner was Winter Park High student Uma Menon, whose essay focused on the historical importance of youth-led movements. To learn more about Uma, click here.
Murphy meeting with essay winner Uma Menon in her office
DOES ANYBODY CARE? – Following comments by acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney that “nobody cares” about deficits and in response to President Trump’s failure to bring up the nation’s skyrocketing debt at the State of the Union, Murphy and other leaders of the Blue Dogs sounded the alarm in a CNN op-ed. The national debt has now reached a troubling level at nearly $22 trillion. Split between every man, woman and child, each person in this country holds a share of about $67,000. Read the op-ed here.
- A LIVING WAGE – Rep. Murphy has introduced legislation that would lift the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, which has not been raised for a decade, to $15 an hour over the next six years. This would particularly benefit families in the Orlando area, which has both a relatively high cost of living and the lowest median income of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country. The State of Florida’s minimum wage of $8.46 an hour—although higher than the federal minimum wage—is not sufficient for workers in Orange or Seminole counties to support their families. Learn more here.
- CARE TO RECONSIDER? – Murphy, along with fellow Florida Reps. Kathy Castor and Donna Shalala, has also introduced the Smart Choices Act, legislation that would provide accurate and objective information to help non-expansion states such as Florida re-evaluate their decision to forgo federal dollars meant for Medicaid expansion. “By shining a light on the real costs of our state’s misguided decision to forgo critical federal dollars, I’m hopeful we can put people over politics and finally come to a rational decision that helps cover nearly three million Floridians and save countless lives,” said Murphy. More on the bill here.
- PROTECTING OUR CHILDREN – A bipartisan bill that passed the House last Congress, which would crack down on adults who stalk children online or in their communities, was reintroduced by Murphy in this Congress. The Combat Online Predators Act increases the criminal penalty that a federal judge is authorized to impose on a defendant convicted of this crime. Full details here.
- BUILD, BABY, BUILD — Murphy recently spearheaded an effort by the Blue Dog Coalition to urge House leaders to prioritize infrastructure bills that could bring needed improvements to SunRail, Orlando International Airport & I-4. The Orlando metropolitan area is home to numerous high-profile destinations, venues and institutions, which requires a world-class transportation infrastructure network to support the safe and efficient movement of residents and visitors. Murphy and the rest of the central Florida delegation have previously advocated for the Trump Administration to support these regional transportation priorities as part of their infrastructure proposal.
- ROTTEN TOMATOES – A letter signed by Murphy and a group from the Florida congressional delegation led the Trump Administration to re-open an investigation into unfair tomato trade practices by Mexico. Florida tomato producers had shared data with congressional leaders that showed that a previous agreement had not protected U.S. producers and thereby caused Mexico’s share of the U.S. tomato market to drastically rise from 32 to 54 percent. The Florida Tomato Exchange is headquartered in Murphy’s district. Florida is the nation’s largest producer of fresh tomatoes. Learn more here.
- HISTORIC MOMENT – Congresswoman Murphy made history by becoming the first Vietnamese-American to lead any chamber of Congress after serving in the role of Speaker Pro Tempore in the House of Representatives. The Speaker Pro Tempore, meaning “temporary speaker,” is a legislative office of the House of Representatives and is selected, per tradition, by the Speaker of the House. The duties of this office are primarily to fill the role of presiding officer of the House in the absence of the Speaker.
WEEKS AHEAD: Congress will be in recess next week. Congresswoman Murphy is planning to launch a series of listening sessions—part of a larger effort that includes office hours, meet-and-greet events, social media outreach, and constituent surveys—to kick-off this new Congress and set her long-term legislative agenda.