2008 Reelection Campaign of Congressman Wexler for Florida's 19th Congressional District
Congressman Wexler was Chairman of the Europe Subcommittee and a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and the House Judiciary Committee; and he also sat on the Financial Services Committee. Wexler was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, representing Florida's 19th congressional district, from 1997 until his resignation on January 3, 2010. Florida's Congressional District 19 is located on the east coast of sunny South Florida, and it comprises parts of Palm Beach and Broward Counties.
This was his website for his 2008 campaign for reelection.
Content is from the site's 2008 archived pages as well as other outside news sources.
Support Robert’s Campaign Against Self-Funded Opponent
It has been a great honor to serve a Democratic Congressman from Palm Beach and Broward Counties. I have been proud to be at the forefront of so many important battles. But in fighting these battles, I have also earned my fair share of enemies.
This year I am facing my most difficult re-election campaign ever.
My opponent has pledged to spend one million dollars to defeat me and has already begun using his considerable personal resources to air ads on network television and cable television
He is touring my district making speeches, issuing nasty press releases, and attacking my record in newspaper advertisements and direct mail.
Your contribution will make a crucial difference in my campaign. Your $25 contribution sponsors five Wexler yard signs, $ 50 pays for a letter to 250 voters, $100 funds a radio advertisement, and $ 250 will pay for a television advertisement.
With your help, I will return to Congress to continue to be a loud and unyielding voice in support of progressive causes including my recent call for impeachment hearings for Vice President Cheney, finally delivering universal health care, improving education and Medicare, fixing the prescription drug benefit, combating global warming, and finally bringing our troops home from Iraq.
I will also continue to use my position on the Foreign Affairs Committee to advocate for the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and protect Israel's right to security and self defense.
And now, four years after I began my fight for election reforms, I have delivered a paper trail for every vote cast in Florida, and have introduced legislation to take these reforms nationwide.
In addition, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has named me to the Financial Services Committee, where I will focus on finding solutions to the skyrocketing costs of homeowner's insurance in Florida.
With your help I can continue my work in Washington on the issues we all care so much about.
Please consider supporting my campaign.
With warm regards,
Robert Wexler is a spirited Democratic Congressman who has developed a national reputation as an aggressive proponent of progressive issues and a bitter critic of President George W. Bush and the war in Iraq. Wexler is currently serving his sixth term in the United States House of Representatives, where he has proudly represented Florida's 19th Congressional District since 1996. In the past ten years, he has become one of the most articulate and influential Members of Congress, advocating passionately for issues such as improving removing our troops from Iraq, delivering universal heath care coverage, fighting for a meaningful Medicare prescription drug plan for America's seniors, and working to ensure the safety and security of Israel.
In recent years Wexler has been one of the strongest anti-war voices in the House of Representatives. During General Petreus’ September 10th testimony before Congress, Wexler was one of the only Democrats to challenge Administration claims of success in Iraq while pointedly asking Petreus “how many more men and women will have to be sacrificed?” in this misguided war. Congressman Wexler has voted to deny funding to President Bush for the war in Iraq and in 2005 Wexler was on of only three Members of Congress to vote for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. forces in Iraq.
Congressman Wexler has introduced legislation on a wide array of issues, ranging from strengthening gun control, freezing President Bush's 2001 tax cuts to pay for a Medicare prescription drug plan, comprehensively reforming Florida's electoral system, ensuring that reservists receive adequate compensation while fighting overseas, and protecting the environment, to calling for an investigation into pre-war intelligence regarding Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
One of Wexler’s recent legislative initiatives is to legalize poker and other skill games on the Internet. In one of the final acts of the GOP controlled Congress, Republicans snuck through legislation that banned many forms of gambling online. Wexler’s legislation would undue part of this ban by allowing Americans to once again play poker – a true national pastime – online safely and legally. Congressman Wexler has advocated his progressive agenda at both the local and national level, including appearances on numerous television programs such as Larry King Live, NBC's Meet the Press and the Today Show and ABC's Nightline. Congressman Wexler's reputation as a "rhetorical warrior" and active lawmaker earned him the title of "50 Most Effective Legislators in Congress" by the influential magazine Congressional Quarterly.
Directly following the aftermath of the 2000 Presidential election, Congressman Wexler initiated comprehensive election reforms nationwide and was a leading sponsor of legislation that would modernize Florida's election system; he helped to increase resources for training poll workers and enhanced voter education. Wexler has worked closely with Florida Governor Charlie Crist to deliver new law in 2007 that guarantees a paper trail for all votes cast in Florida.
Congressman Wexler also serves as Chairman of the Europe Subcommittee on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and is a co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on U.S.-Turkish Relations, the Congressional Taiwan Caucus and the Indonesia Caucus. He is also an active member of the India Caucus and the Serbia Caucus. Congressman Wexler has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Asia and the Middle East in an effort to deepen America's economic, military and political alliances throughout the world. He also serves on the Taskforce on Anti-Semitism and has been one of the most influential members of Congress in urging the European Union to fight anti-Semitism and promote an atmosphere of religious tolerance in all EU Member States.
Congressman Wexler has also been actively involved in the Middle East and Israel, where he has been a strong supporter of U.S. engagement in the region as a means of finding a lasting and sustainable peace. As the only Member of the House to attend the signing of the Wye River Peace Agreement and one of two U.S. lawmakers to travel to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Congressman Wexler has been an outspoken advocate of Middle East peace and Israel's right to self-defense.
Congressman Wexler serves on the House Judiciary Committee as well as the Internet and Intellectual Property Subcommittee. He is the co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Intellectual Property and Piracy Prevention, and serves as one of the leading voices in Washington for combating piracy and intellectual property violations domestically and abroad. Wexler was also recently appointed by Speaker Pelosi to serve on the House Financial Services Committee where he will focus on finding solutions to the insurance crisis occurring in Florida.
Prior to being elected to Congress, Wexler served as a State Senator in the Florida Legislature for six years. He moved to South Florida with his family at 10 years of age from Queens, New York. Wexler has a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida and earned his law degree from George Washington University. Congressman Wexler and his wife, Laurie, have three children.
WITHDRAWL FROM IRAQ
While I strongly support the brave American soldiers risking their lives in Iraq, I strongly opposed the manner in which President Bush led this nation to war because it weakened the strategic interests and security of the United States. President Bush stubbornly refuses to end the war in Iraq, and Congress now must step forward and bring our troops home immediately.
I do not believe the United States is more secure in a post-Saddam era, and I blame the President's lack of post-war planning for the current quagmire threatening American troops, Iraqi citizens and the stability of the Middle East. Additionally, I am deeply concerned that the Administration's unilateral, arrogant and hasty approach to war has lessened America's credibility in the eyes of the world and caused irreparable damage to our international alliances, which has in turn weakened our reconstruction efforts in Iraq and our ability to deter the spread of international terror. Finally, I am deeply disturbed by the fact that President Bush took America to war on false pretenses, on the basis of fabricated or grossly exaggerated intelligence claims.
I am proud to have been one of the few Democrats willing to take on General Petreus’ during his September 10th testimony before Congress. Unfortunately the General failed to answer my question about “how many more men and women will have to be sacrificed” in this misguided and tragic war. I will continue to vote to deny funding to President Bush for the war in Iraq unless a withdrawal in also mandated. Enough blood has been spilled in this tragically misguided war.
HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE CRISIS
The cost of homeowners insurance has reached crisis proportions and action must be taken at the state and federal levels to bring these costs under control and to make the cost of living in Florida livable for working families. Although it is true that Florida faces more hurricanes than any other state, this cannot bar Floridians from affording reasonably priced homeowners insurance. Speaker Pelosi recently added me to the House Financial Services Committee, that has jurisdiction over insurance, so I can focus directly on the Florida insurance crisis. With that in mind I am working with Speaker Pelosi and Reps. Ron Klein and Tim Mahoney on federal legislation that will reduce premiums by 30 percent or more. The plan would be to establish a National Catastrophic Insurance Program that would limit the amount any one insurance company would bear after a large storm. We would essentially spread the risk of natural disasters over many states cap the insurance industry's liability. The savings produced by these changes will be passed on directly to homeowners and the costs of insurance will fall.
PROTECTING OUR HOMELAND
America faces two challenges: how to prevent terrorists from attacking, and how to minimize the loss of life in a terrorist attack. Both of these involve investing at the local level. Our police and firefighters - the true front line in our war on terrorism - have been shortchanged for years by President Bush and the previous Republican-led Congress. Under the new leadership in Congress, Democrats are delivering much needed federal assistance to first responders and other essential personnel and infrastructure that will be required to prevent and respond to terrorist attacks.
Ensuring that our seaports are secure is one of the most pressing security challenges that we face. Experts acknowledge that an attack from the sea is the most likely avenue of future terrorist efforts. Democrats in Congress will provide an increase in essential port security funding to better ensure that we can prevent seaborne attacks.
From the moment George W. Bush became President; reproductive freedom has been under constant assault. More than ever before, the critical 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is vulnerable due to the recent appointments of Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito to the Supreme Court. Already in April of 2007, the Supreme Court significantly undermined the constitutional guarantees of Roe v. Wade in the recent Federal Abortion Ban cases. This decision has essentially given states the freedom to attack safe, legal abortions, without considering the impact on the health of the woman. I am strongly and loudly pro-choice. I am proud to have a NARAL Pro-Choice America voting record of 100 percent. I will continue to be a leader on the House Judiciary Committee in working to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. In addition, I will speak out against any nominee to the Supreme Court who does not recognize the fundamental right of a woman to have control over her own body.
TAX FAIRNESS FOR ALL AMERICANS
There has been nothing more shameless in modern American history than President Bush's giveaways to the very wealthy at the expense of working families. His $1.35 trillion tax cut in 2001 and $349.7 billion in 2003 have not stimulated the economy, have not created jobs and have not been any appreciable help to most Americans. However, his tax cuts have pushed the national debt beyond the astronomic level of $7 trillion, and will force our children and grandchildren to pay for the greed of this Administration's high-roller cronies. The egregious portions of the Bush tax cuts must be rolled back immediately.
AN EDUCATION FOR ALL CHILDREN
The No Child Left Behind Act? What an ironic name. The Bush Administration and the previous Republican majority in Congress have repeatedly under-funded education while putting strict mandates on our schools. If the federal government is going to hold our hard-working teachers accountable for the performance of students, then Congress must give them the assistance promised in the legislation. Every child in America deserves access to a top quality education in a public school system. I will continue to press for sufficient federal funding for those programs that help our communities meet the needs of all children. Only then will future generations of Americans be able to compete in the 21st Century.
Since being elected to Congress, one of my top priorities has been to deepen and enhance the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel. I strongly believe that the United States’ historic partnership with Israel is critical to stability in an increasingly volatile Middle East, and it is essential that Congress support “unequivocally” Israel’s right to self-defense. At this difficult time for both nations, I am committed to ensuring that America and Israel stand shoulder-to-shoulder in our common struggle against terror and in pursuit of lasting security and peace.
The United States must speak forcefully in support of Israel in the face of terrorism and rocket attacks; I was proud to be a cosponsor of House Resolution 921 that reaffirmed the support of the United States for Israel and strongly condemned Hamas and Hezbollah for engaging in their unprovoked attacks on Israel. As Chairman of the Europe Subcommittee, I recently held a hearing that advocated that Hezbollah be added to the European Union’s (EU) terrorist list. I also wrote a letter to EU High Representative Javier Solana, signed by 215 Members of Congress, calling on the EU to add Hezbollah to this list, thereby essentially ending the group's ability to function, organize, and fundraise throughout Europe. Additionally, in response to the deadly attacks on Israeli city of Sderot, I cosponsored a House Resolution 951 condemning the ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks on Israeli civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations.
I believe the United States and Israel must continue to work jointly to thwart and destroy the terrorist infrastructure of Hezbollah and Hamas. We must also work hard to counter the destructive policies of the leading state sponsors of terrorism, Syrian and Iran. Last September, I introduced House Resolution 674 expressing the unequivocal support of the House of Representatives for Israel's right to self defense in the face of an imminent nuclear or military threat from Syria.
As Israel continues to face significant challenges, the United States must be prepared to support our most important ally in the Middle East. In working towards that goal, I have cosponsored House Concurrent Resolution 322 recognizing the 60th anniversary of the founding of the modern State of Israel and reaffirming the bonds of close friendship and cooperation between the United States and Israel. My commitment to the US-Israeli partnership will never waiver, and I will lead efforts from my position on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to ensure that America stands with our closest and most vital ally.
CONFIDENCE IN OUR ELECTIONS AND ENSURING A PAPER TRAIL
For over five years, I have been aggressively advocating for a paper trail for every ballot cast in the state of Florida and throughout the nation. This battle led me to file suit against the State of Florida in both State and Federal Court in order to guarantee that all Floridians were treated equally under the law.
My fight to bring a paper trail has succeeded and by the 2008 Presidential election the voting systems in Florida will be a model for the nation. As you likely know, Governor Charlie Crist recently signed into law a bill that mandates that all Florida voters use optical scan machines that produce a voter verified paper trial. I am proud that Governor Crist has repeatedly cited my efforts as the primary reason for his support of a paper trail, and I am thankful that the Governor acted in the interest of all Floridians and finally delivered a paper trail for our voters.
Florida has now gone from the disastrous butterfly ballot of 2000 to standing today as a model for the nation in terms of transparency and legitimacy of our elections systems. Every citizen in Florida can now vote with confidence that their vote will be counted - and counted accurately. A paper trail was achieved in Florida through constructive cooperation between Republicans and Democrats, the Federal and State governments, citizen activists and government officials. This is an example of how government should work. On the federal level, I worked hard to provide significant resources to states, including Florida, to fund elections equipment through the Help America Vote Act. The law also enacted minimum elections standards and ensured access for disabled voters. In addition, I am a sponsor of the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act that requires a paper trail on a national level, mandates higher standards for meeting the needs of disabled voters, and enhances the auditing requirements of voting systems and recounts. If enacted, these vital reforms will be in place before the 2008 Presidential election.
STOPPING DISCRIMINATION OF GAYS AND LESBIANS
It should come as no surprise that George W. Bush is dividing Americans instead of uniting us. What is surprising is the depths to which he is sinking. I adamantly oppose his blatantly self-serving support of an amendment to the Constitution defining marriage. Discrimination should never be part of federal law, let alone our founding document. To begin classifying some citizens as more free than others is not only a dangerous precedent, but is simply un-American.
All citizens should be free to share their life with the partner of their choice, and all states should be free to determine the civil aspects of that union without interference of the federal government. I will speak loudly against any attempt in Congress to usurp these rights. In addition, I will continue to be a sponsor of legislation important to the gay and lesbian community, including the Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the Permanent Partners Immigration Act.
CHENEY IMPEACHEMENT HEARINGS
When there is evidence of abuse of power and illegal actions, it is Congress' duty to investigate. I strongly believe that, in the case of the Vice President, there is such evidence and I am pushing for formal hearings to learn the truth. America expects us to ask hard questions of our leaders, and history shows that we must.
Every American should have access to affordable and heath care coverage. I strongly support enacting universal heath care coverage. There is no excuse for the fact that in the richest nation on earth millions of our citizens go without health care. This a moral burden that we must overcome and should we enact such a system, health care costs will actually go down for all Americans.
It is a true tragedy that more than 47 million Americans go without insurance each year. Last Congress, I was proud to lend my name in supporting the Universal Health Care bill (H.R. 676), which would provide health coverage to all Americans. I am supporting the legislation again this year but the truth is – so long as George Bush remains in the White House the goal of universal heath care remains elusive.
While I look forward to a Democrat in the White House in the year 2008 who will make universal heath care a reality, I am focusing on other ways to provide heath care to uninsured Americans. For example I have been actively supporting the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) – that provides health insurance to poor children - which the President tragically vetoed.
I have recently sponsored several measures to extend coverage to the uninsured. These measures help working parents afford heath care and allow uninsured individuals aged 55 to 64 years to buy into Medicare and provides enrollees a 75 percent refundable, advanceable tax credit.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT
Our obligations to our children do not end at stemming the pace of global warming - we must also work to implement better environmental protections and begin to undo the damage caused by this administration's willful neglect.
Our air, groundwater, rivers, and oceans are becoming increasingly toxic. The long-term effects of our polluting are daunting.
As new industries like nano-technology and genetic engineering mature, Congress must stay vigilant and play an active regulatory role to ensure that we avoid the catostrophic environmental mistakes of the past.
LEGALIZATION OF ONLINE POKER AND GAMES OF SKILL
Poker is an uniquely American game, where your hand is determined by chance but winning is determined by your skill. Presidents and Senators, Members of Congress – we all enjoy Poker. It is played in the White House and on kitchen tables throughout the country. Whether you're playing at home or in cyberspace, Poker is a game won and lost based on the skill of the players.
It is estimated that over seventy million American play poker, and until recently millions pitted their skill against competitors online. Regrettably, with the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in September 2006, playing poker online is now illegal. It is unfathomable that poker, an American pastime and game of true skill, should be banned for the millions who enjoy playing responsibly.
Poker is not a crime. This basic fact has gotten lost in a larger battle over the future of online gaming. Rather than forcing poker players to enjoy this pastime in unregulated websites offshore, we should create a reasonable, controlled system to regulate online poker in much the same way we regulate state lotteries. I have introduced legislation to restore this reasonable treatment. My bill, the Skill Game Protection Act would create a separate definition for games of skill, such as, poker, mah-jong, bridge, chess. Any game where players compete against each other not “against the house” will be legal and regulated.
Americans that are simply playing poker, chess, and other games online are not committing a crime. They are engaging in a competitive and recreational pastime that does not warrant prohibition.
Wexler Votes to Pay Doctors Fairly for Care of Medicare Patients
House Passes Legislation Improving Medicare
(Washington, DC) In June, Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL) voted for the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008, which prevents cuts to doctors who serve Medicare patients and ensures that seniors and the disabled have continued access to medical care. This July, physicians are facing a 10.6% payment cut for services provided to Medicare beneficiaries, threatening the ability of many patients to afford visits to the doctor. This legislation stops these upcoming cuts, provides a modest increase for 2008, and makes several long overdue improvements to Medicare.
“Forty-four million seniors and disabled individuals depend on Medicare; and, if this physician payment cut is enacted, the ability of these Americans to simply see a doctor will be in jeopardy. That is not a risk I am willing to take,” said Congressman Wexler. “As our nation faces significant economic challenges and healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, it has never been more crucial for Congress to ensure that doctors who treat Medicare beneficiaries receive proper compensation for the treatment they provide.”
In 1997, Congress passed legislation to control Medicare costs, including payment reductions to physicians. As healthcare costs have exploded, this formula has mandated deeper cuts in payments to doctors each year. The Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 stops the next scheduled cuts and instead implements a modest increase. In addition to preventing these cuts, the bill contains several provisions to improve Medicare, including coverage for preventative services, parity for mental health treatments, and more affordable services for low-income seniors and disabled individuals that need extra help to afford even basic care. H.R. 6331 passed by a vote of 355 to 59.
Wexler given 100% rating on the environment
Congressman Wexler has been cited as one of the six members of Congress from Florida to receive a 100% rating from Environment Florida, and environmental advocacy group.
These six members of Congress have again and again put the environment ahead of special interests. In the 110th Congress they successfully fought to keep our beautiful coasts free of off-shore oil drilling, defend protections for endangered species like the polar bear and the recently recovered bald eagle, and make polluters pay to clean up contaminated groundwater,” said Environment Florida Field Director Holly Binns in a release.
Wexler attacked for stances on Impeachment, Iraq war
Draws two self-funded challengers into November's race
Congressman Robert Wexler's stands in favor of Impeachment Hearings for President Bush and Vice President Cheney as well as his advocacy for ending the war in Iraq have drawn two self-funded challengers who hope to defeat him in November.
Wexler's Republican opponent has advocated Wexler's "removal" from office based on his Impeachment movement. The Independent in the race ( a former-Democrat who left the party during this campaign) has criticized Wexler's push to begin withdrawals from Iraq.
The area's largest newspaper, the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel has also criticized Wexler's call for hearings, arguing, "it's nobody's sworn duty to take up any time to go after a badly battered president with only a few months left in office."
In response, Congressman Wexler wrote a letter to the Editor that stated, "The Sentinel says impeachment is the wrong "remedy" for this litany of crimes. What then is the proper remedy? A harsh lecture? A strongly worded editorial? Or how about doing absolutely nothing in the face of these outrageous abuses of power? Impeachment hearings need not distract us from other important priorities such as the economy, gas prices and bringing the troops home from Iraq. Congress can and should address all important issues - including safeguarding our constitutional rights and obligations."
Wexler Opposes FISA Compromise
Legislation Threatens Constitutional System of Checks and Balances
(Washington, DC) Today, Congressman Wexler (D-FL) issued the following statement regarding H.R. 6304, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008:
"I am strongly opposed to H.R. 6304. There is simply no way to get around three simple facts about this bill. One, it creates a path for surveillance requests to avoid court review, and it is naïve to assume that if court review is optional, that courts would ever be a meaningful part of the process. Two, with minimal protections for over-broad searches outside the US, we are virtually guaranteed that Americans citizens in the US – with no connection to terrorism whatsoever – will be included in the surveillance. And three, the judicial review of lawsuits against telephone and Internet companies is written to create no possibility of a legitimate review and ensure that the immunity sought by the President is a predetermined outcome.
"I greatly respect the earnest efforts of Members to find common ground on this most critical issue, but I respectfully believe that Congress is better off not acting if the only way to find common ground is by digging the grave of our Constitution.
"The March 14th House bill preserved court review without bogging down surveillance requests or somehow hampering our nation’s intelligence operations.
"We need to remember that under FISA, surveillance requests go to a specially designed court (FISC) with over 30 years of experience. The FISC should be allowed to keep full and appropriate review of the particular circumstances in each case as it has since 1978. I do not understand how a court could make any meaningful determination for a whole surveillance programs and the minimization procedures without considering who, what or where will be tapped – as H.R. 6304 would allow.
"It is perfectly possible for a court to examine surveillance requests in a timely manner, and there have always been allowances made for urgent surveillance. There is no need to allow the Administration to skip that by unilaterally declaring that “without immediate implementation of an authorization, intelligence important to the national security of the United States may be lost or not timely acquired.”
"Essentially, H.R. 6304 restores the oversight that has been missing in the President’s illegal wiretapping program -- and with the same pen destroys it completely."