Despite being in Congress for three months, U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., was named vice chairwoman of the U.S. House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee which is under the umbrella of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oreg., the chairman of the committee, and U.S. Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the subcommittee, announced the promotion on Thursday. The subcommittee’s “jurisdiction consists generally of matters relating to water resources development, conservation and management, water pollution control and water infrastructure, and hazardous waste cleanup.
“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has a strong history of standing up and fighting for clean water, and protecting the natural wonders of the Florida Everglades,” said DeFazio. “On the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee she will surely continue being a powerful advocate, not only for her constituents, but for all who rely on a strong federal commitment to maintaining a reliable water infrastructure system throughout our nation.”
“Until this Congress the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment had never been led by a Hispanic woman, and I am proud to say we now have two at the helm,” said Napolitano. “When the full Committee was organizing, Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell selected this Subcommittee as her top choice, recognizing the importance of water to her constituents, the entire state of Florida, and to our nation. On behalf of all of the members of our Subcommittee, I congratulate her on being named vice chair and thank her for being willing to serve in this extended role.”
“I am honored to serve as vice chair of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee and to offer solutions to problems we see in South Florida and across the country,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “I look forward to pressing for Everglades restoration projects that form the largest environment project in the country that have been ongoing for over 17 years. Protecting our sources of water from contamination, toxic runoff, nuclear power plants, or leaky septic tanks will continue to be a top priority because clean water is essential to our health, livelihood, and economy, and it shouldn’t be a luxury.
“For too long, the House has refused to tackle one of the greatest threats we face: climate change,” she added. “While we must increase our resiliency against sea-level rise and stronger, more frequent storms, we must also work diligently to reduce carbon emissions. My time working with the Coral Restoration Foundation and alongside members of my community serves as a constant reminder that we all want the next generation to inherit a healthy planet. I am eager to learn from Chair Grace Napolitano’s vast experience and enact policies that will benefit South Florida and our country.”
Mucarsel-Powell defeated then U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., in close race last year. Looking ahead to 2020, Mucarsel-Powell is expected to be in a close race in 2020. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) announced in February that she would be a top target next year.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has added Mucarsel-Powell to its “Frontline” program of vulnerable incumbents in swing seats and, last month, announced plans to hire staff in her South Florida district which includes parts of Miami Dade County and all of Monroe County.
Earlier this week, Republican businesswoman Irina Vilariño launched a bid to challenge Mucarsel-Powell.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.