new man on campus

Jared Moskowitz eyes Foreign Affairs, Judiciary committees

The incoming lawmaker lamented the lack of interaction between Democrats and Republicans during freshman orientation for House members

Chris O'Meara

Jared Moskowitz, Florida's director of emergency management, gestures during a news conference Sunday, April 4, 2021, at the Manatee County Emergency Management office in Palmetto, Fla.

Rep.-elect Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), who recently won election to replace former Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) in Congress, told Jewish Insider in a sit-down interview last week that he’s aiming to fill Deutch’s seats on both the House Foreign Affairs and Judiciary Committees.

Moskowitz, a former Florida Emergency Management Director and member of the Florida House, has pledged to follow closely in his predecessor’s footsteps as a vocal supporter of the U.S.-Israel relationship. He said he’s hoping to join the Foreign Affairs committee to carry on that support for Israel.

“We have one of the highest Jewish populations of any district in the country,” Moskowitz said. “Ted Deutch [and his predecessor] Robert Wexler had a great record on Israel. I look forward to continuing having that special relationship. And so I want to be on that committee to continue their great work.”

For the moment, Moskowitz said he’s withholding judgment on Israel’s emerging governing coalition, which appears set to include several far-right members in influential positions.

“We know who the players are in the makeup and we know some of the previous history there. Let’s see how it all shakes out before we start passing judgment,” Moskowitz said. “We’ll have to work through those issues. We shouldn’t be interfering in domestic politics.”

On the Judiciary Committee, Moskowitz hopes to help the Biden administration push back against “the ridiculous investigations” that Republicans, who will control the House in the next Congress, have pledged to launch, and “fight for democracy and separate fact from fiction.” 

“We heard a lot in the election about inflation and gas prices and the cost of Thanksgiving.  Well, none of the solutions to that are in Hunter Biden’s laptop,” Moskowitz quipped.

He also said he planned to advocate for further gun violence prevention efforts. Moskowitz’s district includes Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

He noted, however, that his ability to secure the coveted committee assignments will be impacted by the ultimate balance of power, which will decide how many seats are available for Democrats. Two races have yet to be called.

The congressman-elect, who was in Washington for new-member orientation, said that the official training sessions were “great,” but lamented that social activities for new members were divided between parties.

“There is almost no ability at this point to have a bipartisan social event,” Moskowitz said. “As soon as you get up there, that division is kind of built into the system.”

“The division is intentional,” he continued. “It’s something that — at least what I’ve been told — is it’s been like that now for almost 20 years. The idea is if you don’t get to know the other side, you don’t get to know what they did for a profession, or that they have families and kids and you don’t get to socialize with them, it’s much easier to demonize the other side, call them enemies.”

As he settles into his office in January, Moskowitz said he’ll prioritize meeting his fellow members “because to get anything done here, you have to build a coalition — if that’s people on your side or across the aisle.”

Moskowitz won his election by less than five percentage points, losing the Palm Beach County portion of the district, including Boca Raton, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis carried the district as a whole — a symptom of the punishing cycle for Democrats this year in Florida, where DeSantis’ popularity helped to boost down-ballot Republicans. The heavily Jewish district had, historically, been a Democratic stronghold.

Republicans, Moskowitz warned, “could have” picked up the seat “if Democrats had a different candidate.” 

He said he had won “because I have shown over the last several years that I’m willing to work with anyone to get things accomplished.” 

He also noted that, working as DeSantis’ emergency management director, he had seen Florida voters’ enthusiasm for DeSantis’ pandemic-era policies, which included keeping schools and businesses open.

“I tried to tell a lot of my Democratic colleagues who are fighting against opening schools and opening businesses two years later, that that was going to be something that he’d be rewarded for,” Moskowitz said. “And that’s why he got a big [independent] vote.”

Moskowitz added that Democrats need to “rebuild” in Florida, working on voter registration, figuring out how to improve turnout and optimizing their messaging.

“The Democrats’ entire campaign was just anti-DeSantis… We didn’t give voters in Florida, in my opinion, issues to vote for,” he continued. “You hear about that nationally, Republicans were just anti-Biden… And that’s one of the reasons why they lost nationally. For some reason, we had that same similar strategy that we were just anti the governor, we thought that somehow would carry us over.”

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