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Statement by Senate Democratic Leader Joyner on Rep. Gaetz's Twitter remarks

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Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa) on Friday issued the following statement in response to Rep. Matt Gaetz’s disparaging Twitter remarks:

“Let me begin by saying I am deeply grateful to Senator Latvala and the many others who immediately spoke out against the disgraceful tweet by Rep. Gaetz. Your support made the sting of such hurtful remarks less biting and I truly appreciate your having my back. 

“But there are two things that remain deeply troubling to me, as they should to most Floridians. First, there has been no apology from Rep. Gaetz. There were some additional tweets, one attacking liberals and Obamacare, but the silence addressing his disparaging remarks has been deafening. 

“Second, the Speaker’s attempts to defend his member while assuring us of Gaetz’s non-racist persona did not succeed. In fact, I believe they underscored what myself and others have long suspected, namely that this fierce battle launched by the House Republicans against the Senate’s good healthcare expansion bill had nothing to do with taking federal money. 

“In our current budget, the one the House bragged about after its passage last year, more than one third of the money in that budget – the one paying our expenses right now – came from Washington, D.C. Yet, while Representatives like Gaetz and Corcoran and Speaker Crisafulli were ranting and declaring war and jumping up and down over the evils of taking federal money for Medicaid expansion, not one of them – not one! – ever suggested or offered to return a penny of the federal money they’re relying on now or what they have every intention of grabbing for the budget to come. 

“So you have to wonder. What makes some federal dollars ok, and others not? 

“Could it be because some have the name “Obamacare” stamped on them? Could it be that far from an isolated moment of judgment lapse on Twitter by Rep. Gaetz, the real source of the his anger was unveiled? 

“Because the only difference in the federal money they choose to accept or reject lays in the hand that’s extending it. The only difference in the members of the Senate Democrats involved in bringing the lawsuit he chose to attack or ignore in his Twitter rant is the color of our skin.

“And so while the Speaker may try his best to walk back the motive of his member, he cannot walk back the 140 characters of Rep. Gaetz’s racist barb.  His words are the kind I have fought against my entire life, the relic of days through which I lived and hope never to live through again. 

“So when the fight is resumed against a black U.S. President’s efforts to help all Americans, all Floridians  – no matter their color – get affordable healthcare, don’t insult us by telling us it’s about a deficit, or a broken system, or any other excuse other than the real one that’s driving this. 

“Because there are 140 characters immortalized in cyberspace to remind us.”

Released by the Senate Minority Office