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Alex Leary, Times Washington Bureau Chief

Alex Leary

Alex Leary is the Washington bureau chief for the Tampa Bay Times. He previously worked in the Times' state capital bureau, and before that covered local politics, environmental issues and law enforcement. His career in journalism began at the Valley News in New Hampshire.

Phone: (202) 306-4807


Blog: The Buzz

Twitter: @LearyReports

  1. More than half of Senate signs onto bill to end Cuba travel restrictions


    WASHINGTON - Fifty-five members of the Senate, including Bill Nelson, have endorsed legislation to fully lift restrictions on travel to Cuba.

    Introduced by Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., the Freedom for Americans to Travel to Cuba Act of 2017 "ends restrictions under laws enacted in 1996 and 2000 that prevent American citizens and legal residents from travelling to Cuba – restrictions that do not exist for travel by Americans to any other country in the world," reads a release....

  2. Trump's rock-solid support shows in Pennsylvania: 'Why can't we be friends with Russia'


    HAZLETON, Pa. — To many here, the fires in Washington are distant and unimportant, a confusing jangle of news about Russia whipped up by forces set on ruining President Donald Trump.

    "It's a lot of nonsense," Florence Zeleznock said from the counter at Jimmy's Quick Lunch in this small city that has prospered and decayed and is being redefined by a new wave of immigrants.

    "They have been fighting him since he got in," she said. "Let the man do his job."...

    Florence Zeleznock, 51, in Hazleton, Pa. "They have been fighting him since he got in," she said of President Donald Trump. "Let the man do his job." (Alex Leary  |  Times)
  3. Jacksonville, Tampa ports get boost with Trump budget


    Efforts to expand the Jacksonville harbor got a major boost with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers committing $17.5 million for the project, which would all but ensure future funding

    The funding had secured bipartisan support from Florrida members of Congress and word funding was included in the Corps’ budget was celebrated Thursday by Gov. Rick Scott, who noted Port Tampa Bay was due for $9 million....

  4. Mitch McConnell: Trump presidency 'indistinguishable' from what Bush or Rubio would advocate


    "What the administration is doing, not only am I comfortable with it, but I think the vast majority of Republicans in Congress feel that this is a right-of-center presidency, which is what we had hoped.

    "If you look at what the president is actually for, it strikes me as indistinguishable from what a President Jeb Bush or a President Marco Rubio would have been advocating: deregulation, tax reform, repeal and replace of ObamaCare, judges like Neil Gorsuch."...

  5. Rubio, Nelson propose expansion of federal judgeships


    WASHINGTON - Florida Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson today proposed adding a number of federal judges to the state.

    They introduced the "Florida Federal Judicial Relief Act, legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively," according to a release.

    "The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. These proposals are based on the recommendations of the Judicial Conference of the United States, which is the national policy-making body for the federal courts and makes recommendations on judgeships every two years."...

  6. Who is Congressman Patrick Murphy?


    The fundraising email came fast, and full of outrage.

    "I’m pretty speechless, so I’ll keep this short. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) just released their Trumpcare 2.0 projections -- and the numbers are terrifying."

    Standard stuff -- except it came from "Congressman Patrick Murphy."

    The former lawmaker, who left the House to run for Senate, has been sending out similar emails that give the impression he's in office....

    A fundraising email from former Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy
  7. Florida Republicans react to 'CBO score' of health care bill












    Actually, there is no reaction, and that speaks volumes. The Senate has already effectively declared the bill dead and is working on its own. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami did not issue a statement voluntarily but issued one to the Herald.

    "Since before it was voted out of the House, Congressman Curbelo has been working to enhance it by strengthening protections for those with pre-existing conditions and increasing support for lower income Americans and those nearing the age of retirement," spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez said. "He has continued those efforts by engaging Senate offices in recent weeks."...

  8. Trump has Mar-a-Lago employee working on government trip, report says


    The following is from Buzzfeed News:

    A top Mar-a-Lago employee is also working for the government to help prepare for President Trump's visit to Taormina, Italy, for the G-7 Summit — an unconventional arrangement that further blurs the line between the president's business empire and the White House.

    Heather Rinkus, the guest reception manager at Trump's "Winter White House," is working with the president's advance and logistics team, while Trump's exclusive club, Mar-a-Lago, closes for the summer. She has an official White House email and government-issued phone, two sources familiar with Rinkus’ trip told BuzzFeed News....

  9. Congressman wants Trump to pay for Mar-a-Lago travel


    WASHINGTON -- This bill won’t go anywhere, but give Rep. Alcee Hastings creative points with the TRUMPED Act, aka Taxpayers Require Urgent Mandatory Protection from Egregious Debt Act of 2017:

    “Since President Donald John Trump’s election, my Congressional offices have received numerous calls and letters expressing concern over his use of Mar-a-lago as an almost weekly retreat. His constant use of his own property is padding his own pockets with taxpayer money, while significantly harming local businesses and straining primary law enforcement agencies to the brink. For instance, over just one holiday alone, the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office was forced to absorb $250,000 in unforeseen expenses....

  10. Trump presents Pope Francis with sculpture made by Florida artist


    An artist from Stuart, Florida, made a bronze sculpture that President Trump presented today to Pope Francis.

    Made by Geoffrey C. Smith, “Rising Above” represents hope for a peaceful tomorrow, as it evokes two universal values: unity and resilience. The flowering lotus exemplifies the possibility for growth and triumph in the face of trying times, according to a White House description....

    The artist and his work
  11. Florida reaction to Trump's budget proposal: Blah


    President Trump's budget proposal brought negative reviews from Florida Democrats and little reaction from Republicans, a telling sign of overall lack of enthusiasm.

    "This plan cuts some of our most critical programs including Medicaid and food stamps," said Sen. Bill Nelson. "It also cuts funding to agencies such as NIH, which is working to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s, and the EPA, which protects our environment. Slashing these vital programs will hurt millions of hardworking families. We should be focused on helping people, not hurting those who need our help the most.”...

  12. Brian Ballard's lobbying shop in Washington get a big contract


    Ballard Partners, the Florida lobbying firm led by Brian Ballard, is quickly ramping up in Washington and just landed a high-profile contract: the government of Turkey.

    Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, who joined the firm in April, will lead the work and has years of experience dealing with American-Turkish issues. In 2000, he was a founding member of the Turkey Caucus....

  13. Rubio on latest Trump news: 'We have to confirm that that's what actually happened. And I'm not disputing that it did'


    Sen. Marco Rubio this morning suggested reports about President Donald Trump asking top intelligence officials to squelch the Russia investigation could hurt information sharing.

    "We have to confirm that that's what actually happened. And I'm not disputing that it did," Rubio said on CNN's New Day....

  14. Column: Trump beat Bush, Rubio but has become an 'establishment sellout'


    NYT’s Ross Douthat's Sunday column: Donald Trump, Establishment Sellout

    Yes, many of these elites have made terrible mistakes over the last 15 years without seeming to learn anything. Yes, Trump won in part because, unlike Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton, he promised a new synthesis, a populist alternative, on domestic issues and foreign affairs alike....

  15. Haitians get a reprieve from Trump administration


    Haitians living in Florida, and the rest of the country, will be allowed to stay an additional six months, federal officials have decided.

    “This morning DHS called my office to inform us that Haiti’s TPS designation has received a six-month extension,” Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami, said in a statement.

    TPS is short for temporary protected status and about 50,000 Haitians received it following the 2010 earthquake. The Trump administration was facing a deadline this week on whether to extend the status, which was set to expire in July....