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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. A Florida Republican frets party squandering opportunity on health care


    "If we don't pass this out of the House, this is the beginning of the end for us as a Republican Party," U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross said, predicting voters will exact revenge on lawmakers who have campaigned against the Affordable Care Act — and taken dozens of symbolic votes against it — but falter now that they have the power to do something real.

    "I would love to do more," Ross told the Tampa Bay Times. "But I can't go home with nothing. This process never gives you the perfect product. It's like a marriage, there's a give and take. So to my ultra conservative friends, I get frustrated because I think they may have some sense of ignorance to the process."...

    Rep. Dennis Ross in Washington
  2. With GOP health care bill teetering, Florida Rep. Dennis Ross worries failure will splinter party

    State Roundup

    WASHINGTON — Amid the bustle of afternoon votes, Rep. Dennis Ross came bounding around the corner with news. "We're getting closer. Neal Dunn is now on board," he said, referring to a fellow Florida Republican House member.

    Ross and other vote wranglers have been furiously tracking support for the Obamacare replacement bill. More accurately, they've been sizing up the opposition, which is coming from factions within the Republican Party. Concerns focus on policy disputes and fears that the bill is being rushed; it passed through key committees even before the traditional cost analysis....

    Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, discusses the GOP’s efforts to pass an alternative to Obamacare. Ross is one of a few senior deputy majority whips trying to bring on reluctant Republicans.
  3. Marco Rubio for governor? Nope, he says


    Sen. Marco Rubio says he won’t run for governor in 2018.

    “Me running for governor? No, I’m going to be in the Senate. Six years from now, I’ll either be running for re-election for the Senate or doing something different,” Rubio told the Shark Tank.

    The possibility has recently crossed our mind, too, and recall that Rubio promised as a presidential candidate not to run for re-election to the Senate....

  4. Rubio noncommittal on health care bill


    Sen. Marco Rubio refused Wednesday to take a position on the GOP's Obamacare replacement bill, saying it is a "work in progress."

    "By the time I give you a statement now, that bill could change in the next 12 hours and then I'm on record of supporting something that changed," Rubio said on Jacksonville radio station WOKV.

    He's right that the bill could change before the end of the day as Speaker Paul Ryan, President Trump and others are trying to rally enough votes. "They've got their own drama going on over there," Rubio said of the House....

  5. Florida House Republicans proceeding carefully on Obamacare replacement


    To understand the struggle GOP leaders face in getting votes for the American Health Care Act, consider this careful batch of Florida representatives:

    Rep. Brian Mast of Palm City: “No decision yet.”

    Rep. Neal Dunn of Panama City: “He hasn’t announced his decision.”

    Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach: No response from a spokeswoman....

  6. Mailers, Facebook ad press Sen. Nelson to support Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court


    A conservative group is dropping new mailers in Florida today to keep up pressure on Sen. Bill Nelson to support Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

    This is the second direct mail piece from Concerned Veterans for America, and it makes a patriotic appeal, asking if Nelson will "protect the freedoms you fought to defend."

    "Each piece of mail directs citizens to call a CVA switchboard where they are informed about Neil Gorsuch’s record and then patched through to Senator Nelson’s office," the group said. It is also targeting Democratic senators in Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Missouri, Colorado, Maine and Montana....

  7. On NASA, Bill Nelson on same page with Trump


    WASHINGTON - Some issues transcend partisan politics, so it was not surprising to see Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next to President Donald Trump this morning for the signing of the NASA Authorization Act.

    Sen. Marco Rubio also attended.

    The Oval Office this morning
  8. TV ad pushes Ros-Lehtinen to reject 'Ryancare'


    The conservative Club for Growth is using TV and digital ads to pressure key Republicans, including Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, to vote against "Ryancare." The ads were announced on the same day President Trump went to Capitol Hill to sell the legislation.

    “The RyanCare bill fails to keep President Trump’s promises of interstate competition and health insurance deregulation,” said Club for Growth president David McIntosh. “Republicans promised a bill that would stop Obamacare’s taxes and mandates, and replace them with free-market reforms that will increase health insurance competition and drive down costs. RyanCare fails on those counts and that’s why the Club is letting millions of constituents know that their Representative should reject RyanCare.”...

  9. Rubio once asked: 'Can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the FBI?'


    Days before the presidential election, Marco Rubio asked a crowd in Punta Gorda, "Can this country afford to have a president under investigation by the FBI?"

    "No," the audience shouted.

    That comment, captured by the liberal opposition research group American Bridge, was directed at Hillary Clinton. But it has a new meaning today as the FBI confirmed it has an ongoing investigation into Russian involvement in the election and possible ties to the Trump associates, which would include Roger Stone....

  10. 'Do you know who Roger Stone is?'


    “Do you know who Roger Stone is?”

    Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asked that question this morning of FBI director James Comey during a hearing into Russian meddling in the election, putting a spotlight on the Florida operative Stone.

    Stone has long been allied with Trump and in 2011, helped set up a speech before a tea party group in Boca Raton in which Trump tried out the themes he ran on in 2016. This month, Stone acknowledged he had contact with Guccifer 2.0, an online persona considered a front for Russian intelligence operatives. But he disputes collusion....

  11. Sen. Nelson remains undecided on Gorsuch


    WASHINGTON - Sen. Bill Nelson remains undecided on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, a spokesman said this morning as the confirmation hearing begins.

    Nelson faces pressure from the left and right over Gorsuch. The Florida Democrat met with Gorsuch for about an hour earlier this month Nelson discussed his concerns about the suppression of voting rights and the amount of undisclosed, unlimited money in campaigns....

    Sen. Orrin Hatch and Neil Gorsuch
  12. President Trump's Florida departure is a spectacle


    Proving there's never a dull moment with President Donald Trump, here is the press "pool" report from Franco Ordonez of McClatchy D.C.

    At 4:03, the motorcade pulled out of Mar-a-Lago and headed toward the airport.

    The crowd of supporters at the foot of the nearby bridge crossing over the Lake Worth Lagoon has doubled, if not tripled in size. It's also become more demographically diverse with several African American supporters joining the group. Several new signs that are being held up
    include ... "45" and "Blacks for Trump, " and "very fake news"...

    President Donald Trump stops to greet supporters along the route to Palm Beach International Airport to board Air Force One in West Palm Beach on Sunday.
  13. Gov. Scott hangs out with 'buddy' Mike Pence


    Gov. Rick Scott caught some basketball today with Vice President Mike Pence. This afternoon they held a health care event in Jacksonville.

  14. Huge, rowdy crowd shows up for Rep. Vern Buchanan's town hall


    Wow, 2,500 people showed up Rep. Vern Buchanan's town hall today. "We like to do things big in Sarasota," the Republican told the audience. "This is democracy in action."

    "As close to 1,750 people filled the center to capacity, an overflow crowd of 800 were outside, many of them listening via loudspeakers set up by the congressman. Five-thousand people RSVPd to attend the event, but it was impossible to determine how many drove away after parking became unavailable," read a news relase....

  15. Rubio makes trip to Middle East


    Instead of attending a fundraising weekend skiing in Montana, Sen. Marco Rubio was in Lebanon on Saturday for an "oversight" visit.

    He is traveling with Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Sens. John Cornyn, James Lankford, Tom Cotton.

    "I just concluded my visit to Beirut, Lebanon, where I met with Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri and government officials to discuss regional security," Rubio wrote on Facebook. "I stressed to our Lebanese partners the importance of cracking down on the terrorist group Hezbollah. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and I were sponsors of the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, which was signed into law in 2015. This law blocks the terrorist organization’s financing and limits its access to logistical support. Prime Minister Al-Hariri and I discussed ways to address Hezbollah's threat to regional stability, and the necessity of helping to build the capability of the Lebanese Armed Forces to confront terrorist threats....