Brian Mast

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Brian Mast
Brian Mast official congressional photo (cropped).jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 18th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded by Patrick Murphy
Personal details
Born (1980-07-10) July 10, 1980 (age 38)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
Political party Republican
Education Palm Beach Atlantic University
American Military University
Harvard University (BLA)
Website House website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 2000–2011
Rank Staff Sergeant
Unit 28th Ordnance Company[1]
Awards Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal

Brian Jeffery Mast (born July 10, 1980) is an American politician and United States Army veteran who serves as the U.S. representative for Florida's 18th congressional district. He is a member of the Republican Party.

Early life and education[edit]

Mast was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[2] He is the son of James Mast and Tixomena Trujillo. His maternal grandparents were immigrants from Mexico.[3] Mast graduated from South Christian High School, in 1999.[4] In 2016, he obtained an A.L.B. from the Harvard Extension School, where he studied economics, with minors in government and environmental studies.[5][6]

Military service[edit]

After graduating from South Christian High School in 1999,[7] Mast enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in May 2000 and went to become a combat engineer. In 2006, he transitioned to the active U.S. Army and became an explosive ordnance disposal technician. Mast later joined the 28th Ordnance Company.[8] He served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. On September 19, 2010, while clearing a path for United States Army Rangers in Kandahar, Mast took a wrong step into an IED along the road. The explosion resulted in the amputation of both his legs and one of his fingers.[9][10]

Mast and his family were the recipients of a custom ADA-compliant home awarded to them by the non-profit organization Helping a Hero.[11]

Civilian career[edit]

After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, Mast was hired as an explosives specialist for the United States Department of Homeland Security.[2] While recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Mast provided explosive and counter-terrorism expertise to the Office of Emergency Operations at the National Nuclear Security Administration from July 2011 to February 2012[12] and as an instructor of Home Made Explosives for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.[13][14]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

2016 campaign[edit]

Mast first considered running for office while recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed Medical Center.[2] It was reported in May 2015 that Mast was considering a run for Congress.[15]

On June 8, 2015, Mast announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination United States House of Representatives in Florida's 18th congressional district.[16] Mast faced five opponents in the August 30, 2016, primary; he won with 38% of the vote.[17] Mast faced Democratic businessman Randy Perkins in the November 2016 general election.[17]

Mast won the November 8, 2016, general election with 53% of the vote.[18]

In 2016 Mast was briefly linked with World Patent Marketing, a company the Federal Trade Commission would shut down as an invention promotion scam. World Patent Marketing donated money to Mast's campaign fund and said in a press release that he sat on their advisory board. Mast claimed no knowledge of being given a position on the board and said he only had a couple encounters with members of the company.[19] A campaign consultant has acknowledged using hacked DNC data in the 2016 campaign.[20]

In 2018, Anthony Bustamante, a campaign consultant who had worked on Mast's 2016 campaign, told the Wall Street Journal that he had used data hacked from the Democratic National Committee by Guccifer 2.0, a front for Russia's GRU military intelligence service, to adjust Mast's campaign strategy. The hacked data had been leaked by Guccifer 2.0 to the HelloFLA blog.[21]

2018 campaign[edit]

On April 25, 2018, physician Mark Freeman announced a primary challenge to Mast, focusing on his promise to “defend the Second Amendment” and be an “unwavering partner” to President Trump. Freeman called Mast an “establishment candidate” and complained about Mast's shift on gun control issues after the Parkland school shooting.[22] Mast won the republican primary beating Freeman and moving on to a general election battle against democratic nominee Lauren Baer. Baer is an attorney and foreign policy expert who served as an official in the Obama Administration from 2011-2017, acting as a senior advisor to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power.

Tenure[edit]

Mast participating in an overflight assessment with the Coast Guard during Hurricane Irma

Mast was sworn in on January 3, 2017. He is a member of the Republican Main Street Partnership[23] and the Climate Solutions Caucus.[24]

After voting in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, his constituents rated him at a 40 percent approval rating and 45 percent said they were disappointed with his work in Congress.[25]

In May 2018, the Associated Press reported that Mast was under consideration by the Trump administration to become the next secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.[26]

Committee assignments[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Voting record[edit]

As of January 2018, Mast had voted with his party in 89.9% of votes in the 115th United States Congress and voted in line with Trump's position in 94.9% of the votes.[27][28] In the first session of the 115th United States Congress, Mast was ranked the 32nd most bipartisan member of the House by the Bipartisan Index, a metric published by The Lugar Center and Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy to assess congressional bipartisanship.[29][30]

Military and veterans affairs[edit]

Mast, who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, is the first Member of Congress to open an office inside a federal agency. The office in question, which was opened in 2018, is inside the West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs facility. In 2018 he introduced a House bill that would make it easier for other House members to do the same.[31]

Immigration[edit]

Mast has been supportive of President Trump's immigration policy, and refused to explicitly criticize the president over the official policy of separating children from parents caught entering the U.S. illegally. “It is our duty as an American government to deal compassionately with any child from any nation just as it is the responsibility of foreign families seeking asylum in the U.S. to choose only legal means to enter our nation so they can avoid family disruption,” Mast stated. “I am confident this process will be improved.” Citing his own Mexican grandparents, he said, “The way that they got to work, the way that they assimilated to the American way of life and became a part of our system is not what we’re seeing across the board.”[32]

In June 2018, a volunteer for the Democratic Party of Martin County, was arrested after having called Mast's Washington office Monday and saying, “I'm going to find the congressman's kids and kill them.”[33]

Gun policy[edit]

Mast is a supporter of the Second Amendment, calling it "unimpeachable."[34][35]

Mast supports a ban on assault weapons in the United States, citing his military background—"I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill the children I swore to defend."[34][35][36][37]

Mast rejects the idea that the Second Amendment protects the rights of civilians to bear "any and all" arms. Following the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Mast announced his support for the following policies: prohibiting the sale of assault and tactical firearms without confiscating such weapons that are already owned, ensuring that all firearm purchasers undergo a background check, improving background checks, banning the sale of gun accessories that enhance the firing rate of weapons, such as bump stocks, preventing those who have been detained for mental illnesses from purchasing firearms, ensuring that those on the Terror Watch List cannot purchase firearms, and placing anyone who makes threats of violence against schools on an FBI watch list for "a long time."[34][35][36][37] Mast also supports conducting further research on gun violence, which is currently prohibited in some ways by federal law.[34]

Mast has blamed violent video games and violent movies as at least partly responsible for school shootings.[38] In March 2017, Mast voted in favor of the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which would have allowed veterans who are considered "mentally incompetent" to purchase ammunition and firearms unless declared a danger by a judge.[39][40] The measure passed the House of Representatives, but ultimately stalled in the Senate.

From 2015–2016, Mast accepted $4,950 USD in campaign donations from the NRA's Political Victory Fund.[41]

Donald Trump[edit]

In June 2016, Mast said he supported Donald Trump "unanimously and wholeheartedly" in the 2016 presidential election. After the Billy Bush tape became public, he called Donald Trump's remarks "inexcusable and disgusting."[42] In February 2017, he voted against a resolution that would have directed the House to request ten years of Trump's tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.[43]

Healthcare[edit]

Mast is in favor of repealing the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). On May 4, 2017, he voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass the American Health Care Act.[44][45]

Drugs[edit]

Mast supports the right of states to set their own marijuana laws, including the right to medical marijuana, without federal interference.[46]

Agricultural subsidies[edit]

In April 2018, Mast said he would probably vote for legislation to reduce support for sugar farmers, who under the then current Farm Bill were protected by fixed minimum prices, by limits on imports and on domestic production, and by government loans to sugar growers. “I expect I'll be supporting it when it comes up for a vote next week,” Mast said of the Sugar Policy Modernization Act, “because it's important to the community I represent, and our waterways.” The proposed act, reported TC Palm, “would make sugar import quotas more flexible and protect taxpayers from government-funded buyouts of surplus sugar.” Mast said he would “probably be the only representative in the history of this district to vote against the sugar industry.”[47]

Taxes and budget[edit]

In October 2017, Mast voted against the original version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 due to "out of control" federal spending, fear of the national debt growing, and a desire to see lower tax rates with loopholes closed.[48][49] In December 2017, he voted in favor of the final version of the bill.[50] He says the bill "provides a lot of confidence to a lot of people" and is "a great moment for our country and our community."[51][25]

International diplomacy[edit]

Mast said he would support a Republican proposal to cut U.S. funding to the United Nations.[5]

Mast was not an admirer of Obama's Middle East policy. “ISIS is as strong as it is because of a lack of US leadership,” he said in 2016 “ISIS could have been defeated at the time of the Arab Spring if we had sent in special operations forces. What’s being done now is too little too late. It’s going to require an all-out military effort. The only way to guarantee peace is to make the enemy surrender.”[52]

Israel[edit]

Mast is “a vocal supporter of Israel and Israelis,” reported the Times of Israel during his 2016 campaign. “If anyone was lobbing rockets into the US, guys like me would be sent to kill them, and Americans would applaud us,” he said.[53]

Gay rights[edit]

Mast opposed the US Supreme Court decision that ruled that prohibitions on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.[54]

Abortion[edit]

Mast believes abortion should be illegal in some, except in cases of rape or incest.[55]

Iran deal[edit]

Mast views Obama's Iran nuclear deal as a betrayal by the US of its own national security as well as that of Israel, Jordan, and other regional allies. “The deal has aligned us with a Shia regime, which is just enabling extremism. This is going to make it very hard to get Sunni regimes to align with us, and Putin is now the go-to player in Syria with his alliance with Assad” he said in 2016.[56]

Honors[edit]

During his twelve years of service in the U.S. Army, he received the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and Army Commendation Medal with "V" for valor device.

He was invited by President Barack Obama as a guest to his 2011 State of the Union Address and was seated with First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden.[57] Mast was named one of 10 House freshmen to watch by the Washington, D.C. newspaper The Hill, out of 55 new members of the House elected in 2016.[5]

Personal life[edit]

Mast lives in Palm City, Florida, with his wife, Brianna, and their three children.[58] He attends the evangelical Calvary Chapel.[14]

In January 2015, Mast volunteered with the Israel Defense Forces, working at a base outside Tel Aviv, packing medical kits and moving supplies.[14]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ https://www.armytimes.com/story/military/capitol-hill/2015/10/26/eod-tech-double-amputee-runs-congress/74284938/
  2. ^ a b c "Former Grand Rapids man wounded in Afghanistan considers bid for Congress". Mlive.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  3. ^ Manjarres, Javier (September 15, 2015). "Brian Mast: Illegal Immigration Is A National Security Issue". Hispolitica.
  4. ^ "Meet Brian". MastforCongress.com. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c "Treasure Coast's Brian Mast gets celebrity reception in Congress". TCPalm. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  6. ^ Brian Mast Ballotpedia. 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
  7. ^ "MastForCongress.com". MastForCongress.com. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  8. ^ "UXO News Wire Service (UXO Blog): Retired EOD Seeks to Continue Service as Congressman". Uxoinfo.com. 2015-11-11. Retrieved 2017-03-17.
  9. ^ "A Combat Veteran Runs for Congress, and the Scrutiny Intensifies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  10. ^ "Rangers receive awards for recent deployments". Army.mil. Retrieved 2016-11-13.
  11. ^ "Wounded U.S. Army Veteran Receives Keys to New Home". Coralspringstalk.com. October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  12. ^ http://combatveteransforcongress.org/cand/3281
  13. ^ "Brian Mast at Abacoa on September 14". Palm Beach County Tea Party. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  14. ^ a b c "Pro-Israel US Army vet runs for Congress — on prosthetic legs". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2017-01-09.
  15. ^ "Double-amputee vet might enter CD-18; Grayson's Twitter trouble; the Rubio blueprint revealed; more Cuba moves in Miami; FL bear-hunt controversy". Politico. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  16. ^ Bennett, George (June 8, 2015). "Two more Republicans announce run for Patrick Murphy seat". Palm Beach Post.
  17. ^ a b Bennett, George (October 31, 2016). "First time candidates Brian Mast, Randy Perkins to vie for U.S. House". Palm Beach Post.
  18. ^ "Analysis: Brian Mast's military story wins Patrick Murphy's U.S. House seat". Tcpalm.com. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  19. ^ Caygle, Heather (March 16, 2017). "Freshman lawmaker linked to company accused of million-dollar marketing scam". Politico. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  20. ^ "Mueller's Indictment of 12 Russian Spies is Very Bad for Trump". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  21. ^ https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-alleged-russian-hacker-teamed-up-with-florida-gop-operative-1495724787?mod=e2tw&mg=id-wsj
  22. ^ Connolly, Griffin; GOP Rep. Brian Mast Gets Pro-Gun Primary Challenger; Roll Call; April 26, 2018; https://www.rollcall.com/news/politics/gop-rep-brian-mast-gets-pro-gun-primary-challenger
  23. ^ "Members". Republican Mains Street Partnership. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  24. ^ "90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members". Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Retrieved 20 October 2018.
  25. ^ a b Schmitz, Ali. "Treasure Coast voters don't support GOP tax plan, according to new poll". TCPalm. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  26. ^ "AP Source: Trump considering Army veteran for VA secretary". AP News. Retrieved 2018-05-10.
  27. ^ Willis, Derek. "Represent". ProPublica. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  28. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron (2017-01-30). "Tracking Brian J. Mast In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  29. ^ "The Lugar Center - McCourt School Bipartisan Index" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: The Lugar Center. April 24, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  30. ^ "Delegation for 5.1.18 — Insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State". St. Petersburg, Florida: Florida Politics. May 1, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  31. ^ Florida Rep. Brian Mast opens office inside VA, thinks other lawmakers should too; Federal News Radio; May 3, 2018; https://federalnewsradio.com/federal-drive/2018/05/florida-rep-brian-mast-opens-office-inside-va-thinks-other-lawmakers-should-too/
  32. ^ Schmitz, Ali; U.S. Rep. Brian Mast's stance unclear on Trump's child-separation immigration policy; TC Palm; June 19, 2018; https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/06/19/rep-brian-mast-quiet-separating-immigrant-families/714934002/
  33. ^ Schmitz, Ali; Rep. Brian Mast's children threatened over Trump immigration policy; man arrested; USA Today; June 19, 2018; https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/06/19/florida-man-arrested-threats-u-s-rep-brian-masts-children/716771002/
  34. ^ a b c d Mast, Brian (February 23, 2018). "I Appreciate Assault Weapons. And I Support a Ban". New York Times. New York City. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  35. ^ a b c Leary, Alex (February 24, 2018). "Republican, veteran and gun rights supporter Brian Mast says assault weapons should be banned". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved July 9, 2018. Congressman Brian Mast, R-Palm City, has as much authority on guns as anyone, having served in the Army and losing both legs in Afghanistan. He says assault weapons such as the AR-15 should be banned. "I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend," Mast, who represents a swing district and faces a tough re-election, writes in an op/ed for the New York Times.
  36. ^ a b Chivers, 1C. J.; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise; Yourish, Karen (February 28, 2018). "With AR-15s, Mass Shooters Attack With the Rifle Firepower Typically Used by Infantry Troops". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2018. Representative Brian Mast of Florida, a Republican and an Army combat veteran, has called for a ban on the sale of AR-15-style rifles. “The exact definition of assault weapon will need to be determined,” Mr. Mast said. “But we should all be able to agree that the civilian version of the very deadly weapon that the Army issued to me should certainly qualify.”
  37. ^ a b Gay Stolberg, Sheryl; Martin, Jonathan; Kaplan, Thomas (February 25, 2018). "Is This the Moment for Gun Control? A Gridlocked Congress Is Under Pressure". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
  38. ^ Schmitz, Ali (February 16, 2018). "Florida school shooting: Rep. Brian Mast blames movies, video games for violence". TCPalm. Treasure Coast, Florida. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  39. ^ Caplan, Andrew (February 21, 2018). "Your leaders: 4-1 against stricter gun laws". The Gainesville Sun. Gainesville, Florida. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  40. ^ "Brian Mast's Voting Records on Issue:". ISPY. Vote Smart. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
  41. ^ Grinberg, Emanuella (February 21, 2018). "These Florida lawmakers accepted money from the National Rifle Association". CNN. Atlanta. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
  42. ^ Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster (2016-10-08). "Brian Mast calls Donald Trump's comments 'inexcusable and disgusting'". Florida Politics. Retrieved 2017-02-18.
  43. ^ "These are all the Republicans who don't want you to see Donald Trump's tax returns". indy100. 2017-02-28. Retrieved 2017-03-01.
  44. ^ "How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  45. ^ "Health care vote puts pressure on dozens of vulnerable GOP reps". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2017-05-04.
  46. ^ Angell, Tom; Rep. Brian Mast On Medical Marijuana; C-Span; May 10, 2018; https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4728906/rep-brian-mast-medical-marijuana
  47. ^ Treadway, Tyler; Sugar policy: Brian Mast expected to cast historic vote to reduce sugar farmers' support; TC Palm; April 30, 2018; https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2018/04/30/u-s-rep-brian-mast-expects-cast-historic-vote-sugar-support-reform/559634002/
  48. ^ Schmitz, Ali. "U.S. Rep. Brian Mast among 18 GOP representatives to vote against budget bill". TCPalm. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  49. ^ "GOP Starts the Tax Reform Process on Budget Vote in the House". Sunshine State News | Florida Political News. 2017-10-05. Retrieved 2018-02-24.
  50. ^ Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  51. ^ Bennett, George. "Trump in Palm Beach: President arriving on heels of tax bill victory". The Shiny Sheet. Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  52. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee; Pro-Israel US Army vet runs for Congress — on prosthetic legs; Times of Israel; March 2, 2016; https://www.timesofisrael.com/pro-israel-us-army-vet-runs-for-congress-on-prosthetic-legs/
  53. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee; Pro-Israel US Army vet runs for Congress — on prosthetic legs; Times of Israel; March 2, 2016; https://www.timesofisrael.com/pro-israel-us-army-vet-runs-for-congress-on-prosthetic-legs/
  54. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee; Pro-Israel US Army vet runs for Congress — on prosthetic legs; Times of Israel; March 2, 2016; https://www.timesofisrael.com/pro-israel-us-army-vet-runs-for-congress-on-prosthetic-legs/
  55. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee; Pro-Israel US Army vet runs for Congress — on prosthetic legs; Times of Israel; March 2, 2016; https://www.timesofisrael.com/pro-israel-us-army-vet-runs-for-congress-on-prosthetic-legs/
  56. ^ Ghert-Zand, Renee; Pro-Israel US Army vet runs for Congress — on prosthetic legs; Times of Israel; March 2, 2016; https://www.timesofisrael.com/pro-israel-us-army-vet-runs-for-congress-on-prosthetic-legs/
  57. ^ "Sgt. Brian Mast, wounded in Afghanistan, touched by president's thanks to military". Mlive.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  58. ^ "Biography". mast.house.gov. Retrieved February 24, 2017.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Patrick Murphy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 18th congressional district

2017–present
Incumbent
Current U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Roger Marshall
R-Kansas
United States Representatives by seniority
404th
Succeeded by
Donald McEachin
D-Virginia