|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Florida's 18th district
January 3, 2017
|Born||July 10, 1980|
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
|Education||Palm Beach Atlantic University|
American Military University
Harvard University (ALB)
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||2000-2011|
|Unit||28th Ordnance Company|
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Mast was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the son of James Mast and Tixomena Trujillo. His maternal grandparents were immigrants from Mexico. Mast graduated from South Christian High School, in 1999. In 2016, he obtained an A.L.B. from Harvard University's Harvard Extension School, where he studied economics, with minors in government and environmental studies.
After graduating from South Christian High School in 1999, 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. 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.
Mast and his family were the recipients of a custom ADA-compliant home awarded to them by the non-profit organization Helping a Hero. That home, in Parkland, Florida, is no longer where Mast's family lives; they are currently residents of Palm City, Florida, in a different home that was more than twice as expensive as the first, which led to some criticism.
After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army, Mast was hired as an explosives specialist for the United States Department of Homeland Security. 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 and as an instructor of Home Made Explosives for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
On June 8, 2015, Mast announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination United States House of Representatives in Florida's 18th congressional district. Mast faced five opponents in the August 30, 2016, primary; he won with 38% of the vote. Mast faced Democratic businessman Randy Perkins in the November 2016 general election.
During the 2015-2016 election campaign, Mast's largest donors were Duty Free Americas (owned by the pro-Israel Falic family), NextGen Management (a condo property firm), and Superior Foods (frozen foods).
Mast won the November 8, 2016, general election with 53% of the vote.
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.
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.
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.
Mast defeated Freeman in the Republican primary and moved onto a general election battle against Democratic nominee Lauren Baer, an attorney and foreign policy expert who served as an official in the Obama Administration. Mast received 54% of the vote in the general election, defeating Baer.
During the 2017-2018 election campaign, Mast's largest donors were Duty Free Americas (as in the 2016 campaign) and Amway/Alticor (run by the DeVos family). Between March and June 2018, Mast's campaign received thousands of dollars from Soviet-born Igor Fruman, one of two business associates of Rudy Giuliani who would later face charges of violating federal campaign finance laws. After this allegedly illegal contribution was discovered and reported on by the press, Mast's spokesman said he would disgorge the funds to the Treasury Department, but less than two weeks later Mast would say, "I think we donated it to charity."
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.
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. 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.
Mast, who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was the first Member of Congress to open an office inside a federal agency. The office in question, which was opened in 2018, was 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. But in 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs would evict Representative Mast from the West Palm Beach office. Mast sent the VA Secretary Robert Wilkie a letter of complaint regarding the eviction.
In June 2018, commenting on the Trump administration family separation policy, Mast said: "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. 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."
In June 2018, a volunteer for the Democratic Party of Martin County who was angry about the Trump administration's immigration policy, was arrested after threatening to kill Mast's children. The first trial in the case ended in a mistrial in April 2019.
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."
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". Mast also supports conducting further research on gun violence, which is currently prohibited in some ways by federal law.
Mast has blamed violent video games and violent movies as at least partly responsible for school shootings. In March 2017, Mast voted in favor of the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. The measure passed the House of Representatives, but ultimately stalled in the Senate.
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". 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.
Mast supports the right of states to set their own marijuana laws, including the right to medical marijuana, without federal interference.
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 TCPalm, "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".
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. In December 2017, he voted in favor of the final version of the bill. 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".
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."
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.
Mast opposed the US Supreme Court decision that ruled that prohibitions on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
Mast believes abortion should be illegal except in cases where the mother's life is at risk or in cases of rape or incest.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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."
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 18th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority