Out2 News Government & Politics

December 2020 ~ Martin County Meetings

19 July MC Commissioners logo

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS

December 8 & 15, 2020 at 9:00 am

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

These meetings will be televised live on MCTV Channel 20 (Comcast), Channel 99 (U-verse), and online at www.martin.fl.us.

AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES ADVISORY COMMITTEE

December 10, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BOARD OF MARTIN COUNTY

December 16, 2020 at 8:30 am

Location: The Flagler Center of Stuart, 201 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BOARD OF MARTIN COUNTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE

December 2, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

CODE ENFORCEMENT MAGISTRATE HEARING

December 16, 2020 at 9:00 am

Location: Commission Chambers

This meeting will be televised live on MCTV Channel 20 (Comcast), Channel 99 (U-verse), and online at www.martin.fl.us.

CODE ENFORCEMENT MAGISTRATE SPECIAL HEARING

December 18, 2020 at 1:00 pm

Location: Commission Chambers

This meeting will be televised live on MCTV Channel 20 (Comcast), Channel 99 (U-verse), and online at www.martin.fl.us.

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT CITIZEN ADVISORY TASK FORCE

December 3, 2020 at 3:30 pm

Location: Administration Building, 2401 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY

December 21, 2020 at 3:00 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

This meeting will be televised live on MCTV Channel 20 (Comcast), Channel 99 (U-verse), and online at www.martin.fl.us.

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY LICENSING BOARD

December 9, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

COUNTY HEALTH CARE REVIEW BOARD

December 17, 2020 at 11:00 am

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

DRUG AND ALCOHOL ABUSE AWARENESS COMMITTEE

December 9, 2020 at 2:00 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES ADVISORY COUNCIL

December 3, 2020 at 8:30 am

Location: Fire Rescue Administration at the Public Safety Complex, MCSO Training Rooms, 800 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

GOLDEN GATE NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY COMMITTEE

December 7, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

HISTORIC PRESERVATION BOARD

December 14, 2020 at 4:00 pm

Location: Commission Chambers

LOCAL COORDINATING BOARD FOR THE TRANSPORTATION DISADVANTAGED

December 7, 2020 at 10:00 am

Location: Workshop Meeting Room (4th floor)

LOCAL PLANNING AGENCY

December 3 & 17, 2020 at 7:00 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

These meetings will be televised live on MCTV Channel 20 (Comcast), Channel 99 (U-verse), and online at www.martin.fl.us.

OLD PALM CITY NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY COMMITTEE

December 14, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

PARKS AND RECREATION ADVISORY BOARD

December 7, 2020 at 5:00 pm

Location: Indian RiverSide Park, second floor of the Frances Langford Dockside Pavilion, 1707 NE Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach

PORT SALERNO NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY COMMITTEE

December 10, 2020 at 6:00 pm

Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

All Board of County Commission Offices and Libraries will be closed on Thursday and Friday, December 24 & 25, in observance of the Christmas holiday.  Happy Holidays!  Be well!!

CHAIRMAN RUBIO TO SENATOR SCHUMER: LET SMALL BUSINESS COMMITTEE DEMOCRATS WORK OUT A DEAL

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, called on Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to let committee Democrats work with Republicans on a bipartisan deal to provide additional relief to small businesses. Last month, Rubio penned an op-ed revealing that “some of [his] more sensible colleagues have” admitted that “Democrats continue to play politics and use small business owners and employees as leverage for other negotiations.”

“Last month, I said publicly what most of us — including some of my more sensible Democrat colleagues — have known privately for some time: Democrat leaders continue to play politics and use small business owners and employees as leverage for other negotiations,” Chairman Rubio said. “There might be just days left in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic’s devastation will continue in the new year. It’s time for Senator Schumer to let Democrat senators do what they should have done months ago. I am confident Ranking Member Cardin and I can quickly secure a bipartisan deal to provide small businesses with additional aid. Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans have made clear we are standing by and ready to work. It’s time to put the political gamesmanship aside and get this done.”

Senate Republicans unveiled a targeted relief package that includes $332.7 billion in small business relief, including $257.7 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). An additional $40 billion is included to increase the PPP loan amount for covered worker protection expenditures in order to help “front-line” sectors like restaurants and personal services, and a $15 billion grant program for shuttered theaters and venues.

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CHAIRMAN RUBIO STATEMENT ON BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL COVID RELIEF FRAMEWORK PROPOSAL

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, released the following statement after a bipartisan, bicameral group of members presented a COVID Relief Framework that includes $288 billion for small business relief, including a second draw of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and additional funding for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), restaurants, live entertainment venues, and more.

“I applaud my colleagues for coming together to provide a COVID Relief Framework, including a much-needed second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses,” Chairman Rubio said. “However, it is important to note that at its current level, the proposal barely provides enough to fund a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans, and does not provide sufficient funds to help small businesses, restaurants, entertainment venues, and others to help them weather the second wave.”

“Democrat congressional leaders held small businesses and their employees hostage for months, so I am encouraged that some of my Democratic colleagues are stepping forward to provide long overdue assistance,” Rubio continued. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass additional relief as soon as possible.”

RUBIO TO TWITTER: EXPLAIN INACTION ON DANGEROUS, FAKE CHINESE IMAGE

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) sent a letter to Jack Dorsey, Chief Executive Officer of Twitter, after the company failed to remove or label a falsified image posted by a Chinese Communist Party bureaucrat.

“It defies belief that Twitter is unaware of the image, which falsely portrays an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to the throat of a young Afghan child, as Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison requested the image be taken down,” Rubio wrote. “As such, it appears Twitter made an intentional decision not to remove the tweet or even issue a warning label. We know your company has the ability to move rapidly, as it frequently issued warning labels on tweets of prominent Americans during the election -- sometimes within minutes of a tweet being sent.”

Dear Mr. Dorsey:

Twitter has had more than 36 hours to identify, investigate, and evaluate a tweet sent by Zhao Lijian, the deputy director-general of China’s Information Department, that contains a doctored image that depicts a violent act that may in turn inspire other violent acts.

It defies belief that Twitter is unaware of the image, which falsely portrays an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to the throat of a young Afghan child, as Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison requested the image be taken down.

As such, it appears Twitter made an intentional decision not to remove the tweet or even issue a warning label. We know your company has the ability to move rapidly, as it frequently issued warning labels on tweets of prominent Americans during the election -- sometimes within minutes of a tweet being sent.

Social media platforms, including Twitter, have taken it upon themselves to regulate, moderate, and censor speech on their platforms. That is your right as a private company. However, the logic of such actions is increasingly difficult to understand in light of their inconsistency and raises questions of whether Twitter specifically should be eligible for Section 230 protections.

As Congress continues to evaluate and review our outdated technology laws, please answer the following questions:

1. When was Twitter made aware of Zhao’s tweet?

2. Did Twitter conduct a review of the tweet?
a. If so, what was the nature of that review and why was no action taken as a result?
b. If not, why was the tweet not subject to review?
3. Do you stand by the process and the decision? If not, what steps have been taken to avoid such mistakes in the future?
4. Does Twitter want to operate in China in the future? And if so, has it had any conversations with relevant officials or entities in China?

The American people increasingly see mainstream social media, especially Twitter, as little more than a liberal echo chamber inclined to censor conservatives. I share their concern, especially when enemies of America are allowed to post falsified and dangerously misleading images with no consequence.

I look forward to your response.

CHAIRMAN RUBIO CALLS ON CONGRESS TO PASS ADDITIONAL SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, released the following statement after Goldman Sachs released a small business survey titled, “Sinking Lifeboats – Small Businesses Struggle to Stay Afloat While Awaiting Additional Federal Help.”

“It is clear that partisan obstruction in Washington is hurting small businesses and their employees all across the country,” Chairman Rubio said. “We could have passed additional federal relief three months ago, but election year politics got in the way. There are no more excuses. Small businesses are shutting their doors. Employees are losing their jobs. Families are losing their livelihoods. House Democrats need to stop holding them hostage as they press for policies on their wishlist. Congress needs to stop playing partisan games and pass small business relief now.”

The survey details the tough choices small business owners are making while Congress fails to pass additional relief. Overall, the survey shows 28 percent say legislative uncertainty has caused them to consider closing their business and 42 percent have been forced to lay off employees or reduce compensation. The survey found that black businesses have been particularly challenged. Results show that 61 percent of black owners have forgone paying themselves as a result of congressional inactions and 49 percent have been forced to lay off or cut employee compensation.

20 Oct Treasure Coast Real Estate Logo

RUBIO: BRING OUR TROOPS HOME — THE RIGHT WAY

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

The continued presence of U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan cannot persist forever.

Our 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan constitute less than 5 percent of the Obama-era surge. As that number continues to come down, it must be done the right way.

Trump administration officials have announced that, within the next two months, the number of troops we have there will drop to 2,500.

The threats facing our nation and our allies from those who wish to do us harm are real. If we prematurely pull our U.S. forces out from Afghanistan — or if we conduct the process too quickly — we risk putting our servicemembers in harm’s way, and the actual Afghan government will collapse in short order. They are already struggling to hold on as it is, given the threat and challenge from the Taliban.

Another serious concern is that if U.S. forces are pulled out without proper planning, American weapons and other equipment will make it into the hands of the Taliban or another enemy of our nation, putting everyone at even more risk. I don’t want to read a headline six months from now that the Taliban or al-Qaeda are driving around in armored vehicles that we left behind because we exited in a hurry.

Finally, there must be a plan for continuing to pursue al-Qaeda leaders hiding in Afghanistan or elsewhere in the region. No withdrawal plan will be sufficient if we do not retain the ability to go get them, stop them, disrupt them, capture them, or eliminate them. No matter what happens in Afghanistan, we cannot sacrifice that capacity.

America’s involvement in the conflict in Afghanistan will come to an end. But a hasty exit risks putting American and Afghan lives alike in danger, which could draw us back into yet another prolonged engagement. We need to bring our troops home, but we need to do it the right way.

Martin County Board Takes Stand Against Tobacco use by Youth

19 July MC Commissioners logo

Stuart- At this week's meeting, the Board unanimously approved an ordinance making it more difficult for youth in Martin County to purchase tobacco products and electronic nicotine delivery devices by bringing local law into compliance with the federal purchase age of 21. The ordinance also establishes a tobacco distribution license for retailers and associated fines and penalties for establishments that sell tobacco products to anyone under 21 years of age.

A portion of the fees will support future tobacco prevention programs in the county. "This is a win-win for youth in our community," said Board Chair Stacey Hetherington. "Making it more difficult to purchase tobacco products combined with education about the dangers of tobacco sets up our youth for success," she continued.

According to recent statistics provided by the Florida Department of Health in Martin County, the percentage of youth ages 11 -17 who currently use cigarettes has declined from 4.4% in 2014 to 1.4% in 2020. However, the number of youth who currently use electronic vaping has increased from 6.4% in 2014 to 16.3% in 2020. In addition, the percentage of youth exposed to secondhand cigarette smoke has increased from 34.9% in 2014 to 49.9% in 2020.

Board Chair Stacey Hetherington said, "We cannot stand aside and allow our youth to suffer the harmful effects and lasting impacts of tobacco use. I'm proud that our actions will create a way to financially assist with tobacco use prevention programs to reduce the number of youth who use tobacco products."

To read the ordinance in its entirety, visit www.martin.fl.us/resources/draft-revised-tobacco-21-ordinance. Residents are encouraged to visit www.martin.fl.us, Martin County's online resource for services, news and information, and connect with us on social media. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and subscribe to our YouTube Channel.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON NEW YORK TIMES’ “ANONYMOUS” OP-ED

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Miami, FL — Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Acting Chairman Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement:

“It is often said that a lie can fly halfway around the world while the truth is just getting its boots on. A free and fair press is one of the strongest bulwarks our nation has against disinformation, but that press must be honest, thorough, and deserving.

“In 2018, The New York Times published an opinion piece by a ‘senior official in the Trump administration.’ Granting anonymity, it said, was ‘an extraordinary step’ for the paper. Many Americans, logically, assumed the piece came from a senior official in the Trump administration. In fact, it came from a policy advisor at the Department of Homeland Security who, at the time of the opinion piece’s publication, was not even listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s website as a member of that agency’s leadership.

“This is the type of click-bait outrage journalism that has caused so many Americans to become cynical about our nation’s institutions. As our enemies try to divide us, it is more important than ever to call out this type of reckless and irresponsible behavior. Portraying this opinion piece to the nation as the thoughts of a senior official in the Trump Administration was a grotesque failure of journalism. And, in undermining the faith our nation has in an objective press, it harmed our national security.”

Congressman Mast Message On The Opioid Crisis

Rubio, Colleagues Introduce Small Business Capital Recovery Bill

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jim Risch (R-ID), Chairman and former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, along with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Josh Hawley (R-MO), introduced the Small Business Access to Recovery Capital Act. The legislation would provide expanded relief measures to the 7(a) loan program for one year to help businesses cope with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The SBA’s 7(a) loan program is critical in providing flexible working capital to small businesses,” said Chairman Rubio. “These relief measures would ensure that firms can access long-term loans that provide much needed financial stability as they recover from the economic impacts of the pandemic. I am proud to partner with my colleagues to make this program meet the needs of today’s small businesses.”
“Until Congress can pass comprehensive COVID-19 relief, small businesses need access to capital to keep their doors open and their employees compensated,” said Senator Risch. “This common-sense legislation will make low-interest loans available to Idaho’s small businesses who are unable to access lines of credit until additional relief is available.”
“Small businesses are the engine of our economy, but the COVID-19 pandemic is tragically forcing many families to close the doors to their small businesses that they have spent years or even generations to build,” said Senator Collins. “As the co-author of the Paycheck Protection Program, I have worked to help small businesses stay afloat and continue paying their employees. This bipartisan bill would provide additional assistance for small businesses to weather this public health and economic crisis.”
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and it is vital Congress pass legislation to provide relief to them and working families who have suffered thanks to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Senator Hawley. “This legislation will expand access to working capital for small businesses through the 7(a) lending program to help keep businesses afloat and secure wages for their employees.”
The Small Business Access to Recovery Capital Act would expand small business’ access to the 7(a) Loan Guaranty program for one year by:
• Waiving borrower and lender fees;
• Increasing the government guarantee to 95%;
• Increasing the maximum loan value from $5 million to $10 million; and
• Waiving debt repayment of principal, interest, and fees for any new loans made under the 7(a) program for one year.

RUBIO, MENENDEZ UNVEIL NEW EFFORT TO COMBAT TRAFFICKING OF CUBAN DOCTORS

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Bipartisan legislation strengthens accountability for the Cuban regime’s human trafficking schemes and supports Cuban medical professionals serving overseas

Washington - U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, introduced the Combating Trafficking of Cuban Doctors Act. This new bill seeks to strengthen accountability for the Cuban regime’s documented human trafficking and exploitation of Cuban doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals through the so-called ‘foreign medical missions’. The legislation reaffirms the United States’ commitment to defending democratic values and human rights in Cuba, and re-establishes the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program, suspended under the Obama Administration, in order to allow eligible Cuban medical professionals, and their immediate family, to come to the United States.

“I’m proud to join Senator Menendez in introducing this important bill, which highlights how these so-called missions violate the human rights of Cuban medical professionals and also re-establishes the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program suspended by the Obama Administration,” Rubio said. “Through the diplomatic scam of foreign ‘medical missions’, the Cuban regime has perfected the art of state-sponsored human exploitation while illegally enriching themselves. The U.S. must stand in support of the Cuban medical professionals who are subjected to deplorable working conditions, confiscation of their legal forms of identification, and significantly reduced compensation.”

“Cuba’s medical missions abroad are not humanitarian, but in fact a calculated, coercive money-making scheme by a regime relying on indentured servitude to fill its coffers,” Menendez said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us all of the selfless sacrifices and the global need for frontline workers, particularly doctors and nurses. But we all must recognize that garnishing the wages of Cuban medical professionals, withholding their passports, retaliating against their family members, and subjecting them to other forms of coercion represents nothing less than state-sponsored human trafficking. We are introducing this legislation out of a bipartisan commitment to hold the Cuban regime accountable for these abuses and offer protection to its victims here in the United States.”
Key elements of the legislation include:
• Requires a new State Department annual report documenting conditions in each country where Cuba has deployed foreign medical missions, including a determination as to whether such conditions qualify as severe forms of trafficking in persons per the Trafficking Victims
• Re-establishes the Cuban Medical Professional Parole Program that ended in January 2017, in order to allow eligible Cuban medical professionals, and their immediate family, to come to the United States.
• Expresses the sense of Congress that Cuban medical professionals are subjected to state-sponsored human trafficking and calls for Cuban medical personnel to be fully compensated for their work.
• Recognizes evidence that the Cuban regime’s deployment of Cuban doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as through the Mais Médicos program in Brazil between 2013 and 2018, constitute human trafficking, and documents concerns by the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery and the UN Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons.
• Requires the Departments of State and Health and Human Services to implement a balanced approach to address the Pan American Health Organization’s role in the Mais Médicos program—mandating transparency and accountability, preventing future support for Cuban medical missions, and ensuring PAHO has necessary funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and other health needs in the region.
Rubio is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.

RUBIO JOINS RISCH, MENENDEZ, MURPHY, DURBIN IN INTRODUCING RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF BELARUS

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), joined Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Chairman Jim Risch (R-ID) and Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-NJ) as well as Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Tim Kaine (D-VA), in introducing a resolution condemning the crackdown on peaceful protestors in Belarus and calling for the imposition of sanctions on officials responsible for human rights abuses.

“Following the sham election in Belarus last month, the Belarusian people have bravely taken to the streets to demand their rights, including the right to freely and fairly elect their leaders. Lukashenko is currently an illegitimate president and his regime, with close ties to Putin, undermines security in the region,” Rubio said. “The U.S. should stand with the Belarusian people and impose targeted sanctions on those responsible for human rights abuses against peaceful protestors.”

“The continued violence and repression against Mr. Lukashenka’s political opposition and peaceful protestors in Belarus is unconscionable. Belarusian authorities must cease their violent crackdown and release all those who have been unjustly arrested or detained since the August elections,” Risch said. “The bipartisan resolution we are introducing today is a strong symbol of the United States’ support for the people of Belarus and their right to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, free elections, and rule of law. We will continue to work with our European partners to assist the Belarusian people as they strive for a better future.”

“I am in awe of the courage shown by the people of Belarus and call upon the international community to stand in full support of their aspirations for a free and democratic future,” Menendez said. “Mr. Lukashenka does not have a shred of legitimacy left and must step down. The U.S. and our partners in Europe must move with urgency to hold him and his henchman accountable for crimes against the people of Belarus. Further delay only welcomes deeper entrenchment by the regime.”

“This resolution sends an important message that the United States supports the brave pro-democracy protestors in Belarus, warns the Kremlin against a Crimea-style military intervention, and calls on the Trump Administration to impose sanctions on officials responsible for the ongoing crackdown and human rights abuses. I am proud to join my bipartisan colleagues in supporting the Belarusian people’s demand for a new, free and fair presidential election and the right to determine their own future,” Murphy said.

“I will never forget traveling to Minsk in January 2011 to meet with the families of opposition candidates jailed by Lukashenko for having had the temerity to run against him in the sham presidential election just the month before,” Durbin said. “And now history is repeating itself once again. That the Last Dictator of Europe continues to rob his people of the basic freedoms enjoyed by the rest of Europe is a tragedy that must be condemned. This bipartisan resolution shows that the United States Senate rejects the recent sham election and will continue to stand with the brave people of Belarus in their hopes for a more democratic country.”

“Lukashenko must be held accountable for his repressive, authoritarian actions so that the Belarussian people can build the brighter future they deserve,” Cardin said. “This resolution sends a powerful message to Belarus, and to the entire world, that when the United States says that we expect fair, free, and transparent democratic processes, we mean it.”

“With the ongoing violence against peaceful protestors, human rights activists, and the independent media, Alyaksandr Lukashenka continues to suppress the fundamental rights of the Belarusian people,” Romney said. “With this resolution, we stand with the people of Belarus and their right to free and fair elections, and we will continue to support them in their fight for democracy.”

“I’m proud to join my colleagues on this important resolution condemning the crackdown on peaceful protestors following the illegitimate election last month in Belarus,” Coons said. “This resolution sends a strong bipartisan signal that the United States stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus – the human rights defenders, journalists, and courageous citizens who are exercising their right to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and rule of law.”

“The crackdowns on Belarusians peacefully protesting the fraudulent election are indefensible. This bipartisan resolution sends a strong signal that America stands with the Belarusian people who are demanding the right to determine their own future,” Johnson said.

“I am proud to join this bipartisan resolution which shows that the United States stands in solidarity with the people of Belarus and condemns the violence that State Security Forces backed by Russia and President Lukashenko have used to suppress these peaceful protests,” Portman said. “As Co-Chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, I am all too familiar with Russia's malign behavior. As the freedom loving people of Belarus look to the West for leadership, the United States must work with our partners in Europe to counter Russian dominance and aggression in Belarus."

“President Lukashenko must respect the rights of the Belarusian people to have their voices heard through free and fair elections, and end his assault on peaceful protesters and the rule of law in Belarus. This bipartisan resolution will demonstrate that the United States supports those who desire a better, more democratic Belarus,” Kaine said.

Rubio is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee that oversees human rights.

AMERICA AND ITS ALLIES MUST REJECT CHINA’s HUAWEI AND LEAD ON 5G DEVELOPMENT

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Less than six months ago, it appeared Chinese telecom giant Huawei was winning over America’s European allies. Now, countries that decided to allow Huawei to build their 5G networks are waking up to the dangers posed by allowing Chinese state-directed companies into their infrastructure.

For some, the reversal comes down to growing awareness of the serious accusations aimed at Huawei, ranging from intellectual property theft to enabling Beijing’s digital authoritarianism. Until recently, too many foreign leaders dismissed warnings about allowing Huawei into their telecommunication infrastructure from the Trump Administration as bluster amid trade negotiations.

However, Beijing’s horrific abuses this year are showing the world the true nature of the Chinese Communist Party, forcing countries to be wary of partnering with China on sensitive projects. From covering up the COVID-19 virus in the early days of the outbreak to the crackdown in Hong Kong to its continued human rights violations in Xinjiang, China has provided zero reason for trust.

The shift provides an opening for the U.S. and our partners to work together to ensure alternatives exist. Because Huawei has so far competed against private telecom firms with the force of the Chinese government backing it, legitimate competitors find it difficult if not impossible to compete.

Countries cutting out Huawei and its cheap, high-risk hardware will have to look for trusted alternatives, such as newer, interoperable open radio access networks (ORANs), which bypass the need for Huawei’s end-to-end proprietary gear and thus are more open to market innovation.

Governments should support innovative telecom companies that are leading the way when it comes to ORAN solutions. In the United States, I have worked with my colleagues on bipartisan legislation, the USA Telecommunications Act, which would provide $750 million in federal funding for research and development of these open and adaptable technologies.

Halting Chinese state-directed companies like Huawei -- as well as building a robust, competitive, and secure 5G market internationally -- is in the interest of all nations, particularly democracies. As our international partners continue to reject Huawei’s presence, Americans should lead the way in developing the market-based infrastructure that will fill the gap.

The choice between one future characterized by Communist China’s domination, repression, and surveillance and another by collaboration among partner nations is obvious, and now is the moment to begin building it.

Russian Leader A Failed Puppet Master Only Seeking to Enrich Himself

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Russian leader a failed puppet master only seeking to enrich himself

As Vladimir Putin mires Russia in foreign entanglements in a bid to recapture lost Soviet glory, his "clients" are learning the hard way that Moscow cannot be trusted. Given Russia's dire economic and demographic forecasts and growing domestic repression, it's no surprise that Putin would look abroad for diversions.

Under Putin's authoritarian rule, Russia seeks to shatter the current U.S.-led international system. Moscow interferes in our elections and strives to sow division across Western society, undermining America and our allies internationally while enabling the most despotic regimes in the world. In many of these cases, the Kremlin has harnessed corruption as a tool of foreign policy.

Any country's leadership being courted by Moscow should ask why. Putin is always working an angle for himself. What country's people are better off for its leadership forming a partnership with Putin's Russia? Putin's conduct abroad is patterned after his conduct at home: support thugs, undermine democracy, and steal everything that isn't nailed to the wall. And other than oil, the only things the Kremlin exports these days are, war crimes, cybercrime, election interference, and its own private military company, the Wagner Group, run by close Putin confidant Yevgeni Prigozhin.

Just imagine what Putin might do in Belarus in the aftermath of the recent sham elections. He won't be lifting up the voices of Belarusians; instead he'll aid a weakened Alexander Lukashenko in repressing the nation's citizens and further undermine security in Europe.

In Syria, Russia has spent nearly a decade lending critical support to the Bashar al-Assad regime's bloody conflict. But now, Putin is reportedly fed up with his ally. The seemingly endless Syrian conflict has undermined the global norm against chemical weapons use. It has also led to hundreds of thousands of dead and millions of refugees. Now Putin can't get out, despite the investment of precious budgetary resources and military capability. Moreover, the Russian treasury is in no shape to rebuild Syria. Assad's interests are not Putin's and do not factor into his plans.

But even a cursory look at Moscow's motivations makes clear that Putin's interests are that of his own. Russia considers China to be its most important strategic partner. Having antagonized many nations to its west and finding itself diplomatically isolated as a result, Moscow has in recent years looked to a fellow authoritarian regime in Beijing to develop a rapport. This relationship has continued in the form of enhanced cooperation in digital infrastructure, military exercises, as well as growing trade relations.

But Moscow is also amid a major effort to cultivate relations with New Delhi, as well. India is crucial for economic and geopolitical reasons, its government is a longtime purchaser of Russian military equipment. But India is a vibrant democracy and is moving decisively toward other liberal democracies to confront authoritarian states. Putin shouldn't count on helicopter purchases to maintain friendly relations with India as he blatantly cozies up to China.

Putin's promise to restore Russia's role in the world came at the expense of the Russians people, who are left with an anemic economy, a rigged electoral system, and suppression of their basic freedoms. Much like Putin's foreign adventurism, the goal has simply been to enrich himself and his inner circle. Those considering relying on the Kremlin should realize that they will have no long-term stable partner in Russia while he remains in power.

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20 July State Budget