Out2 News Government & Politics

Martin County Meetings ~ November 2020

19 July MC Commissioners logo

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
November 10 & 17, 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.

AFFORDABLE HOUSING ADVISORY COMMITTEE
November 4, 2020 at 3:30 pm
Location: Growth Management Department Conference Room (1st floor)

BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT BOARD OF MARTIN COUNTY
November 16, 2020 at 8:30 am
Location: The Flagler Center of Stuart, 201 SW Flagler Avenue, Stuart

CODE ENFORCEMENT MAGISTRATE
November 18, 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.

COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
November 23, 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.

COUNTY HEALTH CARE REVIEW BOARD
November 18, 2020 at 11:00 am
Location: Growth Management Department Conference Room (1st floor)

HOBE SOUND NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY COMMITTEE
November 18, 2020 at 6:00 pm
Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

JENSEN BEACH NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY COMMITTEE
November 4, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

JOINT CITIZENS' ADVISORY COMMITTEE, TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE, AND BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ADVISORY COMMITTEE of the Metropolitan Planning Organization
November 16, 2020 at 1:30 pm
Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

LIBRARY BOARD OF TRUSTEES
November 18, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

LOCAL PLANNING AGENCY
November 19, 2020 at 7:00 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.

PARKS AND RECREATION ADVISORY BOARD
November 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

PUBLIC ART ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Community Development Agency sits as the Public Art Advisory Committee.
November 23, 2020 at 4:00 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.

RIO NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY COMMITTEE
November 12, 2020 at 6:00 pm
Location: John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing of the Blake Library, 2351 SE Monterey Road, Stuart

TOURIST DEVELOPMENT COUNCIL
November 19, 2020 at 3:00 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 Wednesday, November 11 and Thursday and Friday, November 26 & 27 in observance of Veterans Day and the Thanksgiving Day holidays respectively.

This notice dated: October 21, 2020.

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.

Are Senate Democrats Serious About Small - Business Relief?

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Small businesses are quietly closing their doors all across the country. For months, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and congressional Democrats have promised to provide them additional federal relief. But they have done absolutely nothing to make good on their word.

Last week was no different. As Senate Democrats on the Judiciary Committee attempted and failed to put a dent in Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s impressive resume, they wasted no time in using the opportunity to grandstand once again. With hyperbole ranging from “illegitimate process” to “sham hearing,” my Democratic colleagues sought to delegitimize the proceedings, calling on Senate Republicans to delay Barrett’s nomination and instead bring additional COVID-19 relief up for a vote.

Apparently, their memories are short.

More than five weeks ago, Senate Republicans put forward a COVID-19 relief package that would have provided a second round of Paycheck Protection Program loans to help the hardest-hit businesses. The bill would also have provided protections for businesses, schools, and healthcare workers, who continue to suffer from the pandemic, while also renewing federal unemployment benefits to the nation’s workforce. Assistance to the U.S. Postal Service was also included, as well as needed funding for testing, contact tracing, and vaccines.

Every single Senate Democrat voted no, blocking the bill from passing.

Compare that to March, when Congress came together in swift, overwhelmingly bipartisan fashion to pass the PPP, a historic small-business relief program I co-authored. The PPP saved tens of millions of jobs and small firms, keeping workers connected to their place of work. When funding for the program ran dry, Republicans and Democrats once again came together to provide additional funds. In fact, Congress has acted unanimously on the PPP three separate times, which is a testament to the program's success at saving tens of millions of jobs and preventing widespread small-business bankruptcies.

For months, it has been clear that Congress must take additional action to help industries and businesses, especially minority-owned small businesses and those in low-income communities, which have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why Sen. Susan Collins and I introduced our proposal for a second round of the PPP that includes targeted assistance for minority-owned small businesses and simplified loan forgiveness for small-dollar PPP loans.

Unfortunately, Senate Democrats have shown that they are willing to put election politics above the livelihoods of small businesses and families. As long as Pelosi and Schumer calculate that doing nothing is in their best interest politically, Congress will be unable to act on additional coronavirus relief legislation before the election.

For Pelosi, Schumer, and Joe Biden, it all comes down to a waiting game, even if that means more people bankrupted, more small businesses shuttered, and more jobs lost. Last week, Pelosi even said the quiet part out loud, proclaiming, "I don’t think our leverage has ever been greater than it is now.”

Now is not the time for political games, which is why Senate Republicans will once again give Senate Democrats a chance to show that this week’s grandstanding at the Barrett hearings was, in fact, a legitimate call to action.

Our nation’s small businesses and the communities they call home have weathered the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly 10 months, and it is clear that the PPP has been a historic lifeline for more than 5.2 million small businesses. Even as the economy reopens, financial damage from the pandemic will continue to affect our small firms.

This week, I hope my Democratic colleagues will join me once again in providing federal relief for our nation’s small businesses and the workers they employ.

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CHAIRMAN RUBIO’S STATEMENT ON SENATE DEMOCRATS CONTINUED OBSTRUCTION OF PPP RELIEF FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

20 Oct Small Business

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, issued a statement after Senate Democrats voted against additional small business relief, including another round of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding.

“As the coronavirus pushed our economy into freefall, Congress came together in bipartisan fashion to pass a lifeline to small businesses and keep workers connected to their employer,” Chairman Rubio said. “The Paycheck Protection Program has now run out for most businesses and employment growth has fallen flat. Today, as small businesses across the country quietly close their doors, Senate Democratic leadership engaged in another cynical political game, using small businesses and working families as their ‘leverage.’ Continuing to do nothing is not an option.”

The Continuing Paycheck Protection Program Act is supported by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the International Franchise Association, National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Restaurant Association, and the SBE Council.

THE JOSEPH BULLOCK POST OFFICE BUILDING

20 Oct Brian Mast Logo
20 Oct Mast Bullock

Earlier this year, our community lost one of Florida’s finest, Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joseph Bullock. Trooper Bullock was fatally shot in the line of duty on February 5, 2020 while assisting a disabled vehicle in Martin County.

Trooper Bullock spent his entire career protecting the people of our community, serving as a dedicated member of the Florida Highway Patrol for 19 years. Prior to serving our community, Trooper Bullock served his nation in the United States Air Force.

I introduced a bill to rename the United States Post Office in Port Salerno as the Joseph Bullock Post Office Building. There are no words or actions that can pay the debt we each owe heroes like Joseph, but my hope is that the designation of this facility in his honor will preserve his legacy in our community for generations to come.

Joseph was incredibly well respected and took it upon himself to mentor younger troopers on the force. Anyone who knew him could attest to his kindness, compassion and dedication to service.

Joseph’s tragic death has left our entire community with a heavy heart. My prayers and deepest condolences continue to be with all of Trooper Bullock’s family, his friends and fellow officers he served alongside.

Keep Florida Red! Early Voting Has Started

20 Oct Rep Logo

Tallahassee – Monday marks the first day of early in-person voting in most Florida counties and the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) wants to remind Floridians to vote! While thousands of Floridians have already sent in their vote by mail ballots, many others will take advantage of early voting or choose to vote in-person on November 3rd, Election Day.

“There is no doubt in my mind that Republican voters are enthusiastic, energized and excited about keeping Florida red and that excitement is not only contagious but palpable,” said Joe Gruters, Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. “The leadership shown by President Donald J. Trump and our Governor Ron DeSantis during this past year has further solidified the choice that will be made by Republican voters all across the Sunshine State.”

These successes would not have been possible without the commitment of thousands of our boots-on-the-ground Florida Trump Victory staff workers and volunteers along with RPOF leaders who for months have crisscrossed the state. Trump Army has been knocking on doors and walking neighborhoods to remind Republican voters to either mail in their ballots, vote early starting today, or vote in-person on November 3rd election day.

Just last week the GOP crushed Democrats’ voter registration advantage in Florida heading into the November election. Gruters added, “We are not taking our foot off the gas and I expect a surge to the finish! We are going to ride this strong red wave all the way to Election Day to ensure that Republicans up and down the ticket are elected.”

Starting today more than 378 early voting sites will be open in more than 50 of Florida’s 67 counties. We expect to see hundreds of thousands of Republicans heading to early voting sites in their counties.

Elections supervisors remain focused on ensuring that Floridians are able to vote safely and securely thanks to hundreds of volunteers and trained poll workers. They will also be adhering to CDC guidelines related to voting, that include personal prevention practices such as handwashing, staying home when sick and environmental cleaning and disinfection to help lower the risk of COVID-19 spread.

According to the Florida Department of State website, early voting takes place at locations designated by the Supervisor of Elections and voting equipment used during early voting is the same as the equipment used on Election Day.

Early voting is required to start at least on the 10th day before the election and end on the 3rd day before the election even though supervisors of elections are able to offer more early voting on the 15th, 14th, 13th, 12th, 11th, or 2nd day before an election.

If you are one of the many Floridians who have requested a vote by mail ballot, also referred to as an absentee ballot, you still have time to fill it out, seal it, and sign the voter certificate on the envelope.

You may return your ballot by mail or by:
1. dropping it off in-person at an early voting site in your county during early voting hours,
2. dropping off your ballot in-person at your county supervisor’s main office or branch office, or
3. dropping it off at a designated drop box location in your county.

If you plan to mail in your ballot, the RPOF encourages you to put a stamp on the ballot and drop it in the mail at least 7 days before the election in anticipation of the enormous number of ballots the postal service will have to process.

Regardless of how you return it, your ballot must be received by your county supervisor of elections by 7 p.m. on Election Day, November 3.

YES, JOE BIDEN WILL PACK THE COURT

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

“It is telling that no Democratic senator has cosponsored my constitutional amendment, which would merely keep the Supreme Court at the same number of seats it has had since 1869. Now, every Republican who cares about preserving our institutions should join us.”

Joe Biden and packing the Supreme Court — the dirty little secret Dems don't want to reveal
By U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
October 19, 2020
Fox News

You don’t need to wait for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s long-promised and still-elusive answer to know that a Biden administration would sign legislation into law allowing them to pack the Supreme Court with left-wing activists.

Biden may claim that he is “not a fan” of court-packing, but when asked directly last week whether he would support it, he acknowledged “it depends” on how Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination “turns out.”

Well, we know that Judge Barrett — thanks to her impeccable credentials and hearings — will soon be Supreme Court Justice Barrett.

And we also know that the Biden campaign believes soon-to-be-Justice Barrett’s confirmation process is “illegitimate” and “reckless.” Biden’s running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., said as much.

The former vice president can dodge the question for another 15 days, but we know exactly what he’ll do because his radical base demands it.

And here is the dirty little secret that Democrats do not want the American people to know: it has always been their plan to pack the Supreme Court with liberal judges.

This isn’t about Amy Coney Barrett or Justice Neil Gorsuch or Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The truth is that this has been in the works since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States four years ago.

The good news is that Senate Republicans saw this coming and began laying the groundwork to push back against the Democrats’ efforts to destroy our institutions. In March 2019, my colleagues and I introduced a constitutional amendment that would limit the Supreme Court of the United States to nine justices.

It is telling that no Democratic senator has cosponsored my constitutional amendment, which would merely keep the Supreme Court at the same number of seats it has had since 1869. Now, every Republican who cares about preserving our institutions should join us.

In 2017, Michigan Law School professor Richard Primus, who also clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, warned that court-packing would cause federal courts to “lose a hefty share of whatever legitimacy they still retained” in the current politicized era.

Former Obama White House counsel Bob Bauer argues court-packing “does not serve to strengthen the institution” because “its actions on the controversial issues would carry less authority, with unpredictable consequences for the rule of law.”

Protecting our legal institutions is critical. Over the past two centuries, they have defended and upheld Americans’ natural rights and made the United States the most exceptional nation in all of human history.

But this is about more than our institutions — it is about what happens to our country, our communities, and our way of life if the radical left and the Democratic Party destroy them. It is clear they don’t want to pack the Supreme Court just to cancel out the votes of Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and soon Amy Coney Barrett. They want to pack the Court to cancel out your ability to resist their radical agenda.

The truth is that this is a major part of the Democratic Party’s desire to manipulate and coerce our public institutions into being an arm of their radical progressive agenda. And that radical agenda is part and parcel to Joe Biden, who said earlier this year that he would be the “most progressive president in history.”

Our Founders believed in a radical idea: that all men are created equal and that their rights came from God, from our Creator. That idea — the very premise of our nation’s founding — is increasingly under assault from the left. They would have you believe that America and its founding is irredeemably racist, and that nothing short of a revolution is acceptable

This cultural revolution will come at a great cost to our personal freedoms and natural rights, but our nation’s institutions stand as a bulwark against the effort to remake America. If the left succeeds in packing the Supreme Court, they will be one step closer to erasing our founding and values in pursuit of progressive utopias such as Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.

To protect our people, we need to protect our institutions and ensure no one can ever pack the Supreme Court for partisan gains.

WEEKLY UPDATE

On Monday, we joined the Florida Alliance to End Human Trafficking Board of Directors Meeting. This is a reoccurring subject because it’s the kind of issue that isn’t finished until it’s completely gone. We’ll keep fighting until it is.

On Tuesday, we spoke to Webelo Den Pack 8001. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is the opportunity to help teach the next generation about the government process. Reagan said that, “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” I appreciate the opportunity to help convey the magnitude of our liberty to the next generation.

On Wednesday, we took a tour of One Plant Facility in Indiantown. The plant is home to an interesting cash crop, and it employs a number of Treasure Coast residents. New commerce is always welcomed in our area, and we look forward to community partnerships with One Plant.

Finally this week, as with every week, please stay safe. Remember to wear a mask, wash your hands, and social distance.

Have a great week, and God Bless!

Toby

Supervisors of Elections Have Dedicated Nearly the Last Three Years to Planning and Preparaing for This Election

There has been a lot of surprises in 2020, but strong public interest in the presidential election is not one of them.

Whether working with my team at the Martin County Elections Center or gaining insights at annual gatherings with fellow supervisors of elections across Florida, we have dedicated nearly the last three years to planning and preparing for this election.

Nov. 3 is the final, but not only, important date to remember. Early voting is from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 19-31. Excluding the Blake Library in Stuart, five Martin County libraries—in Hobe Sound, Indiantown, Jensen Beach, Palm City and Stuart—serve as early-voting sites.

Whether voting early or on Election Day, the same safety measures are in place: Frequent cleaning and hand-sanitizers onsite, social-distancing enforced, poll workers wearing masks. (We request, but not require, that voters wear masks to cast their ballots.) We recommend bringing your own pen and encourage anyone who feels vulnerable to vote in off-peak hours around mid-morning and early afternoon.

Requests for vote-by-mail ballots have poured in by the tens of thousands. Still, many voters prefer to drop their ballots off in-person; we have specially designed ballot boxes for just that. At each early-voting site there is one located inside and under the supervisor of poll workers, and therefore only available during the listed hours and dates of early voting.

The Elections Center at 135 S.E. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., in Stuart offers one as well and you can drop off your vote-by-mail ballot up until 7 p.m. Nov. 3.

Only time will tell if the election turns out to be as historic as the circumstances surrounding it. But you can rest in the knowledge that we are doing everything possible to ensure you can cast your vote with a sense of safety, security and confidence.

https://www.martinvotes.com/

RUBIO, CARDIN URGE UN SECRETARY GENERAL TO OPPOSE MADURO’S EFFORTS TO HOLD FRAUDULENT ELECTIONS

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Miami — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women's Issues, wrote to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres urging him to support the people of Venezuela and the return of democratic order in Venezuela amid efforts by the Maduro regime to hold fraudulent elections this December.

“We hope that you will use your position as Secretary General to fully support and stand with the Venezuelan people and their right to a free and fair election. Maduro’s goal is to retain his grip on power and to continue to use Venezuela as a transit point for illicit crime that serves to enrich himself and the corrupt people around him,” the Senators wrote.
“It is our hope that you will reject and condemn elections that are not free and fair, and that you will support the Venezuelan people’s fundamental right to take control of their own future,” the Senators concluded.

Congressman Mast Week In Review

20 Sept Brian Mast

Congressman Mast Week In Review

20 Sept Brian Mast

RUBIO STATEMENT ON NOMINATION OF JUDGE BARRETT TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Miami – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“Judge Barrett is a well-qualified, highly respected nominee, and that’s why the Senate previously confirmed her. She is also a person who is strong in her faith. Sadly, I expect my Democratic colleagues and the radical left to do all they can to assassinate her character and once again make an issue of her faith during her confirmation process. And in doing so, they will attempt to obstruct the Senate from fulfilling our constitutional duty of advice and consent. I believe Judge Barrett would make an excellent Supreme Court justice, and I look forward to once again supporting her nomination in the U.S. Senate.”

RUBIO STATEMENT ON FILLING THE CURRENT SUPREME COURT VACANCY

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement regarding President Trump’s intent to submit a nominee to the Senate to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court of the United States:

“In 2016, President Obama exercised his Constitutional duty and nominated Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, and the Senate exercised its Constitutional obligation and decided not to consent,” Rubio said. “Now, President Trump should exercise his duty to name a nominee. And the Senate should once again exercise its Constitutional obligation and decide whether or not to consent to his choice.”
“I will review the record of President Trump’s nominee, and I will provide my consent if I find they are qualified and will respect the law as written,” Rubio continued. “If I conclude they do not meet this standard, as I did in 2016, I will withhold consent. And unlike President Obama in 2016, President Trump is on the ballot and can be rewarded or held accountable for his choice in November.”

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, SCOTT INTRODUCE BILL TO KEEP DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME DURING PANDEMIC

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington - U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) introduced legislation that would keep the United States on Daylight Saving Time (DST) through November 7, 2021. By preventing the United States from “falling back” to Standard Time in six weeks, Americans would also avoid changing clocks in March 2021 when the United States typically springs forward into DST. The bill would provide one year of stability for families who are already dealing with enough change with virtual learning, work from home, and other disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic has placed into our daily lives.

“Our government has asked a lot of the American people over the past seven months, and keeping the nation on Daylight Saving Time is just one small step we can take to help ease the burden,” Rubio said. “More daylight in the after school hours is critical to helping families and children endure this challenging school year. Studies have shown many benefits of a year-round Daylight Saving Time, and while I believe we should make it permanent all year around, I urge my colleagues to — at the very least — work with me to avoid changing the clocks this fall.”

“After months of staying inside amid the coronavirus pandemic, families across the nation could use a little more sunshine and time to enjoy all that Florida has to offer,” Scott said. “I signed legislation as Governor to continue Daylight Saving Time year-round for Floridians, and I’m glad to join Senator Rubio to lead this effort in Congress.”

Recognizing legislative days prior to November 1 are limited, Senator Rubio will “Rule 14” the bill, which means the bill will bypass the Senate Committee on Commerce and be placed directly on the Senate Calendar.

In March 2019, Senator Rubio re-introduced the Sunshine Protection Act, legislation that would make DST permanent across the country. The bill reflects the Florida legislature’s 2018 enactment of year-round DST; however, for Florida’s change to apply, a change in the federal statute is required. 11 other states —Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Arkansas, Alabama, and Wyoming — have passed similar laws, and dozens more are looking. In 2018, California voters overwhelmingly passed a proposition to authorize the state legislature to move to permanent DST.

Potential effects of making Daylight Saving Time permanent for the nation:

• Reduces car crashes and car accidents involving pedestrians: better aligning daylight hours to drivers’ standard work hours’ increases visibility, according to the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Safety Research. Also reduces the number of vehicle collisions with wildlife by 8 – 11 percent by shifting normal traffic patterns to an hour off from nocturnal wildlife’s behavior.

• Reduces risk for cardiac issues, stroke and seasonal depression.

• Reduces the number of robberies by 27 percent, according to a 2015 Brookings Institution because of additional daylight in the evenings.

• Benefits the economy, according to a study by JP Morgan Chase, which found that there is a drop in economic activity of 2.2 percent – 4.9 percent when clocks move back.

• Reduces childhood obesity and increases physical fitness, according to studies published by the International Journal Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, children see an increase in physical activity during DST. The Journal of Environmental Psychology found that DST increased pedestrian activity by 62% and cyclists activity by 38% because of additional daylight.

• Benefits the agricultural economy, which is disproportionately disrupted by biannual changes in time by upsetting the synergy between farmers’ schedules and their supply chain partners.

• Reduces energy usage, a 2008 study by the U.S. Department of Energy found that during the 4 weeks the U.S. extended daylight savings from the 2005 law, there were savings of about 0.5 percent in electricity per day. Later studies have also shown that the energy savings are minimal but a small savings does occur.

Week In Review September 11-17

RUBIO WELCOMES WITHHOLD RELEASE ORDERS ON PRODUCTS FROM XINJIANG, CALLS FOR FURTHER ACTION

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement after the Trump Administration announced that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will be barring the entrance of products, including cotton, apparel, computer parts, and hair products made by six entities using forced labor from, or in, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR):
“As the Chinese government and Communist Party continue perpetrating possible crimes against humanity through the exploitation of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, the U.S. must ensure that goods stained with forced labor stop entering our supply chains,” Rubio said. “Blocking the entrance of products, including cotton from Xinjiang, is an important measure to counter China’s egregious human rights abuses. Today’s announcement is a step in the right direction, but does not go far enough. Congress needs to pass my Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S. 3471) to ensure Americans are not complicit in these human rights abuses.”
Related:
• July 23, 2020: Rubio statement following organizations’ call for clothing retailers to end sourcing from Xinjiang
• March 12, 2020: Rubio, McGovern lead bipartisan, bicameral group introducing Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.
• March 11, 2020: Congressional-Executive Commission on China releases report on Uyghur forced labor.
Rubio is Co-Chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) as well as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee that oversees human rights.

Martin County Adds Residential Landlord Assistance to CARES Act Funding Programs

20 Sept Cares Act Logo

In August, Martin County launched its comprehensive CARES Act funding programs designed to assist individuals, families and small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Today, the county is pleased to announce assistance for residential landlords.

The Residential Landlord Assistance program, part of the Business Renewal Program, provides rent recovery grants to landlords with residential tenants who are behind in rent. Throughout the pandemic, landlords have been required to continue to pay mortgages, maintain properties and otherwise fulfill all of their lease obligations, while an executive order has prevented them from enforcing non-payment of rent.

"This is a win-win situation for residents and business owners," said George Stokus, Assistant County Administrator, Martin County Board of County Commissioners. "With this program, we are able to keep local residents in their homes while providing reassurance and continuity to both landlord and tenant during this time of uncertainty," Mr. Stokus continued.

Grants are available for owners of residential rental properties located in Martin County and may cover months from March 1, 2020 to the date of the application. The $20,000 maximum award per lease is based on eligible criteria and subject to funding availability.Multi-unit owners are encouraged to call the Business Renewal Center at 772-288-5951 prior to applying to ensure proper processing of additional applications for multiple units. For more detailed information, please visit www.martin.fl.us/LandlordAssistance.

Additional programs utilizing federal CARES Act funds in Martin County are also available.

The Business Renewal Program helps small businesses with $5 million or less in total gross sales or receipts with a maximum award of $20,000 per applicant, subject to funding availability. To find detailed information on this program, visit www.martin.fl.us/BusinessRenewal. For questions, please call 772-288-5951.

Martin County's CARES Act Housing Program is designed to meet the housing needs of low-income households in Martin County. Eligible expenses include rent and/or mortgage payments and certain emergency repairs, due to job loss, furlough or work hour reductions. To apply for funding under this program, visit http://bit.ly/CARES_Act__MCHousing. For questions please call 772-288-5456.|

United We Care: Martin County's COVID-19 Relief Fund is a partnership between the county and United Way of Martin County. This program provides one-time assistance to support eligible Martin County residents with rent or mortgage payments and utility bills. Learn more at www.unitedwaymartin.org/Cares.

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.

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.

RUBIO WELCOMES ELECTION OF MAURICIO CLAVER-CARONE AS PRESIDENT OF THE INTER-AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement after the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Board of Governors elected Mauricio Claver-Carone to serve as the next IDB President for the next five years:
“The election of Mauricio Claver-Carone as the next president of the IDB comes at a crucial time when our hemisphere is in need of bold leadership. As Senior Director for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, Claver-Carone faithfully served our nation with the highest respect and integrity as he advanced policies that promoted our interests and supported our allies in ensuring regional stability. I have no doubt he will continue to work tirelessly to promote economic development and prosperity in Latin America.”
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. He is currently Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

RUBIO URGES THE PRESIDENT TO ADDRESS THREAT POSED BY CHINESE MOBILE APPLICATION QQ

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged President Trump to add QQ — a social media and messaging mobile application owned by the same Chinese company as WeChat, Tencent Holdings Ltd — to the Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat.

“The links between the Chinese government and Communist Party to this high-risk software could not be more pronounced as Tencent’s chief executive, Pony Ma, is a member of China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress,” Rubio wrote. “The identical ownership and similar functions of the two applications highlight the common threats that they pose, including data privacy risks, as well as espionage and censorship at the direction of the Chinese government and Communist Party. I therefore urge you to add QQ to the Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat.”

In August, Rubio announced in an op-ed that he would “introduce legislation to create a framework of standards that must be met before a high-risk, foreign-based app is allowed to operate on American telecommunications networks and devices.” Additionally, Rubio welcomed two Executive Orders by President Trump to address the national security threat posed by TikTok and WeChat. Last October, Rubio was among the first lawmakers to warn of the danger posed by TikTok when he requested that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) launch a full review of the national security implications of TikTok’s acquisition of Musical.ly. This review by CFIUS remains ongoing.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Mr. President:

This administration has correctly identified the hazards posed by high-risk Chinese telecommunications hardware and software to America’s national and economic security and taken bold actions to counter these threats. One such set of measures was the pair of Executive orders issued on August 6, 2020, related to mobile applications TikTok and WeChat. To build upon these necessary steps, I write to request the addition of the Chinese mobile application, QQ, to the Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat.

QQ is a social media and messaging mobile application owned by the same Chinese company as WeChat, Tencent Holdings Ltd (Tencent). As the Executive order’s 45-day deadline approaches, there has been a significant increase in downloads of QQ in the United States. This past May, researchers from the Citizen’s Lab at the University of Toronto issued a report finding that Tencent surveilled and censored private messaging on its applications. The links between the Chinese government and Communist Party to this high-risk software could not be more pronounced as Tencent’s chief executive, Pony Ma, is a member of China’s national legislature, the National People’s Congress.

The identical ownership and similar functions of the two applications highlight the common threats that they pose, including data privacy risks, as well as espionage and censorship at the direction of the Chinese government and Communist Party. I therefore urge you to add QQ to the Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by WeChat.

Thank you for taking this important matter into consideration.

CHAIRMAN RUBIO SENDS LETTER TO JPMORGAN CHASE REQUESTING INFORMATION ON ALLEGED PPP AND EIDL FRAUD

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, sent a letter to James Dimon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase, following recent reports that bank employees may have been involved in the misuse of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) funding. In April, Rubio sent a letter to a number of large banking institutions who participate in the PPP requesting information on their application process amid recent reports certain large banks prioritized borrower applications, which is a violation of congressional intent of the program.

The letter follows a press conference held by the Department of Justice and Administration officials announcing 57 individuals have been charged with fraudulent misuse of PPP funds. In May, Rubio and Ranking Member Cardin sent a letter to the Department of Justice to request a briefing on the agency’s efforts to combat PPP fraud.

“Both the PPP and expanded EIDL programs were intended to provide critical economic assistance to small businesses during this time of enormous need,” Chairman Rubio wrote. “Financial institutions, like yours, are on the frontlines of providing PPP assistance. Allegations that employees of financial institutions have exploited either the PPP or EIDL programs for their own gain must be investigated fully.”

Dear Mr. Dimon:

As you know, small businesses across the nation are facing unprecedented challenges due to the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Congress established the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and expanded the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (P.L. 116-136) to provide immediate financial relief to impacted small businesses. The PPP alone has provided over $525 billion in critical relief to more than 5.2 million businesses, and saved an estimated 50 million jobs.

On April 22, 2020, I wrote to you requesting additional information about how your financial institution processed PPP applications following reports of certain applicants being prioritized over others. In the letter, I reiterated the importance that small businesses and nonprofits of various sizes, regional locations, and missions have equal access to PPP assistance. I was appreciative of your response dated May 1, 2020, which explicitly stated, “[w]e did not prioritize certain loan applicants over others.”

However, I am alarmed by recent reports alleging that employees of your financial intuition may have been involved in potentially illegal conduct in the distribution of PPP and/or EIDL funding. Both the PPP and expanded EIDL programs were intended to provide critical economic assistance to small businesses during this time of enormous need. Financial institutions, like yours, are on the frontlines of providing PPP assistance. Allegations that employees of financial institutions have exploited either the PPP or EIDL programs for their own gain must be investigated fully.

For this reason, I request that you provide the Committee with additional information regarding JPMorgan Chase’s investigation into potential misuse of PPP and/or EIDL funds. Specifically, I request that you provide my Committee staff with the following information no later than September 23, 2020:

1. The specific allegations your institution is investigating;
2. Any actions your institution has taken to mitigate potential fraud or misuse of PPP and/or EIDL funding;
3. Any actions your institution has taken to notify SBA and/or federal law enforcement of potential fraud or misuse of PPP and/or EIDL funding; and
4. Any internal controls distributed to your employees regarding the PPP and/or EIDL program.

Thank you for your continued commitment to ensuring a strong economic recovery for our nation’s small businesses. I appreciate your prompt attention to this important matter.

RUBIO JOINS LANKFORD, COLLEAGUES IN LETTER TO SECRETARY POMPEO ON USCIRF RECOMMENDATIONS

I have been working closely with federal officials and Governor DeSantis to make sure every person in our community has access to the financial assistance they need during the coronavirus.

Florida has just been approved to participate in the Federal Lost Wages Assistance Program, which means individuals currently receiving unemployment assistance may be eligible to receive an additional $300 per week.

How Do I Know If I’m Eligible?
Floridians who are eligible (beginning on or after August 1) for state or federal Reemployment Assistance benefits, are unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19 and have a weekly benefit amount of at least $100 in a state or Federal Reemployment Assistance program may be eligible to receive the additional $300 LWA benefits. This includes individuals receiving:

State Reemployment Assistance
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Extended Benefits
Short-Time Compensation
Trade Readjustment Allowance

How Long Will These Funds Be Available?
The state of Florida has received guidance from FEMA and the U.S. Department of Labor indicating that states should be able to receive approximately three weeks of benefit payments for eligible claimants. This program will be available for a limited time and additional approvals may be granted on a week by week basis pending funding availability.

How Will I Receive These New Benefits?
The Department of Economic Opportunity is working to implement these benefits as quickly as possible through direct deposit or paper check. A paper check will be issued if the payment method selected is a debit card.

To ensure payments are received as quickly as possible, DEO highly recommends Reemployment Assistance claimants select direct deposit as their preferred method to receive benefit payments. More information about how to update your banking information or mailing address can be found here.

As always, our offices are open and ready to help. Please do not hesitate to contact us at 202-225-3026 if you have any questions or need any assistance.

20 Sept Brian Mast

Washington — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and a group of bipartisan senators in a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback requesting the State Department to consider the recommendations made by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) when determining Countries of Particular Concern (CPC) and placement on the Special Watch List (SWL). CPC and SWL designations by the Secretary of State often differ from USCIRF recommendations.

“Both the State Department and USCIRF play important roles in sustaining the United States’ leadership in religious freedom across the globe, including through their annual reports,” the senators wrote. “These reports are invaluable for Members of Congress, other governments, and civil society groups, and help hold bad actors accountable.

This year, USCIRF recommended 14 countries to the State Department for designation as CPCs, including nine that the State Department designated in December 2019—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five others—India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria and Vietnam.

In addition, USCIRF also recommended 15 countries for placement on the Special Watch List. These include four countries that the State Department placed on that list in December 2019—Cuba, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Uzbekistan—as well as 11 other—Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central African Republic (CAR), Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Turkey.”

“These designations are just one of the important tools we can use in our nation’s diplomatic efforts. The United States leads the world in promoting religious freedom, but it is the responsibility of all nations to encourage freedom of religion, belief and conscience worldwide,” the senators continued. “Reports by the USIRF and the State Department enable the international community to identify atrocities, encourage progress and develop solutions.”

Joining Rubio and Lankford were Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), , Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Tim Scott (R-SC), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Secretary Pompeo,

Our nation was founded on the principle that all people have a right to freely practice the faith of their choice, without fear of persecution by their government of any other actors. As the leader of the free world, it is vital that the United States model and promote this crucial human right and our values to the rest of the world as a fundamental part of our foreign policy objectives.

In order to accomplish that goal, we must first publicly highlight abuse, persecution and discrimination experienced by people and groups of faith around the world.

As you know, more than 20 years ago, the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) was signed into law. This bill established the Department of State’s Office of International Religious Freedom in addition to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). IRFA requires the preparation and transmittal to Congress of an annual report on international religious freedom that details the status of religious freedom in each foreign country, violations of religious freedom by foreign governments, and actions and policies of the United States that support of religious freedom. IRFA also requires that each year the President designate as a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) those countries that have engaged in or tolerated systematic, ongoing and egregious violations of religious freedom, which is defined. By IRFA to include violations such as torture, degrading treatment or punishment, prolonged detention without charges, abduction or clandestine detention, or other flagrant denial of the right
to life, liberty, or the security of persons. Similarly, under Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2016, countries that do not meet all of the CPC criteria but engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom categorized on a “Special Watch List” (SWL).

The President’s recent executive order on Advancing International Religious Freedom took this report a step further by directing Chiefs of Mission in CPCs and other countries noted in the State Department’s annual report to develop comprehensive action plans to inform and support the efforts of the United States to advance international religious freedom and to encourage the host governments to make progress in elimination violations of religious freedom.

Each year, in advance of the State Department’s report, USCIRF publicly issues recommendations to the State Department and Congress in regard to CPCs and SWLs to identify countries that engage in other particularly severe violations of religious freedom.

Both the State Department and USCIRF play important roles in sustaining the United States’ leadership in religious freedom across the globe, including through their annual reports. These reports are invaluable for Members of Congress, other governments, and civil society groups, and help hold bad actors accountable.

This year, USCIRF recommended 14 countries to the State Department for designation as CPCs, including nine that the State Department designated in December 2019—Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—as well as five others—India, Nigeria, Russia, Syria and Vietnam.

In addition, USCIRF also recommended 15 countries for placement on the Special Watch List. These include four countries that the State Department placed on that list in December 2019—Cuba, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Uzbekistan—as well as 11 other—Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Central African Republic (CAR), Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, and Turkey.

IRFA requires the president to fully consider the CPC recommendations of USCIRF when making CPC determinations. However, since the enactment of IRFA, CPC designations by the Secretary of State and USCIRF recommendations have not always been the same, and the reasons for the divergence have been unclear to Congress. As such, the Senate Appropriations Committee report accompanying the FY 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act required the Department to provide the rationale for differences in CPC designations to the appropriate congressional committees within 30 days of such decision.

These designations are just one of the important tools we can use in our nation’s diplomatic efforts. The United States leads the world in promoting religious freedom, but it is the responsibility of all nations to encourage freedom of religion, belief and conscience worldwide. Reports by USCIRF and the State Department enable the international community to identify atrocities, encourage progress and develop solutions.

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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RUBIO ON HANNITY

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Miami — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Hannity to discuss the Trump Administration’s historic peace deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and the U.S.-China relationship. See below for highlights.

On UAE and Israel normalizing diplomatic relations:

“One of the things that makes Israel’s life so difficult is that it is surrounded by countries that don’t recognize it diplomatically. It has different levels of engagement with these countries — privately and so forth — but this is a major achievement …and one that has been in the works for a long time.

On Turkey’s role in regional affairs:

“Turkey has a deteriorating relationship with Israel, and has for a while. But also Turkey under Erdogan wants to be the dominant power in the region — some of this Ottoman revisionism…They don't like any deals being done in the region that they aren't a linchpin of. They are also crosswise in a couple of regional conflicts as well…It's a messy situation right now, unfortunately, with the Turkish government.

On U.S. relationship with China, and Joe Biden’s approach:

“It's being rebalanced appropriately. We went about 25 years in this country where everybody was sort of saying ‘Don't worry, you let China cheat, when they get rich, they’ll become democratic and they’ll follow the rules.’

“Joe Biden was one of the leaders of that. When China ascended to the World Trade Organization he said, ‘Don't worry, they’re not going to take our jobs. This is great for the world.’ Well, obviously it hasn't worked out that way.

“And if it feels like a lot is happening, it's because this President and this Administration — the first President and Administration in modern history to take on this challenge — have tried to make up for literally two decades of mistakes when it comes to China.

“We paid a tremendous price for what we’ve allowed them to do. They’ve stolen millions of American jobs, closed American factories and, in the process, gutted dozens of American communities, and the families that live there have been destroyed as a result of it. So it's an important recalibration commercially, geopolitically, and it needed to happen. I'm glad it's finally started to happen, but it will be the work of a generation.”

Rubio on Secretary Azar's Official Trip to Taiwan

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Miami — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement as Secretary of Health & Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is in Taiwan on an official visit. During Secretary Azar’s trip to Taiwan, the U.S. announced it will sign a memorandum of understanding to expand collaboration between HHS and the Taiwanese Ministry of Health and Welfare.
“I applaud Secretary Azar’s trip to Taiwan, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Two democracies meeting in each other’s respective capitals should be the norm. Taiwan is an important U.S. ally, and has been a model of how to respond to a global health crisis. Even as the Chinese Communist Party seeks to isolate Taiwan diplomatically, Taiwan remains committed to democratic values and regional security. Secretary Azar's trip follows the policy established under my Taiwan Travel Act (PL 115-135), which President Trump signed into law in 2018. I look forward to more high-level engagement with Taiwan to strengthen the relationship for years to come.”
Timeline of Rubio’s work on the Taiwan Travel Act, which allows high-level officials of the U.S. and Taiwan to meet in each other’s respective capitals.
• April 10, 2019: Rubio calls to reaffirm U.S.-Taiwan relationship on 40th anniversary of Taiwan Relations Act.
• March 16, 2018 – President Trump signs Rubio’s Taiwan Travel Act.
• March 1, 2018 – Senate passes Rubio's Taiwan Travel Act.
• February 8, 2018 – Senate Foreign Relations Committee passes Rubio’s Taiwan Travel Act.
• May 4, 2017: Rubio reintroduced the Taiwan Travel Act.
• September 27, 2016: Rubio introduced the Taiwan Travel Act.
Rubio is Cochair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee that oversees human rights, and is a member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

RUBIO WELCOMES PRESIDENT’S ACTIONS TO ADDRESS NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT POSED BY CHINA’S TIKTOK, WECHAT

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Miami — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) welcomed two Executive Orders by President Trump to address the national security threat posed by TikTok and WeChat. Last October, Rubio was among the first lawmakers to warn of the danger posed by TikTok when he requested that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) launch a full review of the national security implications of TikTok’s acquisition of Musical.ly. This review by CFIUS remains ongoing.

“The danger posed by Chinese-owned applications like TikTok and WeChat is that the Chinese Communist Party can force these companies to turn over Americans’ user data the company collects and manipulate what users see or don’t see,” Rubio said. “There was little concern when I warned of the danger posed by TikTok last October. Now, more companies and organizations, including the federal government, Democratic National Committee, and Biden campaign, are asking employees to delete TikTok. Whether Microsoft or another U.S. company ultimately purchases TikTok, the Trump Administration’s Executive Order to restrict it is a welcome move and a distinct improvement over the status quo.

“But TikTok and WeChat are not the only apps beholden the Chinese Communist Party or another foreign adversary, and it is clear that policymakers should adopt a more expansive approach to protecting Americans’ user data and our national security,” Rubio continued. “For these reasons, I plan to introduce legislation to create a framework of standards that must be met before a high-risk, foreign-based app is allowed to operate on American telecommunications networks and devices.”

20 July State Budget

Rubio Welcomes Global Magnitsky Sanctions Against Chinese Officials and Government Enitity for Human Rights Abuses In Xinjiang

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Miami — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued a statement after the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, imposed sanctions against Sun Jinlong, a former Political Commissar of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) and Peng Jiarui, the Deputy Party Secretary and Commander of the XPCC for their their links to egregious human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the XPCC for their connection to forced labor and the mass interment of Muslim minorities in the XUAR.
“Any individual linked to the human rights abuses against Uyghur and other Turkic minorities must be held accountable. I applaud the Trump Administration for their continued commitment to imposing costs on individuals and entities linked to the heinous crimes in Xinjiang. The XPCC’s role in forced labor should serve as a warning to any company with supply chains in Xinjiang. This also further highlights the urgent need for Congress to pass my bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S. 3471) without delay.”
Rubio is Cochair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee that oversees human rights, and is a member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy.

RUBIO APPLAUDS ADDITION OF 11 CHINESE COMPANIES TO COMMERCE DEPARTMENT ENTITY LIST

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

Washington — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) applauded the Department of Commerce's Bureau of Industry and Security’s (BIS) announcement for adding to the Entity List 11 Chinese companies implicated in gross human rights violations and abuses targeted at Muslim minority groups from the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). These companies provided direct support to the Chinese government and Communist Party’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, forced labor, involuntary collection of biometric data, and genetic analyses. This includes two subsidiaries of Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), a genomics company with ties to the Chinese government, that Senator Rubio has repeatedly called for additional oversight of.

“I applaud today’s action by the Trump Administration to ensure that U.S. technology does not aid the Chinese Communist Party’s crimes against humanity and egregious human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang, including the forced collection of DNA,” Rubio said. “The Chinese Communist Party is employing a systematic campaign of brutality against Uyghurs and other Muslims, and international companies regularly turn a blind eye to the atrocities because business is good in China. The international community cannot stand idly by as Beijing continues in its efforts to wipe out the ethnic and cultural identities of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang.”

On March 12, Rubio along with Senator Merkley and nine other colleagues, introduced the bipartisan Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (S. 3471) to counter China’s coercive exploitation of Uyghurs and other minorities in Xinjiang for labor. The bill would create a rebuttable presumption, banning the import of all goods from Xinjiang and forced Uyghur labor outside the region, unless the companies could provide “clear and convincing evidence” that their products were free of forced labor. China’s policy of forced labor is tainting U.S. and other global supply chains in textiles, agricultural products, consumer electronics, and, now, according to a recent New York Times investigation, personal protective equipment including face masks.

On October 30, 2019, Rubio and Senator Grassley asked Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma for an update on the status of a congressionally mandated report which requires CMS to detail the circumstances in which CMS may be funding entities that process Americans’ genome or exome data in China or Russia. Last Congress, Rubio secured a measure to prevent Americans’ DNA from going to Chinese and Russian labs for analysis in the FY19 appropriations package.

Last year, Rubio and Grassley urged the HHS Acting Inspector General to examine potential payments made to U.S. entities with partnerships to genomics companies affiliated with the Chinese government, including WuXi and BGI. Both WuXi and BGI have publicly touted their partnerships with the Chinese telecom company Huawei, a state-directed actor used by the Chinese government and Communist Party to undermine U.S. companies and steal intellectual property and trade secrets. The FBI has identified national security risks related to sharing genomic data, and recognizes China as a country that is a primary source of those risks.

Rubio is Co-Chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) as well as a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the Acting Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

CHAIRMAN RUBIO STATEMENT ON SBA AND TREASURY’S PPP DATA DISCLOSURE

Mar Small Business

Miami - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, released the following statement after the Trump Administration released publicly available data on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The data disclosure reflects the bipartisan agreement with Committee leaders that balances proprietary information and the need for transparency.

“Today, the Administration has provided much needed transparency to the American people on the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP),” Chairman Rubio said. “We know PPP has been a historic lifeline for more than 4.8 million small businesses. It is clear that financial damage from the pandemic will continue to impact small businesses even as the economy re-opens.

“To meet these changing conditions, PPP and additional long-term recovery capital must be the priority for the next relief package,” Chairman Rubio continued. “I will continue to work with my colleagues on the small business task force to reach a bipartisan agreement on a targeted second round of PPP for underserved firms and for additional resources for long-term resiliency.”

RUBIO STATEMENT ON SENATE PASSAGE OF HOUSE PPP BILL

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 the Senate passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act (H.R. 7010):

“I am glad Congress came together to provide much-needed flexibility for small businesses owners to use their PPP loans as our economy begins to re-open,” Chairman Rubio said. “I appreciate the Administration’s flexibility and commitment to address the bill’s inadvertent technical errors that could create unintended consequences for small businesses as they seek forgiveness.”

“If the Administration cannot address these issues, Congress will need to fix them through additional legislation, which will be made even more difficult given House Democrats’ decision to recess for the entire month,” Chairman Rubio continued. “The PPP is a pro-worker, bipartisan program that has been hugely successful in protecting 50 million employees and helping small business owners endure this crisis. I will continue to work with the Administration, and my colleagues, to ensure the PPP continues to benefit millions of small businesses and workers.”

The bill now heads to the President for signature.

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