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Federal, State, County & Municipal News

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July 2018 Martin County Meetings

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BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
July  24, 2018 at 9:00 am
Location: Commission Chambers
These meetings will be televised live on MCTV Channel 20 (Comcast), Channel 99 (U-verse), and online at www.martin.fl.us.

AIRPORT NOISE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
July 26, 2018 at 10:00 am
Location: Airport Maintenance Building, 1895 SE Flying Fortress Lane, Stuart

BOARD OF ZONING ADJUSTMENT
July 26, 2018 at 7:00 pm
Location: Commission Chambers

COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY
July 30, 2018 at 3:00 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.

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY LICENSING BOARD
July 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Location: Commission Chambers

PUBLIC ART SITE SELECTION COMMITTEE
July 30, 2018 at 4:00 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.

All Board of County Commission Offices and Libraries will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, 2018 in observance of Independence Day.

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Rubio Discusses Threat “Deep Fake” Technology Poses to U.S. National Security

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RUBIO, VAN HOLLEN ANNOUNCE NEW COSPONSORS OF THE BIPARTISAN DETER ACT

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Washington, D.C. – Today U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) announced new cosponsors of the bipartisan Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act: Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Charles Grassley (R-IA).

The legislation sends a powerful message to Russia and any other foreign actor seeking to disrupt our elections: if you attack American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, you will face severe consequences. The DETER Act uses the threat of powerful sanctions to dissuade hostile foreign powers from meddling in our elections by ensuring that they know well in advance that the costs will outweigh the benefits.

“The most meaningful measure that we can take right now to protect our democracy is to pass the bipartisan DETER Act, which imposes specific and serious sanctions against foreign countries that meddle in our future elections,” Senator Rubio said. “We must make sure Putin understands that we will not overlook his hostilities, and he will face punishing consequences if he tries to interfere in our elections again.”

“In the face of unequivocal evidence that Russia worked to undermine our elections in 2016 and continued aggression from the Kremlin just four months until our next federal elections, we must take action,” Senator Van Hollen said. “The DETER Act would send a clear signal that attacks on our democracy will not be tolerated. We’re proud to announce this new support from our colleagues, and we hope the Senate will take up this bipartisan legislation without delay.”

“We have to do everything we can to protect our elections from foreign interference. The 2018 midterm elections are just around the corner, and Director National Intelligence Dan Coats just recently cautioned that the ‘warning lights are blinking red again.’ On the heels of the President’s weak performance in Helsinki, it’s critical that we make clear to Putin that interference in our democratic process will not be tolerated. I thank Senator Van Hollen and Senator Rubio for their leadership on this issue,” Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Warner said.

“As the U.S. intelligence services have reported, it is an incontrovertible fact that Russia sought to influence the 2016 elections in the United States – a fact that President Putin openly confirmed during the recent U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki,” Senator Gardner said. “We know Russia will try again, so we must also be forward thinking to prevent this assault on our democracy from ever happening again. As we get closer to our next elections, we should be making it clear to the KGB thug Vladimir Putin, and anyone else who dares meddle in our elections, that this type of behavior will never be tolerated and will be met with severe and immediate consequences.”

“Russia’s interference in our elections cannot be dismissed or ignored. Congress has a responsibility to take action and impose costs on those who would attack American democracy,” Senator Baldwin said. “This bipartisan effort puts country over party, stands up for our democracy and will send a powerful message to bad actors like Putin’s Russia and other adversarial nations that future attacks on our elections will be met with severe consequences.”

“Our Intelligence Community has made it clear that Russia interfered in our 2016 elections and will do so again – unless we take actions to prevent it,” Senator Coons said. “The DETER Act will impose penalties on Russia – or any other adversary – that seeks to undermine our democratic processes and traditions. I commend Senator Rubio and Senator Van Hollen for introducing this bill and I look forward to working with them to pass it into law.”

“Vladimir Putin wants to make the Soviet Union great again and he hates the very stuff that makes America great – our First Amendment freedoms and our free and fair elections,” Senator Sasse said. “Russia is coming back in 2018, 2020, and 2022 to sow chaos and distrust. We cannot fall asleep on the watch. These attacks deserve consequences — and sanctions send a strong message.”

“The conclusion of American intelligence agencies is crystal clear: Russian interference in our elections is a fact. We must take immediate action to protect and secure our elections from future meddling by Russia or anyone else. Deterring foreign enemies from attacking our election systems and other critical infrastructure is just the first step we must take to protect our national security and democratic institutions,” Senator Cantwell said.

Senator Grassley said, “While no vote tallies were changed in the 2016 presidential election, Russian cyberattacks and propaganda efforts undermined confidence in our democratic process. Vladimir Putin would like nothing more than to continue sowing discord and meddling in Western democracies without consequence. Passing this legislation would help improve Americans’ faith in their system of government and send an unmistakable signal to the Kremlin that it’s not worth trying it again.”

BACKGROUND

Reporting Requirements

· The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) must issue to Congress a determination on whether any foreign government has interfered in that election within one month after every federal election.

Actions That Will Elicit Retaliation

· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot purchase advertisements to influence an election, including online ads.

· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot use social and traditional media to spread significant amounts of false information to Americans.

· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot hack and release or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails

· A foreign government, or an agent acting on its behalf, cannot block or otherwise hinder access to elections infrastructure, such as websites providing information on polling locations.

Russia-Specific Sanctions

· If the DNI determines that the Kremlin has once again interfered in an American federal election, the bill mandates a set of severe sanctions that must be implement within ten days of the DNI’s determination.

· This includes sanctions on major sectors of the Russian economy, including finance, energy, defense, and metals and mining.

· Every senior Russian political figure or oligarch, identified in the report required by the Countering America’s Adversaries Act of 2017, will be blacklisted from entering the United States and will have their assets blocked.

· The Administration is also required to work with the European Union to enlist their support in adopting a sanctions regime to broaden the impact.

Preparing for Other Potential Attacks

· The DNI has identified China, Iran, and North Korea as our other major foreign government cyber threats, and they may also seek to exploit American vulnerabilities in the next election cycle.

· The Administration should present Congress with a plan for preventing interference in our elections for each of these countries, and any other foreign state of significant concern.

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Week In Review: Demanding Real Change

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RUBIO ON PASSING BIPARTISAN DETER ACT: RUSSIAN MEDDLING WILL HAPPEN IF WE DO NOT DETER IT FROM HAPPENING

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Rubio: “Who among us would say that if Russia interferes in 2018, or any year for that matter, they shouldn’t be punished? And who among us would say that if we had the opportunity to put into law strong consequences for interference that could deter such an attack, we wouldn’t want to do it? And so that’s why I hope that no matter how you may feel about the other things that are going on, the Senate can come together and work together to pass this law, because otherwise we are leaving our nation vulnerable.”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor today calling on Congress to pass his bipartisan Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, legislation that sends a powerful message to any foreign actor seeking to disrupt our elections: if you attack American candidates, campaigns, or voting infrastructure, you will face severe consequences. The DETER Act, which continued to build momentum this week, was introduced by Rubio and Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) earlier this year.

Last week, Rubio and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) outlined how they are teaming up with legislators from Canada and Europe to sound the alarm of Russian meddling in foreign elections. This month, Rubio encouraged Florida’s Secretary of State and 67 Supervisors of Elections to take advantage of the resources offered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect its election infrastructure from hostile foreign governments’ interference. In 2016, Russian government actors actively targeted Florida’s – and the nation’s – election systems.

A partial and rough transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:

But we are going to have an election in a few months, and we’re going to continue to have elections every two years, hopefully forever, and there is no reason to believe that they will not try to do this again.

And that is why earlier this year, along with Senator Van Hollen, I proposed the DETER Act, which is the only thing that Vladimir Putin understands is deterrence. And what the DETER Act does is it says here is a list of sanctions, and these sanctions will go into effect immediately if the Director of National Intelligence, after intelligence assessment, determines that Russia is once again interfering in our elections. So that before he even does it, he has a very clear understanding of what the price is going to be. Men like Vladimir Putin operate as cost-benefit analyzers. They weigh the costs against the benefits, and then they decide what action to take.

And there’s no doubt that in 2016 he saw that the costs of what he did were very low. He thought he could hide it. He thought by the time it was figured out, it would be too late and he thought that America would be in such disarray, that it couldn’t get its act together and actually impose any additional sanctions. But he saw the benefits as extraordinary and so he took action, and he’ll do it again if he doesn’t think the costs are high enough.

And so my hope is that over the next few days and short period of time we will figure out a way, working together as Americans, on this issue to set aside all the stuff about yesterday – that probe will continue, our work on the Intelligence Committee will continue – and focus on the future. No matter how you feel about 2016, who among us would say that if Russia interferes in 2018, or any year for that matter, they shouldn’t be punished? And who among us would say that if we had the opportunity to put into law strong consequences for interference that could deter such an attack, we wouldn’t want to do it? And so that’s why I hope that no matter how you may feel about the other things that are going on, the Senate can come together and work together to pass this law, because otherwise we are leaving our nation vulnerable.

And I’ll close with something I said back in October of 2016. And that is, Vladimir Putin is not a Republican and he’s not a Democrat. He’s not a conservative and he’s not a liberal. Do not ascribe to him any of the attributes of American politics.

He interfered in 2016 in order to create chaos and controversy, not to elect any particular party or individual. That was by far his strongest motivator. And he’ll do it again. And I believe if left unchecked he’ll target members of the Senate who he thinks are his opponents. He’ll target members of Congress. Eventually he’ll even target our debates outside of elections.

I believe if left unchecked, they’re going to take the next step and not just leak information, they’re going to make it up. They’re going to come up with nine emails that are real and embed a tenth that is fake, and it’s going to be reported, and it might cost someone their election or might cost someone enough heartache that they have to resign.

Information is a very powerful weapon. You’ve already seen if you go online the ability to produce these deepfake videos that look real, that only an expert could tell are fake, of someone saying or doing something they never did. Imagine in the hands of a nation-state leaked two days before an election. They’re going to do these things. It is going to happen if we do not deter it from happening. And if we do not prepare our nation and the American people, and if you think this is chaotic, then allow that to happen without informing us and preparing us and strengthening us and putting in place deterrents against that. Then you will know chaos – a chaos that will shake us to our core.

And so I hope that we can take this small but important step of coming together as Americans and protecting our elections for years to come against an adversary that’s determined to tear us down in order to build himself up. This is reality, this is the world and the threat we face, and the sooner we address it, the safer our nation and our people will be.

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Martin County Republican Party Candidate BBQ

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On July 29th from 11:30 – 2:30 at Frances Langford Pavilion in Indian Riverside Park on Riverside Dr. in Jensen Beach the Martin County REC will be hosting a Meet The Candidates BBQ. Tickets may be purchased for $35 each. Please RSVP by July 20th if you intent to attend. You may send checks to the MC Republican Executive Committee 1111 SE Federal Hwy Ste 212 Stuart, FL 34994. Contact Darlene at 772-285-7447 for further information.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON INDICTMENTS OF 12 RUSSIAN NATIONALS

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, today issued a statement after the Department of Justice Special Counsel indicted 12 Russian nationals for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Earlier this year, Senators Rubio and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, legislation that would impose tough sanctions on Russia if it interferes in our democratic process in the future.

“Our strength as a democracy and an open society relies on the strength of our institutions. Today’s indictments of 12 Russian nationals is a positive step toward rebuilding confidence in our system and deterring future Russian meddling in our elections. Vladimir Putin has a zero-sum worldview whose number one objective was to leave the United States deeply divided. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I remain committed to exposing Russian efforts to use social media and other mechanisms to orchestrate chaos in our political discourse. Today’s indictments clearly demonstrates that this is not a partisan issue, and we must begin to take concrete steps to deter foreign governments from interfering in our political dialogue and dividing us as a nation against each other.”

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Representative Harrell Appointed to Commission on the Status of Women

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Speaker Richard Corcoran appointed Representative Harrell to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women

Stuart-Representative Gayle Harrell (R—District 83) was recently appointed by Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran (R—District 37) to the Florida Commission on the Status of Women. The Commission is a non-partisan body with a focus on raising aware-
ness and celebrating the contributions and successes of all Floridians, along with providing a collaborative platform for those seeking information on issues that affect women, girls and their
families in our state. The Commission’s goal is to improve the wellbeing of Florida women and girls, and to be a resource for lawmakers, businesses, and residents so they have a better under-standing of these important issues.
Commissioners are volunteers and come from very diverse backgrounds and professions, and represent every geographic area of the state.

There are 22 members that serve on the Commission. The Governor, Speaker of the House, President of the Senate, and the Attorney General each appoint four members and the Chief Financial Officer and Commissioner of Agriculture
each appoint three members to a term of four years.Representative Harrell is delighted to be one of the four appointees by Speaker Corcoran and is excited to begin her work for the Commission. Representative Harrell stated,
“I am extremely honored by my appointment from Speaker Corocoran and am excited to work with my fellow commissioners on advancing the role of women in Florida.”

Representative Harrell looks forward to addressing issues that impact women, such as discrimination, poverty. Pay equity and other social and economic issues.

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AHEAD OF TRUMP-PUTIN SUMMIT, RUBIO URGES ADMINISTRATION TO REMAIN CLEAR-EYED ON PUTIN’S OBJECTIVES

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Rubio: “Between the U.S. and Russia we have 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons between these two countries. We do have to talk to them, but we have to do so very clear-eyed and that is it is a complicated but important relationship. And we should clearly understand what motivates him and what motivates his decision making and what their ultimate aims and goals are in any conversation that we have.”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the upcoming meeting in Helsinki between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier today, Rubio and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) outlined how they are teaming up with legislators from Canada and Europe to sound the alarm of Russian meddling in foreign elections. This month, Rubio encouraged Florida’s Secretary of State and 67 Supervisors of Elections to take advantage of the resources offered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect its election infrastructure from hostile foreign governments’ interference. In 2016, Russian government actors actively targeted Florida’s – and the nation’s – election systems.

Excerpts of Rubio’s remarks are below:

It is impossible, I believe, for someone like [Putin] to grow up in that era and that place working where he did and not have deep suspicions and views, negative views about the United States and the West at large. The second thing that’s pretty apparent just by watching him is this is a guy who is pretty competitive. He kind of views everything as a personal thing, personal level dominance is important to him but more importantly his relationship with the United States is a competitive one.

I think by and large he views the world as a zero sum game but he most certainly views the relationship it the United States and Russia as a zero sum game. Meaning this, meaning that in any sort of interaction we’re having a Vladimir Putin, there is no scenario in which he envisions that we both do well. He believes that there is only so much success in the world and the more I have of it, the less he has of it. And I do believe it informs all the decisions that he makes. There can only be one winner.

I would not diminish the threat that Russia continues to pose to our electoral system, our society, and our politics. The number one objective of Russian efforts in 2016 — and it would be the number one objective moving forward — is encouraging infighting in our politics. They have a clear understanding of American politics and its nuances. Our societal divisions, the things we like to fight over and how we fight over them and where we fight over them on. And they have figured out and have gotten even better at being able to drive those narratives. And so when people ask, what was the real goal of those efforts in 2016, beyond anything else, it was not electing one person or another. His number one objective, was to leave a country in the United States deeply divided, at each other’s throats, constantly fighting and no matter who won that election, that is the result he wanted and that’s the result we were going to get. Those efforts continue.

This is an important meeting. It probably won’t be the last time they meet. But more important than the meeting are the issues at play between a leader in Russia who views everything as a zero-sum game in which either he wins or America wins but it can’t be mutually beneficial. We have to deal with him. He possesses a significant percentage of the world’s nuclear weapons. Between the U.S. and Russia we have 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons between these two countries. We do have to talk to them, but we have to do so very clear-eyed and that is it is a complicated but important relationship. And we should clearly understand what motivates him and what motivates his decision making and what their ultimate aims and goals are in any conversation that we have.

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WE SHOULD PARTNER WITH ALLIES TO CONFRONT CHINA

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES URGE NDAA CONFEREES TO INCLUDE MEASURES TO REINSTATE ZTE PENALITES AND REFORM CFIUS

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mark Warner (D-VA), Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today urged the chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services committees to include the Senate-passed Cotton-Van Hollen-Schumer-Rubio amendment that would reinstate penalties against ZTE in their upcoming NDAA FY2019 Conference Report. Additionally, they urged the conferees to include reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which were part of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA).

The text of the letter is below:

Dear Chairmen McCain and Thornberry, and Ranking Members Reed and Smith:

We write to express our strong support for measures in the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2019 NDAA) that would reinstate U.S. government penalties against ZTE, a Chinese state-directed telecommunications company, and modernize the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). As you begin deliberations over the final version of the FY 2019 NDAA, we request that you include these two measures.

Section 6702: Prohibition on Modification of Civil Penalties under Export Control and Sanctions Laws and Prohibition on Certain Telecommunications Equipment.

We strongly oppose the June 2018 deal with ZTE negotiated by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) to lift the seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE. BIS imposed this seven-year ban and other penalties against ZTE in April 2018 in response to its numerous violations of U.S. export controls and sanctions laws.

We also note that our nation’s six top intelligence leaders testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee in February 2018 about their concern that ZTE, Huawei, and other Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies are beholden to the Chinese government and Communist Party, which provides the capacity for espionage and intellectual property theft, and therefore poses clear threats to the national security, people, and economy of the United States.

As you prepare the Conference Report, we therefore urge you to retain—and further strengthen—Section 6702 of the Senate-passed FY 2019 NDAA, which would not only reinstate the April 2018 penalties against ZTE and prohibit the modification of any penalties against a Chinese telecommunications firm unless certain conditions are met, but also prohibit the U.S. government from using or procuring equipment from, or entering into a contract with ZTE or Huawei.

Title XVII: Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018

We also thank you for your work protecting our national security and intellectual property by ensuring that foreign countries are not engaged in illicit behavior when investing in the United States.

As you are aware, the Senate version of the FY 2019 NDAA includes important reforms to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States that were part of the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA). Those reforms are vital to protecting our national security and preventing intellectual property theft by foreign countries—including the People’s Republic of China.

As you negotiate a conference report for the 2019 NDAA, we urge you to include the Senate-passed CFIUS reforms and ensure that the final language fully addresses our national security and competitiveness concerns. We believe that efforts to weaken the robust protections in the FIRRMA will embolden our adversaries and present threats to our national security.

We thank you for your leadership, and we appreciate your consideration.

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RUBIO AND WARNER: AS TRUMP MEETS PUTIN, WE’LL SPOTLIGHT AND RESIST RUSSIAN AGGRESSION

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The Senate Intelligence Committee issued a report last week concurring with the U.S. intelligence community’s unanimous assessment that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a massive influence campaign aimed at the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The attack included the targeting of election infrastructure, email hacks, weaponized leaks, overt propaganda and a covert, large-scale disinformation effort on social media feeds like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

In many ways, this threat is not new. The Kremlin has been conducting information warfare or “active measures” against the West for decades. What is new, however, are social media tools with the reach and power to magnify propaganda and false information with a scale and precision that would have been unimaginable back in the days of the Berlin Wall.

The Soviet Politburo could only have dreamed of the capability Russia now has to target voters directly in the U.S., Europe and other democracies with propaganda, misinformation and disinformation. Twenty-first century social media tools have the potential to further erode public confidence in western institutions and undermine the shared sense of facts that is supposed to be the foundation of honest political debate.

In 2016, we were taken by surprise. In 2018, there are no excuses. We must be ready.

That is why we are teaming up with legislators from Canada and Europe to sound the alarm. Following this week’s NATO summit, parliamentarians from across Europe and North America will meet Monday in Washington, D.C., the same day President Donald Trump and Putin meet in Helsinki.

Our goal must be to demonstrate to the world that the community of democratic nations does not intend to accede to Putin’s or any other authoritarian’s view of the world. We will resist Russia’s aggression. As legislators, we have a responsibility to address that threat — particularly on social media.

First, as elected officials, we have a duty to use our positions to shine a light on Russia’s actions and capabilities. Utilizing our investigative tools and public platforms, legislators must expose the full scale and scope of Russia’s schemes to weaken democracies.

The two of us are currently engaged in a bipartisan effort in the Senate Intelligence Committee to uncover Russia’s activities during the 2016 elections and publicly detail its array of asymmetric capabilities. Similarly, our colleagues in the British Parliament, led by Damian Collins, are conducting an inquiry on “fake news” and how it was used by both foreign and domestic actors to influence the Brexit vote.

But it is not enough simply to shine a bright light on Russian aggression. As legislators, we also are responsible for crafting and passing laws to protect our democracy while also preserving freedom of expression.

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FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE ADVANCES RUBIO-COONS BILL TO ENHANCE SECURITY ASSISTANCE TO ISRAEL

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Washington, D.C. — The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today approved the U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act, bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) to authorize at least $3.3 billion in annual security assistance to Israel.

“As the Jewish state of Israel faces volatile threats from Iran, Syria’s Assad regime, Hizballah, Hamas and other malign actors, I commend my colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for passing this bipartisan bill to further strengthen our critical and strategic alliance with Israel,” Rubio said. “It is in America’s national security interest to ensure that Israel, a fellow democracy and most important ally in the Middle East, always has the capabilities to defend itself amid the region’s growing dangers.”

“The passage of this bipartisan legislation represents the continuation of America’s unshakable, seven-decade commitment to Israel’s security,” Coons said. “The security assistance included in this bill will help Israel protect itself in the midst of regional instability; deter – and if necessary defend against – Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas; and deepen bilateral ties for the next decade and beyond.”

BACKGROUND

The U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act:

· Authorizes the State Department to extend no less than $3.3 billion annually in foreign military financing (FMF) to Israel over the next 10 years through 2028. This is consistent with the new U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding.

· Extends war reserve stockpile authority in Israel for five years (2018-2023). While the United States stores missiles, armored vehicles, artillery ammunition, and other materiel in Israel, the Israeli government can request permission to pay to use some of this equipment in the event of a conflict or emergency.

· Extends loan guarantees to Israel for five years (2018-2023). Israel has never defaulted on a U.S.-backed loan guarantee, and this program helps to provide “rainy day” insurance for Israel’s stability given the many threats that it faces in the Middle East.

· Reiterates that it is U.S. policy to ensure Israel’s qualitative military edge (QME) in the Middle East.

· Authorizes the transfer of precision guided munitions (PGMs) and related defense articles and services to the reserve stocks in Israel for self-defense purposes.

· The House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a similar version of the Rubio-Coons legislation on May 9.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON OMB APPROVAL OF EAA STORAGE RESERVOIR PROJECT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today after the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approved the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) Post-Authorization Change Report (PACR) to reduce harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges by constructing the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir to store, treat, and move more water south to the Everglades:

“After directly and regularly communicating to the Trump Administration on the importance of a timely approval of the South Florida Water Management District’s plan for the reservoir project, I welcome today’s important announcement by OMB. This project, spearheaded by State Senator Negron and coupled with existing efforts, will greatly reduce the harmful Lake Okeechobee discharges once again threatening our coastal communities. I am encouraged by the administration’s continued engagement on Florida’s water issues, and I look forward to working with the president to fund the expedited construction of these critical Everglades restoration projects.”

On Sunday, after Rubio urged President Trump to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an emergency re-evaluation of the Lake Okeechobee discharges, the U.S. Army Corps delayed the scheduled discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River.

On June 1, Rubio led a letter to OMB Director Mulvaney urging a timely decision of the Army Corp’s review of the CEPP PACR to enable the Senate to include the authorization of the EAA Storage Reservoir project in its 2018 Water Resources and Development Act.

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ICYMI: RPOF STATEMENT ON JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH’S NOMINATION TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

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TALLAHASSEE, FL- Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia released the following statement regarding Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court:

“It is a historic occurrence for a President to nominate a Supreme Court Justice. And now, President Trump gets a second opportunity to deliver for this nation’s highest court in less than two years,” said RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. “Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is an immensely qualified candidate with a record of adhering to the rule of law and the original text of our finest document, the Constitution. A champion of our nation’s legal heritage, Kavanaugh will serve the court honorably while protecting individual liberty. We urge the swift confirmation of Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court. This “Coach K” is another winner.”

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON NOMINATION OF BRETT KAVANAUGH TO THE U.S. SUPREME COURT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today regarding President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court:

“Brett Kavanaugh is a qualified, mainstream jurist who possesses the right temperament and experience for the position, and I’m pleased to see his nomination to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“My decision on whether to ultimately support Kavanaugh’s nomination will be based on his commitment to original intent, judicial restraint, and the understanding that the Supreme Court is a ‘trier of law’ appellate court and not a ‘trier of fact’ trial court. This is critically important because too many in the federal judicial system today believe it is appropriate for judges to craft new policies and rights instead of interpreting and defending the Constitution as written.

“Regrettably, Senate Democrats made up their minds to oppose this nomination long before tonight’s announcement. I would remind them that just over a year-and-a-half ago the American people elected the president and a Republican-controlled Senate. Nevertheless, I am hopeful for a fair and thorough confirmation process as the Senate carefully examines and deliberates Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.”

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RUBIO URGES PRESIDENT TRUMP TO ORDER RE-EVALUATION OF LAKE OKEECHOBEE DISCHARGES

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Rubio: “This should include an emergency re-evaluation of the flows currently entering the Caloosahatchee River and the reconsideration of the decision to once again begin discharging flows to the St. Lucie River tomorrow.”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged President Trump to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct an emergency re-evaluation of water flows from Lake Okeechobee currently entering the Caloosahatchee River, and to reconsider discharges to the St. Lucie River set to recommence tomorrow, Monday, July 9. Rubio also requested that the administration double the federal investment in Everglades restoration infrastructure through the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request.

The full text of the letter is available below.

Dear Mr. President:

As you know, earlier this week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its “Long Term Disaster Recovery Investment Plan” to fund critical flood protection projects in states impacted by the 2017 hurricanes and other disasters as mandated by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. Of significant interest to Florida was more than $514 million in funding to expedite the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation that I have long championed. These funds will be instrumental to provide Floridians living along the edge of Lake Okeechobee the security and peace of mind to know that their loved ones, homes, and businesses are no longer threatened by the high potential for the dike’s catastrophic failure. However, even as the small cities and towns in the Herbert Hoover Dike’s shadow now have reason for hope, coastal communities on the St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon, and the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary face another nightmarish summer of poor water quality and algae stoked by the Lake Okeechobee discharges.

For the third time in five years, harmful algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee, coupled with the water management practices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, serve as a major cause for concern for downstream residents. While the completed rehabilitation of the dike could potentially allow the Corps to adjust the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) that determines when and how discharges are conducted, these communities are desperate for immediate relief. Along with “pulsing” submaximal discharge flows, loosening the Corps’ rigid implementation of the current LORS is one possible measure that could improve downstream conditions and quickly signal to residents that their federal government is responsive to their needs and concerns. The Corps should work closely with the State of Florida to balance the risks of destructive discharges on downstream communities with the Corps’ other responsibilities and authorities in managing Lake Okeechobee water levels.

I respectfully urge you to use your authority to order the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately include the impacts of harmful algal blooms and poor water quality on downstream communities and ecosystems as a major factor for consideration when planning and conducting Lake Okeechobee discharges. This should include an emergency re-evaluation of the flows currently entering the Caloosahatchee River and the reconsideration of the decision to once again begin discharging flows to the St. Lucie River tomorrow.

I also request that you increase the federal investment for Everglades restoration infrastructure through your fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget request by at least twice the amount provided in FY19. These overdue federal funds can accelerate design and construction of the Central Everglades Planning Project and the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir to clean and divert discharges through the Everglades and Florida Bay instead. Increased funding could also advance important water storage and treatment features of the Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir, Indian River Lagoon-South, and Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration projects that can further enhance coastal water quality for the benefit of coastal communities by reducing the combined impacts of Lake Okeechobee discharges, stormwater and nutrient runoff, and septic tank leaks.

Perhaps more than any of your predecessors in the Oval Office, you personally understand the economic importance of maintaining Florida’s alluring coastal resources. Together, these suggested actions would immediately demonstrate a renewed commitment by the federal government to its responsibilities and to its citizenry in Florida. I stand ready to assist you in addressing this urgent matter.

Sincerely,

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RUBIO PRAISES NEW SANCTIONS AGAINST NICARAGUAN INDIVIDUALS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES AND CORRUPTION

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Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today praised the U.S. Treasury Department for imposing new Global Magnitsky Act sanctions against Nicaraguan National Police Commissioner Francisco Javier Diaz Madriz and Secretary of Managua Mayor’s Office Fidel Antonio Moreno Briones for human rights abuses, and against Jose Francisco Lopez Centeno, Vice President of ALBA de Nicaragua (ALBANISA) and President of Petronic, for engaging in corrupt activities:

“I commend the Trump Administration for listening to our bipartisan calls to sanction individuals responsible for human rights abuses and corruption in Nicaragua. Amid the country’s growing crisis, time is running out for Daniel Ortega to hold early, free and fair elections.”

On June 25, 2018, Rubio led a group of seven Senators in introducing S.Res. 556, a bipartisan resolution that urges the President to impose sanctions under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act against members of the Ortega regime and other Nicaraguan individuals responsible for extrajudicial killings, torture, and other human rights abuses, as well as for corruption.

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Representative Gayle B. Harrell Florida House of Representatives District 83

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STUART, FL—Representative Gayle Harrell (R—District 83) is headed to Washington D.C. to meet with the Army Corps of Engineers Undersecretary R.D. James and Congressman Brian Mast. Representative Harrell is making an appeal to the Undersecretary to discuss the LORS in

Lake Okeechobee. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently discharging nearly four billion gallons of water per day to the east and west of Lake Okeechobee. These releases from Lake Okeechobee we are

experiencing are a direct contributory factor in the development of these toxic algae blooms. There are mats of toxic algae beginning to cover and clog our marinas, canals and rivers. An

extremely large algae bloom is currently growing in Lake Okeechobee and will be released into our waters within days. Our waterways, estuaries and beaches are the lifeblood of our community. Our environment and local economy are directly related to the health of the estuary.

Moreover, the health of our citizens is being threatened. The State of Florida has taken significant steps to address the releases from Lake Okeechobee

within the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, Legacy Florida Act, and SB 10. Although these critical projects will provide long term. We are currently facing an immediate crisis in our estuaries and action needs to be taken.

Representative Harrell is on her way to Washington D.C to urge an immediate, temporary halting of the releases from Lake Okeechobee for a limited amount of time to allow our estuaries to “flush” with the natural flow of salt water that normally occurs when there are no releases. This

would enable the restoration of natural saline levels in many of the areas impacted by blue green-algae and terminate its growth. Although Lake Okeechobee will continuously need to be monitored and a definitive plan of

protecting the estuary established, the pressing matter of the impending release of the water from Lake Okeechobee needs to be dealt with immediately, which Representative Harrell plans to do on her trip on to DC on Monday.

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RUBIO TOURS HOMESTEAD TEMPORARY SHELTER FOR UNACCOMPANIED CHILDREN

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Homestead, FL – After touring the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement:

“This afternoon, I visited the shelter in Homestead, Florida that is housing migrant children. It was heartbreaking to learn of the trauma and hardship they endured in their homeland, and their journey here as a result of being separated from family. Their circumstances are the direct result of the combination of violence and instability in our hemisphere, and the policies and practices that have incentivized adults to bring children on the dangerous journey to unlawfully cross our southern border. I will do all I can to make sure these children are housed in a safe and nurturing environment and reunited with their parents as soon as possible. But we must also help bring an end to this crisis both by helping the nations they are fleeing address the conditions driving this migration and ending immigration policies that incentivize parents to bring children unlawfully into the United States.”

On Wednesday, Rubio and his Republican colleagues introduced the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, legislation that would ensure the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws by requiring that children and their parents remain together during their legal proceedings.

The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act:

· Allows minors under the age 18 to remain with their families pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings.

· Ensures the humane and fair treatment of migrant children and families by setting mandatory standards of care for family residential centers. Families will be ensured access to suitable living accommodations, food and water, medical assistance, and any other service necessary for their care.

· Keeps children safe by requiring children to be removed from an individual who presents a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the child, including: situations in which DHS cannot verify an individual is the parent of the child; a parent with a violent history of committing aggravated felonies; a child who is a victim of sexual or domestic abuse; a child who is a victim of trafficking.

· Authorizes 225 new immigration judges and requires the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to prioritize resolving the cases of children and families in family residential centers.

· Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of family residential beds.

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Representative Gayle Harrell Regarding the Lake Okeechobee Releases

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June 22, 2018

Dear Editor,

As we all know, the Treasure Coast is once again experiencing a significant blue-green algae invasion on the St. Lucie River. The incredible devastation of the 2016 toxic algae bloom on our economy and environment

is about to be repeated.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is currently discharging nearly four billion gallons of water per day to the east and west of Lake Okeechobee. These releases from Lake Okeechobee we are experiencing are a direct

contributory factor in the development of these algae blooms.

The State of Florida has taken significant steps to address the releases from Lake Okeechobee within the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan expending over $2.5 billion since its inception as well as the

passage of the Legacy Florida Act which I was pleased to sponsor,and Sen. Negron’s SB 10. This year over $248 million was allocated to Legacy Florida projects and the planning process for the deep

-water reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is well underway.

Although these critical projects will provide long term solutions to the problems created by the releases from Lake Okeechobee, we are currently facing an immediate crisis in our estuaries.

Thank you, Governor Scott for the declaration of a State of Emergency on the Treasure Coast. I wouldask that you seek anExecutive Order from the President Trump to direct the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to override

the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) to permit additional water to be held with the Lake and stop the releases from Lake Okeechobee into our rivers

I will also be traveling to Washington D.C. this coming week to meet with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to once again press them to take action. LORS must be revisedto permit additional water to be held within the

lake. Please join me in writing to the U. S. Army Corps and signing the petition to urge their immediate action to raise the level of Lake Okeechobee and stop the releases. The link to the on-line petition is:

https://www.change.org/p/florida-residents-get-the-army-corp-of-engineers-to-fix-lake-okeechobee-48696a0e-5c20-43e8-8d39-a378bc5a4718?recruiter

Respectfully submitted,

Gayle B. Harrell, District 83

Florida House of Representatives

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SENATE PASSES RUBIO, WICKER RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING END OF SLAVERY’S JUNETEENTH DAY ANNIVERSARY

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Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate passed a resolution introduced by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) designating June 19, 2018 as “Juneteenth Independence Day” in recognition of June 19, 1865, the date on which slavery legally came to an end in the United States.

The full text of the resolution is below:

Whereas news of the end of slavery did not reach the frontier areas of the United States, in particular the State of Texas and the other Southwestern States, until months after the conclusion of the Civil War, more than 2 1/2 years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863;

Whereas, on June 19, 1865, Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, arrived in Galveston, Texas, with news that the Civil War had ended and that the enslaved were free;

Whereas African-Americans who had been slaves in the Southwest celebrated June 19, commonly known as “Juneteenth Independence Day”, as inspiration and encouragement for future generations;

Whereas African-Americans from the Southwest have continued the tradition of observing Juneteenth Independence Day for over 150 years;

Whereas 45 States and the District of Columbia have designated Juneteenth Independence Day as a special day of observance in recognition of the emancipation of all slaves in the United States;

Whereas Juneteenth Independence Day celebrations have been held to honor African-American freedom while encouraging self-development and respect for all cultures;

Whereas the faith and strength of character demonstrated by former slaves and the descendants of former slaves remain an example for all people of the United States, regardless of background, religion, or race;

Whereas slavery was not officially abolished until the ratification of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States in December 1865; and

Whereas, over the course of its history, the United States has grown into a symbol of democracy and freedom around the world: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) designates June 19, 2018, as “Juneteenth Independence Day”;

(2) recognizes the historical significance of Juneteenth Independence Day to the United States;

(3) supports the continued nationwide celebration of Juneteenth Independence Day to provide an opportunity for the people of the United States to learn more about the past and to better understand the experiences that have shaped the United States; and

(4) recognizes that the observance of the end of slavery is part of the history and heritage of the United States.

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RUBIO SUPPORTS U.S. WITHDRAWAL FROM U.N. HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL

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Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement after the U.S. announced it is withdrawing from the U.N. Human Rights Council:

“I applaud President Trump and Ambassador Haley’s bold leadership in withdrawing the United States from the United Nations Human Rights Council. It is a travesty that countries such as Venezuela, China, and Cuba would even be considered for membership on this council. Governments that persecute people of faith, imprison dissidents, repress free speech and violate other basic human rights have no business participating in an international body purportedly committed to ending human rights abuses. I am gravely concerned that U.S. security partners such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt also continue to fall in this category, and I implore them to fundamentally improve their human rights practices.

“If the U.N. Human Rights Council wants to maintain any shred of credibility, basic respect for and protection of human rights must be a prerequisite for membership and the council must end its hostility toward Israel. Until that is the case, the United States should have nothing to do with this broken institution.”

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RUBIO, BANKS RAISE CONCERNS OF CHINESE ESPIONAGE THROUGH UNIVERSITY PARTNERSHIPS WITH HUAWEI

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Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) raised several concerns with Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Chinese state-directed Huawei Technologies’ partnerships with U.S. universities that may pose a significant threat to national security.

“China is using Huawei to position themselves to steal American research through so-called ‘research partnerships’ with American universities to exploit the openness of our system of higher education,” said Rubio. “Huawei and other Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies shouldn’t be allowed to operate in the United States, and we should put them out of business by denying them the ability to buy U.S. semi-conductors.”

“Our intelligence community has warned about this exact type of national security threat for over a decade,” said Banks. “Huawei is a state-directed entity that uses academic surveillance to spy and collect intelligence on America and our allies. Make no mistake, Huawei cannot be trusted and the Department of Education should work closely with the FBI to address China’s attempts to infiltrate America’s intellectual institutions.”

Rubio, along with Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), included a bipartisan amendment to the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 that reinstates penalties against Chinese telecom companies such as Huawei and ZTE for violations of U.S. law.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary DeVos,

As Members of Congress, it has come to our attention that Huawei Technologies, a “national champion” of the People’s Republic of China, has formed a series of research partnerships with over 50 universities in the United States that threaten national security. As Huawei describes it, the “Huawei Innovation Research Program (HIRP) provides funding opportunities to leading universities and research institutes conducting innovative research in communication technology, computer sciences, engineering, and related fields.” We believe these partnerships may pose a significant threat to national security and this threat demands your attention and oversight.

As you know, it is a central pillar of the National Security Strategy, signed by President Trump in December of 2017, to “reduce the illicit appropriation of U.S. public and private sector technology and technical knowledge by hostile foreign competitors.” Additionally, maintaining the “technological advantage” of the Department of Defense was identified as a central goal of Secretary Mattis’ National Defense Strategy that was released in January of this year. Doing so, we believe, will require a whole-of-government solution to a whole-of-society challenge directed by the Chinese Communist Party.

Huawei is not a normal private sector company the way we have grown accustomed to thinking of the commercial economy in the West. As the bipartisan report of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence in 2012 recommended, “[b]ased on available classified and unclassified information, Huawei and vii ZTE cannot be trusted to be free of foreign state influence and thus pose a security threat to the United States and to our systems.”

More recently, Christopher Wray, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, stated in February 2018 during a hearing of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the Senate that he was “deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values to gain positions of power…[i]t provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.” And Admiral Mike Rogers, then Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of United States Cyber Command, added that Government programs need “to look long and hard at companies like this.”

The attached unclassified chart provided by the National Intelligence Council makes clear that research partnerships with U.S. universities are a primary mode of “China’s Toolkit for Foreign Technology Acquisition.” We urge that you promptly request a complete and classified briefing by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Director of National Intelligence on Huawei and Chinese technology acquisition modalities in general (as the technology transfer problem set is bigger than Huawei). We further urge that the Department of Education immediately request (and require) information from the U.S. universities involved in any partnership with Huawei, especially those receiving any federal research funding (including Department of Defense funding) to gather information related to whether any such funding is involved in a Huawei partnership, and whether any research personnel (including Chinese nationals who may be involved in a so-called “Talents” program) are involved in these efforts. Lastly, we request you
immediately convene a senior-level working group to understand how the People’s Republic of China attempts to gather U.S. technology on U.S. university and college campuses and to develop recommendations (especially for those institutions that receive any kind of federal funding) for protecting the U.S. technology advantage.

Looking forward, we ask that your Department work together with the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Intelligence Community to protect U.S. national security. We stand ready to assist you in any way possible.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this important issue.

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JOINT STATEMENT BY RUBIO, COTTON, SCHUMER, VAN HOLLEN ON SENATE PASSAGE OF BIPARTISAN ZTE AMENDMENT IN DEFENSE BILL

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) today released the following statement on the passage of a bipartisan ZTE amendment in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019:

“We’re heartened that both parties made it clear that protecting American jobs and national security must come first when making deals with countries like China, which has a history of having little regard for either. It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads towards a conference.”

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RUBIO SUPPORTS SENATE PASSAGE OF 2019 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today after the Senate passed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019:

“One of the most important jobs of the federal government is to ensure our men and women in uniform have the tools and resources they need to defend our nation. The 2019 NDAA provides for our national defense, gives critical policy guidance to the Pentagon and continues to invest in restoring our nation’s military capabilities to the level required to confront the challenges ahead. It also ensures Florida’s many military bases have the construction authorities they need and approves a pay increase for our troops.

“Today’s vote also sends a clear message that Congress will protect the American people and our economy from the Chinese government’s efforts to use telecommunications companies for espionage and intellectual property theft. I urge Senate conferees and my colleagues in the House to keep the bipartisan ZTE provision in the final version of this bill.”

The legislation as passed includes the following key Rubio-sponsored amendments:

· The reinstatement of penalties imposed on ZTE for violating Iran and North Korea sanctions, and the extension of the prohibition on certain Chinese telecommunication services and equipment to all executive agencies due to the counterintelligence threat they pose (Cotton-Van Hollen-Rubio-Schumer)

· Allows a pilot program for testing machine-based inspections in place of humans to determine the authenticity and security of microelectronic parts in weapons systems – a necessary ability in an era of Chinese-made knockoffs and counterfeits

· An annual report on differences in ship repair contracts and final delivery costs to ensure smaller shipyards, such as those at Naval Station Mayport and the Jacksonville-area, receive fair opportunities to compete for the maintenance of Navy vessels prior to the work being sent elsewhere. A steady and stable distribution of this work will ensure the industrial base performs efficiently

· A plan from the Navy to allow increased public access to the National Naval Aviation Museum and Barrancas National Cemetery at Naval Air Station Pensacola

· A report on accountability for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Syria

The 2019 NDAA supports over $187 million in military construction for Florida:

Navy

· Mayport LCS Support Facility $82,350,000

· Mayport LCS Operational Training Facility Addition $29,110,000

· NAS Whiting Field Air Traffic Control Tower (North Field) $10,000,000

Air Force

· Eglin AFB F–35A Student Dormitory II $28,000,000

· Eglin AFB F–35A Integrated Training Center Academics Building $34,863,000

· MacDill AFB KC135 Beddown Add Flight Simulator Training $3,100,000

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RUBIO APPLAUDS COLOMBIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after yesterday’s presidential election in Colombia:

“I applaud the recent election of Iván Duque as the new president of Colombia, and Marta Lucía Ramírez as the first female Vice President in Colombia’s history. Colombia is a great regional ally to the United States, and I look forward to working with the president-elect and his cabinet to strengthen our bilateral relations. We will continue our important work together in the fight against drug trafficking and for the restoration of democratic order in Venezuela.”

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S “THEFT TAX” AGAINST CHINA

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after President Trump announced trade actions on $50 billion in Chinese goods containing industrially-significant technologies.

“This is an excellent move by President Trump. China is systematically stealing the fruits of American innovation in an attempt to displace us as the most powerful economy and military in the world. Hitting China with a ‘Theft Tax’ isn’t protectionism; it’s American leadership. I strongly support the President’s Section 301 trade actions.”

Senator Rubio first called for trade actions against China utilizing the Administration’s authority under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 in a March op-ed for the New York Times. China’s theft of American intellectual property costs the United States as much as $600 billion annually, eclipsing the combined profits of the top 50 companies in last year’s Fortune 500 list.

Last month, Rubio introduced the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act, which targets China’s tools of economic aggression to make American advanced manufacturing more competitive against unfair trade practices and guard against Chinese influence in the United States. U.S. Representatives Mike Conaway (R-TX) and Tim Ryan (D-OH) introduced House companion legislation, and the bill has been endorsed by the Coalition for a Prosperous America.

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RPOF 2018 SUNSHINE SUMMIT “PUERTO RICO RISING” PANEL ADDS SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE CARLOS “JOHNNY” MÉNDEZ

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TALLAHASSEE, FL- Today, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) announced the addition of Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives, Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, to the Sunshine Summit “Puerto Rico Rising” panel.

The panel set for June 29 in Orlando, FL will discuss the island’s recovery progress and its plans for fiscal responsibility and integrity.

“We are excited to add Speaker Méndez to such an important component of the RPOF Sunshine Summit,” said RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. “Puerto Rico’s road to recovery is a rebuilding effort that has touched the lives of millions. The State of Florida welcomed tens of thousands of those displaced and we will continue aiding them until they are back on their feet. We look forward to an update on the island’s advancements from leading voices in Puerto Rican politics.”

“After two devastating storms hit the island of Puerto Rico, we have witnessed the goodwill of the people of Florida. This state and its Republican leadership has graciously opened up their hearts and taken in their neighbor, the Puerto Rican people, in our time of need. I’m excited to join the other strong voices of the “Puerto Rico Rising” panel to discuss the promising future of our island and the unwavering support we are getting from the mainland U.S. and the State of Florida,” said Carlos “Johnny” Méndez, Speaker of the Puerto Rico House of Representatives.

Taking place at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, the RPOF Sunshine Summit is a unique two-day event, where Republican statewide candidates will share their vision for Florida and this nation, with more than 1,500 voters, grassroots leaders and party activists. Kicking off June 28 with a nationally televised FOX News Channel Florida Gubernatorial Primary Debate, moderated by Special Report anchor Bret Baier and The Story anchor Martha MacCallum, the summit promises to showcase the best of the best in Florida Republican politics.

The dynamic lineup of speakers is composed of: Dan Bongino, Tom and Deneen Borelli, Jason Chaffetz, Dinesh D’Souza, Charlie Kirk, Kayleigh McEnany, Stephen Moore, Dick Morris, Grover Norquist, Candance Owens, Senator Rand Paul, Matt Schlapp, David Webb, Republican statewide candidates and much more.

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REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA ADDS “FUTURE OF FLORIDA” PANEL TO 2018 SUNSHINE SUMMIT PROGRAM

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TALLAHASSEE, FL- On Friday, June 29, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) will host the “Future of Florida” panel during its 2018 Sunshine Summit in Orlando, FL.

Including Senate President-Designate Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), Speaker-Designate Jose Oliva (R-Miami Lakes) and moderated by former Florida Speaker Thomas Feeney, the “Future of Florida” panel will focus on the past successes of Republican leadership, as well as the promising future of our great state.

“We look forward to welcoming some of Florida’s brightest stars to the Sunshine Summit stage. Galvano, Oliva and Feeney will lead a great discussion about the upcoming legislative session and policies they look forward to championing for our great state,” said RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia.

Senate President-Designate Bill Galvano said, “The future of Florida is very bright, and for good reason. We have made significant gains thanks to record tax breaks, Bright Futures funding and much more. I look forward to discussing our vision for an even more prosperous Florida at the RPOF Sunshine Summit.”

“I am excited to join Senator Galvano and the grassroots of our Party at the upcoming Sunshine Summit,” said Speaker-Designate Jose Oliva. “The Future of Florida panel will showcase the policies we are looking forward to introducing this coming session that will keep our state ahead of the pack in creating jobs, reducing regulatory red tape, and fighting for free markets.”

Taking place at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center, the RPOF Sunshine Summit is a unique two-day event, where Republican statewide candidates will share their vision for Florida and this nation, with more than 1,500 voters, grassroots leaders and party activists. Kicking off June 28 with a nationally televised FOX News Channel Florida Gubernatorial Primary Debate, moderated by Special Report anchor Bret Baier and The Story anchor Martha MacCallum, the summit promises to showcase the best of the best in Florida Republican politics.

The dynamic lineup of speakers is composed of: Dan Bongino, Tom and Deneen Borelli, Jason Chaffetz, Dinesh D’Souza, Charlie Kirk, Kayleigh McEnany, Stephen Moore, Dick Morris, Grover Norquist, Candance Owens, Senator Rand Paul, Matt Schlapp, David Webb, Republican statewide candidates and much more.

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RUBIO, CORTEZ MASTO, COLLEAGUES RAISE CONCERNS OVER POTENTIAL THREAT OF CHINESE ATTEMPTS TO UNDERMINE U.S. DEMOCRACY

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers in sending a letter to the Trump administration raising concerns about China’s attempts to undermine democratic institutions in the United States and supplant American leadership and alliances abroad. The senators, including members of the Senate Foreign Relations, Armed Services, Intelligence, Banking and Judiciary Committees, called on the administration to develop a comprehensive strategy to counter Chinese actions, which aim to manipulate public discourse and democratic institutions in support of China’s interests.

In the letter, the senators cited several cases wherein organizations and individuals with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attempt to exert undue influence over media outlets and academic institutions – in the United States and abroad – to serve China’s political interests. They also called attention to cases overseas where China sought to mobilize political elites, as well as nationals of Chinese ancestry, in support of CCP-backed policies. The letter is addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray and U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Hank Green.

Other signatories included Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Chris Coons (D-DE), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Secretaries Pompeo, Mnuchin, Mattis, Administrator Green, and Directors Coats and Wray:

We write to you to express our deep concern about growing Chinese influence operations around the world, and the implications for U.S. institutions, alliances, and the international structures that support American prosperity. In the United States, these activities threaten the independence of our civil discourse and our institutions. Overseas, they put American influence with our allies and partners at risk. The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) recently published a report calling China’s manipulation of information and foreign institutions a campaign of “sharp power”; one that aims to strengthen the appeal of authoritarianism, while eroding the ability of democracies to fight back.

While nations around the globe seek to influence public opinion and policy debates beyond their borders, the nature of Chinese efforts goes well beyond those legitimate activities. Indeed, we believe the nature and scope of China’s influence operations suggest it is time the United States look at them holistically, and respond with a similarly unified strategy.

Public assessments from our intelligence community, independent researchers and representatives of allied governments illustrate the tools China systematically employs in its influence activities. Organizations and individuals linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) use financial ties to political elites, propaganda filtered through local media outlets and academic institutions, highly managed cultural events, and even coercion of nationals of Chinese ancestry to manipulate democratic political environments to serve China’s interests. The CCP’s long-term objectives with these operations are to undermine liberal democracies, erode the strength of US alliances, weaken the ability of democracies to work against China, supplant U.S. leadership in the world and shape the future of the international order.

In the United States, China’s influence operations have been subtle but are becoming increasingly apparent. In American news outlets, Beijing has used financial ties to suppress negative information about the CCP. In the past four years, multiple media outlets with direct or indirect financial ties to China allegedly decided not to publish stories on wealth and corruption in the CCP. In one case, an editor resigned due to mounting self-censorship in the outlet’s China coverage. Beijing has also sought to use relationships with American academic institutions and student groups to shape public discourse. In some cases, the vehicle for such influence has been through the leadership of Chinese educational and cultural centers on campuses, known as Confucius Institutes. While many Confucius Institutes offer services like language instruction, there is evidence some Institute leaders have sought to shape campus discussions of China, especially around Taiwan and Tibet. The intensity of the attempts at control was

enough to cause multiple universities to close their Institutes.

Similar patterns have emerged elsewhere. In Peru and Argentina, China has worked closely with local media organizations to manage information put forward on Chinese politics. CCP-linked organizations have taken over cultural events that locals once led, changing the historical discussion and marginalizing locals of Taiwanese descent.

In other parts of the world Chinese influence activities have been more brazen and visible. In Australia, journalists with Chinese-language media outlets reportedly experienced intimidation and even physical assault for publishing material critical of the CCP. China has also sought to manipulate politics among neighboring democracies. In the most high-profile case, a CCP-linked donor allegedly persuaded Australian Senator Sam Dastyari to adopt the CCP’s position on the South China Sea by threatening to withdraw a $400,000 donation. China appears to have used a similar playbook in the Czech Republic – using a Chinese energy firm as a means for gaining favorable policy changes through financial ties with those close to the President. In New Zealand, Beijing has mobilized pro-CCP citizen organizations to publicly oppose Australian policies that run counter to China’s interests, while monitoring and at times silencing citizen groups that differ with the CCP.

We are concerned that while some of these efforts may seem innocuous when taken independently, collectively they represent an attempt to increase the appeal of autocracy and strengthen Chinese leverage over U.S. allies. We want to make clear that we believe our government should welcome transparent diplomacy from all nations. We recognized that the United States and many nations around the world engage in public relations and strategic communications efforts designed to improve the nation’s public image, shape international policy debates, and promote economic opportunities. These efforts are fundamentally different from those that seek to suppress information, and undermine democratic institutions and internationally accepted human rights.

We firmly believe the United States must continue to support the free and transparent flow of information and the independence of democratic institutions from undue influence, particularly when other governments are seeking to undermine them. Indeed, without developing a clear strategy to counter these efforts, the independence of democratic societies may be at risk. That risk extends beyond the borders of our allies – for one of democracy’s greatest defenses against autocracy is the support of other likeminded nations.

With that in mind, we urge the Administration to adopt a comprehensive strategy to address these activities, in the United States and abroad. We respectfully request your response to the following questions:

1. What is the Administration’s view on the present threat posed by CCP influence operations, and what are its projections for the evolution and expansion of these operations?

2. Does the Administration have an interagency coordinated strategy to counter CCP influence operations? If so, what are the goals of this strategy and how it is it being executed?

3. Do your agencies require additional authorities or funding to respond to CCP influence operations?

4. How does the Administration assess the effectiveness of U.S. public diplomacy in countering CCP efforts to manipulate information in allied and partner democracies around the globe?

5. How is the Administration supporting U.S. companies and academic institutions to help them maintain their independence from CCP influence operations?

6. How is the Administration working with our allies and partners abroad to identify and expose CCP influence operations, especially attempts to use financial incentives to corrupt democratic processes and international institutions?

We look forward to the Administration’s prompt and thorough response to these questions. We believe that there are significant opportunities – and

indeed a necessity — for Executive and Congressional collaboration and partnership to address these challenges, and look forward to working

alongside the Administration to develop and execute appropriate U.S. policy in response to the CCP actions laid out in this letter.

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RUBIO, SMITH STATEMENT ON 29TH ANNIVERSARY OF TIANANMEN MASSACRE

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Washington D.C.— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Christopher Smith (R-NJ), chair and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China respectively, issued the following statements commemorating the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression. The Chairs reiterated their call for the Chinese government to end prohibitions of public and online discussion about the event, and reaffirmed their support for robust enforcement of “Tiananmen sanctions” and other export controls that limit the ability of Chinese police and security forces to buy U.S. technology for surveillance, crowd control, and censorship.

“Tiananmen Square Massacre’s anniversary reminds us that the fundamental human yearning for dignity and basic rights is not limited to any one region or country,” said Senator Rubio. “Outrage over the Chinese government and Communist Party’s brutal response to the protestors’ legitimate and peaceful demands for democratic reform reverberated internationally, most notably behind the Iron Curtain where pro-democracy movements rapidly grew in the wake of the crackdown, inspired by the bravery of the students, workers, and other ordinary people who gathered in cities across China that spring. China’s Communist Party weathered cosmic geopolitical shifts over the following years that saw the collapse of the Soviet Union, and has emerged today richer and more powerful while the Chinese people remain unfree. As we reflect on the unfulfilled aspirations of over a million Chinese citizens who gathered in the square and across China 29 years ago, I call on the Chinese government to allow free and open discourse surro
unding the events of that spring, to unconditionally release those detained or imprisoned for attempting to commemorate the anniversary, and to reckon publicly with the horrific violence against the Chinese people at the hands of the Party and the military. As reports of the Chinese government’s ongoing rights abuses and increasingly sophisticated surveillance regime continue to emerge, I urge American corporations to be clear-eyed that any technology or crime control equipment that they sell to Chinese security forces and police, may be used or abused to further repression, surveillance, detention or other abuses.”

“We commemorate the Tiananmen massacre each year because of its enduring impact on U.S.-China relations and because there has been no justice for those who lost their lives seeking freedom and reform. We commemorate the tragedy of Tiananmen each year because it is an event too important to forget and too dangerous to commemorate in China,” said Representative Smith. “The Tiananmen protests and their violent suppression demonstrated that the ideas of democracy and due process, liberty and the rule of law are not foreign to the people of China. They also showed the lengths to which the Communist government will go to suppress these universal impulses and maintain their grip on power. There continue to be those in China bravely seeking rights and the rule of law and carrying on the legacy of Tiananmen. Unfortunately, repression continues. By nearly every measure, China is today as intolerant of dissent as it’s ever been, if not more. The Administration recognizes the strategic importance of linking our values

and interests and we in Congress will continue to urge them to take steps, symbolic and tangible alike, that will communicate to the Chinese people that their struggle and sacrifice have not been forgotten. A firm stand in support of freedom, the rule of law, and human rights in China will be beneficial both to the future of China and peace and prosperity in the world.”

CECC Resources on Tiananmen & its Legacy: The CECC Political Prisoner Database has 435 records of individuals currently or formerly detained for participating in the pro-democracy demonstrations in spring 1989, seeking redress for Chinese government violence on or around June 4, 1989, or trying to commemorate June Fourth. Highlighted below are some cases of those detained or silenced for peacefully advocating for the same human rights and political reforms that inspired the pro-democracy protesters in 1989.

Liu Xia: Wife of the late writer and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo whom authorities first detained as an alleged “black hand” behind the Tiananmen protests, Liu Xia remains under extrajudicial confinement at her home for the eighth year. Despite official promises of freedom of movement and an invitation from Germany for Liu Xia to travel there for medical care, Chinese authorities have refused her request to leave China. Her physical and mental health have deteriorated during her years of confinement.

Huang Qi: Citizen journalist and founder of the rights monitoring website 64 Tianwang Human Rights Center, Huang was detained in November 2016 and charged with “illegally providing state secrets overseas.” His trial is scheduled for June 20, 2018. He suffers from kidney and heart disease and has been refused medical parole. He previously served a 5-year sentence for “subversion” for his advocacy on behalf of the families of Tiananmen protest victims.

Qin Yongmin: A prominent democracy advocate, Qin has been detained without trial since January 2015, reportedly facing charges of “subversion of state power.” Qin founded the banned China Democracy Party as well as China Human Rights Watch (known online as the Rose Team). Qin has previously served a combined 20 years in prison for his participation in the Democracy Wall movement and other pro-democracy activities.

Zhen Jianghua: A human rights activist and citizen journalist, Zhen was detained in September 2017. Zhen is an executive director of Human Rights Campaign in China, which publishes information about rights abuses and provides aid for people involved in or reporting on such cases. In addition, Zhen had been a strong supporter of victims of the “709 Crackdown,” which was launched against China’s human rights lawyers in July 2015, and he has joined demonstrations to call for the release of detained lawyers and activists.

Tiananmen Mothers: A group of parents and family members of the victims of the violent suppression of the pro-democracy demonstrations in spring 1989, the Tiananmen Mothers continue to press for government accountability and redress. A letter from the group reported that 51 family members of Tiananmen victims have passed away in recent years, raising concerns that public advocacy on behalf of Tiananmen victims will fade as will the unique stories of those who have died.

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U.S. Lost Track of Immigrant Children

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New Bills Passed For Veterans

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Our nation’s veterans have earned the very best care our country has to offer. Sadly, as a veteran who gets my healthcare through the VA, I’ve seen firsthand how still too often the government fails our veterans. We can and must do better.

This was my first week as a member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. In this new role, I’ll have an even louder voice to advocate for veterans in our community and around the country.

Improving care for our veterans starts with reforming the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and increasing oversight. Building on our passage of the VA MISSION Act last week, the House passed more than a dozen bills this week to continue the momentum toward improving care.

Here are a few of the highlights:

H.R. 1972 – VA Billing Accountability Act: This bipartisan bill will help relieve the financial burdens of veterans caused by delays at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill sets forth specific and immediate billing requirements so our nation’s veterans are not receiving unbilled co-payments for VA care from years past.

H.R. 3642 – Military SAVE Act: This bill will help empower survivors of military sexual assault by allowing them to seek specialized care outside of the VA health care system.

H.R. 3832 – Veterans Opioid Abuse Prevention Act: This bill is an important step in the fight against our nation’s opioid epidemic. Specifically, the bill directs the VA to connect VA health providers to a national network of state-based prescription drug monitoring programs that help identify abuse patterns in patients.

H.R. 4245 – Veterans’ Electronic Health Record Modernization Oversight Act of 2017: This is an important step in our efforts to strengthen oversight of the VA and improve care. The bill directs the VA to provide Congress with its key planning and implementation documents for the electronic health records replacement project, in addition to copies of the contracts, to indicate the effort’s progress and how the money is being spent.

H.R. 4451 – Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2018: This bipartisan legislation will help prevent homelessness among veterans by closing gaps in coverage. The bill clarifies that veterans participating in federal, state, and community housing assistance programs are also eligible for HVRP assistance. This legislation also reauthorizes the HVRP program for five years, along with programs that are designed for female homeless veterans and homeless veterans with children.

H.R. 4830 – SIT-REP Act: This bill improves educational protections for veterans by giving the Secretary of the VA the ability to disapprove any course of education unless the educational institutions providing the course permit individuals to attend or participate in courses pending payment by the VA and accept a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) as a promise of payment.

H.R. 4958 – Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2018: This bill provides a cost-of-living increase for wartime disability compensation; compensation for dependents; clothing allowance; dependency and indemnity compensation to surviving spouses; and, dependency and indemnity compensation to children paid to our wounded warriors and their families for injuries they suffered while serving our nation in uniform.

H.R. 5044 – Service-Disabled Veterans Small Business Continuation Act: This bill will make it easier for surviving spouses of veterans to maintain the veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned status of their small business after their veteran spouse passes away.

H.R. 5215 – Veterans Affairs Purchase Card Misuse Mitigation Act: This bill will prevent misuse of purchase card spending by requiring the VA Secretary to revoke the purchase card from any employee who is found to have knowingly misused their card or approval authority. This safeguard would prevent further misuse of government funds while existing penalties, ranging from suspension to demotion to removal, are considered for the wrongdoer.

H.R. 5418 – Veterans Affairs Medical-Surgical Purchasing Stabilization Act: This bill directs the VA to correct the problems with their medical-surgical formulary using input from medical professionals with relevant expertise rather than administrative staff. This legislation would also prevent VA from outsourcing the creation of the formulary.

H.R. 4334 – Improving Oversight of Women Veterans’ Care Act of 2017: This bill will help improve access to women’s specific healthcare needs at the VA by requiring VA to submit an annual report on veteran access to gender-specific care under community care contracts and quarterly reports on environment of care standards for women veterans.

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SENATOR ANITERE FLORES ON HURRICANE SEASON PREPAREDNESS

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TALLAHASSEE, FL- Last week, Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe) joined City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to kick-off the hurricane season preparedness tax-free holiday.

The 2018 Legislative Session included HB 7087, a bill amounting to about $170 million in tax breaks. The measure includes a three-day tax “holiday” in August for back-to-school, a seven-day sales tax “holiday” for disaster preparedness, and tax breaks for farmers and ranchers who suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Irma.

“NOAA is predicting yet another extremely active hurricane season for 2018. Irma really did a number on South Florida last year, and taught us many important lessons. This session, we were able to pass a comprehensive tax package that will benefit Florida’s families and communities with critical preparedness and essential recovery plans. The seven-day sales tax holiday for disaster preparedness will not only incentivize readiness; it will reward this preparation with tax refunds on items such as building materials, weather-band radios, portable generators, batteries, fencing, fuel and much more. I urge all Floridians to take advantage of this sales tax holiday and to understand that readiness is crucial during hurricane season,” said Florida Senate President Pro Tempore Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe).

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Rubio Raises Concerns Over Obama-Era School

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RUBIO APPLAUDS OAS VOTE TO SUSPEND UNDEMOCRATIC MADURO REGIME

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement applauding the Organization of American States’ (OAS) vote to suspend Venezuela, which is controlled by the illegitimate Maduro regime:

“Yesterday, a majority of the OAS members stood with the Venezuelan people and voted in support of democracy and justice. I applaud these nations that voted for the regime’s suspension, and urge for further action to isolate the illegitimate rulers in Caracas. This is another warning for Maduro and his cronies that their days in power are numbered. I look forward to the day a democratic Venezuela is welcomed at the OAS.”

RUBIO APLAUDE EL VOTO EN LA OEA PARA SUSPENDER AL RÉGIMEN ANTIDEMOCRÁTICO DE MADURO

“Ayer, la mayoría de los miembros de la OEA se solidarizaron con el pueblo venezolano y votaron a favor de la democracia y de la justicia. Aplaudo a las naciones que votaron por la suspensión del régimen, e insto a que se tomen más medidas para aislar a los gobernantes ilegítimos en Caracas. Esta es otra advertencia para Maduro y sus secuaces de que sus días en el poder están contados. Espero con ansias el día en que una Venezuela democrática sea bienvenida en la OEA”.

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RUBIO ON INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE IRAN REPORT: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION MISLED CONGRESS AND THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), Chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), released a report detailing how Obama Administration authorized Iranian access to the U.S. financial system despite assurances to the public and Congress that Iran would not be granted access:

“This report reveals that the Obama Administration misled Congress and the American people about going beyond the nuclear deal’s terms to grant Iran’s terror-sponsoring regime access to the U.S. financial system.

“Given that most foreign banks and companies wisely saw doing business with Iran under the nuclear deal as too risky during the Obama Administration, they are less likely to do any business with Iran now after President Trump has withdrawn from the nuclear deal and is reimposing U.S. sanctions.”

Background:

In March and May 2016, Rubio and Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) repeatedly urged then-Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to block Iranian access to U.S. dollars. In a June 2016 response, the Obama Administration’s Treasury Department misleadingly claimed to Congress: “To be clear, the U.S. Department of the Treasury is not working on behalf of Iran to enable Iranian access to U.S. dollars elsewhere in the international financial system, nor are we assisting Iran in gaining access to dollar payment systems outside the U.S. financial system. The administration has not been and is not planning to grant Iran access to the U.S. financial system.”

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Gayle Harrell Announces for Negron’s State Senate Seat

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Triggered by Senate President Joe Negron’s impending resignation Wednesday, state Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Port St. Lucie, announced hours later she will file the paperwork to run for the vacant Senate District 25 seat.

Harrell, an advocate for the communities of the Treasure Coast for the last 46 years, said she’s ready to step up to the plate. “I’ve dusted off my red running shoes and will not be outworked when it comes to advocating for our community, our values and our unique quality of life.

“The Treasure Coast is a special place that has a history of sending leaders to the Florida Senate. I will continue that tradition and advocate for the things that matter most to our community, including promoting our values, defending our precious waterways and increasing the opportunities for our children and grandchildren,” Harrell concluded.

Harrell is known for her fiscal conservatism, her studious approach to the bills before her and her relentless drive to create a higher standard of healthcare and public education in Florida.

SD 25 is a Republican-leaning district that voted for Rick Scott in 2010, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016. Harrell’s current district makes up the largest portion of the Senate district compared to any other state House district therein.

Harrell has proven her ability to garner votes in St. Lucie County, which is critical to success on Election Day. She proved this in multiple elections, most notably when she defeated a Democratic incumbent to take her current House seat back for the Republican Party.

Harrell was born in Nashville, Tenn. and moved to Florida as a child. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Master’s in Latin American history from the University of Florida, where she received the Edith Bristol Tigert Award as an Outstanding Female Graduate and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. After graduation, she taught Spanish and Latin American history.

Gayle Harrell has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare. She worked as a healthcare administrator, managing the OBGYN practice of her husband, Dr. James E. Harrell, and was the founder of the Breast Imaging Center, a mammography center specializing in preventive care for women. She currently is the CEO of Health IT Strategies and works as health IT consultant.

Harrell has served her community as president of many civic organizations such as Hibiscus Children’s Center, the Barn Theatre, and the HPS – Helping People Succeed. She currently serves on the board of the Martin County Education Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River and Okeechobee Counties.

Gayle and James Harrell have been married for 53 years, have four children and eight grandchildren. She is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Stuart.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON STATE DEPARTMENT’S INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM REPORT

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Miami, FL— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the State Department, Foreign Operations and Related Programs (SFOPS), today issued a statement on the State Department’s release of its annual Report to Congress on International Religious Freedom:

“I commend Secretary Pompeo for personally releasing the State Department’s latest International Religious Freedom Report and underscoring the importance of protecting this fundamental human right that remains under assault globally.

“The right to worship freely and peacefully live out our faith is part of who we are as a nation. The State Department’s report is a poignant reminder that millions of people around the world are denied that same freedom and face daily harassment, detention, and even violence. From Rohingya Muslims in Burma to Christians, Jews, and Baha’is in Iran, to Uyghur Muslims, Tibetan Buddhists, and countless others in China, no faith group is untouched.

“I am pleased to have Ambassador Sam Brownback at the helm of the International Religious Freedom Office at this critical time. It is vital to have fact-based reporting on government and non-state actors engaged in gross abuses of religious freedom. But reporting alone is not enough. I urge robust implementation of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, a law that gives the State Department important, new tools to meet the religious freedom challenges in the 21st century.”

Background:

Rubio authored the Senate version of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act (Public Law 114-281). Enacted in December 2016, this law strengthens and modernizes the ‎International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, providing the State Department with new tools to counter the spread of violent extremism, and to promote and advance the universal human right of religious freedom around the world.

Rubio is a leading advocate for international religious freedom issues in the U.S. Senate, and played a key role in reauthorizing the bipartisan, independent U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2015.

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Mast Publishes Open Letter to Brightline

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) published the below open letter to Brightline, which originally ran in TCPalm, reacting to Brightline President Patrick Goddard’s assertion that Treasure Coast residents are “narrow-minded”:

Dear Mr. Goddard,

In your testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee on Government Operations, you called us on the Treasure Coast “narrow-minded.” While I found much of your testimony troubling, I particularly resented this condescending assertion.

In response, I say this:

It is not narrow-minded to care about our economy.

On the Treasure Coast, paradise is literally our business. Both the tourism industry and property values rely on our towns being a serene place to live or visit. High-speed trains flying through at-grade crossings in the middle of our towns will undoubtedly damage this character and charm.

I love our community businesses, like the Square Grouper in Jupiter, where we can pull up on a boat. But as a result of the 32 daily passenger trains you plan to run, the railroad draw bridge will be blocking our waterways for hours every day.

It is not narrow-minded to care about the safety of our children.

One of my favorite pastimes is getting tacos at the Taco Shack in Stuart and letting my boys play at Kiwanis Park. But your trains will add extra danger, traffic and noise directly next to this park.

I love the Hobe Sound Christmas Parade. My children have the most fun, but undoubtedly, like my fellow parents on the Treasure Coast, Brianna and I will be keeping a little closer watch with trains traveling up to 110 miles per hour along the route.

It is not narrow-minded to care about your misuse of taxpayer dollars.

Every citizen deserves to have their tax dollars spent wisely. But despite your company’s dishonest claim that it is “not publicly funded at all,” you admitted to the committee that “there has been public funding granted.”

How can we trust anything you say?

Every citizen deserves to have the option to not be charged to maintain the crossing equipment for a new train they do not want and will not benefit from.

But even you admit taxpayers will end up on the hook for these costs, despite your insistence the railway is private property, so you do not need our permission to expand.

It is not narrow-minded to protect the community we love.

Hands down my favorite place to ride my Harley is up Indian River Drive, often to a Friday Fest in Fort Pierce. Brightline will be there, as well. I know many in our community have similar experiences and memories they do not want ruined by Brightline.

You say anyone who opposes your intrusion on our community is “narrow-minded.” This entitled attitude is one of the reasons we don’t want your train and its 32 additional routes running through our slice of heaven on the Treasure Coast in the first place.

Regardless of our differences of opinion on the many other issues surrounding your train, please know nobody in our community is narrow-minded. We care deeply about the Treasure Coast, and we just wish you did, too.

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RUBIO MEETS WITH FLORIDA OFFICIALS TO DISCUSS PROTECTING STATE ELECTIONS FROM INTERFERENCE

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Orlando, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today met with local supervisors on the need to protect state elections from foreign interference.

“Today’s meeting with several local supervisors charged with conducting elections was productive and timely,” said Rubio. “The Senate Intelligence Committee of which I am a member, the U.S. Intelligence Community and leading security experts have repeatedly warned that our nation’s state election systems are potentially vulnerable to Russian cyber attacks. While I have confidence in the competence and commitment of Florida’s election officials, cyber threats sponsored by a nation state are sophisticated and constantly evolving. Federal funds are already available to states, including Florida, to improve election security. However, in order to effectively confront this threat to our democracy I will be pushing for federal officials to share more information with Florida and other states regarding Russian sponsored attacks during the 2016 elections.”

Earlier this year, Senators Rubio and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, legislation that would impose tough sanctions on foreign actors for interfering in our democratic process in the future. Top U.S. officials and experts have expressed growing concern that Russia will again attempt to disrupt upcoming U.S. elections.

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RUBIO APPLAUDS SIGNING OF ‘RIGHT TO TRY’ BILL INTO LAW

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Orlando, FL— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after President Trump today signed the Trickett Wendler, Frank Mongiello, Jordan McLinn, and Matthew Bellina Right to Try Act into law:

“We should not let burdensome government regulations get in the way of allowing suffering patients to try innovative medicines when others have failed. President Trump’s signing of the ‘Right to Try’ bill is an important step in that direction. I thank my colleagues in both the Senate and the House who joined me in advancing this bipartisan effort and President Trump for signing the legislation into law.”

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RUBIO URGES U.S. ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION TO APPROVE FLORIDA’S REQUEST TO PROTECT ELECTION SYSTEM

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Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged U.S. Election Assistance Commission Executive Director Brian Newby to promptly approve the State of Florida’s application for cybersecurity grant funding in advance of the 2018 elections so that the state may expedite their plans to strengthen their election systems.

Yesterday, Rubio met with Florida officials to discuss protecting state elections from interference. Earlier this year, Senators Rubio and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) introduced the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act, legislation that would impose tough sanctions on foreign actors for interfering in our democratic process in the future. Top U.S. officials and experts have expressed growing concern that Russia will again attempt to disrupt upcoming U.S. elections.

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear Mr. Newby:

This letter is in support of the Florida Department of State’s application for cybersecurity grant funding in advance of the 2018 elections. With less than six months until Election Day, I urge you to promptly approve the State of Florida’s request so that the state may expedite their plans to strengthen our election systems.

As a member of the Senate Intelligence and Appropriations committees, I worked with my colleagues to ensure funding would be available to states to enhance the security of our elections. As outlined in the State of Florida’s request, this grant funding would be applied to the implementation of critical cybersecurity measures to safeguard the integrity of our elections in 2018 and beyond.

Florida is the third most populous state in the union, and based on reviews of foreign interference in the 2016 election, we know Florida is a target. Federal, state and local governments must take proactive measures to ensure that any future attempts to interfere with voter databases or election infrastructure are not successful, and that when Americans go to vote they have the upmost confidence that their votes are properly counted.

This week, I met with some of Florida’s dedicated election supervisors and discussed the need to act appropriately to address any existing vulnerabilities in our election systems by purchasing new equipment, facilitating cybersecurity training and implementing best practices. I applaud their commitment to safeguard our democracy, and urge your full and timely consideration of the state’s request for $19.2 million to enhance elections integrity.

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Stuart Commissioner Troy McDonald Steps Down from Martin County Commission Race

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STUART—Stuart Commissioner Troy McDonald announced today that he is withdrawing from the race for Martin County Commission District 2 and will instead run for reelection at the Stuart City Commission.

“As someone who loves exercise, running, cycling, competing in triathlons, I can really appreciate why campaigns are called races,” says McDonald. “My campaign for county commission has given me an incredible opportunity to run farther and wider and experience the privilege of knowing this amazing community on an even broader scale. The outpouring of support and goodwill I’ve received along the way has encouraged and motivated me, so I regret any disappointment this difficult decision will cause the Martin County voters who have rooted me on.

“Right now, I feel the call of service—which is something I believe God has put on my heart—leading me to the city that I love so dearly and have had the privilege of serving for the last seven years. I’ve had that privilege during difficult times, particularly during the Great Recession, and during joyful times of possibility and opportunity, especially during the latest renewal of downtown Stuart.

“As the city undergoes a great deal of change currently, including the recent request for the resignation of the city manager, the retirement of key department heads and the loss of invaluable amounts of institutional knowledge, I’ve been concerned about leaving an additional gap in experienced leadership. And I’ve been bolstered by the comments from many concerned city residents who tell me how much they wish I could stay on. So, some good news—I hope to do just that and will run for reelection at the city this summer. I wish my former opponent at the county commission level the very best and look forward to the opportunity to remain in service to Stuart, which isn’t just the happiest seaside city in America—but the city that’s blessed me and my beloved wife, Portia, with the happiest years in our lives.”

McDonald has served on the Stuart City Commission since 2011—facing no challengers for his last three elections and twice earning the confidence of his commission colleagues to serve as mayor of Stuart.

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100% SUPPORT TRUMP’S DECISION TO PULL OUT OF NORTH KOREA SUMMIT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today after President Trump pulled out of the upcoming Singapore summit with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un:

“I 100% support the President’s decision. For two weeks now, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un has been trying to sabotage the summit and set the United States up to take the blame. He made a big show of freeing hostages and supposedly dismantling a nuclear site to make himself appear reasonable and conciliatory. But in the end it is now apparent his goal was either to gain sanctions relief in exchange for nothing, or to collapse international sanctions by making the U.S. appear to be the unreasonable party. If other leaders in North Korea want a better future, they should get rid of Kim Jong Un as soon as possible.”

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THREE RUBIO PRIORITIES HEAD TO THE PRESIDENT’S DESK TO BECOME LAW

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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) hailed the House passage of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which includes three Rubio provisions: improved reporting requirements on the impact of foreclosures in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria; language from the PACE Act; and the U.S. Territories Investor Protection Act, which he cosponsored. The Senate previously passed the legislation in March, and it now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

“The President will soon sign into law several of my provisions that will continue to help Puerto Rico recover after Hurricane Maria, as well amendments to help ensure fair treatment for American homeowners and protect investors in American territories like Puerto Rico,” said Rubio. “I commend my House colleagues for passing this important bill, and am pleased it now heads to the president for his signature.”

Rubio efforts included in the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act:

· GAO report on Puerto Rico foreclosures: Requires the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to produce a report on the impact Hurricane Maria has had on foreclosures, delinquencies, homeownership in Puerto Rico and provide policy recommendations to address the adverse impacts.

· Real property retrofit loans: Language from the PACE Act that directs the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to establish regulations on underwriting standards for Property Assessed Clean Energy home renovation loans.

· U.S. Territories Investor Protection Act: Amends the Investment Company Act of 1940 to apply the law to investment companies created under the laws of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or any other U.S. territory. Previously exempt companies would have three years to comply. Rubio cosponsored this bill.

 

 

Making Health Care Affordable

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The rising costs of healthcare have prevented families from seeking the care that they need and a new maze of bureaucracy has led to less choice for American families. I am committed to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act to give every American access to quality, affordable healthcare.

We need a healthcare system that puts patients first through common-sense, market-based reforms. This means more choices for families, not more mandates. Florida families should have the freedom and flexibility to choose the care that will be best for their unique situation. At the same time, you should never have to worry about being turned away or having your coverage taken away for any reason, including age, income, or medical conditions.

We also need to eliminate red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy to speed up the development of life-saving cures. Right now there are 10,000 known diseases, but we have treatments for only 500 of them. I support efforts that remove barriers to research collaboration to ensure we are getting the most out of our investments. By streamlining the process, we can save more lives and lower costs at the same time.

During the process of reforming our healthcare system, I am especially sensitive to any changes that will impact healthcare programs for our nation’s seniors. The Medicare Part D program has proven to be a highly successful partnership between the government and private insurance companies. I am working to ensure that Medicare is protected for future generations and Medicare recipients have more choices when it comes to their care.

In short, our healthcare system is too bureaucratic and too expensive. It didn’t work before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, and it has only gotten more expensive since then. I’m committed to opening up the system to new innovations that can provide families with the freedom and flexibility to pick a plan that meets their needs without breaking the bank.

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RUBIO, CORNYN, COLLEAGUES URGE ADMINISTRATION TO SAFEGUARD CRITICAL MILITARY AND DUAL-USE TECHNOLOGY FROM CHINA

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John Cornyn (R-TX) today led a group of senators in urging the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Commerce, and the U.S. Trade Representative to protect national security interests when negotiating the U.S.-China trade relationship.

“There can be no question that China seeks to surpass the U.S. both economically and militarily and become the world’s foremost superpower, and neither the Federal Government nor private U.S. companies should aid and abet that effort,” the Senators wrote. “As such, we implore you to reject any proposal to soften restrictions on the transfer to China of U.S.-made military technologies and advanced dual-use technologies, including semiconductors.”

“We urge you not to compromise lawful U.S. enforcement actions against serial and pre-meditated violators of U.S. law, such as ZTE. This is particularly critical when the violators are state-owned and -influenced, part and parcel of China’s policies and practices designed to strengthen its own national security innovation base, and essential tools of efforts to spread China’s influence in other countries that pose national security threats to the United States. Export control and sanctions laws should not be negotiable, because fidelity to the rule of law is a key part of what distinguishes the U.S. from a country like China that is ruled by a Communist dictatorship.”

Joining Rubio and Cornyn were Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Steve Daines (R-MT), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mike Rounds (R-SD), John Thune (R-SD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bill Nelson (D-FL), David Perdue (R-GA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Angus King (I-ME).

Dear Secretary Mnuchin, Secretary Ross, and Ambassador Lighthizer:As you work to secure a fair and equitable trading and investment relationship with China for the American people, we write to express serious concerns over reports that China, in the ongoing negotiations, is pushing for access to U.S.-made military technologies and advanced dual-use technologies. We strongly support these critical negotiations to rebalance the U.S.-China economic relationship, but U.S. national security must remain the paramount consideration. Therefore, we strongly urge you to reject any proposal by China to loosen existing restrictions on the export or other transfer of these sensitive U.S. technologies. Any such move would bolster China’s aggressive military modernization and significantly undermine long-term U.S. national security interests.

We agree with General Joe Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that within seven years, China will pose the greatest threat to U.S. national security of any nation. Likewise, we concur with the Department of Defense’s most recent report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” which states that “China’s military modernization is targeting capabilities with the potential to degrade core U.S. military-technological advantages. To support this modernization, China uses a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dual-use technologies . . . . Several cases emerged in 2016 of China using its intelligence services, and employing other illicit approaches that violate U.S. laws and export controls, to obtain national security and export-restricted technologies, controlled equipment, and other materials.”

Clearly, the Chinese Communist Party regards these sensitive technologies as essential for China’s military modernization and is accelerating its efforts to acquire such technologies through both legal and illegal means, including cyber theft, civil-military integration policies, coercion through joint ventures with foreign companies, targeted investment, and exploitation of the access of private Chinese nationals to such technologies. We must guard against such efforts and remain vigilant in protecting our national security innovation base.

As you know, export controls are designed to protect national security. The relaxing of these or other technology transfer restrictions would directly contradict and undermine key parts of President Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy (NSS). The NSS states that, “China and Russia . . . are fielding military capabilities designed to deny America access in times of crisis and to contest our ability to operate freely in critical commercial zones during peacetime. In short, they are contesting our geopolitical advantages and trying to change the international order in their favor.”

There can be no question that China seeks to surpass the U.S. both economically and militarily and become the world’s foremost superpower, and neither the Federal Government nor private U.S. companies should aid and abet that effort. As such, we implore you to reject any proposal to soften restrictions on the transfer to China of U.S.-made military technologies and advanced dual-use technologies, including semiconductors. We do support a balanced and constructive relationship with China, but one that is clear-eyed about China’s predatory, comprehensive efforts to acquire sensitive technologies that would increase the risk China poses to the United States and our allies in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere.

In addition, we urge you not to compromise lawful U.S. enforcement actions against serial and pre-meditated violators of U.S. law, such as ZTE. This is particularly critical when the violators are state-owned and -influenced, part and parcel of China’s policies and practices designed to strengthen its own national security innovation base, and essential tools of efforts to spread China’s influence in other countries that pose national security threats to the United States. Export control and sanctions laws should not be negotiable, because fidelity to the rule of law is a key part of what distinguishes the U.S. from a country like China that is ruled by a Communist dictatorship.

Thank you for your attention to these concerns.

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ALL POLICY OPTIONS TO RETURN DEMOCRACY TO VENEZUELA SHOULD BE CONSIDERED

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Miami, FL – US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) condemned today’s ‘elections’ in Venezuela and released the following statement:

“Until a constitutional and democratic order is restored in Venezuela, the Maduro regime should face increasing isolation from the international community.

“The democracies gathered at the G20 summit this week in Argentina should collectively reject the results of the fraudulent election conducted by the regime today.

“In addition, the humanitarian crisis created by the Maduro regime poses a national security threat to the United States and our allies in the region. I now fully support President Trump’s position that all policy options to help return Venezuela to a path of democracy and prosperity should be considered. This includes any measures that will open the way for the delivery of international humanitarian aid to be delivered to the people of Venezuela.”

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION PRIORITIZING VETERANS’ EMPLOYMENT AND EDUCATION PROGRAMS AT THE VA

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH), and U.S. Representatives Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) and Mark Takano (D-CA), today introduced the bipartisan Veterans’ Education, Transition, and Opportunity Prioritization Plan (VET OPP) Act of 2018.

The current Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is divided into three Administrations: Veterans Health Administration (VHA), Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA), and the National Cemetery Administration. VBA is responsible for all benefits, including disability compensation, pension claims, and economic opportunity. Unfortunately, VBA efforts to administer important educational and employment benefits, like the GI Bill or the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program, are often overshadowed by VBA’s other missions. Under the bill, the VA would be required to create a new administration within existing resources, while capping the number of full-time employees available, to avoid growing government and adding new bureaucracy at VA.

The VET OPP Act of 2018 would allow the VA to reemphasize and prioritize programs that empower veterans in their civilian lives and enhance their economic opportunity by creating a Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration, led by a new Under Secretary of Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition. This new administration would be responsible for overseeing all transition, education, and employment programs, including: vocational rehabilitation and employment programs; educational assistance programs; veterans’ housing loans; verification of small businesses under the Vets First Program; and, the VA portion of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

“For far too long, the outdated structure of the VA has allowed economic opportunity and transition programs for our veterans to fall to the wayside,” said Senator Rubio. “By creating a Veterans Economic Opportunity and Transition Assistance Administration, this legislation would provide more direct oversight and accountability over existing programs aimed at helping our veterans lead economically prosperous lives post-service. Our veterans did not hesitate to answer the call to protect our great nation and we must do everything we can to ensure the VA is adapting to the 21st century needs of our veterans.”

“We must do more to ensure that our brave veterans in New Hampshire and across America have the support and resources they need to smoothly transition into our civilian workforce,” said Senator Hassan. “By establishing a new Economic Opportunity and Transition Administration at the VA, this bipartisan bill will help prioritize the education, housing, vocational rehabilitation and employment, and military-to-civilian transition services that are critical to helping our veterans succeed in the 21st century innovation economy. I will continue working across the aisle to ensure that all of our service members and veterans have the support that they deserve.”

“It’s critical that our servicemembers have access to resources that assist them with finding jobs or educational opportunities as they make the transition to civilian life. By placing educational, employment, training, and transition programs together in a Fourth Administration within the VA, we will bring more transparency and oversight to these programs, while also placing greater priority on opportunity-based programs within the VA. This is consistent with our effort to invest in our troops from the day they take their oath of service to when they begin their civilian careers,” said Congressman Brad Wenstrup.

“Job training, educational opportunities, transition assistance programs, and other basic forms of support are often as important to a veteran’s quality of life than other veterans’ services that receive far more attention and oversight,” said Congressman Takano. “This legislation reflects the importance of providing returning service members with a clear path to a rewarding and successful civilian life. The most meaningful way to honor our veterans’ service and sacrifice is by ensuring they have the tools and support they need to live with dignity in the country they fought to protect.”

Organizations in Support:

· The American Legion
· AMVETS
· High Ground Veterans Advocacy
· Mission Continues
· Paralyzed Veterans of America
· Student Veterans of America
· Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
· Veterans Education Success
· Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
· Vietnam Veterans of America

The American Enterprise Institute recently published a paper advocating for the creation of a fourth VA Administration.

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN BILL TO HELP LAW ENFORCEMENT DETECT FENTANYL, PROTECT OFFICERS

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today introduced bipartisan legislation to help state and local law enforcement obtain screening equipment to quickly detect dangerous drugs like the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl so that they can investigate appropriately.

The Providing Officers with Electronic Resources (POWER) Act would establish a new grant program through the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to help state and local law enforcement organizations secure these high-tech, portable screening devices.

The POWER Act, gives law enforcement officers access to the same high-tech screening devices Rubio, Markey, Brown, and Capito secured for Customs and Border Protection agents in their INTERDICT Act. President Trump signed INTERDICT into law earlier this year.

“As the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities throughout Florida, it is clear we must do more to ensure that first responders have access to the right tools to protect themselves and ensure public safety,” said Senator Rubio. “This bill will do that by helping to equip local law enforcement with additional chemical screening devices to help detect and interdict dangerous substances that are destroying so many lives.”

“Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of our efforts to combat illegal fentanyl,” said Senator Brown. “Following our success in securing new screening devices for federal law enforcement agents earlier this year, we need to give Ohio officers the same tools to detect these dangerous drugs.”

“Fentanyl continues to ravage communities in Ohio and across the country. Law enforcement and other first responders need all the tools available to detect and stop fentanyl, which is 50 times more powerful than heroin. The POWER Act will help provide officers with devices to screen and identify fentanyl and other synthetic drugs more quickly and efficiently,” said Senator Portman.

“Not only has the opioid epidemic taken the lives of so many Americans, but it continues to endanger the lives of law enforcement officials by exposing them to illegal and fatal substances such as fentanyl,” said Senator Schumer. “It is our responsibility to protect the men and women who bravely put themselves in harm’s way to ensure the public safety of Americans by providing them with the proper resources to do their job. This bill and these screening devices will help keep law enforcement safe and allow them to work more efficiently while on the front lines fighting the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.”

“Police officers, paramedics, and other first responders face tremendous danger when responding to scenes where fentanyl and other dangerous substances are present. We must do everything we can to shield law enforcement officers in Massachusetts and across the country from the dangers of fentanyl as they serve and protect our communities. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this important legislation to provide law enforcement with tools to immediately identify fentanyl and other illicit synthetic opioids,” said Senator Markey.

“As the opioid epidemic continues to harm communities in West Virginia, the POWER Act will help detect and stop the flow of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids,” Senator Capito said. “This legislation will support our local law enforcement—who are often times at the front lines fighting this epidemic—by providing them with the tools necessary to keep these deadly drugs out of our communities. I will continue working with my colleagues to advance solutions like the POWER Act, which will go a long way in saving lives and curbing the drug crisis.”

These devices are already widely used by federal law enforcement to identify dangerous drugs at U.S. ports of entry. The devices use laser technology to analyze potentially harmful substances – even through some packaging – and identify those substances based on a library of thousands of compounds that are categorized within the device.

The devices could also help address the backlog of drugs awaiting laboratory identification which will allow law enforcement to more effectively conduct drug investigations and prosecutions. Without these devices, suspected drugs have to be sent to labs for testing – which can take months in some cases, delaying the justice system. And because the devices can quickly and effectively alert officers to dangerous substances in the field, they also help ensure officers can test and handle substances like fentanyl safely.

The POWER Act is supported by the National Sheriffs’ Association, Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National Association of Police Organizations, National HIDTA Directors Association, Sergeants Benevolent Association, International Union of Police Associations, National Narcotics Officers’ Associations’ Coalition, National Alliance of State Drug Enforcement Agencies, National Tactical Officers Association, Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association, and Ohio Fraternal Order of Police

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RUBIO APPLAUDS SENATE CONFIRMATION OF MIKE POMPEO AS SECRETARY OF STATE

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today after the Senate confirmed Central Intelligence Committee (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo to serve as the next Secretary of State in a 57-to-42 vote:

“I applaud today’s Senate confirmation of Director Mike Pompeo to be Secretary of State. Based on his experience as CIA Director, an Army officer, a congressman, and his proven leadership on national security matters, he is eminently qualified to serve as our nation’s top diplomat. It is a shame that his nomination encountered partisan headwinds at a time when the U.S. and our allies face mounting national security threats. I look forward to working him and I am confident that he will successfully advance U.S. interests abroad, including the promotion of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.”

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SENATOR ANITERE FLORES STATEMENT ON FLORIDA FARMWORKER STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM

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TALLAHASSEE – Florida Senator Anitere Flores (R-Miami, Monroe) released the following statement regarding the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship Program:

The 2018 Florida Legislature created the Florida Farmworker Student Scholarship (FFSS) Program (Chapter 2018-4, Laws of Florida). This new program will provide up to 50 scholarships for farmworkers and the children of farmworkers beginning with the 2018 – 2019 academic year. Each scholarship will cover 100 percent of tuition and specified fees at a public postsecondary education institution in Florida.

“This session, we strongly advocated for revamping and funding the higher education system, and as a result this sector of education saw historic investments,” said Senator Anitere Flores. “Florida established a scholarship for farmworker students that will give these families an opportunity they otherwise would not benefit from. Education is a fundamental tool to enhancing the competitive edge of our state, and I applaud my colleagues for investing in the minds that will one day lead our community. I wish the applicants all the best in the selection process and look forward to their success in the years to come.”

Students must meet the initial eligibility requirements. For more information, contact the Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA) at 888-827-2004 or email OSFA@fldoe.org. Deadline for award consideration is May 4, 2018.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON U.S, BRITAIN JOINT EFFORTS TO COUNTER THREAT POSED BY CHINESE COMMUNICATIONS

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today after the United States and British governments took joint actions to protect national security interests and counter the growing threat posed by Chinese telecommunications:

“I applaud the Trump Administration for working with Britain to warn against the growing national security threat posed by Chinese telecommunications components embedded in networks, systems and devices that we rely on for critical infrastructure and our daily lives. I also commend the Commerce Department’s announcement of an export ban to block American companies from selling products or providing services to ZTE.

“Foreign adversaries are seeking to lay the groundwork for the cyber battles of the future by embedding their technologies in systems we depend on. The United States and our allies must take proactive steps to deny the Chinese government and Communist Party access to our networks, sensitive data, and the personal information of the American people. In particular, I urge state and local governments to reject the temptation of low-cost Chinese equipment that comes with very long strings attached.”

Background: In February, Senators Rubio and Cotton introduced the Defending U.S. Government Communications Act, legislation that would prohibit the United States government from purchasing or leasing telecommunications equipment and/or services from Huawei, ZTE, or any subsidiaries or affiliates. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Rubio is pushing to bar Congress from purchasing Chinese telecom in the FY19 Legislative Branch bill.

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Florida Republicans Kick Off 2018 Ground Game with National Day of Action

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TALLAHASSEE – GOP volunteers from all over Florida took to the streets Saturday as part of the National Day of Action, the Republican National Committee’s first big ground game event of the year. Working in conjunction with the Republican Party of Florida, there were 34 training events across the state that brought out hundreds of volunteers for training and doors knocking.

“This is our first major push of the 2018 cycle, and we couldn’t be more happy with how it turned out,” said Taryn Fenske, the RNC’s Communications Director in Florida. “Events like this are how we build out our infrastructure for November, and how to ensure we send Senator Nelson packing.”

Saturday’s message was simple: if you like the tax cut you got in December, vote Republican in November. Florida Democrats have made it absolutely clear that repealing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would be one of their first orders of business should they take the House in 2018.

For all the talk of a building blue wave, Republicans have a major breakwater in place – historic fundraising, and major investments in our data and field operations.

“In Florida, this year alone we’ve put more than1,000 people through our intensive Republican Leadership Institute program,” she said. “Over sixty paid ground staffers are busy training the party’s volunteer army as quickly as they can. Those graduates form the core of neighborhood-based teams then add layers and grow as the cycle progresses. When crunch time arrives this fall, RPOF and RNC will have thousands of trained volunteers ready to knock on doors in their own neighborhoods.”

Since 2012, the RNC has invested more than $200 million in data. For Florida, that means campaigns armed with the most up to date information possible.

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AT SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS, RUBIO RECEIVES BRIEFING ON ILLEGAL GOLD MINING

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Miami – During his visit to Lima, Peru surrounding the Summit of the Americas, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement following a briefing on illegal gold mining by the U.S. Embassy in Peru:

Gold is becoming the preferred method for drug cartels, terrorists, and dictatorships to launder their dirty money, an issue that the U.S. Embassy in Peru has focused on. Embassy staff was gracious enough to give me a detailed briefing on regional efforts to identify, prevent, and counter this illicit activity. I’m thankful to the Embassy officials for the briefing and all their hard work as they advance our partnership and mutual interests with the Peruvian government and people. The Trump Administration has already begun to prosecute these international criminals and I will continue to encourage them to work with our regional allies to combat it.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON SYRIA AIRSTRIKES

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Lima, Peru — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement after President Trump launched airstrikes with France and the United Kingdom against chemical weapons sites in Syria:

“Tonight, our commander-in-chief ordered our military to defend America’s vital national security interest in preventing hostile regimes like Syria’s Assad regime from using chemical weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. I salute the men and women of our Armed Forces who conducted this mission bravely and skillfully with our British and French allies. I urge the Administration to follow up with a real and comprehensive strategy for ending Assad’s threat to his people, to the region and to U.S. security, and for countering Russian and Iranian support for the Syrian dictatorship’s ongoing barbarity.”

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REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA STATEMENT ON GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT ANNOUNCING RUN FOR U.S. SENATE

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TALLAHASSEE-Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chairman Blaise Ingoglia released the following statement about Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) announcing run for U.S. Senate:

“The Republican Party of Florida congratulates Gov. Rick Scott on announcing his run for the U.S. Senate. With this announcement, Scott adds his name to a Republican field of statewide candidates this midterm election that is boasting with incredibly qualified contenders. Floridians have seen, first hand, effective leadership from Scott and come November they will reward him by sending Senator Bill Nelson into retirement. Therefore, we welcome Scott into the U.S. Senate race and look forward to a campaign with the right vision for Florida and this nation,” said RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON 11th ANNIVERSARY OF FLORIDIAN BOB LEVINSON’S DISAPPEARANCE

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Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today on the 11th anniversary of Bob Levinson’s disappearance:

“Today marks 11 years since Bob Levinson was kidnapped on Iran’s Kish Island and taken hostage. He remains the longest-held American citizen in history. The Iranian regime’s continued denial of his whereabouts is farcical. Little occurs in the country without Iran’s Islamic rulers knowing about it. Last year, Senator Nelson and I introduced a resolution in the Senate urging the president and our allies to press Iran on Bob’s disappearance. I hope the Senate will pass this resolution soon and remind Tehran that we will never forget about Bob. I remain committed as ever to bringing Bob Levinson back home to his family.”

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON TRUMP’S TARIFFS ANNOUNCEMENT

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Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement after President Trump signed Section 232 proclamations on steel and aluminum imports:

“Free trade has been good for America. But it has also left millions of American workers unemployed, many as the direct result of cheating by China. For trade to benefit our country, our trade partners must play by the same rules we do. That is why supporters of free trade must be the first to take violations seriously.

“While trade rules must be enforced, tariffs are no substitute for a national strategy that makes us more competitive through research and development, skills training, and pro-worker economic policies. Early next week I will outline a way forward that promotes free and fair trade, while also protecting American workers and key industries.”

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RUBIO URGES JUSTICE, EDUCATION DEPTS TO REVISE SCHOOL GUIDELINES FOR REPORTING THREATS TO LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged Department of Justice (DOJ) Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Department of Education (DOE) Secretary Betsy DeVos to revise an Obama Administration directive to “ensure that schools appropriately report violence and dangerous actions to local law enforcement.”

Dear Secretary DeVos and Attorney General Sessions:

In the wake of the February 14, 2018 horrific shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, disturbing reports have indicated that federal guidance may have contributed to systemic failures to report Nikolas Cruz’s dangerous behaviors to local law enforcement.

A January 2014 directive, “Dear Colleague Letter on the Nondiscriminatory Administration of School Discipline,” and subsequent guidance developed by the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Department of Justice, discouraged schools from referring students to local law enforcement. The 2014 guidance encouraged schools to emphasize “constructive interventions” over certain disciplinary actions. This guidance also states that school policies should “[e]nsure that school personnel understand that they, rather than school resource officers and other security or law enforcement personnel, are responsible for administering routine student discipline.”

This policy allowed the Departments to initiate an investigation into schools and, if found to be noncompliant, could be at risk of losing federal funding. Further, the 2014 directive and subsequent guidance included onerous requirements and harsh penalties that arguably made it easier for schools to not report students to law enforcement than deal with the potential consequences.

The overarching goals of the 2014 directive to mitigate the school-to-prison pipeline, reduce suspensions and expulsions, and to prevent racially biased discipline are laudable and should be explored. However, any policy seeking to achieve these goals requires basic common sense and an understanding that failure to report troubled students, like Cruz, to law enforcement can have dangerous repercussions. The 2014 directive lacked such common sense, but the guidance can be revised to strike an appropriate balance that marries school safety with student discipline and counseling.

To that end, I strongly urge you to immediately revise the 2014 directive and associated guidance to ensure that schools appropriately report violence and dangerous actions to local law enforcement. These revisions must take into account input from state and local education agencies, law enforcement, and behavioral health specialists. Additionally, states should not fear harsh, financial repercussions for reporting a student to law enforcement, if that student is reasonably believed to be a threat to themselves or others. As you begin this process, I respectfully request to receive updates on the revisions as necessary.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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RUBIO, TOOMEY, COONS, NELSON ANNOUNCE BIPARTISAN GUN SAFETY LEGISLATION

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today announced new gun safety legislation that will assist states with enforcing existing laws against individuals who attempt to purchase firearms but have no legal right to do so. The NICS Denial Notification Act requires federal authorities to alert state law enforcement within 24 hours when individuals “lie and try” to purchase firearms, which can be a warning sign of criminal behavior. The legislation is also co-sponsored by Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO).

Federal officials are notified when individuals who are legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm (such as convicted felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers) try to buy a gun but fail a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check. These attempted purchases often violate federal and state laws. Unfortunately, the federal government rarely prosecutes any of these individuals.

In the 13 states that run their own background checks using the FBI’s NICS system, state authorities are aware when prohibited persons fail background checks and can have state law enforcement investigate these cases. However, in the 37 states and the District of Columbia that rely on the FBI to run some or all of their background checks, state authorities generally are not aware when prohibited persons fail background checks run by the FBI. Individuals who are willing to “lie and try” to buy a gun may be dangerous and willing to obtain guns through other means. As a result, these states and D.C. lack critical law enforcement intelligence that they could use to try to keep their communities safe.

“The Parkland shooter was able to carry out this horrific attack because of multi-systematic failures. While we work to ensure that our background check system contains the critical information necessary to be able to conduct an effective background check, we must also ensure that federal and state authorities are successfully communicating with one another when it comes to dangerous individuals and their attempts to acquire firearms,” said Rubio. “The NICS Denial Notification Act would not only require federal authorities to flag background check denials for state-level authorities, it would also hold these federal officials accountable. This would be a strong step forward in preventing future tragedies. I urge my colleagues to immediately support this bipartisan legislation so that the president can swiftly sign it into law.”

“This NICS Denial Notification Act requires the FBI to notify state law enforcement within 24 hours when a person who is prohibited from getting a gun, such as convicted felon, lies about their background in an attempt to buy one. That is, in itself, a federal felony and it goes almost entirely unprosecuted now,” said Toomey. “We can make progress on gun safety while respecting the Second Amendment rights of American citizens, including better enforcing existing gun laws and responding to warning signs that we get of criminal behavior. This bipartisan bill is a critical step forward in helping to ensure that our communities can be safe from criminals.”

“We have to find ways to work across the aisle to reduce gun violence, and the NICS Denial Notification Act is one modest, commonsense way to do that,” said Coons. “By ensuring that state and federal law enforcement are working together to prevent those who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun from getting one, we can make our communities safer. I’m hopeful this legislation can be part of Congress’s efforts to comprehensively address gun violence.”

“Efforts to reduce gun violence are only as good as the systems in place to prevent prohibited individuals from obtaining guns,” said Nelson. “This bill is just another commonsense way to further those efforts to keep our communities safe from gun violence. I hope we can continue this conversation and continue to work together on comprehensive gun reform.”

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RUBIO JOINS AMBASSADOR HALEY FOR DISCUSSION WITH HISPANIC AND LATIN AMERICAN COMMUNITY LEADERS IN MIAMI

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Miami, FL. – Today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Ambassador Nikki R. Haley, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, for a discussion at Florida International University (FIU) with Hispanic and Latin American community leaders following her recent travels to Honduras and Guatemala. Joining Rubio and Haley were Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL).

RUBIO: I am proud to call her a friend. She’s doing a phenomenal job. I remember when she was nominated people said well what does she know about foreign policy. I said you don’t know Nikki Haley. She speaks with strong moral clarity. She knows more about foreign policy, certainly at this point, than many of the people that have been there for 30 or 40 years because here’s what she knows: there is a right side on an issue and there’s a wrong side on the issue. And that voice of moral clarity has never been more needed on the world stage.

I want to thank FIU for hosting this because this is the right forum. This is what this university literally not just provides a forum for but a voice for. It is the place where thousands of American dreams come true on a regular basis as the congresswoman said, from people who have made their lives in this country because of the tragedies that have occurred in this hemisphere.

I also want to say that as the ambassador just pointed out that, this is the year of the Americas. That’s not rhetorical, that’s real. And the record proves it. Beginning early last year, you saw the president take decisive action, both in Venezuela and on Cuba, and continues to take decisive action and moving us in the right direction. This is the year of the Americas – you have already seen the Secretary of State travel to the region. You have seen the Ambassador to the United Nations travel once and planning to return again. The Summit of the Americas is going to very have very high-level delegations and I’ll leave it to the Administration to make those announcements.

It’s also an important year in the Americas for it is a year that there will be free and democratic elections in Colombia, and in Mexico, important countries. And a year in which there are going to be fraudulent so-called elections in Venezuela. And in Cuba, by the way, where they’re going to transition from a communist named Castro to a communist not named Castro. Nonetheless, not just a communist but a dictator by a different name and we can go into depth about that as well.

So it’s an incredibly important year in the hemisphere. A lot of good news in the hemisphere and there are some challenges. But it is a hemisphere that has to choose and continues to make the choice between embracing freedom, liberty, democracy, free enterprise, and a partnership with the United States, and a handful of efforts in the region to continue to move in a more authoritarian and dictatorial direction. Sometimes they do it blatantly. And sometimes they hide behind elections. … Often times the elections aren’t real. Well you have an election where you know how everybody votes and you can change the outcome of it, if it isn’t to your liking. When you hold an election where anybody who could possibly beat you can’t run because they’re in jail, that’s not an election. And it’s important for us to be a clear voice in that regard. This is an important forum and we have a very strong voice and moral clarity in the United Nations in regards to not just this issue, but issues all over the world.

So thank you for coming to Miami. By the way, this was her idea. She wanted to come here after this trip.

She wanted to come here to the capital of the western hemisphere, which is what America really is. It’s the crossroads. And she wanted to come here to FIU because she knows that this is a place where the future leaders in this region and on American foreign policy are being forged with regards to this region. So thank you for hosting this and thank you for being here and thank you all for coming.

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Rubio Announces Senate Plan to Address Gun Violence

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SENATE PASSES RUBIO MEASURE CALLING ON SENATE CONFEREES TO EXPAND CHILD TAX CREDIT

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RUBIO APPLAUDS DC CITY COUNCIL FOR TAKING UP BORIS NEMTSOV PLAZA LEGISLATION

 

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio released the following statement after the Washington, D.C. City Council today held a designation hearing on a bill to rename the street in front of the Russian Embassy as ‘Boris Nemtsov Plaza.’

“Since Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov’s assassination in February 2015, I have worked to honor his legacy, including by introducing bipartisan ‘Boris Nemtsov Plaza’ legislation in the U.S. Senate on the second anniversary of his murder. I thank D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh for leading this effort at the city level and bringing it closer to a reality.

“Boris Nemtsov was a Russian statesman who stood up—and died—in defense of the freedoms and rights of the Russian people. By renaming the block outside the Russian Embassy in Washington ‘Boris Nemtsov Plaza’, we will send a clear message to Vladimir Putin and his cronies that the American people stand with Russians who are bravely working to build a free and democratic future for their country.

“It is my hope that one day there will be a Russian government that is proud to have Boris Nemtsov’s name outside of their embassy.”

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RUBIO PUSHES FOR HUMAN RIGHTS IN TIBET

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RUBIO, BALDWIN ADVANCE BILL TO HELP HOLOCAUST SURVIVORS

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Washington, D.C.- U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) applauded passage of the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today. This bipartisan legislation will improve efforts assisting Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims by requiring the State Department to report on the progress of certain European countries on the return of—or restitution for—wrongfully confiscated or transferred Holocaust-era assets.

“The Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s passage of the JUST Act is one more step toward ensuring justice for Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims,” said Rubio. “By enhancing ongoing efforts between the State Department and European countries, this bill will help facilitate long deserved restitution to survivors and their families whose property was stolen during the Holocaust. I applaud today’s measure, and I look forward to the JUST Act’s final passage before the Senate.”

“I applaud the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today for supporting this bipartisan effort to ensure justice is done, at long last, for Holocaust survivors and the families of Holocaust victims,” said Baldwin. “These individuals have waited far too long to recover, or receive compensation for, what is rightfully theirs, and by highlighting this issue as an American foreign policy priority, we will spur action in countries that are falling short of their obligations. I look forward to seeing this bipartisan legislation passed by the Senate as soon as possible, and ultimately signed in to law.”

The JUST Act will build on the international Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets and Related Issues of 2009, which affirms that the protection of property rights is an essential component of a democratic society based on the rule of law and recognizes the importance of restituting or compensating Holocaust-related confiscations made during the Holocaust-era between 1933-45. Unfortunately, many nations that endorsed this declaration, including many NATO allies, have not fully addressed the restitution of Jewish communal, private and heirless property.

The JUST Act permanently amends current law to require the State Department to report on certain countries’ compliance with and progress toward the goals of the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets, as well as on what actions those countries are taking to resolve the claims of U.S. citizens. This will enhance on-going U.S. efforts to urge Central and Eastern European countries to achieve progress on this issue and will help build on America’s commitment to ensuring justice for Holocaust victims and their families.

The public record created by the JUST Act will serve as a powerful tool for the U.S. State Department and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO)—the global umbrella body that advocates on behalf of the Jewish community for the restitution of property confiscated during the Holocaust and its aftermath—to encourage Terezin countries to complete the restitution process. Senators Baldwin and Rubio call on those countries to work with the State Department and WJRO to fulfill their property restitution obligations.

“The JUST Act will encourage countries across Europe to meet their responsibilities to Holocaust survivors and their families who have waited too long for justice. We thank Senators Baldwin and Rubio for their tireless advocacy on behalf of Holocaust survivors and their families,” said Gideon Taylor, the World Jewish Restitution Organization’s Chair of Operations.

“Addressing the claims of Holocaust survivors is a pressing issue. Despite international declarations on the need to resolve claims relating to Nazi-expropriated property, most formerly Jewish-owned properties confiscated by the Nazis and their collaborators have not been returned, nor has compensation been provided to the rightful owners or their heirs. Justice for those who endured unprecedented hardships during the Holocaust is a moral necessity—ensuring that victims are given what is rightfully theirs should be a U.S. foreign policy priority. S.447, the Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act of 2017, will help ensure the return of, or proper restitution for, assets stolen from Jews during the Holocaust,” said Rabbi Andrew Baker, Director of International Jewish Affairs, AJC.

“The Jewish Federations of North America applaud Senators Baldwin and Rubio for their leadership on The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act (S. 447), which will generate a more robust public record of restitution efforts by European governments. While many countries have made progress in addressing property restitution, others have not and time is running out. We are also grateful to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their consideration of this important issue. With Congress and the State Department working together, we will shine a spotlight on those countries that still need to stand by their promises to the victims of the Holocaust. Holocaust survivors and their families deserve no less,” said William Daroff, Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America (JNFA).

The JUST Act has received strong support from organizations across the country including World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO), American Jewish Committee (AJC), Anti-Defamation League (ADL), J Street, Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), B’nai B’rith International, HIAS refugee assistance organization, National Coalition Supporting Eurasian Jewry, the Milwaukee Jewish Federation and the Jewish Home and Care Center Foundation in Milwaukee.

In addition to Rubio and Baldwin, the JUST Act is cosponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Todd C. Young (R-IN), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John McCain (R-AZ), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), John Thune (R-SD), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

A companion bill was introduced in the House in February by U.S. Representatives Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Christopher H. Smith (R-NJ).

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FOUR RUBIO-LED MEASURES PASSED OUT OF SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) applauded four pieces of legislation that he led or co-led that were passed out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today.

“I applaud committee passage of these important bipartisan bills and resolutions, and urge my colleagues to support them on the Senate floor,” said Rubio. “From advancing human rights to protecting religious freedom, and promoting press freedom to facilitating the return of stolen Holocaust-era property to their rightful owners, the United States should continue to lead on these issues.”

Background of the four Rubio-led bills:

North Korea Human Rights Reauthorization Act

Updates and reauthorizes the 2004 law promoting human rights and freedom in North Korea.

The Justice for Uncompensated Survivors Today (JUST) Act

Improves efforts assisting survivors and the families of victims of the Holocaust who are seeking the return of or restitution for assets stolen during the Holocaust. The bill requires the State Department to report on certain European countries’ compliance with the goals of the 2009 Terezin Declaration on Holocaust Era Assets, and what actions those countries are taking to resolve the claims of U.S. citizens.

World Press Freedom Day Resolution

Highlights the importance of press freedom and condemning attacks against journalists around the world. The bipartisan resolution recognizes the dangers that reporters face and reaffirms freedom of the press as a priority for the U.S. government.

Resolution Condemning Iranian Persecution of Baha’I Community

Condemns Iran’s persecution of 300,000 members of the Baha’i Faith. In addition to condemning religious persecution, the bipartisan resolution calls on Iran to release prisoners being held for their religious beliefs, including the now five leaders of the Baha’i Faith who have been held since 2008.

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RUBIO JOINS POLITICO PANEL TO DISCUSS HUMAN TRAFFICKING

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today joined a panel at Politico’s annual Women Rule Summit to discuss efforts to combat human trafficking at home and abroad.

Rubio was joined on the panel by: Barbara Amaya, human trafficking advocate and survivor; Kate Bosworth, actress and filmmaker; Maura Healey, Massachusetts Attorney General; Sarah Saldaña, former Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; and moderator Susan Glasser, POLITICO-Chief International Affairs Columnist.

A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:

On need to improve law enforcement approach with victims: [Law enforcement treats victims] the way you would someone you arrest. They think that by arresting them and by intimidating them you’re going to get them to cooperate to testify against the people that put them there. That doesn’t work for someone who is psychologically shattered, in fear, whose mind is controlled by the individual that put them there. And that, I think, requires a longer term awareness campaign on our part to better train law enforcement, state attorneys, district attorneys, and U.S. attorneys across the country.

On labor trafficking: Obviously sex trafficking receives a lot of attention and rightfully so. But labor trafficking is an enormous problem as well.

On trafficking victims and the opioid crisis: The victim becomes, almost always unwillingly, addicted to an opiate or heroin. This person obviously now is suffering from that disease as well. And your trafficker is the person who possesses the substance to keep you out of the suffering that happens when you go through withdrawal. So it’s another one of the tools that’s used along with some of the other things we’ve talked about.

On domestic human trafficking: We should not lose sight that there is a significant number of people domestically here. Runaways and young girls who find themselves in vulnerable situations at home that become prime targets for what they may not even realize is trafficking until it’s really developed into something much more serious. You say there might be a young girl in Fairfax County? There most certainly is and probably more than one facing these circumstances today.

On bipartisanship efforts on human trafficking: Anytime you have a bipartisan sponsor, it increases dramatically your chances on getting a result. And on an issue like this that doesn’t really have natural partisan confines, it’s actually very productive.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON
SENATE PASSAGE OF TAX CUTS AND JOBS ACT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement today in response to the Senate’s passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

“America needs reforms that are both pro-worker and pro-growth. Tonight, the Senate missed an opportunity to help American working families by not expanding access to the Child Tax Credit. By rejecting this amendment, the Senate failed to address the struggles facing American workers and their families.

“However, we did take a major step toward growing our economy. This bill implements a series of reforms that will make our economy significantly more globally competitive.

“Tonight we passed a tax reform that is very good. But we missed the opportunity to pass pro-worker reforms that would have made it even better.”

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RUBIO, LEE REAFFIRM COMMITMENT
TO CHILD TAX CREDIT EXPANSION

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) today reaffirmed their commitment to expanding access to the child tax credit in the Senate tax reform bill.

“We need pro-growth and pro-worker tax reform, and that’s what this amendment aims to do by allowing working families to keep more of their own hard-earned money,” Senator Rubio said.

“Our amendment would make a small change in this bill, but a huge difference in the lives of working families,” Senator Lee said.

Both senators added:

“Currently, our amendment would offset the additional middle class relief with a slight increase in the corporate tax rate. We support that pay-for and believe it gives our amendment a good chance to pass on the floor with bipartisan support. But as we have said all along, we are open to alternative offsets that would preserve the 20% corporate rate, which we support as much as our Republican colleagues. We continue to welcome any effort by Finance Committee members and Republican leaders to help us identify other pay-fors to offset an expansion of the child credit.”

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RUBIO, LEE PUSH FOR AMENDMENT GIVING WORKING FAMILIES LARGER SHARE OF TAX RELIEF

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RUBIO, WARNER, WYDEN INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO HELP AMERICANS BETTER UNDERSTAND HIGHER EDUCATION COSTS

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Updated Legislation Allows Students and Families to Make Informed Decisions about How to Spend Their Higher Education Dollars; Protects Student Privacy By Featuring Encrypted, Secure Multiparty Computation

Washington, D.C. – With the cost of college at an all-time high, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), today introduced updated legislation to provide critical information to help students, families, policymakers and taxpayers better understand the costs and outcomes associated with higher education.

The bipartisan “Student Right to Know Before You Go Act” makes data available to prospective college students about schools’ graduation rates, debt levels, how much graduates can expect to earn and other critical education and workforce-related measures of success. Under the bill, these outcome measures would be available and broken down by individual institution and program of study.

The bill also protects student privacy by requiring the use of privacy-enhancing technologies that encrypt and protect the data that are used to produce this consumer information to students and families.

“A college education is one of the most important investments that many students and families will make in their lifetime,” Rubio said. “Students could benefit from a comprehensive system detailing the projected costs and financial outcomes of the school and area of study the student is planning to pursue – before they take out thousands of dollars in student loans. The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act could help American families make better informed and more cost-effective higher education decisions.”

“Deciding where to go to college shouldn’t be based on guesswork,” Wyden said. “The Know Before You Go Act puts the power back in students’ and families’ hands by giving them the opportunity to make the best possible choices for themselves about where to spend their hard-earned dollars. Our updated, bipartisan bill empowers students and families without forcing tradeoffs that sacrifice individual privacy or data security.”

“For college-bound students, choosing where to enroll and what to study are critical choices. Yet students and their families don’t have access to all the information they need to know whether they are making a smart investment,” Warner said. “Students’ choices of school and program have a host of real-world implications, including on their earning potential, likelihood to graduate, and accumulated student loan debt. This legislation does more to protect student privacy, while making meaningful, contextualized information readily accessible to students as they make key decisions about their futures.”

Currently, prospective students make costly and critical decisions about furthering their education based on information that is often inadequate, inaccurate or both. For example, many states try to publish similar information, but the data typically only looks at first-time, full-time students or students who remain in the same state after college. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education makes available to the public a small slice of institutional data through its College Navigator.

The updated bill requires the use of secure multiparty computation (MPC), an advanced encryption technique, to generate statistical data based on student information from colleges and universities as well as loan and income information from government agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Department of Education. The process ensures the protection of the underlying data, so no entity is forced to “give up” sensitive information in a form that is accessible to others.

U.S. Representatives Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and Andre Carson (D-IN), introduced a companion bill today in the House. Rubio, Wyden and Hunter have introduced versions of the bill in every Congress since 2012.

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RUBIO, LEE TO INTRODUCE CHILD TAX CREDIT REFUNDABILITY AMENDMENT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) will introduce an amendment to the Senate tax bill that would give working American families a far larger share of tax relief than the existing bill currently does. Senators Rubio and Lee explained:

“We have a chance to do better by working families in this tax bill. Right now, 70 percent of the tax cuts we’re considering would go to businesses, and only 30 percent to individuals. This amendment would level the playing field for families, while still kick-starting national investment and growth. By increasing access to the Child Tax Credit, we can increase working family fairness and deliver overdue relief to America’s greatest investor class: our moms and dads.”

Specifically the Rubio-Lee amendment would:
Make the Child Tax Credit refundable up to payroll tax liability (15.3 percent of earnings);
Fix the marriage penalty by reducing the income phaseout threshold for the Child Tax Credit to $250,000 for all non-married filing jointly filers;
Index the Child Tax Credit to chained CPI in accordance with other individual-side provisions; and
Increase the corporate income tax rate to 22 percent, to fully pay for the above changes.

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RUBIO STATEMENT ON LATEST NORTH KOREA BALLISTIC MISSILE LAUNCH

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Washington, D.C—U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement after the Kim regime tested an intercontinental ballistic missile.

“In testing another intercontinental ballistic missile today, North Korea is attempting to master the capability to deliver a nuclear warhead against the American homeland. The United States, South Korea, Japan and other nations, including China, must continue maximizing pressure against the regime in Pyongyang with the goal of achieving the verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. I urge Congress to quickly pass pending bills seeking to increase sanctions against enablers of North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threats, and to hold the Kim regime fully accountable for its egregious human rights abuses against its own people.”

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Let’s Amend Tax Bill So We Can Give Working Families the Raise They Deserve and Need

RUBIO DISCUSSES EFFORTS TO GIVE WORKING AMERICAN FAMILIES TAX RELIEF

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RUBIO DELIVERS REMARKS AT ST. BALDRICK’S FOUNDATION’S SENATE BRIEFING ON PEDIATRIC CANCER

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered remarks today at the St. Baldrick’s Foundation’s briefing on Capitol Hill. Rubio and Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) served as honorary Congressional hosts for a variety of panels discussing advances in immunotherapy and pediatric oncology research, and the challenges and opportunities in drug development and treatment.

“I’m grateful for the work of St. Baldrick’s Foundation to give pediatric cancer research the attention it needs. Along with the RACE for Children Act, advances in medical technology will accelerate new, innovative treatments for childhood cancer,” said Rubio. “We must continue to work together to ensure children are not left out of 21st century research and medicine.”

In August, the Senate passed the Research to Accelerate Cures and Equity (RACE) for Children Act, which will provide children battling cancer with more innovative and promising treatment options. Rubio and Bennet introduced the legislation earlier this year and it was signed into law by President Trump in August.

You can watch his remarks on Facebook. Photos courtesy of Senator Rubio’s office.

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RUBIO, MCMORRIS RODGERS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO SPUR SMALL BUSINESS INVESTMENT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today introduced the Spurring Business in Communities Act, legislation that would allow more Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs) to form and invest in Florida, Washington state, and other under-licensed states.

“I want Florida’s entrepreneurs and investors to be able to stay and invest here in Florida’s economy, instead of being shoe-horned into Wall Street and Silicon Valley jobs away from home,” said Rubio. “Our bill will help reduce America’s investor gap by removing regionally biased obstacles investors face when applying to become a licensed Small Business Investment Company.”

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy. They provide 55 percent of jobs in America, and account for 1.3 million employees in Washington state alone,” said McMorris Rodgers. “SBICs serve an important function in providing capital and support to these small businesses, but there are currently none here in Washington state. Instead, SBICs are primarily located in large urban and finance centers of the U.S., which only further concentrates lending and investment activity. This legislation will change that by easing the process for SBICs to form in our state, invest in people in our community, grow our local economy, and create jobs.”

“SBICs have an extraordinary record of empowering small businesses to grow and create jobs,” said Alliance President Brett Palmer. “We applaud Senator Rubio and Representative McMorris Rodgers for helping SBICs bring prosperity and hope to small businesses in every community in the country.”

SBICs were established by the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to provide for government support of small businesses throughout the country, backed by the Small Business Administration. Currently, 72 percent of these SBICs are already located in 10 states. This legislation would increase the ability of the SBA to provide widespread geographic support and increase the SBA’s accountability to Congress. Specifically, it would exempt SBIC applicants from under-licensed states from full capital requirements, give first priority to new applicants from under-licensed and under-financed states, and establish annual reporting requirements on the SBA’s progress toward increasing the geographic dispersion of SBICs

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SENATE PASSES RUBIO’S CHILD TAX CREDIT AMENDMENT

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today after the Senate unanimously voted to include the Rubio-Lee child tax credit amendment in its budget resolution:

“Today’s passage of the Rubio-Lee child tax credit amendment is another step toward meaningful tax relief for working American families,” said Rubio. “It has become increasingly expensive to raise children in the 21st century, and this bipartisan measure ensures that we are on track to invest in our families and future American taxpayers. Tax reform will not pass unless we significantly expand the child tax credit, and I’m glad to see that Congress took this important first step by showing unanimous support for the child tax credit in today’s budget resolution.”

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RUBIO URGES TRUMP ADMINISTRATION TO VOTE AGAINST ENDING CUBA EMBARGO AT U.N.

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Miami, FL – Ahead of a potential vote next month, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged President Trump to direct the United States to vote against any U.N. General Assembly resolution demanding a change to America’s embargo against Cuba, which is codified in U.S. law.

The full text of Rubio’s letter is below:

Dear President Trump:

The General Assembly of the United Nations, at the behest of the Castro regime in Cuba, will likely vote next month on a resolution demanding an end to the United States embargo against Cuba. As you know, the embargo is codified under the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-114), which is also known as the Helms-Burton LIBERTAD Act. I respectfully urge you to direct the United States to vote against any U.N. General Assembly resolution demanding a change to this U.S. law.

While I recognize the U.N. General Assembly’s vote would be only symbolic, it would send the wrong message to human rights defenders and pro-democracy dissidents in Cuba. Over the years, far too many Cubans who have sought to promote self-government, the impartial rule of law, and adherence to universal values on the island have suffered imprisonment, violence, torture, and other human rights violations under the Castro regime. Some have even lost their lives.

President Barack Obama unilaterally changed U.S.-Cuba policy, providing many concessions to the Castro regime while failing the island’s many human rights defenders and pro-democracy dissidents who continue to suffer under this repressive regime. In June of this year, you announced a new U.S. policy toward Cuba that seeks to advance U.S. national security interests and protect human rights and universal values, strengthen compliance with the LIBERTAD Act and related laws, and empower the Cuban people to develop greater economic independence and ultimately political liberty.

It is my hope that America’s new policy toward Cuba will help to bring closer the day when the Cuban people have the opportunity to elect their own leaders and live under a government that truly represents them and respects their God-given, inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In furtherance of America’s new policy, I urge you to consider my request and to direct the United States to vote against any U.N. General Assembly resolution that calls for an end to the United States’ embargo against Cuba.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

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RUBIO, CASSIDY INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO EXPEDITE NATURAL GAS EXPORT APPROVAL

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) today introduced the Small Scale LNG Access Act, legislation that would codify a Department of Energy (DOE) rule expediting the approval of small-scale natural gas exports to service consumers, most of which are in the Caribbean and Latin America.

“Expedited approval of small-scale natural gas exports would strengthen an emerging sector of Florida’s economy,” said Rubio. “In addition to the economic advantages for Florida, this measure would bolster our existing ties with Caribbean and Latin American nations while ensuring that bad actors in the region, including Cuba and Venezuela, do not reap its benefits.”

“This bill promotes the growth of American natural gas, creating well-paying jobs with good benefits for hardworking families in Louisiana,” said Cassidy. “The faster approval of small-scale natural gas shipments will create American jobs, improve Caribbean energy security and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Caribbean small-scale LNG export market represents a relatively untapped outlet as the United States only exported approximately three billion cubic feet of natural gas to the region in 2016. Increasing exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG)

will decrease Caribbean & Central American reliance on Venezuelan fuel oil, increase economic opportunities, and offer a cleaner-burning fuel source for those nations.

The United States is well positioned to meet the anticipated four to five percent annual growth in global natural gas demand. According to the Energy Information Administration, the U.S. has an estimated 2,355 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, enough to last an estimated 86 years at current consumption rates.

The current permitting process for LNG export facilities is expensive, and small-scale projects often are not cost effective under current conditions. Reducing the time and investment required for small-scale exports will benefit U.S. production, manufacturing, and construction jobs while also reducing trade deficits with the importing country. Increasing LNG exports, even on a small scale, will positively impact the economies of the United States as well as the economies of those receiving U.S. natural gas.

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RUBIO ON TAX REFORM: WITHOUT SIGNIFICANT CHILD TAX CREDIT EXPANSION, IT WON’T PASS

Out2news.com

Washington, D.C. – On the U.S. Senate floor today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke in support of tax reform and the need to significantly expand the child tax credit.

RUBIO: These things are reducing the ability of families to afford to have children and to raise them, and these costs keep going up. And so one of the things that we have offered as a partial solution—it’s not going to solve every problem—is to increase the child tax credit, and to do so in a way that actually helps people. Because what it would do is it would reduce families’ tax bills on a per-child basis, increasing the flexibility that family has at a time when, for example, child care costs have risen more than ever before and are already higher than they have ever been. …

We have to understand the family is the most important unit in all of society. It’s the most important institution in society. It’s the first government. It’s the first school. It’s the core institution that underlies everything else we do as a nation. There is no more important job that any of us will ever do than the job of a parent. And if you think about our tax code, it says if you invest money in a piece of equipment or a business, the tax code will help you with that, but if you invest it in a future American taxpayer, if you invest it in someone who you are going to need to build the sort of economy and future we want for our nation, the tax code does not really take it into account. That makes no sense to me.

So I have two charts here to outline how important this tax credit is to tax reform. And again, I’m operating off the framework because there is no bill out yet, but based on the framework, the amount of tax relief that a working or middle-class family will get almost entirely depends, almost entirely will depend on what we do with the child tax credit.

So here is the first chart. This chart shows the average tax cut for American families if the child tax credit is doubled from its current size—not just doubled but we make it refundable against payroll tax liability, which is the tax every American pays for Social Security and Medicare. It’s the first chunk that comes off your paycheck, no matter how little you make, everyone pays it.

We make the child tax credit double and we apply it towards your liability on payroll tax, this chart which is what I have proposed, what Senator Lee and I have been working on, what Ivanka Trump has been advocating and we’ve been working with her office on. And this shows you what the impact of that would be, and that’s the blue line. And you can see from the blue line that that chart begins with some cut, depending on how much money you make, and it begins to drop as the amount—obviously, the more money you make, the larger the credit will be up to its limit because you can’t get a credit if you’re not making any money at all, even if applies to payroll tax. But you start to see it also grows with the number of children because it’s per child. So it doesn’t just phase off at two children. And that’s the blue chart.

Now, what’s the red chart? The red chart is if we do nothing, or basically just do a gimmicky thing about it. Then you start to see that without the child tax credit being made refundable and without the child tax credit applying to payroll refundable and without the child tax credit being per child and sufficiently increased, this framework would be a tax increase. People will actually pay more. And the more children you have, the bigger your tax increase will be. So suffice it to say, we’ve got to do it. This red line cannot be what we wind up at. I don’t think that’s the intent of the people that drew up the framework, but that’s where we wind up if we don’t do it.

So I pull that chart out just to show you how important it is that we do it as part of this framework. It has to happen. It won’t pass without it. And it’s the right thing to do. This is a pro-job, pro-family initiative. And I actually think it’s pro-growth. It’s hard for economists to measure it that way but it would be. There are a lot of people that can’t start a business because they can’t afford to leave the security of a certain type of employment. The tax credit frees that up for them to be able to do.

So let me get to the second chart if I can get it up here real quick. This kind of shows you basically the same dynamic but now based on how much people are making, what kind of jobs they do. So we picked out, just arbitrarily, some of the jobs that many of us know people are in these fields – a home health aide, a retail person working sales at Macy’s or whatever, office clerks, we all see office clerks every day, a truck driver, a vocation like a nurse, firefighters, obviously I have three firefighters in my own family.

And, again, the $1,500 tax credit with only the first $1,000 refundable, you start to see that red line here, how pathetic it is for these folks in these professions. Doesn’t really do much. But look at the blue line. That’s where we want to get to. That’s at least $2,000 child tax credit applied to their payroll tax. And now you start to see the figures get better here. You start to see the home health aide getting about $1,000 in relief. The retail salesperson a little bit under $1,000. The truck driver – between the truck driver and office clerk getting down here to $1,400. The nurse getting down here at about $1,200. The firefighter getting down here to about $1,200.

Now a lot of people are going to tell you $1,200, $1,400 is not going to change the world. It will help. I didn’t say this is a solution to every problem. The other solution is to get these salaries up higher. That’s the other part of it. But the other solution is to get the cost on some of these things lower like get a grip on the cost of getting college credits. The other solution is to provide more opportunities for child care options for people. But there’s no way this doesn’t help. It helps. It helps. And it helps the people we need to help.

And it helps us get closer to the goal that we all have for this nation, and it is a place of equal opportunity, because we pride ourselves on equal opportunity, but I am telling you that we are lacking equal opportunity if two children growing up in two different homes, one has access to quality pre-k education and then quality schooling and then the right support for that schooling, and one does not. By the time you’re a junior and a senior, it hurts you. It absolutely hurts you on your way forward in life. This is not the solution to all of our problems. That would be misleading. But it is a big step in that direction and it would show in tax policy that we are supporting the most important institution in society, which is the family. The most important function any of us will ever do which is to be a parent. And we are investing in America’s future.

The children being raised, the two, three, four children, you know who those are? Those are the people that are going to fund Social Security and Medicare when I retire and many of you retire. These are the people that are going to be starting the businesses and these are the people that are going to be the backbone of our economy, not in 50 years. In the next 10, 15, 20 years. This is the future of America literally and figuratively, the future of our nation that we would be investing in. And we would be allowing their parents to make that investment on their behalf who are the right people to be making it.

And so this has to be a part of whatever else happens. And I think this has strong bipartisan support. I know the White House supports it. I’m optimistic that it will happen. The only thing that will keep it from happening is if tax reform itself goes down. But this has to happen. There’s no choice but to do it, and it’s the right thing to do. And I’m pleased we’ve come this far on it. Now I look forward to the work to get it achieved, but it can’t just be a gimmick. It can’t just be, we increased the child tax credit by a little bit. If we don’t do it right and sufficiently and structured in an appropriate way, you’ll be raising taxes on working families. That can’t happen. I know no one here wants to see that happen.

And so we’ll have a lot of debates about everything else but this is the one I hope will have strong bipartisan support as we move forward on tax reform and I’m excited to be able to work on it.

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RUBIO, NELSON LEAD FL MEMBERS IN URGING
APPROPRIATIONS COMM. TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL HURRICANE AID

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) led nearly all members of the Florida congressional delegation in urging the leaders of the Senate and House appropriations committees to provide additional resources for hurricane recovery efforts in Florida.

The letter was signed by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), and U.S. Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Vern Buchanan (R-FL), Kathy Castor (D-FL), Charlie Crist (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Val Demings (D-FL), Ron DeSantis (R-FL),Ted Deutch (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Neal Dunn (R-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Bill Posey (R-FL), Francis Rooney (R-FL), Thomas Rooney (R-FL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Dennis Ross (R-FL), John Rutherford (R-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), and Ted Yoho (R-FL).

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SENATE PASSES RUBIO, SHAHEEN, CRAPO BILL
TO STRENGTHEN ANTI-HIZBALLAH SANCTIONS

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Washington, D.C. — On Thursday, the U.S. Senate passed the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act (S. 1595), bipartisan legislation led by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo (R-ID. The bill would strengthen and expand the scope of economic and financial sanctions imposed by the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 (Public Law 104-102), which Rubio and Shaheen co-authored with U.S. Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY).

“Iranian-backed Hizballah terrorists are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and continue to pose grave threats to the United States and our allies, including the democratic state of Israel,” said Rubio. “The president and Congress should build on the successes of our 2015 law that targets Hizballah, its proxies and its enablers, and enact this new bill to strengthen international efforts to combat the financing and expansion of Hizballah’s terrorist and missile threats, as well as its narcotics trafficking and other transnational criminal activities. I’m glad the Senate passed our bill, and I look forward to working with the House to enact these provisions into law.”

“I’m proud to once again join Senator Rubio in advancing legislation to inflict additional financial pressure on Iran’s terrorist proxy in Lebanon, Hizballah,” said Shaheen. “Congress should exercise every tool at its disposal to confront Iran’s destabilizing activity in the region outside of the Iran nuclear deal, particularly in Lebanon, where Hizballah continues to stockpile rockets and other weapons that directly threaten our ally Israel and provide military support to the murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. This legislation serves as another reminder that Democrats and Republicans are united in our commitment to confronting this threatening and unacceptable behavior.”

“Hizballah has been long recognized as a destabilizing force in the Middle East,” said Crapo. “This bill will increase economic and logistical sanctions on Hizballah, significantly cutting off the flow of resources toward its fundraising and recruitment activities.”

The Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act would impose new sanctions against foreign individuals and companies that knowingly provide significant financial, material or technological support to entities known to fundraise or recruit on behalf of the Hizballah foreign terrorist organization (FTO), its agents and its affiliates. It would also require the president to report to Congress whether the foreign financial institutions of Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism are facilitating transactions on behalf of Hizballah, and determine whether to impose additional sanctions against them.

In addition, the legislation would impose blocking sanctions against Hizballah for conducting narcotics trafficking and other significant transnational criminal activities, and strengthen reporting requirements on both Hizballah’s racketeering activities and efforts by foreign governments to disrupt Hizballah’s global logistics networks and fundraising, financing and money laundering activities. To further expose the foreign terrorist organization’s rampant corruption, it also requires a report on the estimated net worth of senior Hizballah members and any individuals determined by the president to be senior foreign political figures of Hizballah.

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TAX RELIEF FOR WORKING FAMILIES
HINGES ON CHILD TAX CREDIT EXPANSION

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today released the following analysis showing an enhanced child tax credit remains the best way to provide meaningful tax relief for working American families.

The Tax Reform Framework released by the Trump Administration and Senate and House leadership last week sets up tax reform so that the amount of tax relief working families receive will be largely dependent upon how much the Child Tax Credit is increased. The Framework proposes doubling the standard deduction and eliminating the personal exemption in order to make the tax code simpler. This needed change would make filing easier for millions of Americans, but it necessitates increasing the Child Tax Credit significantly in order to ensure meaningful tax relief for working families.

The first chart displays the tax change relative to current law that families of various sizes and income levels would see without an increased Child Tax Credit, compared to a Child Tax Credit worth $2,000 that is also refundable against payroll taxes, as proposed by Rubio and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and supported by Special Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. It shows Rubio’s proposal would cut taxes for all working and middle-class American families. It also shows that not increasing the Child Tax Credit risks raising taxes on some of these families under the proposed Framework.

 

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The second chart compares the tax relief that families of various income levels with two children, or about the average family size, would receive under a tax reform bill that increases the Child Tax Credit by only $500 on a non-refundable basis relative to the Rubio’s proposal. It shows that making the Child Tax Credit refundable against payroll tax liability is essential to meaningfully cutting taxes for America’s working class families, as the majority of American workers pay more in payroll taxes than they do income taxes.

 

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FOLLOWING EQUIFAX BREACH, RUBIO URGES SEC
TO REQUIRE COMPANIES TO DISCLOSE SIGNIFICANT HACKS

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Washington, D.C. – Following the massive Equifax data breach, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today urged Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Jay Clayton to require companies to promptly disclose significant hacks of material impact that make Americans vulnerable to identity theft.

Click here for the full text of Rubio’s letter

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RUBIO COMMENDS STATE DEPARTMENT’S
EXPULSION OF CUBAN OPERATIVES

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today after the U.S. State Department announced it will expel a number of Cuban operatives from the U.S. after American diplomats were forced to leave Havana due to attacks:

“As American diplomatic personnel continue to come under attack in Havana, I commend the U.S. State Department for expelling a number of Cuban operatives from the U.S. No one should be fooled by the Castro regime’s claim it knows nothing about how these harmful attacks are occurring or who perpetrated them. I have called on the State Department to conduct an independent investigation and submit a comprehensive report to Congress, and I look forward to reviewing it. All nations have an obligation to ensure the protection of diplomatic representatives in their countries. Cuba is failing miserably and proving how misguided and dangerous the Obama Administration’s decisions were. At this time, the U.S. embassy in Havana should be downgraded to an interests section and we should be prepared to consider additional measures against the Castro regime if these attacks continue.”

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“A medida que el personal diplomático estadounidense continúa siendo atacado en La Habana, encomiendo al Departamento de Estado de los Estados Unidos por expulsar a varios agentes cubanos de nuestro país. Nadie debería engañarse por la idea de que el régimen de Castro reclama no saber nada sobre cómo ocurren estos ataques dañinos o quien los perpetró. He hecho un llamado al Departamento de Estado para llevar a cabo una investigación independiente y presentar un informe completo al Congreso, y espero con interés revisar sus conclusiones. Todas las naciones tienen la obligación de asegurar la protección de los representantes diplomáticos en sus países. Cuba está fallando miserablemente y demostrando lo equivocadas y peligrosas que fueron las decisiones de la Administración Obama. En este momento, la embajada de los Estados Unidos en La Habana debería ser reducida a una sección de intereses y debemos estar preparados para considerar medidas adicionales contra el régimen de Castro si estos ataques continúan”.

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RUBIO DISCUSSES HURRICANE RECOVERY EFFORTS
IN PUERTO RICO and
STATE DEPARTMENT RESPONSE TO ATTACKS
ON U.S. DIPLOMATS IN HAVANA

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STATE DEPARTMENT’S RESPONSE TO CUBA ATTACKS
‘WEAK, UNACCEPTABLE, AND OUTRAGEOUS’

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Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today regarding the U.S. State Department’s response to attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba:

“In light of these harmful attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba, it is weak, unacceptable and outrageous for the U.S. State Department to allow Raul Castro to keep as many of his operatives in the U.S. as he wants. The Cuban government has failed its obligation under international treaties to keep foreign diplomats safe on its soil. The idea that Cuba knows nothing about how these attacks took place and who perpetrated them is absurd. The State Department must conduct its own investigation independent of the Castro regime and submit a comprehensive report to Congress. Until those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice, the U.S. should immediately expel an equal number of Cuban operatives, downgrade the U.S. embassy in Havana to an interests section, and consider relisting Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

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STATE DEPARTMENT’S RESPONSE TO CUBA ATTACKS
‘WEAK, UNACCEPTABLE, AND OUTRAGEOUS’

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Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today regarding the U.S. State Department’s response to attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba:

“In light of these harmful attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba, it is weak, unacceptable and outrageous for the U.S. State Department to allow Raul Castro to keep as many of his operatives in the U.S. as he wants. The Cuban government has failed its obligation under international treaties to keep foreign diplomats safe on its soil. The idea that Cuba knows nothing about how these attacks took place and who perpetrated them is absurd. The State Department must conduct its own investigation independent of the Castro regime and submit a comprehensive report to Congress. Until those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice, the U.S. should immediately expel an equal number of Cuban operatives, downgrade the U.S. embassy in Havana to an interests section, and consider relisting Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

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RUBIO INTRODUCES BILL TO
BOOST EMERGENCY RESPONSE PERSONNEL

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced bipartisan legislation to temporarily give the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) direct hiring authority to fill vacant positions for emergency response personnel.

“With two months left of hurricane season and ongoing threats from regimes overseas, we cannot afford to be ill prepared to quickly and efficiently respond to another emergency,” said Rubio. “Due to natural attrition and devastating hurricanes this year, our emergency response personnel are exhausted and stretched thin, and there are worries that we would have difficulty deploying the medical response teams necessary to adequately aid Americans should the need occur in the near future.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relies upon disaster medical teams often comprised of part-time personnel that typically work two weeks a year outside of their normal employment. These teams are deployed for emergency medical responses during natural or manmade disasters.

Rubio’s legislation gives HHS direct hiring authority, for a limited period of time, to fill these vacant positions. Congress gave HHS similar authority last year in response to the Zika virus.

The legislation is cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

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STATE DEPARTMENT’S RESPONSE TO CUBA ATTACKS
‘WEAK, UNACCEPTABLE, AND OUTRAGEOUS’

Out2News.com

Miami, FL – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today regarding the U.S. State Department’s response to attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba:

“In light of these harmful attacks against American diplomatic personnel in Cuba, it is weak, unacceptable and outrageous for the U.S. State Department to allow Raul Castro to keep as many of his operatives in the U.S. as he wants. The Cuban government has failed its obligation under international treaties to keep foreign diplomats safe on its soil. The idea that Cuba knows nothing about how these attacks took place and who perpetrated them is absurd. The State Department must conduct its own investigation independent of the Castro regime and submit a comprehensive report to Congress. Until those responsible for these attacks are brought to justice, the U.S. should immediately expel an equal number of Cuban operatives, downgrade the U.S. embassy in Havana to an interests section, and consider relisting Cuba as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

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RUBIO AND LEE:
FAMILIES MUST COME FIRST FOR TAX RELIEF

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) released the following statement today after the Trump Administration, Senate Finance Committee, and the House Committee on Ways and Means unveiled their tax reform framework:

“It is clear from the release of the Big Six framework today that an enhanced child tax credit remains the best way to provide meaningful tax relief for working American families. We are very encouraged by the plan’s priority for a ‘significantly increased’ child credit as its vehicle for this relief, and applaud the tax writers for this choice.

“Given the fundamental reforms of the framework, the child credit must be at least doubled in order to ensure working families get real tax relief. The child credit should also be applied to payroll tax liability in order to cut the taxes that working class families pay.

“Tax reform should focus on addressing the present-day challenges facing working families. We look forward to working with the administration and tax writing committees to ensure that these families are first in line for tax relief.”

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RUBIO DEPLOYS STAFF TO
PUERTO RICO TO AID IN RECOVERY EFFORTS

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San Juan, Puerto Rico – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today deployed four staff members to Puerto Rico, where they will work with federal and local officials to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

Rubio visited the island on Monday, and last night warned on the Senate floor that Puerto Rico is a growing humanitarian crisis. Last week, Rubio’s staff hosted hurricane recovery centers across Florida to help victims of Hurricane Irma.

“I’ve visited the island and seen firsthand the damage inflicted, and it is my hope that we can bring as much relief as possible for Puerto Ricans who are suffering from the storm,” said Rubio. “The situation in Puerto Rico is a growing humanitarian crisis. We cannot afford to sit idly by while over three million Americans on the island endure unimaginable hardship. My office and I will do everything in our power to help Puerto Rico receive the assistance they need.”

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RUBIO, NELSON URGE ADDITIONAL
FEDERAL ASSISTANCE FOR PUERTO RICO

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) urged President Trump to approve requests made by Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló and U.S. Virgin Islands Governor Kenneth Mapp for additional federal resources to assist with recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria.

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RUBIO WARNS PUERTO RICO IS
‘GROWING HUMANITARIAN CRISIS’

Washington, D.C. – Speaking on the U.S. Senate floor today—after visiting Puerto Rico yesterday—Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) explained the unique challenges Puerto Rico faces as it struggles to recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Maria.

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES URGE HUD TO NOT PENALIZE
HURRICANE VICTIMS APPLYING FOR RELIEF ASSISTANCE

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Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Kennedy (R-LA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today urged U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson to not penalize hurricane victims who apply for Small Business Administration (SBA) assistance but ultimately decline it in favor of other options.

“In keeping with the intent of duplication of benefits rules, we urge that HUD’s guidance not penalize disaster victims who apply for SBA assistance but do not ultimately accept this assistance,” states the senators’ letter. “Such a policy would be an important first step towards simplifying disaster assistance for victims of natural disaster like the hurricanes that have recently hit Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.”

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U.S. Customs Facility
Groundbreaking Celebration At Witham Field

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Stuart – Commissioner Doug Smith and Congressman Brian Mast spoke on behalf of the U.S. Customs Facility groundbreaking project

Local, State and federal officials with U.S. Customs and Border Protection attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the U.S. Customs Facility at Witham Field in Stuart.

The new facility will aloud the processing of international traveling that come in to the area by aircraft, marine vessels to be cleared through the U.S. Customs without going to Fort Pierce or West Palm Beach, as they have to do at the present time.

U.S. Customs facility will provide jobs to the community in the near future.

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WE NEED REAL TAX REFORM THAT EMPOWERS FAMILIES

Out2News.comIn the 1994 midterm elections, conservative Republicans were swept into Congress after a campaign centered on the “Contract with America.” A hallmark of this agenda was reducing the tax burden on working families by creating a Child Tax Credit, which Republicans succeeded in doing with the enactment of the Taxpayer Relief Act on August 5, 1997.

Twenty years later, the American people have once again given Republicans in Congress the opportunity to reform the tax code, which is outdated, overly complex, and unfair to working families. The upcoming debate about tax reform should be grounded in the realities they face every day: a fixed budget, stretched paychecks, and tough choices about putting food on the table and participating in kids’ sports leagues.

As the party of working families, Republicans must not let this opportunity go to waste. We must ensure comprehensive tax reform includes specific and meaningful tax relief for parents. After all, families are the fundamental building blocks of our communities, and the health of our society depends on families being able to provide safe and secure homes, raise active citizens, and love their children unconditionally in ways no other social institution can. Families are how values are passed on from generation to generation. We simply cannot have a strong nation without strong families.

Unfortunately, the rising costs of housing, food, health care and child care means it is more expensive than ever to have and raise children. Meanwhile, our federal tax code treats parents unfairly by effectively taxing them twice, discouraging family formation. In addition to payroll taxes on their paychecks, parents also bear the cost of raising the next generation of workers whose earnings will fund federal retirement benefits. This is an outdated framework that enriches government and special interests instead of empowering parents to make the best decisions for themselves and their children, and we must modernize it if we want to help more people succeed and achieve the American Dream in the 21st century.

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Rubio Emphasizes Need to Boost Children’s Cancer Research

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RUBIO INTRODUCES POST-DISASTER FAIRNESS TO STATES ACT

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act (S. 1641), legislation that would place a three year statute of limitation on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) clawing back funds after the completion of a project following a federally designated disaster. The current statute allows FEMA to recoup disaster funds three years after a disaster has been closed, which can take years, sometimes decades. Rubio’s bill would protect counties, cities, towns, and individual homeowners who receive FEMA disaster funds following a federally designated storm.

“Floridians should not be subjected to permanent uncertainty about when the federal government might claw back support distributed after a disaster,” said Rubio. “Our state has experienced numerous storms since 2004, and although recovery efforts have long been completed, under current law the federal government can take back these funds, sometimes decades later—financially decimating the recipients who relied on them. Closing this loophole will give local officials and homeowners certainty and peace of mind, and ensure they are treated fairly.”

Rubio’s bill ensures entities are unable to benefit from the limitation unless the federal grant’s approved purpose is accomplished, and preserves requirements ensuring recipients of federal resources following a disaster are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. The bill is supported by the Florida Association of Counties.

Many federal disaster designations stemming from hurricanes are still open in Florida, including Frances (2004), Ivan (2004), Jeanne (2004), Charley (2004), Katrina (2005), Dennis (2005), Wilma (2005), Gustav (2008), Isaac (2012), Hermine (2016), and Matthew (2016).

The Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act would:

· Amend the Stafford Act to place a three year statute of limitations for FEMA recoupment on the completion of projects. Current law starts the clock after the state closes out the entire storm, which can take years or decades.

· Ensure bad faith actors are not captured by the statute—the purpose of the grant must be accomplished to benefit. This is in addition to current prohibition for instances of civil or criminal fraud, abuse or waste.

· This would not apply to final agency decisions already rendered, per the date of enactment.

· Apply a three year statute of limitation for homeowners under the Individual Assistance category, taking effect after January 1, 2012.

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RUBIO INTRODUCES POST-DISASTER FAIRNESS TO STATES ACT

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act (S. 1641), legislation that would place a three year statute of limitation on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) clawing back funds after the completion of a project following a federally designated disaster. The current statute allows FEMA to recoup disaster funds three years after a disaster has been closed, which can take years, sometimes decades. Rubio’s bill would protect counties, cities, towns, and individual homeowners who receive FEMA disaster funds following a federally designated storm.

“Floridians should not be subjected to permanent uncertainty about when the federal government might claw back support distributed after a disaster,” said Rubio. “Our state has experienced numerous storms since 2004, and although recovery efforts have long been completed, under current law the federal government can take back these funds, sometimes decades later—financially decimating the recipients who relied on them. Closing this loophole will give local officials and homeowners certainty and peace of mind, and ensure they are treated fairly.”

Rubio’s bill ensures entities are unable to benefit from the limitation unless the federal grant’s approved purpose is accomplished, and preserves requirements ensuring recipients of federal resources following a disaster are good stewards of taxpayer dollars. The bill is supported by the Florida Association of Counties.

Many federal disaster designations stemming from hurricanes are still open in Florida, including Frances (2004), Ivan (2004), Jeanne (2004), Charley (2004), Katrina (2005), Dennis (2005), Wilma (2005), Gustav (2008), Isaac (2012), Hermine (2016), and Matthew (2016).

The Post-Disaster Fairness to States Act would:

· Amend the Stafford Act to place a three year statute of limitations for FEMA recoupment on the completion of projects. Current law starts the clock after the state closes out the entire storm, which can take years or decades.

· Ensure bad faith actors are not captured by the statute—the purpose of the grant must be accomplished to benefit. This is in addition to current prohibition for instances of civil or criminal fraud, abuse or waste.

· This would not apply to final agency decisions already rendered, per the date of enactment.

· Apply a three year statute of limitation for homeowners under the Individual Assistance category, taking effect after January 1, 2012.

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RUBIO-LEE CHILD TAX CREDIT EXPANSION WOULD BENEFIT LOWER AND MIDDLE INCOME AMERICANS

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) released the following statements after the Sutherland Institute revealed a new analysis showing the Rubio-Lee child tax credit expansion would significantly benefit lower-to-middle income and rural Americans. Part of the Rubio-Lee Economic Growth and Family Fairness Tax Plan, this proposal is part of ongoing tax reform efforts and backed by key Trump Administration officials.

“Tax reform should be grounded in the daily realities of family life: household budgets, food on the table, and equipment for kids’ sports teams,” said Rubio. “As the Sutherland Institute’s research shows, expanding the child tax credit would provide meaningful tax relief to working families across America.”

“Providing relief for working families – especially relief from the parent tax penalty – is essential for 21st century reform,” said Lee. “The Sutherland Institute’s detailed new analysis shows that an expanded child tax credit is one surefire way we can help them.”

Under the Rubio-Lee approach, families with children would be able to claim a $2,500 tax credit in addition to the current $1,000 child tax credit. The expanded child tax credit would be refundable up to each taxpayer’s combined federal income and payroll tax liability, and would be counted only after all other tax credits are factored in.

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO HOLD BACKPAGE ACCOUNTABLE, ENSURE JUSTICE FOR VICTIMS OF SEX TRAFFICKING

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Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act is a Narrowly-Crafted Solution Designed to Protect Women & Young Girls from Modern-Day Slavery

Washington D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rob Portman (R-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), John McCain (R-AZ), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Bob Casey (D-PA) Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Corker (R-TN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (R-OK), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced the Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act, bipartisan legislation that would ensure justice for victims of sex trafficking and that websites such as Backpage.com, which knowingly facilitate sex trafficking, can be held liable and brought to justice.

“Perpetrators of human trafficking and websites like Backpage.com that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking of children must be held accountable,” said Rubio. “Sex trafficking is an ongoing issue in Florida and across our nation, and this legislation is an important step forward in ensuring that those engaging in and helping to facilitate these crimes are held responsible and all victims receive the justice they deserve.”

“Stopping trafficking is one of the great humanitarian and human rights causes of the 21st century,” said Portman. “Our bipartisan investigation showed that Backpage knowingly facilitated sex trafficking on its website to increase its own profits, all at the expense of vulnerable women and young girls. For too long, courts around the country have ruled that Backpage can continue to facilitate illegal sex trafficking online with no repercussions. The Communications Decency Act is a well-intentioned law, but it was never intended to help protect sex traffickers who prey on the most innocent and vulnerable among us. This bipartisan, narrowly-crafted bill will help protect vulnerable women and young girls from these horrific crimes.”

The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act would clarify Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so that victims can get justice. This narrowly-crafted legislation offers three reforms to help sex trafficking victims. The bipartisan bill would:

· Allow victims of sex trafficking to seek justice against websites that knowingly facilitated the crimes against them;

· Eliminate federal liability protections for websites that assist, support, or facilitate a violation of federal sex trafficking laws; and

· Enable state law enforcement officials, not just the federal Department of Justice, to take action against individuals or businesses that violate federal sex trafficking laws.

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RUBIO DENOUNCES VENEZUELAN DICTATOR MADURO’S SNATCHING OF OPPOSITION LEADERS

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement today after Venezuelan opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma were taken from their homes by the regime of dictator Nicolás Maduro:

“Early this morning, the Maduro regime responded to President Trump’s sanctions against the dictator by snatching Venezuelan opposition leaders Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma from their homes. Just last Friday, Vice President Pence spoke to Mr. López by phone, which is why there should be no doubt that his arrest is a direct challenge to President Trump. As the president stated two weeks ago, and the vice president reiterated last Friday, if the Maduro regime imposed its Constituent Assembly, the United States would respond with strong and swift economic actions. This is a promise I remain confident the president will keep.”

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Rubio’s Televised Address to the Venezuelan People

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IN ENGLISH & ESPAÑOL: RUBIO APPLAUDS
SANCTIONS ON VENEZUELA’S NICOLAS MADURO

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement after the Trump Administration announced new sanctions against Venezuelan dictator Nicolas Maduro:

“The sanctions imposed today on Nicolas Maduro are warranted. However, I remain confident the president will keep his clear commitment to impose economic sanctions on the regime if they convene the illegitimate Constituent Assembly.”

En Español:

“Las sanciones en contra de Nicolás Maduro están garantizadas. Sin embargo, estoy seguro que el Presidente mantendrá su compromiso e impondrá sanciones económicas al régimen si convocan la Asamblea Constituyente ilegitima.”

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U.S. SHOULD NOT RECOGNIZE
MADURO’S ILLEGITIMATE POWER GRAB

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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) released the following statement regarding today’s vote in Venezuela:

“The U.S. should not recognize the Maduro regime’s fraudulent Constituent Assembly, established against the will of the Venezuelan people and contrary to Venezuela’s constitution. Two weeks ago, millions of Venezuelans made their voices heard when they voted to reject today’s vote, which is only a desperate and illegitimate power grab by Maduro.

“I am confident that President Trump will respond swiftly and decisively. I encourage him to expand sanctions on individuals who have committed or supported the violation of human rights and the democratic order. Furthermore, I urge him to impose economic sanctions on the Maduro regime that will not harm the people of Venezuela but will deprive the Maduro regime of the resources they need to remain in power.

“We stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their struggle for freedom and democracy. It is critical, now more than ever, that we continue to be vocal and support the Venezuelan people and assist them as best we can in reclaiming their representative democracy, their inalienable rights and, at a most fundamental level, their sense of dignity and justice.”

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES SEEK ANSWERS FROM
STATE DEPARTMENT ON ISIS GENOCIDE DETERMINATION

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), James Lankford (R-OK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Cory Gardner (R-CO), and John Cornyn (R-TX) today sought clarification from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the Department’s position regarding genocide perpetrated by the Islamic State against Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities. The letter follows recent troubling news reports that the State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser has sought to undermine and perhaps roll back the determination of then Secretary of State John Kerry that ISIS is “responsible for genocide” against these communities.

Click here to read the entire letter

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RUBIO WELCOMES TRUMP’S NOMINATION OF
AMBASSADOR-AT-LARGE FOR INTN’L RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement regarding President Donald Trump’s nomination of Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS) for ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom:

“I applaud President Trump’s nomination of Governor Sam Brownback for ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom. With ancient religious communities such as Christians and Yezidis on the verge of extinction in Iraq and Syria after the Islamic State’s campaign of genocide, and with authoritarian regimes attempting to crush dissent‎ by harassing and imprisoning people of faith, filling this State Department post with a qualified, committed individual has never been more urgent. Governor Brownback brings years of experience and stature at a critical time when religious freedom is under assault globally. Promoting religious freedom must be a foreign policy priority—it is not only a moral imperative but it is directly tied to our national security. I look forward to working with Governor Brownback on these important issues.”

Rubio was the lead Senate sponsor of the Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, which Congress passed and President Obama signed into law in December 2016. The legislation strengthens and modernizes the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, providing the State Department with new tools to counter the spread of violent extremism and promote and advance the universal human right of religious freedom around the world.

Rubio has been a leading advocate for international religious freedom issues in the Senate, and played a central role in the reauthorization of the bipartisan, independent, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom last Congress.

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AHEAD OF FRAUDULENT VOTE, RUBIO & MENENDEZ
URGE TRUMP TO SANCTION TOP MADURO CRONIES

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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today urged President Trump to sanction individuals in the Maduro regime responsible for human rights abuses ahead of the fraudulent July 30 vote to rewrite the Venezuelan constitution.

“The people of Venezuela have welcomed your Administration’s forward-looking policy in support of democracy and human rights,” states the senators’ letter. “As the economic and political conditions in Venezuela continue to deteriorate and generate a humanitarian crisis, the Maduro regime has responded with repression and brutality. We believe that the time has come to impose additional sanctions against those individuals who have led Venezuela into the abyss.”

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RUBIO, SHAHEEN INTRODUCE BILL
TO STRENGTHEN ANTI-HIZBALLAH SANCTIONS

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Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today introduced the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act (S. 1595), bipartisan legislation that would strengthen and expand the scope of economic and financial sanctions imposed by the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015 (Public Law 104-102), which Rubio and Shaheen co-authored with U.S. Representatives Ed Royce (R-CA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY).

“Iranian-backed Hizballah terrorists are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, and continue to pose grave threats to the United States and our allies, including the democratic state of Israel,” said Rubio. “The president and Congress should build on the successes of our 2015 law that targets Hizballah, its proxies and its enablers, and enact this new bill to strengthen international efforts to combat the financing and expansion of Hizballah’s terrorist and missile threats, as well as its narcotics trafficking and other transnational criminal activities.”

“In the time since the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act was signed into law in 2015, Hizballah has continued to do Iran’s bidding in the region by threatening Israel’s security and fighting in Syria in support of the murderous dictator Bashar al-Assad,” said Shaheen. “The U.S. must continue to do all it can to cut off Hizballah’s sources of financing, and I am glad to join again with Senator Rubio on bipartisan legislation to increase pressure on Hizballah. Lebanon is an important ally of the United States, and I am hopeful that our governments can continue to work together to combat terrorism and bring further stability to their country.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced a companion bill in the House (H.R. 3329).

The Hizballah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act would impose new sanctions against foreign individuals and companies that knowingly assist, sponsor or provide significant financial, material or technological support to entities known to fundraise or recruit on behalf of the Hizballah foreign terrorist organization (FTO), its agents and its affiliates. It would also require the president to report to Congress whether the foreign financial institutions of Iran and other state sponsors of terrorism are facilitating transactions on behalf of Hizballah, and therefore should have additional sanctions imposed against them pursuant to U.S. law.

In addition, the legislation would impose blocking sanctions against Hizballah for conducting narcotics trafficking and other significant transnational criminal activities, and strengthen reporting requirements on both Hizballah’s racketeering activities and efforts by foreign governments to disrupt Hizballah’s global logistics networks and fundraising, financing and money laundering activities. To further expose the foreign terrorist organization’s rampant corruption, it also requires a report on the estimated net worth of senior Hizballah members and any individuals determined by the president to be senior foreign political figures of Hizballah.

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RUBIO, PETERS INTRODUCE LEGISLATION
IMPROVING VETERANS BURIAL HONORS

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today introduced the Burial Rights for America’s Veterans’ Efforts (BRAVE) Act, legislation that would update the current funeral and burial benefit system to ensure that all non-service connected deaths are treated equally, regardless of where the veteran passes away. Veterans with no next of kin that pass away in a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility are currently afforded greater funds to cover the costs of their funerals and burials than veterans who pass away in a private home or other facility.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much defending our country, and we owe them a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay,” said Rubio. “They are entitled to a proper funeral and burial no matter where they pass away. This bipartisan legislation will ensure we honor all of America’s heroes properly, with the highest honors and respect.”

“Our brave men and women in uniform have sacrificed so much in defense of our nation, and we owe it to them to ensure they receive the benefits they earned through their service, including a dignified burial,” said Peters. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation to honor our nation’s heroes by making commonsense updates to veterans’ funeral benefits to help ensure every veteran has a proper funeral and burial, no matter the circumstances at the end of their lives.”

Currently, the VA burial benefit provides $300 for non-service-connected deaths and for veterans who have passed without a next-of-kin, $749 if a veteran passes away in a VA facility, and $2,000 if a veteran passes away from a service-connected disability.

The BRAVE Act will increase the $300 for non-service connected deaths to $749 to equal the benefit received if a veteran passes away in a VA facility. The legislation additionally indexes for inflation both the non-service and service-related passing funeral benefits, thereby eliminating the need for Congress to make further readjustments.

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MILLIONS OF VENEZUELANS HAVE SAID
‘WE DON’T WANT TO BE A CUBAN-STYLE GOVERNMENT’

Out2News.comWashington, DC – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), chairman of the Senate’s western hemisphere subcommittee, delivered remarks at the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI) Congressional briefing today in support of the people of Venezuela as they fight for freedom and democracy.

Rubio’s remarks can be watched here. A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.

RUBIO: [T]his cause … is not about interfering in the internal affairs of Venezuela. It’s about supporting the people of Venezuela. In essence, this is a cause they’ve taken up. If millions of people had shown up this Sunday in support of moving in the Cuba direction, we would be very disappointed.

But that’s not what happened. Millions of people showed up to reject this unconstitutional direction that the country is headed. In essence, millions of Venezuelans have said, “we don’t want to be Cuba.” For good reason. “We don’t want to be a Cuban-style government.” And it’s appropriate, one, in a country that has one of the oldest traditions of democracy in the region. And how tragic would it be if on July 30th of this month, that constitutional order was overthrown? And what would take its place is no less than a Cuban-style government. It is not an exaggeration to say that. They are basically taking the Cuban model of government and are going to impose it on Venezuela. It would be the first loss of democracy in the region in almost 40 years. …

To those in the private sector who are thinking about lending money to Venezuela, ask yourselves, you will become the financiers of a repressive regime. And the reputational damage would be impossible to undo.

To the Russian government, if you want to get paid back on all this money that Maduro owes you, the best bet you would have is to have a democratic government in place with a prosperous economy.

To the Chinese government, how humiliating, how humiliating that you’re not going to get paid back on all the money these people owe you? How humiliating is that?

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE RESOLUTION
HONORING LATE CUBAN DISSIDENT OSWALDO PAYÁ

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – Ahead of the fifth anniversary of Oswaldo Payá’s death, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced a bipartisan resolution honoring the legacy of the Cuban dissident and calling for an impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death. Payá, an outspoken activist for free speech, democracy, and human rights, died in a car crash on July 22, 2012. While the Castro regime maintains Payá’s death was an accident, Payá’s family and the driver involved in the crash claim another car forced them off the road.

“In 2012, Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá was murdered by the Castro regime, which attempted to disguise the assassination as a car crash,” said Rubio. “For decades the Castros have systematically murdered, imprisoned, and brutalized their political opponents, and Oswaldo was no exception. He was a brave advocate for freedom and human rights, and if the Cuban government has nothing to hide it should allow an independent investigation into his death to proceed so that his family can receive closure.”

“Oswaldo Payá was a courageous voice for justice and democracy in Cuba, and his death was a tragic blow to the dissident movement on the island. I’m proud to introduce this resolution honoring his life and legacy and calling for a transparent and independent investigation into his death,” said Durbin. “I continue to stand with the Payá family and the people of Cuba in demanding peaceful democratic reform and the release of all political prisoners.”

“Oswaldo Payá was a committed advocate for the freedom of the Cuban people, and his work and legacy must never be forgotten,” said Nelson.

“Five years after the tragic accident that took Oswaldo Paya’s life, and in a demonstration of the twisted nature of the Castro regime, we still have not gotten to the bottom of what actually happened to the most visible face and leader of Cuba’s peaceful opposition movement,” said Menendez. “We cannot allow innocent members of the international community to be brutalized and victimized by a regime so they can hide the truth. That is why I am proud to join my colleagues in this effort to undertake a full and independent investigation of the suspicious circumstances surrounding Oswaldo Paya’s tragic death, and vow to continue looking for ways to hold the Castro regime accountable for their brutality and repression that has deprived the Cuban people of the basic human rights we so proudly proclaim to support around the world.”

“Oswaldo Paya dedicated his life to promoting democratic freedoms and human rights in Cuba,” said Cruz. “His legacy will never be forgotten and continues to inspire dissidents to this day – in Cuba and in other countries under tyrannical rule, like Venezuela. We must send a powerful statement to Raul Castro that here in the United States of America, we stand with freedom fighters like Oswaldo Paya, who worked to bring hope and liberty to an oppressed nation and make a better Cuba, free of communist rule.”

“Oswaldo Payá’s courageous pursuit of freedom and justice left a legacy that inspires those fighting for human rights and democratic values,” said Merkley. “I’m joining my colleagues in honoring that legacy by demanding a full, transparent investigation into his death.”

An early critic of the Castro regime, Oswaldo Payá founded the Christian Liberation Movement (MLC) in 1988 to promote democracy and civil liberties through non-violent resistance. A decade later, the organization established the Varela Project, which sought to advance democratic reforms by exploiting a provision in the Cuban Constitution allowing the public to introduce legislation. In 2003, the Cuban government arrested 25 members of the Project and 40 members of the MLC, drawing international condemnation and sparking the creation of the Ladies in White movement. Payá, his family, and collaborators endured years of harassment by authorities for their efforts to improve the lives of the Cuban people.

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RUBIO, MENENDEZ INTRODUCE LEGISLATION
TO PROTECT GIRLS’ ACCESS TO EDUCATION

Out2News.comWashington, DC – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chair and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee on global women’s issues, respectively, today introduced the Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act, legislation that would ensure children overseas who are displaced due to ongoing conflicts receive an education. The bill urges the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to prioritize increased access to education for displaced children, especially girls, who are often the most vulnerable.

“It is a sad reality that 62 million girls across the globe are not in school,” said Rubio. “It is critical that we help change this and ensure that all children have access to a primary or secondary education, whatever their gender and wherever they live. When girls are not in school, they can become more vulnerable to human trafficking and other forms of exploitation. This legislation will help offer a brighter future for millions of children around the world.”

“More than 65 million people are currently displaced due to driving forces including war, famine, and persecution, half of whom are under the age of 18. Education empowers young people to take control of their future and by equipping them with tools to become the next generation of leaders for their communities in and emerging from conflict,” said Menendez. “Ensuring access to education provides alternatives for joining criminal organization and protection from abduction, human trafficking and early marriage, which disproportionately impact young girls. This legislation sends and important message that the United States supports displaced people around the world, the importance of equal opportunity for girls and boys, and the value of education.”

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE
VA EMPLOYEE REFORM BILL

Out2News.comWashington, DC – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Luther Strange (R-AL), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) introduced the VA Quality Employment Act, legislation that would revamp hiring and employee management processes at the agency’s more than 1,200 health service centers across the country. The bill includes critical reforms designed to help the VA attract and retain top talent, hold poor performance accountable, and deliver exceptional services and care to America’s veteran population.

“It is crucial that employees at the Department of Veterans Affairs stand ready to provide exceptional care for our veterans and always take responsibility for their actions in the work place,” said Rubio. “While we have made significant progress on VA reform in recent months, there is still more that can be done to ensure our nation’s heroes are getting the services and care they need and deserve. I am proud to support legislation that will further our agenda of reforming the VA.”

“For millions of Americans who have served, Veterans Administration employees represent the face of our nation’s promise of care,” said Strange. “It is critical that VA facilities stand ready to meet their needs. By implementing reviews of agency leadership and providing talented caregivers with ongoing training and development, the VA Quality Employment Act builds on the work of President Trump’s administration to reform the agency. I am proud to champion an effort to help the VA keep its covenant with our nation’s heroes.”

“If our veterans are going to receive the best of care, then the VA needs to hire and retain the best of talent,” said Cotton. “Anyone who isn’t 100 percent dedicated to our veterans does not deserve the privilege to care for them. This legislation will strengthen the VA’s workforce, which will ultimately help our veterans get the care they need.”

“A lingering problem at the Muskogee VA Health Care System is recruiting and retaining qualified doctors and staff,” said Inhofe. “The VA Quality Employment Act would make necessary changes to improve hiring and management at our VA facilities, addressing this problem head on. I am proud to join my colleagues in their efforts to continue to reform and improve this agency so that our veterans will once again be able trust the VA.”

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RUBIO, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO IMPOSE
ECO. EMBARGO ON NORTH KOREA AND ITS ENABLERS

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Rob Portman (R-OH) today introduced the North Korean Enablers Accountability Act, bipartisan legislation that would ban any entity that does business with North Korea or its enablers from using the United States financial system, and impose U.S. sanctions on all those participating in North Korean labor trafficking abuses.

“North Korea, one of the world’s worst human rights abusers, is continuing to expand its nuclear and ballistic missile threats against the American homeland and our allies,” said Rubio, chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, And Global Women’s Issues. “It’s high time for the United States to maximize international economic pressure against Kim Jong Un’s regime as well as against the many foreign banks and foreign companies that are enabling it, especially in China.”

“With its latest successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korea has demonstrated intent and capability to hit the U.S. homeland – and as President Trump said, we must never allow this to happen,” said Gardner, chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity. “We must take every diplomatic and economic measure now to stop North Korea and to prevent nuclear war. My bipartisan legislation gives those that currently conduct trade with North Korea a clear choice – either do business with this heinous outlaw regime or do business with the world’s leading economic and military power.”

“There is no military solution to the threat of a nuclear North Korea,” said Markey, ranking member of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity. “We must utilize direct negotiations with Pyongyang alongside increased economic sanctions pressure from China to bring the Kim regime to the table and ultimately rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. These negotiations could offer the prospect of engaging North Korea in line with international norms by ending horrific human rights abuses, including labor trafficking.”

“North Korea must be held accountable for its dangerous and destabilizing actions,” said Portman. “Whether it’s the regime’s illegal nuclear weapons program, its provocative ballistic missile tests, its human rights abuses against its own people, or its outrageous and unacceptable detention of Americans, it is time to impose meaningful costs on the North Korean government. The United States cannot do this alone, and other countries in the region, particularly China, also have an obligation to take real action against this threat to regional stability and our national security.”

“North Korea’s Fourth of July intercontinental ballistic missile test constitutes a new level of threat to U.S. national security and regional peace and stability that requires a firm response,” said Menendez. “This provocative and destabilizing act has rightly been condemned by the United States and the international community and must serve only to further isolate North Korea. In that vein, the bill we are introducing today is a bipartisan effort that represents additional measures required to get our North Korea policy right. We seek to impose real consequences for those entities who, even after Kim Jong-un’s defiance and continued flagrant violations of international law, continue to do business and support his vicious regime. In light of Pyongyang’s continued determination to have a functional missile capable of reaching the United States topped with a nuclear warhead, I will continue to work with my colleagues in a bipartisan manner to seek effective measures to curtail North Korea’s dangerous and destabilizing behavior.”

On July 4, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that demonstrated the capability of reaching the U.S. homeland. Two weeks prior to that, North Korea tested a rocket engine capable of carrying an intercontinental ballistic missile. In 2016, North Korea conducted two nuclear tests and 24 ballistic missile launches. This year, North Korea fired 17 missiles during 11 tests. Ninety percent of North Korea’s trade is conducted with China, and recent reports indicate that China’s trade with North Korea has significantly increased.

The North Korean Enablers Accountability Act would:

· Require the president to block all transactions that are property of the North Korean government, affiliates, or those that do significant business with North Korea.

· Require the president to block any entity or financial institution implicated in any significant trade in goods or services with North Korea from the U.S. financial system. Entities include the top 10 Chinese importers of goods from North Korea.

· Require the president to prohibit any goods made with North Korean labor from entering the United States and to impose sanctions of all entities implicated in North Korean labor trafficking.

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RUBIO CO-HOSTS BRIEFING
ON PEDIATRIC MEDICAL RESEARCH

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Washington, D.C. – This morning, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DE) co-hosted and spoke at a policy briefing featuring experts from Nemours Children’s Health System and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The briefing highlighted the urgent need to include children in pioneering cancer research and the precision medicine initiative that studies how differences in genetics, environment, and lifestyle can be identified to help develop tailored personalized treatments for critical diseases.

Rubio’s remarks can be watched here. A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.

RUBIO: Even though our technical capabilities have caught up to enable researchers to pinpoint similarities in adult and childhood cancer genomes, the law that prompts companies to examine the drug’s safety in children has not been updated. The pace of innovation is moving much faster than the ability of a republic to keep pace with. As early as this week, we have an opportunity to finally change that. As I already mentioned earlier, Senator Bennet of Colorado and I have worked on legislation, the RACE for Children Act, to close this, what I believe was an unintended loophole. And this bill is expected to be included in a larger package to be voted on in the House hopefully as early as this week.

Now what this is, this is the result of a lot of hard work from a number of stakeholders, including our hosts here today. So this is an exciting step forward, but it is only one piece of the puzzle. With the launch of the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot and the All of Us Precision Medicine initiatives, we have a real opportunity to close the gaps between public policy and research with today’s technology. And we must all work together to ensure that as we close that gap, pediatric medicine in general and pediatric oncology in particular are not left out.

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Defense Authorization Passes with Rooney TBI Amendment

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Tom Rooney (FL-17) fought to include language which will ensure that service members with TBI and PTSD are given a fair consideration during military and misconduct separations in the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Rooney’s amendment, offered in conjunction with his co-chair of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), requires the Secretary of Defense to report to Congress within 180 days on the implementation of recommendations from a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the military services’ consideration of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in misconduct separations.

“With tens of thousands of our nation’s troops and veterans suffering from invisible wounds like TBI and PTSD we need to do our due diligence to ensure all service branch policies are consistent with the Department of Defense,” Rooney said. “These men and women put their lives on the line to defend our country and it is our responsibility to care for them and take all factors into consideration in military separations.”

Rooney’s amendment was included in the greater NDAA, which passed the House today with a bipartisan vote of 344-81. The NDAA authorizes spending for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs and foreign military operations. Additionally the NDAA combats global terrorism by fully resourcing and authorizing counter terrorism efforts and U.S. special forces programs. As the world grows more dangerous, our military has grown smaller. The FY 2018 NDAA is a necessary step to repair the damage that has been done to military readiness over the past decade. Additionally, this year’s bill includes a 2.4% pay raise for our troops, the largest increase since 2010. The legislation reflects our commitment to military members’ quality of life by investing in on-base housing and funding relocation costs for base transfer.

“The most important job of Congress is to provide for a common defense,” Rooney concluded, “this bill is an important step in repairing the damage that has been done after nearly half a decade of cuts which have driven military readiness to abysmal levels.”

Rooney, co-chair of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) caucus, also was pleased to see $10.5 billion in funding for the F-35 caucus, which will provide our armed forces with 87 new aircraft. Ensuring our men and women in uniform have the latest and greatest technology is imperative to increasing our readiness levels.

To learn more about this bill visit: https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings-and-legislation/ndaa-national-defense-authorization-act

Out2martincounty.com

RUBIO APPLAUDS MAYOR LENNY CURRY FOR
WORKING TO PROVIDE PAID FAMILY LEAVE FOR JAX

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today released the following statement after Mayor Lenny Curry announced his proposal to introduce a parental leave policy that would provide City of Jacksonville employees with similar support and offerings:

“I’m excited Mayor Curry is working to provide paid family leave to City of Jacksonville employees,” said Rubio. “From the rising cost of living to the historically high cost of raising children, affordable family formation is one of the great social challenges of our time. While certain pro-family economic policies are not traditionally part of the Republican agenda, it is my goal to change that – because we cannot have a strong America without strong families. I’m glad to see momentum on this issue in Congress and at the local level. I commend Mayor Curry for his leadership in supporting Florida’s families, and look forward to building on our efforts to create the social and economic flexibility needed for raising children.”

“My wife and I agree that there was never a more exciting or exhausting time in our lives than the births of our children,” said Curry. “While there is a great deal of research that speaks to the direct influence women have on their children’s success, I know first-hand the tremendous value and benefit our family received when Molly was able to stay home with our new babies. I believe all families deserve an environment where parents and newborns get an opportunity to bond without the worry of work demands and stresses of a reduced income.”

The plan, to be introduced to union officials for collective bargaining after October 1, offers parents employed by the City six weeks of paid leave following the birth or adoption of a child. Statistics support that paid leave can have a positive impact on the health of children and families. In addition to health benefits, there are also long-term economic benefits for both families and employers who offer paid leave.

Following its collective bargaining success and ratification by City Council, the City of Jacksonville would be among few city governments in the state to offer a paid parental leave policy. Currently, employees who qualify can take up to 12 weeks of leave utilizing their available leave in conjunction with unpaid leave following a birth, in adherence with Family Medical Leave Act guidelines. With this policy, COJ employees will be granted six weeks of paid parental leave, affording them the opportunity to maintain some of their leave balances.

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RUBIO, BILIRAKIS LEAD EFFORTS TO PROTECT
FLORIDA CHILDREN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PROGRAM

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) today urged U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price to take action on much-needed regulatory changes that would allow Florida’s Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to better serve Florida children and their families. The program provides quality, affordable insurance to children across the state.

Florida CHIP’s Sunshine Health Stars Plus Plan helps working families whose income level disqualifies them for Medicaid and traditional CHIP, but are still seeking affordable health insurance for their children. Since 2015, the plan has seen its premiums rise nearly 60% and its enrollment drop from 30,000 to 11,000 children. Now, thousands of children in Florida are at risk of losing health insurance if the program is not protected.

Out2martincounty.com

READOUT OF IVANKA TRUMP,
RUBIO CHILD TAX CREDIT MEETING

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Upon U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s invitation, Ivanka Trump joined Republican members of the House and Senate on Capitol Hill today to discuss pro-family tax reform, particularly the Child Tax Credit. The meeting focused on how Congress can best achieve President Trump’s promise to deliver meaningful tax relief to working families. Among the ways to do this, the members discussed:

· Making the Child Tax Credit more meaningful for the working class;

· Eliminating marriage penalties in the tax code; and

· Promoting paid family leave

Senator Rubio was glad to see strong support for pro-family policies that empower parents to make decisions that are best for their children, and he looks forward to working with his congressional colleagues to make tax relief for working families an essential piece of comprehensive tax reform.

Participants included: Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ), Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX).

Background on Rubio’s efforts on pro-family tax reform:
· Senator Rubio has long supported reforming the Child Tax Credit to be more effective for middle-class families, and was the first Republican presidential candidate to propose a paid family leave plan.

· In 2015, he and Senator Lee proposed a new Child Tax Credit worth $2,500 per child, applicable to total income and payroll tax liability.

· President Trump campaigned on tax relief for working families, and Ivanka Trump has been a leader on making pro-family issues an essential piece of tax reform.

· The meeting between Ivanka Trump and members of Congress demonstrates the momentum for this push.

· Senator Rubio looks forward to working with his congressional colleagues and the Administration to enact meaningful tax relief for working families.

Out2martincounty.com

RUBIO, NELSON URGE ADMINISTRATION
TO SEEK COMPENSATION FOR AMERICAN PROPERTY
STOLEN BY CUBAN GOVERNMENT

Out2News.comWashington, D.C. – As the Trump Administration reviews its policy towards Cuba, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) urged U.S. State and Treasury Department Secretaries Rex Tillerson and Steven Mnuchin to prioritize seeking compensation for Americans whose property was stolen by the Cuban government.

“The U.S. Foreign Claims Settlement Commission (FCSC) has certified more than 5,900 claims against the Cuban Government for stolen property,” states the senators’ letter. “These claims—now valued at approximately $8 billion—remain unresolved. While the Cuban Government has manufactured ridiculous counter-claims to avoid responsibility, we urge you to seek fair compensation on behalf of these Americans as soon as possible. To that end, we request that you work with Congress to develop a plan and timeline for resolution of these claims, as well as consider instructing the FCSC to conduct a third Cuban Claims Program to allow for potential new claimants.”

The full text of the senators’ letter

Out2martincounty.com

Martin County Opposes Brightline, Despite Florida Support

Out2News.comOver the past several decades, many counties in South Florida have authorized expansions of urban development boundaries, towering building heights, increased density and construction of new roads to support surging growth. We acknowledge why the urbanized areas would be enthusiastic about a purported fast passenger train as a public transportation option to alleviate resulting traffic congestion and gridlock.

However, during the expansive growth era of South Florida, Martin County consistently has held the line on our urban services boundary; protected comprehensive planning policies; and otherwise managed our growth to maintain a slice of Florida in which people love to live, work and vacation.

Through the rail expansion process, Martin County’s goal has been to ensure that our safety needs and the unique environment we have protected for decades were properly addressed. We have exposed the use of taxpayer money to fund what All Aboard Florida (aka Brightline) calls a “self-financed” project. In return, we have been targeted as simple NIMBYs with no legitimate concerns.

To be clear, Martin County is unique. Within the Treasure Coast we have three coastal state parks along which All Aboard Florida proposes to run its 110 mph passenger and 70 mph freight trains. The train traffic through eastern Martin County will increase from the current 10-14 times a day to up to 52 times a day. These fast trains also will run through smaller, pedestrian-friendly communities and small business districts, not industrialized areas or areas sectioned off long ago for Tri-Rail use.

http://out2martincounty.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/02/17-Apr-Brightline-resize-1.jpg Also of great concern are the impacts from increased crossings over the 100-year-old St. Lucie River Railroad Bridge. It spans approximately 1,275 feet across the St. Lucie River, rising about 8-10 feet from the river. Only one train can cross at a time. The additional 38 times a train travels across the bridge means 38 additional bridge closures which would cause vehicular backups into downtown Stuart and delays for boaters. The closures will increase impacts to the marine industry, the health of the estuary and potentially the structural integrity of the antiquated bridge. Although All Aboard Florida will replace smaller bridges to accommodate the new intensity of its operations, it is not replacing or enhancing our bridge.

Furthermore, national rail safety expert George Gavalla found that no other passenger rail system in the U.S. combines 110 mph fast trains and 70 mph freight trains running on the same rail line through densely-populated urban and coastal recreation areas. Gavalla observed that risk factors leading to deadly railroad accidents and derailments rise dramatically with significant increases in train speeds and as with All Aboard Florida, the quadrupling of the number of trains in operation.

To make matters more confounding, the railroad owner is requiring the counties to pay for safety upgrades that will enable All Aboard Florida’s higher speeds and increased traffic. These costs to taxpayers will rise from less than $200,000 currently in Martin County to more than $13 million in 2030 and exceeding $31 million by 2040.

But all is not lost. Martin County has urged All Aboard Florida and the regulators to consider alternative routes to reduce and minimize the impacts to the eastern portions of Martin County. Such alternatives would avoid the bridge and dramatically reduce the future costs to the taxpayers.

We give kudos to local governments for efforts to curb consequences of sprawl and dense growth. In Martin County, we continue our principled fight to advocate for the safety of our citizens and our visitors, and to protect the unique environment we call home.

Taryn Kryzda is the county administrator for Martin County.

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HONOR FLIGHTOut2martincounty.com85 WWII Veterans at the US Marine Memorial. Such a wonderful day!

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OUT2MARTINCOUNTY.COM THE GENESIS בְּרֵאשִׁית, Γένεσις,

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