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Government & Political News 

Federal, State, County & Municipal News

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March 2019 Martin County Meetings

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BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
March 26, 2019 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.

BOARD OF ZONING ADJUSTMENT
March 28, 2019 at 7:00 pm
Location: Commission Chambers

 

CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY LICENSING BOARD
March 27, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Location: Commission Chambers

RIO NEIGHBORHOOD ADVISORY COMMITTEE
March 28, 2019 at 6:00 pm
Location: Vince Bocchino Community Center, 2369 NE Dixie Highway, Jensen Beach

VALUE ADJUSTMENT BOARD
March 29, 2019 at 10:30 am
Location: Commission Chambers
For more information, please contact Donna Gordon, Executive Aide, Administration, 772.221.1352 or dgordon@martin.fl.us.

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WEEKLY UPDATE

Another busy week in Tallahassee is nearly in the books, and we are about one third of the way through the legislative session.

On Tuesday, I welcomed The Realtors of the Palm Beaches and Greater Fort Lauderdale to the Capitol for Great American Realtor Days.

 

Out2News.com I also had the opportunity to present House Bill 771, a bipartisan bill regarding environmental regulation, to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee. It passed, and is now on the way to its third committee.

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I also had the opportunity to present House Bill 771, a bipartisan bill regarding environmental regulation, to the Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee. It passed, and is now on the way to its third committee.

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Yesterday was filled with lots of legislative activity as well as opportunities to see many faces from home as we marked Developmental Disability Awareness Day. My staff and I had the pleasure of meeting with constituents involved with Stand Up for Independence, an organization for children with disabilities.

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Yesterday was also Treasure Coast Chambers of Commerce Days at the Capitol. What a treat to visit with so many District 83 chamber members in person as they took time to come to Tallahassee to share their concerns face to face. I was able to give some of them a tour of the Capitol, and it was my pleasure to recognize many of them during session on the Chamber floor.

I was glad to welcome Stuart Mayor Becky Bruner to my office.

 

While in session yesterday, I was proud to join my colleagues in passing a resolution urging Congress to increase pressure on the oppressive Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela.

If you plan to be in Tallahassee while the legislature is in session, please let me know. We would be happy to help with your visit in any way possible and would appreciate the opportunity to visit with you.

Thank you for your friendship and support!

 

 

 

 

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Martin County Taxpayers Association Annual Dinner

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Former US Congressman Tom Rooney will be the guest speaker at the Martin County Taxpayers Association annual dinner. Having served as US Representative from 2009 to 2019, Mr. Rooney proved to be an unusual politician with his pragmatic and outspoken manner. An open critic of D.C. and its players, we predict he will continue, as a private citizen, to be a reliable voice of experience and honesty. You will have a wonderful opportunity to meet many of your local elected officials as well.

Where: Kane Center
When: Weds. March 27, 2019. Cocktail hour from
6:00pm – 7:00pm, dinner served at 7:00pm.
Cost: $60.00pp members; $70pp non-members
How: Go online to purchase tickets at https://mctaxpayers.org/.
Or, mail a check to PO Box 741 Stuart, FL 34995.

Call Darlene VanRiper at 772-285-7447 for further information.

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ECONOMIC GROWTH DEPENDS ON INVESTMENT IN THE REAL ECONOMY

For an editorial board that regularly invokes President Ronald Reagan, the Gipper’s axiom that “the person who agrees with you 80% of the time is a friend and an ally—not a 20% traitor” no longer seems to hold true. Case in point is your editorial “The Stock Buyback Panic” (March 11) criticizing my efforts to enact pro-growth, pro-worker reforms.

In my report outlining the threat that China’s efforts to dominate the high-value industries of the 21st century poses to the U.S. economy, I propose encouraging more domestic investment through the tax code. My proposal would expand and make permanent full expensing for business investment enacted by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, and equalize the tax treatment between share buybacks and dividends. Curiously, you leave out any mention of full expensing in your criticism—despite having endorsed that very policy choice for the same reason that I do: Economic growth depends on investment in the real economy.

Policy makers need to reassess why the U.S. economy has continued to shift investment away from manufacturing, and consider its ultimate effect on American productivity and workers. Your suggestion that I want “politicians to have more leverage to direct how business deploy their capital” ignores that politicians already incentivize business behavior through the tax code, just for uses other than capital expenditure. I believe our policies should unambiguously support capital investment. If that goes against the preferences of business models that rely on unproductive paper arbitrage, then so be it.

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TRUMP IS RIGHT. DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME SHOULD BE PERMANENT

Last weekend, Americans were forced to comply with an antiquated practice that continues to frustrate a growing majority of the public: the biannual practice of changing our clocks.

Daylight saving time was initiated more than 100 years ago in Germany to conserve energy during World War I. In 2005, Congress voted to extend the practice, originally observed for six months, in the United States for eight months, from March to November. This leaves 48 states changing their clocks twice a year for only 18 weeks of standard time.

It simply does not make sense. It’s time for Congress to finally do away with the hour shifting by making daylight saving time permanent. There is no need for Americans to change their clocks twice a year, and studies have shown that making daylight saving time permanent would benefit the economy and our country.

From 1942 until 1945, during World War II, the United States made daylight saving time year-round, and established earlier start dates in both 1974 and 1975. Recently, burgeoning disapproval of this temporal pendulum has garnered undeniable momentum.

In Florida, our state legislature — in a bipartisan effort led by now Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez (R) — overwhelmingly passed legislation in 2018 to make the change and provide more sunshine later in the day. The Sunshine State is not the only one in the Union to take action. In fact, more than 30 states are addressing the question of daylight saving time in some form. And just this week, the move to make daylight saving time permanent earned the seal of approval from President Trump.

States, however, cannot make the change on their own; doing so requires approval from Congress. That’s why we urge our colleagues in Congress to pass our bipartisan legislation, the Sunshine Protection Act. Our bill would end the practice of having to change our clocks. It would not alter time zones, nor would it impact those states and territories that do not observe daylight saving time. This is truly not a partisan issue, but instead, an everyday American issue.

Popular will and presidential endorsements aside, studies have found that time change is associated with an increase in strokes, heart attacks, seasonal depression, auto accidents and workplace injuries.

The potential benefits of a permanent daylight saving time are substantial. Studies in the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of Safety Research show that the move would reduce car crashes by increasing visibility for commuting drivers. The Transportation Department has stated that a uniform policy would save lives and prevent traffic injuries.

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TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PROPOSALS TO REFORM HIGHER EDUCATION A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the Trump Administration’s proposals to reform the Higher Education Act:

“The proposals put forward by the Trump Administration are a step in the right direction in reforming our higher education system,” Rubio said. “Investing in a college education is one of the most important decisions that students and families can make. I also echo the administration’s recognition of the important contributions that Historically Black Colleges and Universities make to our country, including in my home state of Florida.”

Many of the “Higher Education Reform Principles” announced by the White House mirror reforms pushed by Rubio, including Rubio’s bipartisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act.

“I welcome the administration’s support of policy proposals that provide critical information to help students and families make informed decisions on their educational future,” Rubio continued. “My bipartisan Student Right to Know Before You Go Act would give students more information about how much money they should expect to borrow as well as future earning potential for the schools and areas of study they are planning to pursue. It is encouraging that the administration recognizes this lack of information for prospective students and has included several of the key provisions from this legislation. I look forward to working my colleagues to provide our students with the information they need to make the best decision for their future.”

The “Higher Education Reform Principles” announced by the White House also includes reforms to “Reorient the Accreditation Process to Focus on Student Outcomes.” Last Congress, Rubio, along with Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), introduced a bill to create an outcome-focused alternative system of accreditation for high-quality American colleges, universities, and other higher education providers so their students can access federal financial aid.

“The administration is right to push for policies to reform the accreditation system, an effort I am focused on in Congress in order to provide more students with access to federal financial aid,” Rubio added. “To modernize our higher education system, we must update the current accreditation system, which stifles competition, fuels soaring tuition costs, and limits opportunities for nontraditional students, such as working parents.”

The administration’s reform principles also calls for simplification of the student loan repayment system, which Rubio has supported. Last Congress, Rubio, along with Senator Mark Warner (D-VA), introduced the bipartisan Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act to ease the burden and confusion for borrowers when they are paying their loans back.

“Too often students are caught in the disorienting maze of repayment options and are unsure what option best fits their unique situation,” Rubio said. “By simplifying the repayment system and ensuring students are enrolled in Income Based Repayment, we can ensure that people with federal student loans have affordable payments and stronger borrowing protections.”

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RUBIO INTRODUCES RESOLUTION MARKING THE 12TH ANNIVERSARY OF BOB LEVINSON’S DISAPPEARANCE

Washington, D.C. – Marking the 12th anniversary of Bob Levinson’s disappearance, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today introduced a Senate resolution urging the President to continue efforts to locate and return Levinson to the United States. The resolution also highlights that repeated pledges by the Government of Iran have not led to any meaningful progress in locating and returning Levinson, who is the longest held United States civilian in our Nation’s history. Representatives Ted Deutch (D-FL), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Michael Waltz (R-FL) will introduce the companion resolution in the House.

The full text of the resolution is below.

Whereas United States citizen Robert Levinson is a retired agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a resident of Coral Springs, Florida, the husband of Christine Levinson, father of their seven children, and grandfather of their six grandchildren;

Whereas Robert Levinson traveled from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to Kish Island, Iran, on March 8, 2007;

Whereas after traveling to Kish Island and checking into the Hotel Maryam, Robert Levinson disappeared on March 9, 2007;

Whereas, in December 2007, Robert Levinson’s wife, Christine, traveled to Kish Island to retrace Mr. Levinson’s steps and met with officials of the Government of Iran who pledged to help in the investigation;

Whereas, for 12 years, the United States Government has continually pressed the Government of Iran to provide any information on the whereabouts of Robert Levinson and to help ensure his prompt and safe return to his family;

Whereas officials of the Government of Iran promised their continued assistance to the relatives of Robert Levinson during the visit of the family to the Islamic Republic of Iran in December 2007;

Whereas, in November 2010, the Levinson family received a video of Mr. Levinson in captivity, representing the first proof of life since his disappearance and providing some initial indications that he was being held somewhere in southwest Asia;

Whereas, in April 2011, the Levinson family received a series of pictures of Mr. Levinson, which provided further indications that he was being held somewhere in southwest Asia;

Whereas Secretary of State John Kerry stated on August 28, 2013, “The United States respectfully asks the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work cooperatively with us in our efforts to help U.S. citizen Robert Levinson.”;

Whereas, on September 28, 2013, during the first direct phone conversation between the heads of governments of the United States and Iran since 1979, President Barack Obama raised the case of Robert Levinson to President of Iran Hassan Rouhani and urged the President of Iran to help locate Mr. Levinson and reunite him with his family;

Whereas, on August 29, 2014, Secretary of State Kerry again stated that the United States “respectfully request[s] the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran [to] work cooperatively with us to find Mr. Levinson and bring him home”;

Whereas, on January 16, 2016, the Government of Iran released five United States citizens detained in Iran;

Whereas, on January 17, 2016, President Obama stated that, “even as we rejoice in the safe return of others, we will never forget about Bob”, referring to Robert Levinson, and that “each and every day but especially today our hearts are with the Levinson family and we will never rest until their family is whole again”;

Whereas, on January 19, 2016, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest stated that the United States Government had “secured a commitment from the Iranians to use the channel that has now been opened to secure the release of those individuals that we know were being held by Iran … to try and gather information about Mr. Levinson’s possible whereabouts”;

Whereas the Government of Iran’s most recent commitment to assist in and the diplomatic channel dedicated to locating and returning Robert Levinson have not yielded any meaningful results;

Whereas, on November 23, 2016, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) issued Opinion No. 50/2016, concerning Robert Levinson in which the UNWGAD found Iran responsible for the arbitrary detention of Mr. Levinson;

Whereas, on April 25, 2017, the Department of State issued a statement noting that “[o]n the sidelines of the April 25 meeting in Vienna of the Joint Commission overseeing implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the U.S. delegation raised with the Iranian delegation its serious concerns regarding the cases of U.S. citizens detained and missing in Iran, and called on Iran to immediately release these U.S. citizens so they can be reunited with their families”;

Whereas, on March 9, 2018, Department of State Spokesperson Heather Nauert stated, “Iran committed to cooperating with the United States to assist us in bringing Robert Levinson home and we call on Iran to fulfill this commitment.”;

Whereas, on November 26, 2013, Mr. Levinson became the longest held United States civilian in our Nation’s history;

Whereas March 9, 2019, marks 12 years since the disappearance of Robert Levinson from Kish Island, Iran; and

Whereas the Federal Bureau of Investigation continues to offer a $5,000,000 reward for information leading to Mr. Levinson’s safe return: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) recognizes that Robert Levinson is the longest held United States civilian in our Nation’s history;

(2) notes that repeated pledges by officials of the Government of Iran to provide their Government’s assistance in the case of Robert Levinson have not led to any meaningful progress in locating or returning Robert Levinson;

(3) urges the Government of Iran to take meaningful steps towards fulfilling its repeated promises to assist in locating and returning Robert Levinson, including by immediately providing all available information from all entities of the Government of Iran regarding the disappearance of Robert Levinson to the United States Government;

(4) urges the President to make clear that the return of Robert Levinson is a priority to the United States and commit to redoubling United States Government efforts to secure the release of Robert Levinson;

(5) urges the President and the allies of the United States to continue to press the Government of Iran at every opportunity to locate and return Robert Levinson, notwithstanding ongoing and serious disagreements the United States Government has with the Government of Iran on a broad array of issues, including Iran’s ballistic missile program, sponsorship of international terrorism, destabilization of the Middle East, and human rights abuses;

(6) notes that in addition to these other serious issues, further delay in locating and returning Robert Levinson remains a significant obstacle to improving United States-Iran relations; and

(7) expresses sympathy to the family of Robert Levinson for their anguish and hope that their ordeal can be brought to an end in the near future.

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 RUBIO CHAIRS HEARING ON THREAT CYBER CRIME POSES TO AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESSES

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, has convened a hearing titled “Cyber Crime: An Existential Threat to Small Business.” Earlier today, he introduced two bills to protect America’s small businesses from the threats that cyber crime pose to America’s small businesses.

The hearing is live streamed on the committee’s website here.

Chairman Rubio’s opening remarks as prepared can be found below:

Rubio: “Today’s hearing of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship will come to order. I want to thank you all for being here, and say welcome to our witnesses. This hearing will discuss one of the most challenging issues facing small businesses today: cybersecurity.

“It’s hard enough for small businesses to get up and running with changing markets, regulatory hurdles, and the cost of starting a business. But cyber attacks can bring a quick end to all of that hard work.

“Foreign hackers and other cyber criminals are increasingly targeting small businesses to steal IP, trade secrets, and valuable information; or to hold hostage small businesses’ operational and customer data in order to get a ransom payment.

“Small businesses bear the brunt of cyber crime, falling victim to approximately 43 percent of all attacks. While ransomware attacks on individuals have fallen, attacks targeting businesses rose 12 percent in the last year. And these attacks are not rare occurrences. Almost 55 percent of small businesses were victim to phishing attacks in 2017 – up 30 percent from 2015.

“The risk of cyber crime is greater to small businesses, which lack the dedicated IT staff and sophisticated equipment that larger companies have in order to stay safe. Cyber criminals know small businesses are unprepared for attacks, which is why small businesses are twice as likely to be targeted by a phishing attack.

“The consequences of cyber crime are also greater for small businesses, which operate on a smaller profit margin and are not always able to bounce back after a costly cyber attack. The Department of Justice’s Internet Crime Complaint Center recorded more than 300,000 cybersecurity complaints in 2017, which added up to more than $1.4 billion in loss.

“And we know that cyber attacks on small businesses are significantly underreported, because they don’t know who to call, or they don’t want their customers to know that they were compromised.

“Because the risks to small businesses are so high, this week I introduced The Small Business Cyber Training Act with Senator Shaheen to create a cyber strategy training program for the counselors at the small business development centers across the country.

“This bill will prepare SBDC counselors to provide important advice on cybersecurity to entrepreneurs when it matters most: at the beginning of the business life cycle. And perhaps most importantly, counselors can make small businesses more aware of the very real cyber threats that they face.

“In addition to internal controls and protections for their own operations, businesses that want to work with the federal government are required to meet an extra level of cybersecurity protection under NIST contracting requirements.

“It is important for the government to maintain a high level of security with its contractors, but the inability to meet certain cybersecurity criteria can begin to disqualify smaller companies, who cannot afford to build up the cyber capability necessary to service the government.

“In fact, many times small businesses cannot even understand what the government requires of its contractors. We hope that NIST, the SBA, and other government agencies will work together to educate and train small business contractors so that they are equipped to take on business with the government.

“Federal agencies face very real cyber threats, including the SBA. It may be a small government agency, but for many small businesses, the SBA is an important gateway to loans, disaster relief, and business training. That is why it is especially important that the IT systems at the SBA be secure enough to protect the sensitive data that small businesses and lenders entrust to the agency.

“The SBA Office of Inspector General has consistently ranked SBA’s IT as one of the most serious challenges facing the agency. Specifically, the IG has recommended that the SBA continue to improve IT controls to address operational risks, such as cyber attacks.

“The SBA is moving quickly to modernize its systems, but we know that criminals often move even faster. In recent years, we have seen what happens when government agencies let their guard down, as was the case with OPM in 2015 when personnel data of more than 4 million current and former Federal government employees was stolen.

“The risk of cyber attacks for small businesses also compromises data that could harm U.S. national security. Our adversaries are laying the groundwork for cyber espionage by embedding their technology into the systems we depend on to do business – be it small business or government business. Just last week reports emerged showing that the Chinese hacking group APT40 has infiltrated IT systems of at least 27 universities world-wide, like MIT, in an attempt to steal U.S. military information from less secure sources.

“These cyber criminals operate with the full backing of the Chinese Communist Party. And we must take proactive steps to deny the Chinese government and others access to our networks and to the personal information of small businesses.

“This is why I introduced the SBA Cyber Awareness Act this week with Ranking Member Cardin. This bill would require the SBA to develop a cyber strategy and to examine where the components in its IT system are manufactured. This bill would also require the SBA to report to this Committee about the cyber breaches and threats it faces so that we can give the SBA the tools that it needs to defend against future attacks.

“I look forward to talking with our witnesses about ways to protect small business information from cyber criminals, while helping them understand cyber guidelines and requirements that allow them to participate in the market.”

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RUBIO RECEIVES “AMERICAN TRADE HERO” AWARD FOR WORK ON CHINA, TRADE

Washington, D.C. — This evening, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered remarks and accepted the “American Trade Hero” award at the Coalition for a Prosperous America’s (CPA) Annual Trade Conference Banquet for his work on trade and the U.S.-China relationship. Through his roles on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Rubio has worked tirelessly to make the American people aware of the threats the Chinese Government and Communist Party, including state-directed telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE, pose to our national and economic security. Rubio has also long been a leader in advocating for human rights in China. Recently, Rubio released a report on Made in China 2025’s implications for small-and medium-sized American businesses and held a hearing on countering the Chinese threat.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer received the “American Trade Hero” award as well. Rubio and Baldwin introduced the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act (S. 2), which would safeguard American assets from Chinese influence and possession, and serve to blunt China’s tools of economic aggression.

Rubio’s full remarks as prepared are below and a Facebook live can be viewed here.

Thank you all for being here and representing America’s manufacturers. What makes us strong as a nation is not just what we can buy, but what we can make. What we can build. What we can produce. Our ability to create is what you, and all the working men and women that are the backbone of these industries, and you embody that here this evening.

You embody the strength of the American economy. And you represent a direct threat to the Chinese government’s ambition to reduce us to a nation of consumers instead of producers, a nation that can only purchase the products of the 21st century’s high-end industries, instead of making them.

So I thank each of you for what you do and for the critical part you play in creating dignified work, which is the bedrock of our family and community life, and the part you play in securing the future of our prosperity.

I would like to take a few moments to discuss the threat posed by the Chinese Government and Communist Party to America’s national and economic security, and how it is instructive of our broader challenge in creating dignified work for all Americans.

Trade normalization with China occurred with the optimistic promise of fair-market access, economic liberalization, and an improvement in Chinese political and human rights.

That didn’t happen. China took advantage by playing fast and loose with international trade rules and global norms, to the detriment of American productive capabilities.

After China’s accession to the World Trade Organization, we saw what is now called the “China Shock,” which was a devastation to American small- and medium-sized manufacturers in concentrated areas throughout the country.

And now we’re facing an unprecedented threat to American competitiveness from China’s whole-of-society efforts to capture the high-value manufacturing industries of the 21st century.

We have not encountered anything like this, and it is critical we understand the seriousness of the moment.

This challenge is ultimately one of national security, and more fundamentally about whether or not the future of the world will be defined by authoritarianism or by democracy.

If we get this wrong, we will have to explain to the next generation why they didn’t get to grow up in the America that we did, the America that led the world in innovation, that created the greatest prosperity in history, and that was a beacon of freedom and opportunity for millions around the world.

We’ll have to explain why we have become a second-tier power while the Communist Chinese government—a regime that has no respect for human rights, no respect for free speech or other basic freedoms, no respect for political and religious liberty—dominates everything that matters. A world whose most powerful nation is a one-party authoritarian state instead of a democracy is not a better world.

But more immediately, Chinese economic ambition presents a serious threat to American industry. Through its whole-of-society strategy, the Chinese government is attempting to steal and subsidize and ultimately compete its way to the top of the global production value chain. They want to supplant American industrial leadership by any means necessary, including illegal means.

China’s “Made in China 2025” plan outlines a coordinated effort to achieve dominance in critical technological sectors, some of which the U.S. currently leads globally, and all of which will profoundly shape and drive the 21st century economy.

And make no mistake: Whoever controls these technologies not only will control the upper end of the value chain, but also will be able to set the standards and terms of engagement for the rest of the world. And it’s clear the Chinese government wants to dictate the terms and conditions of the future of global trade and global technological engagement, and to do so for their own benefit.

This threat to American competitiveness and capacity is a threat to working Americans all across the country, who rely on innovation and investment in our real economy—who rely on our national capacity to make things—in order to find decent and well-paying jobs.

It’s a threat to the wages of American workers, and the well-being of American families, and the stability of American communities. It’s our job as lawmakers to ensure that U.S. economic policy aligns with our national interests. And nothing is more critical to our national interest than ensuring that the American people can find dignified work.

That’s the other question we’re going to have to answer for our children: Will they inherit an America where stable, well-paying work is available only to the few, or to the many? Will our country look like the land of shared opportunity that my parents found when they arrived here, or will we become a stagnant nation fighting over how to divide up what little opportunity is left?

I believe our best and brightest days are still ahead. But for that to happen, we must meet the challenge honestly and creatively.

We must choose to prioritize national development, economic dynamism, and small business competitiveness.

We must invest in our own innovative capacity, and ensure we’re fighting for high-wage industries, to the benefit of American businesses, workers, and their families.

And we must directly confront China’s unfair trade practices.

Ambassador Lighthizer is here this evening. I’m grateful that we have someone serving as U.S. Trade Representative that is standing up for American industry as we negotiate with the Chinese government.

Bringing balance to America’s relationship with China is the geopolitical challenge of this century. The fact that we are in a position today to face that challenge so directly is impressive.

The President has done what many thought the U.S. would be unable or unwilling to do: actually stand up to China and force them to the table. The pressure is starting to work. America’s new assertiveness has created powerful leverage that could be used to change the behavior of China’s government.

This is a massive accomplishment. And it is critical that we make the most of the moment we’ve created. American negotiators must not waste their leverage by prematurely agreeing to a bad deal.

We must not focus on a handful of individual trade matters at the expense of addressing structural imbalances. To take just one example: China’s theft of American IP costs the U.S. almost $600 billion every year. That more than the profits of the top 50 companies on last year’s Fortune 500 list.

An improved U.S. trade surplus in soybeans would not be enough. A quick deal to satisfy financial markets would not be enough. China wants to displace the United States in the 21st century – we must hold strong against the political pressures of the short-term.

There is some news emerging recently that Chinese officials are dropping the use of the term “Made in China 2025” in official statements and are considering ending required technology transfers from companies investing in China.

We cannot afford to accept more empty promises.

Until the Chinese Communist government fundamentally alters its goals and methods, the U.S. must stay focused on the critical issues of economic theft and competition.

If we accept a deal that does not bring fundamental structural changes to the U.S.-China economic relationship, we risk losing this century’s most important strategic, economic, and geopolitical competition.

This challenge is also why I introduced the Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act (S. 2). This legislation would take a number of steps to ensure that our trade with China is in our own long-term best interests – starting by imposing duties on Chinese capital goods in the sectors targeted by the “Made in China 2025” plan, to ensure that American buyers do not inadvertently finance the long-term displacement of their own country’s manufacturing.

It would also impose a tax on Chinese entities that earn investment and dividend income in the U.S., in order to discourage Chinese attempts to price out American exports.

Trade is not the only question in front of us. We need to confront China directly. But ultimately China will not determine the future of American manufacturing for us. We will determine our future for ourselves.

As I said earlier, we need to embrace a policy agenda of national development and economic dynamism that places working Americans and their families at the center.

In today’s global economy, high wages for American workers are not inevitable. We know this.

Free markets are an unparalleled force for the creation of prosperity and wealth, but they also produce in response to the policy terms they are given. They produce in response to what we prioritize. And we have too often failed to make the well-being of working Americans the terms for market success.

We like to talk about the status quo as if it’s neutral, as if it’s simply the result of a natural process. But, for example, prioritizing the growth of financial services instead of advanced manufacturing, like we’ve been doing for the last few decades, is a decision. It’s result of policy choices that we’ve made. And I think we can make better ones.

For example I think we should stop giving stock buybacks a tax preference. That’s the incentive that exists now – the policy choice that exists now.

If we’re going to give tax preference to certain behavior, I think it should be for practices that create more jobs with better wages and benefits for American workers. We can do that.

I also think we can find a common-sense, common-ground way to provide paid family leave to working parents. All of this is within our ability. We can put dignified work and healthy families at the center of our policy decisions.

We need to stand up to the Communist Chinese government, in the face of their economic aggression and ambition to capture the 21st century’s high-value industries at our expense. We need to ensure they back down and back off trying to win at our expense.

But our economic future is ultimately ours to choose. And I believe we can choose a future that prioritizes American innovation and production, our ability to make quality instead of just buy cheap.

And I believe if we get it right, we’ll be doing right by our fellow Americans who rely on industry for decent work, and who rely on policymakers to make them and their families our national priority.

That’s why I’m here, and that’s why this award is so meaningful to me. I’ll continue to fight for you. You continue to make the things that America needs. Thank you.

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RUBIO, CASSIDY, AND KENNEDY REINTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO EXPEDITE SMALL-SCALE LNG EXPORTS

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and John Kennedy (R-LA) today reintroduced the Small Scale LNG Access Act, legislation expediting the approval of natural gas exports equal to or less than 51.1 billion cubic feet per year. These small-scale exports would be deemed consistent with the public interest and granted without modification or delay.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) finalized a rule to expedite the approval of small-scale exports of natural gas. This rule will primarily service consumers in small-scale natural gas export markets in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. The legislation introduced by Rubio, Cassidy, and Kennedy would codify the DOE’s rule and ensure long-term stability for investment.

“Expediting approval of small-scale natural gas exports would strengthen an emerging sector of Florida’s economy and bolster our existing ties with Caribbean and Latin American nations,” Rubio said. “Importantly, the bill would also ensure that bad actors, including the criminal regimes in Venezuela and Cuba, do not benefit from expedited access to American energy exports while they continue to undermine democracy and commit human rights atrocities.”

“This bill unleashes American natural gas potential, creating well-paying jobs with good benefits for families in Louisiana,” said Dr. Cassidy, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy. “Increasing small-scale natural gas shipments creates American jobs, improves Caribbean energy security and lowers greenhouse gas emissions as nations transition to clean burning natural gas.”

“The bill is about one thing: Louisiana jobs. A market has developed to export small-scale LNG shipments from the U.S. to the Caribbean, Central America and South America. To help that market flourish, we need to remove some red tape,” said Senator Kennedy. “I want Louisiana to be able to tap into this emerging industry and create even more opportunities for Louisiana families.”

Rubio and Cassidy introduced this legislation last Congress and it passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 13-10.

The Caribbean small-scale LNG export market represents a relatively untapped outlet; the United States only exported approximately 7.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas to the region in 2018.

Increasing exports of U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG) will decrease Caribbean and 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 2,462 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable natural gas, enough to last an estimated 90 years at 2016 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.

U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) is leading companion legislation in the House.

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RUBIO, VAN HOLLEN, COLLEAGUES INTRODUCE PROTECT OUR ELECTIONS ACT

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today joined Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in introducing the Protect Our Elections Act, which would prohibit foreign adversaries from owning and controlling the companies supporting American elections. Our intelligence chiefs have made it clear that hostile foreign actors continue to work to disrupt our democratic process by any means possible. This common-sense legislation – with public disclosure and annual reporting – is essential in ensuring that our elections are free from foreign influence.

“The Protect our Elections Act is a common sense measure that seeks to protect our elections from foreign interference,” Rubio said. “Hostile foreign actors have attempted to disrupt our electoral process and attack our democracy in the past, and our intelligence community continues to warn of this ongoing threat. This bipartisan bill would take an important step in ensuring hostile foreign entities are not able to take an ownership stake in companies that are crucial in our electoral process.”

“Our free and fair elections are central to what makes America’s democracy an example to the world. We cannot allow Russia or any other foreign adversaries to own our election systems,” Van Hollen said , who has written to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to review the issue in Maryland and introduced bipartisan sanctions legislation to deter future attacks on American elections. “While Maryland’s systems were ultimately not compromised, it reinforced that this is a real issue we must address. The bipartisan Protect Our Elections Act would take simple but critical steps to ensure that the nuts and bolts of our elections are secure.”

“We cannot allow the Russians or any foreign adversary to interfere with our elections, the cornerstone of our democracy,” Collins said. “This commonsense bill would help strengthen the integrity of our election process and instill confidence among voters by requiring election infrastructure vendors to be owned and controlled by American citizens or our closest allies.”

“Elections are a cornerstone of the rule of law in America and foreign governments and adversaries will keep attacking our election systems and work to undermine Americans’ faith in their government and the sanctity of the results of free and fair elections,” Cardin said, author of a Senate Foreign Relations Committee report on Russian President Putin’s continuing assault on democratic institutions and the rule of law. He has introduced the bipartisan Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act to hold Russia accountable and strengthen America’s defenses. “All levels of government must implement immediate safeguards to preserve the security and integrity of America’s ballot box, whether it is a paper or electronic ballot.”

The Protection Our Elections Act contains two central provisions:

· Mandates disclosure of foreign ownership or control: The bill requires the companies that provide elections services to report to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Election Assistance Commission, and appropriate state or local governmental entities any foreign national who owns or controls their firm. It also requires elections service providers to notify the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Election Assistance Commission, and appropriate state or local governmental entities of any material change in ownership or control. It mandates a $10,000 fine for any election service provider that fails to submit the required information.

· Prohibition on foreign ownership and control of elections systems: The bill requires state and local governments to conduct an annual evaluation of their election service providers to ensure that each election service provider is solely owned and controlled by U.S. persons. The legislation includes an exception for election service providers created or organized under the laws of our Five Eyes allies – Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

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RUBIO COMMENTS ON THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S 2018 HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT

Washington, D.C.– U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, today issued a statement after the State Department published its 2018 Human Rights Report:

“The State Department’s release of its annual Human Rights Report today reminds us how so many people around the world face daily assaults on their rights and freedoms at the hands of their own governments. It once again highlights that there are no shortage of human rights abuses in places like Cuba, Venezuela, China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, Iran, and Syria, as well as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Vietnam.

“The report also reminds us how blessed we, the American people, are to live in a nation founded on the self-evident truth that every human is created equal and endowed with inalienable rights that no government or person can take away. Protecting and promoting human rights and human dignity internationally advances the values of our Constitution and U.S. national security interests, and must be a top priority in America’s foreign policy.

“The United States must be prepared to lead our allies in the free world in standing up to authoritarian governments who abuse their citizens and calling out injustice where we see it. Because there is no amount of money that can buy back our credibility on human rights, we must not hesitate to speak clearly on these matters not only with our enemies and rivals, but also with our allies and partners.”

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RUBIO INTRODUCES TWO BILLS TO PROTECT AMERICA’S SMALL BUSINESSES FROM CYBERSECURITY THREATS

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship introduced legislation to protect America’s small businesses from the threats that cyber crime pose to America’s small businesses.

“Amidst rapid technological advances, shifting global economic trends, and rising foreign adversaries, we must continue to protect our small businesses. This includes emerging and evolving cybersecurity threats,” Rubio said. “My two bills will give small businesses the tools they need to safeguard themselves against the growing cybersecurity risks of the 21st century.”

Rubio’s two bills to protect America’s small businesses from cybersecurity threats:

The SBA Cyber Awareness Act– Cosponsored by Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD), this bill would require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to develop a cyber strategy, examine its IT system components’ country of origin, and report on breaches and threats to the Small Business Committees. A one pager can be found here.

The Small Business Cyber Training Act– Cosponsored by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), this bill would create a training program for small business development centers (SBDCs) to prepare counselors in cyber planning assistance. Specifically, the bill would require SBDCs to employees certified in cyber strategy counseling for small businesses.

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RUBIO INTRODUCES BORDER SECURITY AND DISASTER RESPONSE SUPPLEMENTAL

Washington, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Border Security and Disaster Relief Act of 2019, which would secure our southern border and provide much-needed disaster relief. The bill includes $3.6 billion to address the emergency at the border, and $14.949 billion to respond to the 2018 natural disasters, including Florida communities devastated by Hurricane Michael. The bill provides $2.4 billion for Air Force installations, including necessary resources to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base. The bill also includes $610 million in nutrition assistance for Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. A summary of the bill is available here.

“Addressing the crisis on our southern border and helping local communities still struggling to recover from recent disasters, including communities in Florida devastated by Hurricane Michael, should not be a partisan issue,” Rubio said. “Yet Congress continues to fail the American people by ignoring the border crisis and playing politics with disaster funding at the expense of local communities. Every day Congress fails to act, the crisis at our border worsens, and we put local communities increasingly at risk of running out of the necessary resources needed to address critical issues and fully recover from recent disasters. It is time to act.”

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RUBIO, MENENDEZ INTRODUCE BILL TO PROHIBIT U.S. COURT FROM RECOGNIZING TRADEMARKS CONFISCATED BY THE CUBAN GOVERNMENT

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, today joined Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) in introducing the No Stolen Trademarks Honored in America Act. The bipartisan, bicameral bill prohibits U.S. courts from recognizing, enforcing, or otherwise validating any assertion of rights by an individual of a trademark that was used in connection with a business or assets that were confiscated by the Cuban regime unless the original owner of the trademark has expressly consented. A companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) and John Rutherford (R-FL).

A trademark involving Bacardi, one of the world’s largest liquor producers, is illustrative of this circumstance. Havana Club’s assets were seized by the Cuban government in 1959, and in 1994 –although the trademark expired in 1974– descendants of the Havana Club founder sold the recipe and trademark to Bacardi, who has since produced the rum in Puerto Rico. Around the same time, Cuban firm Cuba Ron filed for and received a U.S. trademark on the name, and partnered with Pernod Ricard to sell competing “Havana Club” rum. The No Stolen Trademarks Honored in America Act would prohibit the Cuba Ron / Pernod Ricard partnership from using rights related to Havana Club due to the Cuban regime’s confiscation of the original company in 1959.

“For 60 years, the Communist Cuban regime through government-controlled companies has profited from stolen property that rightfully belongs to Americans,” Rubio said. “It has long been U.S. policy to support the rightful owners of stolen property, and this bipartisan bill ensures that U.S. courts will not recognize, enforce, or otherwise validate any trademark rights from businesses or assets stolen by the Cuban regime.”

“The confiscation of assets by the Cuban government is, and will always be a crime,” Menendez said. “This bipartisan legislation will protect U.S. trademarks by prohibiting courts from recognizing the rights of those subject to confiscation without consent, continuing the longstanding U.S. policy of supporting the rightful owners of stolen property.”

“I’ve been firmly committed to safeguarding the intellectual property rights of American companies to ensure that trademarks are protected against confiscation by any foreign government,” Rep. Wasserman Schultz said. “This bill does that, by prohibiting courts from validating an assertion of trademark rights in connection with a business or assets confiscated by the Cuban government, and by supporting the true and just owners of stolen property – a long-held U.S. policy that must be continued.”

“The Cuban government has been allowed to steal American intellectual property for far too long,” Rep. Rutherford said. “By upholding strong copyright protections in our courts, foreign regimes will no longer be permitted to profit off American ingenuity.”

The bill applies a trademark prohibition only if the individual asserting the rights knew or had reason to know at the time of acquiring the rights asserted that the trademark was the same or substantially similar to the mark or name used in connection with the business or assets that were confiscated.

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Mast, Panetta Introduce Legislation to End Deadly USDA Experiments on Kittens

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressmen Brian Mast (FL-18) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) today introduced the bipartisan Kittens in Traumatic Testing Ends Now Act of 2019, or KITTEN Act. The bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to end the use of cats in experiments that cause pain or stress.

Currently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) performs parasite-related experiments on cats and kittens. This taxpayer-funded testing results in thousands of kittens bred, fed parasite-infected raw meat and then killed.

“The fact that we need a piece of legislation to tell the federal government to stop killing kittens is ridiculous on its face, but what’s even worse is when you hear the details that the government is actually breeding hundreds of these cats just to intentionally feed them parasite-ridden raw meat and then kill them even though they’re perfectly healthy,” Rep. Mast said. “These tests are just awful, abusive and unnecessary, not to mention a serious misuse of millions of taxpayer dollars. This needs to stop now.”

“This common sense, bipartisan bill will require the USDA to adhere to the same animal welfare standards that the department is charged to uphold,” Rep. Panetta said. “While I strongly support scientific research, taxpayer money and federal resources should be spent on advancing scientific research in an ethical manner, not on inflicting pain on innocent kittens in outdated experiments. I hope this bill helps us get closer to ending this cruel practice.”

“Three thousand kittens killed and $22 million squandered for decades of cruel and unproductive USDA experiments is tragic whether you care about government waste, animal protection or both. Like a majority of Americans, our two-million-plus members want this nightmarish program ended and we applaud Congressman Mast for leading the charge to shut down the USDA’s taxpayer-funded kitten abuse,” Noelle Callahan, Public Policy Manager at taxpayer watchdog group White Coat Waste Project, said.

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Residents and Visitors Welcome by Air and Sea U.S. Customs & Border Protection Facility Now Open

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Martin County Board of County Commissioners is pleased to announce the opening of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Facility at Martin County Airport. Customs officially opened its doors to aircraft and marine vessels today, receiving it’s first customer by air at 11:55 a.m. this morning. “It’s truly exciting,” said Sam Carver, Martin County Airport Manager. “This allows Martin County boaters, pilots, residents and visitors to conveniently clear customs without having to travel to Fort Pierce or West Palm Beach,” Mr. Carver continued.

The 3,200 sq. foot facility is operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection with regular operating hours Thursday through Monday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Customers may contact Customs at 772-210-0420 during regular operating hours and after hours at 772-210-0797. Procedures for pilots and boaters as well as user fees can be found at https://www.martin.fl.us/Customs.

Funding for the project was provided through an 80/20 grant partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation Aviation (Multimodal) Division and the Airport Enterprise Fund.
Visit www.martin.fl.us, Martin County’s online resource for services, information and news, and follow us on social media for daily updates. Follow us on Twitter @MartinCountygov and Facebook at www.facebook.com/MartinCountyBoardofCountyCommissioners.

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RUBIO, MENENDEZ, COLLEAGUES URGE POTUS TO SEND CABINET OFFICIAL TO TAIPEI FOR TAIWAN RELATIONS ACT’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) today led a bipartisan letter urging President Trump to send a Cabinet-level official to Taipei for the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act in April 2019. The letter also requests the President fully implement the Taiwan Travel Act (Public Law 115-135) and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (Public Law 115-409) to reaffirm the America’s commitment to Taiwan, a fellow democracy and an important economic and security partner in the Indo-Pacific.

Also signing the letter were Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Edward Markey (D-MA), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Mike Rounds (R-SD).

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Mr. President:

In April 2019, the United States will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (Public Law 96-8). This landmark legislation serves as the cornerstone of U.S. policy towards Taiwan and has helped to maintain peace, security, and stability in the Indo-Pacific against an increasingly aggressive Government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Communist Party of China (CCP). To mark this momentous occasion, the Director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) has indicated his intention to hold a major event in April to celebrate the anniversary. This event provides an ideal opportunity, consistent with the requirements set forth in the Taiwan Travel Act (Public Law 115-135) that you signed into law on March 16, 2018, to send a Cabinet-level official to Taipei to underscore our nation’s enduring commitment to Taiwan’s democracy and its people. The provisions of the Taiwan Travel Act were further reaffirmed in the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act (Public Law 115-409), which was signed into law on December 31, 2018.

Taiwan is a key economic and security partner, as well as a critical ally of the United States. In your November 2017 speech to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO summit, you spoke of your vision for “a peaceful, prosperous, and free Indo-Pacific.” As a vibrant democracy and free-market economy that respects the rule of law, Taiwan is an important part of achieving this vision and a shining example of everything we want for the region.

We welcomed your signing of the Taiwan Travel Act and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act into law last year. This was an important development in our relationship with Taiwan that cemented the critical need for high-level visits between Washington, D.C., and Taipei. In specific, the law encourages high-level officials, including Cabinet-level national security officials, general officers, and other executive branch officials, to travel to Taiwan and meet with their counterparts. We believe that travel of this nature is important to ensure we are acting in accordance with our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act, especially given Chinese efforts to change the cross-Strait status quo.

We therefore respectfully request you to fully implement the Taiwan Travel Act and the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, and send a Cabinet-level official to represent the United States at the AIT event in Taipei, Taiwan. We believe the presence of a senior delegation would send a strong signal of America’s unwavering commitment to and support for one of our strongest partners in the region. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

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RUBIO, CORTEZ MASTO REINTRODUCE BILL TO COMBAT CHINA’S POLITICAL INFLUENCE OPERATIONS

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) today reintroduced the Countering the Chinese Government and Communist Party’s Political Influence Operations Act, bipartisan legislation that aims to combat China’s political influence operations in the United States and worldwide. The legislation requires the Secretary of State and the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to organize an interagency task force to compile an unclassified report on China’s disinformation, press manipulation, economic coercion and influence operations in the United States and certain allies and partners who are impacted by China’s influence operations. The bill also requires a strategy to counter China’s growing influence in the United States and to protect U.S. citizens, particularly the Chinese, Uyghur and Tibetan diaspora communities, from Chinese government threats.

“To effectively combat the Chinese Government and Communist Party’s political influence operations here in the United States and globally, we must better understand the full scope and breadth of their efforts,” Rubio said. “I am pleased to reintroduce this important and timely legislation which, if passed, will be instructive not only for policymakers, but for the American people, media, academia and other impacted sectors.”

“Our democratic processes are increasingly under attack from authoritarian governments,” Cortez Masto said. “We must fully understand those threats to effectively combat them. This bipartisan bill will raise awareness about the threat Chinese government interference poses to democratic societies around the world, while also preparing our government to develop policy solutions that protect our political processes and our national security.”

Joining Rubio and Cortez Masto as original cosponsors of the legislation are Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ed Markey (D-MA), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR).

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RUBIO RELEASES REPORT OUTLINING CHINA’S PLAN FOR GLOBAL DOMINANCE AND WHY AMERICA MUST RESPOND

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today released a report titled “Made in China 2025 and the Future of American Industry.” The report outlines the challenges posed by China’s whole-of-state industrial planning for America’s prosperity and productivity, including the jobs and wages of American workers and small businesses. It also lays out policy recommendations to strengthen the American economy against its rivals by increasing high-value, high-labor production in the United States. The report is the first product of the Project for Strong Labor Markets and National Development from Rubio’s committee staff.

Rubio released the following video message outlining the report. A broadcast-quality version can be found here.

“Changes in the 21st-century economy have upended the working lives of millions of Americans. Americans understand that something has gone wrong, and the failure of Washington to respond is one of the underlying currents in our nation’s disunity. Something needs to change.

“The Senate Small Business Committee’s report on “Made in China 2025 and the Future of American Industry” is the beginning of that conversation. Our report highlights the challenges posed by China’s blatant industrial espionage and coercion – actions that threaten our economic framework and our national prosperity. The report will also offer policy recommendations to strengthen the American system against its rivals. Markets and trade are tools for good, and they are essential for overcoming the challenges we face, but they respond to policy incentives and restrictions.

“The role of government is to align our economic policies with the right national priorities. Right now, we have the wrong priorities. Our most important priority should be creating dignified work through investment and through innovation. That will require the hard work of forming a new consensus, but we can build an America that is better for the future generations to come, as Americans have always done.”

Excerpts from “Made in China 2025 and the Future of American Industry” are below. A full copy of the report can be found here.

· “In a world of state competition for valuable industries, a domestic policy of neutrality is itself a selection of priority. ‘Not choosing’ is a choice, however it is made. The relevant policy consideration, then, is not whether states should organize their economies, but how they should be organized. Total neutrality among interacting economic systems is impossible, but relative material decline is not.”

· “Manufacturing provides better and more stable employment for American workers than financial services. Physical capital development makes for more prosperous towns and communities than does digital capital. Knowing how to make a specialized product is a less replicable skill than marketing the product for sale. Research and development expenditures deliver greater benefits to the public than private cost alone justifies. Offshoring jobs to save on labor costs doesn’t often create equivalent jobs for the workers displaced by it. Worker skills are not easily transferable across industries. Geographic proximity to productive assets like factories increases the prosperity of supplying and local small businesses.”

· “A common defense of expanded trade with China has, and continues to be, a claim of value chain position: in theory, the production of cheap and mass-market consumer goods in China would produce an increase in the standard of living for American consumers and allow the U.S. to increase high-value exports to China. But what happens if China makes these high-value products instead? This is the future envisioned by the “Made in China 2025” plan (hereafter referred to in this report as “MIC2025”) first promoted by the Chinese government in 2015.”

· “Markets respond to the priorities set for them through policy choices. The critical question is which policy choices are in the interests of the American people. This Project believes MIC2025, and the opportunity for policy response it demands, are worth studying to better understand the answer.”

· “Just as U.S. policymakers have proved willing to use American leverage to enforce international trade law and norms, the U.S. Congress should consider actions to leverage the American economy to increase domestic productivity.”

· “Highly-leveraged investments in technological discovery offer unknown outcomes, but distributions to shareholders are quantifiable. The existence of non-productive alternatives to capital investment, as a result, makes the product of the firm’s American workers less valuable while at the same time increasing profits, making possible a world of higher asset prices, lower investment in the economy, and lower worker pay.”

· “Ensuring the productive use of capital for American domestic production entails an agenda of economic restructuring. Creating new ecosystems of innovators and promoting the dynamism of new businesses entails one of rejuvenation. Uniquely positioned among government agencies in this regard is the U.S. Small Business Administration, which operates a number of programs to service new and small businesses.”

· “Though MIC2025 is a foreign actor’s plan for the domination of critical commercial sectors at the expense of American industries, the U.S. should not miss the opportunity its prominence provides. Claiming, as the plan does, that ‘without strong manufacturing, there is no national prosperity,’ should be a wake-up call for American political economy as much as a cause for scrutiny.”

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RUBIO: HELPING VENEZUELANS RESTORE DEMOCRACY AND CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER IS IN U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY INTEREST

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today joined a conversation with the International Republican Institute (IRI) on Venezuela, hosted by The Heritage Foundation. Rubio — who is Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, and a member of IRI’s Board — discussed the ongoing political developments in Venezuela, the new government of interim President Juan Guaidó, and next steps for U.S. policy.

A partial transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.

Rubio: “The Maduro regime is best understood not as a government but as a criminal enterprise. Akin to what you see in organized crime rings. In essence you have a Godfather, the head, in Maduro, and then you have all of these individual “Capos” that he allows concessions. And so when we have a crime family, one guy controls the loan sharking, one guy has the drugs, one guy has the prostitution, one guy does whatever it may be, the bank heist. It’s the same thing. This is what they have done, they have divvied up pieces of the economy, and he has bought the “loyalty”, of the people by allowing them access to corruption opportunities, through oil, currency manipulation. Taking and importing food at inflated prices from abroad. Making a kickback commission off the inflated price and then taking a piece of the food and commercial goods and reselling them in the private market for a profit on top of it

“There are six people that are holding him [Maduro] up right now. The Defense Minister, the head of the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, and then the sort of the joint chiefs head, six people. So, you’re them. They know Maduro is incompetent. They know he can’t turn this country around. They know — but they fear the opposition. They think, ‘if these guys take over, they’re going to purge the military and they’re going to put put all six of us in jail’, so they’re stuck between that fear and the reality that they know where the rank and file, their subordinates are. And if they order the rank and file to fire on the people or do something, they won’t do it and some event, soon, at some point, is going to force them to try to decide whether or not to carry out an order that a) they don’t want to carry out, potentially because of the repercussions and b) that they know the rank and file won’t carry out.

“The Chinese want to get paid. They’re owed a bunch of money and want to get paid. That’s why they’ve got dialogue with both sides of the equation. Ultimately, they’re owed over $20 billion dollars and therefore the guy is going to pay them. Right now, they got a contract with Maduro, but if he’s out, as long as we get paid-that’s all they want. Right now they’re getting paid in oil, they’re not getting paid in cash. The second is the Russians. The Russians, in addition to being owed money, have a series of exploration leases, rights and concessions that the they’ve gained and they want to protect those. Every oil and energy company in the world’s future depends on access to exploration rights. That’s their primary focus. Secondary to it, it gives them sort of geopolitical presence in the Western Hemisphere, which they feel like there they have an outpost that gives them some voice of what’s happening in the region and allows Putin to project himself as a global power with global reach. The Cubans get over a billion dollars a year in cash, a country that has no cash, for what they do best, and that is repress people. Bottom line is the Cubans run their [Venezuela’s] entire intelligence and repression operation. One of the reasons why there was this “loyalty”, quote/unquote, from senior military officials is they’re all spied on by the Cubans. Every single one of them. You’ve seen a massive purge, hundreds of military officers in Venezuela who’ve been arrested all on the basis of collection that the Cubans have identified and turned them in.

“So when people ask me what does this have to do with the United States? Look, number one, I think we always should be on the side of democracy because democracy is morally superior to dictatorship and tyranny. The second, is it’s in our national interests. If you look, it’s in our own hemisphere and this is no longer an issue of Venezuela. It is a million and growing number of migrants now in Colombia are putting tremendous stress on the Colombian healthcare system and Colombian society. We’ve seen the same play out increasingly in Peru, somewhat in Brazil. A lot in Ecuador. So what happens is these migratory flows continue. It puts stress on governments, particularly in Colombia, that are already facing other significant challenges. In that border region alone, between Colombia and Venezuela, you have a million and some vulnerable people, some of whom become prime targets for narco-trafficking networks to prey on and so forth. The societal pressures, we’ve seen the emergence only some, xenophobic style blow-backs in Ecuador after a murder that occurred there. The pressure put on these countries threatens to create instability not just in Venezuela but in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil in a way that it suddenly becomes a regional crisis. Any time you have mass migrations and a regional crisis in your own hemisphere, it’s eventually going to impact you pretty dramatically. Not to mention it has a direct impact on our counter narcotic efforts in Colombia, which in over the last three years has seen record coca production. Much of that cocaine ultimately headed to U.S. streets. There’s a lot of reasons to understand or to explain why this has direct implication on our national interests as a country because a continental South American collapse of multiple key partners would ultimately impact us directly and immediately. And it already started to.

I think it’s a mistake to view this as a U.S. action with Venezuela, it’s not. It’s an international effort. This is not one of the coalitions the U.S. started and forced everybody to be a part of. On the international stage, the most active leaders in this endeavor has been the Lima Group. The Lima Group, made up of 14 countries, not including the United States, but including Canada and all of Venezuela’s neighbors, have been most active on this effort for a year and a half now, by far. The OAS has been revitalized as an institution that is actually playing a meaningful role in this. You see it growing, over half of the European countries have signed on as well. Every day, some new country, somewhere, signs on to this endeavor. So this is truly– and the U.S. isn’t really working in them– these countries are coming there willingly, and agreeing with that, and I think that’s important. Let’s first understand what is the Maduro strategy. Maduro’s strategy is to buy time, buy time with a fake negotiation or whatever, to a) get the opposition to divide, and b) get the rest of us to sort of move on and pay attention to some other crisis and forget about Venezuela and forget about what is happening. That’s his plan. That’s the model he is trying to follow. It won’t work this time. This process we are on is irreversible. None of these countries are going to come back around. There’s no way you get 50 countries to re-recognize you after what’s happened, so that’s just the fact. As far as the next steps, my number one and number two priority right now are getting food and medicine to people who are starving to death, to infants who are dying in hospitals, to people who are waiting for HIV/AIDS medication and anti-virals, that if they don’t get they will die, and that is being blocked. That is our number one priority, by every way possible to continue to call attention to the global community about how these criminals are standing in the way of that being delivered. The second is to continue to find ways to support the legitimate government of Juan Guaidó, to get the resources they need to begin to frame out what a recovery plan is going to look like for Venezuela’s future. Their electric grid alone could cost upwards of $50 billion to rebuild. It’s funny, the other day, he [Maduro] was having a press conference at his palace, or whatever they call it wherever he is at, maybe he was there, I think he was, and he was saying, “there is no crisis in Venezuela,” and the lights went out in the middle of his press conference. So, in the middle of the conference the lights went out. So that whole grid has to be rebuilt, there is a lot of work to be done. And ultimately, the future belongs to the Venezuelan people. It belongs to them, this their fight, this is their cause, we are supporting them. So I think it is a mistake to say, what is America going to do next? What America should continue to do is support the legitimate democratic aspirations of the people of Venezuela, we take our direction from them. What I know this Administration will do is continue to hunt down the money that these individuals have stolen from the people of Venezuela and preserve it, so that it will be there for the people of Venezuela and frankly there will come a point, I believe, when there will be secondary sanctions against businesses or countries who are helping Maduro try to evade these sanctions.

I don’t think mafia needs any translation, but the question was, isn’t it difficult to deal with this when you are not dealing with political leaders and talks of amnesty, you’re talking about dealing with organized crime figures, and the Maduro crime family. I don’t understand how in a country where people are starving, both Maduro and this guy Cabello, they look like refrigerators, I mean they’re huge. And people are dying. I know it comes off as funny, but it’s true, there has never been a larger disconnect between a starving population and these overweight future cardiac patients.”

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RUBIO, YOHO APPLAUD U.S. COMMERCE DEPARTMENT DECISION TO WITHDRAW FROM TOMATO SUSPENSION AGREEMENT WITH MEXICO

Washington, D.C. ― Today, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and U.S. Representative Ted Yoho (R-FL) applauded the U.S. Department of Commerce’s announcement to withdraw from the flawed 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico that has allowed unfair competition to increasingly put U.S. tomato growers out of business. Today’s decision will provide for a May 7th deadline for the resumption of the U.S. antidumping investigation on fresh tomatoes from Mexico, and allow for the effective enforcement of U.S. trade laws. Last week, Rubio and Yoho led their colleagues in urging Secretary Ross to terminate the agreement.

“I applaud Secretary Ross and his team at the Department of Commerce for sending a strong message that the U.S. will ensure vigilant enforcement of our existing trade laws and trade agreements,” said Rubio. “Fairly traded imports can and do enrich Americans’ lives, but we must be clear with our trade partners that unfair trade practices that threaten American livelihoods will not be tolerated. During the ninety day notice period, I urge the Department to carefully monitor Mexican tomato imports and to take action to terminate the agreement prior to May 7th should such action be warranted. I thank Representative Yoho for his leadership and support to ensure the U.S. tomato industry does not continue to suffer from unfair competition.”

“I applaud the Commerce Department’s swift action on behalf of our nation’s tomato producers,” said Yoho. “The decision to withdraw from the flawed 2013 Suspension Agreement on Fresh Tomatoes from Mexico is the right thing to do for our Florida producers. This announcement opens the door for both countries to negotiate a new agreement that is mutually beneficial to both countries. I want to thank Senator Rubio for his leadership and support on this issue and to all members of Congress who joined the collective effort to level the playing field for America’s tomato producers.”

According to the Department of Commerce, “upon completion of the withdrawal, the Department of Commerce will continue with its investigation and notify the International Trade Commission (ITC) of its final determination. If the Department continues to find sales made at less than fair value in its final determination, the ITC will then complete its own investigation and make a final determination with respect to injury. If both Commerce and the ITC issue affirmative final determinations, an antidumping duty order will be issued.”

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

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