Fighting for Florida

A half-century has passed since more than 600 civil rights demonstrators gathered together to make the 54 mile march from Selma, Alabama to the state capital in Montgomery. While they were met with violence by state troopers not long after they began, their patient dedication to nonviolent resistance - even in the face of such harrowing brutality - stirred the conscience of our nation and the entire world. The vision of these marchers was simple, yet profound: that America must fulfill the promise made in her founding documents by allowing all citizens to access their God-given rights. Their efforts led to major progress later that year with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

America is the greatest nation in history, but our history is not without its dark chapters. Slavery, and the discrimination that followed it, violated our founding ideal that everyone deserves an equal shot at success. Today, we still carry on the fight for equal opportunity. We still have work ahead of us to rid our nation of injustice and bring the American Dream within reach of everyone. But on this day, we remember the Selma march, one of many instances in our history when the courage of a few who dared to stand up to injustice led to a better America for all.

As I have done each year since I have been in the United States Senate, today I filed the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act (CIANA), which works to prevent abortions by minors by giving states the ability to enforce their parental notification and consent laws. These laws give our nation’s daughters a chance to receive important advice and guidance before undergoing a serious procedure for which they may not be emotionally or medically prepared.

While abortion remains a divisive issue, most Americans support this focused legislation: More than 75% of Americans believe that parents should be involved before their child gets an abortion, as most states already require. And more than 80% of Americans believe that an individual should not be able to take a minor across state lines for an abortion without her parents’ knowledge.

CIANA addresses these concerns by putting into law what already unites the vast majority of Americans: when children face a life-changing event such as unexpected pregnancy, their parents should be involved.

Once again the FCC is trying to wedge an expansive government into more corners of the free market, this time through unnecessary and heavy-handed regulations on the Internet. What FCC Chairman Wheeler is proposing threatens to restrict Internet growth, increase costs on users, and inevitably stifle the economic opportunity that the Internet currently provides.

This policy also ignores the significant litigation vulnerabilities that could arise from reclassification, which creates greater uncertainty and jeopardizes critical investments in broadband. Instead of the FCC forcing this significant policy change on the American people, Congress should work to update outdated laws from a bygone era in order to provide clarity on the FCC’s role in the modern communications landscape.

Jan 22 2015

March For Life

Every year, thousands of Americans come together to defend the defenseless and stand for human life at the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. And every year, I am proud to support these efforts and the simple truth that all human life is sacred. Today, I had the honor of meeting with a group of about 55 South Florida students and pro-life supporters, as well as seminarians from St. Vincent De Paul, of Boynton Beach. I commend everyone who marched today at the 42nd annual March for Life, and all those who continue to protect the lives of the innocent and unborn.

Pictures of today’s visit are available below:

1.22.2015 March for Life

 

1.22.2015 March for Life 2

 

1.22.2015 March for Life 3

 

1.22.2015 March for Life 4

 

1.22.2015 March for Life 5

As we mark Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we’re reminded of a man who sacrificed all to help lead us toward a more perfect union. This holiday is meant to honor that legacy not by being a day off, but by being a day on – a day of reflection and service to our communities and our country.

That’s because Martin Luther King Jr. was a man not just of great words, but of great actions; a man who labored tirelessly to expand the boundaries of freedom and opportunity. Through peace, unity and constructive dialogue, Dr. King wielded America’s strengths to confront her weaknesses.

The result has been an American Dream applicable to more people than ever before. Even so, the work of Dr. King remains unfinished today. The American Dream continues to elude too many of our people – Americans of all backgrounds. And the vestiges of racial discrimination still exist.

Over this past year, we have seen tragic events in several communities result in anguish and frustration among our people. While these occurrences sometimes feel like grave setbacks, Dr. King’s legacy reminds us that we can turn even the most painful tragedies into catalysts for progress.

Today, our generation, like those before us, has the chance to make historic strides toward equality of opportunity, both economic and social. To do so, we must look to Dr. King’s example. We must start with what unites us.

Americans are a unique and special people. We are the descendants of pilgrims and immigrants; of slaves and refugees. In our veins flows the blood of men and women who refused to accept that their futures would be determined by their pasts.

In this country, a collection of people of every race, of every tongue, of every religion known to man, somehow did what had not been done before over thousands of years of human history: they came together to build one nation under God.

Ours is not a story of perfection, it is a story of progress – of sometimes slow but always steady progress toward a more perfect union. That is our past, thanks in part to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But I believe it is also our future.

So on this day of service and remembrance, I want to thank everyone who is honoring Dr. King’s legacy of service to our nation. Thank you for working together today, and every day, to advocate for an America of justice and opportunity for all.

Today we commemorate International Human Rights Day. It’s a day to be thankful for our God-given rights but also to remember that there are millions of people around the world who are denied their most basic human rights every day. This includes Saeed Abedini, an Iranian-American pastor who has been imprisoned in Iran since September 2012 for being a Christian. Unfortunately the story of Pastor Abedini is an all too common occurrence around the world where governments frequently harass and unjustly imprison foreign nationals as well as their own citizens for their religious beliefs. 

One of the most egregious violations of human rights occurring across the globe and even in my home state of Florida is human trafficking. Just this past week, 61 people were charged with human trafficking in a sting operation in Polk County. I applaud the work of law enforcement that caught these perpetrators of modern day slavery and pray for the victims of this horrendous crime.  We, however, must remain vigilant and continue to work to combat this terrible crime which plagues our society.

Today we honor Saeed Abedini, and all other prisoners of consciences who are struggling to exercise their human rights, as well as the millions of people who are trapped in modern day slavery.

Dec 01 2014

World AIDS Day

As we mark World AIDS Day, we are reminded that more than 35 million people around the world are living with HIV or AIDS. This is a disease that does not discriminate. It impacts the lives of people on all continents, of all races, and from all socioeconomic backgrounds.

However, today is also a reminder of the progress we've made in combatting this vicious disease. Due to advances in medical science over recent years, as well as the humanitarian commitment of the American people, there are millions of people receiving HIV medications and living longer, more productive lives that would otherwise be without hope.

Americans should feel proud of what we have achieved in combatting AIDS. Great credit goes to President George W. Bush for establishing the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and Congress for continuing to fund it. But the battle is not finished. We’ve seen infection rates climb in recent years among certain demographics, including minority communities and young women.

Our goal in the 21st century is to have an AIDS-free generation.  To achieve this goal, we need to maintain a spirit of generosity and compassion, both as a nation and as individuals. With our personal efforts and with continued medical ingenuity, I believe we'll live to see AIDS eradicated from the face of the earth.

On the evening of Monday, November 17, 2014, the Senate passed S. 1086, a bill reauthorizing the Child Care and Development Block Grant Program (CCDBG).

This bill reauthorizes and amends the CCDBG Act with new requirements for state health and safety standards, including annual, unannounced onsite monitoring of licensed providers, background checks of child care staff and providers, expanded compliance with child abuse reporting requirements, and enhanced coordination with other programs.

On March 13, 2014, the Senate passed an earlier version of S. 1086, and I voted yes.

Due to a flight delay, I was unable to cast a vote yesterday on its final passage. I would have voted yes.

Oct 03 2014

Yom Kippur

This Friday, as the sun sets, the Jewish community will join together to observe the holiest day of the year in the Jewish faith, Yom Kippur. As Jews around the world partake in deep prayer and repentance on this Day of Atonement, it is my prayer that their journey toward spiritual renewal be a blessed and holy one. While this day is a solemn one, we pray it brings them the reprieve of acceptance and forgiveness, and the joys of family and fellowship.

This day serves as a reminder to us all, regardless of faith or denomination, of our many shared values. It is a reminder of the universal desire to overcome our shortcomings and partake in a noble journey toward self-improvement and self-awareness. Today, may Americans everywhere call to mind the values our nation holds dear – including our commitment to family and faith, as well as the freedom to celebrate both.

On this High Holiday, we pray especially for our friends in Israel as they continue to face great challenges. May this day be met with lasting peace in the Jewish state, and let it remind us of our commitment to protect and defend our allies there.

I wish the Jewish community peace and blessings this Yom Kippur, and may this sacred day seal a promise for a year of health and happiness for all.

Sep 24 2014

Rosh Hashanah

Rosh Hashanah, the celebration of the Jewish New Year, is a time of reflection and new beginnings for the Jewish community. We wish the Jewish people in the U.S., Israel and throughout the world a day of many blessings and peace as they celebrate this High Holiday.
 
Let us also recognize the profound influence that Judeo-Christian values have had on shaping this great nation and how they are among the many reasons we are so closely linked to Israel. Although this past year has brought tragedy and many great challenges to Israel, it also reminded us of why the Jewish state remains a friend of the U.S. like no other - one we must continue to defend and protect.

In this time of prayer and reflection, we wish all members of the Jewish community a happy and healthy new year. May this celebration bring with it lasting peace and prosperity.
 
Shanah Tovah U’metukah.