Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Marco Rubio (R-FL) delivered opening remarks and questioned witnesses at a hearing on countering China’s influence in the United States. Watch Rubio’s opening remarks here as well as Part I and Part II of...
Approximately 302,000 Americans live with spinal cord injuries. To help these people achieve a better quality of life, there is a need to increase education and invest in research. U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) successfully led a bipartisan...
Foreign investment is one of the legal means that adversaries, like China, can use to collect Americans’ data, exasperating both privacy and national security risks. To counter this, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Raphael Warnock (D-GA) reintroduced the...
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined Special Report with Bret Baier to discuss the impending government shutdown, the possibility of a Saudi-Israeli normalization deal, and the indictment of Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ). See below for highlights and watch the full...
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced three additions to the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA) Entity List. These are the first additions by the Biden Administration since June. U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), author of the bipartisan...
Congress should think before it regulates AI U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) September 26, 2023 Washington Times To prevent next-generation computer programs from wreaking havoc on American society, [some members of Congress want] to enact comprehensive regulation at...
Ahead of Major Hurricane Michael’s Landfall, Rubio Urges DOJ, HHS & IRS to Assist Affected Communities
Washington, D.C. – Ahead of Hurricane Michael’s landfall in the Florida panhandle today, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar, and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig to assist communities affected by the storm. This major hurricane is expected to cause catastrophic conditions with winds in excess of 145 miles per hour, and detrimental storm surges.
Specifically, Rubio urged Attorney General Sessions to “work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to prepare to investigate and prosecute illegal activity related to Hurricane Michael and its aftermath.” He requested HHS Secretary Alex Azar to “continue to coordinate with state and local governments to ensure they are prepared and able to quickly respond to Floridians once Michael passes.” Finally, he asked IRS Commissioner Rettig to “pre-approve relief to taxpayers residing in areas that are going to be impacted by the storm.”
The full text of his letter to Attorney General Sessions is below.
Dear Attorney General Sessions:
As you know, Hurricane Michael is expected to make landfall in Florida’s panhandle today. This powerful storm is currently forecasted to have devastating impacts on Florida’s communities. In anticipation, I urge the Department of Justice to work with federal, state, and local law enforcement to prepare to investigate and prosecute illegal activity related to Hurricane Michael and its aftermath.
Law enforcement professionals in Florida have a strong history of working together in post-disaster recovery and response efforts, and I have complete confidence that they will meet the challenges this storm may bring. As such, I ask the department to promptly respond to requests raised by state and local law enforcement for assistance related to the storm.
While we know the overwhelming majority of Floridians are outstanding citizens, we must ensure that bad actors are not exploiting those left vulnerable after a disaster. These criminals target storm victims in multiple ways, including identity theft, fraudulent insurance claims, fraudulent solicitations of charitable donations, property theft, price gouging, unscrupulous contractors, and looting. Special attention must be paid to protect the hundreds of thousands of seniors that call Florida home, and who are often targeted and scammed in these situations.
As the Florida panhandle braces for Hurricane Michael, I request the Department of Justice to appropriately assist communities adversely affected by this storm.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
The full text of his letter to Secretary Azar is below.
Dear Secretary Azar:
Thank you for your continued leadership in response to Hurricane Florence, and your efforts to protect Americans in Florida and elsewhere from Hurricane Michael. Your department’s efforts are critical to ensuring a rapid, effective response that will save lives.
To that end, I respectfully ask that you continue to coordinate with state and local governments to ensure they are prepared and able to quickly respond to Floridians once Michael passes. As requested with previous storms, I would appreciate updates about ongoing coordination with health care providers, including hospitals, inpatient nursing facilities, dialysis centers, and home health providers. Specifically, has the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ distributed information about best practices for evacuating vulnerable patients, if needed, and how to provide necessary medical services to patients that are not evacuated? Additionally, what steps have been taken to prevent tragic deaths, such as the loss of seniors at the Hollywood Hills, Florida nursing home?
Additionally, I respectfully request your department to expedite the review of, and to the extent possible, approve any waivers requested by the State of Florida under Sections 1135 or 1812 of the Social Security Act that will ensure emergency response teams have the tools and flexibilities necessary in the wake of the hurricane. In light of this, I also request an update on any pending communications regarding enrolling out-of-state providers to ensure that Floridians enrolled in Medicaid are able to access care in another state, if forced to evacuate.
I look forward to working with you to ensure Florida is prepared to respond to the effects of Hurricane Michael. Thank you for your attention to these matters.
The full text of his letter to Commissioner Rettig is below.
Dear Commissioner Rettig:
As Hurricane Michael approaches the Florida panhandle, I ask that you pre-approve relief to taxpayers residing in areas that are going to be impacted by the storm. Many families will need to draw from their retirement accounts for immediate and necessary financial assistance to prepare for and recover from this storm. I urge that you eliminate barriers to this liquidity by administrative discretion to the maximum procedural relief possible.
As you are aware, individuals who withdraw or take a loan from their qualified employer plans before the age of 59 ½ face early withdrawal penalties that may include a ban on contributions for six months and a 10 percent surtax. Individuals are also limited to a narrow definition as to what qualifies as a “hardship” distribution. As a result of this natural disaster, many Floridians may have to pull from their retirement accounts to rebuild their homes, buy vehicles, and pay for the general costs displacement. As such, I ask that you help Floridians and others affected by this storm recover from this disaster as quickly as possible by providing them with the same penalty relief you provided to those impacted by the 2017 hurricanes. I also request that you relax the definition of a “hardship” distribution to include recovery efforts for Hurricane Michael while also removing the six-month ban on contributions. Additionally, I ask that you allow employees to adopt leave-based donation programs for Hurricane Michael that allows employees to forego vacation, sick, or personal leave in exchange for cash payments to qualifying charitable organizations.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and I look forward to working with you.