News

Latest News

Next Week: Rubio Staff Hosts Mobile Office Hours

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) office will host in-person and virtual Mobile Office Hours next week to assist constituents with federal casework issues in their respective local communities. These office hours offer constituents who do not live close to one of...

read more

Rubio Highlights Extent Of Zika Problem In Western Hemisphere & Its Impact On Florida, U.S.

Jul 13, 2016 | Press Releases

Rubio: “The links between our nations make this a hemispheric public health crisis, where once again, American ingenuity and innovation in the medical sciences must lead the way if we are to help save lives, including countless unborn children.”
 
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today called on Congress to heed the warning of public health experts and take immediate action to combat the Zika virus. Rubio made his remarks while chairing a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues. Rubio also asked health officials testifying today about Zika concerns at the Rio Summer Olympics.
 
“For those of us who live in South Florida and travel through Miami International Airport, we know very well that what happens in Brazil impacts us in the U.S., especially in Florida,” said Rubio. “Here on the Senate floor and back home in my state, I have called for action from my colleagues urging support for fully funding the President’s funding request to deal with this virus. I’ve supported every single Zika proposal that has come before the Senate. Every single one.
 
“The links between our country, especially Florida, and other nations of the Western Hemisphere are obvious,” Rubio continued. “I’ve already covered Brazil. But for example, the first baby born in Florida with Zika-related microcephaly was a mother who came from Haiti. Last month, TIME reported that 12,000 pregnant Colombian women have Zika.
 
“The Zika virus is already a U.S. public health emergency. The problem is even worse in Latin America. It’s only growing by the day,” Rubio added. “And the links between our nations make this a hemispheric public health crisis, where once again, American ingenuity and innovation in the medical sciences must lead the way if we are to help save lives, including countless unborn children.
 
“We must begin to meet the Zika virus with a sense of urgency that we have not seen up until now . Listen to the experts from all around. It’s time to enact serious solutions,” Rubio concluded.
 
A transcript of Rubio’s opening remarks is available below. A video is available here, and a broadcast quality video of his opening remarks is available for download here.
 
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Foreign Relations Committee
July 13, 2016
https://youtu.be/_ppuYx8U7x8
 
Senator Marco Rubio: “Today, we face an issue that is already affecting many countries in our hemisphere, including our own. It is not partisan in nature. The growing threat of the Zika virus as a full-blown public health crisis in the United States is a clear call to action. Just look at the statistics.
 
“As of July, 65 countries and territories have reported evidence of vector-borne Zika virus transmission.
 
“What’s even more troubling is the fact that four countries are classified as having possible endemic transmission or have reported evidence of local vector-borne Zika infections in 2016. As much as Zika remains a threat on the international stage, it also poses a real and timely threat to our country.
 
“That means in these countries the disease has already spread rapidly, and made its way into the population. We’re seeing this, as well, in the island of Puerto Rico – and Puerto Ricans, as you all are well aware, are American citizens, and Puerto Rico is an American territory.
 
“According to statistics from the World Health Organization, the United States is one of eleven countries with evidence of person-to-person transmission of the Zika virus.
 
“That means that our neighbors, our friends, our families are already at risk, even without mosquito born transmission, though that is likely coming as well.
 
“As the threat of the virus continues to grow here, I will continue to state the importance of moving quickly in response.
 
“I strongly believe that inaction on Zika is simply inexcusable, and I am optimistic that after reviewing the facts and hearing from the experts here today, it will reinforce this fact and the fact that something needs to happen quickly. It has taken far too long already.
 
“The effects of the Zika virus are alarming, to say the least.
 
“Pregnant women, or women who become pregnant and have contracted the virus, and are at risk of having babies with microcephaly.
 
“For those not familiar with microcephaly, it is a birth defect that causes severe neurological abnormalities, which can include a small, deformed head.  This has a permanent and severely detrimental impact on the development of the baby’s neurological system and quality of life. Those born with microcephaly may experience seizures, intellectual disabilities, hearing and vision lost, as well as a number of other horrific symptoms.
 
“It is our responsibility to the American people to take action when public health is in jeopardy.
 
“Although the mainland of the United States may not be worried about Zika right now, there are already 1,133 cases, and they are found in 45 out of 50 states.
 
“Just last week, the CDC reported that they are currently monitoring, in the United States, 320 cases of Zika in pregnant women. The CDC director, who joins us here today, called Zika “a silent epidemic.”
 
“As of now, many predicted would happen in the summer, the spread of the virus is now accelerating.
 
“The Friday before last, federal health officials confirmed the largest number of new Zika infections in a single day in the state of Florida, with ten new cases.
 
“That was a short-lived record. It was broken last Wednesday, when Florida confirmed eleven new Zika infections – that time in six counties, including Lake County, FL, which had never had a case before.
 
“That record was broken again on Monday of this week, when 13 new infections were reported.
 
“And so you get the idea. The problem is only going to continue to accelerate. This is not the first time that I have spoken on the growing threat of Zika.
 
“In late January of this year, as I was somewhere outside of Florida, I saw a headline in the New York Times that stopped me in my tracks. It said, “Reports of Zika-Linked Birth Defect Rise in Brazil”.
 
“The article went on to say, “The health authorities in Brazil said Wednesday that reported cases of microcephaly — a rare condition in which infants are born with abnormally small heads — had climbed to 4,180 since October, a 7 percent increase from the previous tally last week.”
 
“And it stopped me in my tracks for a number of reasons. First, was the staggering number and the breakneck speed with which the disease was spreading, over just the course of a week.
 
“But it also made me pause because, for those of us who live in South Florida and travel through Miami International Airport, we know very well that what happens in Brazil impacts us in the U.S., especially in Florida.
 
“A couple of days after that, I reached out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to express my concerns and ask what they were doing or could do about this, given Miami International Airport’s standing as the Gateway to the Americas, with more flights and passengers going to and from Brazil than any other U.S. airport.
 
“Here on the Senate floor and back home in my state, I have called for action from my colleagues urging support for fully funding the President’s funding request to deal with this virus.
 
“I’ve supported every single Zika proposal that has come before the Senate. Every single one.
 
“But nothing has gotten done. The problem is only getting worse.  It is our duty to act now, while we can still get ahead of this disease, and before it is simply too late.
 
“I believe the Congress has a constitutional responsibility and a moral obligation to confront the Zika virus.
 
“It is my hope that today’s hearing will further call attention to the seriousness of this situation and what more we can do in the Western Hemisphere to help fight it.
 
“This challenge we face is emblematic of how interconnected we are as a country with our neighbors.  In this global economy, public health crises do not respect international borders. 
 
“The negative impacts of these problems, from the economy, to political instability, can easily impact us here at home.
 
“The links between our country, especially Florida, and other nations of the Western Hemisphere are obvious. I’ve already covered Brazil. But for example, the first baby born in Florida with Zika-related microcephaly was a mother who came from Haiti. Last month, TIME reported that 12,000 pregnant Colombian women have Zika. The Zika virus is already a U.S. public health emergency.
 
“The problem is even worse in Latin America. It’s only growing by the day. And the links between our nations make this a hemispheric public health crisis, where once again, American ingenuity and innovation in the medical sciences must lead the way if we are to help save lives, including countless unborn children.
 
“We must begin to meet the Zika virus with a sense of urgency that we have not seen up until now. Listen to the experts from all around. It’s time to enact serious solutions.
 
“I am proud to stand as an advocate for any legislation that would provide funding to combat Zika as soon as possible. We cannot rest until we have taken action in order to ensure the safety and health of the American public.”