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ICYMI: Rubio Joins NBC 6
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined NBC 6 to discuss Iran-backed attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East, the Biden Administration’s deal with the Maduro narco-regime in Venezuela, and more. See below for highlights and watch part one and part two on YouTube.
On Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel:
“I think everyone was surprised, including the Israelis, by the tactics that were used by Hamas. They had never seen that sort of incursion before, where people were coming in on paragliders, breaking through fences on motorcycles, and the like. I don’t think anyone who knows anything about Hamas was surprised by their intentions or what they did.
“Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. They took over Gaza in 2007, and the stated purpose of Hamas is to drive every Jew out of the Middle East and, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, establish a fundamentalist Islamic country that has no Jews and no Christians, which they govern. That’s their goal. And by driving every Jew out of there, they mean either intimidating them into leaving or by killing them.
“The destruction of the Jewish state is their aim. It’s their goal. You have seen [Hamas], since [October 7], not only defend the attack by saying that there are no such things as civilians in these areas, but actually come out and say that they intend to do this again in the future.
“Israel really has no choice when faced with an enemy who has done this, the butchery that we can’t talk enough about, nor should we try to hide, the butchery that they intend, [but to neutralize Hamas]. Can you demand they coexist alongside a group like this?”
On the possibility of a two state solution for Israel and Palestine:
“The problem with the two state scenario is not the theory, it’s the reality of who would be the second state? Would it be one governed by Hamas? Would it be one governed by the Palestinian Authority? People say they’re more moderate, but they also give money and rewards to people they consider martyrs. If you blow up a bus in Jerusalem and kill Jews, they will give your family money for the rest of their lives as a reward for it. Who is the second state? Is it Hezbollah?
“The problem Israel faces is that every time it has turned over territory, be it Gaza with a peace accord with Egypt, be it the West Bank, whatever it may be, those territories are used to launch attacks against Israel. The impediment to a two state solution here is not Israel. It’s that that second state does not want an Israel. They want all of it to be what they call Palestine. It’s a very complex situation. There’s just no one to negotiate with right now. There isn’t some reasonable alternative group that you can work with. It’s complex because of that.”
On Iran-backed attacks against U.S. troops in the Middle East:
“The U.S. military presence [in the Middle East] is there not exclusively, but primarily, for the purpose of acting as a deterrent against attacks against Americans. It’s a deterrent that right now is not credible, because the Iranians have now conducted, as we do this interview today, at least 30 attacks against the United States, using their proxy groups. They have directed those attacks. They’ve encouraged them. They’ve facilitated them.
“Those attacks are going to start coming faster. They’re going to use deadlier weapons. They’re going to go beyond Iraq and Syria, to try to reach Americans in Kuwait and the UAE and Saudi Arabia and Jordan, if we do not establish a credible deterrent. That’s what we have the capability to do, a credible deterrent, both economic and military. But to do that, we’re going to have to impose costs on Iran. I don’t say that lightly, because establishing a deterrent in and of itself could lead to escalation. But the failure to establish a deterrent guarantees an escalation.
“My problem with the Biden Administration is not that they haven’t moved sufficient assets. It’s that right now, as we speak, the Iranians do not believe that we will use [those assets]. They believe the Biden Administration will tolerate this level of attacks and an even higher level of attacks, because they desperately do not want to get into a war with Iran. It’s encouraging Iran to continue to target Americans. It’s going to get very dangerous here very quickly.”
On the Biden Administration’s failure to deter Iran-backed attacks:
“We haven’t done enough, because the attacks keep coming. We know for a fact that we haven’t done enough. We know for a fact that the Iranians, both in their public statements and in their actions, believe that there is a threshold that will trigger a U.S. response and that they are not even close to that threshold.
“The Iranians right now believe that they can target and maybe even kill a few American troops stationed not just in Syria and Iraq, but stationed in Kuwait or the UAE or Jordan or Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. isn’t going to do anything about it. They believe that. That’s why they’re doing it. As long as they believe that, these attacks will continue to come. Those are the facts.
“I’m not pretending this is a simple thing. I recognize that if we take actions directly against Iran, and we need to, there’s a real risk of escalation. But I know that if we don’t, it guarantees escalation, because they will use more sophisticated weapons eventually, and eventually they’re going to start killing Americans. Then there will be a demand. At that point, we’re off to the races, and now it begins to spiral.
“I’ve been talking about this since two weeks before the first attack even happened, because I saw it coming. The administration, as I said, has the assets in place to deter. But they have not established [deterrence], because the Iranians do not believe that there’s a willingness to do anything about it.”
On the risks of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil:
“The biggest risks on our soil are lone wolf attacks. What I mean is somebody who sympathizes with Hezbollah, and as this conflict goes forward, and they’re watching Al Jazeera, and they’re getting fired up by what they’re being told, decide that they’re going to move beyond ripping down posters of hostages to actually killing Jews, blowing up a synagogue, targeting, God forbid, the New York Marathon.
“That really is the risk, because those [attacks] are very hard to disrupt. Those are single individuals or small groups of individuals that, inspired by events, could be triggered into action. It only took two people to do the horrifying things we saw at the Boston Marathon, as an example. That’s the greatest short term risk.
“Long term, we know for a fact that the Iranians have already tried to kill and kidnap people inside the United States. We have indictments that speak to that, and we know that Hezbollah has built the same capability. Both Hezbollah and Iran want that capability to target Americans in the homeland, because they view it as a deterrent. They know they can’t beat us in a frontal war. But if they can attack us here at home, if they can impose costs here at home, it will discourage us from getting into a war with them or doing anything back to them. That’s a risk that exists as well.
“But I think the most immediate and urgent one is the one of a small group of individuals who are inspired by events to take action. We’ve seen this rise in anti-Semitism. If 100 people are out there ripping up posters, it only takes one of them to decide to start killing Jews, to have a terrorist attack in the United States. I’m very worried about that.”
On Rubio’s bill to ban federal funding for pro-terrorist activities on campuses:
“What’s really bothering a lot of people is to see that our universities, [which] we spend billions of dollars [on, which] we would love for [our kids] to go to, have become nests of antisemitism. When someone is out there chanting about ‘from the river to the sea,’ what that slogan means, whether these idiots who are saying it realize it or not, is every Jew gets kicked out of that area, and Palestinians dominate from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, the entirety of what we know as Israel.
“That’s what they’re talking about. They’re talking about either genocide or driving people out of a place in the world where there’s been a continuous Jewish presence for thousands of years. It bothers me to see that that’s happening on our campuses. It outrages me that billions of dollars a year go into these universities.
“My bill says no federal dollars can be used to put on events or to sponsor activities that support or encourage others to support Foreign Terrorist Organizations, organizations that are designated by the State Department. [My bill also says that] any student who either supports these organizations or encourages others to support the goals and aims of these organizations is automatically disqualified for financial aid.
“People can argue that you have a First Amendment right to say these things. What they cannot argue is that you have any right to receive federal financial aid if you are out there using that to then go to school and harass Jewish students and support Foreign Terrorist Organizations that have been designated as such by our State Department.”
On whether aid packages for Ukraine and Israel should be written separately:
“I believe it should be separate, because it will be easier to pass that way. Common sense tells me this. There is overwhelming support for helping Israel, both in the House and Senate. We could pass an Israel aid package in 30 seconds if we wanted to in the Senate, and another 30 seconds in the House. That’s how quickly it can happen. That is not true with Ukraine.
“I have supported funding for Ukraine. I believe the fastest way to end the war in Ukraine is to convince Vladimir Putin that we’re not going to abandon Ukraine. But I recognize that there are colleagues of mine, a substantial number of Republicans in the House and a growing number in the Senate, that are more skeptical about Ukraine…. They don’t want us funding the Ukrainian government pensions in that country and the like.
“I don’t want to slow down Israel aid by linking it to something that I think we should do, but has more resistance to it. Common sense tells you let’s do the Israel aid and then let’s deal with the Ukraine aid separately.
“What’s happening here is that the White House is saying, ‘We know we can’t pass Ukraine aid or it’s going to take too long, the only way we can guarantee Ukraine aid is to tie it to something that everybody else wants.’ In essence, what they want to be able to say is, ‘If you don’t vote for Ukraine, you’re against Israel.’
“That’s why I think they should be separated. I’m fine if we pass a bill that has them both, as long as the Ukraine aid looks right. But I think it should be separated, because it’ll be faster and easier to do, and Israel really needs it immediately.”
On Nicolás Maduro reneging on his deal with the Biden Administration:
“The Biden Administration made a deal, which I think was a stupid deal from the beginning. Maduro was never going to live up to it. It said, ‘If you promise to do free and fair elections, we’ll actually lift some sanctions now.’ What did Maduro do? Less than two weeks later, they literally canceled, voided, wiped out the primary elections of the opposition.
“There is a candidate, María Corina Machado, who’s running for president and [according to] a lot of reliable public polling…is overwhelmingly beating him. He knows it. They’ve disqualified her from the ballot. She wins the primary. They wipe out the primary. That is the definition of an unfair election. When you say, ‘We’re going to have an election, but the opposition can’t pick its candidate, and they can’t have a primary election,’ that is a blatant violation of the deal.
“I don’t understand at this point why we didn’t immediately snap back to sanctions. I suspect that there will be resistance in the State Department to doing so, because it is filled with people that sympathize with Maduro, that want to help Maduro, want to help that regime, and never were in favor of sanctions to begin with.
“Part of this is that they reached this deportation agreement where they’re going to deport Venezuelans. I think that’s the real deal that happened here. In exchange for that, they lifted these sanctions. I think one of the reasons why Biden is going to be resistant to reimposing sanctions. He’s afraid that Maduro will say, ‘Then I will no longer accept the repatriation flights, the deportation flights of Venezuelans.’”