Fighting for Florida: Accomplishments
Though Washington, D.C. faces so much partisan division and dysfunction, year after year Senator Marco Rubio delivers real results for Florida and the country.
From the Paycheck Protection Program and the expanded Child Tax Credit to critical veterans reform and Everglades restoration, Senator Rubio gets results. The Center for Effective Lawmaking ranked Rubio as the most effective Republican senator, and a non-partisan analysis produced by GovTrack ranked Rubio as the second top leader compared to all senators in 2020 and 2019.
One of Senator Rubio’s highest priorities is ensuring he and his staff are available to help Floridians with whatever federal assistance they may need. In 2019, the Congressional Management Foundation recognized Senator Rubio’s federal casework team as the best in the nation by honoring the office with the “Democracy Award for Excellence in Constituent Services.”
Senator Marco Rubio continued to deliver for Florida and the nation in 2021, during which six of his bills became law, including the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which represents one of the most significant changes in America’s trade relationship with China in decades. The Center for Effective Lawmaking (CEL) ranked Rubio as the most effective Republican Senator and a non-partisan analysis produced by GovTrack ranked Rubio as the second top leader compared to all senators in 2020 and 2019.
Constituent Service. Senator Rubio’s award-winning federal casework team helped 21,000 Floridians from all walks of life — veterans, immigrants, active service-members, the unemployed, passport holders, small business owners, and the homeless — navigate government agencies. Overall, the team handled more than 60,000 cases over the past five years.
New Laws. Senator Rubio authored dozens of laws over the past five years, including the expansion of the Child Tax Credit, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, the authorization of the Central Everglades Planning Project, numerous bills on Venezuela and China, and, of course, the Paycheck Protection Program. Below is a partial list from 2021:
Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
Secure Equipment Act of 2021
Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act
National Flood Insurance Program Extension
Federal Contractor COVID Relief Extension
Read Senator Rubio’s full report for details on his legislative accomplishments in 2021 and the landmark laws he wrote over the past five years.
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Senator Rubio understands the importance of affordable housing, and he has a long history of fighting to keep low-income housing tenants safe and hold slumlords accountable.
In 2016, Rubio raised concerns about Eureka Garden Apartments, a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complex in Jacksonville. Visiting the apartment complex to investigate reports of mismanagement, he found hazardous and inhumane living conditions. Rubio was outraged and began to push for legislative and managerial changes.
The Senate went on to pass three of his amendments to improve HUD’s oversight of housing projects. Rubio also publicly called out Global Ministries Foundation (GMF), which owned Eureka Garden Apartments and several other properties in Florida at the time. In November 2018, Rubio’s efforts to cancel GMF’s contract with HUD came to fruition when the Eureka Garden complex was sold to Millennia Housing Development.
After witnessing deplorable conditions and deficient inspections, Rubio introduced the HUD Inspection Process and Enforcement Reform Act, which would improve the federal housing inspection process and hold slumlords accountable. He also introduced the Housing Accountability Act, which would require tenants of Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance properties to be included in semi-annual surveys that assess a property’s physical condition.
Rubio also sought to improve conditions at the Stonybrook apartment complex in Riviera Beach and the Windsor Cove federal housing complex in Orlando. “Not only was his mind in it — but his heart was also in it,” Pastor Mark Griffin told the Washington Examiner.
On-the-ground experience is critical to learning about and then addressing shameful living conditions. In 2018, Rubio visited Liberty Square and heard firsthand from tenants who had been victims of systematic violence and crime. In response, Rubio introduced the Liberty City Rising Act, which seeks to improve safety standards for public housing complexes located in high-crime areas.
Rubio was quick to act after his staff found poor conditions at Glorieta Gardens Apartments in Opa-locka. He called for the HUD secretary and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner to conduct an investigation and potentially suspend benefits to the owners of the apartments.
Following disturbing reports from tenants at Jones Walker Apartments in Fort Myers, Rubio discovered the property had failed its procedural Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspection. Rubio requested that the HUD Secretary take corrective action immediately.
Rubio and his Senate colleagues also introduced the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, which would provide recommendations to Congress on how to effectively increase affordable housing options.
In addition, Rubio introduced the Home Advantage for American Families Act. This legislation seeks to reduce excess foreign investment in the urban real estate market, which increases home prices and outbids working Americans on home purchases. It would simultaneously allow for the construction of new, single-family homes by increasing federal investment in the low-income housing tax credit.
In April 2021, Rubio and his team responded to reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the Eastside Gardens Apartments and Eastside Terrace Apartments in Jacksonville, both federally contracted under the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program. Rubio wrote to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge requesting immediate action to remedy the unconscionable state of the properties. Rubio’s letter raised the further concern that other properties may be in similar conditions throughout Florida and called for the secretary to resume affordable housing inspections of HUD-assisted properties, which were put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July 2021, Rubio blasted the Eastside property owner, Andrew Podray, after receiving updated inspection scores for the properties. He urged HUD to debar Mr. Podray from contracts under all federal housing programs.
In May 2021, reports surfaced of unacceptable conditions at another Jacksonville property, the Hilltop Village Apartments, which is also federally contracted under the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program. Rubio contacted HUD Secretary Fudge to request immediate action to remedy a chronic rodent infestation and ensure sanitary and safe living conditions for constituents living at the apartment complex. In June 2021, Rubio took aim at the management company responsible for Hilltop Village Apartments, Cambridge Management, Inc., after discovering that the company was responsible for seven other properties in the state with failing REAC scores. In August 2021, Rubio requested that the Hilltop tenants be relocated to safe and sanitary housing.
While working to improve conditions at Jacksonville properties, Rubio directed HUD’s attention to 29 properties in Florida that participate in the Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance program with failing REAC scores. Rubio directed HUD to resume inspections of these properties, since many of them had not been inspected for several years, even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In July 2021, Rubio introduced the HUD Inspection and Capital Improvement Act to require that HUD health and sanitation inspections take place according to a reasonable federal timeline and that HUD take enforcement action on failing properties to protect tenants. Rubio’s bill would also increase HUD’s authority to hold agency staff accountable for misconduct.
In September 2021, Rubio introduced the Keep Children and Families Safe From Lead Hazards Act to direct HUD to identify and remediate risk exposure to lead hazards, including lead wall paint and lead drinking water service lines, in Section 8 housing programs.
Senator Rubio knows that the family is the fundamental building block of society and the lifeblood of our great nation. That is why he is committed to passing pro-family legislation that protects children and empowers parents to successfully raise the next generation.
In 2017, Senator Rubio fought with Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ivanka Trump to double the federal child tax credit for working families. As the New York Times reported, “it was a natural extension of the promise [Senator Rubio] believes the Republican Party had made, and was in danger of abandoning, to look out for the little guy.” Senator Rubio faced opposition from members of his own party before achieving success, but it was worth it to accomplish this landmark policy change. 2018 tax return data confirmed that the child tax credit expansion benefited millions of Americans in every tax bracket, except those at the very top.
Senator Rubio continues his work to strengthen working families. In 2022, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Senator Rubio announced a pro-family policy framework to protect life and empower mothers in post-Roe America. The Atlantic called it "a slate of proposals to support pregnant women and families," and the Washington Post noted "there could be some room for bipartisan action" as a result.
The "Providing for Life" framework includes provisions to:
- Enable paid parental leave;
- Further expand the child tax credit;
- Make the adoption tax credit fully refundable;
- Bolster child support enforcement;
- Establish a new motherhood mentoring initiative;
- Ensure pregnant students know their rights; and
- Give religious organizations fair access to government funding for community-building, family-strengthening work.
Senator Rubio's framework has earned him praise for “think[ing] creatively about where the state can intervene to better support pregnant women and families, and where it can unleash the power of the market to reduce the cost of living for parents.” He knows that American families deserve the best, and he will keep fighting on their behalf for as long as he can.
Senator Marco Rubio is leading the charge to reshape and rebalance America’s policies toward China. “While many Republican politicians—President Trump included—have endorsed similar ideas [on China], Rubio stands out for the intensity of his efforts, largely ignoring pleas from business lobbies to tone them down,” Bloomberg observed. As a result, “Rubio has found himself the target of China’s propaganda machine.”
In a time of intense partisan division on nearly every major public policy issue, Rubio has worked in a bipartisan fashion and drafted, championed, and ultimately passed major laws that alter the U.S.-China relationship. The most significant being Rubio’s Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was signed into law in 2021. The law represents the most consequential change in the U.S.-China relationship in two decades, and will ensure that goods made with the slave labor of Uyghurs, and other predominantly Muslim ethnic groups in the People’s Republic of China, do not enter our nation.
As described by The New York Times, “Marco Rubio Leads G.O.P. Push for a More Combative Stance on China.” Due to his leadership, the Chinese Communist Party imposed sanctions on Rubio and banned him from traveling to China.
Rubio’s Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, which became law in 2020, was the world’s first and aimed at countering the Chinese government’s widespread and horrific human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang. His Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, which became law in 2019, provided the U.S. powerful tools to punish Beijing for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom. Because of language Rubio included in Fiscal Year 2021 spending bill, the Trump Administration determined that the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Uyghurs and other groups in Xinjiang were crimes against humanity and genocide.
Rubio was also the first to ring the alarm over Chinese technology companies, including ZTE, Huawei, TikTok, WeChat, and others, which are now widely considered national security risks by the U.S. and other nations and face restrictions as such.
In 2018, Rubio became the first in Congress to warn that Chinese Communist Party-run Confucius Institutes were part of Beijing's global propaganda campaign to influence America’s educational institutions. Since then, more than 50 colleges and universities have terminated their agreements with Confucius Institutes.
No elected official has been more outspoken in the role U.S. financial markets play in helping the Chinese Communist Party accomplish its goal to undermine the U.S. economy and overthrow the rules-based international order.
In 2019, Rubio introduced the Ensuring Quality Information and Transparency for Abroad-Based Listings on our Exchanges (EQUITABLE) Act to ensure Chinese and other foreign companies listed on American exchanges can no longer cheat and ignore U.S. regulators. Parts of that bill became law in 2020. Rubio was also the first to highlight that the retirement assets of federal government employees, including members of the U.S. Armed Forces, were being invested in Chinese firms designing weapons to kill American service members. That changed, thanks to Rubio’s efforts.
Rubio is seeking accountability on behalf of Floridians who have suffered from the pandemic. In January 2022, Rubio introduced the Coronavirus Origin Validation, Investigation, and Determination (COVID) Act of 2021 to authorize sanctions and other restrictions on the Chinese Communist Party should it continue to allow for a credible and comprehensive international investigation into the origins of COVID-19. He will continue to press for a credible, forensic investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology, which is closely tied to the origins of COVID-19.
Rubio is also a leader in making the case that a critical role of government is to align our economic policies with the right national priorities. As part of that effort, in 2019, Rubio called for a 21st-century, pro-American industrial policy to ensure that the Chinese Communist Party does not threaten our country, our citizens, our values, and the rules-based international order.
Since taking office, one of Senator Rubio’s top priorities was ensuring he and his staff are available to help Floridians across the state with federal case work. The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) recognized U.S. Senator Marco Rubio as a national leader in constituent services and recognized his office with the 2019 Democracy Awards. CMF’s honors program recognizes non-legislative achievement in operations and constituent service by congressional offices and Members of Congress. CMF recognized Rubio for excellence in the Constituent Service category, which focuses on how an office interacts with and serves constituents, especially how it utilizes and leverages specific, methodical, and consistent processes for achieving measurable results in constituent service.
Through mobile office hours, where members of Senator Rubio’s state staff deploys to cities throughout Florida, Senator Rubio’s constituent services team stands ready to help Floridians with federal assistance.
Senator Marco Rubio and his team are ready to assist Floridians and their families in the face of natural disasters, working closely with the Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure Florida receives adequate federal funding.
In the fall of 2017, Hurricane Irma devastated the Florida Keys and South Florida and brought damage along its path through the peninsula. As he rode out the storm, Rubio was making preparations for his staff to host comprehensive recovery assistance centers (RACs) to connect Floridians with the federal resources they needed to rebuild. Rubio’s team helped more than 10,000 Floridians who came to a RAC seeking assistance. Rubio secured billions of dollars to assist in rebuilding, including a $616 million hurricane disaster recovery plan for affordable housing in the Keys, technical assistance for displaced Puerto Rican business owners, and direct grants to low-income business owners and homeowners who suffered damages from the storm. Rubio also secured the creation of the $343 million Florida Citrus Recovery Block Grant for Florida’s citrus growers and more than $500 million to expedite the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation by 2022.
In 2018, following the devastation caused by Category 5 Hurricane Michael, Rubio again took quick action to secure presidential approval of a Major Disaster Declaration. He also pushed supplemental disaster relief legislation through Congress that included approximately $380 million in relief for timber growers in the Florida Panhandle. His team also went door to door assisting residents to ensure they were able to get the necessary help and resources. Thanks to Rubio, FEMA increased its reimbursement rate to localities and electric cooperatives for debris cleanup, extra security measures, building repair, and mitigation projects. And he secured critical funding for the Panhandle’s recovery, including multiple rounds of funding for construction to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base. Rubio’s team hosted a RAC in the Panhandle and assisted more than 2,000 individuals with FEMA and recovery resources.
In 2019, when Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas, Rubio worked with local officials to ensure that aid was delivered to the islands. Rubio and his staff also assisted the families of U.S. citizens with consular services ranging from passports to visa appointments.
Rubio was in Northwest Florida days after Hurricane Sally’s landfall and helped secure federal relief for counties in the region, including FEMA Individual Assistance for individuals and families impacted by Hurricane Sally.
In 2020, Rubio was on the ground shortly after Hurricane Sally brought devastating winds, historic rainfall and catastrophic storm surge to Northwest Florida. He worked with the Trump Administration to secure a Major Disaster Declaration to ensure the prompt distribution of much-needed federal resources and his staff continues to work with residents assisting their rebuilding efforts.
Throughout his two terms as a United States Senator, Rubio has remained committed to protecting Florida’s natural resources, renowned beaches, and unique military assets from the threat of offshore oil and gas drilling. After much of Florida’s economy and workforce were ravaged by the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Rubio has been relentless in his efforts to protect Florida’s shores from future devastation.
In January 2018, when the Department of the Interior introduced an offshore drilling proposal that would put Florida’s coasts in danger, Rubio took swift action. Rubio and Congressman Neal Dunn led the entire Florida Congressional delegation in urging then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to ensure that the recent Interior Department proposal did not “adversely affect military readiness and training activities off of Florida’s coasts.” Rubio also led members of the delegation in sending a letter to then-Interior Secretary Zinke reiterating strong opposition to any attempt to open up the eastern Gulf of Mexico to oil and gas drilling. Both efforts made clear that Rubio and every other elected Member of Congress from Florida are united in opposition to allowing drilling off of Florida’s coasts.
In March 2019, Rubio again advocated to preserve the environmental and economic vitality of Florida’s coastlines and offshore waters. Rubio and Senator Rick Scott urged U.S. Department of the Interior Acting Secretary David Bernhardt to exclude all areas along Florida’s coast in the Department’s next five-year Proposed Plan for offshore oil and gas drilling.
In December 2019, when the Trump Administration nominated Katharine MacGregor to be U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Interior, Rubio placed a hold on her nomination until he was able to ensure the agency would not move forward with plans to expand offshore drilling in Florida.
Rubio’s strong advocacy to prevent offshore oil and gas drilling achieved a major victory in September 2020 when President Trump announced that the moratorium on oil and gas drilling off the coasts of Florida, which would have expired in 2022, would be extended to 2032. Rubio worked closely with the Trump Administration to secure the continuation of the moratorium, and he continues to work tirelessly in Congress to secure a legislative solution, like his American Shores Protection Act, to ensure that Florida’s coasts remain free of the threat from offshore oil and gas drilling.
Senator Rubio cherishes the historic bond uniting the State of Florida and our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Having a great working relationship with Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón, Rubio is a strong voice for Puerto Ricans in the U.S. Senate. During his tenure, Rubio has advanced and co-led multiple legislative initiatives in support of the island.
As a staunch supporter of Puerto Rico’s admission into the union as the 51st state, Rubio has reiterated his commitment to advancing the strategy and economic reforms to help promote Puerto Rico’s statehood. Important fiscal provisions, such as the Puerto Rico Economic Empowerment Act of 2018, which Rubio introduced with former Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), sought to implement recommendations by the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico and to help alleviate the tax burden for Puerto Ricans who were rebuilding their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.
Leadership During and After Hurricane Maria
In 2017, following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, Rubio fought for, and secured, federal support to ensure the island was able to recover and prepare for future natural disasters.
“The situation in Puerto Rico is a growing humanitarian crisis. We cannot afford to sit idly by while over three million Americans on the island endure unimaginable hardship. My office and I will do everything in our power to help Puerto Rico receive the assistance they need.” - Rubio on September 27, 2017
Even before Hurricane Maria impacted the shores of Yabucoa in 2017, Rubio began working to help our fellow citizens ahead of this destructive storm. Rubio prioritized the island’s permanent recovery, and five days after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, he surveyed the island with members of the Coast Guard and Congresswoman González-Colón. The following day, Rubio spoke on the Senate floor to explain the growing humanitarian crisis caused by Hurricane Maria.
“We have a fundamental obligation to Puerto Rico to respond to a hurricane there the way we would anywhere in the country,” Rubio stated. Not only did the Senator deploy staff to the island to assist federal and local officials with the island’s recovery efforts, Rubio’s regional staff also provided assistance to displaced Puerto Ricans facing uncertainty over housing and other recovery aid following Hurricane Maria.
A full timeline of Rubio's actions to protect our fellow citizens on the island following Hurricane Maria and in support of those Puerto Ricans who found relief through the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program can be found here.
Legislative Initiatives in Support of Puerto Rico
In 2018, as a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Rubio secured much-needed disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico. The appropriated funds included money for Medicaid, infrastructure, hospitals, community health centers and vital electrical grid work repair. Later that year, several of Rubio’s provisions related to Puerto Rico, which sought to ensure fair treatment for American homeowners and protect investors in American territories, became law.
As a co-leader of the Child Tax Credit Equity for Puerto Rico Act of 2019, Rubio joined a bipartisan initiative to correct a long-standing discrepancy in the federal tax code that denies Puerto Rican families with one or two children access to a tax benefit they would otherwise be entitled to if they lived on the U.S. mainland.
Most recently, President Biden signed Rubio’s co-led legislation into law, the Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act of 2021 (PRRADA). Introduced as a measure to bring about more transparency for our fellow Americans, PRRADA requires robust disclosures from the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board’s advisers and consultants, closing a loophole in existing law. The law now requires vendors to disclose their relationships and potential conflicts of interests, guaranteeing that our fellow Americans on the island have the same transparency and disclosure practices required by U.S. law in the mainland.
Helping Puerto Rican Small Biz amid COVID-19 and the Future of the island’s Pharmaceutical Industry
As the former Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Rubio authored the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). This program has granted loans to small business owners in our nation, including 39,544 in Puerto Rico, providing them with a much-needed lifeline to stay afloat amid the pandemic and protecting the dignity that comes from work.
“On the pharmaceutical front, Puerto Rico has a long history of being a key place for pharmaceutical manufacturing capability, and it’s been lost over the last few years because of some policy changes.” -Rubio on May 19, 2020
As we continue to address COVID-19, it is clear that the U.S. must rebuild its national manufacturing capacity, especially our nation’s medical industry. As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and as Co-Chair of the bipartisan and bicameral Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Rubio has warned that “the U.S. runs the risk of losing important components of its medical supply chain to China’s government-backed industry.” In order to combat this threat, Rubio reintroduced the Medical Manufacturing, Economic Development, and Sustainability (MMEDS) Act of 2021. This bicameral bill encourages companies that are currently producing medical and pharmaceutical equipment abroad to relocate these capabilities to the U.S. and economically distressed zones, including Puerto Rico. Following the administration’s 2021 report on the importance of bringing manufacturing jobs back to our nation, Rubio was proud to lead Congresswoman González-Colón and Governor Pedro Pierluisi in encouraging the Biden Administration to support the bicameral and bipartisan MMEDS Act, as well as to visit Puerto Rico.
“Where you find humans in crisis, you also find humans willing to help. And we will devote the rest of this hour to those running towards the fire,” declared a CBS documentary on the coronavirus pandemic. “We begin with Marco Rubio. The Cuban-American Florida Republican Senator is a lead author of the Paycheck Protection Program, which is designed to be a lifeline for companies struggling amid the pandemic.”
Supporting small businesses is nothing new for U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, but that support took on a heightened importance when the coronavirus pandemic hit America. Using his position as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Rubio created the bipartisan Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The unprecedented forgivable loan program managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) was designed to keep employees on the payroll during the initial public health lockdown and smooth the way for the safe reopening of America’s small businesses. Not only did the PPP prove to be the largest, most popular, and bipartisan provision of the federal coronavirus response, it was also incredibly effective.
All told, more than 5.2 million small businesses received nearly $800 billion in PPP loans, which kept tens of millions of Americans on payroll through the worst of the public restrictions. “Rubio went all-in on [the] small-business program that has become the centerpiece of an economic-revival push,” reported the Washington Post.
An analysis by the Brookings Institution found the PPP “succeeded in its short-run goals, including helping smaller firms withstand sharp revenue declines during the shutdown and keeping workers connected to their employers.” According to one expert, it was “the single most effective fiscal policy ever undertaken by the United States Government.”
Congressional Budget Office analysis found that the PPP was “projected to quicken the pace of the recovery by limiting the number of business closures and preserving relationships between employees and employers” and alone increased GDP by a nearly a whole percentage point. In Florida alone, the program supported more than 6.1 million jobs and pumped $50 billion into the economy.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Rubio used his position on the Small Business Committee to ensure small businesses could not only survive in the global economy, but also thrive.
In 2019, Rubio introduced the SBA Reauthorization and Improvement Act — the first comprehensive reauthorization of the Small Business Act in nearly two decades — which would modernize and streamline programs at the SBA. The landmark legislative package was designed to ensure America’s small businesses are able to compete in the face of geopolitical threats from countries like China by aligning the SBA’s programs with 21st-century technology and solutions. Rubio also worked to ensure small businesses and the SBA have the cybersecurity infrastructure needed to protect their data and intellectual property from hackers and foreign operatives, and he worked to provide small businesses with access to capital to spur innovation and support new startups.
Throughout his two terms, Rubio has fiercely advocated for small businesses in Florida attempting to recover from natural disasters, fought against the draconian overregulation of America’s small businesses, and secured passage of critical legislation to spur investment in Florida and strengthen the Main Street economy. He will continue to stand alongside small businesses for as long as he is in office.
From passing landmark legislation to assisting veterans with benefit questions, Senator Marco Rubio and his team are ready to assist our veterans and their families.
In 2022, Rubio's multi-year effort to help veterans suffering from toxic burn pit exposure finally became law. The Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act will streamline the process for veterans to obtain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The new law got its start from a 2021 bill introduced by Rubio and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act. Details on how to apply for benefits can be found here.
The new law also provides long overdue help to tens of thousands of Marines, military family members, and civilian staff who developed severe illnesses due to contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune.
In 2017, Rubio’s VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act became law, giving the VA secretary the power to fire and dismiss bad employees and to protect those whistleblowers who come forward.
“Credit is due to Senator Marco Rubio for championing this bill,” Concerned Veterans for America said. The Veterans of Foreign Wars “saluted” Rubio and praised the bill for sending an “unmistakable signal to all employees that maintaining the status quo no longer works for those who have borne the battle.”
Throughout his time in the Senate, Rubio has fought to ensure our veterans are welcomed in the workforce when they return home. In 2014, he made it easier for veterans to become certified mariners. And in 2020, Rubio’s Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act became law, assisting veterans re-entering the workforce by directing the National Science Foundation to encourage veterans to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Rubio has also shown his commitment to honoring those veterans whom the United States should not forget. In 2020, Rubio led legislation to rename the St. Augustine VA Clinic after Private First Class Leo C. Chase, Jr., the first man from St. Johns County to be killed in the Vietnam War. That same year, Rubio led legislation to waive statutory limitations and posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class (SFC) Alwyn Cashe. Former President Donald Trump signed the legislation in December 2020, and President Joe Biden awarded the medal to SFC Cashe in December 2021.
Rubio’s award-winning constituent services team has also helped countless veterans as they navigate the process of securing benefits to which they are rightly entitled. For example, in 2019, a homeless veteran in Orlando was denied assistance due to a bureaucratic error. The veteran contacted Rubio’s office. Staff members confirmed his homeless status to the VA, which made the housing program in question available. He was able to move into an apartment on Veterans Day weekend.
Senator Rubio recognizes that events in our Hemisphere affect not only Floridians, but also our nation as a whole. During his tenure in the U.S. Senate, Rubio has passed multiple laws in support of a more safe, secure, and democratic region and has been influential in key foreign policy decisions. Rubio, as Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations’ Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues, is a respected voice for U.S. foreign policy and is committed to promoting American values and principles abroad. Through the introduction of his bipartisan Western Hemisphere Security Strategic Act, Rubio seeks to enhance U.S. engagement in our region at a time when authoritarian regimes, and transnational criminal organizations pose a direct threat to our national security and regional stability.
Working closely with the Trump Administration, Rubio was a key policy architect in reversing President Obama’s appeasement of the oppressive and tyrannical regime in Cuba. Rubio’s Cuban Military Transparency Act of 2015 was the basis for key presidential executive actions to prevent financial transactions that compensate the Cuban military, and associated entities, such as the regime’s Armed Forces Business Enterprises Group (GAESA).
In the constant fight to hold accountable the murderous Maduro narco-regime in Venezuela, since 2014 Rubio has led the cause for imposing targeted sanctions on the regime and its enablers, even when it meant going against Obama-era State Department bureaucrats.
As highlighted by the Miami Herald, “Rubio’s efforts to increase international pressure on Nicolás Maduro’s regime, and to push the Trump Administration to take a tough stance on Venezuela, have paid off big.” What the media dubbed “The Rubio Doctrine” was vital in advancing U.S. policy toward Venezuela.
Rubio co-authored the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development (VERDAD) Act, which to date is the most comprehensive effort to address the crisis in Venezuela. The bipartisan bill provided $400 million in humanitarian aid to support Venezuelan refugees fleeing their homeland from the Maduro regime’s man-made crisis, and codified crucial sanctions against members of the dictatorship. Rubio is also the co-lead of the Preserving Accountability for National Assets (PANA) Act of 2021 and the Banning Operations and Leases with the Illegitimate Venezuelan Authoritarian Regime (BOLIVAR) Act, which further strengthen protections against the Maduro regime. Moreover, Rubio led the introduction of the Preempting Misguided Appeasement and Financing of Destabilizing Regimes Act to ensure the Biden Administration does not import Iranian and Venezuelan crude oil, petroleum, petroleum products, or liquefied natural gas into the United States.
As a champion of the bipartisan Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act and the Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act (NICA), Rubio joined colleagues and fought for the U.S. to impose targeted sanctions against the Ortega-Murillo authoritarian dynasty and corrupt Nicaraguan officials responsible for human rights abuses and corruption.
By supporting initiatives that advance prosperity, security, and international development, Rubio has advocated for transparent institutions that uphold the rule of law, defend human rights, and promote regional stability. As a strong advocate against human trafficking, transnational organized crime, and narco-trafficking, Rubio is committed to combating threats in our hemisphere that impact Floridians and American families.
Rubio’s Central American Women and Children Protection Act is a comprehensive and bipartisan bill that seeks to strengthen judicial systems in the Northern Triangle to decrease and deter violence against women and children and expand safe access of female and child survivors of violence to adequate, appropriate, and coordinated support services.
In 2020, Senator Rubio led the reauthorization of the Extension of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act, which extended duty-free access to certain textile goods from 23 Caribbean countries made with U.S. yarns, fabrics, and threads until 2030. Trade is a key component of the region’s developing economy. By passing this bill, Congress promoted U.S. exports and strengthened our bilateral relations with allies and partners in the Caribbean.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Rubio has secured key funding to promote security assistance in Colombia, developmental assistance in Haiti, democracy programs in support of civil society in Cuba and Nicaragua, U.S. Strategy for Engagement in Central America, and development assistance throughout the Western Hemisphere.