Fighting for Florida: Accomplishments
At a time when 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. A non-partisan analysis produced by GovTrack ranked Senator Rubio as the second top leader compared to all Senators in 2019. The same analysis found he was the fourth top leader in 2018 and fifth top leader in 2017.
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 (CMF) 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.”
During his first term in the Senate, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio assisted tens of thousands of Floridians with federal casework issues and passed dozens of laws intended to make Florida – and the nation – safer, cleaner, and more prosperous.
For example, Rubio exposed the Global Ministries Foundation slumlords for stealing federal taxpayer dollars and forcing tenants across the country – including several locations in Florida – to live in dangerous and unsafe conditions.
Thanks to Rubio’s efforts, the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) became law, laying the groundwork to finally make real progress in restoring the Everglades and combating the toxic algae threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Florida families and businesses.
Rubio passed critical legislation making it easier for veterans to become certified mariners and be hired in the maritime industry.
During his first six years in the United States Senate, Rubio and his office resolved over 30,000 federal constituent cases and logged over 1,000 mobile office hour events to reach Floridians in their communities.Click here for a full list of accomplishments.
A non-partisan analysis produced by GovTrack ranked U.S. Senator Marco Rubio as the fourth top leader and fifth top leader compared to all Senators in 2018 and 2017, respectively. He and his team accomplished some incredible policy victories over those two years for Florida and for the nation.
Landmark Laws: In 2017, Rubio’s Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act became law. That same year, he successfully expanded the size of the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child and for the first time made the first $1,400 refundable against an individual’s payroll taxes. In 2018, Rubio secured congressional authorization and funding to construct the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir to reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges to coastal communities.
Leading during Crisis: From harmful algal blooms and devastating hurricanes to drug overdoses and unthinkable shootings, Florida experienced significant challenges during 2017 to 2018. In the aftermath of the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre of 17 people in Parkland, Florida, Rubio helped push through the Student, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act and the Fix NICS Act. He also introduced the bipartisan Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act to encourage other states to adopt red flags similar to Florida’s new law. Rubio also secured funding to research and correct the harmful algal blooms that disrupt Florida. He also fought successfully to secure federal relief for Americans in Florida and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma, Marie, and Michael.
Putting Florida First: Rubio’s visit to sober homes neighborhoods in Broward County, Florida and meetings with local officials led to the introduction of the Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act and Sober Home Fraud Detection Act as part of the landmark opioid bill signed into law in 2018. He passed the Spurring Business in Communities Act and the Seniors Tax Simplification Act, secured funding for military construction, and fought for residents in public housing.
Safe and Strong America: Leveraging his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and his role as chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), Rubio highlighted human rights abuses around the world, including in China, Nicaragua, and Venezuela. His Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act provided the framework for the Administration’s executive order on foreign election interference. Similarly, Rubio’s Cuban Military Transparency Act was the basis for executive orders to prevent financial compensation to the Cuban military and entities associated with the regime’s military.
Click here for a full list of accomplishments.
Paycheck Protection Program. As the United States began to lock down in Spring 2020, Rubio created the Paycheck Protection Program to keep small businesses from going bankrupt and ensure employees could stay on payroll. Former CBO Director Doug Holtz-Eakin called it “the single most effective fiscal policy ever undertaken by the United States Government.” More than 430,000 Florida small businesses received $32 billion in forgivable loans, saving more than 3 million jobs. Nationwide, more than 5.2 million small businesses received more than $525 billion in PPP loans, which kept tens of millions of Americans on payroll through the worst of the public health restrictions.
Constituent Service Award. Senator Rubio’s award-winning federal casework team helped roughly 17,000 Floridians deal with everything from being stranded overseas due to the coronavirus lockdowns to navigating the agency process for veterans, immigrants, servicemembers, the unemployed, and the homeless. Overall, the team handled nearly 41,000 cases over the past four years.
New Laws. Senator Rubio authored dozens of laws over the past four years, including the historic expansion of the child tax credit, the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), numerous bills related to the Western Hemisphere and China, and, of course, the Paycheck Protection Program. In 2020, Rubio passed new laws aimed at helping Florida families and small businesses, strengthening our national security, assisting veterans, and making America’s economy stronger and more resilient.
- Paycheck Protection Program and multiple expansions, totaling more than $800 billion
- 5G Innovation Funds based on Rubio’s Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act
- Corporate Transparency Act
- Strengthening America’s Supply Chain and National Security Act
- Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act
- Supporting Veterans in STEM Careers Act
- Federal Advance Contracts Enhancement (FACE) Act
- Suppressing Looming Invasive Threats Harming Everglades Restoration (SLITHER) Act
- Coast Guard Shore Infrastructure Improvement Act
- Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Year 2021
- Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act
- U.S.-Israel Security Assistance Authorization Act
- Never Again Education Act
- Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act
- Tibetan Policy and Support Act
- Taiwan Reassurance Act
- American Citizen Coronavirus Relief Act
- Leo C. Chase Jr. Department of Veterans Affairs Clinic
- Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class (SFC) Alwyn Cashe
A non-partisan analysis produced by GovTrack ranked U.S. Senator Marco Rubio as the second top leader compared to all Senators in 2019. Many of these achievements weren’t reported by the media because results aren’t part of the daily focus on conflict and controversy, but they are initiatives that will help real people in real ways to attain the dignity that comes from hard work, ownership, and raising a family.
Constituent Service Award. The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) recognized Rubio’s federal casework team as the best in the nation by honoring them with the 2019 Democracy Award for Excellence in Constituent Services. The team helped nearly 9,000 Floridians with issues ranging from veterans benefits to housing, including 3,700 through mobile office hours — a 428 percent increase from 2018.
New Laws. Rubio wrote nine new laws in 2019, with more already in the pipeline for 2020. One of those bills was the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, which marked one of the most consequential changes in America’s relationship with the Chinese Communist Party in nearly two decades.
Fighting for Florida. Working closely with the Trump Administration, Rubio ensured record federal funding levels for water infrastructure and ecosystem protection projects for the Everglades. He also secured significant funding for timber recovery in Northwest Florida, ensured that production of the Coast Guard’s new Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) remains in Panama City, and set the stage for Florida’s seasonal produce industry to finally begin to receive relief from unfair Mexican dumping.
Global Leadership. Over the past year, Rubio met with dozens of senior foreign leaders and traveled to Colombia, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, and the Bahamas. He has also become the de facto leader on confronting China’s ambition to supplant America and developed what the media dubbed “The Rubio Doctrine” with regard to Venezuela.
A New American Century. In 2019, Rubio laid out two key planks that will be essential to the success of a new American Century: Common-Good Capitalism and American Industrial Policy. Both are built on timeless principles recognizable to any American: the dignity of work, the family as the fundamental institution of society, the importance of strong local communities, and a love for and pride in the greatness of America and its ideals.
Senator Rubio understands the importance of affordable housing, and he has a long history of fighting to keep low-income housing tenants safe and to hold slumlords accountable.
In 2016, Rubio raised concerns about Eureka Garden Apartments, a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complex in Jacksonville. After visiting the apartment complex to investigate reports of hazardous and inhumane conditions, Rubio began to push for legislative and managerial changes.
Not only did the Senate pass three of his amendments to improve HUD’s oversight of housing projects, Rubio publicly called out Global Ministries Foundation (GMF), which owned Eureka Garden Apartments and several other properties in Florida. 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.
As a result of the chronically poor living conditions under GMF, 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 that 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 Stonybrook apartment complex in Riviera Beach as well as 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, he visited Liberty Square and heard firsthand from tenants who had been victims of the systematic violence and crime reported in the community. Rubio then 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.
And following disturbing reports from tenants at Jones Walker Apartments in Fort Myers, Rubio discovered the property 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.
Rubio also introduced the Home Advantage for American Families Act, which seeks to reduce excess foreign investment in the urban real estate market that outbids working Americans on home purchases, and instead increase federal investment in the low-income housing tax credit for the construction of new single-family homes.
In April 2021, following reports of unsafe and unsanitary conditions at the Eastside Gardens Apartments and Eastside Terrace Apartments in Jacksonville, of which both are federally contracted under the Section 8 Project Based Rental Assistance program, Rubio and his team responded to the situation immediately. Rubio wrote to HUD Secretary Marcia Fudge to request the Department take immediate action to remedy the unconscionable state of the properties. Rubio’s letter further raised the concern that other properties may be in similar condition 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 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 the chronic rodent infestation, and ensure sanitary and safe living conditions for constituents living at the apartment complex.
Senator Marco Rubio is leading the charge to reshape and rebalance America’s policies toward China —an effort he has called “the geopolitical challenge of this century”—to ensure that American wins the strategic competition against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“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.” The Chinese Communist Party imposed sanctions on Rubio and banned him from traveling to China.
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 and begin to address systematic failures, such as China’s acceptance into the World Trade Organization (WTO).
For example, Rubio’s Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act (PL 116-76), which became law in 2019, provided the U.S. powerful tools to punish Beijing for undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and freedom. Rubio’s Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act (PL 116-145), which became law in 2020, is the first law in the world aimed at countering the Chinese government’s widespread and horrific human rights abuses against Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. Due to language Rubio included in Fiscal Year 2021 spending bill, the Trump Administration determined that the Chinese Communist Party was committing 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 government-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 CCP accomplish those goals.
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 and others who have suffered from the pandemic. In March 2021, Rubio succeeded at getting a provision included in the Strategic Competition Act that will require the Director of National Intelligence to report to Congress on what our government knows about the origin of the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic. He will continue to press for a credible, forensic investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
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, Rubio called for a 21st-century, pro-American industrial policy in 2019 to ensure that China’s rise does not come at the expense of our country, our citizens, our values, and the rules-based international order.
The Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) recognized U.S. Senator Marco Rubio as a national leader in constituent services and a winner for 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.
“As a Democracy Award winner, Sen. Rubio’s office is one of the best in Congress,” said Bradford Fitch, President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation. “This designation demonstrates that Sen. Rubio has made a significant commitment to being the best public servant for his constituents in Florida. Sen. Rubio and his staff are to be congratulated for not only being a model for colleagues in Congress, but for helping to restore trust and faith that our democratic institutions can work.”
Senator Marco Rubio is a champion for our military and a defender of Florida’s critical role in our nation’s security. Since taking office, he’s secured funding and supported programmatic changes that have seen continued growth in Florida’s defense industrial base in areas such as Melbourne, Orlando, Tampa, Pensacola, and Jacksonville.
At Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, the Eastern Space Launch Range has experienced consistent growth through the continued effort to support public-private partnerships and support for the latest phase of the National Security Space Launch program. Through Rubio’s hard work, Polar Orbit launches have returned to the Florida coast for the first time in decades.
Naval Station Mayport was near the brink of closure following the 2007 retirement of the USS Kennedy, but through Rubio’s efforts in the Senate, Mayport will soon be home to more ships than ever before. And in 2012, Rubio ensured the Navy did not set an early retirement for several Ticonderoga Class Cruisers, four of which were stationed at the Naval Station in Mayport.
In Fiscal Year 2021 Senator Rubio secured an additional eight P-8 aircraft, which will help ensure the continued operations of the reserve naval wing operating out of Naval Air Station Jacksonville, and enhance the modernization of our anti-submarine capabilities.
Thanks to Rubio, the U.S. Department of Defense invests heavily in Florida. Since 2011, Rubio has secured more than $2 billion in military construction in the state. In 2019 alone, Rubio secured federal funding for 15 military construction projects for the State of Florida for a total of $657 million. Those projects, located at military installations across the state, are good for America’s national security and continue Florida’s strong relation and long history with our military.
Rubio has also been outspoken in pressing Presidents and the Department of Defense to fully rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base. He understands the unique qualities that make Tyndall a valuable asset -- not just for Florida, but for our entire nation’s military’s readiness and strength. Thanks to Rubio’s efforts working directly with the Air Force, the service is committed to fully rebuilding the base. Additionally, with continued congressional support, the Air Force plans to make Tyndall the home to three new squadrons of F-35 fighters. As Rubio said at the time, it is “great news not only for national security, but also for the people of Florida.” Using his position on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Rubio will continue to fight for the long-term recovery of the Panhandle and our military families.
The devastation caused by Hurricane Michael wreaked havoc on Northwest Florida’s labor market, nearly derailing the U.S. Coast Guard’s contract to build the Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) with Panama City-based Eastern Shipbuilding. Rubio worked with the Coast Guard, the administration, and his colleagues to secure contract flexibility, saving thousands of local jobs and keeping the OPC on schedule.
Rubio also facilitated a historic land exchange at Navy Outlying Field, Naval Air Station, Whiting Field, Florida, which became law in 2015 and provided a unique opportunity to benefit both Escambia County and the U.S. Navy.
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.
Rubio “has become the national park’s most vigorous champion in the Senate,” the New York Times editorial board wrote in March 2021.
“Senator Rubio has spearheaded a number of actions that have helped to limit the impacts of the state’s algal bloom epidemic,” the American Conservation Coalition wrote in 2018. “Throughout his entire tenure in the U.S. Senate, Rubio has been a fierce advocate for Everglades restoration and investment in water infrastructure projects … [He] is leading the fight to reduce the impacts of algal blooms on Florida’s citizens, wildlife, and economy.”
Thanks to Senator Marco Rubio’s efforts, Everglades restoration is finally making real progress after decades of delay.
In 2016, Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe, then chairman of a critical Senate committee, wrote in the Miami Herald that his opposition to federal funding for Everglades restoration “has since changed, largely in part to my friend and colleague Sen. Marco Rubio.”
Rubio has used every tool at his disposal to secure approval for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP). Rubio was also able to pass congressional authorization to modify CEPP and construct the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) Storage Reservoir to reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges to coastal communities, as well as improve water supply to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay.
As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Rubio has secured funding for critical Everglades restoration projects. In 2019, Rubio secured $200 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 federal appropriations for Everglades restoration. Working with President Trump, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and the Florida Congressional Delegation, Rubio ensured the President’s FY 2021 budget contained a record $250 million request for Everglades restoration, and Rubio delivered on the appropriations. Working with key stakeholders, Rubio then urged President Biden to include $725 million for Everglades restoration efforts in his forthcoming Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 budget.
Audubon Florida gave a “special thank you” to Rubio for his “strong commitment to Everglades restoration” and honored him with Audubon’s 2019 Champion of the Everglades Award.
Rubio’s commitment also extends to other projects related to Florida’s water quality and infrastructure. In 2018, Rubio played a crucial role in securing full funding in order to accelerate the timeline of Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation. The project, which will enhance public safety and secure additional flexibility for water managers, is now scheduled to be completed in 2022. Florida’s News-Press noted Rubio’s “appointment to the Appropriations Committee [in 2017] proved instrumental in the size of Florida's haul in the bill.”
Rubio has also used his seat on the Appropriations Committee to secure critical public health research into the long-term health implications of harmful algal blooms, as well as much-needed funding for projects like raising portions of the Tamiami Trail, more than 30 years after it was first proposed. Rubio continues to fight for Everglades restoration on numerous other important fronts as well, like combating the rise of invasive species that threaten the ecosystem. Rubio believes the Everglades is one of the greatest natural treasures in the world, and protecting and restoring the river of grass remains one of his highest priorities in the Senate.
Throughout his two terms as a United States Senator, Rubio has remained committed to protecting Florida’s natural resources, beaches that draw visitors from across the world, and unique military assets from the threat of offshore oil and gas drilling.
After much of Florida’s economy and workforce were devastated by the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, Rubio introduced the Florida Shores Protection Act, which would extend the moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico until 2027, while ensuring Florida is included in federal revenue sharing to fund much needed coastal conservation projects. Currently, Florida is the only Gulf state not to benefit from this funding. Rubio re-introduced this legislation on the first day of the 116th Congress.
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 Administration to secure the continuation of the moratorium, and he continues to work alongside the Administration and his colleagues in Congress to secure a permanent legislative solution, like his Florida Shores Protection and Fairness Act, to ensure that Florida’s coasts remain free of the threat from offshore oil and gas drilling.
Senator Rubio cherishes the strong bond uniting the State of Florida and our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico. Having a strong 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.
Following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, Rubio fought for federal support and took action to ensure policymakers and officials learned from the challenges for future recovery efforts.
As a supporter of Puerto Rico’s admission into the union, 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
“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 benefited from the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) can be found here.
Legislative Initiatives in Support of Puerto Rico
As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Rubio secured much-needed disaster relief funds for Puerto Rico in the 2018 budget deal. The appropriated funds included money for Medicaid, infrastructure, hospitals, community health centers and 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.
Rubio also co-led the Puerto Rico Recovery Accuracy in Disclosures Act of 2021 (PRRADA), a bipartisan legislation that would provide robust disclosure requirements to all of the Puerto Rico Financial Oversight and Management Board’s advisers and consultants, closing a loophole in the existing law. The bill would require vendors to disclose their relationships, guaranteeing that Puerto Ricans have the same transparency and disclosure practices required by law in U.S. mainland bankruptcies.
Helping Puerto Rican Small Biz amid COVID-19 and the Future of the island’s Pharmaceutical Industry
In his role as 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, 2020As we continue to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, 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 introduced 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 to the U.S. and economically distressed zones, including 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 life-line for companies struggling amid the pandemic.”
Supporting small business 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 lock down 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. 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.”
Former Congressional Budget Office (CBO) Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin called PPP “the single most effective fiscal policy ever undertaken by the United States Government.” CBO 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, nearly 490,000 small businesses received over $50 billion forgivable loans.
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.
That is why 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 SBA’s programs with 21st-century technology and solutions.
Throughout his two terms, Rubio has been a fierce advocate 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.
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 2017, Rubio’s Department of Veterans Affairs (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 (VFW) “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 be hired in the maritime industry. 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.
In 2021, Rubio introduced legislation that would provide presumptive VA benefits to servicemembers who have deployed and have illnesses due to exposure to burn pits and other toxins. The Presumptive Benefits for War Fighters Exposed to Burn Pits and Other Toxins Act would cut through the red tape to ensure veterans exposed to burn pits while defending our nation will receive the care they need and deserve.
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, which was able to help confirm his homeless status to the Veterans Administration, which made the housing program 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 influenced critical foreign policy decisions. Rubio, as Chairman 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 on U.S. foreign policies toward Latin America and the Caribbean and is committed to promoting American values and principles abroad.
Having worked closely with the Trump Administration, Rubio was a key policy architect in reversing President Obama’s misaligned appeasement toward the Cuban dictatorship. Rubio’s Cuban Military Transparency Act 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).
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 as “The Rubio Doctrine” was vital in advancing U.S. policy toward Venezuela.
Rubio also co-authored the Venezuela Emergency Relief, Democracy Assistance, and Development (VERDAD) Act (P.L. 116-94), which is the most comprehensive effort to date to confront 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 currently co-leading the Preserving Accountability for National Assets (PANA) Act of 2021, a bill that would take assets seized from individuals linked to the Chavez and Maduro regimes who are convicted of corruption and place them in a “Venezuela Restoration Fund” that the U.S. State Department can then use to build up Venezuelan democracy and civil society.
As a champion of the bipartisan Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act (NICA) (P.L. 115-335), Rubio sought to condition U.S. approval for loans to the Ortega regime from international financial institutions and require the administration to impose sanctions against Nicaraguan officials responsible for human rights abuses and corruption. Former Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) praised a key Rubio provision, which imposed additional sanctions on Nicaraguan regime officials.
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 defender of our nation’s fight 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 of 2019 is a comprehensive and bipartisan bill that seeks to decrease and deter violence against women and children in the Northern Triangle and increase safe access of female and child survivors of violence to adequate, appropriate, and coordinated support services.
Rubio’s successful advocacy in support of the Extension of the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act (P.L. 116-164), introduced by former Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA), led to the extension of duty-free access for certain textile goods from 23 Caribbean countries that are 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 the exportation of U.S. materials and strengthened our bilateral relations with allies and partners in the Caribbean.
Thanks to Rubio, who is also a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, key funds were secured 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.