Fighting for Florida
Dec 31 2015
As we look ahead to what promises to be an exciting and eventful 2016, my wife, Jeanette, and I would like to pause for a moment to reflect and give thanks for the year we are leaving behind.
Although Washington continues to be a dysfunctional place that is out of touch and lacks the presidential leadership to confront the big challenges facing our country, I'm proud of the work my office and I did to make a real difference. With a chance to finally serve in a Republican Senate majority, 2015 proved to be our most impactful year in serving the people of Florida in the U.S. Senate.
We learned that our successful effort to stop the taxpayer-funded bailout of health insurance companies that lose money under ObamaCare ended up saving taxpayers $2.5 billion over the past year. And when the health insurers came back this year to get bailed out, we stopped them once again.
A bill I introduced to sanction the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah became law, providing the U.S. with an important tool to deprive these savages of money to rain rockets down on Israel and carry out terror attacks against U.S. assets, allies and interests throughout the Middle East.
To combat the growing global crisis of children who never receive birth certificates - and its long-term consequences - I introduced and helped enact into law the Girls Count Act, which directs U.S. foreign assistance to aid countries in setting up birth registries. This new law will help ensure that millions of kids, the majority of them young girls, are not subjected to exploitation, human trafficking and social exclusion because they lack birth certificates to prove their identity.
I was able to play a leading role in re-authorizing the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which literally does the Lord's work in defending people around the world whose right to freely practice their faith is under assault.
As part of my foreign policy work, it has also been a great honor serving as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee's Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s issues. The events unfolding every day in the Western Hemisphere have a significant impact on the state of Florida and our entire nation. As chairman, I convened hearings and conducted oversight on the Obama Administration's policies on important issues facing the region, including U.S.-Cuba relations, Venezuela and Haiti's elections, among others.
I was also pleased that the budget passed by the Senate this past year included my provision in support of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
And we've also continued our efforts to defend human rights around the world, championing the advocates of freedom in places like China through my work as co-chairman of the Congressional Executive Commission on China. I've also continued advocating for those oppressed in Cuba, Iran, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, among other nations. And as part of our work in this area, we also began a regular social media campaign called #expressionNOToppression to highlight political prisoners, dissidents and pro-democracy leaders whose freedom and very lives are threatened daily.
Closer to home, after introducing legislation to de-authorize the Ten Mile Creek Water Preserve Project in Southeastern Florida - which has faced numerous problems and thus has been non-operational for too long - it became law as part of the end of year spending bill.
Also on the domestic policy front, I proposed a pro-growth, pro-family tax reform plan that is designed to keep the American Dream within reach of our people by resolving the major problems in our dysfunctional tax code.
Throughout the year, I voted to equip our intelligence community with the tools they need to defend the homeland, protect innocent unborn life, defund Planned Parenthood, repeal ObamaCare, end sanctuary cities and put an end to the Export-Import Bank, among other issues. Unfortunately, until President Obama is replaced with a conservative president, real and lasting success on these and many other issues will continue to be elusive.
In addition, we kept holding the Obama Administration's feet to the fire in implementing laws we helped lead toward passage in 2014, including Veterans Affairs (VA) accountability measures and sanctions against human rights violators in Venezuela.
And last but not least, our biggest priority remained helping our constituents in navigating through the federal bureaucracy. This year, we produced the second volume of our constituent service report, which highlighted notable cases we've worked on that have helped improve the lives of Florida constituents in need of assistance. From January 2011 to December 2, 2015, our office received 31,024 requests for assistance, and over 29,429 of those requests were completed or closed.
As I enter my final year in the U.S. Senate, it remains the greatest honor of my life to serve the entire state of Florida. Even as I continue to seek the office of the presidency, I renew my commitment to you and your family in assisting with any federal issues you are confronting.
Happy New Year!
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