Fighting for Florida

Today, I voted no on the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill.

Florida’s economy and the livelihoods of many family-owned businesses and workers rely on a vibrant agricultural industry. Unfortunately, this farm bill goes far beyond agricultural programs and includes anti-poverty programs and renewable energy programs, among other spending measures that total nearly $1 trillion.

With Washington facing a $17 trillion debt and another debt ceiling increase in a few weeks, this bill does not undertake any fundamental reforms to ensure every taxpayer dollar is being properly spent to secure our nation’s food supply instead of needlessly growing government or continuing the status quo on programs that need reform.

For example, food stamp programs are an important part of our safety net, but we should have a separate debate on these and other anti-poverty programs with the goal of empowering states to better design these programs to help their people escape poverty.

And while energy innovation is an important debate and will be a key economic growth driver in the 21st century, we should be discussing renewable energy and biofuels programs in the context of energy policy, not lumping them in to this bill that’s supposed to be about securing our nation’s food supply.

New York Times: “U.S. Says Russia Tested Missile, Despite Treaty”

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jim Risch (R-ID) express dismay at today’s revelations on Russian cheating and will continue to press the Obama Administration on the issue.

“Today’s report is an urgent reminder that President Putin is not to be trusted,” said Rubio. “President Obama sought to ‘reset’ relations with Russia, yet in the last 5 years, we’ve only seen Putin weaken democracy in Russia and undermine the independence of Russia’s neighbors. Today’s report is more evidence that it is ludicrous to think that we should negotiate further reductions to the U.S. strategic arsenal given Russia’s noncompliance with its existing commitments. I hope the Administration is more clear-eyed in its future dealings with Putin’s Russia. I will continue to do all possible to ensure that these compliance issues are adequately addressed and that the administration does not take unilateral steps to reduce the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

“Today’s New York Times story brings to light multiple compliance issues, some of which I have raised as a strong objection to ratifying the New START Treaty,” said Risch. “I am disappointed the Administration knew this information and chose to keep it from the Congress. The security of America is the government’s first priority and it is time the Administration was honest with the American people. When Secretary Kerry was Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he expressed grave concerns regarding Russian cheating and urged in the strongest terms that there needs to be real consequences for cheating. I hope he will maintain that position now that violations have been made public.”

Risch and Rubio pointed out other issues raised by today’s New York Times article.

Senators Risch and Rubio are the only Senators to serve on both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Senators Risch and Rubio introduced S.1924 on the issue of INF Treaty Compliance and Information Sharing.

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined the fight in defense of Americans’ First Amendment rights by signing an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius.

The amicus brief was spearheaded by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and U.S. Representative Randy Forbes (R-VA) and was co-signed by a bipartisan group of 15 Senators and 71 House members. The U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will hear oral arguments on March 25, 2014, in two cases challenging the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate.

The amicus brief lays out three arguments: 

  1. Congress has a long tradition of protecting religious liberty – including that of groups – and there has traditionally been strong bipartisan support for such efforts.
  2. Congress enacted the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to ensure broad protection of religious liberty, whether or not a specific religious exemption appears in a particular law.
  3. The HHS regulations do not satisfy the high bar set by RFRA. RFRA’s requirements govern the Affordable Care Act like all other statutes that do not contain an express disclaimer. Both Hobby Lobby and its owners are protected by RFRA.

To read the amicus brief, click here.

  1. Marco comes face to face with the North Korean regime. Standing in the conference room at the Korean Demilitarized Zone, a North Korean soldier takes his picture through the window:Blog Post: DMZ window
  2. Marco visits Manila American Cemetery, where more than 17,000 American soldiers are buried (photo credit: The American Battle Monuments Commission):Blog Post: Cemetery
  3. Marco bags coffee at the food distribution center in Tacloban, a city in the Philippines recently devastated by Typhoon Haiyan:Blog Post: Coffee
  4. Marco meets with Congressman Manny Pacquiao while in the Philippines: Blog Post: Manny P
  5. While visiting the Korean Demilitarized Zone, Marco stood just feet from “the edge of freedom.” North Korean soldiers stand just feet away on the other side of the dividing line between North and South Korea:Blog Post: DMZ border
  6. During his official trip to South Korea, Marco visited with Shin Dong-hyuk, a human rights activist who is the only known person to have been born in a North Korean prison camp, spent his entire life imprisoned, escaped and lived to tell the story:Blog Post: NK activist
  7. Marco meeting with South Korean President Park Geun-hye to discuss economic and security concerns at the presidential Blue House (photo credit: The Blue House):Blog Post: President Park
  8. Marco visiting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe:Blog Post: PM Abe
  9. Rear Admiral Mark Montgomery explains combat operations to Marco during a tour of guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (photo credit: U.S. Navy):Blog Post: USS Shiloh
  10. Marco at LG Display, the largest manufacturer of LCD panels:Blog Post: LGD
  11. U.S. Navy sailors salute Marco as he boards the USS Blue Ridge, command ship the Seventh Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan (photo credit: U.S. Navy):Blog Post: Seventh Fleet


On this International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we honor the millions of innocent people who were killed in what will forever be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in human history.

This day in 1945 marked the liberation of Auschwitz and the beginning of a long journey of grief, heartache and recovery for all those subjected to severe torment and unimaginable conditions throughout the Holocaust. Sadly, liberation by the allied forces came too late to save the 1.1 million who died in Auschwitz and the millions more killed in similar concentration camps. But we give thanks that so many were saved and given a chance to rebuild their lives, their families and their communities.

The Holocaust will forever stand as a grave example of the terrifying capabilities of evil, the dangers of absolute power, and the price the world pays when it turns a blind eye to oppression. But it also stands as an emblem of extraordinary resilience and courage; a marker of the power of faith, hope and love in surmounting even the worst horrors imaginable.

Florida is home to many Holocaust survivors, as well as their descendants. I’ll never forget the few times that I have had the humbling experience of meeting a Holocaust survivor and seeing the concentration camp numbers forever marked on their skin. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who decided not to repress their painful memories but instead to share them with younger generations. Their courageous work and advocacy has been critical in making sure that “never again” will the world know of a human tragedy like the Holocaust.

Today is a particularly solemn day for many millions of Jewish people throughout the world, including in the nation of Israel. I remember how deeply affected I was by my visit to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, and the depictions there of the terrors inflicted upon the Jewish people. As Americans, we are reminded that “never again” means standing with our Israeli friends in the face of threats from nations and terrorist organizations committed to her destruction.

My wife Jeanette and I hold all who perished or were impacted by the Holocaust in our prayers on this solemn day of grief, reflection and remembrance.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is an important American tradition that honors one man’s struggle for justice and equality for all. On this day, we celebrate an American hero who, through the power of words and peaceful resolve, fought the violent and legal injustices that plagued our nation in the 20th century. His struggle made the country more true to its founding ideals: that all men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with unalienable rights.
In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Despite his incarceration, King’s words were emboldened with a hope and conviction that have continued to inspire countless men and women - even decades after his death. His empowering vision of a world built on brotherhood and equality has helped shape this great nation and inspired freedom movements around the world.
Nearly 51 years ago, not far from my office on Capitol Hill, King stood before a crowd and famously delivered a speech that described a world where one’s skin color would be nothing more than a color. He envisioned a world where one would be defined by their character. A world where all men and women could sit down together and be united by the shared essence of humanity, and a world where all children could join hands, never knowing the harsh realities of prejudice and intolerance.
Despite Dr. King’s untimely death, his legacy is immortal. I urge everyone to reflect on the principles of Martin Luther King Jr. and the virtues he peacefully defended, so that we, as a nation, can continue to embody his dream of opportunity and equality for all.

Dear friends,

Following the March for Life, Senator Rubio invites you to visit his office, Room 284 in the Russell Senate Office Building. Hot coffee will be served between the hours of 1:00pm and 5:00pm.  Senator Rubio extends his regrets for not being present as the Senate is in recess, but we look forward to seeing all our pro-life friends from Florida.

The right to keep and bear arms is a unique aspect of American liberty that has long been protected by the Second Amendment. It is fundamental right that ensures responsible and law-abiding citizens have the ability to defend themselves, their families and their property.

While the right to bear arms is one of our many freedoms, it is also our responsibility to ensure gun owners have the competence and training needed to carry a concealed weapon, and if need be, use it. As a concealed weapons permit holder myself, I value and respect the freedom to exercise this right in accordance with existing gun laws designed to promote safe, responsible use.

I am proud to be a co-sponsor of The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2014, a bill that would allow law-abiding Americans to exercise their fundamental right to self-defense while they are traveling or temporarily living away from home. As law-abiding citizens, our right to carry concealed weapons – which we are authorized to do by virtue of having undergone special training and background checks in our states – should not expire at our home states’ border.

Congress should approve The Constitutional Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2014, and in doing so, support our right to defend ourselves across state lines.

Tell Me Your Story

Jan 10 2014

1.10.2014 Your Story Blog (WOP)
As we develop our legislation, I hope you take a moment to tell me more about your story of struggle and things we can do to help you get back on your feet and rise above your current situation to stake your claim on the American Dream.

Yesterday, I filed an amicus brief  in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit as part of my efforts to combat human trafficking and ensure that its victims receive compensation for the harms they have suffered. The case of Cruz v. Maypa involves the interpretation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2013 (TVPA), bipartisan legislation that updated and reauthorized human trafficking law. As part of the group of senators who worked to pass this legislation, I am deeply familiar with the text of the law and the issue of human trafficking.

Human trafficking is a grotesque form of modern day slavery that occurs abroad and even right here in our own communities. It simply cannot be tolerated anywhere, and the U.S. must use all the tools at our disposal to combat this crime. I am specifically concerned about trafficking by diplomats that is facilitated by the abuse of the G-5 visa process, as is alleged in this case. Ms. Cruz is a Filipino woman who claims she was a victim of human trafficking after she agreed to come to the U.S. to work as a babysitter for a former World Bank employee. Ms. Cruz alleges her contract was violated, her passport was seized, she was kept in social isolation and was forced to work around the clock while living in squalid conditions. The trial court in this case dismissed Ms. Cruz’s case believing that she brought it outside of the statute of limitations. However, Congress expressly acted to extend the statute of limitations applicable to these crimes precisely because it is so difficult for victims to come forward. I believe both simple fairness and plainly applicable federal law entitles Ms. Cruz to her day in Court, which is why I filed this brief.