Fighting for Florida

As the 116th Congress begins, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) has wasted no time in introducing several pieces of legislation that work to solve a broad spectrum of issues facing Floridians. Read more about his continued fight for Florida here.
 
  • Traditional Cigar Manufacturing and Small Business Jobs Preservation Act of 2019: Rubio re-introduced legislation that would protect Florida workers’ paychecks by exempting large and premium cigars from excessive and overly burdensome U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations and fees. Senator Rubio and Senator Nelson have introduced this legislation every Congress since 2011.
  • Defending Domestic Produce Production Act: Rubio re-introduced legislation with U.S. Representatives Vern Buchanan (FL-16) and Al Lawson (FL-5) to help Florida fruit and vegetable growers combat unfair trade practices by Mexico. Specifically, the Defending Domestic Produce Production Act would allow Florida farmers to bring trade cases to the Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission against Mexican growers if they can prove acts of dumping occurs seasonally, rather than the current requirement of year-round. Senator Rubio originally introduced this bill in September of 2018 with Senator Bill Nelson.
  • SAFE Hospitals Act: Rubio re- introduced the State Accountability, Flexibility, and Equity (SAFE) for Hospitals Act, which would overhaul the Medicaid Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) program to create equity for all states by updating a metric used to determine how much each state is allotted, which has not been reformed since the early 1990’s. The SAFE Hospitals Act would resolve a longstanding disparity in Medicaid DSH allocations across the nation, including Florida, and prioritize funding for hospitals that provide the most care to Medicaid and low-income patients. Senator Rubio originally introduced this legislation in December of 2018.
  • Health Savings Act: Rubio introduced legislation that would simplify and expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), health care accounts that provide Americans opportunities to save for medical costs through tax-deductible contributions. Senator Rubio joined Senator Hatch in introducing this bill in February of 2017.
  • Educational Opportunities Act: Rubio re-introduced this legislation which creates a tax credit for donations towards a scholarship for low-income students towards their K-12 education. Senator Rubio previously re-introduced this legislation in January of 2017.
  • Fair Trade with China Enforcement Act: Rubio re-introduced this legislation that would safeguard American assets from Chinese influence and possession, and serve to blunt China’s tools of economic aggression. Senator Rubio originally introduced this bill in May of 2018.
  • Liberty City Rising Act: Rubio re-introduced legislation with U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) to protect low income communities. Following a visit to Liberty Square in 2018, Rubio introduced the Liberty City Rising Act, legislation that would improve safety standards for public housing complexes located in high-crime areas, such as Miami’s Liberty City and Overtown.
  • Safe Temperature Act: Rubio introduced legislation with U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL). The Safe Temperature Act would give the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the ability to require properties receiving federal assistance to safely maintain temperatures between 71 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Homeless Veterans: Rubio re- introduced legislation today to improve and protect a joint U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program designed to help homeless veterans find permanent housing. Senator Rubio originally introduced this legislation in April of 2018.
  • Extreme Risk Protection Order and Violence Prevention Act (Red Flag): Rubio re-introduced this legislation with Senators Reed, King, and Collins. This legislation will encourage states to give law enforcement the authority to prevent individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others the ability to purchase or possess firearms, while still providing due process protections. Senator Rubio first introduced this bill in March of 2018 following the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
  • Strengthening America’s Security in the Middle East Act: Rubio introduced legislation which would make improvements to defense and security assistance provisions in the Middle East, bolster the U.S.-Israel strategic alliance by authorizing security assistance to Israel over a 10-year period pursuant to the 2016 Memorandum of Understanding, reauthorize the United States-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act of 2015, provide new authorities for sanctions against Syria’s Assad regime and its supporters, and empower state and local governments in the United States to counter the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement’s discriminatory economic warfare against the Jewish state.
  • Florida Federal Judiciary Relief Act: Rubio re-introduced legislation that would authorize one, six, and three additional judgeships in the northern, middle, and southern districts of Florida, respectively. The bill also converts an existing judgeship from temporary to permanent for the southern district of Florida. Senator Rubio originally introduced this legislation in May of 2017.
  • South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act: Rubio re-introduced legislation that would direct the Interagency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) to assess the causes and consequences of HABs in Lake Okeechobee and around Florida’s south and southwestern coast to determine the federal resources available to solve these challenges. Senator Rubio originally introduced this legislation in August of 2018.
  • Florida Shores Protection and Fairness Act: Rubio re-introduced legislation that would extend the moratorium on energy exploration in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico from 2022 to 2027, and make Florida eligible to receive a share of the revenue generated by drilling in the central and western portions of the Gulf. Senator Rubio originally introduced this legislation in May of 2017.
  • Strengthening the National Disaster Medical System Act: Rubio re-introduced legislation to temporarily give the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) direct hiring authority to fill vacant positions for emergency response personnel. Senator Rubio originally introduced this legislation in September of 2017.
  • Puerto Rico Economic Empowerment Act of 2018: Rubio re-introduced introduced the Puerto Rico Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 (S. 2873), which would implement recommendations by the Congressional Task Force on Economic Growth in Puerto Rico. Senator Rubio originally introduced this legislation in May of 2018.
  • Economic Mobility for Productive Livelihoods and Expanding Opportunity Act (EMPELO): Rubio re-introduced legislation that which would help grow Puerto Rico’s economy by making it easier for employers to hire workers and giving every American on the island an immediate pay raise. Rubio originally introduced this legislation in December of 2016.
  • Territory Health Insurance Tax Relief Act: Rubio re-introduced legislation to provide relief to the U.S. Territories where the annual fee on health insurance providers is imposed without regard to the way they are treated under other provisions of the law. Rubio originally introduced this legislation in September of 2016.
Rubio’s Efforts To Keep Low Income Housing Tenants Safe:
Legislation Introduced
  • May 19, 2016 – The Senate passed legislation that included three Rubio amendments to improve the U.S. Department of Urban Development’s oversight of public housing projects. 
  • May 16, 2018 - Rubio introduced introduced the Liberty City Rising Act (S.2856), which is legislation that would improve safety standards for public housing complexes located in high-crime areas, such as Miami’s Liberty City and Overtown. Rubio introduced this legislation following his visit in April  and May  of 2018. Rubio re-introduced this legislation on January 4th, 2019. 
  • July 14, 2016 –Rubio and Nelson filed a bill to hold slumlords accountable for poor conditions.
  • July 18, 2018 – Rubio joined Senators Young, Cantwell, King, Heller, Kaine, Jones, Gardner, and Coons in introducing the Task Force on the Impact of the Affordable Housing Crisis Act, which seeks to better understand and respond to America’s affordable housing crisis by creating a bipartisan affordable housing task force.
  • January 3, 2019 - Rubio introduced the Safe Temperature Act, and re-introduced the Liberty City Rising Act. The Safe Temperature Act would give the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) the ability to require properties receiving federal assistance to safely maintain temperatures between 71 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit. 
 
Global Ministries Foundation
  • Eureka Gardens Apartments
    • October 9, 2015 – In a letter, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry first informs Rubio and his staff about the conditions he had just seen at Eureka Gardens Apartments. 
    • October 16, 2015 – Rubio’s staff met with HUD officials in Jacksonville, called Eureka Gardens’ state “alarming.” 
    • January 21, 2016 – Rubio demanded action from HUD for Eureka Gardens residents after allegations of lead poisoning. 
    • April 27, 2016 – Rubio discussed the ongoing problems at Eureka Gardens with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and Councilman Garrett Dennis. 
    • May 12, 2016 – A day before visiting, Rubio discussed problems at HUD’s Eureka Gardens in Jacksonville. 
    • April, 12, 2017 – Rubio visited Eureka Gardens apartments in Jacksonville with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson.
    • November 1, 2018 – Rubio applauded the sale of the Eureka Gardens housing complex in Jacksonville, FL, from Global Ministries Foundation (GMF) to Millennia Housing Development.
  • Stonybrook apartment complex
    • May 25, 2016 – Rubio met with Riviera Beach Councilwoman Dawn Pardo regarding the deplorable conditions of GMF’s Stonybrook apartment complex.
    • September 9, 2016 – Rubio surprised GMF slumlords and visited residents forced to live in deplorable conditions at Stonybrook Apartments.
    • August 30, 2018 –Rubio and Nelson and Representatives Hastings, Frankel, Deutch and Mast sent a letter to the Department of Housing and Urban Development requesting swift approval for any Section 8 Pass-Through Lease requests for a GMF-owned property to protect tenants from unsafe living conditions.
 
Jones Walker Apartments
  • October 26, 2018 – Rubio and Nelson requested that Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson make available the latest reports from the failed Real Estate Assessment Center (REAC) inspection of Jones Walker Apartments in Fort Myers, Florida.

   

Glorieta Gardens

  • December 18,2018 - Rubio U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) called for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Charles Rettig to conduct an investigation and potentially suspend benefits to the owners of Glorieta Gardens Apartments in Opa-locka, Florida.

Timeline of Rubio Actions Related to Hurricane Michael:

  • On March 26, 2019, Rubio welcomed Senate action on a disaster supplemental aid package to provide funding to local communities still struggling to recover from recent natural disasters, including Florida’s panhandle that was devastated by Hurricane Michael in October 2018. 
  • On March 14, 2019, Rubio introduced the Additional Supplemental Appropriations for Border Security and Disaster Relief Act of 2019, which would secure our southern border and provide much-needed disaster relief. 
  • On February 26, 2018, Rubio, Perdue, Isakson, Jones, Scott, Sullivan, Tillis introduced a bipartisan disaster relief package with the backing of President Donald J. Trump. 
  • On February 13, 2018, Rubio led a bipartisan group of Senators in a letter urging congressional leaders to promptly pass disaster supplemental funding legislation to help communities recover in the aftermath of recent natural disasters. 
  • On December 14, 2018, Rubio, Nelson, and Dunn urged the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees to support funding to rebuild Tyndall Air Force Base.
  • On December 11, 2018, Rubio urged FEMA to accelerate the implementation of approved housing resources desperately needed in areas affected by Hurricane Michael.
  • On December 7, 2018, Rubio welcomed the Air Force’s recommendation that Congress use supplemental funding for rebuilding the base to prepare to receive the F-35 fighter at the north Florida installation.
  • On December 5, 2018, Rubio announced that his staff will host a comprehensive recovery assistance center in Panama City to assist individuals, small businesses, and the agricultural industry affected by Hurricane Michael.
  • On November 30, 2018, Rubio joined several of his colleagues in urging Senate Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer to include U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) emergency appropriations for states affected by Hurricanes Florence and Michael in the next Senate appropriations bill.
  • On November 16, 2018, Rubio joined Senators Burr, Tillis, Graham, Nelson, Feinstein, and Harris in introducing the Hurricanes Florence and Michael and California Wildfire Tax Relief Act to aid victims of recent natural disasters.
  • On October 29, 2018, Rubio was joined by the entire Florida congressional delegation in urging Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in support of Tyndall Air Force Base after it was devastated by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 26, 2018, Senators Rubio, and Nelson were joined by Representatives Dunn, Gaetz, and Lawson in requesting FEMA Administrator Brock Long quickly approve the State of Florida’s request for direct housing assistance for areas hit by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 24, 2018, Senator Rubio, Nelson were joined by Representatives Dunn, Gaetz, and Lawson in urging Secretary Ross to approve the Governor’s request for a federal fishery resource disaster declaration due to Hurricane Michael’s impacts on the Florida Panhandle and its fishing communities.
  • On October 22, 2018, Rubio urged Secretary of the Air Force, Heather Wilson, to repair and restore the F-22 Raptors damaged in Hurricane Michael to mission capable status as soon as possible.
  • On October 22, 2018, Rubio encouraged FEMA Administrator Brock Long to implement recommendations outlined in a report by the Office of Inspector General in order to help Florida repair and rebuild from the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael, and future storms.
  • On October 16, 2018, Rubio urged Secretaries Carson, Mnuchin, and Director Mulvaney to provide federal relief for Floridians impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 16, 2018, Rubio met with Franklin County and Gulf County officials to discuss the ongoing recovery efforts after Hurricane Michael.     
  • On October 15, 2018, Rubio surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Michael and met with local officials in Marianna Florida.
  • On October 15, 2018, Rubio urged Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to assist Florida schools affected by Hurricane Michael, particularly, by quickly approving Project SERV applications, which are critical to recovery efforts
  • On October 15, 2018, Senators Rubio and Nelson, with members of the Florida delegation, sent a letter urging FEMA Administrator Brock Long to approve Florida Governor Rick Scott’s request to initiate the Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) program for the remaining 13 counties impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 12, 2018, Rubio surveyed the damage caused by Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle.
  • On October 12, 2018, Rubio and Nelson with Rep. Neal Dunn urged Secretary Wilson and General Goldfein to expedite repair and restoration operations at Tyndall Air Force Base, which was critically impacted during Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 11,2018, Rubio and Nelson urged Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Robert Wilkie to authorize increased outreach efforts and benefits assistance for Florida veterans impacted by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 11, 2018, FEMA Administrator Brock Long briefed Rubio on damage caused by Hurricane Michael.
  • On October 10, 2018, ahead of Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio urgedAttorney General Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rettig to assist communities affected by the storm.  
  • On October 10, 2018, following Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Rubio, Nelson and Florida Representatives urged President Donald Trump to approve Florida’s request for a major disaster declaration. Today, the President approved the State of Florida’s major disaster declaration.
  • On October 9, 2018, Rubio joined Senator Nelson and Florida Representatives in urging President Trump to approve Florida Governor Rick Scott’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration ahead of Hurricane Michael. 

Rubio’s efforts to fix Florida’s water quality issues in 2017-2018:

  • On October 16, Rubio urged the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, R.D. James, to fairly consider Florida’s critical water infrastructure projects, some of which would improve water quality, in its Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Work Plan.

  • In October, Rubio led nearly all members of the Florida congressional delegation in urging the leaders of the Senate and House appropriations committees to provide robust funding to expedite the completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike.
  • Rubio teamed up with Senator Bill Nelson and Congressman Brian Mast to write language authorizing the EAA Storage Reservoir, to be built south of Lake Okeechobee, included in the compromise version of the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021), also known as WRDA, which passed the Senate and was signed into law by President Trump on October 23.

  • After reports revealed that red tide was confirmed in Miami-Dade County, Rubio released a video statement outlining his commitment to Everglades restoration.

  • Ahead of the vote on the Kendall Parkway on September 27, Rubio urged Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to demonstrate a clear commitment to protect an Everglades restoration footprint in the project area. Rubio demanded that the project avoid any conflict with Everglades Restoration efforts, and linked his support of the Parkway to requirements on the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to buy land east of Krome Avenue and make it available for Everglades restoration land swaps.

  • On September 18, the Senate approved the final conference agreement to the FY19 Minibus appropriations package (H.R. 6157) that includes key measures advanced by Senator Rubio (R-FL) to address harmful algal blooms.

  • On September 12, the Senate approved the final conference agreement to the FY19 Minibus appropriations package (H.R. 5895), which includes critical funding secured by Senator Rubio for the Herbert Hoover Dike Rehabilitation and Everglades restoration that will improve water quality throughout the southern region of the state.

  • Following his successful request to the Small Business Administration, Senator Rubio announced the opening of recovery centers hosted by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to assist businesses affected by red ride and blue-green algae blooms along the Treasure Coast and Southwest Florida.

  • In August, Rubio surveyed algal blooms in Captiva and Stuart. Rubio secured funding for agencies working to address harmful algal blooms. Rubio also urged Senate leaders to bring a critical water bill to the Senate floor that would help mitigate the impacts of lake discharges. Additionally, Rubio and Nelson secured a measure to enhance the public health response for Florida communities affected by the blooms. The two senators also introduced the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act, which would help determine the federal resources available to solve algal challenges.
  • In July, Rubio requested assistance for Florida business owners adversely affected by the harmful algal blooms. Rubio also introduced an amendment to secure funding to address algal bloom toxicity. 

  • Following Rubio’s July 8th request to President Trump, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers delayed scheduled discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers.

  • In June, Rubio applauded the U.S. Army Corps for including key Florida infrastructure and water projects in the FY18 Work Plan. Rubio helped craft the omnibus bill that made these funds available to the Army Corps. The Senate also passed two Rubio measures to protect Lake Okeechobee communities and restore the Everglades.

  • In May, Rubio successfully secured FY19 funding priorities in the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act.

  • In March, Rubio urged the Army Corps to allocate funding for vital Florida water infrastructure projects, including the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation and Everglades restoration.

  • In the 2018 spending bill, Rubio supported the budget request of $82 million for Herbert Hoover Dike construction and included an additional $180 million in the additional funding pot for Flood Control in the Construction account.

  • In February, Rubio was able to secure funding for Army Corps flood control projects in Florida through the disaster supplemental. Rubio also urged the Army Corps to use those funds to expedite completion of the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation project.

  • In January, Rubio sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao requesting federal assistance in ensuring that the unbridged sections of the Tamiami Trail through the historic Everglades are raised in order to allow key Everglades restoration projects to begin full operation and to prevent future extreme flooding events in the Water Conservation Areas, as occurred in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.

Appropriations:

FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations

  • Report language and $5 million to accelerate deployment of effective methods of intervention and mitigation to reduce the frequency, severity, and impact of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in freshwater systems. The report language encourages the agency to expand its collaboration with states to monitor, predict, track, and respond to HABs in the marine environment, and $1 million to expand existing support for states to assess domoic acid levels of HAB species in marine environment.

FY19 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations

  • Restores budget cuts for Everglades restoration, including $83,000 for Everglades restoration under the National Park Services’ Resource Stewardship account, more than $3 million under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service budget, and more than $6 million under the U.S. Geological Survey budget.
  • Report language to support more external research into the control and prevention of harmful algal blooms.
  • $2 million for land acquisition for Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge.
  • Report language encouraging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to expedite completion of biological opinions for the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP), including suggested deadlines of no later than Sept. 13, 2018 for the New Water Phase and no later than Feb. 2, 2019 for the South Phase. 
  • $3.204 million (nearly double FY18 levels) for the South Florida Geographic Program with dedicated funding of at least—
    • $500,000 to enhance water quality and seagrass monitoring in the Caloosahatchee Estuary and Indian River Lagoon especially with respect to assessing the impact of Lake Okeechobee discharges; and
    • $500,000 to enhance water quality and seagrass monitoring in Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay especially with respect to assessing the impact of Everglades Restoration projects.
    • $1.694 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF).
    • $63 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA).
    • $26.723 million for the National Estuary Program (NEP), including support for NEPs at Charlotte Harbor and Indian River Lagoon.
    • $15 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Rural Water Technical Assistance (a $2.3 million increase), including $1.7 million for technical assistance grants.
    • $713.823 million for EPA’s Science and Technology programs, including report language directing the agency to increase emphasis on external grant funding for research to control and prevent Harmful Algal Blooms.

Background regarding Rubio’s work on water-related issues affecting South Florida from previous Congresses:

  • September 15, 2016 – Landmark Everglades restoration and water quality improvement projects bundled together as the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) passed the Senate as part of the Water Resources and Development Act (WRDA) by a vote of 95-3 with Rubio voting in favor.    

  • September 12, 2016 - Rubio welcomed the Senate’s continued advancement of the CEPP, as well as three more Florida provisions included in the WRDA.

  • September 9, 2016 - Senator Jim Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, penned an op-ed in the Miami Herald detailing how Rubio persuaded him to support CEPP. 

  • August 26, 2016 - Rubio participated in a Tri-Cities Community Meeting with local leaders in Pahokee. Rubio discussed repairs of the Herbert Hoover Dike, Lake Okeechobee, and the status of congressional action that would impact South Florida’s Everglades communities. 

  •  August 18, 2016 - Rubio and 15 Republican Members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida urged President Obama to reconsider his Administration’s denial of Governor Rick Scott’s request for a federal disaster declaration in response to the toxic algal blooms in the state’s waterways.

  • May 12, 2016 -  Rubio supported the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill that included $49.5 million for Herbert Hoover Dike seepage control.

  • April 29, 2016 - Rubio met with the SFWMD in West Palm Beach.

  • February 16, 2016 - Senator Rubio reiterated the need for CEPP to help alleviate discharges from Lake Okeechobee in an op-ed in the TC Palm.

  • February 8, 2016 - Senator Rubio signed a delegation letter to the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the committees of jurisdiction (Senate EPW, House Transportation) requesting CEPP authorization be included in the forthcoming water resources bill

  • December 18, 2015 - Senator Rubio’s Ten Mile Creek deauthorization language became Public Law No. 114-113 as part of the end of the year spending bill.

  • May 14, 2015 - Senator Rubio wrote a letter to Chairman Lamar Alexander and Ranking Member Dianne Feinstein requesting that language to deauthorize the Ten Mile Creek Water Preserve be included in the fiscal year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

  • February 20, 2015 - Senator Rubio took an aerial tour of the Northern Everglades to view the SFWMD/USACE projects.

  • January 21, 2015 - Senator Rubio held a second stakeholder conference call where he discussed CEPP, Ten Mile Creek, and Lake Okeechobee releases.

  • January 8, 2015 - S. 120 is introduced with Senator Rubio as an original cosponsor to authorize CEPP.

  • January 8, 2015 - Senator Rubio introduced S. 124, a bill to deauthorize the Ten Mile Creek Water Preserve Area Critical Restoration Project so the mismanaged federal project, that sat dormant for over a decade, could be transferred away from the federal government and into the hands of the State through the SFWMD.

  • September 18, 2014 - Senator Rubio cosponsored S. 2861 to authorize CEPP.

  • July 30, 2014 - Senator Rubio convened a stakeholder conference call to discuss the urgent need for CEPP and draft legislation that would move operational authority of Lake Okeechobee to the state.

  • June 20, 2014 - Senator Rubio visited the Indian River Lagoon to see the effects of the discharges firsthand, and held a roundtable discussion with key stakeholders to hear community concerns.

  • May 22, 2014 - Senator Rubio voted in support of the final conference report on WRRDA, but expressed concern regarding the absence of authorization for CEPP. On the same day, he also sent a letter to the Army Corps requesting that CEPP be approved as quickly as possible.

  • April 18, 2014 - Senator Rubio signed a delegation letter to WRRDA conferees requesting that CEPP be included in the final conference report.

  • May 15, 2013 - Senator Rubio cited the absence of CEPP as a factor in his vote against the Senate version of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA).

Rosh Hashana

Sep 09 2018

By Senator Marco Rubio

As Rosh Hashanah begins on Sunday evening, Jeanette and I wish L'Shanah Tovah to our Jewish friends in Florida and around the world.

With the Jewish New Year and the High Holidays arrival, I remain proud of the innumerable contributions that Jewish-Americans and Judeo-Christian values have made to America, and I support the ironclad alliance and friendship shared between the United States and the Jewish state of Israel.

May the New Year bring with it peace, health, prosperity, and happiness to all.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) today introduced an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health, and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill that would provide $1 million of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funds for areas affected by harmful algal blooms. Priority would be given to locations subject to a state of emergency designation within the previous 12 months, which currently includes 13 Florida counties.
 
“Floridians deserve to know the health risks associated with these harmful algal blooms,” Rubio said. “Our bipartisan amendment would provide additional assistance to identify health impacts to Floridians that may have been underreported and understudied in the past due to lack of available resources. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to promote measures that bolster Florida’s battle against these blooms.”  
 
“Toxic algae blooms are choking Florida’s waterways, crippling our economy and making people sick,” Nelson said. “This amendment will provide the CDC additional money to more closely examine the health risks posed by algae.”
 
An extended timeline of Rubio’s efforts to fight the South Florida algal blooms can be found here.

Now that we are in hurricane season, my Senate office stands ready to serve you and your family in the event of a storm. It is never too early for you and your family to prepare for a potential tropical storm or hurricane.

Here are a few tips to help prepare for the 2018 hurricane season, which officially begins June 1 and ends November 30:

  • Know your area and the evacuation routes. Evacuation route information is available on the Florida Division of Emergency Management’s website.
  • Have a plan to prepare your home and/or business with storm shutters or plywood. Bring items that could be picked up by the wind and break windows - like lawn furniture, toys, or trash cans - inside.
  • Make sure you know where your home’s safe room is located. Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) website details what a safe room should look like.
  • Keep your automobile fully fueled; if electric power is cut off, gas stations may not be able to operate pumps for several days.
  • Be prepared to survive on your own for a few days. Assemble a disaster kit with a battery-powered radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, blankets, clothing, food, water, and prescription medications and needed medical supplies. The Florida Division of Emergency Management provides a good list of items to have ready.
  • Know how to shut off utilities. Know how your water heating and air-conditioning systems work and where pilot lights are located if you have natural gas appliances. If you have any questions, contact your local utility company.
  • Gather your personal documents - insurance policy information, emergency contact information, and any other vital documents – and have them somewhere they can be easily located and ready to take with you should you have to evacuate your home.

Remember, if you need help or have questions, please contact any of my offices and we will do our best to help.

Some other useful resources:

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio today delivered remarks at Focus on the Family’s 2018 “Faith and Freedom Tour” on the importance of strong American families. A rough transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below:
 
It’s really an honor to be here with you guys. The theme and really the core mission of this organization it couldn’t have been more accurate name given the challenges that we face today, “Focus on the Family,” it’s almost pressing in its importance. I think sometimes the smarter we get as a country, as a society, as humanity, the dumber we realize we are. I think we’re back to that moment where issue after issue, and I mean issue after issue, we turn on the news almost every day and you ask yourself what’s happening domestically?
 
There’s a challenge in the country, whatever It might be. A horrible tragedy, where just in the last three months, a couple of young men go into schools and take the lives of 27 human beings in two different incidents. The runaway violence in different parts of the country, just issue after issue. You realize that it goes back to when you get back to the core every single one of them has a common theme, at some point, a breakdown in the family unit. Now we are learning more of what happened in Texas. But, we most certainly know that this killer in Parkland is an individual who had very significant home problems specially after the death of the mother and not to excuse it but just to tell you why focusing on the family is so critical.
 
The bottom line is families are the building blocks of our country, of a society. At its most basic level, and if you look at the most basic level of society it begins in the family. If the family is broken nothing else in society works well. It’s as I’ve said before, many times, it’s the fundamental unit of a society and not only that, it’s the most important institution in terms of passing down values of what’s right and what’s wrong. Laws can tell you what’s legal, laws cannot tell right and wrong. It is the institution that teaches you that there are absolute rights and absolute wrongs. There are things that are absolutely wrong and there are things that are absolutely right. There’s no law, no book, well there is one book that can teach you that. But there’s no degree, that sort of inculcating of values is what allows everything this country is about to flourish. Free enterprise works because while we have the opportunity to make money and prosperity we have for generations in this country deeply infused by Judeo-Christian values believed that we have an obligation to take care of one another and that did not necessarily mean government programs. It meant stepping forward in organizations in our community and to this day, despite all bad news, there’s a reason why any time any disaster faces our country or any tragedy you see Americans respond. I witnessed that twice just in the last year after Hurricanes impacted my state, where our state was flooded and people from all over the country who stepped forward to volunteer time and money.
 
I’m particularly grateful to the Southern Baptist Mission in North Carolina that were begging to be able to help and came down, they provided invaluable service. Nobody made them do it, there was no tax incentive to do it. Nobody paid them to do it, something compelled them to do it and that is the value and the believe that they had an obligation to care for their fellow men and women. To care for their fellow citizens. But by the way, they’ve also deployed in other countries. Which tells us that their faith infused them with the believe they have an obligation to care for all mankind, including those who may not share our national borders. That’s why the family is so vital to passing down those values from generation to generation. By the way strong families are also incubators of economic opportunity, financial security, and they generate what’s called the social capital upon which an economy such as ours can function and on which our constitutional republic by the way also depends. There is no replacement for the family, there’s nothing, no agency no government program that we can create that can replace the family.
 
We have great innovations in the 21st century, but for example, Facebook it might be able to help you find out what your high school and college friends are doing now, but there’s no way Facebook can raise children. It can’t help you with a place to stay while you’re in between jobs. Facebook can’t instill the values needed for a productive life or teach the difference between right and wrong. So I will tell you, that in many ways, the state of our union can be determined by the state of our “unions.” I don’t mean labor unions. I’m talking about the union of a strong nation with strong families. So it should be very concerning to everybody, all Americans that, even in the time of a growing economy, American family life is crumbling. Family formation is the last rite of passage into adulthood for our children and it’s increasingly suffering from a failure to launch. In the 1950s, fewer than 5 percent of children were born out of marriage.
 
Today, that number is over 40 percent, meaning almost half of the children in this country are born into a single parent home and in many cases into a family where the father is non-existent in the child’s life. Financially does not provide, emotionally does not provide and obviously is not part of the family unit in terms of teaching values. There’s a recent study by the Institute for Family Studies found that the number of married Americans ages 18 to 64 has hit an all-time low, with only 48 percent of all adults now are married, compared to 75 percent in 1960 and nearly 60 percent just less than 20 years ago in 2000. The failure to form families is most clear among younger Americans. Last year, only 26 percent of adults ages 18 to 34 were married, that’s down from 40 percent in 1990.
 
Just this week, the Centers for Disease Control announced that U.S. birthrates hit a 40-year low in 2017. And as the economy began accelerate even faster toward the end of last year; the provisional data suggests fertility began to fall even faster, confounding the historical relationship between the health of our economy and formation of new families and family members. At the same time, America is wracked by total dysfunction for what it means to have honorable, respectable men and women in the home, at the workplace, and in our churches and synagogues, in religion, by the way that’s if they even have faith as part of their life at all. There is no coincidence. Our deeper cultural and societal problems are the fruit of what has gone deeply wrong in American family life.
 
Gone are the days when our young men and women could expect good, stable jobs, a spouse, and children to provide the hallmarks of a productive life – no matter how good the statistics tell us our economy is. That is, I think, the crucial question for the social contract of the 21st century: can we re-invigorate an America where a working class family can afford a mortgage and three kids, like my parents and your parents were able to do? By the way, this is not the same question as whether “can we get 4 percent GDP growth in our economy?” or “how can we make everyone more upwardly mobile?” These are important questions to be asked, but they are not the questions that will determine the strength of America’s family values in the century to come. The question should matter greatly for those of us who consider ourselves to be conservatives. Where the family tree branches thin out, the appeal for bigger and bigger government grows stronger to step in.
 
Some of you might remember, in the 2012 election there was a commercial an ad by the Obama campaign, it was called the “Life of Julia” and this ad depicted a young woman whose every choice was either provided for or subsidized by the government from cradle to grave, with no family, or children, or broader community ever seen or even referenced. Without the personal and financial support of strong, close families, people are left to depend on the state on the government to fund and provide for those needs. We know that government has an important role to play, but government will never ever be able to fulfill our needs. Like our fundamental rights in this country, our families are given to us by our creator, by God. And so what really happens when we rely mostly on government to solve our problems, rather than empowering families, is a deep and pervasive sense of loneliness, which I think is a major driver of the toxic partisanship, division and polarization which characterizes our politics today.
 
Loneliness can drive someone to seek out community because we are all programed to seek community, by our Creator. When you’re lonely sometimes you seek out community in national politics, and you come to define yourself by who you voted for, what party you’re a part of, and you end up putting your faith in a human being, a mortal man or woman—flawed, stained with original sin. Putting our faith in politicians that, like government programs, will never be able to fulfill our hopes and dreams – instead of seeking community next door in our neighborhoods, or 30 minutes away at our grandmother’s house. Loneliness can drive some people to seek community based off ethnic pride, which at its extreme can lead to racism and violence. You do that in search of a familial sense of belonging to something that gives your purpose  greater than yourself. Loneliness can drive us away from sharing our faith and country with our families, neighbors, and fellow countrymen, and into the anonymity where sin often flourishes.
I don’t mean to over exaggerate or sound catastrophic, but this is the state of the American family. If this is our reality, then we should stop at nothing to address it. And it’s with that in mind that as you go about your work, your activism, your engagement to fix broken families at the personal level, and to fix the conditions that create them at the national level that I wanted to be here to talk to you about it. It’s with that in mind that we must vigorously defend those institutions in society that empower the family to teach values and that’s why I strongly support religious liberty and our defense of it.
 
I was reading just this morning the story about Philadelphia. Catholic Social Services, which for years has run over 100 foster homes, recently was denied and stopped receiving new foster children from the City of Philadelphia because they won’t certify same-sex or unmarried couples as foster parents. They would prefer people in that situation to another agency but they themselves won’t recognize it, so they now, after all these years, will no longer be able to assist the children under their foster program. And I think that’s such a clear, recent example of how religious liberty and family values go hand-in-hand. Here, you have a government that would rather enforce a progressive, cultural value, and force it on a religious organization than give foster children a healthy home to grow up in. Many of our leaders wonder why American family life becomes increasingly dysfunctional, but the reasons are right there in front of us.
 
By the way, it’s with that in mind that I stood up for families in the United States Senate. We had our tax debate recently and there were many people, including some of the largest newspapers in America—the WSJ and others—who were very upset when we demanded we expand the Child Tax Credit as part of tax reform. Child Tax Credit, by the way, you can only get if you are working. You have to be working to be able to qualify for it.
 
How is it possible that the Republican Party can find hundreds of billions of dollars to give to multinational corporations, many of which care little about our country, but we fear cutting the taxes of hard-working families that are trying to make ends meet and provide for their children? If you work hard, pay your taxes, and start a family, you are doing immense good for our country in a time when we need stable families more than ever.
 
I believe that the preamble to the Constitution declares our purpose to “secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” for a reason. So we have to put our money where our mouth is. We should defund Planned Parenthood – taking important steps wherever possible like the Administration’s recently-announced restrictions on Title X funding for abortion clinics – protect religious liberty from the opponents of faith, and allow the American people the freedom of conscience to believe and do what’s right.
 
But we should also expand the Child Tax Credit, bring back high-paying working-class jobs, and enact a conservative, fiscally-responsible parental leave policy that allows parents the option of using Social Security benefits early, when they have a child and cannot afford to take time away from work unpaid.  I truly and deeply believe this is the agenda of the future, because it applies our timeless principles and to the gifts God has given us, and it applies to the challenges of our time.
 
Ultimately, we cannot have a strong country without strong people. We will not have strong people without strong families, and I am thankful that you are a partner in this fight of rebuilding America and strengthening it, not from the top down, but from the ground up. Parents, children, and families. Churches, synagogues and faith communities. That is truly how we restore America’s greatness. Thank you.
 

A PDF of the letter is available here.

April 25, 2018
The Honorable Marco Rubio
United States Senate
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Rubio,

I am writing to you in my capacity of incoming President of the Safety Net Hospital
Alliance of Florida (aka the Safety Net Alliance). Our members include Florida’s largest and most prominent public, teaching, children’s and regional perinatal care hospital systems.Despite representing just 10 percent of Florida’s hospitals, each year we provide one-fourth of Florida’s hospital care to senior citizens who are Medicare beneficiaries equaling over $4.6 billion netMedicare dollars. Our association would like to offer our enthusiastic support for S. 2690, Reforming Medicare Appeals Process Burdening Florida’s Hospitals. We believe it will bring much-needed checks and balances to Medicare’s Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) finance and accounting administration.

Your good bill makes several important changes to the Medicare statute that will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the DSH program. Perhaps most importantly, it removes the current handcuffs on hospitals’ right to due process in administrative and legal challenges to Medicare’s DSH payment data and decisions. Allowing hospitals to effectively state their case in these proceedings will lead to more bureaucratic errors being identified and corrected. This will in turn bring increased transparency and efficiency to a program that, while essential to the health of our communities, is too often administered in an obscure and capricious manner.

Why do we care?  This bill will ensure that we are able to continue to care for Florida’s Medicare beneficiaries.If you recall, Tampa General Hospital nearly lost two million dollars in Medicare DSH payments last year after a Medicare claims administrator failed to properly account for uncompensated-care claims data. While, thanks to your assistance, Tampa General was ultimately paid what Medicare owed them under the law, an intelligently run program should have no need for such interventions. We hope that S. 2690 will bring some of that intelligence to Medicare’s DSH program.

The Safety Net Alliance is a Florida not-for-profit corporation whose fourteen members include Florida’s largest and most prominent public, teaching, children’s and regional perinatal care hospital systems. Despite representing just 10 percent of Florida’s hospitals, our members collectively manage one-third of all Florida hospital patient days while absorbing 40 percent of the state’s hospital charity care costs and 30 percent of all Medicaid days. Our small group of hospitals are recognized for their unique shared mission to train tomorrow’s physicians and provide accessible high-quality specialty care to all Floridians, regardless of their ability to pay.

In closing, I would like to extend not only my gratitude to you as a champion for Florida’s most vulnerable and the hospitals that serve them, but offer my assistance as well. Please let me know if there is anything the Safety Net Alliance or I can do to support your efforts to shepherd this important bill through the process.  

Lindy Kennedy
Executive Vice President