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Rubio Highlights Accomplishments of First Senate Term
Miami, FL – On this final day of U.S. Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) first term, his Senate office released the following summary of his accomplishments serving the people of Florida over the past six years:
Six Years of Constituent Service
- Over the past six years, Rubio and his office have resolved over 30,000 federal constituent cases and logged over 1,000 mobile office hour events to reach Floridians in their communities.
- In 2016, the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) signed into law included the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) and other provisions benefiting Florida spearheaded by Rubio. This critical Everglades restoration project was included following Rubio’s successful effort to convince Senate Environment & Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to support CEPP. The new law also includes the Assessing Coastal Areas to Assist States Act, a bill Rubio sponsored authorizing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to perform an assessment of coastlines within in the South Atlantic Division, aiding mitigation efforts to protect families, homes and businesses from future storms and changes in sea level.
- Rubio’s Ten-Mile Creek de-authorization bill became law in December 2015, and returned Ten Mile Creek to state control on May 12, 2016, helping alleviate water management problems in Southeast Florida.
- Rubio’s bill, the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act, was signed into law in 2016, giving the State Department new tools to support the promotion of international religious freedom around the world and counter the spread of violent extremism.
- As attacks on religious freedom continue to be daily realities for people of faith around the world, Rubio led the effort to reauthorize the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, which has served as a steadfast champion of the “first freedom” and a reliable voice for the oppressed and marginalized.
- Rubio’s Girls Count Act became law, encouraging the use of U.S. assistance for programs to help countries set up birth registries, properly document childbirth and prevent vulnerable young girls from being exploited, trafficked or excluded from basic services offered by their governments.
- Rubio spearheaded a new law authorizing sanctions on the terrorist group Hezbollah. The law blocks the terrorist organization’s financing and limits the group’s access to logistical support.
- In 2016, Rubio led the effort to extend for three more years the 2014 Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act, which authorizes sanctions on Venezuelan regime officials responsible for human rights abuses.
- Rubio exposed the Global Ministries Foundation slumlords stealing federal taxpayer dollars and forcing tenants across the country – including several locations in Florida – to live in dangerous and unsafe conditions. Rubio’s efforts resulted in the launch of several federal investigations by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
- As chairman of the Senate’s oceans subcommittee, Rubio oversaw passage of the U.S. Coast Guard’s reauthorization in 2015. The bill strengthened the agency’s authority to crack down on smuggling while easing financial burdens on small businesses that operate passenger boats.
- In 2016, Rubio authored a new law to promote greater transparency and combat waste and abuse involving U.S. foreign aid.
- Rubio’s bill, the U.S.-Jordan Defense Cooperation Act, was signed into law in 2016, providing assistance to our Jordanian allies in the battle against ISIS and in dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis.
- After Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intake assistance forms filled out by Pulse Orlando terrorist attack survivors were not being shared with the City of Orlando – causing confusion and delays for applicants seeking help – Rubio urged the FBI to reform its process for assisting survivors of terrorist attacks. The FBI subsequently agreed to change their policy for intake forms for future cases.
- Rubio helped lead efforts to expand spectrum for wider commercial use, introducing the Wi-Fi Innovation Act to provide additional spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band. Under Rubio’s guidance, the U.S. Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has moved forward with the testing of this band.
- Rubio facilitated a land exchange at Navy Outlying Field, Naval Air Station, Whiting Field, Florida, which became law in 2015 as part of the FY16 National Defense Authorization Act.
- After the tragic death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez and his companions, Rubio asked the U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to produce an assessment of the jetty near the Government Cut channel in Miami Beach. The Coast Guard is expected to perform an assessment in January 2017.
- In 2015, Rubio requested the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant the Florida Department of Agriculture’s request for an exemption to use antimicrobials on citrus trees affected by greening. The EPA subsequently approved the request, allowing Florida’s citrus farmers to apply antimicrobials.
- Rubio successfully pressured the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to approve low-interest disaster loans for small businesses affected by Lake Okeechobee discharges. In April 2016, the SBA extended its disaster loan declaration for flooding in the area to cover businesses affected by the discharges.
- In May 2016, Rubio successfully urged the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to execute Project Partnership Agreements (PPAs) for the Broward County Water Preserve Areas, the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands (BBCW), and the Caloosahatchee River West Basin Storage Reservoir Projects, which had been authorized in the 2014 water projects bill.
- In April 2016, Rubio requested the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reconsider its decision not to allow the City of Hallandale Beach’s request for an extension to use a grant already allocated for completion of a drainage project. After working with the agency, state and city, FEMA granted the City of Hallandale Beach a 52-month extension.
- In response to El Nino weather patterns, Rubio worked with the Army Corps of Engineers to consider practical ways to deal with the discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. The Corps fluctuated releases, increased operational levels in canals, and at one point ceased discharges into the St. Lucie River altogether. Rubio urged the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to engage with Florida and provide assistance regarding the health effects of people coming into contact with the blooms. The CDC gave guidance to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and distributed public health messages to the Florida Department of Health.
- During the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, two major storms hit Florida. Rubio and other Florida leaders successfully pushed the president to grant major disaster declarations and declare several counties eligible for Individual Assistance or Public Assistance. Rubio also successfully pushed for an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) extension for filing and payment deadlines, secured U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) assistance for cleaning up hurricane-related debris along Florida’s Atlantic coast, and expedited the agency’s review of hurricane assistance for several counties.
- When the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was considering alternative locations for its “Hurricane Hunter” aerial fleet, Rubio successfully encouraged them to stay in the Tampa Bay area, within 50 miles from MacDill Air Force Base.
- In 2015, after holding several State Department nominees, Rubio received assurances from the Obama Administration regarding their plans to make no more unilateral reductions to the U.S. nuclear stockpile, preventing further dangerous reductions to the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
- As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Rubio has improved America’s intelligence gathering efforts. Rubio’s amendment to the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (S. 754) became law in 2015, and required the attorney general to incorporate industry and private sector expertise when drafting final guidelines concerning privacy and civil liberties. The Fiscal Year 2015 Intelligence Authorization Act that became law included Rubio provisions increasing accountability in the intelligence community, by requiring reports on U.S. intelligence sharing with Ukraine and political prison camps in North Korea.
- To reduce the counterintelligence threat to the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba, Rubio authored a provision (Sec 512) in the FY16 Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) requiring that all supervisory positions at the U.S. Embassy in Havana be occupied by a U.S. citizen who has undergone a background investigation. The FY16 IAA also included a provision (Sec 513) requiring any modifications to the U.S. Embassy in Havana or any new construction include classified spaces.
- Rubio pressured the Obama Administration to secure the release of Americans Jason Rezaian, Amir Hekmati, and Pastor Saeed Abedini from Iranian prisons, and has continued to push the administration to secure more information about Floridian Bob Levinson.
- Rubio led efforts in the Senate to characterize Islamic State atrocities against religious minorities as genocide. He repeatedly pressed the Obama Administration to make this determination, which Secretary of State John Kerry finally did in March 2016. Rubio was an original cosponsor of a Senate resolution (S. Res. 340) making the same declaration, and was instrumental in shepherding it through the Senate to final passage.
- In 2015, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services admitted Rubio’s efforts to stop taxpayer-funded bailouts of health insurance companies under ObamaCare saved taxpayers at least $2.5 billion.
- Rubio successfully negotiated a provision included in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, which repealed a part of ObamaCare that was disproportionately hurting Americans living abroad.
- Rubio successfully pushed for approval of a permit for a liquefied natural gas terminal in Puerto Rico that had been hung up in bureaucratic red tape.
- Rubio’s U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act became law as part of the House’s SPACE Act, which included two Rubio proposals recognizing the need for development of the commercial space industry and the major role space exploration plays in today’s society.
- Rubio and other senators introduced the NASA Reauthorization Act, which became law in 2016. It lays a blueprint for the next generation of American space policy and provides NASA with the resources necessary to prepare and launch exciting new missions.
- Two Rubio amendments were included in the final 2015 budget that passed Congress. The first sought to improve higher education data and transparency, and the second supported relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
- Rubio used his platform to honor extraordinary Floridians. In 2015, the Senate passed Rubio’s resolution honoring the life and legacy of Georgia Jones-Ayers, a civil rights leader from Miami. The Senate also passed Rubio’s resolution honoring the thirty-three crew members lost at sea aboard the El Faro, which departed Jacksonville, Florida for Puerto Rico on Sept. 29, 2015, carrying twenty-eight U.S. citizens and five Polish nationals. In 2016, the Senate passed a Rubio-Nelson resolution honoring the 19 Air Force personnel killed in the Khobar Towers terrorist bombing in 1996, most of whom were Floridians.
- Rubio has been the leading advocate for spinal injury awareness and research, annually sponsoring the Senate’s National Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Month.
- One of the most pressing federal issues facing Floridians has been negligence and inefficiency at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which has prevented many of Florida’s more than 1.5 million veterans from receiving the quality health care they need and deserve. Rubio led the charge in the Senate to bring accountability to the VA with his measure allowing the VA Secretary to fire incompetent or corrupt managers, which became law in 2014 as part of a larger VA reform package.
- Working with Northwest Florida’s congressional delegation for over two years, in 2014 Rubio helped secure over $6.3 million in disaster assistance funding to restore the oyster fishery in Apalachicola Bay. This providing much-needed relief for the small business owners and families severely impacted by the drought.
- The 2014 Coast Guard Reauthorization bill that was signed into law included a Rubio provision making it easier for veterans to become certified mariners and be hired in the maritime industry. In the same law, Rubio secured a three-year exemption for small commercial vessels facing unnecessary ballast water regulations by the EPA.
- Rubio visited South Korea in early 2014, where he pressed officials on a tariff that was harming Florida orange juice producers. Upon returning home, Rubio helped fast-track a solution by urging South Korean Ambassador Ahn Ho-young and his colleagues to tour Florida facilities and resolve their concerns, which they did a month later. Shortly after, the Orlando Sentinel reported on April 26, 2014, “A tariff dispute between the U.S. and South Korea over frozen orange juice concentrate was quietly resolved…”
- In 2014, Rubio protected educational opportunities for Florida’s families by successfully pressuring the U.S. Department of Education to end its baseless federal investigation into the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.
- Rubio has fought to make Florida a priority when it comes to correcting flood insurance issues. Rubio’s amendment to the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 became law, providing greater transparency to homeowners facing flood insurance claims.
- After a two year battle, Rubio successfully stopped the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overreach on a numeric nutrient regulation that would have harmed Florida farmers.
- In 2014, Rubio helped passed the Venezuela Defense of Human Rights and Civil Society Act into law.
- The FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was signed into law with two Rubio amendments. The first ensured the Navy did not retire early several Ticonderoga Class Cruisers, four of which were stationed at the Naval Station in Mayport. The second amendment required the Department of Defense to report on the reorganization of Air Force Materiel Command organizations.
- Legislation sponsored by Rubio on targeted lethal strikes became law as part of the Classified Annex accompanying the FY14 Intelligence Authorization Act. It requires the Director of National Intelligence to conduct an alternative Red Team analysis of any U.S. citizen who has been nominated by the head of an intelligence component for targeted lethal strike. This provision ensures that U.S. persons targeted for a lethal strike receive an extra level of oversight without impeding our counterterrorism operations.
- Rubio championed the case of a domestic servant victimized by Tanzanian diplomat Alan Mzengi. After years of Mzengi failing to pay the legal judgment against him and returning to Africa, Rubio successfully urged Secretary of State John Kerry to pressure the Tanzanian government to pay the victim.
- In 2014, Rubio led efforts to condemn the death sentence against Meriam Yahia Ibrahim Ishag, a Sudanese Christian woman accused of apostasy. Following this public pressure, she was ultimately released.
- In 2014, Rubio led the Senate in recognizing the Khmer and Lao/Hmong Freedom Fighters of Cambodia and Laos for supporting and defending the United States Armed Forces during the conflict in Southeast Asia.
- Rubio recognized a little-known provision in ObamaCare that would have allowed health insurance companies that lose money under the exchanges to seek taxpayer funds to cover their losses. Rubio introduced the ObamaCare Taxpayer Bailout Prevention Act in 2015, believing that taxpayers should not have to fund massive bailouts to protect the profits of the very insurance companies that helped write ObamaCare. Calling attention to this issue, Rubio successfully spearheaded a major effort in Congress to prevent taxpayer dollars from bailing out health insurance companies under ObamaCare.
- In 2014, Rubio was a leading supporter and cosponsor of a bill awarding the 65th Infantry Regiment “Borinqueneers” with the Congressional Gold Medal. The Borinqueneers were a segregated Hispanic unit, comprised of mostly Puerto Rican soldiers, who were not given the same benefits and honors awarded to other soldiers, despite their service in World War I, World War II and the Korean War.
- Rubio effectively used his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to publicly pressure the government of Honduras to release a Tampa area boat crew wrongfully captured at sea and jailed for 52 days.
- In 2011, Rubio protected taxpayer dollars by securing a third-party audit of the Gulf oil spill claims facility to ensure that funds were being spent effectively
- Rubio was a principal negotiator of the RESTORE Act, which became law and provided relief to Floridians harmed by Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
- While opposing the 2012 Highway Bill on spending grounds, Rubio amended it to make improvements to streamline multimodal projects, improving transparency of major projects & evacuation routes. Taking into account Florida’s vulnerability to hurricanes, Rubio’s Amendment 1628 ensured that states take into account evacuation routes when spending their highway funding.
- In 2011, Rubio pressed the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to clear the waiting lists of 8,600 patients in 13 states – including over 3,800 in Florida – for the AIDS Drug Assistance Program. In 2012, the waiting lists were cleared.
- In 2011, Rubio raised the issue of abuse of the “people-to-people” contact trips to Cuba. Subsequently, the Treasury Department cancelled dozen of trips to the communist island.
- Rubio helped expose the extent of the Iranian regime’s threat in the Western Hemisphere and improve transparency on how to deal with it. His amendment requiring an unclassified summary of policy recommendations to address the growing Iranian threat in the Western Hemisphere became law.
- Rubio successfully pressured the State Department to officially condemn Daniel Ortega’s assault on democracy in Nicaragua. In 2011, Rubio also successfully blocked President Obama’s nominee for ambassador to Nicaragua because of his troubling record of failing to defend human rights as head of the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, Cuba. Rubio’s leadership in advocating for democracy and human rights led to the regime banning him from traveling to Nicaragua.
- Rubio has been a leading defender of internet freedom. In 2012, the House and Senate both passed Rubio’s bill opposing any international efforts to regulate the Internet and calling on the U.S. government to reinforce its commitment to Internet freedom by opposing efforts to cede Internet regulatory power to the International Telecommunications Union. Facing such strong opposition from the U.S. Congress, no damaging regulatory measures were adopted at the World Conference on International Telecommunications.