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VIDEO: On Senate Floor, Rubio Reflects on 2017, Looks Ahead to 2018
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke on the Senate floor today to reflect on key efforts in 2017 and his outlook for 2018.
Rubio’s speech can be watched here. A transcript of Rubio’s remarks is below.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
U.S. Senate Floor
December 21, 2017
VA Accountability bill: It made easier to fire people that weren’t doing a good job … And I always remind everybody, the overwhelming majority of people that work at the VA are doing a good job. It’s the ones that are not that we need to replace.
Cuba: Americans can still go to Cuba as part of a group or as part of an individual going on behalf to support the Cuban people. But if you go to Cuba … you have to spend your money at places that are owned by Cubans, by everyday Cuban people, not by the Cuban military which is trying to create a monopoly.
Sanctions against Nicolas Maduro’s regime: And it’s a tragic situation. This is not an embargo. This is not economic warfare the way Maduro calls it. This basically is preventing them from continuing to steal. … The richest country in the Hemisphere, the richest country in South America, one of the most oil-rich countries in the world, a nation with a long history of stable economics and even the longest democratic tradition in South America. … Children starving to death in Venezuela. Meanwhile, Nicolas Maduro looks like he weighs more than he ever has before. And all the people that surround him in his government are heavier, fatter than they have ever been before and children are starving – because of them! Not because of U.S. policy, not because of sanctions.
Race for Children Act: There are not enough innovations in pediatric cancer when you compare it to adult cancer. And this law requires pharmaceuticals to begin testing adult drugs on pediatric populations so that hopefully we can develop more pediatric medicines. I worked on that with Senator Bennet of Colorado. We got it passed, signed into law. Again, not something that got a lot of attention because it was bipartisan and not controversial. But it’s important.
Puerto Rico’s recovery: We were very involved in helping there – in particular, working with Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez, who is a true and dedicated public service to the people of Puerto Rico – number one in getting the right response. It took a little too long for the response to get going but it finally started moving. But there’s still so much to be done. … And so I hope that in the year to come, we will redouble our efforts, particularly on disaster relief, to ensure that Puerto Rico doesn’t just recover but is rebuilt stronger than ever so we don’t have to continue to revisit this in the future when the inevitable and that is they will face a storm again because of their presence in the tropics.
Tax reform: We passed tax reform. Not everybody likes it but I think more people will as they start to see its true implications. By March of this year, the overwhelming majority of Americans are going to notice that their paycheck is bigger than it was a year ago. … America’s tax code today is better than it was before this bill passed. Do I think we went a little too far in the direction of multinational corporations? Perhaps. Not that it’s going to hurt the economy. But I thought some of that could have been geared towards working families through a further expansion of the child tax credit. But overall, I do believe it will help grow our economy and more importantly, I do believe it will leave more money in the hands of Americans to be able to spend it for their families.
Job training: One of the singular challenges in America today that we must confront in the new year hopefully is the skills gap. It’s not just a throwaway phrase. It’s the fact that the best-paying jobs, the ones that actually pay you enough to raise a family and save for retirement, those jobs require skills that our schools aren’t teaching. Those jobs require skills that millions of Americans do not have. And we have got to change that. We have got to make it easier, not just to graduate people at 18 years of age ready to work, we’ve got to make it easier for people at 45 to be able to back to some sort of school and acquire the skills they need for a better-paying job.
Florida’s Infrastructure: The new year will provide us an opportunity to focus on infrastructure, which is critical. My state of Florida is particularly impacted by not just storms but sea level rise in coastal areas and there are things we can do to mitigate against it. We need to restore the Everglades. And of course we need roads and bridges to improve our infrastructure and airports. Hopefully we can confront that as we work on infrastructure.
Florida Agriculture: 2018 will be a year that will deal with the farm bill. And I hope action will be taken to reform crop insurance to ensure that my state’s farmers are never in the position they have been put in after Hurricane Irma
On reforming social safety net: You have to have a safety net to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves: the permanently disabled, the elderly, and the like. But you also have to have a safety net for the people who have come upon tough times, until they can get back on their feet and try again. But I fear, in fact, I have realized long ago that our safety net programs treat the symptoms of poverty, but they do not cure it. … It will not be so much about cutting as it will about reorganizing and improving. Yes we will take care of people in their emergent needs and immediate needs. But we will also make it easier for you to go back to school and get a degree or technical certification so you can find a job and never again rely on the government.
On disaster relief: I will say I am disappointed that we’re leaving here at the end of this year not having taken on a disaster relief bill that I know the people in Florida and Texas and the wildfires out west, Puerto Rico, need. I believe that we will confront it. I believe that we are going to do that in the early part of next year along with a permanent extension of the children’s health insurance program and other matters.