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Task force would seek to remake Florida’s criminal justice system

Florida’s state lawmakers increasingly are embracing criminal justice reform policies that break with the state’s “tough on crime” past. But a sea change could be in the works.

But a sea change could be in the works.

Last year, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, and the GOP-controlled legislature approved one of the most far-reaching civil asset forfeiture reforms in the country, repealed a 10-20-life mandatory minimum sentencing law, and expanded health care delivery for mentally ill inmates. Mental health advocates say as much as 40 percent of Florida’s prison population needs treatment.

Dozens of reform-related bills already have been filed ahead this year’s state legislative session.

Now, it’s time to go big.

Seizing on momentum, Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg wants to remake the entire system.

“If you look around the country, many other states are leading on criminal justice reform. It’s a wave that’s just starting to hit Florida,” Brandes told Watchdog.org.

“It’s time to look at a holistic view about how to transform the system,” he said.

Brandes is seeking legislative approval to form a task force to conduct a comprehensive review of Florida’s criminal justice, court and corrections systems.

Ultimately, the task force would submit a report with findings, conclusions and recommendations to be molded into legislation for the 2018 state session.

Overhauling state prisons may be the first priority.

“We have prisons that are in a kind of crisis mode right now. We’re having a tough time hiring guards. Contraband rates are through the roof. Our education of prisoners is at rock bottom, and recidivism is a struggle for the state,” Brandes said.

Membership must reflect the racial, gender, geographic and economic diversity of the state, as well as the diversity and demographics of the state’s prison population, according to the proposal. The 28-member group would include members of the House and Senate, judges, academics, faith leaders, victims’ advocates, public defenders, law enforcement officials and even prison inmates in good standing.

Brandes said he has been in contact with groups such as the Crime and Justice Institute and Pew Research Center to discuss how to approach the issue and what possible outcomes might look like.

The task force would use a data-driven approach to arrive at sentencing and corrections recommendations for the purpose of:

— Reducing the state prison population.

— Decreasing spending by focusing on serious offenses and violent criminals.

— Holding offenders accountable through research-based supervision and sentencing practices.

— Reinvesting savings into strategies known to decrease recidivism, including reentry outcomes.

“We think states like Texas are thought leaders in criminal justice reform. It’s time for Florida to follow Texas’s lead on the criminal justice issue and to get serious about criminal justice reform,” Brandes said.

Florida is often compared to Texas both economically and demographically. In 2007, Texas instituted a nationally recognized reform package, and has added to it ever since.

When asked to describe possible obstacles, Brandes said, “Most arguments in the Legislature are fortress versus frontier arguments. I’m, almost to a fault, with the frontiers.”

According to the proposal, task force members would receive no taxpayer compensation for their work.

Donald Trump’s Florida visits puts small airport in tailspin

President Donald Trump wants small businesses to thrive, but his frequent Mar-a-Lago visits have flight schools and other companies at a nearby airport in a financial nosedive.

The Secret Service closed Lantana Airport on Friday for the third straight weekend because of the president’s return to his Palm Beach resort, meaning its maintenance companies, a banner-flying business and another two dozen businesses are also shuttered, costing them thousands of dollars at the year’s busiest time. The banner-flying company says it has lost more than $40,000 in contracts already.

The airport, which handles only small, propeller-driven planes and helicopters, is about 6 miles southwest of Mar-a-Lago, well within the 10-mile circle around the resort that’s closed to most private planes when he’s in town. Trump flies into Palm Beach International Airport, which is 2.5 miles from Mar-a-Lago, and remains opens as it handles commercial flights. Small private planes can also use that airport during presidential visits if they meet certain stringent conditions.

The Lantana owners are pushing compromises they say will ensure Trump’s security while keeping their businesses open. They involve letting pilots fly in a closely monitored corridor headed away from the resort until they are outside a 10-mile ban around Mar-a-Lago and a 30-mile zone where flying lessons are restricted. Pilots, planes and cargo would undergo preflight screening by Transportation Security Administration agents.

“None of us are suggesting that we shouldn’t do everything to keep the president safe but we believe there are things that can be done to keep us in operation,” said Jonathan Miller, the contractor who operates the Palm Beach County-owned airport.

The airport and its 28 businesses have an economic impact of about $27 million annually and employ about 200 people full-time, many of them making about $30,000 a year. They don’t get paid when the airport is closed.

Miller is already losing a helicopter company, which is moving rather than deal with the closures. That will cost him $440,000 in annual rent and fuel sales.

White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham directed questions to the Secret Service. The agency also declined comment. Flight restrictions have long been standard around buildings where a president is staying to protect him from an airborne attack.

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat who represents the area, met with the business owners this week. She said she will meet with the Secret Service next week to see if a compromise can be reached.

Lantana Airport opened in 1941 as a Civil Air Patrol station, with planes flying along the coast during World War II to spot German submarines attempting to sink cargo ships. Today, the 300-acre, three-runway facility handles an average of 350 arrivals and departures daily, peaking on winter weekends as tourists enjoy South Florida’s temperate weather. Summer, with its stifling, visitor-repelling heat and the constant threat of plane-grounding thunderstorms, is not nearly as lucrative.

Marian Smith, owner of Palm Beach Flight Training, said her 19-year-old business is losing 24 flights daily when closed and three students cancelled. She lost $28,000 combined the last two weekends and will lose $18,000 on this President’s Day weekend. She estimates her 19 instructors are each losing up to $750 a weekend.

“What’s frustrating is that we get little notice when this is going to happen,” she said.

This week, rumors began Monday. The closure notice arrived Wednesday.

David Johnson, owner of Palm Beach Aircraft Services, said his 27-year-old repair and maintenance business generates $2 million in sales annually, but has taken a hit over the last month and he fears it will cascade if flight schools like Smith’s close. He has written a letter he hopes gets delivered to Trump this weekend asking him, one businessman to another, to help resolve the conflict.

“Even if the TSA had to screen every pilot going out of here, we would be open to that,” Johnson said. “But so far, we’ve gotten nothing.”

Jorge Gonzalez, owner of SkyWords Advertising, a banner towing service, said his company lost four contracts totaling $42,500 because of Trump’s visits. He wants exceptions made for three pilots to fly within the restricted zone when the president visits because it is where thousands of residents live and tourists stay.

“We have spent 10 years building this business,” said Gonzalez’s wife, Hadley Doyle-Gonzalez. “We just can’t pick up and move.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Donald Trump says Sweden comment followed TV report

Swedes have been scratching their heads since President Donald Trump suggested that some kind of major incident had taken place in their country Friday night. Trump is now clarifying his comments, saying he was referring to something he saw on television.

Trump first referenced Sweden during a Florida rally on Saturday as he talked about past terror attacks in Europe. He told supporters, “Look what’s happening last night in Sweden.”

In Sweden, the remark raised eyebrows and sparked derision about a fact-challenged president. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson said that the government wasn’t aware of any “terror-linked major incidents.”

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that his statement was in reference to a story broadcast on Fox News concerning immigrants and Sweden.

The president may be referring to a segment aired Friday night on the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that reported Sweden had accepted more than 160,000 asylum-seekers last year but that only 500 had found jobs. The report went on to say that a surge in gun violence and rape had followed the influx of immigrants.

A White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, says that Trump was talking about rising crime and recent incidents in general, not referring to a specific issue.

Donald Trump rallies Florida crowd with some old themes, renewed attack on media

Just four weeks into his administration, President Donald Trump appeared at a campaign rally that mirrored the months leading up to Election Day, complete with promises to repeal the health care law, insults for the news media and a playlist highlighted by the Rolling Stones.

“I want to be among my friends and among the people,” Trump told a cheering crowd packed into an airport hangar in central Florida, praising his “truly great movement.”

Trump promised anew to build a border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, reduce regulations and create jobs. He also pledged to “do something over the next couple of days” to address the immigration order that has been blocked in the courts. Said Trump: “We don’t give up, we never give up.”

Insisting he was the victim of false reporting, Trump said his White House was running “so smoothly” and that he “inherited one big mess.” The president has been trying refocus after reports of disarray and dysfunction within his administration.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One before the rally, Trump said he was holding a campaign rally because “life is a campaign.”

“To make America great again is absolutely a campaign,” he said. “It’s not easy, especially when we’re also fighting the press.”

And he’s also had to contend with crowds of protesters. Thousands of them were out on the streets of Dallas and Los Angeles to oppose immigration enforcement raids and to support immigrants and refugees generally. In Los Angeles, an organizer urged local authorities not to spend money on immigration enforcement.

Trump, who held a rally in the same spot in Florida in September, clearly relished being back in front of his supporters, welcoming the cheers and letting one supporter up on stage to offer praise for the president. He also enjoyed reliving his surprise victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

First Lady Melania Trump introduced her husband at the rally, reciting the Lord’s Prayer before offering her own pledge to act in the best interest of all Americans as she pursues initiatives she says will impact women and children around the world.

The event had the familiar trappings of a Trump campaign rally, including red Trump caps, “Make America Great Again” and “Trump/Pence” signs and at least one sign reading “Hillary for Prison.” Some of the speakers ahead of Trump’s appearance called for repealing and replacing President Barack Obama’s health care law, criticized the news media or lobbed barbs at Clinton, other constants of last year’s rallies.

The music playlist preceding Trump’s appearance included rally favorites like Free’s “All Right Now.” As Air Force One rolled up to the hangar, the theme to the Harrison Ford movie “Air Force One” signaled its arrival. Trump and the first lady appeared as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” played. And his 45-minute remarks were followed by another 2016 campaign favorite, the 1969 hit “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones.

The rally came during Trump’s third straight weekend at his private south Florida club, Mar-a-Lago. It was another working weekend for the president, who planned to interview at least four potential candidates for the job of national security adviser, a position unexpectedly open after retired Gen. Michael Flynn‘s firing early this week.

Trump said Saturday “I have many, many that want the job, they want to really be a part of it. I’ll make a decision over the next couple of days.”

Scheduled to discuss the job with the president were his acting adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg; John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster; and the superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen. White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the four interviews were expected to take place Sunday at the private estate.

Finding a new national security adviser was proving to be a challenge for Trump. His first choice, retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward, turned down the offer.

Trump had also expressed interest in former CIA Director David Petraeus, but Spicer said Saturday that Petraeus was not a finalist. The retired four-star general resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information relating to documents he had provided to his biographer, with whom he was having an affair.

Flynn resigned at Trump’s request Monday after revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence about discussing sanctions with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the transition. Trump said in a news conference Thursday that he was disappointed by how Flynn had treated Pence, but did not believe Flynn had done anything wrong by having the conversations.

Trump has lurched from crisis to crisis since the inauguration, including the botched rollout of his immigration order, struggles confirming his Cabinet picks and a near-constant stream of reports about strife within his administration.

680 Cubans returned home since end of ‘wet foot, dry foot’

About 680 Cubans have been returned to the island from various countries since then-President Barack Obama ended a longstanding immigration policy that allowed any Cuban who made it to U.S. soil to stay and become a legal resident, state television reported Friday.

Cuba’s government had long sought the repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy, which it said encouraged Cubans to risk dangerous voyages and drained the country of professionals. The Jan. 12 decision by Washington to end it followed months of negotiations focused in part on getting Havana to agree to take back people who had arrived in the U.S.

Cuban state television said late Friday that the returnees came from countries including the United States, Mexico and the Bahamas, and were sent back to the island between Jan. 12 and Feb. 17. It did not break down which countries the 680 were sent back from.

The report said the final two returnees arrived from the United States on Friday “on the first charter flight especially destined for an operation of this type.”

Florida’s El Nuevo Herald newspaper reported that the two women were deemed “inadmissible” for entry to the United States and placed on a morning flight to Havana.

Wilfredo Allen, an attorney for one of the women, says they had arrived at Miami International Airport with European passports. The women requested asylum and were detained.

The repeal of the “wet foot, dry foot” policy was Obama’s final move before leaving office in the rapprochement with the communist-run country that he and Cuban President Castro began in December 2014. The surprise decision left hundreds of Cubans stranded in transit in South and Central America.

Before he assumed the presidency on Jan. 20, Donald Trump criticized the detente between the U.S. and Cuba, tweeting that he might “terminate” it.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Richard Corcoran sues Florida Lottery over ‘improper spending’

In what one lobbyist privately compared to “the bombing of Pearl Harbor,” House Speaker Richard Corcoran Friday dropped a blockbuster lawsuit on the Florida Lottery, which reports to Gov. Rick Scott, saying it was guilty of “wasteful and improper spending” for signing a $700 million deal for new equipment. 

The legal action caps off weeks of tension and sniping between the Republican governor and Corcoran’s GOP House majority after the speaker said he was out to kill state government’s business incentives programs, what he calls “corporate welfare.” Scott says they help create jobs.

Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, also seeks to eliminate the dispensers of the largesse, the public-private organizations Enterprise Florida, which does economic development, and VISIT FLORIDA, which handles the state’s tourism marketing.

In retaliation, Scott has been going to the home districts of Republican House members to publicly shame them for supporting an anti-incentives bill. He’s been doing so under the guise of promoting his proposed 2017-18 “Fighting for Florida’s Future” budget.

Later Friday, Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz shot back in an email, saying “Florida Lottery’s record sales have led to historic contributions to our state’s education system and the House sues?” Lottery proceeds go into the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which helps pay for public education.

Schutz then used a term considered anathema by conservatives: “Not shocking to have another lawsuit from a trial lawyer.” Corcoran is a commercial litigation attorney.

The suit had been known to be in the works and was disclosed earlier this week by POLITICO Florida. The 12-page suit, plus exhibits, was filed in Leon County Circuit Civil court at 4:54 p.m. Friday.

As previously reported, it is what’s known as a “quo warranto” writ, filed against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action.

At 5 p.m. Friday, Corcoran’s office said he was suing the Lottery “for signing a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.”

The deal, with International Game Technology (IGT), will provide the Lottery with new retailer terminals, in-store signage, self-service lottery vending machines, self-service ticket checkers and an upgraded communications network.

In a press release last September, the company said the contract is for an initial 10-year period, and the Florida Lottery “simultaneously exercised the first of its three available three-year renewal options.”

But Corcoran’s suit asserts “there is insufficient budget authority for the contract to be paid under the current appropriation assuming current conference estimates of ticket sales,” according to the press release.

The complaint says the Lottery “cannot enter into a contract that obligates the agency to pay more in subsequent fiscal years than its current budget authority allows, and it certainly cannot use that contract to support a request for an increase or realignment in its appropriations. In fact, Florida law governing the budgeting process expressly prohibits” it.

State law “protects against executive agencies trying to force the Legislature’s hand in the budgeting process,” the complaint adds. “It also protects against agencies unleashing the lobbyists of private vendors to interfere with that process. This in turn ensures budgeting transparency and predictability.”

In a statement, the speaker said the contract was “yet another example of a government entity thinking it is more important than the people who pay for it.”

“The Lottery, and any other agency for that matter, does not have the right to obligate the taxpayers of Florida by even a penny beyond what the people’s elected Representatives say they can,” Corcoran said.

“This lawsuit filed today is about the rule of law and the protection of taxpayers,” he added. “In addition, I hope our actions today serve as a warning to any agency playing fast and loose with the rules that the people have had enough.”

One prominent lobbyist, who asked not to be named, said he won’t be surprised if Corcoran – rumored to be weighing a run for governor in 2018 – has similar lawsuits lined up against other agencies under Scott.

“This is just one more bomb in a greater war,” the lobbyist said. The House “will keep firing bullets at this governor … Richard wants to change the paradigm of how government does business, and his members are with him. You have to give him credit: He created an army of believers.”

Jacksonville correspondent A.G. Gancarski contributed to this report. 

A month into presidency, Donald Trump prepares for a campaign rally

President Donald Trump is holding a campaign rally Saturday in politically strategic Florida — 1,354 days before the 2020 election.

The unusually early politicking follows a pattern: Trump filed his paperwork for re-election on Jan. 20, Inauguration Day. By comparison, President Barack Obama didn’t make his re-election bid official with the Federal Election Commission until April 2011.

Huge rallies were the hallmark of Trump’s presidential campaign. He continued to do them, although with smaller crowds, throughout the early part of his transition, during what he called a “thank you” tour.

The Florida event will be his first such one as president.

“I hear the tickets — you can’t get them,” Trump said Thursday during a meeting with lawmakers. “That’s OK, that’s better than you have too many.”

Trump responds well to the supportive crowds, who often chant, cheer and applaud enthusiastically when he speaks. The rallies serve a practical purpose by enabling his campaign to continue building a list of supporters. To attend, people must register online, giving their email address and other personal information that the campaign can use to maintain contact and raise money.

Trump’s upcoming evening event is set for an airport hangar in Melbourne, Florida, and it comes as he makes another weekend trip to what he calls his “Winter White House,” his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach.

Trump also said he would play golf this weekend with Ernie Els, a South African professional golfer. It will be his Trump’s third consecutive weekend at Mar-a-Lago.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said the rally is “being run by the campaign.” It follows an official trip Friday to South Carolina, where Trump will visit a Boeing facility in North Charleston.

Spicer and others at the White House have not responded to repeated questions about why Trump’s embryonic campaign is organizing this rally, or about who will pay for the event and transportation to and from it. Presidents regularly hold large campaign-style events to build support for their policies. Those events are often considered part of their official duties and organized by the White House.

Michael Glassner, executive director of Trump’s campaign committee, also did not respond to questions.

Trump’s campaign is running the event because Trump does not want to spend taxpayer dollars on it, a person close to him said. The person requested anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Although Trump is getting started far earlier than his predecessors, it’s common for presidents to combine political and governing events into the same trip. When that happens, the campaign picks up the tab for part of the trip and taxpayers for the rest.

Trump’s campaign account had more than $7.6 million in the bank at the end of the year, according to fundraising reports. He’s continued raising money postelection by selling popular merchandise, such as the ubiquitous red “Make America Great Again” ball caps.

On Thursday, as the president wrapped up a confrontational press conference with the media — during which he repeatedly referred to coverage as “unfair” and “fake news” — one of Trump’s campaign accounts emailed a “media survey” to his supporters.

The 25 multiple-choice questions included: Do you believe that the mainstream media has reported unfairly on our movement? Do you believe that our Party should spend more time and resources holding the mainstream media accountable?

After clicking through the survey, there’s a prompt to donate money.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Bob Graham: Investigate the Russians!

Bob Graham chaired the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee as it dealt with the events of Sept. 11, 2001, helming the Joint Congressional Inquiry into that sequence of terror attacks.

On Friday, he called for the same type of investigation into the events of Nov. 8, 2016.

Graham’s concern: Russian involvement in the 2016 United States Presidential Election.

Graham notes that “evidence is mounting that the Russian government attempted to influence the result of the 2016 election, including possible coordination with American campaign officials, and impact governmental action following the elections.”

“Because of these attacks on our democratic process,” Graham contends, the United States Congress should “convene a new bicameral, bipartisan joint inquiry so the American people have a comprehensive account of what happened — and what our government and other democracies which might be at risk can do to protect our electoral processes from covert foreign intrusion.”

Failure to investigate the evidence, asserts Graham, “will communicate that the United States is indifferent to outside interference in our political process. Inaction will empower the Russian government and other potential interlopers to act with impunity.  With elections scheduled this year in France, Germany, the Netherlands, and other nations, the United States must immediately send a loud and clear signal that interference in democracy will not be tolerated.

Will a Republican-controlled Congress take Graham’s advice? That’s the question.

It’s official: Jason Allison resigns as state CIO to join Foley & Lardner

Jason Allison, Florida’s Chief Information Officer, has told Gov. Rick Scott he is resigning.

Allison

Allison’s letter, dated Monday, was released Friday by the Agency for State Technology, which Allison heads. News of his departure was exclusively in Friday’s edition of SUNBURN.

“My years directing the Agency … and my prior service as your Technology Policy Coordinator have been some of the best in my life,” he wrote. “I cannot thank you enough for all of the opportunities and experiences you have provided me during my time in your administration.”

Allison’s letter says he is resigning effective March 7 – the first day of the 2017 Legislative Session. A news release sent Friday from Foley & Lardner says he is starting with the law firm the next day as a “director of public affairs in the Tallahassee office.”

A number of former Scott appointees now work at the firm, including Jon Steverson, former secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, and his predecessor at the department, Herschel Vinyard.

Others who have recently worked for Foley are former Department of Economic Opportunity head Jesse Panuccio, now at the U.S. Department of Justice under President Donald Trump, and Karen Bowling, who co-founded the Solantic walk-in urgent care centers with Scott. She was a Foley lobbyist before becoming CEO of a Jacksonville-based health care tech company.

“Jason is highly skilled at managing the creation, implementation and maintenance of information systems in highly structured and unstructured environments. His deep understanding of government operations and IT issues, combined with his years of experience in the public and private sectors, will tremendously benefit our clients,” David Ralston, chair of the firm’s Government & Public Policy Practice Group, said in a statement.

Allison added: “After spending most of my career dedicated to public service in the technology sector, I am eager to return to private practice with an esteemed group of professionals … Foley’s Government & Public Policy Practice is well known for its outstanding advocacy and counsel to clients, and I look forward to helping advance that effort.”

Under state law, he would not be able to lobby his own agency for two years after leaving. “No … appointed state officer … shall personally represent another person or entity for compensation before the government body or agency of which the individual was an officer or member for a period of 2 years following vacation of office,” the law says.

The Agency for State Technology, which replaced the predecessor Agency for Enterprise Information Technology, was created by lawmakers in 2014. Allison was appointed its head that Dec. 9. He is paid $130,000 a year.

“The Chief Information Officer sets information technology (IT) policy and direction for the State of Florida,” the agency’s website says. “The State CIO is an advisor to the Governor on technology issues.”

In a statement, Scott said Allison “has done an outstanding job.”

“Under his leadership, Florida has made impressive strides to enhancing state IT operations,” Scott said. “I want to thank Jason for his dedication to the State of Florida and wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

Eric Larson, now the state’s Chief Technology Officer and AST’s Chief Operations Officer, will become Interim Executive Director and Chief Information Officer, according to a statement from the Governor’s Office. Larson has been with the agency since 2014.

Allison also has been Chief Information Officer for the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, his online bio says. “Jason has more than 13 years’ experience in various facets of information technology and holds many industry certifications in areas such as IT process management, project management, security, and network administration,” it says.

He received an undergraduate degree in international affairs from Florida State University.

Allison leaves a month after his agency was dinged in a report by Florida Auditor General Sherrill F. Norman’s office that found security and record-keeping lapses.

Ed. Note: An earlier version of this post relied on a previous press release that mistakenly said Allison would start next Monday. The date is now correct in this version.

Marco Rubio files bills cracking down on Iran, Russia

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announced Friday that he is sponsoring a pair of bills to crack down on Iran and Russia.

Rubio, along with Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse and Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue, filed a bill to crack down on Iran’s use of commercial aircraft in support of terrorism.

The Iran Terror-Free Skies Act would require the executive branch to regularly report to Congress on whether Iran has used civilian planes for military purposes, such as transporting weapons or military personnel, to terrorist groups within its borders or abroad.

“As the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Iran continues to systematically use its commercial airlines to supply the murderous Assad regime in Syria as well as to Hezbollah and other foreign terrorist organizations,” Rubio said. “If America turns a blind eye to the Iranian terror regime’s efforts to destabilize the Middle East and endanger the lives of innocents worldwide, we risk being complicit.”

The Miami Republican also joined up with Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson on a bill to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF missile treaty.

“Russia’s mounting violations of the INF Treaty, including testing and now brazenly deploying ground-launched cruise missiles with intermediate range, pose grave threats to the United States and our European allies,” Rubio said. “This legislation makes clear that Russia will face real consequences if it continues its dangerous and destabilizing behavior.”

The bill includes provisions to build up missile defense and place intermediate range missile systems within allied countries, among other things.

Texas Republican Rep. Ted Poe and Alabama Republican Rep. Mike Rodgers are sponsoring the bill’s House companion.

 

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