Marco Rubio Archives - Florida Politics

U.S. Senate includes Marco Rubio’s child care amendment in budget bill

The U.S. Senate has approved an amendment pushed by Florida’s U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to provide a tax credit for child care in its budget resolution.

Rubio has made the child care tax credit amendment a hallmark of his efforts, vowing it would provide meaningful tax relief to middle income families.

The proposal essentially deducts $2,000 per child tax credits not just from income used to calculate income tax, but also from the income amounts calculated for social security and medicare, lowering the payroll tax deductions as well.

The amendment was cosponsored by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, an Arizona Republican.

“Today’s passage of the Rubio-Lee child tax credit amendment is another step toward meaningful tax relief for working American families,” Rubio stated in a news release. “It has become increasingly expensive to raise children in the 21st century, and this bipartisan measure ensures that we are on track to invest in our families and future American taxpayers.

“Tax reform will not pass unless we significantly expand the child tax credit, and I’m glad to see that Congress took this important first step by showing unanimous support for the child tax credit in today’s budget resolution,” he added.

UF ready for white nationalist speech

University of Florida students arose Thursday to a campus outwardly expressing messages of love against the backdrop of a heavily armed law enforcement presence and the specter of a divisive mid-afternoon speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

Banners hung outside fraternity and sorority houses called for “Love Not Hate #TogetherUF.”

The Lubavitch Chabad Jewish Student Center had been open since Wednesday for a three-day “Good Deed Marathon,” which drew praise from University President Kent Fuchs.

Spencer, a self-described “identitarian” whose supporters chanted “Jews will not replace us” at a Charlottesville, Va., rally that turned deadly this summer, has been labeled an anti-Semite and white supremacist by groups such as the Anti-Defamation League.

“Another example of countering darkness with Light on Oct 19,” Fuchs, who has repeatedly called on students to Spencer and “his racist and anti-American message,” tweeted Wednesday night of the “Good Deed Marathon.”

Just before 11:30 a.m., the first of Spencer’s supporters, claiming they “like being part of a collective,” arrived. At the same time, the first protesters showed up, one carrying a sign stating “No Trump Nazis.”

Wary of clashes that have erupted on campuses elsewhere, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for Alachua County Monday night, at the behest of county Sheriff Sadie Darnell.

The head of the National Policy Institute, Spencer was one of the key speakers at an August “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters. Heather Heyer, 31, was killed, and dozens were injured.

Girding for the Thursday afternoon speech in Gainesville, streets near the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, where Spencer is to speak, were barricaded. Heavily outfitted law enforcement, some carrying riot helmets, marched along roads near the performing arts center.

Hundreds of journalists from around the globe inundated the campus of the state’s premiere university.

Some facilities near the center were closed, but the campus remained open, adding to the anxiety of students and faculty, many of whom strongly objected to the university allowing Spencer to appear.

While touring barricaded roads near the performing arts center and away from the heart of campus,  Jawamza Tucker, a 21-year-old telecommunications major from Miami, said that the university has been calm during the past week.

The emergency declaration issued by Scott “kind of set a precedent,” he said.

“A lot of my friends are telling me to be careful, and I’m not taking their words lightly, but I’m not worried,” said Tucker, who said he intends to “observe” the event. “I will proceed with caution. You never know what people have up their sleeves.”

Spencer, Tucker said, “feels threatened,” adding that the UF appearance won’t change things.

“This is, honestly, just one big event to get attention, to increase his platform, to increase his notoriety and infamy,” Tucker said.

The school had initially denied Spencer’s request to speak. But Fuchs has noted that, while Spencer’s appearance isn’t sponsored by any student group, the public university couldn’t lawfully prohibit the event based on the content or views expressed in the speech.

Security costs for the UF event have grown to $600,000, and an estimated 500 law enforcement officers, from the city, county and state, are said to be on campus.

It is unknown how many of Spencer’s supporters will attend the speech — organizers are distributing 600 tickets to individuals they view as friendly — or how many others will show up to protest his appearance and white ethno-state platform.

Antifa – anti-fascists – members from Atlanta and Orlando are expected to flood into Gainesville, even though they may not have access to the venue where Spencer will speak.

Organizers of the event decided to distribute tickets to the speech, instead of the typical process in which the center provides the tickets, after reports that ticket-holders could exchange the passes for free beer or even money.

A group called No Nazis at UF, which called for classes to be canceled and asserted that their mobilization kept “fascists” from marching Wednesday night, used Facebook to plan a demonstration for Thursday. More than 1,000 people expressed interest for the event.

University graduate U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is among state leaders, including Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi, urging students to boycott Spencer’s event.

“#GatorNation not asking u to ignore his racist message.” Rubio tweeted Wednesday. “I am suggesting you embarrass him by denying him the attention he craves.”

Richard Corcoran: ‘We’re done with talking heads,’ Congress must OK Trump’s tax cuts

House Speaker Richard Corcoran joined other GOP lawmakers for a meeting Wednesday with business owners in Tampa, during which he delivered a stern message to Congress: Get behind Donald Trump and his proposed tax cuts.

“The time to act is now,” the Land O’Lakes Republican said at a downtown Tampa news conference. “We’re done with sound bite politics. We’re done with talking heads. What we need is for those guys to get into a room and pass meaningful tax reform.”

The plan (as currently outlined) would cut the top personal income tax rate; eliminate estate taxes (which presently only tax estates worth at least $5.5 million); kill the alternative minimum tax, and slashes rates on pass-through income. While Democrats predictably turned up noses to the proposal when it was unveiled last month, Senate Republicans have also objected to the proposed plan.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker indicated he would not vote for any bill that significantly adds to the deficit.

“With realistic growth projections, it cannot produce a deficit,” Corker said. “There is no way in hell I’m voting for it.”

“I will not vote for the budget unless it keeps within the spending caps,” Rand Paul said Tuesday.

In a conversation earlier in the day with Trump, the Kentucky senator told the president, who is a fellow Republican: “I’m all in. I want to be supportive. I’m a ‘yes’ vote. But we have to obey our own rules.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argues that robust growth, fueled by tax cuts, will actually pay down the national debt by $1 trillion.

However, that’s not what the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says, contending the Trump tax cut plan would cut revenues to the U.S. Treasury by $5.6 trillion over 20 years.

Corcoran doesn’t agree, saying those calculations are through  “static” scoring — as opposed to “dynamic” scoring, which doesn’t make room for higher growth rates that bring in more revenue.

“Read any economist, any foundation, out there,” he said. “They’re predicting in the first five years, this could lead to  3.2 percent growth rate, which is an additional $2.5 trillion in revenues over ten years. So that more than pays for the tax plan.”

Not every foundation is saying that, however.

The nonpartisan balanced-budget advocacy group Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget believes the cuts will not be self-financing.

In a paper produced earlier this month, the Washington-based group argued the economy “would need to grow by $5 to $6 for every $1 of tax cuts,” to avoid adding to the deficit.

They also said that past tax cuts in 1981 and the early 2000s “have led to widening budget deficits and lower revenue, not the reverse as some claim.”

Corcoran also pushed back on the premise that the Trump tax cut plan rewards the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. The Speaker noted a provision in the plan to double the standard deduction for the majority of taxpayers who don’t take deductions. He also said an increase in the Child Tax Credit (CTC) would be a huge benefit for the middle class.

Speaking on the Senate floor Wednesday, Marco Rubio said flatly that the Trump tax cut plan wouldn’t pass without a “significant” increase in the CTC.

Joining Corcoran at the event were state Rep. Neil Combee of Polk County and Tampa-area Reps. Jackie Toledo and Shawn Harrison, touting that the economies of Tampa Bay and the state were flourishing “based on good, solid conservative pro-business values and policies.”

It was a similar message Corcoran attempted to drive home to Congress, urging them to look at Florida as a laboratory of democracy to be emulated when it comes to fiscal health.

“When you cut 75 taxes over seven years, totaling $7 billion,” he said. “When you get rid of 5,000 regulations, what happens? You become the number one state in the entire union for fiscal health. You become the number four state for tax simplicity.”

Marco Rubio joins Bill Nelson’s call for urgent attention for public health crisis in Puerto Rico

Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio on Friday sent a letter similar to one sent by his Democratic colleague urging more federal help for Puerto Rico, still darkened by the ravishes of Hurricane Maria more than three weeks ago.

Rubio asked U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Eric Hargan to “provide a complete update and assessment of the public health concerns still plaguing Puerto Rico,” and expressed concern “that there has not been enough progress on a plan to provide a long-term solution so patients and officials are not constantly struggling with one crisis after another.”

Earlier Friday, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced he sent a similar letter to Hargan, warning that people were dying in Puerto Rico and federal assistance had to be accelerated before more people die.

As did Nelson, Rubio cited news accounts warning of horrific public health crises emerging. He asked Hargan to take aggressive action to help them.

“In light of the island’s damaged infrastructure and its residents’ lack of access to power and clean water, it is critical that the island receives the resources needed to properly treat people who depend on medically necessary services,” Rubio wrote. “Many Floridians contact my office every day to emphasize that their family and friends in Puerto Rico are still struggling to recover from this deadly storm.

“There are news reports that some water in Puerto Rico has been contaminated, causing people to contract leptospirosis, a bacterial disease that can cause kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, and death,” Rubio continued. “I am very concerned that there could be additional cases of leptospirosis or other bacterial infections, and that the island’s lack of resources could prevent those infected from receiving necessary treatment.”

Both Nelson and Rubio called attention to the dearth of operating dialysis centers and oxygen supplies, with Rubio saying he has heard personally from providers and officials that it is incredibly difficult to get supplies. Rubio acknowledged that progress has been made, but said he was concerned there has not been enough progress on long-term solutions for patients. He requested a complete update and assessment on public health issues in Puerto Rico.

He also said, “I also urge you to immediately clarify the conflicting information reported by government officials and media outlets.”

Marco Rubio lauds Pres. Trump’s decision to leave UNESCO

Citing “anti-Israel bias,” the U.S. State Department announced its decision to withdraw from UNESCO at the end of 2018.

Sen. Marco Rubio backs the move.

“As ISIS commits genocide and destroys historical and cultural heritage sites throughout the Middle East, the majority of UNESCO’s member states have chosen instead to advance a discriminatory and counterproductive anti-Israel agenda,” Rubio said, “including the repeated passage of measures that deny any connection between Jews and Christians and the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, and other holy sites in Jerusalem.”

“Until UNESCO’s member states end their anti-Israel agenda,” Rubio added, “the Trump Administration is right to withdraw the United States from UNESCO and uphold U.S. laws that forbid American taxpayer money from going to this organization.”

In recent years, Sen. Rubio has pressed for disengagement from UNESCO, including urging the Barack Obama administration to withdraw taxpayer funding from the organization, and leading a letter to the U.N. Secretary General that objected to anti-Israel bias in UNESCO and elsewhere in the U.N.

Along with citing anti-Israel bias, the State Department outlined concerns with “mounting arrears at UNESCO, [and] the need for fundamental reform in the organization.”

In 2019 and beyond, the United States will be a non-member observer state relative to UNESCO.

Marco Rubio presses Senate panel on nursing home oversight

In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Marco Rubio on Wednesday cited the case of the now-infamous Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills to urge an investigation of nursing home regulation oversight.

During Hurricane Irma, the facility lost power — setting into motion a chain of events that led to seemingly avoidable casualties, when the nursing home operators failed to evacuate patients to a nearby hospital.

In the weeks since the storm, 14 patients have died, and many of those deaths can be attributed to the power loss in Irma.

“In the wake of Hurricane Irma, 14 residents of a single nursing facility in Hollywood, Florida, passed away. While this terrible tragedy is currently under investigation, it has been widely reported that these individuals were left in sweltering conditions after the nursing facility’s air conditioning system lost power,” Rubio wrote Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ranking Democrat Ron Wyden.

“This has shocked the state of Florida,” Rubio added, “and rightfully raised questions about the oversight of nursing homes, particularly the enforcement of existing emergency preparedness requirements.”

Rubio went on to note issues in previous inspections by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). Among them: a medication error rate of 26 percent in Feb. 2016, which far exceeds the federal government’s dictum that error rates should be no more than 5 percent.

As well, beyond medication mishaps, the nursing home was found in 2014 as “not providing enough water to all patients in order to maintain proper hydration and health, contravening federal requirements,” wrote Rubio.

Rubio notes that “federal regulations mandate that facilities’ emergency preparedness procedures address subsistence needs for residents, including alternate sources of energy to maintain temperatures and protect residents’ health and safety.”

“Unfortunately,” Rubio adds, “despite this requirement and the facilities’ close proximity to an operational hospital, residents were found to have temperatures exceeding 109 degrees, far above the level that puts seniors at risk for heat stroke.”

Rubio seeks an investigation of the Hollywood Hills facility, as well as others in Florida and Puerto Rico, “to prevent similar tragedies in the future.”

As well, Rubio wants the committee to “consider examining other ways in which Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries were impacted by these storms and how better planning and coordination between the federal, state, and local government could mitigate harm caused by hurricanes.”

In Tampa, Andrew Gillum speaks frankly about race

No African-American has ever won statewide office in the Sunshine State.

In fact, one of the last candidates attempting to do so had to contend with a former president asking him late in the campaign to drop out of the race.

Kendrick Meek was a U.S. Representative from Miami-Dade who in 2010 became the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate. He faced not only Republican Marco Rubio, but also independent Charlie Crist.

Trailing in the polls with just weeks before the election, Bill Clinton asked Meek to drop out of the race, so that the party could rally around Crist. Meek declined, saying he never seriously considered it. He finished third while Rubio advanced to Washington.

Seven years later and it’s now Andrew Gillum attempting to do the unprecedented as he runs for the Democratic nomination for Florida governor.

And while it’s not something he talks much about on the campaign trail, the Tallahassee mayor opened up about the reality he faces as a black man while addressing students in an appearance at the University of Tampa campus last week.

“There isn’t a day that doesn’t go by in my city where I’m not driving behind a truck on my way to work that has a big old Confederate flag,” he said.

“I know a lot of folks say you shouldn’t conflate the Confederacy with racism,” Gillum added. “Well, I don’t know another way to describe it. States’ rights? States’ rights to own slaves? … If I pause long enough to allow it to impact me, it would.

“But I psych myself out on a pretty regular basis that they’re not talking about me. That they don’t mean me, and I’m the mayor of this city, and all the other things that you tell yourself to be unpenetrated by the kind of inequality that you get to see and experience every single day that you live and breath.”

Big things have been expected from Gillum ever since 2003 when he became the youngest member of the Tallahassee City Commission at the age of 23.

His profile grew larger after he had an opportunity to speak last summer at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Now he’s trying to buck the odds in a state that has never elected a black person statewide (though some Democrats count Barack Obama‘s two victories in Florida in 2008 and 2012).

At UT, Gillum said it’s pertinent as an elected official to note and try to do something about the structural forms of racism and inequality. He referred to a row he had last month with Jim Cooke, Tallahassee’s treasurer-clerk, revolving around the fact that while three minority based firms do bond work for the city of Tallahassee, they generally are recommended only for some of the city’s smaller contracts.

“So I had to ask the question: ‘Why does it seem in the city of Tallahassee minority firms always seem to get the smallest piece?’ ” Gillum said, replying to his own question by saying that he wasn’t certain, and speculating that perhaps Cooke (who he never mentioned by name) had a “predisposition to ‘big’ ” explicitly mentioning Bank of America and other larger institutions.

Cooke later told Florida Politics that he did not want to comment.

Gillum said there is definitely structural bias within the criminal justice system, citing studies that show that penalties for blacks are much stricter than for whites who commit the same crimes. Gillum also said that didn’t mean that judges were racist, but speculated that “a lot of it might be unconscious bias.”

“We should have, moreover, conversations about race, racism, sexism, all the other -isms, because if it sits unconscious, we’ll allow it to continue to perpetuate,” he said.

He then launched into a discussion about his Longest Table program which he initiated in 2015 to spur conversation and strengthen relations between people from all walks of life in Tallahassee. The project won a Knight Cities Challenge grant earlier this year.

“I don’t want to be Pollyanna-ish about it,” he explained. “I know that’s not the cure all, end all, be all, but if we can start to have some deliberate conversations where we put people in places and try to encourage curiosity over judgment, it’d be interesting to see what happens.”

While he can’t mandate people of different walks of life to get together, Gillum said he can try to set an example.

“I think it would be much better to have a governor that encourages that conversation rather than the ‘other-izing’ of each other because Latinos are here and you don’t have a job, or black people are shiftless and on welfare, or all white people are racists, or Black Lives Matter people are unpatriotic,” he said.

“Those are simple platitudes, and they mean nothing, and they get us nowhere.”

Gillum has had a bumpy ride at times during this campaign season. An FBI investigation into Community Redevelopment Agency deals in Tallahassee has put a cloud over his campaign, though Gillum told reporters in August that a federal prosecutor informed him he wasn’t a target of the investigation.

The race is poised to get more competitive, as John Morgan and Phillip Levine contemplate entering the race to join Gwen Graham, Chris King and himself, all vying to become the state party’s standard-bearer next year.

Gillum is the choice among the progressive wing of the party. Whether that is enough in Florida will play out over the next year.

Editor’s Note — An earlier version of this story said Kendrick Meek was the last African-American political candidate to run for statewide office in Florida. In fact, Thaddeus Hamilton ran unsuccessfully for agriculture commissioner in 2014.

Florida calls for $27 billion in hurricane recovery funding

In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, along with 26 U.S. representatives from Florida, submitted Friday a line-item list of budget requests totaling $26.945 billion worth of federal hurricane recovery funding.

In a letter penned to members of the House Committee on Appropriations, nearly the entire Florida delegation outlined specific recovery funding requests in addition to the $29 billion requested this week from the White House.

“Three hurricanes have hit U.S. soil in a short time, stretching our federal agencies, first responders, and community resources thin,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter. “With more than a month left in the 2017 hurricane season, and another storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico, Americans need to know that the federal government is ready to respond.”

The letter stresses that additional funding will likely be needed once a more thorough damage assessment is complete, and the funding sought in the letter will likely cover only part of the state’s overall recovery costs.

“This supplemental package should serve as a down payment on hurricane recovery efforts while we await full assessment of needs later this month,” the lawmakers wrote.

The largest of the requests include $10 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers to help repair and sustain port and river functionality, along with repairing any damage to ongoing projects like the Herbert Hoover Dike; $7 billion for the Community Development Block Grant to fund any unmet needs, including seawall restoration in South Florida; and $5 billion for the Department of Agriculture to assist with crop and livestock losses from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Congressman Daniel Webster, a Republican from Florida’s 11th district, was the only Florida delegation signature absent from the letter Friday.

Florida scientists urge Senate to oppose Donald Trump’s NASA pick

Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson have already lobbed objections to Jim Bridenstine, President Donald Trump‘s pick to head NASA.

Now, more than 30 Florida scientists signed a letter to the state’s U.S. senators, urging them to outright reject Bridenstine when he comes up for confirmation.

Among the criticisms that scientists around the nation have voiced about Bridenstine is that he has said that he doesn’t believe humans are causing climate change.

“We find it troubling that Congressman Bridenstine has repeated misinformation in his quest to deny climate change, notably in 2013 when he suggested that global temperatures were not rising,” the scientists write to Rubio and Nelson. “Climate and weather are intertwined and while we know that Congressman Bridenstine has publicly expressed desire for better weather prediction capabilities, we cannot predict weather events if we ignore emerging trends.”

“The head of NASA ought to be a space professional, not a politician,” Nelson told POLITICO last month.

Rubio concurred, saying that he shared the same concerns of Nelson and thought his “political baggage” would be a drag on his confirmation.

“I just think it could be devastating for the space program. Obviously, being from Florida, I’m very sensitive to anything that slows up NASA and its mission,” Rubio told POLITICO.

The scientists say that they fear that Bridenstine will de-prioritize NASA’s Earth science research arm. Scientists also fear that climate satellites might lose funding and if so there could be a gap in the data that helps scientists understand the planet.

Bridenstine has been a congressman from Oklahoma since 2012. He was critical of Rubio during the Florida senator’s ill-fated run for the White House in 2015-2016, cutting two ads for Texas Senator Ted Cruz‘ campaign suggesting that Rubio was weak on terrorism. He also took a shot at Rubio for supporting comprehensive immigration reform

The signatories to the letter are many of the same Florida scientists who previously penned a letter to Wilbur Ross, the Secretary of Commerce, which they say generated a dialogue between Nelson and Ross on climate change and scientific integrity. Ross is on record as stating, “science should be left to scientists.”

Here’s the full letter, and the scientists who wrote it:

re: NASA Administrator Nominee Jim Bridenstine

October 6, 2017

Dear Senator Nelson and Senator Rubio,

We are writing to thank you both for your outspoken concerns regarding Congressman Jim Bridenstine’s nomination to serve as NASA Administrator. We share those concerns.

As scientists, we wholeheartedly agree that leading NASA requires someone with qualifications in science, administration, engineering and technology. NASA satellites produce data that helps keep America safe.  Scientists use these data to measure changes in our oceans, moisture in our soil, rising seas, forecast hurricane tracks, and monitor drinking water supplies.

At this critical time, we can ill afford to allow this vital agency be subject to political whims. There is too much at stake.

Of all of the scientific agencies worldwide, NASA does the best job of observing our planet from space. We must continue to be the leader in Earth observation systems. Cutting funding for satellites will rob us of our ability to safeguard our planet and resources.

One satellite in particular — Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment — known as GRACE, uses gravity to measure mass. Grace is at the end of its life and needs to be funded for continuity. While originally conceived to help guide ballistic missiles, data from Grace has facilitated multiple scientific discoveries, including the following:  

— Grace measured the rate of melting ice in Greenland and the Antarctic.  

— Grace kept track of diminishing groundwater supplies in California’s aquifers during the drought.  

— Grace helped scientists decipher how much sea level rise is caused by melting ice sheets and how much is caused by thermal expansion.

— Most recently, Grace allowed scientists to track flood patterns, soil moisture and power failures all over East Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  

Importantly for Florida — just recently, Geophysical Research Letters reported that scientists are using data from Grace to determine the world’s most vulnerable coastal area by “fingerprinting” sea level rise, which will help researchers predict how climate change will affect storm surges in flood-prone coastal areas.  

The original Grace mission launched in 2002 and is nearing its end-of-life with fuel running out,, and its important work must continue.   

Other important NASA Earth science missions include:  

— CLARREO Pathfinder Mission will set climate benchmarks critical for assessing changes in the Earth system to optimize strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

— The Orbiting Carbon Observatory measures, with high precision and high resolution, carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere.

— DISCOVR, the Deep Space Climate Observatory, supports the sophisticated EPIC camera monitoring Earth.

— The PACE mission studies harmful algal blooms and volcanic ash eruptions among other things. Their work helps safeguard our shellfish supply.

— The Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite 2 known as ICESat-2 is a laser altimeter to measure elevation and provide mass balance of ice sheets and sea ice, to be launched in Sep 2018,

— Operation IceBridge deploys airborne missions over Arctic and Antarctic to measure sea ice, ice sheets and glaciers, and elevation. This work is ongoing since 2009 and is expected to continue into 2019

— Soil Moisture Active/Passive (SMAP) is a microwave instrument to measure soil moisture and freeze/thaw state of ground (the main applicability to polar regions). It also has the potential to estimate thin sea ice.

— Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (Suomi VIIRS) is a joint mission with NOAA to examine sea ice concentration, ice surface temperature, sea ice thickness, land snow extent, surface reflectivity/albedo with a visible/infrared sensor. It was launched in 2011.

— Joint Polar Satellite System Program (JPSS-1) is a joint mission with NOAA, to follow up on Suomi and examine sea ice concentration, ice surface temperature, sea ice thickness, land snow extent and surface reflectivity/albedo. Launch scheduled for November 2017.

— Aqua/Terra: NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) missions launched in 1999 (Terra) and 2002 (Aqua), a suite of several instruments to provide information on sea ice concentration, snow cover (on sea ice and land), reflectivity/albedo, sea surface temperature, clouds and radiative fluxes.

— Special Sensor Microwave Imager and Sounder (DMSP SSMIS) deploy DoD sensors for the sea ice time series developed by NASA and archived at NASA centers.

— Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (AMSR2) is a JAXA (Japanese) sensor which NASA uses to create data products on sea ice and snow.

— CryoSat-2: an ESA sensor, radar altimeter measures surface elevation, and NASA is creating data products from it, including on sea ice thickness.

The vital work of NASA’s Earth observation systems must continue without political interference.

We find it troubling that Congressman Bridenstine has repeated misinformation in his quest to deny climate change, notably in 2013 when he suggested that global temperatures were not rising.

Climate and weather are intertwined and while we know that Congressman Bridenstine has publicly expressed desire for better weather prediction capabilities, we cannot predict weather events if we ignore emerging trends.   

NASA must remain an independent scientific agency, and its critical Earth science missions must continue and expand. We agree as you have both said, that NASA should remain free of politics and partisanship.

We urge you to oppose Jim Bridenstine’s nomination. He has no scientific training and little administrative experience and he is not qualified to lead this prestigious agency.  

Make no mistake; our Earth is getting warmer. As humans continue to add heat-trapping gases to our atmosphere, we must keep a close eye on how our changing climate will impact society and our way of life. Florida, in particular is vulnerable to rising seas and more extreme weather events.  Sea level rise is an existential threat to our state.  

Thank you again for speaking your mind about the Jim Bridenstine nomination and we trust you and your colleagues in the U.S. Senate will do the right thing to protect Floridians and all Americans.


Senthold Asseng, Professor

Agricultural and Biological Engineering Department

University of Florida

Leonard Berry, Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor of Geosciences

Florida Atlantic University

Henry O. Briceño, Professor

Southeast Environmental Research Center

& Department of Earth and Environment

Florida International University

Mya Breitbart, Professor

College of Marine Science

University of South Florida

Kristen Buck, Assistant Professor

College of Marine Science

University of South Florida

William S. Castle, Professor Emeritus [Horticulture]

Citrus Research & Education Center

University of Florida

Linda M. Callejas, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor

Department of Child & Family Studies

University of South Florida

Jeff Chanton, Professor

Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science,

Florida State University

Eric Chassignet, Professor and Director

Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS)

Florida State University

Dr. Allan J. Clarke

The Adrian E. Gill Professor of Oceanography

Distinguished Research Professor

Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science

Florida State University

Dr. Amy Clement

Department of Atmospheric Science

University of Miami

Anne J Cox, Professor of Physics

Natural Sciences

Eckerd College

Jeffrey A Cunningham, Ph.D., Associate Professor,
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

University of South Florida

Kimberly Dobrinski, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Biology

University of Tampa

Robert G. Ellingson, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

Department of Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Science

Florida State University

Shannon Grogan, Master’s Candidate

Integrative Biology Department

The University of South Florida

Jude W. Grosser, Professor of Citrus Breeding and Genetics

Citrus Research and Education Center

University of Florida

David Hastings, Professor

Marine Science and Chemistry

Eckerd College

Nicole Hernandez Hammer


Chuanmin Hu, Professor

College of Marine Science

University of South Florida

Daniel Huber, Associate Professor

Biology Department

The University of Tampa

Elizabeth Kiebel, M.S., doctoral student

Department of Psychology

University of South Florida

Ben Kirtman, Professor

Department of Atmospheric Science

Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences

University of Miami

Marguerite Koch, Professor

Department of Biological Sciences

Florida Atlantic University

Cory J. Krediet, Assistant Professor

Marine Science and Biology

Eckerd College

William M. Landing

Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science

Florida State University

Steve Leitman

Department of Urban and Regional Planning  

Florida State University

Juliana Leonard, Ph.D. Student
Environmental and Ecological Microbiology
Department of Integrative Biology
University of South Florida

Ken Lindeman, Professor

Sustainability Program Chair

Florida Institute of Technology

William Louda, Research Professor

Environmental Biogeochemistry Group

Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and The Environmental Sciences Program

Florida Atlantic University

Talea L. Mayo, Assistant Professor

Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering

University of Central Florida

David Mertens

Assistant Professor of Physics

Eckerd College

Karena Nguyen, Ph.D. Candidate

Department of Integrative Biology

University of South Florida

John H. Parker

Interior Secretary heading to South Florida

U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will be in South Florida this week reviewing damage from Hurricane Irma and getting a briefing about Everglades restoration efforts, according to his office.

Zinke will receive a briefing Thursday on Everglades restoration at Lake Okeechobee, assess storm cleanup Friday at Big Cypress National Preserve and discuss Everglades National Park Saturday with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and other members of Florida’s congressional delegation.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

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