Marco Rubio Archives - Page 6 of 222 - Florida Politics

Mosquito Zika bills by Darren Soto, Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio pass panels

Two bills with Florida sponsors and cosponsors were approved by committees in both the U.S. Senate and House Wednesday to reauthorize a 2004 law to spend $100 million a year for local grants to help mosquitoes, now in the age of Zika, has been approved by a key committee.

House Resolution 1310, introduced by U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, the Democrat from Orlando, was approved Wednesday by the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health.

Earlier, U.S. Senate Bill 849, cosponsored by Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, was approved Wednesday by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

The House of Representatives bill was cosponsored by 21 others, including a dozen members of Florida’s delegation.

The companion Senate bill was filed by Maine’s independent U.S. Sen. Angus King.

Both bills intend to reauthorize the “Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health Act” (SMASH Act) of 2004.

They would authorize an additional $100 million per year for five years in grant funding to local mosquito-control efforts to eliminate the mosquitoes responsible for spreading the virus.

They also would also authorize additional funding for public health laboratories so they can better test for the virus, and would require the Government Accountability Office to find ways to improve existing mosquito-control programs.

“One of the best ways to curb the spread of the Zika virus is to eliminate the insects known to carry it,” Nelson stated in a news release from hi suffice. “As summer approaches, Florida’s mosquito population is going to rise, and we need to make sure our local mosquito-control boards have the resources they need to protect their communities.”

Although Zika – the mosquito-borne disease that can cause horrific burt defects – has dropped from the news over the winter, the disease is seasonal along with the mosquitoes, and likely to reemerge soon. With more than 1,300 cases of the virus reported last year, no state has been harder hit by Zika than Florida, Nelson noted.

Marco Rubio speaks out against terror against gays in Chechnya, ties in Vladimir Putin

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio continued his campaign against worldwide human rights abuses by foreign dictators last night by speaking out against the Chechen terror campaign against gays, and tying it to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On the floor of the U.S. Senate Monday night, Rubio relayed reports of mass arrests, at least three killings of LGBT people and a campaign of sexual identity cleansing in Chechnya, the Russian-controlled satellite nation near the Caspian sea. He called Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov ruthless and a brutal tyrant and accused Russian President Putin of allowing and encouraging it.

He also said Kadyrov’s regime is encouraging families of gays to commit “honor killings” of LGBT people so that the state does not have to deal with gays.

“We should never, ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, their sexual orientation,” Rubio declared.

It’s a dicy topic for Rubio, whose attempts to show support, solidarity and protection of American gays last year blew up politically due in part to his past record on LGBT issues, and in part to mixed signals he gave following last June’s horrific slaughter by madman Omar Mateen at Orlando’s popular gay Pulse nightclub.

Last summer many in Florida’s LGBT community, and most Democrats, accused Rubio of being coldly exploitive when he announced his bid for re-election came in part because of his horror over that massacre, which killed 49 and wounded at least 53.

Rubio did not help his image in the LGBT community when, like many Republicans, he chose to largely frame the mass shooting as an Islamic-extremist terrorist act – Mateen pledged his support of ISIS – rather than as a hate crime against gays – Mateen was openly hateful of gays and targeted that club.

Rubio’s insistence that he was being wrongly portrayed by the gay community continued to backfire when he spoke in August at the American Renewal Project’s conservative Christians conference in Orlando, a few miles from Pulse. That conference drew other speakers who angrily vilify gays, and Rubio’s presence drew protests from Florida’s LGBT community, accusing him of validating the gay-haters by speaking side-by-side with them.

Yet Rubio gave a speech that day urging the Christian conservatives’ acceptance of gays, declaring, “Abandoning judgment and loving our LGBT neighbors is not a betrayal of what the Bible teaches; it is a fulfillment of it.” Still, the speech drew Rubio little support from the LGBT community.

His Chechnya address denouncing human rights abuses against gays in Chechnya Monday night was more in line with his ongoing campaign against dictators abusing all types of human rights worldwide, particularly Putin.

“Unfortunately, this is not a new reality for those living under the brutal tyranny of the Chechen leader, who by the way happens to be a loyal ally of Vladimir Putin,” Rubio told the Senate. “There have been reports in the past of similar abuses, although these reports seem to be the most brutal and should provoke anger in all of us.”

He said the Russian response to the reported atrocities in Chechnya has been denial.

“Well the actual complaints are all around us. They’ve been well-documented in publications throughout the world. But instead, Vladimir Putin is choosing to prop up Kadyrov, the Chechen brutal dictator, and prop up his brutal regime instead of holding them accountable,” Rubio said.

“The United States and other responsible nations should do more to ensure that all people are protected and those who harm them are held responsible,” he concluded. “We should use our voice on the global stage to call attention to these horrifying acts and to ensure they are condemned in the appropriate way, and ultimately in the hopes that they will be stopped.”

Marco Rubio: With ‘higher standard’ for lawmakers, Frank Artiles was right to resign

Marco Rubio has ‘no doubt’ state Sen. Frank Artiles‘ did the right thing by resigning from the Florida Legislature Friday in the wake of a racist and sexist outburst against two lawmakers.

Elected officials are rightfully “held to a different standard,” Rubio said.

“You hold a public trust, you are a representative of those districts, and you are going to be held to a different standard, and people should know that coming in,” the U.S. Senator from Miami told host Jim DeFede on “Facing South Florida.”

First reported in the Miami Herald, Rubio’s interview will broadcast in full Sunday on WFOR-CBS 4.

“No one forces anyone to run for office,” Rubio, a former state representative and House Speaker, added, “And no one forces you to run in the state Senate.”

“I know Perry Thurston. I know Audrey Gibson, actually very well,” Rubio said, about the two lawmakers involved in Artiles’ comments Monday evening at the Governors Club in Tallahassee.

“She served with me in the House. We’re good friends. And I’m sorry she found herself in that position, because I know that is not what she is in Tallahassee to do. She didn’t seek this out.”

Artiles comments were obviously “unfortunate” and “inappropriate,” Rubio said.

He explained: “My understanding is that he resigned, and, in the end, what people don’t realize is the legislative bodies, the Senate and the House, they are the judge of their own members’ qualifications. They can remove members from their seats. And it sounds like that is where the Senate was headed.”

That said, there was “no doubt” Artiles made the right choice, Rubio said.

“It had gotten in the way of, I think, the Senate being able to function in Tallahassee, and, ultimately, I think, gotten in the way of his ability to continue to serve effectively,” he added.

“You know, I think it happens, and when it happens it has to be dealt with,” Rubio said. “For the most part, people need to recognize that when you are in public office, the words you use, your behavior, is held to a different standard.”

With a “collegial body” like the Florida Senate, Rubio pointed out the need “to work with 39 other people in Tallahassee” to get things done.

“How you comport yourself with your colleagues has a direct impact on your effectiveness,” he said. “Obviously, the terminology that was used is inappropriate in any setting. I think people, for the most part, know that.”

When a person makes “horrible mistakes or decisions horrible things,” Rubio said they need to understand that “they’re not — you’re not going to be treated, nor should you be, like anybody in some other job.”

Elected officials “hold a public trust,” he said. “You are a representative of those districts, and you are going to be held to a different standard, and people should know that coming in.”

Personnel note: Alex Burgos departing Marco Rubio’s office, joining TechNet as VP

Alex Burgos, one of Sen. Marco Rubio’s longest serving aides, is leaving Rubio’s office to join the tech industry.

TechNet, a network of technology CEOs and executives, announced Wednesday that Burgos would serve as its vice president of federal policy, government relations and communications. The move was first reported by POLITICO Florida.

“As a seasoned veteran of Capitol Hill and federal campaigns at all levels, Alex brings a wealth of policy experience, deep relationships, and strategic vision to TechNet,” said Linda Moore, the president and CEO of TechNet in a statement. “We are excited to welcome Alex to the TechNet team and believe his wide range of skills, experience, and insights will take our federal advocacy programs to new levels of success.”

Burgos joined Rubio’s team when the Miami Republican was first running for office, serving as his campaign’s communications director. He would go on to serve in the same role in Rubio’s U.S. Senate office. Prior to working for Rubio, the Miami native served as the senior communications manager for the Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and a deputy press secretary for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

“TechNet’s members include breakthrough startups and the most storied, life-changing technology companies on the planet, and I am excited to join the TechNet team to help keep America’s innovation economy growing and creating more good-paying jobs,” said Burgos in a statement. “Serving Senator Rubio and my home state of Florida has been the honor of a lifetime, and now I’m thrilled to partner with TechNet’s members to advance the policies that will spur the next chapter of America’s incredible innovation story.”

TechNet’s members include Apple, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb, Google, Lyft, and Microsoft. The organization bills itself as a “national bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior executives that promotes the growth of the innovation economy advocating a targeted policy agenda at the federal and 50-state level.”

Burgos first day at TechNet is April 25.

Donald Trump boasts of hiring only the best, but picks haunt him

President Donald Trump likes to boast that he hires only the best people. But his personnel choices keep coming back to haunt him.

One of the people Trump hired for the White House was working as a foreign agent while advising him during the election. His campaign chairman caught the Justice Department’s attention for similarly surreptitious work. And a third campaign adviser was reportedly surveilled by the FBI as part of an investigation into whether or not he was a Russian spy.

The tales of Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page — none of whom still work for Trump — have created a steady drip of allegations that have clouded Trump’s early presidency and raised persistent questions about his judgment.

At worst, Trump’s personnel picks appear to have left his campaign — and perhaps his White House — vulnerable to the influence of foreign powers. At best, they expose the long-term implications of his understaffed and inexperienced campaign organization and undermine his promises to surround himself with top-notch talent.

“Vetting new hires is standard procedure for presidential campaigns for exactly this reason,” said Alex Conant, who advised Sen. Marco Rubio‘s 2016 presidential campaign. “Every employee is also a potential liability on a presidential campaign.”

During the campaign, Trump said he hired “top, top people” and would fill his administration “with only the best and most serious people.”

Yet Manafort, Flynn and Page have indeed become political liabilities for Trump that he can’t shake in the White House. All three are being scrutinized as part of the FBI and congressional investigations into whether Trump associates helped Russia meddle in the 2016 election. The president has denied any nefarious ties to Russia and says he has no knowledge that his advisers were working with Moscow during the election.

The president’s culpability appears greatest with Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who traveled with Trump frequently during the campaign and was tapped as national security adviser after the election. Flynn had been lobbying for a company with ties to Turkey during the 2016 election and even wrote an editorial on behalf of his client that was published on Election Day.

“No one expects them to do the equivalent of an FBI background check, but a simple Google search could have solved a lot of these problems,” Dan Pfeiffer, who served as senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said of Trump’s team.

After Trump’s victory, Flynn’s lawyers alerted the transition team that he may have to register as a lobbying for a foreign entity, according to a person with knowledge of those discussions. The White House hired him anyway. After the inauguration, Flynn’s lawyers told the White House counsel’s office that the national security adviser would indeed have to move forward with that filing.

Flynn was fired in February after the White House said he misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top officials about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States.

Lobbying for foreign interests is legal and lucrative. Both Republican and Democratic operatives offer their services to overseas clients. But the Justice Department requires Americans working on behalf of foreign interests to register, disclosing the nature of their work, the foreigners they dealt with and the amount of money they made.

Willful failure to register for foreign lobbying work can carry up to a five-year prison sentence, but the Justice Department rarely brings criminal charges and instead urges violators to register.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for former Trump campaign chairman Manafort said that he, too, under pressure from the Justice Department, would formally file for prior foreign lobbying. Manafort’s work for political interests in Ukraine occurred before he was hired as Trump’s campaign chairman, spokesman Jason Maloni said, though the U.S. government raised questions about his activities after he was hired by Trump.

Manafort was pushed out of Trump’s campaign in August after The Associated Press reported that his consulting firm had orchestrated a covert Washington lobbying operation on behalf of Ukraine’s ruling political party without disclosing that work to the U.S. government.

The White House did not respond to questions Wednesday about when Trump learned about Manafort’s foreign lobbying work and his discussions with the U.S. government about registering as a foreign agent.

The questions surrounding Page are perhaps the most serious. On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department obtained a highly secretive warrant to monitor his communications because there was reason to believe he was working as a Russian spy.

In March, Trump personally announced Page as part of a newly minted foreign policy advisory team. But as questions began swirling about Page’s ties to Russia, the campaign started moving away from the little-known investment banker. Trump has since said he has no relationship with him.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the Justice Department only obtained the warrant after the campaign distanced itself from Page.

In an interview Thursday with ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Page described his affiliation with the Trump campaign as having served as “an informal member of a committee which was put together — a team of individuals who were looking at various foreign policy issues.”

Chris Ashby, a Republican elections lawyer, said that while it’s easy to blame Trump for missing red flags about his campaign advisers, it’s not always possible to dig up details that potential hires aren’t willing to disclose on their own.

“In the ideal world, you could rely on paid background checks, but you’d have to have the money and the time,” Ashby said. “The farther down the ranks you go and certainly when you reach the ranks of unpaid advisers, that becomes impractical.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Al Lawson talk HUD reform in Jacksonville

Jacksonville’s Eureka Garden apartment complex has been in the news for a number of years.

First came the crime reports. Then came reports about mold, broken windows, gas leaks, and other infrastructural nightmares for the 400-unit HUD complex on Jacksonville’s Westside.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio called for reforms to the HUD process, and for new ownership.

And right now, the ownership transition is underway.

Millennia Housing Management took over the management of the complex from the still-current owners, Global Ministries Foundation.

MHM is ready to put capital in; however, until formal transfer of the GMF portfolio concludes, there’s only so much they will invest.

And therein lies an issue for the long-suffering Eureka Garden residents.

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson has made Eureka a focus, discussing issues at the complex during his 2016 campaign, and visiting the apartments during his last Congressional recess.

Tuesday saw Lawson double down — accompanied by another newcomer to Washington, D.C., in HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Sen. Rubio.

_____

At a church near Eureka Garden, the politicians sat down with Jacksonville City Councilmen and other local stakeholders, as Secretary Carson discussed his plans for reform.

Before doing that, he lauded local officials for demonstrating the “leadership” that has brought the issues at Eureka into the “spotlight.”

Carson described a holistic vision of reform, one which went beyond subsidized housing.

The Secretary advocated for community clinics, “so the Emergency Room doesn’t become the primary care vehicle.”

He also advocated the importance of education, making the case for vouchers, and for more changes to the Section 8 model.

Among those proposals: a “housing savings account,” which would allow residents to save a bit of money every month, either to defray the cost of repairs (“doors scratched up” and other such issues).

“If those things aren’t happening,” Carson said, money “starts to accumulate,” and after a number of years, there may be sufficient money for a down payment on a house.

Carson, after musing on problems with America’s multi-party system, and people outside the country watching to see if they should “destroy [Americans] or wait for them to destroy themselves, noted that there’s “a lot of hysteria about people going to be thrown out onto the street.”

Carson says that won’t happen; however, America’s ponderous national debt requires a focus on using money efficiently and effectively, with an eye toward getting the greatest “bang for the buck.”

Part of that strategy: public-private partnerships, with “federal money leveraged with the private sector.”

President Donald Trump wants a $1T investment in infrastructure; much of that, Carson said, will go to housing.

Carson also wants “vision centers” near HUD complexes, which will be “places where young people can learn about careers.”

____

Rep. Lawson told us about how he made the visit happen, writing Secretary Carson in February.

“I told him he really needed to come to Eureka Garden,” Lawson said.

Lawson sees the changes at Eureka — which look to be complete in the next couple of years, pending the transfer of the property — as a model for the rest of the country, potentially.

While Rep. Lawson isn’t completely sold on concepts like housing savings accounts, saying they might have more utility for younger people rather than older residents, he appreciates Sec. Carson’s interest, and anticipates a strong working relationship while both are in Washington.

Rick Scott’s approval rating ticks up to 57% in new poll

Gov. Rick Scott’s approval rating is ticking up, something that could prove critical as the Naples Republican ponders a 2018 U.S. Senate bid.

A new survey from Morning Consult showed Scott has a 57 percent approval rating. That’s up 8 points from similar rankings released in September, which showed Scott had a 49 percent approval rating.

Scott’s disapproval rating dropped to 36 percent in the most recent Morning Consult survey, while 7 percent of Floridians surveyed said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion. In the September survey, 42 percent of Floridians disapproved of Scott and 9 percent said they didn’t know or didn’t have an opinion.

The survey of 8,793 Florida voters was conducted from January to March. It was part of a nationwide survey that evaluated the job performance of the nation’s senators and governors.

The Morning Consult survey shows Scott with a higher approval rating than two recent surveys of Florida voters.

In March, the Florida Chamber of Commerce released a survey that showed Scott’s approval rating at 50 percent. When broken down by political party, the Florida Chamber poll found 76 percent of Republicans and 46 percent of independents gave Scott good marks, while 77 percent of Democrats said they didn’t approve of the way he was doing his job.

A few weeks later, the Florida Hospital Association released a survey that showed Scott’s approval rating was at 45 percent, while his disapproval rating was at 41 percent.

Still, the Morning Consult survey could bode well for Scott, who is widely believed to be considering a run for the U.S. Senate in 2018. According to the survey, Scott’s approval rating among Florida voters is slightly higher than Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

The survey found Nelson’s approval rating is 53 percent. That’s up ever-so-slightly from September rankings, which showed Nelson had a 52 percent approval rating.

Nelson’s disapproval rating is 26 percent; up 2 points from September when it clocked in at 24 percent. The survey found 21 percent either didn’t know who Nelson was or didn’t have an opinion of the state’s senior senator.

Several early polls have shown Nelson leading Scott in hypothetical 2018 match-ups. The Chamber poll showed Nelson leading Scott 48 percent to 42 percent; while the Florida Hospital Association poll showed a much closer race, with Nelson leading 46 percent to 44 percent.

According to the Morning Consult survey, Sen. Marco Rubio’s approval rating is at 52 percent, a 10-point increase from the September survey.

Marco Rubio to headline Pinellas GOP Lincoln Day Dinner on May 19

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will be the featured speaker next month at the Pinellas County Republican Executive Committee’s 2017 Lincoln Day Dinner, one of the region’s premier political events.

The Miami Republican will keynote the event on Friday, May 19, at the Hilton Carillon Hotel in St. Petersburg’s Gateway community.

The annual event not only celebrates recent local GOP victories but has grown to become one of the key fundraising events to support future races.

Lincoln Day dinners are annual GOP celebrations held nationwide by various Republican Party organizations. After Ronald Reagan’s death in 2004, Lincoln Day festivities evolved into a celebration of the former president’s life and achievements, as well as an occasion to honor the party’s conservative successes over the past year.

Certain for inclusion in the celebration is the recent confirmation of Neil Gorsuch as Donald Trump’s first choice for the U.S. Supreme Court.

As Pinellas GOP Chair Nick DeCleglie said in a April 7 Facebook post: “With the help of a Republican-controlled Senate, whose members stood up to the Democrats’ partisan filibuster, Donald Trump will successfully follow through on what I consider to be his most important campaign promise – to appoint conservative jurists to the Supreme Court. Judge Neil Gorsuch is a jurist who will hold true to the Constitution, much like his predecessor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. I am proud of our Republican Senators who used the precedent set by Harry Reid and the Democrats in 2013 to end debate and confirm this qualified member of the legal community.

“It is a great day for the rule of law in the greatest country the world has ever known,” DiCeglie added. “God Bless Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump, and the United States of America.”

The event also traditionally announces the winner of the C.W. “Bill” Young Public Service Award.

Rick Scott: ‘About time’ for Syria strike

Taking an unusual step of weighing in on a foreign military incursion, Florida Gov. Rick Scott released a statement Friday morning supporting Thursday night’s U.S. military airstrikes on Syria.

“President Trump took the right action and acted decisively. The Assad regime is responsible for the horrendous killings of innocent men, women and children. These chemical attacks against innocent Syrian people are sickening, and it’s about time someone stood up for them. I appreciate our brave military heroes who conducted this mission,” Scott said.

The next decision by this president that Scott opposes will be the first.

U.S. military action, meanwhile, is something almost all Florida Republicans can support.

Yet, Scott’s statement stopped short of the measures, advanced by Sen. Marco Rubio in one of his many media appearances since Thursday night’s airstrikes.

“We need to now move forward through a combination of diplomacy and, quite frankly, the support of groups on ground, particularly non-jihadist Sunni groups, to create alternatives to the Assad regime,” Rubio said Friday morning.

Marco Rubio says next step in Syria is negotiating regime change

Sen. Marco Rubio says the next step in Syria should be to work with Sunni governments to discuss “an alternative” government in Syria.

Rubio is a Florida Republican and onetime rival of President Donald Trump. The conservative tells NBC’s “Today” show that Trump should reach out to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as Turkey, to discuss ways to get Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down and create a new regime. Assad has not responded to diplomatic pressure in the past, but Rubio says the military strikes could change that.

He says, “We need to now move forward through a combination of diplomacy and, quite frankly, the support of groups on ground, particularly non-jihadist Sunni groups, to create alternatives to the Assad regime.”

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

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