Marco Rubio – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Marco Rubio: China may be bigger threat than Russia

Alleged Russian meddling in American elections may get the headlines, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said on Tuesday, but it’s Chinese espionage that worries him more.

Rubio, the former Florida House Speaker first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, spoke with reporters in a rare media briefing in his Tallahassee office on the 21st floor of the Capitol.

“Under the Bush administration, there was still a hope that in China, free enterprise would lead to democracy and they would become more like us,” he said. “I think by the second half of the Obama administration there was a realization about the threat that China was posing.”

The threat is “deeper” than the Big Brother-like oppression of its own people, Rubio said.

“I’m talking about the ability to send people to study in the U.S., become U.S. citizens, embed themselves in American corporate entities that work in defense, and deliver secrets,” he said.

He’s not the first Florida politician to recently sound an alarm over that type of intervention.

Last August, Republican Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Neal Dunn, both of whom represent Florida Panhandle districts, held what they called a “field hearing” at Florida State University on Chinese intellectual property theft.

A panel included Dean Minardi, CEO of Tallahassee-based Bing Energy, which is embroiled in federal litigation against its sister Chinese company, Nantong Bing Energy, over the alleged theft of hydrogen fuel cell technology.

It’s “not just an accusation: It is very real and it hurts very real people,” Minardi said, calling it “breathtaking thievery on a grand, international scale.”

China engages in an “outright pattern of stolen ideas,” the “immoral equivalent of an act of war,” he said. A Nantong Bing Energy official has denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

Added Rubio on Tuesday: “I’m talking about them sending agents to the United States to coerce or even kidnap Chinese nationals, wanted by them for alleged crimes. Not to mention how they’re using their investment power to reach into local governments, state governments.”

Chinese influence includes investing in smaller foreign companies under the radar, to “get to the core of a product” in supply chains.

“It sounds like science fiction, but it is an all out effort,” Rubio told reporters. “When you lift the veil on this, you realize what you’re confronting … It’s not paranoia, it’s a real thing.”


Joe Henderson: March leaders’ next challenge is keeping momentum

Maybe the March For Our Lives pulled some people off the sideline and converted them to the cause of ending gun violence here and around the world.

I hope so.

But you know what?

I know how the other side thinks, and they are betting against that. They figure that within a few more days, maybe a couple of weeks, the story of Saturday’s world-wide protests will vanish from the nightly news, front pages and the public’s collective interest.

They figure everyone will be distracted by Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, or some other event that becomes THE story of the news cycle.

Sure, the students who organized and led marches – especially those from Parkland – were compelling and the crowds were large. But the other side is wagering that the majority of participants will soon lose the fire in their bellies that pushed them to get involved following the slaughter of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High.

They’ll be distracted enough with final exams, summer jobs, or heading to college in the fall. Oh sure, some of them will follow through on their vow to stay active during the buildup to the mid-term elections and that might flip a few seats to the Democrats.

Not enough to change the balance of power though.

That’s why we haven’t heard much from Paul Ryan or Mitch McConnell.

Just lay low, let it burn out.

That’s why the president, who tweets about everything, acted like the march had typhoid and avoided it – although, to be fair, he did say Friday his administration will work to ban bump stocks.

He did, by the way, find time to declare Sunday national Greek Independence Day – so there is that.

Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tried, as usual, to have it both ways. In a tweet he noted, “Many support gun ban. But many others see it as infringement of #2A that won’t prevent shootings. Protest is good way of making a point, but making a change will require both sides finding common ground.”

Stop right there, Senator.

Multiple polls have shown that about 70 percent of Americans want strong regulation of firearms. That’s a bit more definitive than “some want this, but some want that.”

Rubio also has been singled out by protesters for taking large donations from the National Rifle Association, a group for whom “common ground” means “see it our way.”

The NRA recently filed a federal law suit against a Florida bill that imposed modest restrictions on the sale of weapons like the AR-15. The state raised the minimum age to buy such a gun to 21 from 18, mandated a three-day waiting period, and an end to bump stocks.

Important note: The law doesn’t say an 18-year-old can’t receive and own an AR-15 as a gift or through other means. They just have to wait to before they can go to a gun store and buy one.

The NRA called that an attack on the 2nd Amendment.

How is anyone to supposed to find Rubio’s goal of common ground against stubbornness like that?

And, trust me kids, the NRA knows a thing or three about how to play the political game. It has gotten really good at that, which brings us back to the original point.

Protesters are correct that the only way to change the law is to change the people who make the laws. Doing that is hard, tedious work – the kind work the NRA and its supporters have done for years to gain the political advantage they have now.

Those same polls that show Americans want change also don’t believe they’ll get that. In a Marist survey, 63 percent said they approved of the march. But 62 percent also said they don’t believe the protests will bring about significant change.

That’s what the kids are up against.

The NRA and gun supporters have beaten the opposition down by offering no common ground, as Rubio would say it. You are either with the NRA all the way, or not.

But as we looked around the nation Saturday, we saw millions of faces saying that things have to change. Some of them have lived through a horror a lot worse than having to wait a little while to buy an AR-15.

The momentum generated by the march could change this country and the world.

The opposition is betting it won’t.

It’s up to protesters to prove them wrong.


David Richardson, Mary Barzee Flores jointly rip Donna Shalala in CD 27 race

In a joint press conference of rivals Thursday afternoon, David Richardson and Mary Barzee Flores united to rip fellow Democratic congressional candidate Donna Shalala over reports that she has given generously to Republicans.

Richardson, a state representative from Miami Beach, and Barzee Flores, a former judge from Miami, responded to reports in POLITICO and elsewhere that their newest rival for Florida’s 27th Congressional District Democratic primary, Shalala, has over the years donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republicans and organizations supporting Republican candidates.

A Bill Clinton Cabinet alum, Shalala also is the former president of the University of Miami and served on the board of directors of UnitedHealthGroup. She just entered the CD 27 contest last month seeking to succeed longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a district more registered Democrats than Republicans.

She and her campaign could not be immediately reached Thursday afternoon to respond.

There are a half-dozen other Democrats in the race, including state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Matthew Haggman, Ken Russell and Kristen Rosen GonzalezYet both Richardson and Barzee Flores have focused attention on Shalala since she emerged as a potential candidate in the race in late January.

Taking alternating shots at her in Thursday’s press conference, Richardson and Barzee Flores charged Shalala had given $40,500 in donations to Republicans and Republican-supporting organizations, including direct contributions to Ros-Lehtinen.

The release read: “It was so jarring and so disappointing to see the newest candidate in the Democratic primary, Donna Shalala, has donated to the Republican incumbent last cycle, has donated in the past to the Republican candidate running in this cycle for this very seat, and has donated over $20,000 to anti-choice, anti-LGBT, pro-NRA Republican politicians, and has donated $20,000 to a corporate PAC that has given over $125,000 to the NRCC, an organization whose sole goal is to keep a Republican majority and Paul Ryan as speaker.”

Richardson said she also contributed to MEDNAX, which has, in turn, provided “nearly a half-million dollars to far-right wing candidates and causes” including Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The pair called on Shalala to explain to voters why she did so, apologize to Miami-Dade Democratic voters, and make comparable contributions to the Miami-Dade Democratic Executive Committee.

Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson introduce federal legislation for ‘red flag’ gun seizures

Florida’s U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson on Friday announced a federal bill that would encourage other states to follow Florida’s lead with legislation allowing law enforcement to seek court orders removing guns from dangerous individuals.

Republican Rubio and Democrat Nelson were joined Thursday by U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, in announcing they are introducing a federal “Red Flag” bill that would create incentives for states to enact laws like Florida’s recently-signed law as part of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School response.

Rubio said the Florida law already has been used three times since Gov. Rick Scott signed it March 9, including in an Orlando case Wednesday. The law allows family members or law enforcement to seek orders declaring someone an extreme risk of violence to themselves or others, and then prevent them from possessing guns.

Rubio contended that in many cases, including the confessed Parkland shooter who murdered 17 people in Douglas High School on Feb. 14, there are plenty of “red flags” that tell family members, law enforcement and others that the person is an extreme danger.

“These extreme risk protection orders are in my view one of the most effective things a state can do to address it,” Rubio said at a press conference in Washington Thursday. “These tools now give authorities the ability to go in and take away their guns with due process.”

Their proposal creates an “Extreme Risk Protection Order Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Justice. It makes states enacting qualifying laws eligible for funding to help implement such laws, as well as making such states a priority consideration for Bureau of Justice Assistance discretionary grants.”

“If there is a red flag, this legislation will give the federal incentives to the states to enact laws like our state of Florida, so that if there is a red flag, get that person involved in front of a judge so that the judge can decide: “are they a risk if they have possession of a gun?” Nelson said.

Joe Henderson: Marco Rubio should let it loose on Trump

I wish Marco Rubio would just let it go and tell everyone how he really feels about President Donald Trump.

I think Florida’s junior U.S. Senator, like many Republicans, really wants to do that.

He tiptoes up the edge but can’t quite go there. He doesn’t unleash oratory of fire and fury the likes of which we have never seen on a president whose administration is built on mockery and intimidation.

Rubio did that again Sunday with his appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.

The first question he was asked by moderator Chuck Todd was about the way now-former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired last week 48 hours before he was due to retire, jeopardizing the federal pension he earned during 20 years of service.

“I don’t like the way it happened. He should have been allowed to finish through the weekend. That said, there is an inspector general report that is due and work that is being done,” Rubio said. “After he had retired if that report indicated wrongdoing or something that was actionable, there are things that could have been done after the fact.

“But with 48 hours to go before retirement, I certainly would have done it differently.”

I think anyone with a dram of decency would agree that, yeah, it should have been done differently. And I guess Rubio figured he was showing such decency by his measured, gentlemanly response to the question.

But don’t you wish Rubio would have called the action technically taken by Attorney General Jeff “Whew, It Wasn’t Me This Time” Sessions but likely orchestrated by the president for the craven political retaliation that it was?

I think something like “the president obviously is out to squash the Russia investigation and anyone associated with it, and that makes me think he is guilty as sin” would have been what politicians call a “proportional response” in this matter.

As Rubio later noted in that interview, “I don’t like the way it went down. I would have done it differently. But I’m not the president.”

Part of the reason Rubio isn’t president is that he got bullied in during the 2016 campaign. Who can forget Trump hanging the “Little Marco” insult on him? Rubio never recovered and was embarrassed by Trump during the Florida Republican primary.

Given that, what does Rubio owe to a president who demands unflinching loyalty but gives none himself, even to those closest to him?

In other words, let it loose man!

Trump has rewritten the rules – temporarily at last – about governance, and the only way to deal with a bully is to put it right back in his face.

So, when Rubio says, as he did Sunday, “I don’t like the whole tone” of this issue, well … OK.

That’s telling him off!

Come on, Senator Rubio.

Someone has to emerge as the Republican face of “enough is enough” when it comes to this president. Rubio could be that guy.

All he has to do is say what I believe is really on his mind about our country and the man at the top.

Look at the polls. To use the president’s own words, what have you got to lose?

Marco Rubio to headline Mike Miller fundraiser

Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio will appear at an April 6 campaign fundraiser for state Rep. Mike Miller‘s run for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Miller once worked on Rubio’s campaign, and Rubio endorsed Miller last summer in the Republican primary.

“It is an honor to have Marco’s support,” Miller said. “I admire his conservative principles and his commitment to serving all Floridians – keeping us safe, providing tax reform, and supporting our veterans.

Miller faces three other Republicans in the Aug. 28 primary to run for Congress in CD 7: Scott SturgillPatrick Weingart, and Vennia Francois. They all seek to take on Democratic U.S Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park in CD 7, which covers Seminole County and north-central Orange County.

Last summer when Rubio endorsed Miller, he said, “Jeanette and I have known Mike and Nora for many years, and like us, they are raising their children and serving in public office, all while balancing the same challenges Florida families do every day. Mike is a tireless advocate for Central Florida and will bring his conservative values to Washington and give me a great partner to work with in the Congress.”

U.S. House passes STOP School Violence Act

The STOP School Violence Act of 2018 passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Of the bill’s 94 co-sponsors, 18 are members of the Florida Delegation. The bill was introduced two weeks before the murder of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The bill offers funding for training to prevent student violence against others and self, including training for local law enforcement officers, school personnel, and students, including but not limited to active shooter training.

As well, the bill funds technology and equipment to boost security and stymying attacks, including anonymous reporting measures and school hardening technology. Threat assessment and crisis intervention teams are funded within the legislation also. Additionally, the bill makes provisions for better cooperation between law enforcement and school officials.

Legislators, including the two Florida co-introducers, lauded the passage of the legislation.

“Today’s vote in the House marks an important step toward keeping our children and our schools safe,” Jacksonville Republican Rep. John Rutherford, one of four introducers of the legislation, said Wednesday.

“As a career law enforcement officer in Jacksonville, I know that security requires a multi-layered approach. The STOP School Violence Act will give schools and communities the resources they need to identify threats and prevent acts of violence before they occur so we can avoid tragedies like what transpired at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School a month ago today.”

“I commend Rep. Ted Deutch, along with our colleagues on both sides of the aisle, for working with us to make schools more secure, and I look forward to seeing the Senate join us in the effort to protect our kids,” Rutherford said.

Deutch lauded the bipartisan commitment to the bill, even as he pushed for more action.

“When we first introduced this bill,” Deutch said, “I had no idea it would hit so close to home for me and my community. This vote is proof that Congress can take bipartisan action to keep our children safe. However, my colleagues should not be mistaken to think this is enough. We cannot tackle the rampant gun violence in our country without addressing guns themselves. Let’s move with this bipartisan momentum and pass meaningful legislation to make our communities safe.”

Rep. Brian Mast, a Florida Republican, used the bill’s passage as a tie in to that further action.

“Our schools should be as safe as the halls of Congress and today we moved one step closer to that goal by passing the STOP School Violence Act,” Rep. Mast said.  “At the same time, we must recognize that this issue is not limited to our schools.  We must make sure that our concerts, night clubs, churches and other community areas are just as safe.  We won’t accomplish this without a comprehensive approach that addresses security, mental health and gun violence.”

“That’s why today I’m introducing the first bipartisan bill to address the sale of assault weapons by putting a 60-day pause on the sale of firearms like the AR-15 while President Trump’s task force evaluates school safety and Congress works on a comprehensive solution to address this community safety crisis,” Mast asserted.

Sen. Marco Rubio is a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, which he has stumped for vociferously in recent weeks.

Rubio extolled the legislation in a meeting between members of Congress and President Donald Trump weeks ago.

Marco Rubio introduces bills to make daylight savings time permanent

On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio introduced two bills that would make daylight savings time permanent.

One bill, the Sunshine Protection Act, would make Daylight Saving Time (DST) permanent across the country.

Meanwhile, his Sunshine State Act would give Florida federal approval to establish permanent DST within its boundaries.

“Last week, Florida’s legislature overwhelmingly voted for permanent Daylight Saving Time for the State of Florida,” said Rubio in a media release. 

“Reflecting the will of the Sunshine State,” Rubio added, “I proudly introduce these bills that would approve Florida’s will and, if made nationally, would also ensure Florida is not out of sync with the rest of the nation.”

The sponsor of the Florida bill, Miami Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, Speaker Pro Tempore of the Florida House of Representatives, offered support for Rubio’s legislation.

“As the 2018 session just recently concluded, I am proud to have sponsored HB 1013 which overwhelmingly passed both the House and Senate.We have heard from countless Floridians about the importance of maintaining Daylight Saving Time, including benefits to our economy, public safety and health. I look forward to working with Senator Rubio and his colleagues on addressing this issue. I am confident that the Sunshine State will lead the growing movement across the nation in adopting DST year-round,” Nunez said.

The Rubio media release cites a number of potential benefits of perpetual DST. Among them: economic benefits, including specific benefits for agriculture; improvements in physical fitness; a decrease in robberies and car wrecks involving pedestrians.

D.C. officials, Ted Deutch call Marco Rubio a hypocrite, phony for his D.C. gun bill

Washington D.C.’s mayor and representative to Congress, joined by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch from Florida, called Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio a hypocrite Tuesday because of his proposal to repeal gun laws in the District of Columbia while offering support for tighter gun laws in Florida.

Deutch, of Boca Raton whose district includes Parkland; U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat from D.C.; Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser; and Coalition to Stop Gun Violence Executive Director Josh Horwitz contended in a telephone press conference Tuesday that Rubio’s Senate Bill 162, which would revoke all municipal gun laws in Washington, would fly in the face of statements he made about tighter gun restrictions following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Bowser accused Rubio of hypocrisy. Deutch said of his colleague, with whom he stood at a post-Parkland town hall meeting attended by thousands of area residents in February, “It’s not courageous to say one thing and then to do another. It’s phony.”

Norton declared, “We want Sen. Rubio to withdraw his bill that would repeal all gun laws in the District of Columbia. We’re not going to let him take his stand as a senator who is trying to do something about gun violence and then systematically in every Congress put in a bill, the most extreme bill, that would wipe out gun laws in a district not his own!”

Rubio is not going to withdraw it, contending that the District of Columbia is under federal law, and he believes Congress, not the district council, should be left to address gun laws there.

“Senator Rubio’s bill will not be withdrawn,” a spokeswoman in Rubio’s office said in a statement. “The District of Columbia is a federal jurisdiction and this bill simply aligns D.C. firearms regulations with federal law. If federal law is changed, it would apply to D.C. as well.”

His bill also is not going anywhere, unless something unexpected happens.

Rubio first introduced it in 2015, and again last year. It has not received a single co-sponsor. Nor has it been heard by a single committee.

Rubio’s office said the bill grew from concern that he felt upon learning about the plight of an office employee, who wanted to bring two legally acquired handguns to D.C. to protect herself following a shooting near her building, only to find a very cumbersome regulatory process.

Norton accused Rubio of sponsoring the bill to upgrade and keep a good rating he received from the National Rifle Association after he first introduced it. She argued his continuing sponsorship, without ever getting a cosponsor or any movement, suggests his motive is only to have his name on the bill, saying it shows “a great deal of cynicism.”

“In order to keep that rating, it seems to me, is what he does is he keeps putting it in, knowing full well we’ll be able to stop it,” Norton said.

Deutch ripped into Rubio for listening to Parkland residents and responding with sympathy for requests for such things as a minimum age limit of 21 for the purchase of firearms, something D.C. already has, while promoting a bill that would remove such an age limit and other restrictions in Washington.

“The question is not is there some greater urgency to moving this bill now,” Deutch said. “The question is: why is it, a month after the Stoneman Douglas shooting, there is no urgency to move forward on any of the meaningful steps to help curb gun violence in our communities? That is the question, frankly, that Sen. Rubio ought to be asked as well.”

Marco Rubio, Bill Nelson push bipartisan bill to tighten reporting on gun background checks

When someone fails a background check while attempting to purchase a gun, that should be reported to state law enforcement as a possible precursor to criminal gun activity, under a bill being pushed by Florida’s U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and a bipartisan group of several other key U.S. senators.

Republican Rubio, Democrat Nelson, Pennsylvania Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, and Delaware Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Coons announced Monday they will sponsor a bill called the “NICS Denial Notification Act” which will help alert state law enforcement agencies to allow them to enforce existing laws against individuals who attempt to purchase firearms but have no legal right to do so.

The legislation also is backed by Texas Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, South Carolina Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, Illinois Democratic U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and Missouri Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

“The Parkland shooter was able to carry out this horrific attack because of multi-systematic failures,” Rubio said in a news release issued by his office. He tied the bill to the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and to reports that the alleged shooter’s intentions should have been clear to law enforcement officials.

“While we work to ensure that our background check system contains the critical information necessary to be able to conduct an effective background check, we must also ensure that federal and state authorities are successfully communicating with one another when it comes to dangerous individuals and their attempts to acquire firearms,” Rubio continued. “The NICS Denial Notification Act would not only require federal authorities to flag background check denials for state-level authorities, it would also hold these federal officials accountable. This would be a strong step forward in preventing future tragedies. I urge my colleagues to immediately support this bipartisan legislation so that the president can swiftly sign it into law.”

A similar bill, House Resolution 4471, was filed in the U.S. House of Representatives last year by Illinois Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley. It’s gone nowhere — despite a bipartisan group of 13 cosponsors.

When convinced felons, fugitives, domestic abuses and others banned from legally purchasing firearms fail a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database, they often violate federal and state laws, the release notes.

However, the federal government rarely prosecutes any of these individuals, the release adds. What’s more, 37 states and the District of Columbia all rely on the FBI to do some or all of their background checks, and generally are not made aware when prohibited persons fail the checks.

Individuals who are willing to “lie and try” to buy a gun may be dangerous and willing to obtain guns through other means, the release notes. As a result, these states and D.C. may lack critical law enforcement intelligence that they could use to try to keep their communities safe.

“Efforts to reduce gun violence are only as good as the systems in place to prevent prohibited individuals from obtaining guns,” Nelson said in the release. “This bill is just another commonsense way to further those efforts to keep our communities safe from gun violence. I hope we can continue this conversation and continue to work together on comprehensive gun reform.”

The bill also would require the U.S. Department of Justice to publish an annual report with statistics about its prosecution of background check denial cases, so that Congress and voters might hold federal officials accountable.

The effort already has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police; Major Cities Chiefs Police Association; Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association; National District Attorneys Association; National Domestic Violence Hotline; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Everytown for Gun Safety; and the Giffords Foundation, according to the release.

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