January 10, 2017

Rubio meets with Tillerson ahead of confirmation hearing

 via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio met Monday evening with Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson, whose ties to Vladimir Putin have raised concerns with Rubio and other lawmakers.

“I appreciate Mr. Tillerson’s visit and for taking the time to begin discussing with me the challenges America faces around the world,” Rubio said in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “I look forward to his confirmation hearing later this week.”

Rubio’s office did not detail the conversation but undoubtedly Russia came up. Rubio is a key vote on the Foreign Relations Committee, which will begin Tillerson’s confirmation hearing on Wednesday morning.

In December, Rubio "While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination. "The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America's interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America's foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage. I look forward to learning more about his record and his views.‎ I will do my part to ensure he receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

Monday afternoon in Tampa about 75 people showed up outside Rubio's Tampa office to protest Tillerson, the former ExxonMobil CEO, on environmental grounds.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

January 03, 2017

Rubio lands appropriations committee spot

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio, sworn in this afternoon to a second term, has taken on two new committees: Appropriations and the Special Committee on Aging.

He retains his posts on the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

He will no longer serve on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which had oversight on space issues.

“With so many threats to America’s national security around the world, I look forward to continuing my work on the foreign relations and intelligence committees," Rubio said in a statement. "In the days and weeks ahead, we must reestablish America’s moral standing in the world, and make it absolutely clear that the United States will remain a true friend of Israel and a beacon of hope and freedom to oppressed people everywhere. The challenges posed by countries like Cuba, Iran, Russia, China and North Korea will require decisive American leadership and resolve.

“We also have a lot of work to do here at home. Too many Americans have been left behind in the 21st century economy, and there is real anxiety among parents that their children will not have the same opportunities they had to work hard, pursue the American Dream, and climb the economic ladder. That’s not acceptable, and I’m going to work with anyone who wants to find real solutions for workers and their families. Of course, a key factor in growing our economy from the bottom up is our small businesses, and I’ll continue to collaborate closely with Florida job creators during my work on the small business committee.

“One major thing that will cost us jobs and hamstring our economy is our rising debt. With federal spending at record highs, our national debt has nearly doubled over the last eight years, despite the fact that government is taking in more tax revenue than ever before. The primary drivers of this unsustainable imbalance are our entitlement programs. More and more people are retiring, and while sunny Florida hopes to welcome them all, the rising number of retirees means we’re going to have to find ways to make Medicare and Social Security work better for everyone, so that people like my mother can continue to rely on these important programs and they are still there when our children need them. The committees on aging and appropriations will be at the center of these policy discussions, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to go to work for the people of Florida on these committees.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

December 23, 2016

Florida members of Congress tell feds: Pay our state for Trump's Mar-a-Lago security costs


via @learyreports

President-elect Donald Trump's travel to Florida is causing steep security costs and lawmakers want the federal government to pay.

Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio along with Reps. Alcee Hastings, Ted Deutch, Lois Frankel and Patrick Murphy sent this letter:

Dear Attorney General Lynch and Secretary Johnson,

We are writing to make you aware of the attached request from the Mayor of Palm Beach County regarding reimbursement for ancillary costs associated with helping protect President-elect Trump, who has often visited his home in the area.

According to Mayor Burdick, the county spent approximately $250,000 to provide security support for the President-elect during his four-day visit over Thanksgiving alone.

Congress appropriated $7 million to the Department of Justice in the recently-passed government funding bill (P.L. 114-254) to reimburse State and local law enforcement agencies for overtime costs associated with protecting the President-elect before his inauguration.

We urge you to consider using those funds or any other resources that you deem appropriate to help the county offset these costs.

We appreciate your attention to this matter.

Photo credit: AP

December 21, 2016

Clinton's team feared Rubio more than Trump - until it was too late

via @learyreports

It’s not news that Hillary Clinton’s campaign viewed Marco Rubio with some fear. Democratic emails apparently stolen by the Russians showed Clinton’s team was impressed with the Floridian. “He gives a good speech, and sounded more reasonable, populist than a GOP candidate …” read one email.

Now comes evidence that Clinton considered him more of a threat than Donald Trump — if the size of opposition research books mean anything.

The Trump oppo book was a mere 157 pages, while one for Ted Cruz was 201 pages. Rubio’s was 431 pages.

The details were contained in a Vanity Fair story about the “desperate, year-long hunt to find Donald Trump’s rumored Apprentice outtakes.”

While Cruz was clearly a possible contender, many in the room agreed that Rubio, with his youth and charisma, posed the most considerable challenge. And then there was Trump, who was characterized in the meeting under “the four B’s”: a bully, a bigot, a bad businessman, and—as some staffers noted—not a billionaire. (There was discussion of a fifth B, which, in typical Democratic jargon, was “blithe.”) Trump’s oppo book was slim not because Clinton staffers had missed details regarding his divorces or corporate bankruptcies. It was short because they didn’t think he had much of a chance of winning the G.O.P. nomination.

December 19, 2016

Rubio hires campaign manager Clint Reed as chief of staff, promotes Alberto Martinez

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio has hired his re-election campaign manager, Clint Reed, as his chief of staff, while longtime aide Alberto Martinez will become senior advisor.

From a news release:

“I’m excited about my second term in the Senate and the team we are putting together to work hard every day for the people of Florida and get results on their behalf,” said Rubio. “For the past ten years, going back to my time in the state house, Albert has been a trusted and loyal advisor on policy, politics and communications. I am extremely grateful to him for his loyal service and the outstanding job he did managing my Senate office over the past two and a half years, a period where we passed more bills into law than any other during my term. Albert will continue to play a key role in shaping our office for the new challenges and opportunities which lie ahead.

“For over a year, I’ve gotten to know and work closely with Clint on my campaigns, including two in Florida. He’s a superb manager who loves Florida, has earned my trust, and relishes the challenge of solving tough problems,” Rubio added. “The next six years will undoubtedly present many challenges but also incredible opportunities to make an even bigger difference in the lives of Floridians and people throughout the country, and I’m excited to be surrounded with a team of devoted professionals who are passionate about public service.”

December 13, 2016

Rubio: 'I have serious concerns' about Trump secretary of state pick

via @learyreports

President-elect Donald Trump this morning officially nominated Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, setting up a clash with fellow Republicans such as Sen. Marco Rubio.

"While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination," said Rubio, who says earlier criticized Tillerson's ties with Vladimir Putin.

"The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America's interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America's foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage. I look forward to learning more about his record and his views.‎ I will do my part to ensure he receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

December 11, 2016

Rubio knocks potential Trump secretary of state pick as 'friend of Vladimir' Putin

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday criticized Donald Trump's pick of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state over the ExxonMobil CEO's ties to Russia. 

It is the most overt criticism Rubio, a one-time adversary of Trump who came to support him, has made as the new administration comes together. Rubio has been a vocal critic of Putin and has signaled support for investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the election -- an idea Trump scoffed at on Sunday.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Trump said on Fox News Sunday. “I think it’s just another excuse. I don’t believe it . . . No, I don’t believe it at all.”

Rubio's words follow those of other Senate hawks, including John McCain, who said Tillerson's ties are "a matter of concern," and Lindsey Graham who called it "unnerving."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

December 09, 2016

Rubio supports proposed investigation into alleged Russian meddling in election

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio supports a call for a congressional investigation into Russian involvement in the election, his staff confirmed Friday.

Top Republicans, including Sens. John McCain and Richard Burr, have called for a "coordinated and wide-ranging probe," as the Washington Post put it. On Friday, President Obama separately instructed his administration to prepare its own report.

President-elect Donald Trump has played down Russia's involvement and his stance toward Vladimir Putin is at odds with Rubio and other Republicans.

Rubio's office did not offer new comment but referred to what he said a couple weeks ago on "Meet the Press."

"If a foreign government has been involved in injecting chaos into our democratic process, the American people deserve to know that. I've made my feelings known in the midst of the campaign," Rubio said.

He went on: "I've never said it's the Russian government, although I believe it was the work of a foreign government. I will say this. If you look at what happened during our election and the sort of things that were interjected into the election process, they are very similar to the sort of active measures that you've seen the Russians use in the past in places like Eastern Europe, to interfere with the elections of other countries. And what we mean by "interfere" is they try to undermine the credibility of the election. They try to undermine individual leaders. And they try to create chaos in the political discourse. And the fundamental argument behind it is they want people to-- they want to de-legitimize the process."

Pointedly asked if it is worthy of Congressional scrutiny, the Florida Republican said: "Absolutely."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

December 02, 2016

Rubio not taking part in Capitol Hill push to help DREAMers

via @learyreports

With concerns over the Trump administration stripping legal status from Dreamers, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Sen. Lindsey Graham is working on legislation to provide that protection.

The group does not include Sen. Marco Rubio, who had gained widespread attention years ago for proposing legislation aimed at young immigrants brought to the country illegally by their parents.

Rubio’s office declined comment.

Rubio’s legislation was never filed and President Obama followed through with his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan, which has shielded more than 740,000 Dreamers, including more than 20,000 in Florida.

President-elect Donald Trump has talked about rescinding the program. Rubio criticized Obama's executive action, too, but has said the legal status already granted should not be retroactively removed.

“My recommendation would be that there are people that have already availed themselves of that, and that there's a period of time for that,” he said last week on Meet The Press. “I would not retroactively remove their status. I would say that, from some point forward, people will not be allowed to apply for renewal for that status. And that will give us a defined period of time to work through this, beginning with border security and modernization of the legal immigration system.”

It’s unclear whether Rubio, who has been singed by the immigration debate, plans to get involved in legislative efforts.

The plan discussed by Graham, as reported by Politico, “would apply just to the immigrants who had been approved under the 2012 directive from Obama. Graham indicated that the legislation would be a bridge from a repeal of DACA ‘until we can fix the overall problem.’ ”

“It’s going to be basically, if you have legal status, you’ll continue legal status,” Graham told Politico. “I think it would pass overwhelmingly.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times