U.S. Senate Archives - Page 6 of 28 - SaintPetersBlog

Carlos Beruff unveils immigration plan that includes ban on travel from Middle East

Build a wall. Ban travel from the Middle East. Stop funding for sanctuary cities.

Those are just some of the proposals included in Carlos Beruff’s plan to fix the immigration system. The plan, released Tuesday, focuses on three areas, securing the border, modernizing the legal immigration system, and ending abuses of the system.

“A country without borders is not a country. We must fix our immigration system, so we control who comes and goes, and that starts by securing our southern border,” said Beruff.

The first priority, Beruff said, is to secure the borders. In order to do that, Beruff proposes building a wall along the southern border — a proposal championed by Republican Donald Trump. In his proposal, Beruff said those who “mock the idea of building a wall do not want a secure border for our country.”

The Manatee County Republican also said the country needs to “temporarily ban all travel from from Middle East countries known to be a base for ISIS and other terrorist groups.” Beruff said Israel would be excluded from the temporary ban. So would Christians fleeing persecution, as long as their “personal histories can be verified by church records.”

“Many people from around the world want to come to this country to build better lives for themselves and their children. We should embrace America’s place in the world, but we must do so in a strategic, common-sense way,” said Beruff. “ISIS and others intent on doing us harm are looking to use any means possible to get into this country.  We need to be vigilant.”

Beruff also calls on lawmakers to modernize the legal immigration system. To do that, Beruff said he would implement an entry-exit visa tracking system and implement private sector solutions.

The plan also calls for a crackdown on H1-B visa abuses, cuts funding to so-called sanctuary cities, creates a mandatory E-Verify system, and creates a system where information is shared with state law enforcement officers. Beruff also calls on lawmakers to enact Kate’s Law, which creates mandatory minimum sentences for undocumented immigrants who were deported and then reenter the country.

“It is essential that we take our country back, and that starts by common sense reforms to our immigration system,” he said.

Beruff faces Marco Rubio in the Aug. 30 primary. Rubio, who announced he was running for re-election, currently leads in the polls and is widely expected to win the primary.

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America’s future space policy still a mystery from Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton

With wars, terrorism, gun violence, economic problems, national debt, immigration issues and other national crises, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton might be excused for focusing on them, yet many Floridians and particular Central Floridians are eagerly waiting to hear what they aren’t yet talking about, space.

The futures of NASA, commercial space initiatives, and defense programs are critical to the economy and future of Florida’s Space Coast and Central Florida, and by extension to the entire state, and to a rapidly evolving space industry that includes players ranging from giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin to tiny space entrepreneurs trying to make a go on the Space Coast, in an uncertain political economy.

By this time in the 2012 presidential race Republican vice presidential designee Paul Ryan already had come to Orlando to deliver a major speech on the future of space, and the Mitt Romney campaign had issued a detailed white paper about the goals, objectives, and priorities of what his administration would pursue beyond Earth. President Barack Obama‘s space policies were official national policies, so they too were well-known.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and his Republican opponent U.S. Rep. Connie Mack also had talked extensively about space policy, and the issues were being robustly debated in key congressional races.

This year? Neither Trump nor Clinton has addressed space, except, reportedly, in occasional, short, simple answers to left-field questions at press conferences, while most Senate and congressional candidates haven’t said much more.

The Republican National Committee did add a space plank to its platform last week – the Democrats so far have not. The Republican space plank declares, “we must sustain our preeminence in space, launching more science missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and maintaining a source of high-value American jobs.” Yet it offers no specifics.

Lost in those specifics is the potential for sweeping federal policy changes, as there are significant political differences about where America’s space priorities ought to be, and the implications can be profound.

“I don’t think we know what the platforms are,” said Mary Lynne Dittmar, executive director of the Coalition For Deep Space Exploration, which put out a white paper last month on space policy, suggesting what the federal candidates’ platforms should be, but haven’t heard back yet. “I wish we did have more information.”

Another white paper has been issued by an ad-hoc coalition, loosely competing with some of the deep space coalition’s interests. That group includes such players as the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, the Aerospace Industries Association, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Astronautical Society, and Space Florida.

Dale Ketcham, chief of strategic alliances for Space Florida, Florida’s space industry development arm, said he expects the candidates’ space platform details to emerge as the candidates begin considering how to win Florida.

“The success we’ve had in the past in promoting space policy during a presidential campaign really has only gained traction late in the campaign, late August … September … when the campaigns are beginning to hone their messages to geographic areas,” Ketcham said. “The closer we get to election day, the more those campaigns refine their messages to specific regions. No region has been more important than the I-4 corridor. So we’re continuing to work that communication between the four purple states, Florida, Virginia, Ohio and Colorado [which all have huge NASA, DoD and private space communities,] because as those messages refine we should be able to gain more position in discussing space policy.”

There is ample room for debate, even between the two big space industry coalitions’ white papers.

The Obama administration has several major space policies with which not everyone agrees. For human space exploration, NASA has set its sights on Mars and is investing much of its research,  energy and tens of billions of dollars to get there in about 20 years. For that to happen, NASA is turning over almost all lower-Earth-orbit activity to the private sector, including not-to-distant-future ferrying of American astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

To do that, NASA is investing billions of dollars in private space companies, to make them viable until they can profitably take over all that activity.

Meanwhile, NASA’s non-human exploration programs, including sending orbiters and rovers all over the solar system, using satellites to study the Earth and cosmos, and developing particular sciences and technologies aboard the space station, all are in me-first tugs-of-war for scheduling and funding.

Not everyone in politics or the space industry thinks NASA should be abdicating lower-Earth dominance to private businesses. Not everyone thinks Mars is all that good of an idea. And what about the moon? What’s this plan NASA has for sending astronauts to an asteroid?

Meanwhile, Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are being turned into a multi-user, public-private-military spaceport, where government space projects become a small part of the action. Yet competing spaceports in Texas, California, Virginia and potentially a dozen other states are positioning themselves to compete.

And internationally? Europeans, Russians, Chinese and Indians all are trying challenge America’s space leadership in various segments of the future market, with heavy subsidies or state ownership of the companies competing.

It’s not just Trump or Clinton, though clearly one of them will be setting the stage.

“We have three branches of government. They’re not expected to see things eye-to-eye. But with regard to space policy, cohesion between the White House and Congress is very helpful,” said Dittmar, whose group includes big players such as Aerojet Rocketdyne, Orbital ATK, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman. “There is some disconnect. The White House and NASA have made requests for the budget that are not consistent with where Congress was coming down.”

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In Philly, Keith Ellison compares Marco Rubio to Donald Trump

Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison gave a fiery speech to the Florida Democratic Party delegation Tuesday morning, where he slammed Marco Rubio, unfavorably comparing him to GOP standard-bearer Donald Trump.

“A lot has been made about Trump’s hatred all the time, but some of you might want to remember that he wasn’t the only one pumping out hate all the time. He was not the only one talking hate — I remember a guy named Marco Rubio talking a lot of hate. I have not forgot the hate of Marco Rubio talking about Syrians and kicking them out of our country and they can’t come here, and they’re bad and we don’t want them.”

“This guy — Marco Rubio — he’s not different than  Trump; he’s just not as slick. He should not get credit just because he’s not as slick a salesman as Trump. He is the same kind of guy,” Ellison continued.

In 2015, Rubio did give qualified support to accepting Syrian refugees, but then reversed his position after the Paris bombing attacks last November, with the exceptions for certain groups like young orphans and elderly widows.

Still on a roll, Ellison then recalled how Rubio had said on numerous occasions last year he would not run again for his U.S. Senate seat. “I don’t know why he would want to run again, he said he didn’t like the job. He didn’t show up for it very much. “

“I’m telling you right now: He. Must. Go. The whole lot of them must go!,” Ellison said of the Florida senator, who is running against Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff in the Republican Senate primary. The winner will take on the Democratic candidate in the fall.

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Marco Rubio disappointed by ‘politicization of Zika’

Marco Rubio said he was disappointed a $1.1 billion Zika funding plan did not clear the Senate before summer recess, as the number of cases in Florida rose to more than 300 this week.

“One of the most disappointing things I’ve ever seen is the politicization of Zika,” said Rubio, a Miami Republican, during a stop in Fort Myers Monday. “I voted for every Zika bill. Every one of them. I just want the money to flow so we can get ahead of this.”

The U.S. Senate left for summer recess last week without passing a $1.1 billion bill to combat the Zika virus. The House-approved bill included a provision to block Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rick from receiving money to fight the virus. Democrats opposed the measure, saying Republicans were playing politics with Zika funding.

The mosquito-borne illness can also be sexually transmitted, and has been shown to cause birth defects in children. During a Senate foreign relations subcommittee hearing last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer said lawmakers restricted “funding for birth control, even though they know it is the first line of defense.”

“There’s no room for politics,” she said during the hearing.

Rubio echoed that this week, saying both sides need to come together to act on the issue. Funding, he said, would allow federal officials to provide “more money for mosquito control, more research to help us get a vaccine, and the ability to make commercially available a test.”

“Today the only way to get tested for Zika is to send it to the state Department of Health, which means a lot of people who potentially have it aren’t being tested,” he said.

There are 319 cases of travel-related Zika in Florida. Of that number, 43 cases involve pregnant women regardless of symptoms. Nationwide, there are more than 1,305 cases of travel-related Zika.

While the administration has some Zika funding at its disposal, inaction on the issue could lead to delays in developing a vaccine and advanced mosquito-fighting techniques. Lawmakers aren’t scheduled to return to Washington, D.C., until after Labor Day.

___

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Marco Rubio announces $2.1 million nine-day fundraising haul

After less than two weeks, Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign is showing major momentum.

Politico is reporting that Rubio has flexed his fundraising muscle with more than $2.1 million raised since re-entering the race, according to an email Friday morning to supporters.

“Thanks to a tremendous effort lead by Ambassador John Rood and several others,” wrote Rubio finance director Anna Rogers, “we’re thrilled to tell you we raised over $2.1M in just nine days!”

Rogers added that one of Rubio’s Democratic rivals, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, raised about the same amount — $2.4 million — during the “entire” first quarter. Murphy faces fellow Congressman Alan Grayson in the Senate Democratic primary.

“This is a great story for us to tell and is a testament to Marco and to you, the supporters driving this campaign,” Rogers said.

With more than tens of millions of dollars to be raised on both sides, many expect Florida’s Senate contest to be among the nation’s costliest and most competitive.

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Bill Nelson urges Mitch McConnell to bring back Senate’s $1.1B Zika funding proposal

Sen. Bill Nelson is urging Senate leaders to bring back a $1.1 billion proposal that would help fight the spread of Zika.

The request comes just one day after the Florida Department of Health announced 11 new cases of Florida, bringing the total number of travel-related cases in the Sunshine State to 263.

In a letter Thursday, the Florida Democrat asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to bring the bipartisan $1.1 billion bill the Senate passed back to the floor for a vote as a standalone bill. Last week, the Senate voted down a $1.1 billion House proposal.

Democrats blocked the GOP-drafted measure by a 52-48, short of the 60 votes required to advance it. The party faulted Republicans for packing the bill with provisions designed to deny new funding for Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico and ease rules on pesticide spraying.

Nelson told McConnell reminded that “both sides of the aisle came together on the Senate Floor” to pass its version of the $1.1 billion funding proposal.

“I strongly urge you to advance a bipartisan bill that provides emergency funding, and is free of misguided policy riders,” said Nelson in his letter. “Time is of the essence.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 930 cases of travel-related cases of Zika reported in the United States. So far none of the cases have been locally transmitted.

Last week, the Florida Department of Health announced it had confirmed its first case of microcephaly in an infant born in Florida whose mother had a travel-related case of Zika. The mother contracted Zika while in Haiti.

In his letter, Nelson said lawmakers need to stop using funding as a vehicle to advance politics and take a bipartisan approach to funding.

“Funding our nation’s Zika response is something that simply cannot wait any longer and it cannot be used as a vehicle to advance partisan, ideological positions,” he said. “Surely, this is something that members of both parties can agree to.”

___

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Carlos Beruff takes aim at Marco Rubio in new advertisement

Carlos Beruff is taking aim at Marco Rubio in a new digital advertisement.

The 35-second spot — called “Unequivocal” and released Monday morning — splices together clips of Rubio, who announced last week he was running for re-election, responding to questions of whether he would commit to a full six-year term in the Senate with clips of broadcasters calling him robotic.

In each of the clips, Rubio is saying essentially the same thing — that he will no longer make unequivocal statements.

“The voters of Florida deserve a Senator who is committed to doing the job he’s been hired to do, but that’s not what they’ll get with Marco Rubio, who won’t even commit to serving a full six-year term or deny he won’t use the seat to run for president again,” said Joanna Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Beruff campaign, in a statement. “Floridians are tired of Marco’s robotic responses and Washington-approved talking points. It’s time for a change. We can’t afford six (or less) more years of the same old Marco.”

Rubio repeatedly said he was not going to run for re-election, and that he planned to return to private life at the end of his term. On Wednesday, he reversed course and announced he intends to run for re-election.

Rubio will face Beruff in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

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Jac VerSteeg: How Marco Rubio might get Hillary Clinton elected

Marco Rubio says he decided to run for reelection because it will be imperative to have people like him in the U.S. Senate if Hillary Clinton is elected president.

“There’s [a] role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

But it is worth asking: Does Rubio’s decision to run make it more likely that Clinton will become president?

It’s easy to envision a scenario in which it does. Eagerness to drive a political stake through Rubio’s heart could increase Democratic turnout in Florida, throwing the most important swing state – and therefore the election – to Clinton.

Think about it. Democrats hardly would be whipped into a frenzy by a desire to defeat, say, Carlos Lopez-Cantera. Most voters probably still are fuzzy at best on who, exactly, Lopez-Cantera is. But Rubio? He’s become a high-profile target.

The wish to stick it to Rubio also plausibly would be a better election-day mobilizer than any positive feeling toward either Rep. Patrick Murphy or Rep. Alan Grayson, who are battling it out to be the Democratic senatorial nominee.

Rubio’s insinuation that the Orlando massacre influenced his decision to seek reelection only heightens Democratic anger toward him. Before, the biggest knock on Rubio was that he was a slacker who couldn’t be bothered to show up to work in the Senate. Damaging, yes, but not something to make Democrats get out and vote.

Now, though, Rubio is the hypocrite who steadfastly has opposed LGBT equality and common sense gun control yet has the gall to imply he’s running in response to the assault-weapon massacre perpetrated at a gay night club?

How epically self-serving.

Rubio’s anti-LGBT record is exactly the kind of issue that could motivate young Democrats and Independents who otherwise might have stayed home to make the effort to vote. As a group, they might not even have been that enamored of Clinton. But if they take the trouble to vote against Rubio in remembrance of Orlando, they might just vote for Clinton while they’re at it.

For Clinton to win in November, she’ll need a big turnout of Democrats in the Orlando area – precisely the area that ought to be most offended by Rubio’s decision to use the Pulse horror as his excuse to run. Democratic turnout in South Florida also is a key, and that’s also an LGBT-friendly venue.

Plus, Rubio’s flip-flop on immigration is a double-whammy in those two regions. Not only does it anger Hispanics who feel he stabbed them in the back by abandoning immigration reform, it angers those who remember that gay Hispanics were targeted in the Pulse attack.

Current polls show Rubio beating either Murphy or Grayson. But if Democrats exploit Rubio’s Pulse hypocrisy with skill, Rubio might just help them beat Trump.

___

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is a columnist for The South Florida Sun Sentinel and former deputy editorial page editor for The Palm Beach Post.

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Jeb Bush throws his support behind Marco Rubio in U.S. Senate bid

Jeb Bush has picked his candidate in the U.S. Senate race.

The former Florida governor announced Thursday he was backing Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate race. The announcement came one day after Rubio announced he was running for re-election.

Bush took to Twitter on Thursday to announce his support, saying he is “joining many good conservatives in supporting” Rubio. He continued by saying there is “nothing more important than” keeping a Republican majority in the Senate.

JEBENDORSE

Both men were among the more than a dozen Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for president. During the campaign, Bush had a few harsh words, including telling him he should be showing up to work.

“I’m a constituent of the Senator, and I helped him, and I expected he would do constituent services, which meant he would show up to work,” said Bush during the CNBC debate in October. “When you signed up for this, this was a six-year term, and you should be showing up to work.”

Bush dropped out of the race after the South Carolina primary. Rubio dropped out a few weeks later after a disappointing showing in the Florida primary.

Rubio faces Republicans Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

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Tom Jackson: Seeking Florida voters’ forgiveness, Marco Rubio hits the reset button

That whooshing sound, like a battalion of leaf blowers set on high, is the hierarchy of the Republican Party responding to a rare moment of good news. Marco Rubio, who shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to leave in the first place, says he’s decided to seek re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The Washington Post, never missing an opportunity, highlights an irrelevancy: Rubio is going back on a pledge not to run. Really? That was so last March. Or April. Anyway, it was sufficiently long ago to have become antique in political ages. Situations change. Stuff happens.

Sometimes revoking a pledge is the most honorable course. Hey, the Continental Congress of 1776 assembled with the idea of reconciling with George III and England. So Rubio declared independence from his presidential candidate self. Maybe this will put him on the right side of history, too.

After all, Rubio’s reversal is precisely the course recommended by a FloridaPolitics.com contributor (*blush*) a little more than three weeks ago.

For a young man in a hurry, Rubio sure took his time on this one. Sort of makes you think there were some ridiculously lucrative private-sector suitors waiting in the wings.

However, Donald Trump notwithstanding, there is virtually no route to the White House from the private sector. And we have to believe, at 45, Rubio still aches for the prospect of getting his mail delivered to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So it’s back to the campaign trail, where re-election to the Senate from the nation’s third-largest state would re-establish him as a Republican on the rise — especially if he commits to the work. But this time, the work will be everything.

The GOP presidential debates revealed to the nation a young senator with a granular understanding of what ails us and a grand, articulate vision of appealing center-right remedies. But Donald Trump happened. Now Rubio is demonstrating, also, adaptability.

Since his return to the Senate, he’s been entirely, well, senatorial. He’s been an energetic fixture on the floor, sometimes in opposition to GOP leadership, as in the case of his support to fully fund President Obama’s anti-Zika-virus plan. He swapped approving the new ambassador to Mexico, on which he’d put a hold, for continued sanctions against Venezuela’s socialist regime. And he’s up to his waders in Everglades cleanup legislation.

As he told POLITICO back in early May, “A couple times I’ve wondered, ‘Boy, if we had a couple more years, we could really get some stuff done.’”

Now he seems determined to give himself that chance.

Quinnipiac reports the race is Rubio’s to lose. In a poll released Wednesday, he leads the top Democratic candidates, Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, by 7 and 8 points, respectively. The same poll shows other Republican candidates losing handily.

Yes, June. Yes, the primaries haven’t happened, and Democrats haven’t coalesced. Yes, name recognition and all the rest. But 7 points ahead is a good starting place, allowing the Florida GOP to tout an alternate anchor near the top of the November ballot, and Republicans nationally to talk with seriousness about retaining their Senate majority against the excesses of whoever moves into the White House next January.

And, as described in my post urging him to seek re-election, staying in the Senate works to his long-term advantage. If he wins, it will require earning some forgiveness from Florida voters. And, because it bears constant reiteration, if, this time, he rewards their forgiveness by doing their work.

___

Recovering sports columnist and former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson argues on behalf of thoughtful conservative principles as our best path forward. Fan of the Beach Boys, pulled-pork barbecue and days misspent at golf, Tom lives in New Tampa with his wife, two children and two yappy middle-aged dogs.

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