Government & Politics

19 July Sailfish Plumbing Logo

RUBIO REQUESTS ANSWERS ON REPORTS THAT BANNED CHINESE SURVEILLANCE DEVICES ARE IN USE AT DOD INSTALLATIONS

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) requested information from Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on reports that banned Chinese surveillance equipment are installed at Department of Defense facilities. The letter follows a Wall Street Journal report that more than 2,700 Chinese-made surveillance devices are in use across federal installations.

The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) banned the procurement of Chinese-produced cameras and associated electronics made by Chinese companies, including Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology and Dahua Technology. The Department of Commerce added Hikvision and Dahua to the banned Entity List requiring their U.S. suppliers to gain licenses to ship components.

RUBIO, SHAHEEN LEAD BIPARTISAN, BICAMERAL BILL BANNING TSP BOARD FROM STEERING FEDERAL RETIREMENT SAVINGS TO CHINA

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) today led a group of lawmakers in introducing the bipartisan, bicameral Taxpayers and Savers Protection (TSP) Act, which would prevent the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB) from steering federal retirement savings to China. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Rick Scott (R-FL), and Mike Braun (R-IN) joined Rubio and Shaheen in introducing the bill, and U.S. Representative Mark Meadows (R-NC) will be introducing the companion bill in the House.

The TSP Act would conditionally ban the investment of Thrift Savings Plan funds in securities listed on mainland Chinese exchanges. In particular, it would prohibit investment in issuers listed on foreign securities exchanges where America’s Public Company Accounting and Oversight Board (PCAOB) has not issued an audit inspection and where the PCAOB is prevented from conducting such inspections.

The TSP Act would stop the FRTIB from moving forward with a short-sighted decision to shift the Thrift Savings Plan’s International Fund Index to the MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Investable Market Index that includes Chinese companies under U.S. sanctions and U.S. export bans. The FRTIB currently plans next year to begin investing the retirement assets of federal government employees, including members of the U.S. Armed Forces, in opaque Chinese firms engaged in human rights abuses and a wide range of military-related activities, effectively funding the Chinese government and Communist Party’s efforts to undermine U.S. economic and national security. The move would also place federal savers and their beneficiaries at risk by directing their savings into Chinese firms that fail to live up to the accounting and financial disclosure levels that are standard in developed markets.

“Today makes clear that a bipartisan, bicameral coalition in Congress will not sit on the sidelines and allow the TSP Board to funnel the federal retirement savings of U.S. service members and federal employees to the Chinese Communist Party,” Rubio said. “America’s investors should never be a source of wealth funding Beijing’s rise at the expense of our nation’s future prosperity, and the TSP Board should not force U.S. service members and federal employees to unwittingly undermine the American national security interests that they work hard every day to protect.”

“It is unacceptable that the hard-earned savings of our U.S. service members and public servants could be invested without their knowledge in Chinese companies that undermine the very strategic national interests they’re sworn to protect. If the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is going to drag its feet on reversing the decision that would allow this dangerous policy to go into effect, then Congress must act,” Shaheen said. “This isn’t complicated – investments of our federal workers and armed forces should not fund companies that could help the Chinese government carry out nefarious attacks, from spying on U.S. citizens to committing gross human rights abuses.”

“Hardworking Americans should not be forced to give a cent of their retirement savings to foreign adversaries’ firms that may be complicit in activities that harm our national security,” Gillibrand said. “Our federal and military employees should know that their savings are being invested responsibly. That’s why I’m proud to support the Taxpayers and Savers Protection Act, which would ban the investment of thrift savings funds of our service members and federal workers in Chinese companies that may defy American oversight rules. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation to protect Americans’ retirement savings.”

“Deliberately choosing to invest the retirement savings of hardworking Americans in state-owned and state-directed firms in China effectively funds the Communist Party’s efforts to undermine our economic and national security,” Romney said. “Congress must act now to prevent the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board from steering the retirement savings of our federal employees and military members into the hands of China’s Communist Party.”

“This bipartisan legislation ensures that our servicemembers’ retirement savings will not flow to companies with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” Hawley said. “The U.S. government has no business pursuing an investment strategy that undermines our national security and underwrites the Chinese military.”

“There’s absolutely no reason we should be using U.S. taxpayer dollars to prop up companies under the control of Communist China, which continues to steal our technology, abuse human rights and build up its military to compete with us,” Scott said. “We have to take a stand against Communist China, and I’m proud to co-sponsor the Taxpayers and Savers Protection (TSP) Act to protect the retirement savings of federal employees from investments tied to China. No one should be doing business with Communist China, and the TSP Act is a logical step.”

WE NEED TO RESTORE COMMON GOOD CAPITALISM

Rubio: “Common-good capitalism is about a vibrant and growing free market. But it is also about harnessing and channeling that growth to the benefit of our country, our people, and our society. Because after all, our nation does not exist to serve the interests of the market. The market exists to serve our nation and our people.”

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) addressed students at Catholic University’s Busch School of Business. Rubio spoke on “Catholic Social Doctrine and the Dignity of Work” building off his op-ed in First Things, titled “What Economics is For,” that focuses on the economy and dignity of work.

Rubio's remarks as prepared can be found here. Rubio’s full speech can be viewed here.

In a recently released report, Rubio outlines how economic growth is now more driven by finance than innovation in the production of real assets, a fundamental shift in the U.S. economy that has occurred over the last four decades. The report details how this has led to underinvestment in America’s economy and is driven by the consensus that the goal of business is to maximize financial return, leading to suffering on the part of the American worker and American industry.

RUBIO WELCOMES SANCTIONS AGAINST THUGS OF MADURO’S REGIME

Washington - U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued the following statement after the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), pursuant to Executive Order 13884, imposed sanctions against five officials of the Maduro regime who were previously sanctioned by the European Union (EU) or Canada.

Today’s sanctions target Remigio Ceballos Ichaso, an Admiral in the Venezuelan Navy and Commander of the Strategic Operational Command of the National Armed Forces (CEOFANB), Nestor Neptali Blanco Hurtado, a Major in the Bolivarian National Guard (GNB), Jose Adelino Ornelas Ferreira, Secretary General of the National Defense Council (Secretario General del Consejo de Defensa de la Nación), Pedro Miguel Carreno Escobar, Deputy of the illegitimate Venezuelan National Constituent Assembly (ANC), and Carlos Alberto Calderon Chirinos, a senior official in Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN).

“It’s important for the United States to continue imposing maximum pressure with our international allies against members of the illegitimate Maduro regime and work together to advance democratic values in our hemisphere. As dictator Nicolás Maduro and members of his narcoterrorist regime attempt to maintain their grip on power, the United States continues to stand firmly with the Venezuelan people in defense of their quest for freedom and restoration of democratic order.”

Rubio is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, and Global Women’s Issues.

 

RUBIO, CARDIN, CRAMER, ROSEN, AND BLUMENTHAL APPLAUD ADOPTION OF HOLOCAUST EDUCATION AMENDMENT

Miami - U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) applauded the inclusion of their amendment (S.AMDT 1159) to support Holocaust education programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in the Senate-passed spending bill (H.R. 3055) that provides funding for the Museum. Their amendment would require the Museum to submit a report on its collection and usage of historical documentation, such as survivor testimony, to support the museum’s Holocaust educational programs. Currently, an estimated 80,000 Holocaust survivors are living in the United States with an average age of 85.

The move comes after a principal in Florida was fired after emails revealed he cast doubt on the historical truth of the Holocaust.

A living memorial to the Holocaust, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum inspires citizens and leaders worldwide to confront hatred, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. In addition to the inclusion of the Senators’ amendment, the Senate-passed Appropriations bill increased funding for Fiscal Year 2020 by $500,000 to support the Museum’s operations above the Fiscal Year 2019 enacted levels.

“We must never forget the stain caused by the Holocaust and we must ensure future generations know the full history of this horrific genocide,” Rubio said. “By providing additional funds and assessing our current education programs about the Holocaust, we will be able to better support the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s efforts to preserve and share the memory of survivor accounts. As anti-Semitism continues to plague our country, I’m happy to see the United States Senate send a clear message that honors the victims who perished during humanity’s darkest hour.”

“We must never forget those who perished in the Holocaust and we must always work to ensure that knowledge, tolerance, and reason are ever present in the face of ignorance and rising anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other forms of intolerance and hate. Our goal is to ensure that this invaluable American museum has the resources it needs to collect and preserve irreplaceable historical documentation of the Holocaust. In turn, those materials and experiences can be used to provide future generations with the knowledge, tolerance, and reason they need in the world we face today,” Cardin said, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism, and Intolerance for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly.

“I applaud my colleagues for joining our efforts to combat the rising tide of anti-Semitism in our country through increased education about this terrible tragedy,” Cramer said. “The lessons of the Holocaust must always be taught so the experience of the Holocaust may never be repeated.”

“With anti-Semitism on the rise across the globe, it is critical that we take steps to educate future generations about the Holocaust,” Rosen said . “I applaud the inclusion of this bipartisan amendment which will help utilize the stories of survivors to stop hate before it starts, which could help to reverse the troubling increase of anti-Semitism in the United States. I will continue working in Congress on legislative actions to ensure that the phrase ‘Never Again’ rings true for all generations.”

“Ensuring that the past horrors of the Holocaust aren’t forgotten will help combat anti-Semitism and hate in our present and future. Our bipartisan effort will help preserve firsthand accounts of the Holocaust and other primary sources, which are vital to teaching future generations about one of the darkest chapters in human history,” Blumenthal said.

Miami, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today sent a letter to United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green urging him to request that the United States Naval Ship (USNS) Comfort be repositioned to the Bahamas as soon as possible, as well as any assets needed from the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group.

In the letter, Rubio writes that, “The USNS Comfort, and its crew of trained medical staff, flight deck and ability to desalinate water, would be ideal in helping the Bahamian people.”

Dear Administrator Green:

This past Friday, I traveled to the Bahamas and witnessed the destruction of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian. The devastation left behind on Abaco and Grand Bahama islands will certainly require the United States and the international community to provide strong support and assistance to aid them in their recovery.

There remains an immediate need for medical attention and communications, however, accessibility and resources are limited, and a lack of electricity continues to plague recovery efforts. Vertical-lift of those who are injured and require treatment by trained professionals is the only solution until debris is cleared and on-shore resources can be stood up. The USNS Comfort, and its crew of trained medical staff, flight deck and ability to desalinate water, would be ideal in helping the Bahamian people. While it is currently assigned to U.S. Southern Command’s Area of Responsibility, the USNS Comfort, if requested, could be reassigned to the Bahamas and provide short-term medical treatment as runways and ports come back online. Additionally, the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group, already in the area, has ships that are also capable of providing air lift and medical support.

It is critical that during this time of need for our neighbors, the United States uses all of our capabilities to continue to assist in the recovery efforts. This includes urgent efforts to save lives. As such, I respectfully implore you to strongly consider a formal request for the USNS Comfort to be repositioned to the Bahamas as soon as possible, as well as any assets needed from the Bataan Amphibious Readiness Group. I stand ready to work with you as we help the Bahamas recover from this deadly storm.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

AHEAD OF T.S. DORIAN, RUBIO, SCOTT URGE PRESIDENT TO APPROVE PUERTO RICO’S EMERGENCY DECLARATION

Miami - U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rick Scott (R-FL) today urged President Donald Trump to approve the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration in anticipation of Tropical Storm Dorian. In their letter, the Senators asked the President to ensure that full federal resources are made available for the safety of the American citizens in Puerto Rico.

Dear Mr. President:

We write in full support of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration for the island in anticipation of Tropical Storm Dorian. As current projections indicate, Tropical Storm Dorian is forecasted to be near hurricane strength when it moves close to Puerto Rico. As such, we urge you to immediately approve this request to ensure that full federal resources are made available.

Puerto Ricans are still in the process of recovering from Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island on September 20, 2017. As Tropical Storm Dorian approaches, the state and federal government must effectively coordinate in order to help reduce the potential loss of life and destruction of property. As we witnessed last October with Hurricane Michael, preparation and up-front resources are paramount.

We strongly urge you to consider all of the circumstances referenced in Puerto Rico’s request and approve this pre-landfall emergency declaration that will provide the resources necessary to ensure the safety of the American citizens in Puerto Rico. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

RUBIO TO TSP BOARD: REVERSE SHORT-SIGHTED, FOOLISH DECISION TO STEER FEDERAL RETIREMENT SAVINGS TO CHINA

Senior US senators are demanding that one of America’s biggest government pension funds reverse a decision that is set to channel billions of US dollars into funding Chinese companies that they say support Beijing’s military, espionage and domestic security efforts.

The demand shows how the US-China rivalry, which has thus far focused mainly on trade war tensions, is spreading further into the arena of financial markets.

Senators Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, told Michael Kennedy, chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, in a letter that his fund is supporting Chinese state-owned companies with “the paychecks of members of the US Armed Services and other federal government employees.”

The letter — a copy of which was seen by the Financial Times — said an impending investment shift by the FRTIB would mean that about $50bn in US government pensions becomes exposed to the “severe and undisclosed” risks of being invested in selected Chinese companies.

The letter, dated August 26, was copied to senior US officials including Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary.

“The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board made a short-sighted — and foolish — decision to effectively fund the Chinese government and Communist party’s efforts to undermine US economic and national security with the retirement savings of members of the US Armed Services and other federal employees,” Mr Rubio told the Financial Times.

“The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board should publicly reverse this decision immediately,” added Mr Rubio.

The FRTIB did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr Rubio, a senior member of the Senate foreign relations committee and a China hawk, has led a push against Chinese companies with ties to the country’s intelligence and military. Ms Shaheen is on the Senate armed services committee.

The FRTIB manages about $578bn in assets in its Thrift Savings Plan and has some 5.5m participants, ranking as one of the US’s largest retirement funds.

Under a 2017 decision to change its investment strategy, a key portfolio is set to be shifted next year into the MSCI All Country World ex-US Investable Market Index, a benchmark index that includes several controversial Chinese companies.

RUBIO, SHAHEEN URGE TSP BOARD TO REVERSE DECISION TO STEER FEDERAL RETIREMENT SAVINGS TO CHINA

Miami – U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, today urged Michael Kennedy, the Chairman of the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board (FRTIB), to reverse a short sighted-decision to mirror the MSCI All Country World ex-U.S. Investable Market Index (ACWI ex-US IMI). This decision will expose nearly $50 billion in retirement assets of federal government employees, including members of the U.S. Armed Forces, to severe and undisclosed material risks associated with many of the Chinese companies listed on the MSCI ACWI ex-US IMI. If implemented, the decision will effectively use these retirement savings to fund the Chinese government and Communist Party’s efforts to undermine U.S. economic and national security. The letter requests responses to questions posed no later than September 6, 2019.

Bill Passed: Stopping Bad Robocalls

If you’re anything like me, you’re sick and tired of receiving annoying robocalls at all hours of the day. But even more than being super annoying, these spam calls are taking advantage of people across our country - especially seniors - and it’s well past time to bring them to an end.
The good news: the House recently passed the bipartisan Stopping Bad Robocalls Act to help us take back our privacy and prevent robocallers from contacting us without consent.
This legislation will help fight back against the predatory scammers who disguise themselves as government agencies, hospitals and credit card companies to steal our private information.
It’s clear that this problem is only going to get worse unless we do something, so it’s time for the Senate to act quickly, pass this bill and send it to the President’s desk to become law!

RUBIO APPLAUDS TRUMP ADMINISTRATION PLAN TO MOVE FORWARD WITH ARMS SALE TO TAIWAN

Jacksonville, FL — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today issued the following statement regarding the Trump administration’s plan to move ahead with an $8 billion sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan:

“I commend the administration for moving forward with the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. As the Chinese government and Communist Party seeks to extend its authoritarian reach in the region, it is critical that the United States continue to enhance our strategic relationship with our democratic partner Taiwan through regular and consistent support. This move is an important step in support of Taiwan’s self-defense efforts, and I urge the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committee to quickly advance this critical arms sale.”

Related:
• April 10, 2019: Rubio Calls to Reaffirm U.S.-Taiwan Relationship on 40th Anniversary of Taiwan Relations Act
• March 26, 2019: Rubio Joins Cotton, Colleagues To Introduce Taiwan Assurance Act

RUBIO, HARRIS, BOOKER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ESTABLISH COMMISSION DEVOTED TO UPLIFTING BLACK COMMUNITIES

 

Washington D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced legislation to establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys. The Commission would be housed within the United States Commission on Civil Rights’ Office and would recommend policies to improve current government programs. U.S. Representative Frederica Wilson (D-FL) introduced companion legislation (H.R. 1636) in the House.

“A lack of economic opportunity and prosperity for black men is a tragedy for our nation. The United States needs their talents to solve the challenges of our time.” Rubio said. “It is intolerable and unacceptable that many black men come to believe, often for good reason, that the American Dream is not available to them. I remain passionate about working to find a solution to these problems and am proud to join Senators Harris and Booker in introducing this important, bipartisan and bicameral legislation to establish the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys.”

“We must speak truth that slavery and our country’s long history of institutional racism continue to cause great pain and inequality toward communities of color—particularly Black males,” Harris said. “This bipartisan commission is just the start of a long overdue effort to confront the negative treatment Black men and boys face every day in America. I am proud to support.”

“Racial inequality for black men in our country has caused significant economic and social disparities and contribute to a racial wealth gap that ultimately harms all Americans. This commission will address the long-standing societal gaps that have harmed black men in America and lowered the prospect of upward mobility,” Booker said. “It is encouraging to see the effort being taken to reverse course and ensure equality and justice. I look forward to also having this discussion with respect to some of the alarming trends we’ve seen regarding the school-to-prison pipeline and black girls.”

Specifically, the Commission on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys Act establishes a commission to recommend policies to improve upon, or augment, current government programs. The Commission, consisting of 19 members, will include bipartisan Members of Congress, federal agency experts, and appointed subject issue area experts. The Commission will investigate potential civil rights violations affecting black males and study the disparities they experience in education, criminal justice, health, employment, fatherhood, mentorship and violence. The Commission will be responsible for producing an annual report to address the current conditions affecting black men and boys and make recommendations to improve the social conditions and provide vital guidance for Congress on effective strategies to reduce the racial disparities in education, criminal justice, health and employment. The report will be submitted to the President, Congress, members of the President’s Cabinet, and the chairs of the appropriate committees of jurisdiction, and be publicly available online on a centralized Federal website. The bill does not authorize any appropriations, and members of the Commission serve without compensation.

The bill is in line with the 2006 established Florida Council on the Social Status of Black Men and Boys, which Rubio worked on while in the state legislature, including appointing members as Speaker of the Florida House.

19 Aug Marco Rubio Logo

RUBIO, HARRIS, BOOKER INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO ESTABLISH COMMISSION DEVOTED TO UPLIFTING BLACK COMMUNITIES

 

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) today sent a letter urging Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to update the State Department’s travel advisories in order to alert U.S. citizens who are traveling to countries that use Chinese surveillance and monitoring systems about the threat they face through the use of Chinese-supplied technologies like “smart city” and “safe city” systems.

Dear Secretary Pompeo:

We write to urge the State Department to issue travel advisories to U.S. citizens traveling to countries that use Chinese surveillance and monitoring systems, including so-called “smart city” and “safe city” systems. Doing so would make Americans aware that these technologies could expose their personal data to foreign governments, including potentially China.

The Chinese government is exporting advanced surveillance and monitoring systems as part of a broad effort to spread its authoritarian model abroad and influence foreign countries. Chinese companies like Huawei and China National Electronics Import & Export Corporation are selling, loaning, or transferring to foreign governments so-called “smart city” and “safe city” systems—a broad array of surveillance and monitoring technologies, including cameras, facial recognition along with artificial intelligence and cloud systems, that can be used to track and monitor individuals.

According to The New York Times, more than 18 countries now use Chinese intelligent monitoring systems. These include Germany, which has strong privacy and human rights protections, but also Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, which do not. Freedom House’s 2018 Freedom on the Net report indicates that supplying technology to countries with poor rights records might not only benefit local authoritarians; it might also benefit China. “As more of the world’s critical telecommunications infrastructure is built by China,” writes Freedom House, “global data may become more accessible to Chinese intelligence agencies through both legal and extralegal methods.”

The State Department has a core responsibility to make American citizens aware of threats as they travel—including, in the 21st century, the threats to privacy and personal information. Indeed, Americans need to know that repressive regimes may use Chinese-made technology to gain access to sensitive data—or that Chinese intelligence may gain access to data, even if Americans never set foot in China. We therefore urge you to update State Department travel advisories and alert Americans to the presence of Chinese-supplied technologies like “smart city” and “safe city” systems in foreign countries.