MIAMI – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) joined House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere Chairman Jeff Duncan (SC-03) and Ranking Member Albio Sires (NJ-08) on a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew urging support for the Venezuelan people. More than 30 Members of Congress called for a recall referendum by the end of 2016, the release of all political prisoners, and the continued issuance of sanctions to operatives of the Maduro regime.
"While the Maduro regime continues to censor the media, brutally suppress dissent, imprison the opposition and destroy Venezuela's economy through corruption and gross mismanagement, the Obama administration has done little to help the Venezuelan people in their struggle. I join my colleagues in this important, bipartisan letter which urges the administration to work toward ending the Maduro regime's corruption of democratic institutions and civil society in Venezuela. I commend the Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC), and the Ranking Member, Representative Albio Sires (D-NJ), for spearheading this important effort."
See the letter here.
MIAMI – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) released the following statement after participating in a Zika preparedness roundtable with Florida Governor Rick Scott, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and other local elected officials.
“I was glad to join Governor Scott at this important roundtable to discuss how the federal government and Florida can work together to combat this dangerous virus. The state of Florida has become ground zero for the Zika virus, yet Senate Democrats continue to block funding for their own political gain. I urge them to reconsider the two pieces of House legislation they have twice blocked. Time is of the essence, and we must fund and provide every dollar needed to respond to Zika, and not one penny less. I am grateful to Governor Scott for his leadership on the issue, and I will continue to work with him on prevention, response, and the eventual eradication of this disease.”
Read background on Congressman Diaz-Balart’s Zika response efforts here.
MIAMI – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) released the following statement after the Department of Health and Human Services announced it will reallocate $81 million to fight the Zika virus.
"House Republicans, led by Speaker Ryan and Chairman Rogers, have been calling on the White House for several months to reallocate existing funds to continue addressing the Zika response. The White House has stubbornly refused. The House voted on and passed two pieces of legislation that would provide immediate and direct funding to combat, treat, and respond with clear guidelines as to how the money would be allocated. Yet, with the support of the White House, Senate Democrats blocked legislation not once, but twice. I'm glad the Administration finally came around and listened to Speaker Ryan and Chairman Rogers, but it didn't have to come down to this. The Administration could have chosen to take this action months ago, but refused. I urge Senate Democrats to reconsider the two pieces of legislation they have before them, so that we can get urgently needed resources to affected regions."
MIAMI – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25), Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee, released the following statement after participating in the Safe Cars Save Lives Tour alongside Dr. Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This free event, held at Florida International University, invited the local community to learn about vehicle safety, including car seat and tire checks, recall look-ups, and spreading awareness about the dangers of heat stroke when leaving children in hot cars. This event was a collaboration of the NHTSA, Safe Kids Miami-Dade Coalition, Florida Department of Transportation-State Safety Office, Florida Highway Patrol, and the Rubber Manufacturers Association.
“Millions of car owners across the United States are facing a massive recall on Takata air bags, and this event invited the local community to learn more about the recall and what steps to take to replace the air bags. As a native Floridian, I am all too familiar with the soaring temperatures and high humidity during the summer months, and I am pleased that NHTSA made South Florida their first stop on the safety tour. I am happy to work with NHTSA Administrator Rosekind to help spread awareness about the dangers posed when leaving children in hot cars. Being informed about these dangers, as well as any recent vehicle recalls and the importance of proper car seat installation, are critical to keeping our families safe.”
NHTSA is partially funded through the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Diaz-Balart. For the current fiscal year, Congress funded NHTSA Operations and Research at $295.7 million, an increase of $27.2 million over current levels, and funded Safety Programs at $573.3 million, an increase of $11.8 over current levels.
MIAMI – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) released the following statement, after he and Congressman Curt Clawson (FL-19) wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), urging Senate leadership to take immediate action on two pieces of legislation that would provide additional funding to help combat, prevent, and treat the Zika virus. These two bills were passed in the House, and legislation to provide funding was twice blocked by Senate Democrats.
"I urge Senate leadership to take action on the two bills the House has passed that would provide additional and immediate funding to combat Zika. This week, Florida has confirmed over a dozen locally transmitted cases, the first of their kind in the continental United States. It is irresponsible of Senate Democrats to ignore the threat of Zika that has already reached our shores. After blocking House approved legislation twice, it is time to end political grandstanding. Senate Democrats have a duty to vote for immediate Zika funding, and to get these urgently needed funds to the affected regions."
The text of the letter can be found below:
August 5, 2016
The Honorable Mitch McConnell The Honorable Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader Senate Minority Leader
S-230, The Capitol S-221, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Leaders McConnell and Reid,
The threat of Zika to our national way of life can no longer accommodate the calendar of the United States Senate. With the State of Florida’s recent announcement that 15 individuals have contracted the dangerous Zika virus through local transmission, Florida now has become the first state in the nation to report non-travel related cases of the virus. On Monday, August 1, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a travel warning for Wynwood, a neighborhood located in Miami, FL where most of these cases have been identified.
Zika virus is a dangerous disease linked to birth defects, certain neurological disorders, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. The disease is most commonly transmitted through a bite from the Aedes species of mosquito, but can also be spread through sexual transmission. Prior to Florida’s announcement, the CDC had reported 4,729 locally acquired cases in U.S. territories, with the majority being recorded in Puerto Rico.
Despite the acknowledged threat to the United States, the House and Senate have thus far been unable to agree on meaningful prevention, containment, and treatment measures. Further disagreement and inaction is unacceptable, and we implore the Senate to explore all options to make urgently-needed funding available immediately.
The House has referred multiple Zika-related measures to the Senate for final passage. In May, the House passed H.R. 5243, the Zika Response Appropriations Act. Passage of this bill is the quickest way for the Senate to get a clean bill to the President that responds to the threat posed by Zika. It would appropriate over $600 million in funding to combat the spread of the virus through the remainder of this fiscal year, allowing Congress additional time to pass long-term, comprehensive legislation during the appropriations negotiations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. Additionally, the Senate could agree to the conference report to H.R. 2577, which includes language that would direct $1.1 billion through FY2017 to fight the spread of Zika.
Regardless of which bill receives final passage, it is unacceptable to wait until after the August recess to act. We again urge the Senate to aggressively pursue any options that would start the flow of needed resources to the frontline to secure the nation from this biological threat.
Curt Clawson Mario Diaz-Balart
Member of Congress Member of Congress
MIAMI - El Congresista Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-25) hizo la siguiente declaración después de que él y el congresista Curt Clawson (FL-19) escribieran una carta al líder de la mayoría del Senado, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), y el líder de la minoría del Senado, Harry Reid (D-NV), instándoles a tomar medidas inmediatas con respecto a dos propuestas de ley que proporcionarían fondos adicionales para ayudar a combatir, prevenir y tratar el virus Zika. Los dos proyectos fueron aprobados en la Cámara pero bloqueados en dos ocasiones por los demócratas del Senado.
"Los líderes del Senado deben actuar ya con respecto a dos proyectos de ley aprobados por la Cámara para proporcionar fondos adicionales urgentes contra el Zika. Esta semana en la Florida se han confirmado más de una docena de casos de transmisión local, los primeros en los Estados Unidos continentales. Es irresponsable que los demócratas del Senado ignoren la amenaza del Zika, que ya ha llegado a nuestras costas. En dos ocasiones han bloqueado legislación aprobada por la Cámara y ya es tarde para que se dejen de politiqueo. Los demócratas del Senado tienen el deber de votar a favor de esta financiación para que los fondos lleguen urgentemente a las zonas afectadas".
El texto de la carta se puede leer a continuación:
Estimados líderes McConnell y Reid,
La amenaza del Zika a nuestro modo de vida ya no puede acoplarse al calendario del Senado de los Estados Unidos. Con el anuncio reciente del Estado de Florida de que quince personas han contraído el virus del Zika a través de la transmisión local, la Florida se ha convertido en el primer estado del país con casos de Zika no relacionados con viajes al exterior. El lunes 1 de agosto, los Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC) emitieron una advertencia de viaje para Wynwood, un barrio ubicado en Miami, FL, donde se han identificado la mayoría de los casos.
El virus del Zika es una enfermedad peligrosa relacionada con los defectos de nacimiento, ciertos trastornos neurológicos, y el síndrome de Guillain-Barré. La enfermedad se transmite más comúnmente a través de la picadura de la especie de mosquito Aedes, pero también se puede transmitir por vía sexual. Antes del anuncio de la Florida, el CDC había reportado 4.729 casos adquiridos localmente en territorios de Estados Unidos, la mayoría en Puerto Rico.
Hasta ahora la Cámara y el Senado han sido incapaces de ponerse de acuerdo sobre las medidas para prevenir, contener y tratar el Zika, a pesar de la clara amenaza que supone para los Estados Unidos. Más inacción es inaceptable. Imploramos al Senado que explore cualquier opción para que estos fondos urgentes estén disponibles de inmediato.
La Cámara ha pasado varias medidas relacionadas con Zika al Senado para su aprobación final. En mayo, la Cámara aprobó H. R. 5243, la Ley de Asignaciones para la Respuesta al Zika. La forma más rápida en que el Senado pueda presentar al Presidente una ley que responde a la amenaza del Zika es aprobando este proyecto de ley. De inmediato y hasta el final de este año fiscal, se dedicarían más de $600 millones a combatir la propagación del virus, dándole tiempo al Congreso de aprobar legislación integral a largo plazo durante las negociaciones para el año fiscal (FY) 2017. Además, el Senado podría aprobar el informe de conferencia para el HR 2577, que incluye lenguaje que asignaría $ 1,1 millones durante FY2017 para luchar contra la propagación de Zika.
Independientemente de cuál de las propuestas es finalmente aprobada, es inaceptable esperar hasta después del receso de agosto para actuar. Instamos una vez más al Senado a que explore cualquier opción que haga fluir urgentemente los recursos necesarios a la primera línea para proteger al país de esta amenaza biológica.Read More
MIAMI - El Congresista Mario Díaz-Balart (FL-25) publicó la siguiente declaración con respecto al líder pro democracia Guillermo "Coco" Fariñas, que cumple hoy trece días en huelga de hambre.
"La huelga de hambre de Guillermo Fariñas, galardonado con el Premio Sajarov de la Unión Europea para la libertad de pensamiento, junto con las huelgas de otros activistas incluyendo varios de la Unión Patriótica de Cuba UNPACU, muestra la disposición del movimiento pro democracia de Cuba de recurrir a medidas extremas para protestar la represión creciente del régimen de Castro. Es lamentable que se sientan obligados a recurrir a estas medidas para que el mundo vea la maldad de la tiranía a que se enfrentan cada día.
"Su mensaje no podría ser más claro. El brutal régimen de Castro sigue siendo el peor violador de derechos humanos del hemisferio y reprime la disidencia con palizas, detenciones e intimidación. Insto a los que valoren los derechos humanos más fundamentales a que condenen la barbarie de la dictadura y expresen su solidaridad con el pueblo cubano.
"Es vergonzoso que la fallida política de apaciguamiento del presidente Obama no haya hecho nada para ayudar a los defensores de la democracia, sino que ha envalentonado a sus opresores. El presidente Obama afirmó que, como parte del ‘acuerdo’ con Castro en diciembre de 2014, las organizaciones internacionales como el Comité Internacional de la Cruz Roja tendrían acceso a la isla. Esto parece haber sido una mentira. Con activistas valientes arriesgando sus vidas por la libertad, lo mínimo que podría hacer el presidente Obama es exigirle al régimen que cumpla sus compromisos.”
MIAMI – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) released the following statement regarding pro-democracy leader Guillermo “Coco” Fariñas, who is entering the 12th day of hunger strike.
"The hunger strike by Guillermo Fariñas, recipient of the EU's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, among other activists demonstrates the determination of Cuba's pro-democracy movement to resort to extreme measures in protesting the Castro regime's escalating repression. Sadly, these activists are resorting to such extreme measures so the world will see the malevolence of the tyranny that they face each day.
“Their message is received. The brutal Castro regime continues to hold our hemisphere's worst record on human rights and stifles dissent with beatings, arrests, and intimidation. I urge those who value basic rights to condemn the savagery of the Castro dictatorship and express solidarity with the Cuban people.
“Shamefully, President Obama's failed policy of appeasement has done nothing to help democracy activists, but has only emboldened their oppressors. President Obama claimed that part of the Obama-Castro December 2014 ‘deal’ was that international organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross would have access to the island. Yet, this apparently was just another empty promise. As courageous activists risk their lives for freedom, holding the Castro regime to its commitment is the bare minimum that President Obama could do.”
MIAMI – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) released the following statement after the arrest of Cuban independent labor activist Iván Hernández Carrillo. According to reports from inside the island, Hernández Carrillo was violently arrested when he arrived at the airport in Havana, and remains detained in Cuba.
“It is outrageous that independent labor activist Iván Hernández Carrillo was arrested upon arriving back in Cuba after his trip to the United States and Europe. While abroad, Ivan brought attention to the Castro regime’s egregious abuses of basic human rights and labor standards in Cuba, and protested the labor violations that will occur as a result of the recently announced Castro-Starwood deal.
“The Castro dictatorship is punishing Ivan for effectively and eloquently highlighting the regime’s repression to the outside world. While in the U.S. and Europe, Ivan informed labor activists in free countries about his personal experiences with tyranny in Cuba, and emphasized the lack of free association and other basic labor rights. But within minutes of returning to his homeland, he was violently and brutally reminded of the consequences of expression in the Castro’s totalitarian regime. For years, Ivan has demonstrated remarkable courage in continuing the struggle for the Cuban people’s freedom despite numerous arrests, threats, beatings, and imprisonment. His latest trip to highlight labor abuses, and then return to Cuba to continue the struggle, was an exceptional act of bravery.
“As the violent arrest and detention of Ivan demonstrates, along with the ongoing hunger strikes by other activists, repression in Cuba continues to escalate despite numerous concessions from the Obama administration. By failing to focus on human rights and barreling ahead with his failed policy of appeasement, President Obama has done nothing to help Cuba’s pro-democracy and human rights activists, and has emboldened their oppressors. President Obama should change course and cease his misguided concessions to the Castro regime until basic human rights are respected.”
WASHINGTON – Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) released the following statement after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Florida Department of Health confirmed the first mosquito-transmitted Zika cases in the United States. All four cases are in Florida.
“It was only a matter of time before mosquito-transmitted Zika cases would appear in Florida. I’ve said time and time again that Florida had the potential to become ground zero for local transmission. Unfortunately, that has now become the case, and we must stop it before it gets worse. The House has passed legislation that would provide the necessary and immediate funds to combat the disease, yet Senate Democrats blocked legislation not once, but twice.
“I urge President Obama to use the funds that have already been repurposed to combat Zika. Instead of waiting idly for the right political opportunity, he must continue using the $590 million that is available, only a fraction of which has been spent. We must fund and spend every penny needed to prevent, combat, and treat this disease, and I will work with my colleagues to ensure this happens."
436 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Mario Diaz-Balart is currently fulfilling his 6th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. At the beginning of the 112th Congress, Diaz-Balart was asked to serve on one of the most prestigious committees: House Committee on Appropriations. As part of the House Committee on Appropriations, he sits on three of its subcommittees: State and Foreign Operations, Commerce, Justice, and Science, and as Vice-Chair of Financial Services.
Diaz-Balart was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2002 to represent Florida’s 25th Congressional district, which at the time, covered portions of Miami-Dade County, Collier County, and Monroe County. Diaz-Balart continued to represent the three counties until 2010, when he ran unopposed for Florida’s 21st Congressional district. After the 2012 redistricting cycle, he ran for the newly redrawn 25th Congressional district, to which he was elected. The 25th district now includes parts of Miami-Dade, Broward, Collier, and Hendry Counties.
Prior to his time in Congress, Diaz-Balart served 14 years in the Florida State Legislature in both chambers, House and Senate. At age 31, Diaz-Balart became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida Senate, as well as the first Hispanic to serve as Chair of the Combined Appropriations / Ways and Means / Finance and Tax Committee. During his tenure in the state legislature, he consistently ranked among the most effective legislators in Florida, developing a reputation as a budget hawk, and supporting minority voting rights.
In Washington, Diaz-Balart has worked tireless to make American homes and communities safer and stronger in the face of hurricanes and other natural disasters. In 2013, he introduced the Safe Building Code Incentive Act (H.R. 1878), legislation that would provide financial incentives to states that adopt and enforce nationally recognized model building codes. These states would also qualify for an additional 4 percent of funding for hazard mitigation grants. That same year, he introduced the Disaster Savings and Resilient Construction Act (H.R. 2241), which would incentivize home and building owners to utilize resilient construction methods when building and renovating home and commercial structures in federally declared disaster areas. Over the long run, both of these bills would save hard-earned taxpayer dollars and minimize the risk of property damage, but more importantly, would reduce the loss of life.
Diaz-Balart has also been a strong proponent of improving public safety and transportation. Throughout his tenure in Congress, Diaz-Balart has helped deliver millions of federal dollars for the I-75 widening project and Miami-Dade Transit. As a true South Floridian, the Everglades restoration has been an ongoing project for Diaz-Balart. As founder and co-chairman of the Everglades Caucus, he has consistently fought to secure billions for the overall restoration and prevented massive funding cuts in recent years. Diaz-Balart has promoted hurricane preparedness and ensured federal relief for Florida in the aftermaths of Hurricanes Katrina, Wilma, and Rita.
Diaz-Balart was born on September 25, 1961 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Rafael and Hilda Diaz-Balart, and the youngest of four brothers (Rafael, Lincoln, and Jose). He studied Political Science at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Diaz-Balart currently resides in Miami, Florida with his wife and son.
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