Congressman David Rivera (FL-25) was in Miami and Washington last week focused on economic, foreign affairs and environmental issues.
Rep Rivera Returns $250,000 of Congressional Office Budget to Pay Down National Debt
Congressman Rivera announced on Thursday that he will return a quarter of a million dollars from his Congressional office's 2011 budget. The Congressman is requesting that the funds be used to pay down the national debt.
Traditionally, funds returned by Members are put in a shared account for two years before being transferred to the United States Treasury. Instead, Congressman Rivera is calling for these funds to be transferred to the Treasury immediately.
The $250,000 amount represents about 20 percent of the Congressman's annual budget which is used to cover all expenses for his Washington, DC and district offices. The Congressman has district offices in Miami-Dade and Collier Counties.
"I pledged to the residents of the 25th District that bringing fiscal responsibility to Washington would be my top priority. The only way to achieve this goal is to drastically cut spending. However, if we are going to govern on cutting spending, then we must look to our own offices to lead by example.
"Families in my South Florida district are tightening their belts and making sacrifices every day during these tough economic times. I understand the difficulties they are facing. That is why I am making every effort to reduce our national debt, including transferring unused funds from my Congressional office budget to the Treasury immediately, so that future generations of Americans do not have to shoulder such a heavy burden and our nation's economy can get moving again," Congressman Rivera said.
Congressman Rivera Participates in Field Hearing on Offshore Drilling in Cuba and the Bahamas
On Monday Congressman Rivera participated in the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation field hearing on "Offshore Drilling in Cuba and the Bahamas: The U.S. Coast Guard's Oil Spill Readiness and Response Planning." The hearing was held in Sunny Isles Beach with the beach as a backdrop for what is at stake in the event of a foreign oil spill from Cuba or the Bahamas.
In his opening statement at the hearing, Congressman Rivera stressed the importance of preparing for and preventing the dangers that are posed by the drilling occurring off the coast of Cuba and less than 90 miles from the coast of Florida.
"The Castro brothers will certainly have no concern with respect to the environmental integrity of Florida or the rest of the United States. We know what their dismal environmental record is in Cuba. We need to make sure that we hold all parties accountable," Congressman Rivera said.
The Congressman gave an overview of his Foreign Oil Spill Liability (FOSL) Act that would ensure that the responsible party for a foreign-sourced oil spill would pay for all clean up and compensation costs for any oil that reached U.S. waters and beaches, and triples liabilities and penalties for spills that originate in the waters of a State Sponsor of Terrorism.
"This is the only way, I believe, that we will be able to move this Administration toward a more proactive policy of ensuring that State Sponsors of Terrorism, and their private sector collaborators around the world, understand that they are going to be held responsible if anything happens to the coast of Florida as a result of their activities in working with a terrorist dictatorship like the Castro dictatorship," Congressman Rivera said.
Congressman Rivera directed his questions during the hearing to Lars Herbst, the Gulf of Mexico Director of the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Inspections. The Congressman expressed his concerns over comments from Herbst earlier in the hearing about the Department's informal and cursory review of the Scarabeo 9 oil rig that is preparing to drill off the coast of Cuba. Herbst noted that during the inspection they found cases of unsafe welding and incomplete wiring--which in the case of an American rig would mean it would not be certified for drilling in U.S. waters.
"I want to know what we can do to make sure that if something does happen, how we inflict maximum pain on Repsol, how we bleed Repsol, if you will, to whatever extent possible if something does happen on a rig that we ourselves have said would not be certified for U.S. operations," Congressman Rivera said.
Herbst pointed out that while there are consequences for companies with U.S. operations based on their performance reviews on current operations on U.S. leases and on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf, he could not verify if such consequences existed for poor performance for non-U.S. operations that affected U.S. waters and shores.
Congressman Rivera stressed the need to confirm that as soon as possible, noting that Florida's tourism industry would be hit hard by even the suggestion that something could have gone wrong on the rig less than 90 miles from Florida's coast.
"Those folks that you see on the beach here, they are not going to be out there because they are going to be worried about some sort of unsafe welding or incomplete wiring going on off the coast of Florida and a potential spill," Congressman Rivera said.
Congressman Rivera: Congress Should Create a Range of Options to Contain and Prevent Iran's Expansion in the Western Hemisphere
Congressman Rivera participated in the House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on Thursday on Ahmadinejad's Tour of Tyrants and Iran's Agenda in the Western Hemisphere.
After thanking Congressman Dan Burton (IN-5) for his great service in promoting freedom and democracy for many years, Congressman Rivera turned to the topic at hand. Congressman Burton announced earlier in the day that he would be retiring from the House of Representatives. He was the primary House author of the Helms-Burton Act that intensified the Cuban embargo.
"Throughout the last three years we have continued to watch Iran expand its cooperation with State Sponsors of Terrorism and criminal organizations in our own backyard while, I believe, the Obama Administration has stood idly as a spectator. Chairman Ros-Lehtinen so eloquently stated that Ahmadinejad's Tour of Tyrants to Cuba was his fifth visit to the region since 2007. I believe this shows Iran's intentions of working with anti-American regimes to continue undermining the interests of the United States," Congressman Rivera said. "This demonstrates how important it is for the Obama Administration to work with Congress to develop a range of policy options to contain and prevent Iran's continued expansion into the region. This should include sanctions and law enforcement indictments against anyone seeking out economic and other arrangements with Iran."
District Activities: Miami Intermodal Center Tour
Congressman Rivera joined Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica (FL-7) and more than 100 public officials, including other Members of Congress, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, Florida Department of Transportation officials, transit officials and others for a tour and presentation at the Miami Intermodal Center (MIC). The MIC is located next to Miami International Airport (MIA). It is a ground transportation hub project developed by the Florida Department of Transportation that includes a rental car center, major area roadway improvements and the MIA Mover to easily transport travelers from rental car counters to the airport and vice versa. In coming years the MIC will also provide connectivity to transportation systems in Broward and Palm Beach Counties as well as to Miami-Dade's own public transportation system.
Notable Votes: H.R. 1173
Congressman Rivera voted in favor of H.R. 1173, the Fiscal Responsibility and Retirement Security Act of 2011 which repeals provisions enacted under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (entitled the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act or CLASS). In October, the Obama Administration canceled the program which was fiscally unsustainable, and was contributing to the national debt.
Notable Votes: H.R. 3567
Congressman Rivera voted in favor of the Welfare Integrity Now for Children and Families Act (WIN). WIN amends Part A, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), of Title IV of the Social Security Act to require a state to which a state family assistance grant is made to maintain policies and practices necessary to prevent the use of state TANF assistance in any transaction in a liquor store, a casino or other gambling establishment, or an adult entertainment facility. The bill also establishes penalties for states which have not reported on their implementation or enforcement of such policies and practices.
Notable Votes: H.R. 3582
Congressman Rivera voted in favor of H.R. 3582, the Pro-Growth Budgeting Act of 2011. The bill would require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to prepare for each major bill or resolution reported by any congressional committee, as a supplement to CBO cost estimates, a macroeconomic impact analysis of the costs of such legislation. The bill defines a major bill or resolution as any bill whose budgetary effects is estimated to be greater than .25% of the current projected U.S. Gross Domestic Product for that fiscal year. The bill requires the analysis to describe the potential economic impact of the bill or resolution on major economic variables and the potential fiscal effects of the measure.
Notable Votes: H.R. 3578
Congressman Rivera voted in favor of H.R. 3578, the Baseline Reform Act of 2011. The bill amends the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act) to revise the formula for establishing the budget baseline.