From his perch on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has been focusing on international issues in recent days.
At the end of last week, Rubio strongly supported the $51 billion State Department, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) appropriations bill which cleared the Senate Appropriations Committee. That’s $11 billion more than what President Donald Trump proposed. Having cleared the committee, the bill now heads to the Senate floor.
Rubio weighed in on Thursday as to why he supported the bill.
“With the United States facing emerging threats from North Korea and Iran, intensifying rivalry with Russia and China, and persisting dangers from ISIS and other terrorists, I commend the Committee’s bipartisan efforts to craft an appropriations bill that supports strong American diplomacy and international development,” said Rubio. “This legislation advances America’s national security interests and values internationally. Our nation’s investments in international security and human dignity today will help make Americans safer and more prosperous in the future.”
Rubio pointed to funds included in the bill to advance American interest in Central America and the Caribbean. The Florida Republican also cheered the bill for $3.1 billion in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to help Israel and $6 billion in funds for humanitarian assistance--$1 billion over what Trump asked for.
Senate Republicans lined up behind the bill even as it rejected several Trump priorities including cutting off funding of the UN climate change agency and limiting funds to international family planning efforts.
“The serious challenges to U.S. national security interests today heighten our need to fund the diplomatic and humanitarian programs that strengthen our posture around the world. This bill provides the funding for the Department of State and related agencies to carry out that work,” said U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Also last week, Rubio cheered the administration’s tough talk on Iran. Rubio cheered U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley’s speech about Iran in which she accused that nation of ignoring the agreement regarding its nuclear program.
“The Iran nuclear deal remains deeply flawed, just like the 1994 Agreed Framework that failed to stop the North Korean nuclear threat that confronts us now,” Rubio said about Haley’s speech. “Ambassador Haley rightly asked today how we can know whether Iran is truly abiding by the nuclear deal ‘if inspectors are not allowed to look everywhere they should look.
“As America grapples with threats like Assad’s repeated use of chemical weapons in Syria and Putin’s aggression in eastern Europe and interference in democratic elections around the world, we cannot forget that President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran gave back more than $100 billion in frozen assets to the terror-supporting regime in Tehran that supports Assad, works closely with Putin, and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” Rubio added. “We must be clear eyed about Iran’s dangers to U.S. national security interests, and I remain eager to work with the Trump administration and the many others in Congress who desire a new, stronger policy for ending Iran’s nuclear and missile threats, combating Tehran’s support for international terrorism, and calling out the Iranian regime’s systematic and egregious violations of its own people’s human rights.”