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Marco Rubio Takes Over Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Expands Foreign Policy Credentials

January 27, 2015 - 6:00pm

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016, expanded his foreign-policy profile considerably on Wednesday -- and his first focus will be President Barack Obamas call for normalizing relations with Cuba.

As has been expected since the Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate after Novembers elections, Rubio was named chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committees Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Womens Issues on Wednesday.

Rubio said his background in the Sunshine State will help him with his new assignment.

Being from Florida, Ive seen how events in the Western Hemisphere not only impact our state but our entire nation, Rubio said before turning his fire toward Obama. For too long, Congress and the administration have failed to prioritize our relations in this hemisphere. This lack of attention has kept us from seizing the opportunities of a rising middle class, emboldened tyrants and nonstate actors to erode democratic values, allowed global competitors to deepen their influence in the continent, and diminished our ability to respond to the proliferation of transnational organized crime and the violence and instability associated with it.

As chairman of the subcommittee, I will promote bold measures that improve U.S. economic and security interests by addressing the regions growing calls for transparent institutions, access to quality education, private-sector competitiveness, and respect for political and economic freedom for all, Rubio added. I look forward to advocating for closer ties with Canada, Mexico, and other regional partners such as Colombia as well as greater energy cooperation and trade. The subcommittee will be a platform for bringing light and solutions to rising problems in the hemisphere, such as growing inhospitality for individual freedoms, deteriorating security environments, lagging competitiveness, ineffective regional organizations, the need for political stability and economic prosperity in Haiti, and the promotion and support of democracy in places where individual freedoms are all but a dream, such as Cuba and Venezuela.

Rubio will have his first chance on Cuban issues when the subcommittee tackles Obamas new policy next week. In his new post, Rubio said he will continue my work on the U.S. governments efforts to promote democracy and advance human rights around the world, to support the fair and equitable treatment of women around the globe, and increase religious freedom.

Once again turning his fire toward Obama, Rubio said these issues had been neglected by the White House.

This is another set of issues that has far too often been neglected by this administration, Rubio said. I plan to continue to be a voice for the oppressed, whether they be in our own hemisphere or on the other side of the globe. I look forward to working to ensure that U.S. programs aimed at advancing these freedoms are effective and achieving results that are consistent with our values as a nation,

Rubio will also sit on the East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy; the Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism; and the Africa and Global Health Policy subcommittees.

I also intend to remain active on the East Asia and Pacific subcommittee by supporting our strong alliances in Asia and working to address the challenges confronting that vitally important region which will play a significant role in shaping the 21st century, Rubio said on Wednesday. Its clear that American leadership has achieved a great deal in this region in recent decades, and now its important that we take none of our gains for granted and continue working with our allies to advance our security, economic and human rights agenda.

Reach Kevin Derby at or follow him on Twitter: @KevinDerbySSN

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