U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) will be in Homestead, Fla. Saturday to visit the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children and speak to some of the 94 children there who were separated from their families and find out exactly what’s being done to reunite them with their families. [Read more…] about Sen. Bill Nelson to visit Homestead, Fla. facility for immigrant children Saturday
Senator Bill Nelson
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) took to the Senate floor today to call on President Trump to immediately end his administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border.
U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are pushing to increase business at Florida ports by urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to restructure the way the agency charges ships to fumigate produce imported into the U.S.
Before a cargo ship offloads any imported produce arriving at a U.S. port, the shipment must first be inspected and fumigated. The fee that a ship pays to have their produce fumigated is set by USDA and is currently charged on a “per-enclosure basis” – meaning, a ship pays the same fee to fumigate a warehouse full of goods in the Northeast as they do to fumigate one shipping container in Florida.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its annual spending plan for the current fiscal year today. Included in the plan are several projects important to Florida, which U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) has been pushing for the Corps to fund, including: [Read more…] about Army Corps releases new spending plan
Recent reports suggest the death toll in Puerto Rico could be 70 times higher than previously reported
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation Thursday aimed at further protecting U.S. service members and their families from predatory lenders, including those who open up businesses outside the entrance to military bases and offer loans to members of the military at a much higher rate than those offered to members of the general public.
“Our military men and women have dedicated their lives to serving our country and we must help ensure they do not become the targets of unscrupulous lenders,” said Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This legislation will help provide our men and women in uniform with financial stability for their futures.”
If approved, Nelson’s measure would, among other things, set the maximum interest rate that a lender can charge a U.S. service member for most loans at 24 percent. It would also prohibit debt collectors from making abusive telephone calls to a service member’s commanding officer, and extend protections beyond active duty service members to also include recently discharged veterans – many of whom continue to serve in a reserve capacity.
The legislation, which Nelson introduced as an amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, would amend a 2006 law that Nelson and others passed to protect members of the military from the predatory lending practices.
That bill, which capped the interest rate on most loans made to active duty service members and their families at 36 percent, has been hailed as a success in cracking down on the most egregious lending practices that military families face, but it didn’t go far enough to end the practice altogether.
To further protect service members and their families, the legislation Nelson introduced this week would:
- Reduce the interest rate ceiling from 36 to 24 percent to reduce incentives for aggressive lending.
- Extend the protections of the Military Lending Act to veterans who have been discharged from active duty military service for one year or less.
- Apply the Military Lending Act to auto loans and other secured loans for personal property.
- Prohibit debt collectors from making abusive telephone calls to a service member’s commanding officer or threatening that failure to cooperate with a debt collector will result in action from the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
- Require the Department of Defense to review the data protection requirements for credit reporting agencies that use information on service members obtained from DOD databases.
- Prohibit the use of GPS trackers and “kill switches” in cars as a condition of an auto loan to service members, which could imperil service member readiness and privacy.
The Military Lending Improvement Act of 2018 is supported by Veterans of Foreign Wars.
A copy of the bill is available here.
Fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remaining in world
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) unveiled legislation today aimed at protecting the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.
The move coincides with World Oceans Day, which is observed internationally on June 8.
The SAVE Right Whales Act of 2018 (S. 3038) establishes a new grant program to fund collaborative projects between states, nongovernmental organizations and members of the fishing and shipping industries to reduce the impacts of human activities on North Atlantic right whales.
There are fewer than 450 North Atlantic right whales remaining in the world, with a population that has struggled to recover from overexploitation by the whaling industry.
“Right whales rely on Florida waters for their crucial breeding grounds, but we’re not seeing any new calves,” said Nelson, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, which oversees oceans policy. “This is a troubling development that requires quick action to find ways to protect the remaining whales and bring the population back to healthy levels.”
Despite protection from whaling since the 1930s, North Atlantic right whales are still vulnerable to ship collisions and entanglements with fishing gear, the two leading causes of injury and death to the whales today. The U.S. fishing and shipping industries have taken major steps to address these conflicts, and there are opportunities to develop improved solutions across both industries to tackle the ongoing challenge of protecting the whales. The past year was one of the worst years on record for the species, with 18 confirmed deaths between 2017 and 2018 and no new calves observed this year – the first time no calves were observed since surveys began nearly 30 years ago.
Nelson joined Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) as sponsors of the legislation. A pdf of the legislation can be found here.
The following groups have endorsed the SAVE Right Whales Act:
- Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance
- Center for Biological Diversity
- Conservation Law Foundation
- Defenders of Wildlife
- Humane Society of the United States
- Humane Society Legislative Fund
- International Fund for Animal Welfare
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- New England Aquarium
Nelson calls policy “inhumane,” files new legislation to
prohibit DHS from separating children from parents
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) and several other federal lawmakers are taking action to try to stop the Trump administration’s practice of separating children from their parents when they enter the U.S.
Nelson was one of approximately three dozen senators who cosigned a letter to President Trump Thursday calling for his administration to stop the “inhumane” practice of ripping families apart.
“Your decision to separate children from their parents at the border is cruel, unnecessary, ineffective, and goes against our values as Americans,” the lawmakers wrote. “There is no legitimate reason why these children need to be separated from their parents. … We ask that your Administration rescind this unethical, ineffective, and inhumane policy and instead prioritize approaches that align with our humanitarian American values.”
In addition to urging the president to take immediate action to end the administration’s policy, Nelson and a separate group of lawmakers also filed a bill late Thursday that would, by law, prohibit the Department of Homeland Security from separating a child from his or her parents at the border, except in extraordinary circumstances or when it’s in the child’s best interest.
Specifically, under the legislation, officials would be prohibited from separating a child from his or her parents unless a state court or welfare agency orders them to do so because they believe it would in the child’s best interest, or officials determine that the child is vulnerable to abuse or trafficking.
In addition to prohibiting most future separations, the legislation would require all Customs and Border Protections officers and agents to complete annual child welfare training, and, if a child is separated from his or her parents, it would require the agency to provide the parents with regular updates on the well-being of their children and information on how to find them.
It’s not the first time Nelson has taken action to try to stop the administration’s policy. Earlier this year, Nelson called for a federal investigation into the Department of Homeland Security’s policy of separating children from their parents at the border.
“We must return to our true American values by treating those seeking asylum with dignity and respect and keeping families together,” Nelson said last week, condemning the administration’s actions.
A .pdf of Nelson’s letter to Trump is available here.
Text of the legislation Nelson and others filed is available here.
Files new amendment to defense bill that would
maintain current moratorium for five additional years
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) filed legislation today to maintain the current moratorium on oil and gas activities in the eastern Gulf of Mexico – and prevent the administration from opening up any new areas closer to Florida’s coast to offshore drilling – until, at least, 2027.
The move comes amid reports that the oil industry – despite the Trump administration’s pledge that Florida would be “off the table” to new drilling – has launched a new campaign to try to open up additional areas in the eastern Gulf to offshore drilling.
“Here we go,” Nelson tweeted in response to the reports Wednesday. “Like us, Big Oil doesn’t believe Florida is really “off the table” to new drilling – despite what Scott and the Trump administration keep saying – and now they are making a new push to drill closer to Florida’s shores. We can’t let that happen!”
Nelson, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, filed the measure to maintain the current moratorium in the eastern gulf for an additional five years – until 2027, instead of 2022 – as an amendment to the annual defense bill that’s currently being considered in the Senate.
By filing the measure as an amendment to the defense bill – instead of as a standalone piece of legislation – it could need only 50 votes to be approved and added into the broader bill, instead of the 60 votes it typically takes to get a bill through the chamber.
Now filed, a decision on whether to allow a vote on Nelson’s amendment will be up to Senate leaders – while a decision on whether the amendment would need only 50 votes, instead of 60, will be up to the Senate Parliamentarian.
Nelson says, however, if they are successful in getting Senate leaders to allow a vote on the measure, the fact that it may only need 50 votes to pass as an amendment would drastically increase its chances of becoming law.
Full text of the amendment can be found here.
Image source: nelsonforsenate.com
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) met with a group of approximately 100 displaced Puerto Rican residents in Washington D.C. today.
The group of displaced Americans spent the day on Capitol Hill urging lawmakers to do more to help provide affordable housing to the thousands of displaced families who, like them, still cannot return home to Puerto Rico eight months after Hurricane Maria hit. [Read more…] about Nelson meets with displaced Puerto Rican families