St. Petersburg Times
Rubio defends his stand against more Cuba flights
By Steve Huettel, Times Staff Writer
Posted: Oct 27, 2011 02:38 PM
TAMPA – Sen. Marco Rubio and Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce officials chose not to rekindle a battle over new flights to Cuba.
But during a visit here Thursday, the Miami Republican bristled at a reporter's suggestion that he tried to block flights from Tampa to protect Miami travel businesses.
"The idea that I'm a friend of the fly-to-Cuba-from-Miami crowd is absurd,'' he said at a press conference. "No one would criticize someone going to Cuba to see their dying mother. What we're opposed to is expansion of these new flights from Miami or anywhere else. The add more money to the (Castro) regime.''
In February, Rubio proposed an amendment to a Federal Aviation Authority funding bill that would have prohibited any additional flights between the United States and countries, such as Cuba, designated as "state sponsors of terrorism'' by the State Department.
At the time, charter flights to Cuba were restricted to three gateway cities: Miami, New York and Los Angeles.
Chamber CEO Robert Rohrlach fired off a letter to Rubio, saying that [he] benefited his hometown of Miami at the expense of Tampa Bay and four other Florida metro areas that were seeking non-stop flights to the island nation.
"I sincerely hope that you will withdraw (the amendment) in order to more accurately reflect the resolve of the entire state as opposed to the interests of a few.''
The amendment failed in the Senate. Tampa International and airports in Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville and Key West subsequently won federal approval for Cuba flights. Charter companies now fly twice weekly from Tampa International to Havana. Two additional weekly flights — one to Havana and one to Holguin— start in November.
Contact Steve Huettel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3384.
[Last modified: Oct 27, 2011 02:39 PM]
JG: Florida voters ought to have their heads examined for having elected this idiot to the U.S. Senate.