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Rubio Talks Venezuela, Prescription Drugs, And Cigars In Tampa

Senator Marco Rubio
Bradley George/WUSF Public Media
Sen. Marco Rubio speaks with reporters at Hillsborough Community College on Friday.

Sen. Marco Rubio says new sanctions on Venezuela are an important step to ending the rule of Nicolas Maduro. But the Miami Republican says other countries need to do the same.  

The Treasury Department has sanctioned a pair of companies and more than 30 vessels used to transport oil from Venezuelan ports to Cuba, an important ally of the Maduro regime.  Rubio, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, welcomed the move.  


“These vessels do work outside of Cuba, they go to other parts of the world and they’re owned by private companies in many cases,” Rubio told reporters in Tampa Friday.  


Rubio also called on other nations to apply their own sanctions. He said Spain and South American countries should revoke visas held by leaders of the ruling Socialist Party and their families. The U.S. cancelled the visas of nearly 80 top Venezuelan officials last month.  


Asked about Sen. Rick Scott's prescription drug proposal, Rubio called it a good start. But he stopped short of fully endorsing it. Scott’s proposal would prevent drug makers from charging more in the U.S. than they do in other countries. 


"He's certainly making a strong effort," Rubio said of his fellow Republican. "There are some good components of it and I think he’s aiming at the right thing, which is the high and growing price of pharmaceuticals in America.”


Rubio, who also chairs the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, came to Tampa to hold a hearing on proposed regulations on premium cigars. Reps. Kathy Castor (D-Tampa) and Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor) took part in the event, along with cigar manufacturers and retailers.


Rubio and other Florida lawmakers are trying to prevent the Food and Drug Administration from imposing the same rules on hand-rolled cigars that apply to cigarettes and other tobacco products. 

Bradley George was a Morning Edition host and reporter at WUSF until March 2022.
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