The Ripon Forum

Volume 49, No. 4

December 2015

Ripon Profile of Carlos Curbelo

By on December 13, 2015

Ripon Profile - Carlos CurbeloName: Carlos Curbelo

Occupation: U.S. Representative (FL-26)

You started a media relations firm right out of college.  How has owning your own business affected your approach in public life?  Owning my own business instilled in me many life-long lessons which have proven indispensable throughout the years. One important skill that I regularly find myself practicing is time management. As a family man who balances working in Congress and spending time with my two very young daughters, I use this skill on a daily basis.

As the grandson of a man who was once a political prisoner under Fidel Castro, why is it a mistake to renew relations with the people of Cuba today?  As the son of Cuban exiles, I am proud of our nation’s rich ethnic diversity.  I know, from first-hand experience, the great and generous spirit of the American people and the opportunities our nation provides to all who are willing and able to work for it.

Regarding Cuba, President Obama has ignored the realities and the ruthless and violent nature of the Castro regime. Unfortunately the President is putting American national security interests at risk and prolonging the suffering of the Cuban people living under the oppressive dictatorship. It is crucial to remember that the men in power of Cuba today are the same men who had nuclear missiles pointed at the United States in the Cold War. The Administration has afforded the Cuban dictatorship a myriad of unilateral concessions while receiving little in return. America must once again take up the mantle of the protector of human rights and the promoter of democracy; however we cannot accomplish this as long as we confer legitimacy on military dictatorships. I will continue to work to restore our place as a leader on these issues.

As a Cuban-American, do you believe the Republican Party is doing enough to broaden its base?  We have to do a better job of sharing our story with young and minority voters. The Republican Party led the reform movement that has saved U.S. public education. I’ve seen this firsthand in Miami-Dade, where we rescued public education from mediocrity. That’s important to a lot of Hispanic families, in particular, because they know that their children will need the best education possible to move up in life. Young people want higher education to be more affordable, and we’re working on that. Republicans also want to save Social Security and Medicare for young people. I’m 35, and I know that many people my age don’t believe they’ll ever get benefits back from those programs. Democrats don’t even want to acknowledge that those programs face a long-term funding crisis. Republicans want to make the reforms that are necessary to ensure those programs will still be around in the future.

As your first year in Congress is coming to a close, what has proven to be your greatest legislative success so far?  I am proud of H.R. 1386, the Small Entrepreneur Subcontracting Opportunities (SESO) Act which is my first piece of legislation to pass both the House and Senate and be signed into law by the President. Also, as a former Miami Dade School Board Member, I am proud of our recently passed bill in the House, the Every Student Succeeds Act which will replace and improve upon No Child Left Behind. This bill included my provision which grants English Language Learners additional time to become proficient in reading and math and puts children, not Washington Bureaucrats, at the center of America’s education system.

On the other hand, what has been your greatest legislative challenge?  Though this year has been filled with great moments, I have also experienced some challenges. I’d say that one of my greatest legislative trials has probably been finding common ground to update our current Cuba policy, while still making the changes that are necessary to have productive reform. This has been one of my top priorities this year and something I will continue to fight for.

And finally, as a graduate from the University of Miami, what needs to happen to return “The U” to its glory days in college football?  I recently met the University of Miami’s new President, Dr. Julio Frenks and of course we talked about The U. It’s been a tough year for UM Football, but I still love my team and I know we can turn things around through hard work and resilience. We never give up—Go Canes!

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