I wake up every day driven to make a difference for you in the United States Senate. I know the most important work in America today is happening in people's homes, where parents are raising their children and making sacrifices so they can have greater opportunities than the generation before them. I also understand our laws and government's policies can make it easier - or harder - for your family to pursue and achieve the American Dream.
My office and I are here to help. During my first term in the Senate, we resolved more than 30,000 cases for constituents who sought our help with various issues, and we logged over 1,000 mobile office hours to reach Floridians in every corner of the state. We are proud of these accomplishments and hope to continue this success in my second term.
I'm passionate about serving people because I know how individuals can get lost in the federal government's bureaucracy when they seek assistance with their veterans' benefits, Social Security or Medicare, or another federal service. I've seen how a broken federal housing inspections process endangers the health and safety of people I represent.
Today, many people worry that the American Dream is slipping away from their reach, and that their children and grandchildren won't be better off than they were. I'm committed to not letting that happen. I believe in the American Dream because I've lived it. My parents came to America from Cuba in 1956 and earned their way to the middle class working humble jobs - my father as a bartender in hotels and my mom as a maid, cashier and stock clerk. By their loving and powerful example, I learned the importance of family and hard work, and believed all things are possible in America.
I have spent most of my life in West Miami, and live there today with my wife Jeanette and our four children. One of the many reasons I love living in Florida and representing its people are the diverse backgrounds and stories of those in my community. Some have made it in America, others are just starting out, and many more are trying to make it. There are homes led by heroic single parents or grandparents, homes with two hardworking parents, and homes with multiple generations living together.
For as long as I can remember, my neighbors helped shape my impression of the American Dream, and it wasn't long after I earned my bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in 1993 and my juris doctor from the University of Miami Law School in 1996 that I felt drawn to serve them in public office.
I started as a City Commissioner for West Miami before being elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000, and then speaker in November 2006. Before taking this post, I authored the book 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future, which was based on conversations I had with Floridians at "idearaisers" that my colleagues and I hosted around the state. As speaker, I helped enact many of the ideas in this book.
I was proud to be a champion for smarter, limited government at the state level, but after seeing the impact of our successes there, I wanted to take my ideas for conservative reform to where they were needed the most- Washington, D.C.
When I launched my campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2009, I was expected to lose big to my better-funded and better-known Republican primary opponent. But with a come-from-behind victory, the people of Florida elected me on the promise of bringing conservative ideas to the United States Senate.
Since arriving in the Senate in January 2011, I've fought against the Washington establishment's big government vision, supported replacing ObamaCare with a better health care system, and opposed bloated budgets that increased taxpayer debt at the expense of creating jobs and real prosperity.
With my assignments on the Special Committee on Aging, the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, I'm focused on reforming our government and keeping Americans safe. I will continue to work with members of both parties on commonsense solutions, and whenever necessary, stand alone as a check and balance. That's how our Founding Fathers envisioned the Senate.
In addition to the unique federal issues affecting Florida, some of my top priorities include fighting poverty by encouraging states to empower their people, bringing affordable higher education within reach of every American, sparking economic growth by capitalizing on innovation and the global economy, improving Social Security and Medicare for seniors and saving these programs for future generations, and defending our families by revitalizing America's military strength.
I'm proud to serve you in the Senate. Please don't hesitate to contact me with your ideas and views on how government can work more effectively.