Mario Rafael Díaz-Balart Caballero (/bəˈlɑːrt/; born September 25, 1961) is a Republican U.S. Representative for Florida’s 25th congressional district. He was elected in 2002, and his current district includes much of southwestern Miami-Dade County, including the city of Hialeah, and much of the northern portion of the Everglades.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Díaz-Balart became the first member of Congress to test positive for COVID-19 on March 18, 2020.

Following Representative Alcee Hastings‘s death in April 2021, Díaz-Balart became the dean (or longest-serving member) of Florida’s congressional delegation.

Early life, education, and early political career

Díaz-Balart was born in 1961 in Fort Lauderdale, to Cuban parents, the late Cuban politician Rafael Díaz-Balart, and his wife, Hilda Caballero Brunet.

He is a member of the Díaz-Balart family: His aunt, Mirta Díaz-Balart, was the first wife of Fidel Castro. Her son, and his cousin, was Fidel Ángel “Fidelito” Castro Díaz-Balart. His uncle is the Cuban-Spanish painter, Waldo Díaz-Balart. His brother, Lincoln Díaz-Balart, represented Florida’s 21st District from 1993 to 2011. He has two other brothers, José Díaz-Balart, a journalist, and Rafael Díaz-Balart, a banker.

He studied political science at the University of South Florida before beginning his public service career as an aide to then-Miami Mayor Xavier Suárez in 1985. In the same year, he changed his political party affiliation from Democratic to Republican.[1]

Florida legislature

Díaz-Balart and Marco Rubio in 2001

Díaz-Balart with President George W. Bush and Governor Jeb Bush aboard Air Force One in 2004

He was elected to the Florida House in 1988 and moved to the Florida Senate in 1992. He returned to the Florida House in 2000.

U.S. House of Representatives

Chief Judge Kevin Michael Moore, swearing in Members of Congress Carlos Curbelo, Frederica Wilson, Mario Díaz-Balart, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. (February 2015)

Elections

2002–2006

Díaz-Balart gave up his seat in the state house to run in the newly created 25th District, which included most of western Miami-Dade County, part of Collier County and the mainland portion of Monroe County.[2] He easily won the seat with 64 percent of the vote. He was unopposed for reelection in 2004, and won a third term with 58 percent of the vote in 2006.

2008

In 2008, Díaz-Balart faced his strongest challenge to date in Joe García, former Executive Director of the Cuban American National Foundation and former chairman of the Miami-Dade County Democratic Party. Ultimately, Díaz-Balart defeated Garcia with 53 percent of the vote.

Díaz-Balart official portrait

2010

On February 11, 2010, Díaz-Balart announced his intention to seek election in Florida’s 21st congressional district—being vacated by his brother, Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart—rather than the 25th district.[3] Unlike the 25th, the 21st has long been considered the most Republican district in the Miami area. No other party even put up a candidate when filing closed on April 30, handing the seat to Díaz-Balart.[4]

2012

Díaz-Balart was reelected unopposed in 2012 in the renumbered 25th district.

2014

In 2014, Díaz-Balart ran unopposed.[5]

2016

In 2016, Díaz-Balart beat Democrat Alina Valdes by a margin of 62.4% to 37.6%.[6] It was only the third time that a Democrat had even filed to run in this district, which had been numbered as the 21st from 1993 to 2013.

2018

The Miami Herald reported in April 2018 that Díaz-Balart seemed a shoo-in for re-election in November. Former Hialeah mayor Raúl Martínez, a Democrat who had challenged Lincoln in what was then the 21st in 2008, said the 25th district “is very hard to win for a Democrat, especially if you’re not Hispanic and you don’t speak Spanish.” Valdes, who had lost to him in 2016, was a candidate in the Democratic primary.[7] In April, Annisa Karim, who is active in the Democratic Party, announced that she, too, would run in the primary. In May, the Herald reported that Mary Barzee Flores, a former judge who had at first decided to run in the 27th district, had opted instead to run for Díaz-Balart’s seat.[8]

In the November 2018 general election, Díaz-Balart defeated Barzee Flores, winning 60.5% of the vote to her 39.5%.[9]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions

As of January 2018, Díaz-Balart had voted with his party in 92.4% of votes so far in the 115th United States Congress and voted in line with President Trump’s position in 93.1% of votes.[13][14]

He is a founding member of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, a caucus of Hispanic Republican congressmen.[15]

LGBT rights

In May 2019, Díaz-Balart voted to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, housing, public accommodations, public education, federal funding, credit, and the jury system under the Equality Act.[16]
He joined seven other Republicans and 228 Democrats in supporting the legislation, which passed the United States House of Representatives during the 116th Congress.[17]

In February 2021, Díaz-Balart changed his position on the legislation when he voted against the bill during the 117th Congress on the basis that it did not protect individuals or organizations who oppose LGBTQ rights. In a statement released after his vote, he claimed Democrats ignored Republicans’ issues with the bill, and “doubled down on some of the most troubling issues, including sabotaging religious freedom.”[18]

Vote Smart issue positions

According to Vote Smart’s 2016 analysis, Díaz-Balart generally supports pro-life legislation, opposes an income tax increase, opposes mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders, opposes federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth, supports lowering taxes as a means of promoting economic growth, opposes requiring states to adopt federal education standards, supports building the Keystone Pipeline, supports government funding for the development of renewable energy, opposes the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions, opposes gun-control legislation, supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, opposes requiring immigrants who are unlawfully present to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship, opposes same-sex marriage, and supports allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts.[19]

Environment

Regarding climate change, in 2007 he said “I know there’s a lot of money to be made on the bandwagon of global warming, you can make movies, documentaries, get a lot of research money — and that’s okay, I love capitalism…My fear is using the bandwagon of global warming to have Congress act on some knee-jerk reaction which will please some editorialists, will hurt our economy, will not do anything to help us in the future.”[20]

As of January 2018, Díaz-Balart was not a member of the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.[21]

Health care

On May 4, 2017, Díaz-Balart voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and pass the American Health Care Act.[22][23]

Donald Trump

In February 2017, he voted against a resolution that would have directed the House to request 10 years of Trump’s tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.[24]

Díaz-Balart supported Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying “It is clear that Director Comey had lost the confidence of the Deputy Attorney General, Attorney General, and the President. Unfortunately, he became a controversial and divisive figure.”[25]

In January 2018, after it was reported that Trump had voiced his opposition to immigration from Haiti, El Salvador, and African countries – which he reportedly referred to as “shithole countries” – in a meeting on immigration reform, Díaz-Balart, who attended the meeting, did not say whether the alleged incident took place.[26][27][28]

In December 2020, Díaz-Balart was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden prevailed[29] over incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state.[30][31][32]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement that called signing the amicus brief an act of “election subversion.” Additionally, Pelosi reprimanded Díaz-Balart and the other House members who supported the lawsuit: “The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House. Instead of upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution, they chose to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions.”[33][34] New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell, citing section three of the 14th Amendment, called for Pelosi to not seat Díaz-Balart and the other Republicans who signed the brief supporting the suit. Pascrell argued that “the text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids Members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that.”[35] On January 6, 2021, Diaz-Balart was among a group of legislators who voted against certification of the United States Electoral College vote count despite no evidence of widespread voter fraud.[36]

Committee membership

On February 4, 2021, Díaz-Balart joined 10 other Republican House members voting with all voting Democrats to strip Marjorie Taylor Greene of her House Education and Labor Committee, and House Budget Committee assignments in response to controversial political statements she had made.[37]

Economic issues

On September 29, 2008, Díaz-Balart voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which was intended to purchase distressed assets and supply cash directly to banks during the global financial crisis of 2008.[38]

Díaz-Balart voted to promote free trade with Peru, against assisting workers who lose jobs due to globalization, for the Central America Free Trade Agreement, for the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement, for the US-Singapore free trade agreement, and for free trade with Chile. He was rated 75% by the National Foreign Trade Council, indicating support for trade engagement.[39]

Tax reform

Díaz-Balart voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017.[40] The Center for American Progress, a center-left think-tank, estimated that 41,000 of his constituents would lose their health insurance as a result of the bill’s passing.[41]

Foreign policy

Cuba

In 2007, Díaz-Balart advocated maintaining the Cuban embargo, saying “Some people do not understand the embargo of Cuba. Its purpose is to keep American hard currency out of the hands of a Communist thug by restricting most trade and travel.”[42]

In an April 2015 essay for Time magazine, Díaz-Balart wrote that President Obama “continues to appease brutal dictatorships while gaining precious little in return. He conflates the Cuban dictatorship with the Cuban people when in reality, their interests are diametrically opposed.” Díaz-Balart noted that “all eight Cuban-American senators and congressmen from both sides of the aisle, strongly disagree” with Obama’s policy on Cuba, whose people “want to gather peacefully, speak their minds, practice their faiths, access the Internet, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.”[43]

In September 2016, Díaz-Balart praised Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “for firmly stating his commitment today to reverse President Obama’s capitulations to the Castro regime” and contrasted Trump’s position to what he called Hillary Clinton‘s “foolhardy stance.” The U.S., he said, needs “a president who once again will stand with the Cuban people instead of emboldening and enriching their oppressors.”[44]

In a March 2017 memo to the Trump White House, Díaz-Balart argued that if the Cuban government did not conform to the Helms-Burton law within 90 days, the U.S. should revert to its pre-Obama policy on Cuba.[45]

Falklands

Díaz-Balart has strongly supported the right of self-determination on the Falkland Islands, over which there is a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom.[46] On April 18, 2013, Díaz-Balart introduced a resolution to the United States House of Representatives calling on the United States Government to officially recognize the result of the 2013 Falkland Islands sovereignty referendum in which the Falkland Islanders overwhelmingly voted to remain a British Overseas Territory.[47] Díaz-Balart introduced a similar resolution in 2017, recognizing the result of that year’s general election in the Falklands.[48]

Immigration and refugees

In 2014, the Washington Post reported that Díaz-Balart was “eagerly seeking a deal” on undocumented immigrants “that can somehow please enough Republicans and Democrats to advance. And that upsets many Democrats and Republicans.” After being “involved in bipartisan talks on the issue for years”, he was “one of the guys most skilled on the issue” and hence “gets plenty of flack from both sides.” Díaz-Balart told the Post that “President Obama said that this was going to be one of his first priorities in his first 12 months”, but even when “Democrats controlled everything”, nothing got done “because they didn’t want to do it.”[49]

Díaz-Balart supported President Donald Trump‘s 2017 executive order to impose a temporary ban on entry to the U.S. to citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries. He stated that “The ban is only temporary until the Administration can review and enact the necessary procedures to vet immigrants from these countries. The ban is based on countries the Obama administration identified as ‘countries of concern’ and not based on a religious test.”[50]

He took part in a January 2018 White House meeting about DACA, and said that nothing would “divert my focus to stop the deportation of these innocent people whose futures are at stake.”[51]

Gun policy

In the aftermath of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018, in Parkland, Florida, Díaz-Balart said gun control legislation would not be effective at stopping mass shootings, saying “I want to make sure we look at things that could make a difference.”[52]

Drug policy

Díaz-Balart has a “D” rating from NORML for his voting history regarding cannabis-related causes.[53]

Espionage

Díaz-Balart took part in a November 2013 meeting between American legislators and the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee about NSA spying on European officials. Díaz-Balart told his European counterparts that they should realize that the U.S. is their greatest ally. “Part of re-establishing trust,” he said, “is to know who your friends are and treat them accordingly, and to know who your enemies are and treat them accordingly.”[54]

Infrastructure

A 2017 report stated that Díaz-Balart had delivered millions to his district for road and highway improvements.[55]

Personal life

He currently lives in Miami with his wife, Tia, and their son, Cristian Rafael.[56]

On March 18, 2020, Díaz-Balart announced he had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 during the current pandemic of the disease. He was the first member of the United States Congress to test positive for the disease.[57] Recovering from the effects of the disease though still drained from the experience, Diaz-Balart said he would offer his blood plasma, with antibodies against it, for experimental treatment or research purposes.[58]

See also

References

  1. ^ “Díaz-Balart Se Pasa Al Partido Republicano”, El Nuevo Herald, April 24, 1985.(in Spanish)
  2. ^ Laura Figueroa. “Reform advocate says “dozens” of Florida political districts split counties and splinter cities”. PolitiFact.com. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  3. ^ “Mario Díaz-Balart Will Run to Succeed His Brother”. Roll Call. February 11, 2010. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  4. ^ “Candidates and Races – Candidate Tracking system – Florida Division of Elections – Department of State”. state.fl.us. Archived from the original on August 31, 2010. Retrieved May 11, 2017.
  5. ^ “Florida’s 25th Congressional District elections, 2014 – Ballotpedia”. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  6. ^ “Florida’s 25th Congressional District election, 2016 – Ballotpedia”. Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  7. ^ Daugherty, Alex; Democrats face long odds in effort to topple Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart; Miami Herald; April 11, 2018; https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article208616809.html
  8. ^ Daugherty, Alex; Democrat Mary Barzee Flores switches races to challenge Republican Mario Diaz-Balart; Miami Herald; May 3, 2018; https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/article210394744.html
  9. ^ “Florida Election Results: 25th House District”. New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  10. ^ “MEMBERS”. RMSP. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  11. ^ “Members”. House Baltic Caucus. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
  12. ^ “Kinzinger, Republican Governance Group Members Call on President Biden to Reject Partisan Efforts and Advance Bipartisan COVID Relief”. Congressman Adam Kinzinger. February 3, 2021. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
  13. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron (January 30, 2017). “Tracking Mario Diaz-Balart In The Age Of Trump”. FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  14. ^ “Represent”. ProPublica. Retrieved May 2, 2017.
  15. ^ Henry Bonilla, et al., “We the (Hispanic) People…,” Wall Street Journal (March 17, 2003)
  16. ^ Cioffi, Chris (May 17, 2019). “These 8 Republicans voted for the Equality Act”. . Retrieved May 18, 2019.
  17. ^ Johnson, Cheryl. “Roll Call Vote 217: On Final Passage, Equality Act”. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. United States House of Representatives. Retrieved August 19, 2019.
  18. ^ Daugherty, Alex (February 25, 2021). “Miami Republican flips vote on bill to provide protections for LGBTQ people”. Miami Herald. Miami Herald. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  19. ^ “Mario Diaz-Balart’s Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)”. Vote Smart. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  20. ^ ThinkProgress (June 26, 2013). “The Anti-Science Climate Denier Caucus”. ThinkProgress. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  21. ^ James Rosen (May 9, 2016). “S. Florida Republicans lead their party from climate change denial”. The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  22. ^ “How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill”. Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  23. ^ Iannelli, Jerry (May 4, 2017). “Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart Voted to Repeal Obamacare”. Miami New Times. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  24. ^ “These are all the Republicans who don’t want you to see Donald Trump’s tax returns”. indy100. February 28, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
  25. ^ “Florida politicians react to firing of FBI director Comey”. miamiherald. Retrieved May 10, 2017.
  26. ^ Leary, Alex. “Mario Diaz-Balart sidesteps Trump’s vulgarity”. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  27. ^ “Rep. Diaz Balart Remains Mum On Trump’s “S***hole” Remark”. January 15, 2018. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  28. ^ “Diaz-Balart: Immigration deal possible despite furor over Trump’s reported vulgar comment”. Naples Daily News. Retrieved January 16, 2018.
  29. ^ Blood, Michael R.; Riccardi, Nicholas (December 5, 2020). “Biden officially secures enough electors to become president”. AP News. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  30. ^ Liptak, Adam (December 11, 2020). “Supreme Court Rejects Texas Suit Seeking to Subvert Election”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  31. ^ “Order in Pending Case” (PDF). Supreme Court of the United States. December 11, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  32. ^ Diaz, Daniella. “Brief from 126 Republicans supporting Texas lawsuit in Supreme Court”. CNN. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 11, 2020.
  33. ^ Smith, David (December 12, 2020). “Supreme court rejects Trump-backed Texas lawsuit aiming to overturn election results”. The Guardian. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  34. ^ “Pelosi Statement on Supreme Court Rejecting GOP Election Sabotage Lawsuit” (Press release). Speaker Nancy Pelosi. December 11, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.
  35. ^ Williams, Jordan (December 11, 2020). “Democrat asks Pelosi to refuse to seat lawmakers supporting Trump’s election challenges”. TheHill. Archived from the original on December 12, 2020. Retrieved December 12, 2020.
  36. ^ Yourish, Karen; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise (January 7, 2021). “The 147 Republicans Who Voted to Overturn Election Results”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  37. ^ Clare Foran, Daniella Diaz and Annie Grayer. “House votes to remove Marjorie Taylor Greene from committee assignments”. CNN. CNN. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  38. ^ “FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 681”. US House of Representatives.
  39. ^ “Mario Diaz-Balart on Free Trade”. ontheissues.org. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
  40. ^ Iannelli, Jerry (December 22, 2017). “Miami Rep. Curbelo’s Wife Owns Assets That Benefit From GOP Tax Bill’s Last-Minute Provision”. Miami New Times. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  41. ^ Iannelli, Jerry (December 20, 2017). “GOP Tax Bill Could Make 873,000 Floridians Drop or Lose Health Insurance”. Miami New Times. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  42. ^ [1] Archived April 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart: Obama’s Cuba Policy Is Enabling a Dictator; TIME; April 21, 2015; http://time.com/3825781/mario-diaz-balart-obamas-cuba-policy/
  44. ^ O’Reilly, Andrew; FL Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart commends Trump for hard-line stance on Cuba; Fox News; September 19, 2016; http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09/19/florida-diaz-balart-commends-trump-for-hardline-stance-on-cuba.html
  45. ^ Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart’s memo to the White House RE: Cuba policy changes; Global Americans; March 23, 2017; https://theglobalamericans.org/2017/03/congressman-mario-diaz-balarts-memo-white-house-re-cuba-policy-changes/
  46. ^ “Strong Support for the Falklands Right to Self Determination on North American Tour”. MercoPress. May 5, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  47. ^ Mario, Diaz-Balart (June 7, 2013). “H.Res.170 – 113th Congress (2013-2014): Recognizing the Falkland Islands referendum in favor of retaining their status as a British Overseas Territory”. congress.gov. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  48. ^ Mario, Diaz-Balart (December 7, 2017). “H.Res.650 – 115th Congress (2017-2018): Recognizing the results of the free and fair elections for the new Members of the Legislative Assembly of the Falkland Islands held on November 9, 2017”. congress.gov. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  49. ^ O’Keefe, Ed; “Mario Diaz-Balart on immigration: ‘We need to get the support of enough people or we’re dead’”; Washington Post; February 6, 2014
  50. ^ Blake, Aaron (January 29, 2017). “Coffman, Gardner join Republicans against President Trump’s travel ban; here’s where the rest stand”. Denver Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  51. ^ Batten, Brent. “Brent Batten: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart masters the art of not stepping in it”. Naples News.
  52. ^ Daugherty, Alex. “NRA-backed Marco Rubio says gun control laws alone won’t prevent mass shootings”. Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  53. ^ “Florida Scorecard”. NORML. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
  54. ^ Keating, Dave; US lawmakers promise to rein in NSA snooping; Politico; November 27, 2013; https://www.politico.eu/article/us-lawmakers-promise-to-rein-in-nsa-snooping/
  55. ^ Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart delivers millions to roads, highways; Local10; July 30, 2017; https://www.local10.com/video/congressman-mario-diaz-balart-delivers-millions-to-roads-highways
  56. ^ “Biography”. December 11, 2012.
  57. ^ Bernal, Rafael. “Florida congressman tests positive for COVID-19”. The Hill.
  58. ^ South Florida congressman, now officially coronavirus-free, applies to donate plasma, Sun Sentinel, Anthony Mann, April 5, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2020.

External links

Florida House of Representatives
Preceded by

Javier Souto
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 115th district

1988–1992
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 112th district

2000–2002
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Florida Senate
Preceded by

Member of the Florida Senate
from the 37th district

1992–2000
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
New constituency Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida’s 25th congressional district

2003–2011
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida’s 21st congressional district

2011–2013
Succeeded by

Preceded by

Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference
2009–present
Incumbent
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida’s 25th congressional district

2013–present
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
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United States representatives by seniority
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