That's My Congress: an independent voice on congressional campaigns and legislation

Senator Mel Martinez
Republican of Florida
Progressive Rating: 9/100
Conservative Rating: 44/100

portrait of Senator Mel Martinez
Senator Martinez's mailing address: 356 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510
(all mail delayed at least 2 weeks)

Web page, Web-based contact form

DC Office Phone: 202-224-3041
FL Office Phone: 239-774-3367

Progressive Action: support for legislation in the promotion of freedom, knowledge and security. Freedom is achieved when constitutional protections are respected and when people are treated with equality under law. Knowledge is pursued through rigorous support for science and education. Security comes from the protection of environmental resources, the strengthening of economic opportunity for people and the preservation of peace from erosion by wasteful, destructive militarism.

Senator Mel Martinez's Progressive Action Score: 9

A score of 9 means that Sen. Martinez has positively acted to support 9% of a slate of progressive policies in the 111th Congress.

The following are positive progressive actions taken by Senator Martinez during the 111th Congress:

S. 22

S. 22, if passed and signed into law by President Obama, will designate over 2 million acres of new wilderness areas across the United States, and expand environmental protections for some already existing public lands. At a time when the integrity of America's natural resources are threatened by a pace of unsustainable consumption and a climate knocked out of equilibrium, conserving public lands is as important to human populations as to the populations of the wild animals that inhabit these areas.

Senator Martinez has acted progressively by voting YES to pass this measure.


There are some bills on the progressive agenda to which Senator Martinez has not yet added his support.

Call Your Senator to urge that he cosponsor these pending bills:


S. 1584

To a person only following expressions of popular culture, it might seem that the United States has moved beyond discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transexuals. But in the workaday world, it's still legal for people to be fired from their jobs for no other reason than than their choice of whom to love. And a dirty not-so-secret secret of labor unions has been their historical practice of excluding gay and lesbian workers from full participation and leadership.

ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, would make workplace discrimination in hiring and promotions illegal, and would also prohibit discriminatory behavior against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender members of American labor unions. If passed, ENDA would bring the law into the 21st Century along with the majority of Americans who have realized what matters at work is what you do, not who you love.

Read S. 1584, then call Senator Martinez at 239-774-3367 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 173

In the effort to rescue our oceans from chemical and biological disaster, the date is already late. Elevated levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide resulting from human activities have already increased the acidity of the oceans to such an extent that animals like shellfish and corals are having a difficult time creating their shells and skeletons. Other ocean animals are experiencing disruptions in their reproductive behavior and general physiological functions as a result of the increased acidity.

UNESCO's Monaco Declaration of scientists following on their meeting for the 2nd International Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 world declares:

"Ocean acidification is accelerating and severe damages are imminent.... Since industrialization began in the 18th century, surface-ocean acidity has increased by 30%. This ongoing ocean acidification is decreasing the ability of many marine organisms to build their shells and skeletal structure. Increasing acidity and related changes in seawater chemistry also affect reproduction, behaviour, and general physiological functions of some marine organisms, such as oysters, sea urchins, and squid." We donít see clear, boldfaced warnings like these very often, and when we do, we ought to pay attention to them. And as the report points out, an acified ocean is an ocean that decimates the marine life on which a significant portion of the world depends for food and commerce. That makes ocean acidification an economic as well as an environmental issue.

In the Senate, Frank Lautenberg has introduced S.173, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring Act. This legislation would establish and support a regime of empirical research and monitoring of ocean acidification under the auspices of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), with the purpose of developing specific strategies for mitigation of ecological impact.

Read S. 173, then call Senator Martinez at 239-774-3367 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 206

Research demonstrates the effectiveness of public Pre-Kindergarten education in improving literacy and mathematics competency among children of a variety of economic and social backgrounds in the short and long term. Early intellectual skill development is crucial in determining the life chances of an individual child, and the potential for accomplishment of a generation of children. Not only to increase individual outcomes but to promote the general welfare, S. 206 would create a series of grants to state governments with the purpose of broadening and enriching Pre-K programs for all children.

Read S. 206, then call Senator Martinez at 239-774-3367 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 212

The Farallon Islands are an uninhabited group of islands -- uninhabited by humans, that is. The Gulf of the Farallones is a sanctuary for marine birds, is a gathering point for marine mammals, and is host to a wide variety of ocean life due to the shallow depth of the water immediately surrounding it.

In short, the Farallon Island area is a biological treasure. It has value beyond its stark beauty as a biological bank, maintaining fisheries that sustain commerce as well. S. 212 is a bill before the Congress that would expand the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, not just to protect this area for wildlife, but also to strengthen the long-term security of the Pacific fishing industry.

Read S. 212, then call Senator Martinez at 239-774-3367 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 416

The problem with cluster bombs is threefold:

1. When used, they are distributed in large numbers across terrain;
2. They have a high failure rate, leaving many unexploded bombs;
3. They are small and typically shiny, disproportionately attracting the hands of curious children.

Cluster bombs are designed to kill people, not to damage buildings or roads. Like land mines, they continue to kill people long after the battle in which they were used. It is typical for a large number of these smaller bombs to remain undetonated, waiting to explode, after their initial deployment.

The Federation of American Scientists' report on the matter makes clear the danger of cluster munitions: "40 percent of the duds on the ground are hazardous and for each encounter with an unexploded submunition there is a 13 percent probability of detonation. Thus, even though an unexploded submunition is run over, kicked, stepped on, or otherwise disturbed, and did not detonate, it is not safe. Handling the unexploded submunition may eventually result in arming and subsequent detonation." Cluster bombs kill civilians when they are used. Our government knows this, and yet our government continues to manufacture, use and sell cluster bombs to foreign countries. The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act of 2009 forbids the United States government from spending money to use, sell or transfer cluster bombs unless the following requirements are met:
  • The cluster bombs are proven to have a 1 percent or lower rate of malfunction
  • The cluster bombs will not be used against anything but a clearly defined military target, in an area where there are no civilians and in places where civilians do not ordinarily live
  • A plan is submitted, with the costs included, for cleaning up all the undetonated explosives that come from cluster bombs, whether they are used by the US military, or by other countries to whom the United States has supplied the cluster bombs


There is a waiver in the law for the first requirement (for the malfunctioning rate of 1 percent or lower), in cases in which it is "vital" to use cluster bombs in order to protect the security of the United States. However, even in such cases, the President is required to submit a report to Congress which explains how civilians will be protected from the cluster bombs, and revealing the failure rate of the cluster bombs, as well as whether the cluster bombs are equipped with self-destruct functions.

The Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act is not a perfect bill, but it is a big improvement over the deadly status quo.

Read S. 416, then call Senator Martinez at 239-774-3367 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.


S. 424

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. Nor shall any State deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. These are the American standards of nondiscrimination, chiseled into our legal bedrock in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. How seriously do members of Congress take this section of the U.S. Constitution? S. 424 is a test.

S. 424, the Uniting American Families Act, is a bill which aims to put into closer compliance with the U.S. Constitution by removing discrimination according to the status of permanent couples. According to law, same-sex couples in permanent relationships cannot marry; only different-sex couples can. The creates two classes of couple in the United States. They are separate. Are they equal? Not currently. Under current immigration law, married immigrant spouses of citizens and permanent residents have a preferred route toward gaining permanent resident status themselves. Unmarried partners of citizens and permanent residents have this avenue closed to them. That is unequal treatment under law for immigrants under American jurisdiction, and it is an unequal abridgment of legal privilege for the citizens whose permanent partners wish to join them.

Introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy, the Uniting American Families Act would end this status discrimination by amending various the immigration laws that discriminate against same-sex couples when one member of a couple is a citizen or permanent resident and the other is seeking citizenship or residency status.

Read S. 424, then call Senator Martinez at 239-774-3367 and ask him to support it by adding cosponsorship.




Regressive Action: a pattern of legislative behavior that erodes freedom, knowledge and security. When constitutional protections are disregarded, when discrimination under law is fostered, when the pursuit of knowledge is abandoned and science overruled, when wealth for a few matters more than prosperity for all, and when "Yeehaw" is the most articulate expression of foreign policy, our nation is headed in a direction that is not only morally wrong but self-destructive.

Senator Mel Martinez's Regressive Action Score: 44

A score of 44 means that Sen. Martinez, through voting or cosponsorship, has pushed forward 44% of a slate of regressive policies in the 111th Congress.

The following are regressive policy actions taken by Senator Martinez during the 111th Congress:

S. 181

On January 22, 2009, the U.S. Senate voted on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law that seeks to amend an injustice and provide a fair shot at equality in the workplace. The law stems from a lawsuit filed by Lilly Ledbetter, who discovered after years of working for Goodyear Tire that she was being paid less than her coworkers because she was a woman. Her suit was denied all the way up to the Supreme Court, not on the grounds of her complaint, but on the grounds that Ledbetter had not filed suit within a few months of being employed.

Anyone with a sense of basic fairness can see the problem with this ruling. How on earth could Lilly Ledbetter have filed suit in the first few months after she was hired, if she didn’t find out about the pay discrimination until years later? Gathering evidence of pay discrimination takes time, especially when a corporation conceals the evidence as Goodyear Tire did.

S. 181, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, simply remedies the problem behind the injustice to Ledbetter - and other workers like her. It says that workers cannot be expected to file suit for compensation for wage discrimination before they actually find out that they've been discriminated against.

Senator Martinez voted AGAINST this progressive measure.




S.Amdt. 1133 to H.R. 2346

After years of waiting through the presidency of George W. Bush, the United States Senate finally was given the chance this year to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay and put an end to the abuses there. Torture, arbitrary imprisonment, and the kangaroo courts that mocked the Constitution all could have come to an end. Instead, Senator Daniel Inouye gave us S.Amdt. 1133 to H.R. 2346, legislation that banned the President from moving prisoners out of Guantanamo and into prisons legitimately established with the American system of justice. The excuse for this amendment is that it would pressure President Obama to finally come up with a specific plan for getting prisoners out of Guantanamo. Lawmakers have had years, however, to craft such a plan. There is no more need for delay. On closing Guantanamo, it's time for Congress to act, without reservation, and without excuses. Even one in which a person is held captive in a prison outside the law is a day too long.

Senator Martinez voted YES to pass this regressive measure.


S.Amdt. 1469 to S. 1390

The F-22 is an extremely expensive weapon. A billion dollars will build the government just three, and the cost just begins there. As the Washington Post has revealed, the plane manages to fly just 1.7 hours on average before suffering a critical failure, and requires 34 hours of maintenance for every hour it flies. It has never hit its contracted reliability goals. It can't be flied reliably in the rain. It can't even communicate with other planes. And its purpose? To defeat the hypothetical next-generation aircraft of the Soviet Union, a country that no longer exists. The persistence of the F-22 fighter is a testament to the harm done by the bloated military-industrial complex.

Senate roll call vote 235 struck $1.75 Billion in funding to build more of these hugely expensive, unreliable and unneeded airplanes. The 58-40 vote will hopefully mark the end of this embarrassing hawkish boondoggle.

Senator Martinez voted AGAINST this progressive measure.




S.Amdt. 43 to S.Amdt. 39 to H.R. 2

Is the idea of children getting health care despicable? Some U.S. senators seem to think so, working hard to undo positive changes in legislation to expand SCHIP.

Senate Amendment 43, proposed by Senator Jim DeMint, would have required state health programs to "impose premiums, deductibles, coinsurance" upon poor children getting care through state Children's Health Initiative Programs. Under the DeMint amendment, all SCHIP families earning 200 percent of the poverty line would have to pay for their childrenís health insurance.

To mask the barbarity, Senate Amendment 43 refers to these families as "higher income families," which makes them sound like champagne-swilling yachters. But if you look at the actual poverty level set by the Department of Health and Human Services, for a single mother with a child we're just talking about at most an income of $28,000 per year.

What Senator DeMint and his colleagues who supported S. Amdt 43 suggest is that a working single mother and her child can live on $28,000 a year and buy health insurance too. That's an unrealistic outcome with a cruel outcome.

A YES vote on Roll Call Vote 16 was a vote to defeat the DeMint Amendment and defend health care for poor kids. A NO vote was in the DeMint Amendment's defense, a vote against caring for kids.

Senator Martinez voted AGAINST this progressive measure.
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