|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
January 3, 2003
|Constituency||25th district (2003-2011, 2013-present)|
21st district (2011-2013)
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 112th district
November 7, 2000 - November 5, 2002
|J. Alex Villalobos|
|Member of the Florida Senate|
from the 37th district
November 3, 1992 - November 7, 2000
|J. Alex Villalobos|
|Member of the Florida House of Representatives|
from the 115th district
November 8, 1988 - November 3, 1992
Mario Rafael Díaz-Balart Caballero
September 25, 1961
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
|Political party||Democratic (Before 1985)|
Hilda Caballero Brunet
|Education||University of South Florida (BA)|
Mario Rafael Caballero Díaz-Balart (; 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
Díaz-Balart was reelected unopposed in 2012 in the renumbered 25th district.
In 2014, Díaz-Balart ran unopposed.
In 2016, Díaz-Balart beat Democrat Alina Valdes by a margin of 62.4% to 37.6%. 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.
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. 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.
In the November 2018 general election, Díaz-Balart defeated Barzee Flores, winning 60.5% of the vote to her 39.5%.
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. He joined seven other Republicans and 228 Democrats in supporting the legislation, which passed the United States House of Representatives during the 116th Congress.
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.
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."
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Díaz-Balart voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. 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.
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."
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."
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."
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.
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. 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. Díaz-Balart introduced a similar resolution in 2017, recognizing the result of that year's general election in the Falklands.
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."
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."
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." Between 1998 and February 2018, Díaz-Balart, received $27,450 in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association, returning $3,000 of those donations.
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."
A 2017 report stated that Díaz-Balart had delivered millions to his district for road and highway improvements.
He currently lives in Miami with his wife, Tia, and their son.
|U.S. House of Representatives|
|New constituency|| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 25th congressional district
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 21st congressional district
| Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Florida's 25th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority