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Darren Soto
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Florida's 9th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2017
Preceded byAlan Grayson
Member of the Florida Senate
from the 14th district
In office
November 6, 2012 – November 8, 2016
Preceded byRedistricted
Succeeded byRedistricted
Member of the Florida House of Representatives
from the 49th district
In office
April 24, 2007 – November 2, 2012
Preceded byJohn Quiñones
Succeeded byRedistricted
Personal details
Darren Michael Soto

(1978-02-25) February 25, 1978 (age 43)
Ringwood, New Jersey, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Amanda Soto
(m. 2013)
EducationRutgers University–New Brunswick (BA)
George Washington University (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Darren Michael Soto (born February 25, 1978) is an American attorney and Democratic politician from Kissimmee, Florida, who is the U.S. representative for Florida's 9th district.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Soto served for four years in the Florida Senate and five in the Florida House of Representatives, representing parts of the Central Florida area.

Early life and education

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Soto was born in the neighborhood of Ringwood, New Jersey, to a Puerto Rican father, O. Lou Soto, and an Italian-American mother, Jean Soto. From 1998 to 2001, he worked for Prudential Insurance in finance while he attended college. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University in 2000, a Juris Doctor from George Washington University in 2004, and opened his law practice the following year.

Soto has a bachelor's degree in economics, and attended law school at George Washington University. In 2006, he was named class counsel in the federal class action brought on behalf of Hispanic voters against the City of Kissimmee in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida.

Soto is a former member of the Civil Service Board for the City of Orlando. He served as the Treasurer of the Orange County Democrats and the Vice President of Communications for the Orange County Young Democrats (YD's). He was also the YD Co-Host for their Speak Easy events that provide a monthly forum for local and state leaders to speak to young voters.

Florida House of Representatives

In 2006, Soto ran for the Florida House of Representatives from the 40th district, unsuccessfully challenging incumbent Andy Gardiner. In April 2007, he emerged victorious from a crowded Democratic primary in a special election to replace John Quinones, who had resigned to run for the Osceola County Commission.[1] In the general election, Soto defeated Tony Suarez, the Republican nominee, by 285 votes. Soto was overwhelmingly re-elected in 2008 and 2010.[2][3][citation needed]

During his three terms in the Florida House, Soto supported laws to curb illegal street racing, passed the “John C Curry” Firefighter Death Benefit Act to protect families of fallen firefighters who died in training exercises, and the Bus Driver Notification Act to help school bus safety.[4][5]

Florida Senate

In 2012, Florida Senate districts were redrawn, and Soto opted not to run for re-election in the House but instead to run for the newly created 14th district, which included predominantly Latino areas of Orange, Osceola, and Polk Counties. He won his party's nomination uncontested and faced Republican Will McBride.[6] Soto defeated McBride with over 70% of the vote.[7]

In 2013, Soto voted for legislation to expedite driver's license access for DREAMers but it was ultimately vetoed by Governor Rick Scott,[8] setting off statewide protests.[9] He unsuccessfully proposed an amendment to require jury votes of 10 jurors rather than a majority of 7 for death penalties."[10]

In 2014, Soto passed legislation answering the Florida Supreme Court's call to give it the authority to admit immigrant lawyers to the Florida Bar.[citation needed] He also advocated legislation, giving DREAMers in-state college tuition.[citation needed] He secured the initial state funding to establish a Poinciana Valencia Campus and to initiate the Lake Toho Restoration, which will clean water flowing through the Northern Everglades.[citation needed] In addition, he led the Democratic House and Senate Caucuses in drafting a Congressional Map during the 2014 Special Session on Redistricting.[11]

During the 2015 legislative session, Soto was fundamental in securing $11.9M in funding for Valencia College's Poinciana campus.[12] Soto also successfully pushed for $20M to restore the Kissimmee River.[13] This earned him the "Champion of the Everglades" award from the Audubon Society of Florida.[14] Soto also proposed legislation to ban fracking in Florida.[15] He secured $10M in Florida's budget to promote economic growth in Osceola County for a new facility to manufacture high-tech sensors. However, the project was vetoed by Governor Rick Scott.[16] Soto also introduced a bill to boost minimum teacher pay to $50,000 per year.[17][18]

Senator Soto steered funding to his district, including $15M for the UCF Sensors Manufacturing Center, $12M to complete the construction of the Poinciana Valencia College campus,[19] $4M in supplemental school construction money,[20] $750k for the Northern Everglades and Lake Toho initiatives and $150k for a transition house that offers temporary housing for veterans. In 2016, Soto supported Chloe's Law to construct barriers around water bodies adjacent to state roads,[21] the Deaf Floridian's ID bill,[22] and the Juvenile Clean Slate bill which automatically seals misdemeanor records for juveniles who reach 21 years of age and do not reoffend as adults.[23]

U.S. House of Representatives



See also: 2016 United States House of Representatives elections in Florida § District 9

Soto won the Democratic nomination to succeed Representative Alan Grayson, who had stepped down to run in the primary for U.S. Senate in Florida's 9th congressional district.[24] Soto earned 36% of the vote in a four-way primary election.[25] The district is Democratic-leaning and contains all of Osceola County and parts of Orange and Polk counties. Soto has represented the majority of this district while serving in the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate. The Orlando Sentinel endorsed him in his primary race, calling him an "effective lawmaker."[26] Soto won the general election for the seat, defeating Republican Wayne Liebnitzky, 57–43%.[27]


See also: 2018 United States House of Representatives elections in Florida § District 9

On August 28, 2018, Congressman Soto won the Democratic primary election with 66% of the vote, defeating a challenge from his predecessor Alan Grayson.[28] Soto received endorsements from multiple Democratic organizations in his reelection campaign such as the National Organization for Women,[29] Pride Fund to End Gun Violence,[30] Giffords PAC,[31] Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida,[32] National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare,[33] Equality PAC,[34] League of Conservation Voters,[35] Human Rights Campaign,[36] Florida AFL-CIO,[37] Florida Young Democrats,[38] Orlando Professional Fire Fighters International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1365, Central Florida Police Benevolent Association,[39] Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus,[40] eMgage PAC,[41] Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC,[42] and Planned Parenthood.[43] Soto also has the backing of Vice President Joe Biden,[44] Congressman John Lewis,[45] Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, Florida State Senator Vic Torres, along with every Florida Democratic Member of Congress.[46]

On November 6, 2018, Soto went on to win the general election against Republican Wayne Liebnitzky with 58% of the vote.[47]


See also: 2020 United States House of Representatives elections in Florida § District 9

Soto ran for reelection to a third term and ran virtually unopposed during the Democratic primary, with only one challenger dropping out in October 2019.[48] During the general election on November 3, 2020, he defeated Bill Olson, his Republican opponent, garnering just over 56% of the vote.[49]


Soto is the first Congressman of Puerto Rican descent elected from Florida.[50] In his first few weeks, Soto was named by Nancy Pelosi as one of three freshmen Members to the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. He was also named co-chair of the House Democratic Caucus New Economy Task Force.[51]

On April 5, 2017, Soto along with Senator Bill Nelson passed their Hurricane Hunters bill (HR 1008) by amendment to the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017. This legislation adds two backup Hurricane Hunter aircraft to the NOAA fleet to increase hurricane monitoring and preparedness.[52]

On December 23, 2017, Soto passed his second bill the "Foreign Spill Protection Act" along with co-introducer Carlos Curbelo. The bill eliminates a $1 billion cap on damages for foreign oil drillers, whose oil spills pollute America’s waters, to better protect Florida’s beautiful coasts.[53]

Soto introduced a bill to rename a Kissimmee Post Office (HR 4042) at 1415 West Oak St after the Borinqueneers. This bill passed both chambers of Congress and was signed into law on March 23, 2018. The Borinqueneers were a U.S Army segregated unit of Puerto Ricans who fought in WWI, WWII and the Korean War.[54]

Soto passed a law to protect billfish, such as marlin, spearfish, and sailfish. H.R. 4528 closes a loophole in the Billfish Conservation Act making it illegal to sell billfish in the continental United States. The law passed the U.S. House on June 25, 2018, and was signed into law on August 2, 2018.[55]

Soto negotiated with Brightline (now Virgin Trains) to build the link between their train and SunRail.[56]

He was tied for first for most laws passed by a freshman member of the 115th Congress. He also filed the second most bills of any freshman.[57]

Following reelection, Soto secured a spot on the Energy and Commerce Committee.[58]

On June 24, 2019, Soto passed his first law of the 116th Congress, the “Strengthening Mosquito Abatement for Safety and Health (SMASH) Act”, which aimed to combat future Zika outbreaks in Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas.[59]

On July 25, 2019, Soto passed the Venezuela TPS Act of 2019 out of the US House as the last bill to pass before the August District Work Period.[60]

On December 18, 2019, Soto voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald J. Trump.[61]

In his second term, Soto worked with Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy to renew federal grants to the Central Florida region including over $30 million for affordable housing and to prevent homelessness,[62][63] $3.25 Million to fund local anti-terrorism efforts,[64] and $1.961 million for zero-emission Lynx Lymmo buses.[65]

Soto also assisted in securing federal grants of nearly $30 Million for Hurricane Irma disaster relief to Polk and Osceola Counties,[66] over $3 Million for healthcare clinics in Osceola and Polk Counties,[67][68][69] and $250,000 to improve Kissimmee and Winter Haven airports.[70]

In the midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Soto voted in favor of all 4 pandemic relief packages including the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act 2020, Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to help Central Florida and the whole nation combat the coronavirus crisis.[71] He has helped lead Florida’s delegation in securing additional supplies of Remdesivir from his position on the Energy and Commerce Committee during the crisis.[72] On May 15, 2020, Soto voted for the HEROES Act, which passed the U.S. House and provides further pandemic relief. This major legislation included his Save Our Homes Act which helps homeowners save their homes from foreclosure by ending forbearance agreement balloon payments.[73] On October 2, 2020, Soto voted for the updated HEROES Act. This compromise legislation amended the original bill, would provide further pandemic relief and passed the U.S. House. At the time of its passage, the US Senate still had failed to pass a new pandemic relief package.

On June 26, 2020, Soto passed legislation out of the U.S. House designating the Pulse National Memorial in recognition and memory of the 49 angels lost and 53 injured at the Pulse Nightclub Shooting. He introduced this bill along with fellow Central Floridians Congresswomen Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy. Upon its passage, Soto stated “Today, we remind the world that hate will never defeat love, grief can turn into strength and that a place of loss can become a sanctuary of healing. Together, we will continue to open minds and hearts. We will make the Pulse Memorial a national symbol of hope, love and light.”[74]

On July 1, 2020, Soto voted for the Moving Forward Act, a national infrastructure improvement plan. In describing the importance of this landmark bill, he stated, “As our nation continues to confront the coronavirus crisis, this legislation will create millions of good-paying jobs and equip our nation with the 21st-century infrastructure critical to growing our economy and helping our communities prosper for decades to come. Passage of this bold legislation also means more funding to help complete the I-4 Expansion quickly and safely.”[75]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Political positions


Soto is a staunch advocate for DREAMers and has worked with fellow members of the Hispanic Caucus to pass the DREAM Act.[82] In June 2018, Congressman Soto traveled to Homestead, Florida to tour a detention facility with several Democratic Members of Congress where he argued against Trump's zero tolerance policy and the separation of children and families.[83] He has been a vocal advocate in Congress for Alejandra Juarez, the wife of an Iraq combat veteran and mother of two American daughters, who was deported to Mexico recently due to Trump's zero tolerance policy. "Zero tolerance literally ripped this family apart," said Rep. Darren Soto "The administration is so extreme on immigration that they're deporting the spouses of military veterans."[84]

Environmental policy

Darren is considered[by whom?] the greenest Member of the Florida Congressional Delegation for 2017. He received a perfect score of 100 for his environmental issues voting record from the National League of Conservation Voters.[85] He introduced the Wild and Scenic River Study Act of 2017 (H.R.3961), which passed unanimously out of committee on January 17, 2018. On April 16, 2018, this bill passed unanimously out of the U.S. House.[86] Soto helped lead opposition to the Trump Administration proposals to permit oil drilling off Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts during the House Committee on Natural Resources meetings.[87][88][89] Soto has also supported funding increases for the National Estuary Program the National Wildlife Refuge System program.[90]

On June 6, 2018, Soto passed his Shark and Billfish Protection Act out of House Natural Resources Committee. Senator Bill Nelson passed the Senate companion bill on October 2, 2017.[91]

Gun control

Soto received an "F" rating from the NRA during his first term in Congress and supported numerous gun law reforms. On February 27, 2019, he voted for the Universal Background Check Bill.[92] Soto received an "A" rating from the NRA in 2012,[93] but his views on the Second Amendment changed after the 2012 Newtown Shooting. In the Florida Senate, he became a reliable vote for gun control, which ultimately led to earning a "D" rating from the NRA for his service there from 2013 to 2016.[94]

After the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting, Soto called for a special session to prevent those on the FBI's No Fly List from purchasing firearms.[95]

Since 2017, he has been a reliable vote for gun law reform. After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, he proposed his "Gun Safety Action Plan". He listed five steps: universal background checks for gun purchases, keeping guns away from those who are a danger to themselves or others, banning assault weapons and bump stocks, creating a "red-flag" system to issue gun restraining orders, and disallowing anyone on the federal terrorism "no-fly" list from buying a gun.[96] Soto also said gun control will be "one of those litmus test issues" in the 2018 midterm elections.[97]

Hurricane safety

Working with Senator Bill Nelson, Soto passed his first law in Congress on April 18, 2017 creating a backup fleet of hurricane hunter aircraft to monitor hurricanes affecting Florida and other nearby areas.[98]

Recovery assistance

Soto is working on debt reduction and tax, healthcare, agriculture and small business relief to assist Puerto Rico in its economic recovery.[99] He also co-signed a bipartisan letter requesting FEMA Designation of Individual Assistance for the citizens of Orange, Osceola, Polk, Lake and Seminole counties after Hurricane Irma.[100] In 2018, he voted to renew recovery funds to Central Florida and Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Personal life

Soto’s major hobby is music and has been writing songs and playing in bands since he was in high school. He is a singer, songwriter and guitarist for the local Orlando folk rock band Orange Creek Riders.[101] They have played various live shows, such as Orlando Fringe Festival, Planned Parenthood’s Rock and Roe Concert, Delandapalooza, along with various political events. As part of their “Best Of” series, Orlando Weekly named Orange Creek Riders the “Best Congressional Folk Band”.[102] He also hosts a radio show and podcast called “Rock and Politics”. His show combines current political issues with related music.[103]

On April 1, 2018, Soto's wife, Amanda Soto, was arrested at Walt Disney World and charged with disorderly intoxication.[104] In a statement, Darren Soto said his wife had been in treatment for depression for years and had recently stopped taking medication in accordance with her treatment plan and under her doctor's supervision. He went on to say that "she deeply regrets her actions and takes full responsibility for them."[105]

See also


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  12. ^ "Sen. Soto, Rep. La Rosa Announce $11.9 Million for Poinciana Campus". Retrieved April 20, 2016.
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  54. ^ Darren, Soto (March 23, 2018). "Amendments – H.R.4042 – 115th Congress (2017–2018): To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1415 West Oak Street, in Kissimmee, Florida, as the "Borinqueneers Post Office Building"". www.congress.gov. Retrieved July 4, 2018.
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  60. ^ "Soto, Rubio look for other ways to protect Venezuelans after bill stalls in Senate".
  61. ^ "WHIP COUNT: Here's which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump".
  62. ^ "Central Florida will receive $7.8 million in federal funding for affordable housing, homelessness".
  63. ^ "$23 million in housing money heading toward Central Florida". April 17, 2019.
  64. ^ "More anti-terrorism money coming to Orlando, Miami, Tampa". August 16, 2019.
  65. ^ @lynxbusorlando (July 26, 2019). "@RepDarrenSoto @EnergyCommerce @USDOT We're thrilled to receive this grant! Thank you for all your support in our e…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  66. ^ @RepDarrenSoto (July 11, 2019). "Proud to announce that @fema awarded @PolkCountyFL more than $28M and @OsceolaCountyFl more than $1.6M for…" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  67. ^ "Rep. Soto Announces $2 Million Grant for Poinciana Health Center Program". March 5, 2019.
  68. ^ "Rep. Soto Announces $300K Grant for Primary Care Medical Services of Poinciana, Inc". April 5, 2019.
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  70. ^ https://www.facebook.com/1245780978850063/posts/2328513487243468?sfns=mo
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  96. ^ White, Gary. "Polk lawmakers seek gun law changes, but differ on details". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
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  98. ^ Torres, Frank (April 5, 2017). "Darren Soto applauds passage of Hurricane Hunter Aircraft back-up bill". orlando-politics.com. Political Observer.
  99. ^ Soto, Darren. "Darren Soto: Give power back to people of Puerto Rico". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
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  103. ^ "'Rockin' Congressman' Darren Soto aims to rock immigration, voter rights". January 2, 2019.
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  105. ^ Lemongello, Stephen Ruiz, Steven. "Congressman Darren Soto's wife arrested at Walt Disney World". Retrieved July 4, 2018.
Florida House of Representatives Preceded byJohn Quiñones Member of the Florida House of Representativesfrom the 49th district 2007–2012 Succeeded byJoe Saunders Florida Senate Preceded bySteve Oelrich Member of the Florida Senatefrom the 14th district 2012–2016 Succeeded byDorothy Hukill U.S. House of Representatives Preceded byAlan Grayson Member of the U.S. House of Representativesfrom Florida's 9th congressional district 2017–present Incumbent U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial) Preceded byLloyd Smucker United States representatives by seniority 283rd Succeeded byThomas Suozzi