In a recent column, the South Florida Sun Sentinel editorial board takes Marco Rubio to task for putting his partisan political agenda ahead of what’s best for Floridians and failing to show up for work. Among Rubio’s many failures the board calls out are his recent vote to cut Medicare and crater the economy, his long history of skipping out on his job, his abandonment of reforms to help immigrant communities, and his opposition to a landmark disability rights law.
As the editorial board put it, “Floridians deserve better” than Rubio’s failures and “record of irresponsibility.” Read highlights from the editorial below:
As former Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole lay in state at the U.S. Capitol, it was remembered how he had surmounted partisanship to help save Social Security, renew the Voting Rights Act, provide school meals to children, create the federal holiday honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and pass the Americans with Disabilities Act.
When it was necessary to raise the federal debt ceiling, Dole did that, too. He knew that for the nation to default on its obligations would wreck the economy, litter the nation with hardships, devalue the dollar and diminish America before the world. That’s still true, too. Our ruination would delight Russia and China.
Yet every House Republican and 36 GOP senators, including Florida’s Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, voted in effect to do just that last week.
McConnell can be as partisan as anyone but, like Dole, he knows when not to be. Rubio, who’s seeking a third term in the Senate, should prepare to explain to voters next year why he seemingly doesn’t.
Rubio already has a record of irresponsibility. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando, his likely Democratic opponent next year, scored a clean hit on him last month over his having missed as many as 14 Senate hearings in the previous two months. “If an officer had failed to show up for their shifts for 14 days they would have been fired — period,” said Demings, a former Orlando police chief.
Nine of the hearings were in the Foreign Relations Committee, where Rubio has made a show of opposing all of President Biden’s State Department nominations, alleging that the president is soft on China. On Nov. 18, he blocked the confirmation of Nicholas Burns, a career diplomat, to be ambassador to China. That was an act of petulance more likely to weaken than strengthen our diplomatic posture vis-à-vis China.
Like others who ran for president in 2015-16, Rubio played hooky from his day job. His absenteeism was the Senate’s worst; he missed 35% of roll calls in 2015. When he switched to run for reelection, an opponent called him out for the worst voting record of any Florida senator in 59 years. PolitiFact consulted GovTrack to confirm that. From January 2011 to September 2016, Rubio missed 14.5 percent of roll calls, second only to George Smathers, a Democrat who skipped nearly 1 in 4 before he retired in 1969.
When it comes to showing up, he’s improving — from terrible to mediocre. Floridians deserve better.
Rubio has a very long way to go to match the significance of Dole’s career and accomplish anything comparable to the historic disabilities law. He might have achieved that with the immigration reform he helped pass in 2013, but he’s been AWOL from that issue since it was blocked in the House and immigration became Trump’s favorite dog whistle.
Speaking of Dole, perhaps his greatest disappointment was the Senate’s failure in 2012 to ratify a United Nations treaty forbidding discrimination against disabled people. The former senator, visiting the Senate floor in a wheelchair and visibly showing the effects of age as well as of the World War II wounds that had disabled him, was unable to persuade enough Republican senators. The vote was 61-38, six votes short of the two-thirds required to ratify a treaty. Naturally, Rubio voted no. Democrat Bill Nelson, who lost narrowly to Scott in 2018, voted yes.