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Marco Rubio's Pathetic Excuse For His Terrible Voting Record

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 Daniel R. DePetris
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There is a certain pomp and circumstance that envelopes the United States Senate, nicknamed "the greatest deliberative body" that the world has ever known. The men and women elected to the Senate chamber are distinguished people who earn a brand new status in American political life as soon as they take the oath of office in front of the Vice President. Each and every sitting U.S. Senator is granted special powers that their colleagues in the House of Representatives don't possess -- the most famous special privilege being the power to filibuster, when even a newly-elected member to the club can complicate the proceedings of the Senate floor by speaking for hours at a time. Sen. Rand Paul spoke for 13 hours to delay the confirmation of John Brennan to head the Central Intelligence Agency over the issue of drones, and Ted Cruz took the floor for 21 hours straight to rail against the Affordable Care Act.
The most basic but critically important part of the Senate gig is to show up for votes. Constituents expect their elected representatives to take a stand on issues both foreign and domestic, from U.S. military intervention and foreign aid to the confirmation of federal judges and the composition of the federal budget. When a senator is out of town or misses a vote, the state that he or she works for is not represented fully on that particular issue.
For Marco Rubio, a U.S. Senator who is setting his sights towards a higher office on the opposite end of Pennsylvania Avenue, there is a lot more to the job than simply casting a vote and walking back to your office. "Voting is not the only part of the Senate job," Rubio told CNN. "I mean, the most important thing a senator does is constituent service." In other words, getting local or state-level issues resolved by pushing the national legislature to do something about the problem or making a few phone calls to local officials are just as crucial to being an effective member of the Senate body.
For a typical senator who has a track record of placing votes, this explanation would work. But for Marco Rubio -- a man who has one of the worst voting records in the Senate this year -- this answer rings as a hollow excuse for not jetting back to Washington when important legislative business is on the docket. Indeed, it's akin to a 5th Grader telling the teacher that he couldn't show up for the test because he was busy catching up on the homework.
Despite Rubio's attempt to explain away his lackluster performance on the Senate floor during the first nationally televised GOP presidential debate, the issue is going to continue to hang around his neck like an anchor as he tries to swim to the finish line in Iowa and New Hampshire once ballots are cast several months from now. Although Donald Trump's characterization of Marco Rubio as a "lightweight senator" is probably too harsh, the numbers are not kind for Rubio.
According to GovTrack, an independent congressional monitor that tracks the voting records of all congressional offices in the Capitol, Rubio is consistently at the top end in terms of missed votes. In 2014, a year before he even announced his presidential campaign, Rubio was in the Top 15, missing 45 out of the 657 Senate votes taken that year -- an abstention rate of 6.8%. His record has gotten exponentially worse this year: since January 2015, Rubio has missed an estimated 32% of the votes that the Senate has held (91 out 283 on record as of October 25). In fact, from July to September alone, he missed more than half (53.8 %), giving him the embarrassing distinction of having the second-worst voting attendance during that period.
One of these missed votes included the final passage of the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act -- the legislation that authorizes programs and policy for the U.S. military and Defense Department for the coming fiscal year. In short, a man who is basing a good chunk of his presidential campaign on foreign policy and national security missed one of the most important national security votes Congress took this year.
If Rubio chalked up his Senate absence to the high-voltage of being on the campaign trial across the country, that would be one thing. There have been sitting senators running for President (think John Edwards, John Kerry, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama) who have certainly missed their share of votes. Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Rubio's competitors for the Republican presidential nomination, has made a terrible showing in the rankings this year as well. Yet Rubio is different from all of these cases in that he appears to have simply given up on the institution three years into his first term after his comprehensive immigration reform bill was killed in the House. The Washington Posthas a story out this morning revealing the extent to which Rubio views the U.S. Senate in such low regard:

Five years ago, Rubio arrived with a potential that thrilled Republicans. He was young, ambitious, charismatic, fluent in English and Spanish, and beloved by the establishment and the tea party.
But Rubio had arrived at one of the least ambitious moments in Senate history and saw many of his ideas fizzle. Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something.
Now, he's done. "He hates it," a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not.

In 2015, a U.S. Senator makes $174,000 per year. This money doesn't come from trees, but from the U.S. taxpayer -- many of whom have to work twelve hours a day and two jobs to do the bare minimum, like paying their phone bills, buying groceries for the week, or putting their kids through college. And yet here is Marco Rubio, being paid a six-figure salary and failing to perform the most basic duty a U.S. Senator is asked to do -- all the while complaining about how terrible the institution is.
If Rubio is concentrating more resources and attention on running for President than fulfilling his Senate duties, that's fine (there is, in fact, precedent for this). But if he truly can't stand the U.S. Senate as an institution and despises the job he is currently in, he might want to think about quitting before his term is out. Why stay in a job you hate?

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