The Florida senator wants everyone to get back to business. No, not like that.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio has claimed that Donald Trump's second impeachment trial for inciting and insurrection will not "help anyone" suffering through the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, he wants to get back to the business of obstructing President Joe Biden.
In a video Rubio posted on Twitter Tuesday, he decried the trial proceedings, saying, "We are going to spend a week focused on something that is not going to help anyone with the thing that matters in this country the most right now. And that's a terrible thing. That's a waste of our time."
Trump is charged with inciting the Capitol riots on Jan. 6 that left five people dead. Republicans have additionally tried to claim that Trump is both not responsible for the insurrection, despite provoking the extremists who stormed the Capitol just beforehand, and that his trial itself is unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office. (Experts, including a top GOP lawyer, say this argument is baseless.)
So far, however, Rubio hasn't done much in the way of legislating and has mostly stood firm against Biden and the Democrats, stonewalling any attempts to get work done.
In November, shortly after Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election, Rubio vowed during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt to block the incoming president's Cabinet nominees because "Democrats have been just so unfair" to Trump's nominees.
Thus far, confirmation hearings for those nominees have been slowed, leaving Biden without a full team in place to carry out important business.
In January, Rubio stepped up his attacks on Biden's proposed agenda saying in one video post, "So far Biden has talked like a centrist but governed from the radical left."
"It's not going to be a good [administration] for the country and it's not going to be a good one for people — for working Americans and for your jobs," he claimed.
With the start of the new legislative session, he has pushed back on many of those "radical" ideas, including a $1.9 trillion COVID relief deal and a proposed $15 federal minimum wage increase that is backed by both Democratic lawmakers and a large percentage of Americans.
He also urged Congress to slow down passage of Democrats' COVID bill, saying it was too massive to approve quickly.
Although Rubio supported bigger direct payments to Americans struggling amid the COVID-19 crisis, backed by Democrats, he asked Biden in a letter to not let them "get caught up in the normal political games by adding a wish list of far left or other unrelated priorities" to any relief legislation, as House Democrats did this week.
While Rubio is against raising the minimum wage, a Pew Research Center poll in 2019 found that two-thirds of Americans said that they are in favor of the measure.
Rubio has also taken aim at Biden's executive orders on the environment, namely one rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit, saying it will put thousands of people out of work.
The company behind that pipeline, which has faced fierce opposition from environmental experts and Native American activists, has said that 1,000 unionized jobs would be lost as a result of the order, however, all were temporary construction workers. As Politifact noted, the project was expected to hire 11,000 union workers, but a like the others, those jobs would have also been temporary.
Further, White House press secretary Jen Psaki noted on Monday that Biden "has proposed a climate plan with transformative investments in infrastructure and laid out a plan that will not only create millions of good union jobs, but also help tackle the climate crisis."
Rubio, meanwhile, has mostly introduced bills meant to further obstruct Biden and the Democrats from moving ahead with their agenda or circumvent their efforts.
On Jan. 22, he introduced a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court from including no more than nine justices. The measure is aimed squarely against attempts to expand the existing court and offset the current 6-3 conservative majority, installed by Republicans — who stonewalled former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick, Merrick Garland, and refused to give him a hearing — under Trump.
And on Feb. 3, Rubio introduced a bill to withhold critical federal funding or COVID-19 relief to schools that do not re-open amid the raging pandemic.
The debate over school re-openings involves balancing teachers' and students' health and safety with in-person learning. Republicans are pushing for rapid re-openings, while Democrats have pledged to support Biden's plan to re-open schools only after Congress approves funds in the next coronavirus stimulus bill to allow them to do so safely.
While Rubio and other Republicans have claimed experts support their push, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the nation's top health officials have advised that schools do so only if proper safety measures are in place and gatherings and group activities are limited.
"The only people who don't want to open schools are Senate Democrats and the teachers unions that fund their campaigns. That's wrong. Schools can openly safely and every student should have the option of in-person learning," Rubio insisted in a statement.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.