Soon after congressional leaders announced a compromise on a big omnibus spending package, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) made clear he didn’t like it. In a Fox interview and at a campaign event, the Florida senator talked about the need to delay a scheduled vote, “slow down” the process, and wage a fight over blocking Syrian refugees.
“[W]e should use every procedural aspect that we have to slow it down and perhaps force some changes on these things that we’ve been discussing,” he said on Thursday.
But when Rubio said “we,” he wasn’t referring to himself. In fact, he did not take any steps to pursue his goal: the Republican didn’t show up on Capitol Hill to try to delay the process, and a day later, Rubio also didn’t show up to vote against the bill he wanted to kill.
The Washington Post noted that the senator has already been burdened by criticisms about absenteeism, but this one “stood out more than most – for the legislation’s scope and the extent of Rubio’s criticism of it.”
Rubio was one of just two senators who did not vote on on a sweeping tax and spending bill that passed with bipartisan support. His three Republican Senate colleagues running for president each cast votes. […]In a Friday interview with CBS News, Rubio said of the bill, “In essence, not voting for it is a vote against it.”
It wasn’t long before other Republican presidential candidates were once again taking aim at No-Show Rubio. Chris Christie told a New Hampshire audience over the weekend, “Sen. Rubio, listen if you’re going to say you are opposed to something, how about showing up to work and voting ‘no.’”
Rand Paul added, “It’s a trillion dollars in spending and I think earlier this week he talked about having some activity and then wasn’t here. So yeah I think it’s important to show up to your job. I think that really he ought to resign or quit accepting his pay if he’s not going to come to work.”
Of course, this line of attack probably sounds familiar: Jeb Bush used this to go on the offensive over the summer, but it had no real effect. There’s no reason to assume it’ll be any more effective now.
That said, the $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package isn’t popular with conservatives – there’s a reason Ted Cruz and Rand Paul made sure they showed up for work on Friday for the final vote of the year – and Rubio doesn’t have much of an excuse for his absence.
What’s more, a larger narrative is taking shape: Rubio isn’t showing up much in Iowa; he isn’t making many appearances in New Hampshire; and he’s not bothering with his day job, even when important bills he claims to care about are under consideration.
As a state legislator, Rubio developed a reputation in Florida for being a little lazy and avoiding hard work – he used to tell people he was “more of a big-picture person” – and now the senator is reinforcing that reputation in ways that won’t do his presidential campaign any favors.