Marco Rubio gave a speech on national security in New Hampshire yesterday, and made a point to single out concerns about the so-called USA Freedom Act.
“If ISIS had lobbyists in Washington, they would have spent millions to support the anti-intelligence law that was just passed with the help of some Republicans now running for president,” the Florida senator said, making a not-so-subtle reference to Ted Cruz’s support for legislation that limited federal surveillance programs.
The trouble, of course, is that Cruz wasn’t alone. As we discussed a couple of months ago, the bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan 67-vote majority, and passed the GOP-led House, 338 to 88. It was backed by members of the Republican leadership in both chambers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
More to the point, many of Rubio’s most important congressional allies supported the same legislation. The Daily Beast published a great catch late last week:
[M]ost of Rubio’s supporters in Congress supported changes to the NSA’s program. In fact, 21 of Rubio’s 24 congressional supporters backed the USA Freedom Act – a bill Rubio has said “weaken[s] … U.S. intelligence programs” – this year (a 25th supporter, Rep. Darin LaHood, wasn’t in Congress at the time of the vote).And of these 21 members of Congress, more than a dozen co-sponsored a version of the USA Freedom Act in the previous Congress.
The list includes Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who hit the campaign trail at Rubio’s side last week.
This is the sort of awkward dynamic that calls for some follow-up. On the one hand, Rubio believes the USA Freedom Act has weakened the country, put us in danger, and helped terrorists. On the other hand, nearly all of the senator’s congressional endorsements have come from Republicans who supported the USA Freedom Act.
Are we to assume Rubio believes his own allies have weakened the country? Does the senator believe his congressional endorsements have come from members who are weak on national security and would have sided with imaginary ISIS lobbyists in Washington?