It wasn’t easy, and it took months of negotiations, but Democrats and Republicans eventually reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill to address microchip manufacturing, scientific research, and U.S. competitiveness against China. It passed the Senate yesterday with relative ease, as 17 Republicans voted with the Democratic majority.
Sen. Marco Rubio wasn’t one of them.
Given recent history, it would’ve been far more surprising if he’d voted the other way — because in this Congress, when Democrats and Republicans have gotten together, worked through their differences, and reached major bipartisan compromises, Florida’s senior senator has made a habit of rejecting the deals.
- The bipartisan infrastructure package passed the Senate, 69 to 30. Rubio voted no.
- The Postal Service Reform Act cleared the Senate, 79 to 19. Rubio voted no.
- The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, the first meaningful bill to address gun violence in decades, passed the Senate, 65 to 33. Rubio voted no.
- The CHIPS and Science Act cleared the Senate, 64 to 33. Rubio voted no.
In each of these instances, the Florida Republican knew that the bills were on track to pass, but he wanted to take a stand, voting against the bipartisan compromises anyway.
At face value, this isn’t too surprising: Rubio is very conservative, so it stands to reason that he’d have problems with bipartisan agreements in which both sides have to make concessions.
But there’s a larger electoral context to keep in mind: The Floridian is up for re-election this year, in an ostensible battleground state, against a well-funded Democratic challenger with an impressive record as a congresswoman and police chief. As a strategic matter, it stands to reason that Rubio would support bipartisan compromises if for no other reason than it might impress voters in his evenly divided home state.
But whenever Democrats and Republicans have gotten together of late to work out agreements, Rubio has opposed them anyway — apparently confident that he’ll win re-election without participating in bipartisan success stories.
What’s more, he’s not alone. Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson is in a similar position — a conservative GOP incumbent, in a battleground state, seeking a third term in 2022 — and he also voted against the infrastructure bill, the USPS reform package, the gun bill, and the CHIPS and Science Act.
There’s still a chance the Republican senators will switch gears as Election Day draws closer — we’re likely to soon see a vote on a compromise bill to reform the Electoral Count Act, for example — but the odds appear to be against it.