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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Nelson votes for spending deal; Marco Rubio misses vote

18

December

WASHINGTON - A day after suggesting he may try to hold up a massive spending deal, Sen. Marco Rubio skipped the vote all together, remaining instead on the presidential campaign trail.

“You can slow it down,” Rubio said Thursday on Fox News. But the Florida Republican never attempted to do so, and Friday he was in Iowa as the Senate followed the House in passing the $1.15 trillion “omnibus” spending package.

Rubio still issued a statement indicating disapproval of the deal, though touted a provision he has promoted that thwarts payments to insurance companies under Obamacare.

“In essence, not voting for it, is a vote against it,” Rubio told CBS News in Iowa.

Rubio was one of only two senators who did not vote (the other was Democrat Barbara Boxer of California) and that gave an opening to a campaign rival, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky.

"It's a trillion dollars in spending and I think earlier this week he talked about having some activity and then wasn't here,” Paul told Politico. “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.”

Jeb Bush has similar criticized Rubio, who has largely skipped work in Washington in recent months. During Tuesday’s presidential debate Rubio criticized Sen. Ted Cruz for voting against a defense authorization bill. But Rubio himself did not vote.

Paradoxically, Rubio is also getting criticism for not campaigning enough in early nominating states or investing in field offices. His advisers have disputed those characterizations and say he’s also putting in regular national TV appearances. While the Senate was preparing to vote Friday morning, Rubio was taping a segment to be shown Sunday on CBS News’ Face the Nation.

Since January, Rubio has missed 116 of 335 votes, or about 35 percent, among the worst in the chamber. Other senators, including Barack Obama, who ran for president had similar records.

Friday’s vote was the final of the year.

Here's Rubio's statement

“Washington's leadership has created another massive spending bill in secret and rammed it through Congress, hoping that the American people don't notice or have become numb to this kind of business as usual. This is what a broken Washington looks like under President Obama and what Congress reverts to without conservative presidential leadership. While stopping ObamaCare's taxpayer-funded bailout of insurance companies is an important win, I strongly oppose this bill because it keeps spending money that we don't have, grows our debt, and concedes far too many of President Obama's and liberal Democrats' big government spending priorities."

Nelson:

"While no deal is perfect, this year's budget bill does include a number of projects important to Florida. For example, it gives NASA's overall budget a much-needed boost, which is good news for Florida’s space coast.  And it fully funds NASA's commercial crew program that will enable us to once again launch American astronauts on American-made rockets in less than two years, instead of having to rely on the Russians for rides to the space station.

"The bill also gives an extra $7.5 million to scientists and researchers seeking a cure for the deadly citrus-greening disease threatening to wipeout Florida's nearly $11 billion citrus industry, and $195 million to help restore the Everglades.

"And for the more than 1.7 million Floridians who rely on the state sales tax deduction to help make ends meet, there’s a provision in the bill that will make that popular tax break permanent and help Florida families keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.”

[Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2015 2:43pm]

    

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