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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio returns to Washington, briefly, and given warm reception

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. talks on the phone as he leaves the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, after the Senate fell short of the votes needed to proceed on a bill that would crack down on Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering America, a bill which already cleared the GOP-led House in November. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the bill "scapegoats refugees who are fleeing war and torture instead of creating real solutions to keep Americans safe." Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for barring Muslims from coming to the U.S.

Associated Press

Republican presidential candidate, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. talks on the phone as he leaves the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016, after the Senate fell short of the votes needed to proceed on a bill that would crack down on Syrian and Iraqi refugees entering America, a bill which already cleared the GOP-led House in November. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said the bill "scapegoats refugees who are fleeing war and torture instead of creating real solutions to keep Americans safe." Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has called for barring Muslims from coming to the U.S.

20

January

There was backslapping bonhomie, big smiles and jokes about footwear.

Sen. John Cornyn lifted up his pant leg to show his black cowboy boots.

Sen. Bill Nelson came over and, for some reason, flashed two thumbs up.

Wednesday afternoon was homecoming for Marco Rubio on the Senate floor. The Florida Republican was only there for 10 minutes or so, but the reception was decidedly warm.

It may have been our imagination but Rubio seemed to gravitate to some friends from key states. He huddled with Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa and Rob Portman of Ohio. 

Rubio got into a long conversation with Mitch McConnell, whom a reporter outside the chamber joked must have been plotting ways to dislodge Ted Cruz so Republicans have a shot at the White House. Cruz, unlike Rubio, is pretty much disliked by all his colleagues.

No mistake, presidential politics were the cause of Rubio’s return. He skipped a Foreign Relations hearing on the Iran nuclear deal in the morning in order to campaign in New Hampshire before flying to Washington.

The Senate was taking up a measure to make it harder for refugees to settle in the U.S. Rubio voted to advance the measure, as did Cruz and Rand Paul.

It failed to clear the 60-vote threshold – effectively a meaningless exercise, except the presidential contenders did not want to risk missing it.

Afterward Rubio slipped out without talking with reporters, headed back on the campaign trail.

[Last modified: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 4:47pm]

    

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