U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) hosted a press event Friday to highlight his accomplishments over the past two years, but he spent most of his time fielding questions from reporters about the ongoing government shutdown and border security.
Rubio’s press event at Florida International University, live streamed on the senator’s Facebook page, was timed with the release of a report called “Fighting for Florida,” detailing the Republican’s legislative accomplishments. The 15-page report was accompanied by a 4-and-a-half minute video.
Rubio said Friday that 27 of of his bills have become law over the past two years.
He’s most proud of the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act passed in 2017, the expansion of the Child Tax Credit from $1,000 to $2,000 per child, and the authorization and funding for the construction of an Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir to reduce Lake Okeechobee discharges into coastal communities.
As soon as Rubio finished his presentation, reporters asked about the government shutdown.
The Republican said he’s not a fan of “shutdown politics,” but he thinks Democrats should consider President Donald Trump’s $5 billion demand for border security.
“On the one hand the President has made it clear that this is a priority of his,” said Rubio. “He clearly campaigned on the wall and it strikes me that the Democrat objection to it is largely driven not by the argument that border security is unnecessary — although that’s ultimately what you conclude from their position — but by the argument that they want to deny him a political priority.”
Rubio said the White House could have handled the situation better, but he’s not sure that would’ve prevented the shutdown.
He didn’t offer any solutions for the standoff between Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill, but he did say border security is an essential obligation of the federal government.
Rubio was also asked about a potential pardon for the Groveland Four, four young African-American men who were wrongly accused of raping a white woman nearly 70 years ago.
Rubio earlier this month took to the Senate floor, calling on Florida officials to posthumously pardon Earnest Thomas, Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin.
Governor-elect Ron DeSantis, a Republican, and incoming Agriculture Commissioner, Democrat Nikki Fried, have both said publicly that a formal pardon for those men will be a priority when their new cabinet meets for the first time next month. Rubio said that would be an important step forward for Florida.
“It’s a critical reckoning for our society to confront and talk about openly because it helps frame perspective on the issues of today, both how much progress we’ve made, but also the fact that we’ve got more work to do,” he said.
Outgoing Republican governor and Sen.-elect Rick Scott, along with others on the state clemency board, refused to take up the pardon request.
When asked if he’s disappointed in Scott, Rubio refused to criticize his soon-to-be colleague, saying he needs to hear Scott’s take on the issue before casting judgement.