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ICYMI: Rubio Joins The Atlantic Festival
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) joined the Atlantic Festival to discuss funding the government, the debt limit, General Milliey, and more. See below for highlights from the interview and listen here.
On the continuing resolution to fund the government:
“I think it will be resolved today. I don’t know if anyone here is in favor of shutting down the government. I think the debates have been about issues attached to it, not actually about the issue of funding the government. We are going to vote it out of the Senate today and the House will take it up and send it to the President before midnight.”
On the debt ceiling:
“[Republicans] have been pretty clear now for at least 3 months that if [Democrats] move forward on trying to pass the $3.5 trillion dollar spending plan, which is actually higher than $3.5 trillion because some of that cost is built on the program only existing for 3 years, but they know that once these programs are in place they are going to work to extend them, so the cost is significantly higher than $3.5 trillion.
“If you’re going to do $3.5 trillion in spending all by yourselves and we are going to have no input to the size of it or what’s it on – if that’s what you’re going to do, then you can do the debt limit all by yourselves as well. That’s a position we took very early, we have known that for months. You can’t say, ‘we want you to help us raise the debt limit together, but when it comes to spending the money, we are going to do that by ourselves, and we are going to decide how money is spent. It doesn’t work that way, it certainly is not going to work for us here. We have told them that for months – they have known that – so the reason why we are reaching this deadline with so much uncertainty is because they either didn’t take it seriously or didn’t care.
“[This] would be a more legit argument for them to make if it was about the status quo, but it’s not about the status quo, they want to raise the debt limit because it allows them to spend even more. For example it allows them to spend another 3.5 trillion and more than that. That’s what they want to do, and they know they are going to have to borrow money to do it. So again, the debt limit by and large is something that should be worked out – I don’t think anybody wants the nation to default. But if you are going to make the decision that we are going to ram our agenda down your throat with 51 votes you know 50 votes with the Vice President and you’re not going to have any input or any say on it, then you are going to have to do the debt limit by yourself as well. If they were really interested in working this out, then they would have worked with us on a budget agreement.
“I think [the debt limit is] a common sense conclusion. Look, everybody who governs in Congress has a decision on how they are going to run the institution. One way you can say is that okay we are 50-50 in the Senate, we need a Vice President to break a bunch of ties, and so we are going to have to run this as 50 Republicans are going to have to have an input in the things we do. They have chosen not to do that, but they have chosen that they have an agenda. We are going to pursue this agenda and we are going to run you over with this agenda. So if you make that decision, you can’t then come back to the minority, and in this case 50 Republicans which is half the Senate, you can’t come back and say however on the hard and difficult things we want you to be a part of it. The things that are unpleasant to do that nobody likes to do, those things we want you to be a part of. But when it comes to the things like how money is going to be spent and which programs are going to be in place that we are going to ram down your throat you are going to have no input or say. It doesn’t work that way. It wouldn’t work that way if they were in our position and it’s certainly not going to work now that they are in charge.”
On General Milley:
“After that hearing, we know for a fact that he was the source of that. Not only that, but he has talked to multiple reporters. I don’t know any other Chairman of Joint Chiefs that has spent that much time talking to reporters about books regarding the previous Administrations, so that in itself is very concerning, because now you are injecting yourself into the political framework. This is not a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs this is the current and acting one, and it really begins injecting military–and military officials–into a very dangerous place for them to be in. He was the source of it and so, I can only reach two conclusions. Either A. this was nothing but a normal call to the Chinese that happens constantly and all the time with the Chinese, the Russians, and with others. It was either normal or he just exaggerated for purposes of making himself look good because all these guys want to leave here and serve on boards and get on the speaker circuit. Maybe he felt burned by walking out with Trump in front of the White House in Lafayette Square, so maybe he wanted to clean himself of that.
“It’s either A, him exaggerating to these reporters, or B. him actually undermining the chain of command because he decided that the direction the President was going was dangerous–it’s one of those two. Neither one of them is good. I just don’t think the Chairman of Joint Chiefs should be in a position that’s this politicized. We shouldn’t be talking about these things that much. The reason that we are is because he decided to sit there and give these lengthy interviews–on background, by the way–not just to Woodward and Costa, but to apparently multiple other reporters working on books as well.
“Look, I never like to question people’s motives. This man has served our country in uniform in a distinguished way, but he’s made real mistakes in the last year and to be on a phone call with the Speaker of the House where he is sort of playing along with her idea that Donald Trump is going to launch a nuclear war, and things of this nature, it’s completely inappropriate. And then to go beyond that, on background, so that it can be documented in books it all reeks of someone just trying to improve their image coming off as a good guy, because he knew that in a couple of years he would be out of the military and he wants to make sure that there are opportunities for him to be out there for him to be on a speaking circuit or on corporate boards or be on a faculty somewhere. That’s what it reeks of. And even if none of this is true, maybe even his intentions are pure. The fact that we are even discussing this, the fact that this was even documented in a book, undermines not just the role the military plays in our country per say civilian control. But I actually think it puts our national security in danger.
“Our adversaries read this as well; they see this dysfunction existing, who knows how they will pursue it in the future… Imagine if we learned tomorrow the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs was talking to China or Russia or anyone because they concluded that President Biden was not all there. People would be outraged by this and demand they resign. We can’t have that. We can’t create this precedent that somehow the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs can make independent analysis and decisions about the President and then take unilateral action. We can’t set the precedent that we are going to have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs acting as a background source for reporters to write reckless books, injecting themselves into this conversation in that way, politicizing the position. The fact that we are even having a conversation about this in itself is reason for him to step down. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs should be apolitical and completely removed from our political debates in this country.”
On former President Trump’s role in the Republican Party today:
“Donald Trump is the most popular, most widely supported, most influential Republican in the country — so I think that it’s self explanatory what role he can play. What role he wants to play is up to him to decide, but you can’t have someone who is the most popular, most well-known, most influential Republican not being a factor in these races. It’s got to happen, and that’s the way it is. There are a lot of people out there, including in my party, that strongly support the President. They don’t agree with him on every issue, but they do view him as someone willing to fight, someone who is willing to take the swings and arrows of those who are unfair in their coverage of the conservative movement of Republicans, and [he is] willing to stand up and fight.
“I also think that in retrospect some of the disasters we have recently seen over the last 6-8 weeks from the current Administration has allowed people to draw a point of comparison. You look at the migratory crisis at the border, you look at the withdraw from Afghanistan, you look at this series of things and say to yourself, ‘yes, Donald Trump tweeted things that I didn’t agree with, or said this and that, but we didn’t have this sort of policy chaos that we are now seeing in place after place under the current Administration.’ But to answer your question, I think Donald Trump is the most influential, most popular Republican in the country right now. Public polling says it, common sense tells me that, and the American people see that every day.
“I think he certainly has strong opinions and he’s giving those strong opinions, and some people agree with them and some people don’t.”
“I believe people should be vaccinated. I’ve been vaccinated. I’ve repeatedly said I think that people should be vaccinated. What I don’t believe is that I, or any other government official, should have the power to force people to get vaccinated.
“I think it’s ironic that we are in a country where a border patrol agent who isn’t vaccinated can be fired, but someone who migrates here illegally from another country can enter the country without being vaccinated and is released into the general population. Americans are being fired from their jobs, but foreigners can enter the country illegally and not be vaccinated. That’s an absurd outcome.
“I don’t know how else we can encourage more vaccination other than to tell people that it’s safe and effective, and that they should be vaccinated. But there’s a difference between encouraging vaccination ? which I don’t think anyone disagrees with, certainly I don’t ? and mandating it, and telling people, ‘We’re going to fire you if you don’t [get vaccinated].’
“At the end of the day, there is something called personal responsibility in this country. I wish people exercised more, I wish people would lose weight, I wish people would monitor their blood sugar so they don’t have a diabetic episode that can cost them their lives down the road. But… just because we think that’s the right thing to do, there are some things we can’t force people to do.
“I personally know people that haven’t been vaccinated and because I care about it, it frustrates me. But I have to separate that from the idea that I’m going to somehow now punish, persecute, [and] stigmatize them. Because in many cases that becomes highly counterproductive, and what it’s doing is creating tremendous additional friction in our country… At the end of the day, if I’m vaccinated and the vaccine protects me, then I want someone else to get vaccinated because I want them to be protected, because I care about them. But I’m vaccinated, I’m protected. I’ve made that decision. I’m not sure why there is this hysteria about forcing people to get vaccinated and I think, practically, it doesn’t work. It becomes counterproductive and it creates an additional irritant in an already deeply divided country that’s on edge about a bunch of things.
“I know people that may get vaccinated at some point but they don’t want to be told they have to be… I know people that say, ‘Look at so and so ? they were vaccinated and they still got COVID.’ I know other people that say ‘Why do I have to get vaccinated? I already had COVID two months ago. I have immunity. I don’t know how long it lasts, but I have immunity, so why do you force me to get vaccinated?’ It’s a strange situation because I believe people should be vaccinated. On the other hand, I hear some of these stories about people that are about to lose their jobs unless they allow someone to stick a needle in their arm not once, but twice, and put something into their body that’s only a year and a half old. Though I don’t agree with them, I have to respect that point of view, and trying to bash them over the head is only going to create a point of friction that makes it harder to find cooperation on a bunch of other things as well.”
On election integrity:
“I have a lot of experience in this issue being from Florida. I was in the Florida legislature [and] my first year there was right after the 2000 election, where there were people that openly argued that George W. Bush was not a legitimate president because of what happened in the state of Florida. I come from a community in Miami where we’ve had a long history, unfortunately, of all sorts of electoral problems that forced us to change state laws. There was a time in Miami, Florida where we had Republican operatives and Democrat operatives that were collecting and harvesting ballots. People were collecting 50, 80, 100 ballots at senior centers and they report[ed] cases of how ballots were tampered with or thrown away. So we passed laws to fix all of that.
“I think it’s really important that we have strong election laws that give people confidence because… there are two things that are important about elections. The first is that the results [must] be accurate and the other is that there [must] be public confidence.
“And it doesn’t take much for people to lose public confidence in an election’s legitimacy… especially in this environment and especially with foreign operatives driving some of this with misinformation to undermine public confidence in elections… And I don’t think it helps anyone to go around arguing that requiring an ID, or putting a deadline on when you can register, or when the ballot has to be in, [is the equivalent] to Jim Crow-era laws and discrimination. I’m a Hispanic man, and I am perfectly capable of producing an ID to go vote just like I have to to get on an airplane, cash a check, or a bunch of other things. If we can require people to prove they’re vaccinated with a card, I don’t think it’s too much to ask that the states decide to do so to prove that they are who say they are with an ID come voting time.”
On Florida’s history with election integrity:
“Florida has great election laws and great election systems. Now, we’ve had problems. In 2018, we had two counties that had very serious problems on how they administered those elections. Frankly, one of the problems was a ballot design problem in which a Democratic congressional district, the way they designed their ballot may have cost Democrats thousands of votes in very close races in one county. That was a product of incompetence. There are things like that, but I think by and large Florida has a very good election system. It’s been improved even now with new laws, and I think the reason why we have such a good election system is because we’ve had such a history of close elections ? and, obviously, in the case of the 2000 election, one that became the center of national attention for a period of time.”
On the defining issues that may influence the 2022 midterm elections:
“I do think a couple of things are on the horizon ? inflation is going to be a big issue. I’m not sure people realize yet how much more expensive retail products are going to be here very soon. The cost of producing things that are on their way are substantially higher ? 20-25% higher than they were just a few months ago. That’s going to be reflected when people go Christmas shopping this year and into the new year.
“I think the other is this: Democrats today have a three vote majority in the House, they have a 50/50 Senate, and a narrow victory in the presidency, and yet they’re governing like they got a mandate to radically transform the role of government in our country. I think that’s out of touch with reality…
“And I think the incompetence of the current administration, I think the border situation is going to get far worse. There are between 90 and 120,000 migrants from Haiti alone that are in transit countries throughout the hemisphere all desiring to come towards the United States. And right now, the Biden administration is doing very little about it. We had the foreign minister of Panama in Washington a few days ago screaming at the top of her lungs ? not literally ? that this is a problem that needs to be confronted and that it’s only going to get worse. And that’s just from Haiti; there are multiple other countries as well that are contributing to this.
“So we’ve got a border crisis, we have inflation, and I hope I’m wrong, but I do think that we are going to see a counterterrorism threat emerge from Afghanistan at some point in the near future as well. These issues are going to be relevant.
“And from a broader perspective, I would just say that we are living through a time of extraordinary economic, social and geopolitical transformation, and public policy is struggling to keep up. There’s huge adjustments happening that I think are having an impact on society, on our culture, but on our government and our politics too.”