Marco Rubio Votes to Gut Obamacare With No Replacement
For a few delirious hours yesterday, Florida's junior senator made his home state proud. Marco Rubio relentlessly grilled Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of state, on human rights violators such as Saudi Arabia and Russia, demanding to know whether Tillerson believed Trump's BFF Vladimir Putin was a "war criminal" and whether he'd listen to intelligence agencies about Russia's hacking.
It was great. For once, a politician famed primarily for his gutless twisting in the wind was standing up for something, all but begging for a nasty Trump tweetstorm. But it didn't last.
By the end of the night, Rubio announced he's voting for Jeff Sessions, the unreconstructed Confederate attorney general nominee who will likely undo Florida's nascent medical marijuana movement. And then Rubio joined his GOP colleagues in a middle-of-the-night vote to gut Obamacare without any plan to replace it.
That's exactly what the GOP and Trump had spent months on the campaign trail promising they wouldn't do. Yet in the wee hours of this morning, Rubio helped a budget measure that sets the stage for Obamacare's demise pass 51-48.
Democrats had put up an hours-long blockade to try to stall the vote, which essentially will allow the Senate to later dismantle Obamacare without a 60-vote majority. But the late-night passage killed that movement.
Rubio's vote is especially notable because his home state leads the nation in Obamacare enrollment. In Florida alone, 1.3 million people have registered for coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2017.
Where exactly will those million-plus Floridians get their health care once Rubio and his colleagues are done stripping down the ACA? The Republicans' official answer: ¯\_(?)_/¯
"This resolution will set the stage for true legislative relief from Obamacare that Americans have long demanded while ensuring a stable transition," Senate Budget Chairman Mike Enzi of Wyoming told reporters after the 1 a.m. vote. "The Obamacare bridge is collapsing, and we're sending in a rescue team."
You'll note the lack of any specific idea of what that "rescue" would mean. Sen. Rand Paul joined Democrats in voting against the repeal for that reason, and House Republicans also seemed jittery about backing a repeal with zero idea how to replace legislation that 30 million Americans rely on for a basic need.
As for Rubio, he hasn't offered any kind of statement on what he expects Florida's hordes of Obamacare users to do without the ACA.
Oh, and Tillerson, the Exxon Mobil exec he grilled on the stand all day? Rubio is officially "undecided" on whether he'll vote to confirm him — even after Tillerson refused to condemn Putin's bloody Syrian legacy or orchestrated murders of political opponents.
Don't hold your breath for a "no" vote when the chips are on the table.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Miami, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.