Update 3 p.m.: Marco Rubio voted "yes" on a motion to move forward with debate to repeal and possibly replace Obamacare, though the GOP has yet to reveal any specific replacement plan. His vote was crucial: The vote was 50-50, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote to move forward.
Marco Rubio, a neatly pressed white shirt stuffed with millions of dollars in health-care lobbyist money, will almost certainly vote to repeal Obamacare this afternoon, leaving tens of millions nationwide without health coverage, including more than two million right here in Florida.
Rubio has taken more than $2.5 million from the health industry. His reasons for repealing Obamacare — which he's prepared to do even without a replacement — make less sense than the plot of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. He has stuck by the GOP's universally unpopular plan despite the cries of nearly every health advocacy group, including the AARP and the American Medical Association.
And now Rubio — a devout Catholic who lately has begun every morning by tweeting a verse from Proverbs — is set to back a measure that thousands of Catholic nuns, including dozens from South Florida, call "the most harmful legislation for American families in our lifetimes."
The plea from more than 7,100 nuns across the nation urges the Senate to reject the Obamacare repeal on humanitarian grounds. Though it's still not clear what the Senate will vote on today — even GOP senators didn't know for sure yesterday — Rubio has backed both the Senate's Obamacare replacement and an all-out repeal. Either plan would leave millions without basic insurance and would gut government funding to Medicaid, which provides medical care to the poorest families in the United States.
That kind of move "goes against our Catholic faith teaching,” the nuns write in a signed letter sent to the Senate Monday.
“The mission of Catholic Sisters has always been to serve our nation’s most vulnerable people," says Sister Simone Campbell, the executive director of the Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, which organized the letter. "As such, we are united in opposition to the current Republican healthcare proposals.”
The letter was signed by nuns from all 50 states, including dozens from Rubio's home state at convents from Miami to Tallahassee.
As the Senate returns to the Capitol today — with Sen. John McCain flying in for a vote after a brain cancer diagnosis — Rubio has been quiet about his exact plans. He hasn't tweeted about the health-care reform or posted a Facebook Live video since last week, when he argued that the bill was a great idea because millennials want terrible insurance that's cheap.
Instead, Rubio has done what Rubio does best: tried to raise more cash for his campaign by bashing the media. Rubio's latest Facebook post came yesterday, when he linked to a YouTube clip in which he goes full Trump, complaining about "lies" in the "liberal media" and praising Trump's record in the White House.
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Rubio hasn't listened to experts like the AARP or the AMA. He's untroubled by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's forecasts of economic turbulence and millions without health care. It's unlikely he'll be swayed by thousands of Catholic nuns warning him that the bill goes against the core values of his faith.
Would a deluge of calls to his office today make any difference? Well, a few million bucks in lobbyist cash would probably be much handier in catching the senator's ear. But a few more calls couldn't hurt!
Rubio's Washington office number is 202-224-3041, and his Miami office is at 305-418-8553.