By Juliegrace Brufke
GOP presidential hopeful Marco Rubio spent the day campaigning in Iowa Friday — all while his colleagues in the Senate were passing a massive year-end spending bill he had strongly come out against.
Of the five members in the upper chamber gunning for the White House, the Florida Republican was the only candidate not to show up for the vote.
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham voted yes. While Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination — all voted against the measure.
Rubio slammed the legislation, which consists of the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill along with a $622 billion tax package, saying it would contribute to the country’s growing debt and suggested using a parliamentary procedure to stall the legislation ahead of the vote.
“I know enough to say we’re going to oppose it, and I know enough to say that we should use every procedural aspect that we have to slow it down and perhaps force some changes on these things that we’ve been discussing,” he said Thursday during an appearance on Fox News’s “Happening Now.”
The junior senator’s absence did not go unnoticed, with Sen. Rand Paul and his campaign going as far to call on Rubio to step down from his seat.
— Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) December 18, 2015
Rubio tweet count today: 2 on campaigning, 1 sales pitch of wall calendar, 0 on Omnibus. #WheresMarco
— Matthew Chisholm (@MChisholm) December 18, 2015
How about showing up for work today in Congress instead of selling wall calendars? https://t.co/7gr6vGbjV5
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) December 18, 2015
But the Rubio camp defended the senator’s decision to skip the vote, saying the candidate needed more time to review the legislation.
“Votes like Friday’s are why Marco is running for president,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “Leaders in Washington crafted this trillion dollar spending bill in secret, and unveiled it during the debate on Tuesday night. Marco had barely 48 hours to review over 2,000 pages of spending.”
His campaign defended his record as a conservative, noting he has voted against similar measures during his time in office.
“Marco has consistently voted against those sorts of bills, but the truth is that it’s not going to change until we elect a new president,” Conant continued. “That’s why Marco is meeting voters in Iowa today.”
Rubio has missed more than half of the votes that have taken place since October.
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