Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) seized on remarks by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in an interview with Breitbart News, citing his desire to address immigration in a government spending bill to argue he’s thirsting for a government shutdown.
Wasserman Schultz’s remarks, made on a conference call with reporters convened with the purpose of bashing Rubio, come as White House press secretary Josh Earnest used similar rhetoric in a briefing with reporters Wednesday.
In the interview, Rubio said Congress may seek to address a unilateral amnesty by Obama in an upcoming spending bill.
“There will have to be some sort of a budget vote or a Continuing Resolution vote, so I assume there will be some sort of a vote on this,” Rubio said in his interview with Breitbart News when asked how the Senate GOP would fight the President’s executive amnesty if he goes through with it. “I’m interested to see what kinds of ideas my colleagues have about using funding mechanisms to address this issue. Beyond that, I’m not sure if the President is going to make this decision before we go back or after.”
After making that comment, Rubio added that he thinks if the President carries through with this threat, the Senate will undoubtedly go Republican in a major way in November.
“I think if he makes this decision before the elections–it’s him conceding control of the Senate,” Rubio said. “If you take an executive decision of this magnitude, politically it will be disastrous for Democrats in a number of key states around the country. So I’m interested to see what ideas my other colleagues have to address this when the debates come up about budget and spending. There’s a handful of Democrats that would probably be supportive of a reasonable approach to addressing an executive decision or prevent one from happening.”
Wasserman Schultz, on a conference call with reporters on Wednesday, used those statements to attack Rubio–saying the only possible meaning of those statements from Rubio is that he wants to shut down the government.
“That can only mean one thing: Rubio’s willing to risk another government shutdown,” Wasserman Schultz said of Rubio’s comments to Breitbart News during the conference call, according to prepared remarks provided to Breitbart News by the DNC. A source on the call reported she added, “Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has proven with this suggestion that to use the budget to try to essentially bludgeon the President into submission over immigration policy shows he is as much as a zealot as we have known him to be since he came to the United States Senate.”
A shutdown would occur if Congress could not agree on a spending bill and the current law funding the government lapsed, although that’s only one of many possible outcomes were lawmakers to take up the issue when Congress reconvenes in September. For example, Democrats might seek to defend constitutional prerogatives of the legislature and push back against unilateral action by Obama. Or some kind of middle ground could be struck.
Rubio’s office noted that his remarks were far from a line in the sand.
“The only people talking about shutting down the government are partisan extremists like Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) who are looking for a way to raise money and divert attention from the failed presidency of Barack Obama,” Rubio spokesman Alex Conant said in an email. “All Senator Rubio has called for is for Senator Reid to allow votes on Republican solutions to the immigration catastrophe our nation faces. Let’s be clear: The only thing Senator Rubio wants to shutdown is Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’s tenure as majority leader by winning a Republican majority this November.”
For good measure, Wasserman Schultz also threw her weight behind President Obama’s planned executive amnesty.
“If Republicans in Congress can’t come together to pass commonsense immigration reform, the President will do what’s best for our country – and he won’t be held hostage to Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and the GOP’s demands,” she said.
Wasserman Schultz’s brash, partisan attack on Rubio offered a hint of the arguments Democrats might make in the fall if the issue emerges as a major debate.
“The health of our economy shouldn’t be needlessly put at risk as a tactic to score political points,” she said. “Here in Florida, Rubio’s last shutdown meant that Head Start programs across the state were suspended, thousands of the Kennedy Space Center’s employees were furloughed, half of the National Guard’s federal employees stayed home, which risked hampering efforts to prepare for tropical weather, and so much more. That’s what Rubio’s blind-partisanship cost his own constituents, and he’s willing to do it all over again.”