Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) voted against a resolution authorizing a military strike in Syria, during a meeting of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. Rubio’s vote put him in the minority and on the side of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), an uncommon ally. But Rubio sought distance from Paul after the vote, saying that he opposed the measure because he is “unconvinced” that a military strike will work. Rubio: “Those who argue that what happens in Syria is none of our business are wrong. … [I]f we follow the advice of those who seek to disengage us from global issues, in the long run we will pay a terrible price.” (Palm Beach Post)
STILL FOCUSED ON OBAMACARE. Rubio sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services Tuesday, calling on the department to cancel a planned $8.7 million ad buy promoting the Affordable Care Act. Rubio wrote: “Until critical questions can be answered regarding the availability and type of health insurance to be provided by ObamaCare, it is unconscionable to spend taxpayer dollars to promote and advertise ObamaCare plans that have yet to be finalized.” (Talking Points Memo)
NEW MESSAGE ON IMMIGRATION. Rubio is profiled in Sunday’s upcoming Parade magazine, in which he addresses his push for immigration reform. Rubio: “It’s one thing to consider immigration reform as a theoretical policy issue, and another to meet real people whose lives are impacted by it. As a senator, I interact with people who flat-out tell you, ‘Look, my kids were hungry. And I am going to do what it takes to feed them.’ You think, ‘If I had been in that position, would I have done something different?’” (release)
— Sarah Mimms
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"House GOP leaders on Tuesday night pitched a new strategy to avert a looming government shutdown that includes children's health funding and the delay of ObamaCare taxes. Lawmakers need to pass a short-term stopgap bill by midnight Friday, when money for the federal government runs out. The latest GOP plan would keep the government’s lights on through Feb. 16, and be coupled with a six-year extension of funding for the popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The continuing resolution or CR would also delay ObamaCare's medical device and Cadillac taxes for two years, and the health insurance tax for one year starting in 2019."
"A key Senate negotiator and White House official on Tuesday expressed little hope for an immigration deal this week but nonetheless predicted that Congress can avoid a government shutdown." Marc Short, the White House Capitol Hill liaison, said he's optimistic about a deal on DACA overall, but not this week. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn also said he doubts an agreement can be made before week's end.
"Homeland Security Kristjen Nielsen confirmed that President Trump used 'tough language' in an Oval Office meeting last week over immigration policy, but she said she did not hear him describe some African countries and Haiti as 'shithole countries,' as has been reported." When pressed she, also said she "didn't know" whether Norway was a predominately white country.
"Chances of a government shutdown grew Monday as Republicans concluded that they would be unable to reach a long-term spending accord by the Friday deadline. GOP leaders are now turning to a short-term funding measure in hopes of keeping agencies open while talks continue, but Democratic leaders say they are unlikely to support any deal that does not protect young illegal immigrants. Aides to key negotiators from both parties planned to meet Tuesday in an effort to rekindle budget talks, setting up a Wednesday meeting of the leaders themselves. If they cannot agree, the government would shut down at midnight Friday for the first time since 2013."