Political positions of Marco Rubio

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Marco Rubio

Marco Rubio is a Republican politician in the United States. He is a United States Senator from Florida, and was a candidate for the Republican nomination for president of the United States in the 2016 election.

Rubio supports balancing the federal budget, while prioritizing defense spending; on climate change, he believes it is real and humans are contributing to it, but questions the extent to which humans are responsible for it and he asserts that other nations like China are primarily responsible; on Obamacare, he wants to repeal it and replace it with tax credits and less regulation; regarding the internet, he opposes net neutrality which is a government policy of prohibiting different prices for different types of content; on immigration, he supports securing the country's borders and then offering a path to citizenship for some people who came to the United States unlawfully, and supports more vetting of refugees; on social issues, Rubio opposes same-sex marriage; he identifies as pro-life and opposes abortion; on taxes, Rubio plans to set corporate taxes at 25 percent, reform the tax code, and cap economic regulations; as to Cuba, Rubio would counteract the Obama administration's normalization of relations; on Iran, he supports tough sanctions, and scrapping the recent nuclear deal; regarding the Islamic State, he favors aiding local Sunni forces in Iraq and Syria.[1][2]

Rubio says that the United States cannot accept more Syrian refugees because background checks cannot be done under present circumstances; he supports working with allies to set up no-fly zones in Syria to protect civilians from Bashar al-Assad; he favors collection of bulk metadata for purposes of national security; he believes that gun control laws generally fail to achieve their purpose; he is supportive of the Trans Pacific Partnership because the U.S. risks being excluded from global trade unless it is more open to trade; he is wary of China regarding national security and human rights, and wants to boost the U.S. military presence in that region but hopes for greater economic growth as a result of trading with that country; and, on capital punishment, Rubio opposes protracted legal battles that delay justice for the victims, so he favors streamlining the appeals process.[2]

Broad overview of political stance[edit]

As of early 2015, Rubio had a rating of 98.67 by the American Conservative Union, based on his lifetime voting record in the Senate. Two other senators were tied with Rubio, and only two were rated as having more conservative ratings. According to the National Journal, in 2013 Rubio had been the 17th most conservative senator.[3] The Club for Growth gave Rubio ratings of 93 percent and 91 percent based on his voting record in 2014 and 2013 respectively, and he has a lifetime rating from the organization above 90 percent.[4][5][6]

Senator Rubio speaking at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland

Rubio initially won his U.S. Senate seat with strong Tea Party support, but his 2013 support for comprehensive immigration reform legislation led to a decline in that support.[7][8] Rubio's stance on military, foreign policy and national security issues—such as his support for arming the Syrian rebels and for the NSA—alienated some libertarian-oriented Tea Party activists.[8][9]

Drug policy[edit]

Rubio supports continued criminal penalties for recreational cannabis use. In January 2014, Rubio said: "I don't think legalizing marijuana or even decriminalizing it is the right decision for our country."[10] In a May 2014 interview, Rubio said that he believed that there is "no responsible way to recreationally use" marijuana and that legalization of the substance would be "bad for the country."[11] Rubio has said that he only supports the use of medical cannabis if it is the noneuphoric type (such as "Charlotte's web") approved by the Florida Legislature.[10]

Regarding the legalization of drugs in general, Rubio has stated, "I personally believe that legalizing drugs would be a great mistake and that any reductions in sentences for drug crimes should be made with great care."[12]



In his role as a legislator, Rubio was active in pursuing K–12 policy including introducing the Educational Opportunities Act in 2013. As a presidential candidate, Rubio has argued on behalf of closing the federal Department of Education,[13] expanding public charter schools,[14] and for teaching both creationism and evolution.[15]

Additionally, Rubio has taken a strong stance against the Common Core State Standards, arguing that, while they "started out as well-intentioned effort to develop more rigorous curriculum standards",[16] that they'll eventually be "used to force on states policies the federal government wants".[15]


Rubio has proposed a plan to reform the country's higher education system which includes enlarged vocational and apprenticeship programs, a proposed "Student Right to Know Before You Go Act" which would require colleges to inform students prior to taking out loans of the future income they could expect after obtaining a degree, a proposal to automatically base student loan payments on subsequent income, and enabling students to partner with investors who would receive a percentage of the students' income in return for funding their education. The plan also includes a commitment to create a new college accreditation program in the first 100 days of Rubio's administration.[17]

Gun policy[edit]

Marco Rubio has an A+ rating from the NRA, the highest attainable score, indicating a pro-gun rights voting record.[18] He has stated that the Second Amendment is a cornerstone of American democracy.[19] As of 2017, Rubio has received $3,303,355 in donations from the NRA.[20]

But he also voted for a gun ban in Florida Public Parks in 1999, and, as Florida Speaker of the House, Rubio failed to push law allowing guns at work.[21] He believes that gun control laws generally fail to achieve their purpose.[2]

In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Rubio stated that he does not support arming teachers to address the frequency of school shootings in the United States,[22] calling it "a terrible idea".[23] Rubio is opposed to banning assault weapons, stating that if he believed that such a ban "would have prevented this from happening, I would have supported it."[23] In contrast, Rubio does support legislation that would prevent those under the age of 18 from purchasing assault weapons. Rubio also supports modifying the current system of background checks for purchasing guns, as well as legislation to ban bump stocks.[23] Rubio has announced his support for gun-violence restraining orders, and said that he is reconsidering his support of high-capacity magazines—though he stopped short of taking a firm stance.[24] At a town hall meeting in February 2018, Rubio stated, "I support lifting the age from 18 to 21 for buying a rifle."[25]

Energy and environment[edit]

Rubio has stated that although he agrees with the scientific consensus that humans are contributing to climate change, "there is no consensus on ... how much of the changes that are going on are due to human activity," and that proposals to address climate change would be ineffective and economically harmful.[26][27][28] The website PolitiFact has said that Rubio "consistently either avoids the link between human activity and climate change, or outright denies it."[29] Rubio believes that other nations like China are mainly responsible for climate change.[2]

In response to the encyclical Laudato si' by Pope Francis in 2015 in which he warns of the dangers of climate change,[30] Rubio, a Roman Catholic, replied: "I have no problem with what the pope did" and "He is a moral authority and as a moral authority is reminding us of our obligation to be good caretakers to the planet. I'm a political leader. And my job as a policymaker is to act in the common good. And I do believe it's in the common good to protect our environment, but I also believe it's in the common good to protect our economy."[31]

Rubio has proposed a federal energy plan intended to address what he calls "one of the most politicized and regulated aspects of our economy" with "restrictions that result in higher prices and fewer jobs for our people in exchange for minimal environmental benefits". His plan would remove the crude oil export ban, block the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan for reducing carbon emissions which he says would result in the closure of coal-fired power plants, and transfer energy regulation to the states.[32]

As reported by The Hill in 2018, Jeanette Nuñez will introduce legislation in Florida "to standardize daylight saving time for the entire calendar year". To make the "Sunshine Protection Act" nationwide, Senator Marco Rubio would sponsor such a bill in the Senate given the bill could not take effect until the federal government makes the change. This is because the "provision would shift the state into a different time zone permanently", something which requires a federal regulatory action or an act of Congress.[33]

The League of Conservation Voters gave Rubio a lifetime score of 9% for votes on environmental issues.[34][35]

Government regulation and the internet[edit]

Rubio has stated that he would cap government regulation on businesses. He has praised 'on-demand' businesses, such as Uber and AirBnB, as drivers of innovation that should be protected from government interference, and has criticized efforts by New York City to limit those businesses.[36]

In an op-ed for Politico, Rubio criticized net neutrality laws for expanding government control over the Internet and applying "a 1930s law to a 21st century issue". As alternatives to net neutrality laws that ban different prices for different types of content, Rubio has pointed to a resolution he proposed with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) opposing international efforts to grant greater control over the Internet to the International Telecommunication Union, as well as proposed legislation to increase mobile broadband by "expanding unlicensed spectrum".[37]

Rubio has praised encryption and criticized the idea of forcing Apple Inc. to create a backdoor to encryption to the iPhone in the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino attack, claiming that it would open the door to criminals accessing smartphones and would merely result in terrorists switching to foreign encrypted software to which there was no backdoor.[38]


Rubio has stated that he would repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and replace it with tax credits and less regulation.[1][39] In an opinion piece on the website Politico, Rubio proposed an up-front tax credit to be used for health insurance, along with federally-supported, state-based high-risk pools for those with pre-existing conditions to purchase health insurance and the expansion of health savings accounts (HSAs). The plan also calls for Medicaid to be funded through per-capita block grants to states, which would eliminate federal mandates, while Medicare would be transitioned into a premium support system, like Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D.[40]

Rubio pushed for elimination of the "risk corridors" used by the federal government to compensate insurers for their losses as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). The risk corridors were intended to be funded by profitable insurers participating in the PPACA. However, since insurer losses have significantly exceeded their profits in the program, the risk corridors have been depleted. His efforts contributed to the insertion of a provision in the 2014 federal budget which forbid Health and Human Services from using "any money other than what came from profitable insurers."[41][42] One of the many insurers who suffered financially because of the elimination of the risk corridor program, Moda Health took the case to court and won a "$214-million judgment against the federal government" in Moda Health Plan, Inc. v. The United States. On February 10, 201 Justice Thomas C. Wheeler stated, "the Government "made a promise in the risk corridors program that it has yet to fulfill. Today, the court directs the Government to fulfill that promise. After all, 'to say to [Moda], 'The joke is on you. You shouldn't have trusted us,' is hardly worthy of our great government."[43]


On immigration, Rubio supports securing the country's borders and then offering a legal status to people who came to the United States unlawfully, and he also believes there should be more vetting of refugees; he now opposes seeking a single comprehensive all-in-one immigration reform bill (which he calls delusional), and instead wants to secure the borders and only then discuss legal status.[1][2] Regarding refugees of the Syrian Civil War, Rubio is against letting them come to the United States, because background checks cannot be done under present circumstances.[2]

As part of the bipartisan "Gang of Eight" in the Senate, Rubio co-authored the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 to give illegal immigrants a pathway to legal status. His proposal contrasted with the Republican party's long-held view that offering citizenship to undocumented immigrants is virtually the same as amnesty.[44] On October 2013, four months after the Senate passed the bill he co-authored, Rubio publicly opposed its passage in the House of Representatives, proposing instead a series of individual bills.[45]

Rubio now advocates stopping illegal immigration before addressing those illegal immigrants who are already in the country.[1][46] In an interview in September 2015 he stated: "I don't think it's a decision you have to make on the front end. The first two things you have to do is stop illegal immigration, then second you have to modernize our legal immigration system, and then third you can have a debate about how to even legalize people to begin with. And then ultimately in 10 or 12 years you could have a broader debate about how has this worked out and should we allow some of them to apply for green cards and eventually citizenship."[47]

In addressing his change of posture, at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015, Rubio stated that his biggest lesson from the failure of enacting comprehensive immigration reform, was that Americans would not support it until the border is secure.[48]

Grandfather who fled Cuba in 1962[edit]

The New York Times reported in March 2016 that, "Marco Rubio's policies might shut the door to people like his grandfather."[49] Rubio has acknowledged that some people might see a conflict between his immigration positions and the experience of his maternal grandfather, Pedro Victor Garcia.[49]

Garcia initially immigrated legally to the U.S. in 1956, but returned to Cuba to find work in 1959.[50] When he fled to the U.S. in 1962 without a visa, he was detained as an undocumented immigrant, and an immigration judge initially ordered him deported,[50][51] but later the same day immigration officials had a "change of heart", resulting in status as a "parolee".[49] The Times calls that status "a gray area of the law that meant he would not get a green card but could remain in the United States".[49]

Rubio supports immigration rules that are different than the rules that were in place as of 1962, saying that there was not a "widespread effort on behalf of Fidel Castro to infiltrate into the United States killers who were going to detonate weapons and kill people."[49] But, says Rubio, there should be exceptions for people who obviously pose no threat.[49] Upon arriving in the U.S. in 1962, Pedro Victor Garcia was five feet 6 inches, 120 pounds, with a leg injury, polio, scoliosis and signs of emphysema; pity may have been the factor that swayed immigration officials to let him stay.[49] A Rubio spokesman has said that refugees often arrive without all the necessary visas, but that the U.S. permitted Cubans to stay.[51]

Rubio was born in 1971, long after Garcia's arrival in 1962,[52] and Garcia lived until 1984; Rubio says, "I learned at his feet, relied on his counsel and craved his respect...."[49] Rubio said in 2012 that he never had any knowledge that his grandfather was in the U.S. illegally.[53] According to the Times, immigration officials told Garcia in 1962 that "he could stay for the time being," and he obtained permanent residency in 1967.[49]

International relations and security[edit]

Rubio advocates for a more active presence of United States in the global affairs and "a robust American role in confronting" Iran, Russia and North Korea. Rubio has called Russian president Vladimir Putin a "gangster" and "an organized crime figure that runs a country". He has opposed efforts by the Obama administration to normalize political relations with Cuba. Rubio also opposes the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action deal with Iran's nuclear program which was partly brokered by the Obama administration, and has stated that he would continue to increase sanctions against Iran until it agreed to end its uranium enrichment program, and has pointed to the possibility of military action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.[1][2] Rubio is also wary of human rights in China and the broader Chinese impact upon American national security. He wants to boost the U.S. military presence in East Asia and hopes for greater economic growth as a result of increased trade with China.[2]


China and Hong Kong[edit]

Weeks after the 2014 Hong Kong class boycott campaign and Umbrella Movement broke out which demands genuine universal suffrage among other goals, Rubio among bipartisan colleagues joined U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Rep. Chris Smith's effort to introduce Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act which would update the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 and U.S. commitment to Hong Kong's freedom and democracy. "China remains... suppressing dissent and preventing democracy in Hong Kong.... The U.S. should make clear that we stand on the side of the democratic aspirations of the people of Hong Kong and against attempts to suppress their voices.... help to ensure that Hong Kong remains truly autonomous from Beijing." Rubio said.[54][55][56][57][58][59]

In November 2018, Rubio and a bipartisan group of senators sent a letter to the Trump administration, raising concerns about China’s undue influence over media outlets and academic institutions in the United States. They wrote: "In American news outlets, Beijing has used financial ties to suppress negative information about the CCP. In the past four years, multiple media outlets with direct or indirect financial ties to China allegedly decided not to publish stories on wealth and corruption in the CCP...Beijing has also sought to use relationships with American academic institutions and student groups to shape public discourse."[60]


In July 2014, Rubio supported Obama's initial response to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's invasion of Iraq.


Rubio has been a staunch supporter of Israel and like Ted Cruz and other Republican candidates in the United States presidential election, 2016, he promised that his first move in Office would be to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Israel. In a senate speech in November 2015, Rubio said: "If America doesn't stand with Israel, who would we stand with? If Israel — a democracy, a strong American ally on the international stage — if they are not worthy of our unconditional support, then what ally of ours around the world can feel safe in their alliance with us?"[61]


Rubio condemned the genocide of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar and called for a stronger response to the crisis.[62]

North Korea[edit]

In March 2018, Rubio was one of six Republican senators to sign a letter to President Trump asserting the US must verify before trusting the North Korean regime and requesting Trump "respond to Congress in a timely manner regarding the administration’s strategy to engage the DPRK and your plan for a robust implementation of the maximum pressure campaign against this heinous regime."[63] In May, Rubio stated his belief that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would "try to get as much sanctions relief as possible without having to give up his weapons" and his opposition to the US striking North Korea militarily if there was fear North Korea could strike the US at some point, though admitted the option could realistically be employed eventually.[64]

Syria and Iraq[edit]

In September 2013, Rubio voted against a resolution authorizing President Obama to use military force against Syria in response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons stating that he was skeptical that the planned military strike would have the intended effect.[65] In July 2014 Rubio called for arms to support moderate elements in the Syrian opposition and a bombing campaign to stop ISIL's advance, as well as aid to local Sunni forces in Iraq, and no-fly zones in Syria to protect civilians from Bashar al-Assad.[1][2][66]

In December 2018, after President Trump announced the withdrawal of American troops in Syria, Rubio was one of six senators to sign a letter expressing concern for the move and their belief "that such action at this time is a premature and costly mistake that not only threatens the safety and security of the United States, but also emboldens ISIS, Bashar al Assad, Iran, and Russia."[67]



In January 2019, Rubio was one of eight senators to reintroduce legislation to prevent President Trump from withdrawing the United States from NATO by imposing a requirement of a two-thirds approval from the Senate for a president to suspend, terminate or withdraw American involvement with the international organization following a report that President Trump expressed interest in withdrawing from NATO several times during the previous year. Rubio stated that NATO was "more important than ever with Russia’s growing subversive activities in the region and beyond" and it was critical to American national security as well as that of its European allies "that the United States remain engaged and play an active role in NATO."[68]


In January 2019, Rubio was one of eleven Republican senators to vote to advance legislation intended to block President Trump's intent to lift sanctions against three Russian companies.[69]

North America[edit]

Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay[edit]

In 2010, he stated that radical Islamist terrorists pose the greatest threat to the United States, and that these radicals intend to impose their beliefs on the world. He voted "yes" on extending the roving wiretaps provision of the Patriot Act, which governs surveillance of suspected terrorists.[70] Rubio favors collection of bulk metadata for purposes of national security.[2]

Rubio favors the detention of terrorists at Guantanamo Bay so that they can be interrogated for intelligence purposes, and has stated that if necessary he would re-open the military prison there.[71]

Social issues[edit]

Rubio joined twenty-two other Republican senators in voting against reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, stating that he largely supported it, but objected to certain new provisions added to the law by the reauthorization bill.[72] His political opponents were pleased that Rubio cast a vote that could hurt him in 2016, though Rubio voiced support for the overall law.[73]

Rubio identifies as pro-life, and opposes abortion, including in cases of rape and incest.[74] Rubio has said: "I believe all human life, irrespective of the circumstance in which it came into being, is worthy of protection."[74] Rubio strongly opposes the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark abortion rights decision in Roe v. Wade (1973), calling it a "historically, egregiously flawed decision"[75] and "one of America's most blatant instances of judicial activism."[76] On capital punishment, Rubio opposes protracted legal battles that delay justice for the victims, so he favors streamlining the appeals process.[2]

On LGBT issues, Rubio believes states should govern the issue, not the national government. On March 14, 2013, he spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference and said "states should have the right to define marriage in the traditional way".[77][78] Although he does not believe the issues should be legislated at a national level, according to PBS NewsHour, Rubio believes (as PBS puts it) that "marriage is between a man and a woman", and he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision in 2015 legalizing same-sex marriage in all fifty states.[1]

Rubio opposed the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court based on "her case history and testimony regarding the Second Amendment at the state level, eminent domain takings and the so-called constitutional right to privacy that resulted in the Roe v. Wade decision."[70][79]

Taxes, spending, and trade[edit]

Rubio supports balancing the federal budget, while prioritizing defense spending.[1] He supports a balanced budget amendment as well as statutory caps on federal spending, and opposed President Obama's stimulus package of 2009.[70]

Rubio supports Social Security changes to prevent projected future deficits in the program. He believes the program should have a higher age for the start of benefits for workers who are more than ten years away from retirement to account for Americans living longer.[70] He has stated his support of federal R&D funding and space exploration funding to promote technological innovation, which he sees as critical to the development to the economy.[70]

The National Taxpayers Union, a conservative taxpayers advocacy organization, gave Rubio grades of 'A' in 2011, and 'B+' in 2012 and 2013.[80]

In 2014, Rubio proposed legislation to replace the earned income tax credit with a federal wage enhancement for qualifying low-wage jobs. The proposal would apply to singles as well as married couples and families with children. It would also arrive in sync with a monthly paycheck rather than a year-end lump-sum credit. Rubio asserted that this was a "better way to support low-income workers than simply raising the minimum wage."[81] Rubio has also proposed a 25% tax credit for businesses that offer their employees at least four weeks of paid family leave. The tax break would be capped at 12 weeks, and at $4,000 per employee.[82]

In March 2015, Rubio, along with Republican Senator Mike Lee, submitted a tax reform proposal which called for a simplified tax code with just two tax rates: 15% for individuals earning less than $75,000 annually and 35% for those earning more than that. It would eliminate capital gains taxes and add a new $2,500 per child tax credit for families. The corporate tax rate would be reduced to 25%, and businesses would be able to fully deduct the cost of investments in the year made.[1] An analysis by the Tax Foundation found that Rubio's plan would result in a loss of government revenue of $2.4 trillion (using dynamic models which take into account the projected economic growth from tax cuts) to $6 trillion (using more traditional static models).[83][84] The Tax Foundation says that under Rubio's plan, these revenue shortfalls would substantially increase the national debt, which would not return to its current level until 2040. Rubio's campaign has said that he will offset the lost revenue through spending reductions, such as by increasing the eligibility age for Social Security and by reducing Medicare spending.[83] Using static assumptions and dynamic scoring, the proposed tax cuts would increase the after-tax income of the top 1% of earners by 12-28%, the top 10% by 6-20%, the middle 10% by 2-16%, and the bottom 10% by 44-56%.[85] Rubio later updated his proposal to add a 25% tax bracket, so that the individual tax rate would be 15% for those earning less than $75,000 annually, 25% for those earning between $75,000 and $150,000 annually, and 35% for those earning more than that.[86]

Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, criticized Rubio's proposals, writing that Rubio's plan "takes the cake" in making the tax code more regressive and would "hemorrhage revenues while bequeathing a massive gift of wealth to the top 0.0003 percent."[87] In contrast, David M. McIntosh of the Club for Growth praised Rubio's tax plan, calling it a "pro-growth tax cut and reform plan that would fundamentally reform the tax code and the entitlement state," as well as lauding Rubio's support for free trade, tort reform, and reduced regulations.[5]

Regarding trade, Rubio is supportive of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and say that the U.S. risks being excluded from global trade if it is not more open to it.[2] However, in June 2018, he called for a new nationalism as opposed to an "economic elitism that has replaced a commitment to the dignity of work with a blind faith in financial markets and that views America simply as an economy instead of a nation", and has since expressed support for President Donald Trump's trade war against China.[88]


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