WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS4) – Republican Marco Rubio finished his nearly two year journey Wednesday when he was sworn in and became Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Rubio went from political long-shot to a rising star by knocking off a popular governor twice during the same election cycle.
“I’m a United States Senator from the state of Florida, I represent the people of Florida and I’m going to do the best job I can to be their voice,” Rubio told CBS4’s Michael Williams shortly before the swearing in ceremony.
But, despite being a rising superstar in the GOP, Rubio found out quickly that seniority has its privileges in the U.S. Senate. Rubio had to set up a temporary office in the basement of the Senate building until office assignments are made.
Soon he’ll be trying to turn Washington’s habits upside down.
“The other thing we need is fiscal discipline and that is the part the Republicans have failed in the past,” Rubio said. “They love the tax cuts but don’t want to talk about spending cuts.”
Rubio told Willams about the hope for the GOP.
“The real hope for the GOP is not one person,” he said. “Its ideas and principles and we are willing to stand by and turn them into action or they are just campaign rhetoric.”
Florida’s senior U.S. Senator, Bill Nelson, escorted Rubio into the Senate chambers and Nelson said they both get along well and that he looks forward to keeping that relationship.
The bipartisan feelings are likely to evaporate quickly as the Republicans in the House of Representatives push to repeal health care reform, despite deficit costs incurred, and push further cuts to social programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Rubio is from the conservative school of thought that tax cuts can solve everything in the economy, regardless of their effectiveness. Florida’s junior Senator told CBS4’s Williams that cutting spending and increasing taxes is not a solution to budget/deficit problems.
“You cannot tax your way out of debt,” Rubio said. “You can also not spend your way out of it either. Tax cuts are for the purposes of incentivizing the economy to grow.”
At a reception Tuesday night in Washington D.C., Rubio told reporters, “It is both proud and humbling. I understand this obligation. This a serious job and I can’t wait to get to work.”
Rubio said his election is a testament to the American dream and what anyone can accomplish.
“This is the single greatest society in all of human history,” Rubio said. “For me, I didn’t need this to confirm it, but this confirms it even more.”
Rubio wasn’t the only new South Florida congressperson taking office in the Capitol on Wednesday.
Incoming Boca Raton area Republican congressman Allen West is a military veteran. He will not shy away from the legislative fight over health care.
West said, “It is an economic issue. It is a job issue. It is killing small business. It is killing the medical community and it is also hurting our seniors in South Florida.”
Miami Democrat and Congresswoman-elect Frederica Wilson said she will just as passionately fight for the preservation and strengthening of that health care law. The longtime state lawmaker, now another fresh face in Congress, knows she must brace for titanic debates ahead on spending and taxes in the face of skyrocketing national debt.
On the eve of her swearing-in to the 112th Congress Wilson gazed at the Capitol and allowed herself a moment of hope and optimism. She said, “It is a great day for me and I am looking forward to working there and working with my colleagues and helping the people of Florida.”