By Lauren Pastrana

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Senator Marco Rubio is closing out the year by calling out his fellow lawmakers who are partially responsible for the partial government shutdown.

“They’re just dumb. They don’t really achieve anything at the end of the day,” said Rubio at a press conference Friday morning.

Rubio called the current partial shutdown over border wall funding purely political.

“On the one hand, the President has made it clear that this is a priority of his. He clearly campaigned on the wall and it strikes me that the Democratic objection to it is largely driven not by the argument that border security is unnecessary, although that’s ultimately the conclusion you draw from their position, but the argument that they want to deny him a political win and I don’t think that is a valid reason to do this,” he said.

During the wide-ranging press conference, initially called to tout his office’s legislative accomplishments over the last two years, Rubio spent much of the time answering questions about the stalemate between the President and Democrats over $5 billion in funding for border security.

“It’s not $5 billion for a wall,” he pointed out. “It’s $5 billion for the top 10 border security priorities in the broader southern border initiative plan of which about 215 miles of wall or fencing is a part of it. That includes not just a new wall but part of that 215 is existing improvements to the current barriers but it’s not just a border wall.”

On Friday morning, President Trump tweeted “We will be forced to close the Southern Border entirely if the Obstructionist Democrats do not give us the money to finish the Wall…”

“I’m not sure what he means by closing down, the majority of the traffic at the border is commercial. And I would imagine that people in Texas and the border states his economy is relying on would be less than enthused. There are people on a regular basis crossing the border every day to work and come back. So I’m not sure what he means by fully close the border, you’ll have to direct a question to the White House. I fully support the notion that we need to secure it to the extent possible our border,” said Rubio.

During the press conference, Rubio played a video which summed up his past two years in the Senate. It promoted his legislative victories including the STOP school violence act and the expansion of the Child Tax Credit. But he acknowledged the priority now is getting the government back up and running and ensuring federal workers get paid again as soon as possible.

“What do you want to say to them, this doesn’t mean much to them right now but you have this opportunity to tell them how you feel,” said CBS4’s Lauren Pastrana.

“I feel terrible for federal employees and the agencies, some are working and not getting paid because they’ve been deemed essential and others have been furloughed and told not to come. They will be paid eventually, we’ve always done retroactive pay, hopefully, we can put that in place before the next paycheck which I believe is on the fourth,” replied Rubio.

That’s if a deal between the President and Democrats can be reached by then. As of now, both the House and Senate have adjourned until Monday at the earliest.

Rubio said the initial plan was to hold this press conference about his legislative accomplishments last week, before the shutdown, but he was called back to Washington D.C. He said he’s ready to go back again as soon as there’s a deal for him to vote on.

Lauren Pastrana


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