Government Watchdogs to Rubio: Vote or GTFO

Government watchdogs say if Rubio is too frustrated to go to work, he should quit his job rather than get paid for doing nothing for Florida voters.

10.27.15 5:20 PM ET

Government watchdog groups have a message for Sen. Marco Rubio: If you don’t want to do the work, it’s time to resign.

Rubio’s absences from Senate votes and committee work have piled up in recent months as he dedicated more and more time to running for president, but he told The Washington Post this week, he didn’t miss it. At all.

In the interview with the Post, Rubio said he was “frustrated” with the Senate, and said that in addition to running for the White House, he was not running for re-election. Asked if he would have run for re-election to the Senate had he not been in the midst of a presidential campaign, Rubio said he didn’t know.

Government watchdogs from across the political spectrum, from conservative-leaning to progressive-leaning, say that Rubio has to make a choice, and soon, about whether he wants to fully participate as a senator. And if not, he should step down. Senators are paid $174,000 a year for their work.

“As long as he is a sitting Senator, he should do the job of representing his state, show up for work, no matter how frustrated he is with his current job. He should make a decision one way or another, be straight with his constituents, and take the appropriate action from there,” said Ryan Alexander, president of taxpayer watchdog Taxpayers for Common Sense.

“There can be legitimate reasons for Senators to miss votes, but deciding that you don’t like the job is not among them. If Senator Rubio does not want to perform his duties on behalf of the people of Florida, there’s nothing preventing him from resigning his seat,” said Noah Bookbinder, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

“Either he does the work or he doesn’t. And if he doesn’t want to do the work of being a Senator then he shouldn’t be getting paid for it and should step aside so that the state of Florida gets two senators,” added Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight.

Rubio was absent for 10 percent of votes in 2014, and missed half of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s hearings and meetings. Rubio has missed nearly 30 percent of votes this year, more than any other senator. Of his missed votes, more than a quarter came before he was a candidate for the presidency.

“His constituents have every right to expect the senator to do his job as long as he is in office. Rubio has earned the title of the ‘most absent senator,’ which is a disservice to those he is supposed to serve. If Rubio does not want to perform his duties as senator, he owes it to the public to leave office sooner rather than later,” added Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist at the consumer rights group Public Citizen.

Rubio, addressing the issue on Sunday, said that said he wasn’t “missing votes because [he’s] on vacation,” and that the most important duty for a senator is constituent services, which his office still provides. His campaign declined to comment further.

Rubio had at least one defender: Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, who pointed to Senate dysfunction as a legitimate reason to miss votes.

“Unless one is the 60th vote for a bill the president intends to sign Reid’s partisan maneuvers and the President’s veto make most votes—on the floor and in committee—irrelevant,” Norquist told The Daily Beast. “Did Obama resign when he ran in 2008?”