(The Hill) – Sen. Marco Rubio missed Friday’s Senate vote approving a massive $1.8 trillion end-of-the-year spending bill and tax package — a day after he suggested that he could try to slow the legislation down.
The Florida Republican, who is running for president, was the only 2016 contender to miss the vote, which is the Senate’s final vote of the year.
Rubio defended his absence in an interview, telling CBS News that “in essence, not voting for it, is a vote against it.”
Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), three other presidential candidates, all voted against the legislation.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a fourth GOP presidential candidate from the Senate, backed the bill.
Cruz announced his opposition to the legislation on Thursday, describing his vote as a “hell no.”
“This is what’s wrong with the Washington Cartel,” he told “The John Fredericks Show.” “Republican leadership has proven to be the most Democratic leaders we have ever seen. …[This] does not honor the promises we made to the men and women who elected us.”
Rubio’s missed vote comes after he suggested that he could use procedural tactics to try to slow down the legislation, which he said he opposed.
“We should use every procedural aspect that we have to slow it down and perhaps force some changes on these things we’ve been discussing,” Rubio told Fox News.
However, Democrats quickly pointed out that the time agreement on the votes clinched that the Florida Republican would miss his chance.
Rubio’s campaign has previously defended his voting record, saying that he will show up in the Senate when he believes his vote could be a deciding factor. The candidate doubled down on that argument on Friday.
“Look, I’m running for president. …When there are important votes, especially those where I can be a decisive voice, I’m going to be there,” Rubio said.
The Florida Republican has missed more than half of the Senate’s votes since October.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to weigh in on Rubio’s absence Friday, telling reporters he wouldn’t comment on the presidential race.