Breaking with some conservatives in the Senate and an aid and sanctions package approved by the GOP-controlled House, the Florida Republican and possible 2016 presidential candidate is urging Congress to unite behind the Senate bill. Passage of the legislation was delayed until after this week's congressional recess because of a GOP filibuster lodged over opposition to the IMF provisions included at the behest of the White House.
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Intelligence committees, was on jury duty in Florida last week and could not weigh in when the bill was brought up for floor consideration. That debate featured a squabble among Republicans, with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and others pushing for passage on one side, and Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso of Wyoming and others arguing against.
Rubio outlined his position, which was confirmed by his office on Thursday, in an op-ed published by the Washington Post. In the article, the senator lays out several steps he believes President Obama should take in his approach to Russia for its de facto invasion of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula and subsequent and annexation of the region. The Floridian then adds:
“The president has sufficient tools at his disposal to do most of these things. But his hand would be strengthened if a united Congress gave him the necessary authority to follow through. That is why it was so ill-advised for the administration to push to include a series of controversial and unrelated International Monetary Fund reforms in a bill authorizing economic assistance for Ukraine and imposing sanctions. Instead of sending a clear signal that Congress is united behind the people of Ukraine and sanctions against Putin, it threatens to create unnecessary dissent over these unrelated measures.
“I hope that events this week and Russia’s unrelenting aggression will lead Congress to move quickly next week to pass an assistance package to Ukraine and tough sanctions on Russia. Although I remain concerned by the proposed IMF reforms included in the legislation, the need to send a strong bipartisan message of solidarity to the people of Ukraine and a statement of resolve to Moscow far outweighs any misgivings I and others might have.”