Friday, February 26, 2016

Marco Rubio Ignoring His Duties as Senate National Security Co-Chair

Marco Rubio-led Senate national security group seldom meets 
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WASHINGTON — Since March 2013, Sen. Marco Rubio has co-chaired a Senate arms control task force that has met only three times, yet his office has accepted each year a $100,000 reimbursement for the costs of staffing the group.

 A week before he was named co-chairman of the working group, Rubio was one of 11 Republican senators joining 42 Democrats to vote down a proposal by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., to shut it down because it has a $700,000-a-year budget. But the panel doesn't appear to do much since it provides no public records of its meetings and offers no disclosure of how its money is spent.

The panel operates on a bipartisan basis —  Dianne Feinstein of California is the Democratic co-chairwoman —  but the group has not met at all since Republicans took control of the Senate in January 2015. Senate expenditure records indicate Feinstein's office received $94,000 in 2013, but nothing since.

It's not true the group has done nothing, said Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos. "Since Marco assumed his role in this group, its leaders have met both formally and informally on national security issues, with most of the work occurring on a staff level," Burgos told USA TODAY. "Marco has engaged on a variety of topics central to the work of this group, including U.S.-Russia arms control, the nuclear deal with Iran and North Korea.

His work on these vital national security topics has been aided by the resources provided by this group as well as the information he has obtained from the group’s discussions.” Rubio, who is running for president, has been criticized by his opponents for shirking his Senate responsibilities, a charge he dismisses.

The Senate National SecurityWorking Group was created in the mid-1980s to give the Senate a bipartisan platform to oversee U.S. arms control talks with the Soviet Union. Over time, the charter of the group has changed and broadened.

A 2013 Senate resolution said the group "shall serve as a forum for bipartisan discussion of current national security issues relating to the jurisdictions of multiple committees of the Senate; shall conduct regular meetings and maintain records of all meetings and activities; [and] may authorize members to act as official observers on the United States delegation to any negotiations" regarding control of conventional weapons or weapons of mass destruction. More at USA Today