By Jonathan Easley - 02/13/13 12:44 PM EST
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday joked about his water break during his rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
“I mean I needed water, what am I going to do?” Rubio said on ABC’s "Good Morning America," after again ducking away from the camera to reach for his water bottle. “God has a funny way of reminding us that we’re human.”
Rubio told CBS’s "This Morning" that he wasn’t nervous, but had “already taped an eighteen-minute speech in Spanish” after a long day at work, and “when you talk a lot, it happens.”
Rubio on Wednesday sought to return attention to the president’s policies, continuing to jab at Obama’s address.
On the sequester, the $85 billion in automatic spending cuts that will likely go into effect on March 1 despite opposition in both parties, Rubio laid the blame squarely on the president.
“As far as those automatic cuts are concerned, those are his ideas,” Rubio said. “He insisted on that, he’s the one that asked for that in that deal that passed last year. I didn’t vote for it, and one of the reasons I didn’t vote for it was that it was such a terrible idea.”
Both parties hope to avoid the across-the-board spending cuts but are at an impasse on a replacement bill. Obama in his speech continued to call for a package of tax hikes and spending cuts, but GOP lawmakers insist they will not accept new tax revenues.
Both sides have jockeyed to lay blame on their opponents if the sequester takes effect. Republicans contend it was the president’s idea to include the sequester in the 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling, and that he has failed to provide a plan to replace it. The sequester had support from both members of both parties at the time, as lawmakers viewed it as an inelegant but necessary way out of the contentious 2011 debt-ceiling battle.
“It originated in the White House, the idea that these automatic cuts would specifically hit defense and the military and now we have to get rid of them,” Rubio continued. “We may, but don’t go around acting like you wanted nothing to do with it. It was your idea.”
Some Republicans see the sequester as the only way left to impose cuts on Washington spending.
Senate Democrats are trying to unveil a replacement bill by Thursday. The bill is expected to include roughly $120 billion in deficit reduction, much of it from eliminating tax loopholes and deductions and implementing a new minimum tax on the wealthy.
Senate aides said Democrats see the measure as a way to blame Republicans if the spending cuts happen. Democrats would argue that Republicans refused to replace the cuts with new taxes on the wealthy.
Rubio also sought to diffuse one of the more emotional aspects of the president’s State of the Union speech.
Obama on Tuesday amplified his calls for Congress to take up new gun controls, arguing that the Newtown, Conn., shooting massacre has changed the debate and clarified the need for tougher laws to protect the nation's children.
With dozens of victims of gun violence, invited by the president and lawmakers, looking on in the House chamber, Obama asked Congress to stage votes on proposals to expand background checks on gun purchases, ban assault weapons and prohibit high-capacity ammunition magazines.
Each of these proposals “deserves a vote” in Congress, Obama said repeatedly, to wild applause and standing ovations from his supporters.
“You could say that about any issue in Washington but it has to work through the legislative process,” Rubio said Wednesday. “There are other issues that deserve an up-or-down vote as well — we should have a budget, we should have a real plan to save Medicare, we should have a real plan to grow our economy, we should have tax reform.
“As I said last night, we are all heartbroken. We are all sympathetic to what happened in Connecticut,” Rubio added. “Unfortunately, what the president is proposing — none of this would have prevented what happened. I think we need to look at the real root causes of violence in America.”
Rubio also took issue with the substance of Obama’s gun control proposals.
“The problem is that everything the president is proposing would do nothing to prevent what has happened in Newtown, and nothing to prevent further violence in the future,” he said. “The problem is that laws are only followed by law-abiding people. The people who commit these gun crimes they don’t care what the law is.”
Rubio said the proposals would only affect law-abiding citizens, and said they undermined Second Amendment rights.