On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio R-Fla., spoke on the Senate floor following calls from President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and others to change the rules of the Senate to make it easier to pass their agenda.
A lightly edited transcript of Rubio’s remarks on the Senate floor are below.
Rubio: “Last week, the Vice President of the United States told us that a riot which happened here at the U.S. Capitol last year was equal to the day on which Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor and the U.S. was pulled into a world war that took the lives of 3 percent of the world’s population.
And yesterday, we were treated to the President telling us that election laws that have been passed by various states across the country over the past year are the equivalent of the segregation that existed in America in the 1950s, 1960s, and before.
If your daily routine is to wake up in the morning and turn on MSNBC as you ride your Peloton, and then go on Twitter as you’re drinking your caramel macchiato, and then you’re reading the New York Times and as you’re eating your avocado toast, I imagine all of this makes perfect sense to you.
After all, for these people, they believe this ridiculous narrative that every Republican is an insurrectionist, probably a racist, wants to overthrow the U.S. government and probably destroy democracy.
The good news is that the overwhelming majority of Americans happen to live back here on planet earth. And what they’re worried about – to the extent they even paid attention to any of this stuff that’s been said over the last two weeks – what they’re really worried about is the fact that everything costs more. You go to the grocery store and the shelves are empty. They have a small business and they hire someone on Monday and he never comes back. You’ve got, everyday, thousands of people illegally entering the United States across an open border. And by the way, we have a surge in violent crime and lawlessness across the country. That’s probably what they’re worried about – in fact, I know it is – on a daily basis.
But to the extent they paid attention to any of this… first of all, I think almost everyone would tell you that what happened on January 6th here was a terrible thing. It should never have happened and it should never happen again. But I don’t care how many candlelight vigils and musical performances you have from the cast of Hamilton, you’re not going to convince at least most normal and sane people that our government was almost overthrown last year by a guy wearing a Viking hat and speedos.
And I don’t care how many of these speeches the President gives in which he shouts out this hyperbole and all this melodrama, you’re not going to convince people that having a state pass a law that says, for example that you have to produce identification, is the same as segregation.
Nevertheless, despite the fact that that’s what most people in this country are worried about (inflation and all these other things), that’s not what we’re working on here. That’s not what we’ll spend this week on, that’s not what the priority of this administration has been, that’s not what the President’s giving speeches about.
You may care about inflation back home, [but] their crisis is that some states in this country do not automatically force everyone to register to vote – that’s the crisis.
They don’t care that store shelves are empty. In fact, they’ve denied that the store shelves are actually empty. For them, the real problem is that states have laws that don’t allow this roving gang of activists to bully people into turning over their ballot so they can show up at 6:59 PM on Election Day and just dump it on an election official.
And by the way, they don’t seem overly concerned that there are Americans that will be fired or not allowed into a restaurant unless they can produce their papers, their vaccine card.
But their real problem is how dare you ask them to produce a photo ID in order to vote. That’s their real problem. The problem is states that require Americans to show a photo ID before the vote.
So how can this be? How can there be such an enormous disconnect between what real people in the real world care about and are talking about on a daily basis and what we’re doing to spend our time talking about here in these speeches?
It isn’t about the Capitol riot. Everyone agrees the Capitol riot was terrible and shouldn’t have happened.
These are some of the same people who downplayed the over 700 riots [and] thousands of cases of looting that happened in America during the summer of 2020.
It most certainly isn’t about the election laws passed last year.
They’ve been pushing these same bills with different titles and different names for the better part of a decade.
And it certainly isn’t about “voting rights.”
It is easier than it has ever been in the history of the United States to register and to vote. And the proof is that in 2020, we had the highest turnout in over one hundred years.
This is about power.
This is about changing the rules of the Senate so they have the power to ram through an election law. An election law to make sure they never lose power, to make it easier to win elections, and therefore have power in perpetuity.
Want to talk about defending democracy?
Let’s talk about Americans – real people – who are afraid to donate to a political campaign, put a bumper sticker on their car, to tell people who they voted for conservative candidates or admit they voted. They’re afraid because they don’t want to get canceled, they don’t want to get boycotted, they don’t want to get harassed. They’re afraid.
They want to talk about totalitarianism?
Let’s lets talk about the fact that the Attorney General of the United States has said, ‘Let’s go after some of these parents complaining at school boards and treat them as domestic terrorists.’
And listen, if you want to talk about segregation let’s talk about a system of education that is both separate and unequal. Divided between the people who can afford 50 or 60 thousand dollars a year to send their kids to a fancy school where they get SAT tutoring and all kinds of other advantages, the millions of American parents who are Hispanic, African American, and others who have no choice whatsoever as to where their kids go to school. They have no voice. They have to send their kids to the school the government tells them.
These people don’t care about any of this because it’s about power.
It’s not just the power to change election laws.
It’s about the power to tell you what you are allowed to say.
It’s about the power to tell you where you are allowed to go.
It’s about the power to tell you what you’re allowed to do.
It’s about the power to intimidate, to destroy, to smear, to call a racist or a bigot or a hater, anyone who dares to disagree with them.
I was raised by and have lived my entire life alongside people who lost their country – the country of their birth – to power hungry people just like that.
I warn you: do not stand by and allow it to happen to this one.