Rubio Blocks Action on Defense Bill Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks during a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Select Committee on the threats to national security from China on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 4, 2021. (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)
By Jeffrey Rodack | Thursday, 02 December 2021 09:13 AM
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., stalled a quick deal for votes on amendments to the defense policy bill on Wednesday night after he unsuccessfully proposed an amendment holding the Chinese government responsible for human rights abuses.
The Hill reported that Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., had attempted to get consent to set up votes on 24 amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act, which sets Pentagon spending toplines and policy.
The amendment votes would have set up a Senate vote on passing the defense bill as part of the agreement worked out by leadership, according to The Hill.
Rubio's proposal bans imports from China’s Xinjiang region. Administration officials have claimed China’s government is guilty of genocide against Uyghur Muslims.
But Rubio blocked the amendment deal after he was unsuccessful in getting his amendment included in the package.
Rubio tweeted on Thursday: "The influence of corporations benefiting from slave labor in #China is so big that some in congress would rather kill the defense bill than pass it with my Uyghur slave labor amendment."
Democrats had warned that if Rubio’s amendment was part of the defense bill it would violate a clause in the Constitution that says legislation that raises revenue must originate in the House.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called Rubio’s objection "sad, tragic, and almost absurd."
"If his amendment were on the bill it would automatically kill the bill," Schumer said.
The Hill noted that any senator can block votes on amendments unless Schumer wants to force a vote.
Rubio’s objection came after the Senate blocked the defense bill on Monday after objections from Republicans and some liberal Democrats, Reuters reported.
The vote was 45-51, meaning the measure could not get the 60 "yes" votes needed to advance toward passage in the 100-member Senate.