Mitch McConnell has selected Marco Rubio to serve as acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Rubio replaces Richard Burr, who stepped down last week because he’s under investigation by the FBI regarding stock sales he made just before the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic caused stock values to plummet.
Rubio was once best known in the Senate for his amnesty-style immigration reform bill. Now, he’s probably best known for his hardline views about China, Russia, Cuba, and Venezuela.
For those like me who share these views, Rubio’s selection is welcome.
Unlike the House Intelligence Committee, Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Committee are said to have a pretty good working relationship. That used to be the case on the House side, but those days are a distant memory now.
In theory, it’s good to have a decent level of bipartisanship on a committee that deals with highly sensitive matters critical to our national security. In practice, it depends. Bipartisanship is impossible when a dishonest opportunist like Adam Schiff heads up the committee Dems.
On the Senate side, Mark Warner is the ranking Democrat. I’m not a fan of Warner, but he’s no Adam Schiff.
Even so, I wonder whether the era of good feeling on the Intelligence Committee would survive Democratic control of that committee. Call me cynical, but I doubt it would.
Warner said he welcomes Rubio’s elevation to committee chairman, calling him a great partner on intelligence and national security issues. The two have teamed up on the matter of China’s theft of intellectual property and in an effort to unify European nations against Russia’s incursions into the continent. Both are important issues as to which bipartisan cooperation is welcome.
Warner and Rubio have also worked together on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Such interference is also a matter worth investigating. However, certain aspects of the investigation, most notably the subpoena issue to Donald Trump Jr., have not been welcomed by the White House.
Rubio currently serves as chairman of the Small Business Committee, In normal times, this is something of a backwater. However, it is now a very big deal due to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. As Politico observes:
[Rubio’s] panel was responsible for the creation of the Paycheck Protection Program, a lifeline for small businesses and a key component of the $2 trillion CARES Act and the following $484 billion relief bill.
Rubio’s appointment to head the Intelligence Committee would normally require him to give up the chairmanship of the Small Business Committee. However, Rubio’s new appointment is temporary.
This may be grounds for granting him a waiver that would allow him to head up both committees. The fact that Rand Paul is next in line to chair the Small Business Committee might make a waiver for Rubio attractive to some members of the Republican caucus.