Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said Friday that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was making a ''play'' to his political base, and attempting not to face a primary challenge by pushing an end to the filibuster in the Senate.
''I think Chuck Schumer is afraid to get primaried in New York,'' Rubio told SiriusXM host Megyn Kelly on her show Friday, adding that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., ''has not ruled out running for Senate against him.''
Schumer has been pushing the Senate to eliminate the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to end and move legislation forward, to pass Democrats' high-priority bills on voting reform and gun control.
The evenly divided upper chamber has 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two independents that caucus with the Democrats, requiring tie votes to be broken by Vice President Kamala Harris, a Democrat.
Although he has said he will push for votes on the legislation, and removing the filibuster, Schumer lacks at least two Democrats' votes to move anything forward.
Centrist Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have both said they will not support their party's legislation, or vote against the filibuster.
''I think a lot of Democrats, particularly Chuck Schumer in a state like New York, see that over the last few years you've had longtime incumbents taken out by people from the far left, and they're concerned about it,'' Rubio said. ''Maybe he thinks he's still going to win but doesn't want to go through that process.''
Rubio said that this kind of politics takes place with both parties and has to be considered by lawmakers as they run for reelection.
''It happens in politics. It happens to both sides in some cases. You know you're not going to win something, but if you don't at least show you're fighting, then your base gets really angry at you, then they get turned off,'' Rubio said. ''It's not just about Chuck Schumer personally.''
Rubio also said that Schumer is looking only at his own political fortunes and not considering the constituents that other senators have to answer to at election time.
''Think about how selfish this is,'' Rubio said. ''This may, he thinks, may, help fend off a primary challenge, but he has all these Democrats running in states that are somewhat vulnerable. And they're being put on the spot on this thing and they're going to have to go out there now and take positions on it and dividing his own conference over that.
''But it's all a base play because they have to be able to go to the base and say, 'We tried, we fought, but these two guys over here and the racist Republicans wouldn't let us move forward.' And that's what this is. It's as simple as that.''
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