Taxpayer's Tab: Rubio's Legislative Agenda: $330 Billion in Spending Cuts

The race for the White House in 2016 is heating up, and the candidates are already touring the country to connect with potential voters and donors. In an increasingly crowded field, candidates need to distinguish themselves by laying out their platforms and crafting their messages. Their first test will take place on August 6 when the top 10 polling Republicans in the race will be invited to participate in a debate hosted by Fox News. 

This week’s edition of The Taxpayer’s Tab -- the second in a series examining the legislative agendas of the 2016 contenders -- focuses on the legislative record of Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and an analysis of how the bills he has supported in Congress could affect the federal budget.

Rubio’s Rise

Since being elected to the U.S. Senate in the 112th Congress, Marco Rubio has established himself as one of the most recognizable faces within the Republican Party. He was selected to deliver the party’s response to President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address, and has served on the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Committee on Science, Commerce and Transportation. Earlier this year Senator Rubio officially announced that he will be running to win the Republican nomination for President in 2016, adding his name to a list that is growing longer and deeper in the lead up to the primaries.

Senator Rubio has faced scrutiny in the past week after The New York Times published a report detailing his personal finances. The Times alleged that Rubio’s debts (including student loans and a home mortgage) “could undermine Mr. Rubio’s well-crafted political persona.” Political pundits on both sides of the aisle have debated whether or not such an assessment is valid (even late night comedian Jon Stewart has weighed in on the issue by now).

Senator Rubio’s Agenda Marked by Deep Spending Cuts

Meanwhile, taxpayers wondering what federal spending might look like under a President Rubio can glean some information by looking at his record on Capitol Hill. Every year lawmakers write and vote on legislation that collectively impacts trillions of dollars’ worth of spending, and the policies they do (or do not) support offer important insight into the priorities they hold regarding a wide range of issues.

Fortunately for them, NTU Foundation has been analyzing Members’ records on budgetary issues since 1991 in the form of our BillTally project. BillTally is a unique cost accounting system that computes a “net annual agenda” for each Member of Congress. The results are based on each Senator’s or Representative’s individual sponsorship or co-sponsorship of pending legislation, and provide an in-depth look at the fiscal behavior of lawmakers, free from the influence of committees, party leaders, and rules surrounding floor votes. All cost estimates for bills are obtained from third-party sources or are calculated from neutral data.

Recently we featured the results from Hillary Clinton’s time in the Senate. Below are Senator Rubio’s data from the 112th and 113th Congresses.
Net Cost of Legislation Sponsored or Cosponsored by
Senator Marco Rubio (Dollar Figures in Millions)

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The table above shows the costs of the legislation backed by Rubio each year in the Senate. The dollar figures within each individual Congress exclude overlapping measures so that duplicate items are not double-counted.

    • Over the course of his time in Washington, Senator Rubio has sponsored legislation that would, on average, increase federal spending by $11.1 billion per year and reduce it by $341.4 billion per year.
    • Senator Rubio’s net average agenda amounts to $330 billion in spending cuts per year. That is more in budgetary decreases than the average Republican Senator supported in the same time ($198.8 billion per year).
    • The most expensive legislation the Senator has cosponsored was S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, in the 113th Congress. While he subsequently moved away from the comprehensive approach to immigration reform contained in the bill, the proposal was found to increase spending by $16.4 billion per year.
    • Senator Rubio supported the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2012, which would have imposed spending caps on discretionary spending. That bill would have reduced federal outlays by more than any other bill the Senator has supported, at $177.3 billion annually over two years.
    • The Senator has sponsored legislation that would repeal the so-called Affordable Care Act in each year he has been in office, a measure that would reduce federal spending by $63.9 billion.

    Head to the Foundation’s website for more on BillTally and to keep up with additional analyses of the 2016 Presidential campaigns as they are released. You can also follow us on Twitter (@NTUF) for all of our latest research!


    National Taxpayers Union Foundation is a nonpartisan research and educational organization dedicated to helping Americans of all ages understand how taxes, government spending, and regulations affect them. Through our timely information, analysis, and commentary, we’re empowering citizens to engage in important policy debates and hold officials accountable.

    Our findings are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to aid or hinder the passage of legislation or as a comment on any Member’s or Candidate's fitness to serve.