Sen. Marco Rubio threw cold water over a plan backed by President Donald Trump that would curtail legal immigration and prioritize highly skilled English-speaking immigrants over immigrants with family ties to the United States during an interview with CBS 4 interview on Sunday.
"That bill's not going to pass," Rubio said to CBS 4's Rick Folbaum. "I think the White House knows that you don't have 60 votes for that in the Senate."
Rubio expressed support for prioritizing immigrants with skills after the White House backed the plan last week. But he stopped short of explicitly endorsing the bill, authored by Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia, dubbed the Raise Act.
"It actually has elements of it that were part of the 2013 proposal," Rubio said, referring to his bipartisan immigration overhaul effort which failed after the House decided not to vote on it. "In 2013 the very controversial Gang of Eight, four Democrats and four Republicans, proposed moving legal immigration to a merit-based system."
Rubio said he supports a point-based system that rewards immigrants for skills like knowing English.
"It wouldn't be entirely merit-based but it would be more merit-based and it has to be in the 21st century," Rubio said.
Folbaum pressed Rubio over what a merit-based system would mean for immigrants like Rubio's parents, who worked in a variety of low-skilled jobs after they immigrated to the U.S. in the 1950s.
"When my parents came here in 1956 we had a very different economy," Rubio said. "We had an economy that had a plethora of low-wage, low-skilled jobs. That's not the case anymore and our immigration system needs to reflect it. Our laws always are adjusted for the era in which we lived in."
Though Rubio supports giving more points on merit and less points for family connections, he did differ from Trump, Cotton and Perdue on one part of the proposal: cutting the number of legal immigrants in half.
"I don't want to limit legal immigration, I certainly want to change the way we conduct it," Rubio said. "Where I probably have a big difference of opinion with this bill is that it sets an arbitrary cap on the number of people that are able to come through with a green card. I don't think that should be an arbitrary cap, that number should be driven by demand."
Rubio was also asked about the possibility of running against Trump in 2020 if the president continues to struggle in the polls.
Not surprisingly, Rubio said he wasn't interested.
"I am enjoying my service in the Senate," Rubio said. "I think that’s a hypothetical that isn’t even worth exploring because it isn't going to happen that way. I expect the performance in the White House will improve significantly now with Gen. (John) Kelly there."