After his failed run for the Republican presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio returned to Washington with a pledge to “finish strong” and complete his work in Congress.
But the Florida lawmaker, who is leaving Congress in early January, has conspicuously left undone one legislative item: clearing the way for the Senate confirmation hearing of Miami lawyer Mary Barzee Flores. She is a former state judge who was nominated by President Barack Obama to a vacancy on South Florida’s federal bench more than a year ago.
This past week, his office made it abundantly clear for the first time that Rubio — who along with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson had recommended her for the judgeship — is blocking her nomination for reasons critics say boil down to “extreme political partisanship.”
Rubio’s office told the Miami Herald that he recently issued so-called blue slips triggering confirmation hearings for three Obama-nominated federal judges in Central and North Florida with Republican backgrounds. But the senator refuses to do the same for Barzee Flores, calling her the “wrong person” for the South Florida federal judgeship, without providing specific reasons about her legal credentials.
“Senator Rubio recently returned the blue slip for three judges to fill other vacancies throughout Florida, but he will not return the blue slip on Ms. Barzee Flores,” Rubio’s office said in a statement, which was released to other news media after the Herald requested an update on Barzee Flores’ confirmation hearing.