Politics

Rubio: Pay down debt with unwanted federal dollars

Alex Pappas Political Reporter

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio wants federal dollars rejected by states to go towards paying down the national debt and not end up being spent somewhere else.

Rubio, a Republican, on Tuesday introduced the Returned Exclusively For Unpaid National Debt or the REFUND Act.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s recently rejected $2.4 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail. The Obama administration has said other states can apply for the money. Rubio says those funds should instead go back to the treasury to pay down the debt.

The legislation, Rubio said, would allow states to have the “best interests at heart” when deciding whether to accept federal dollars “without worrying that the money will be spent elsewhere.”

“It takes a great deal of courage for state officials to take the long view and reject debt-financed federal funds,” he said.

A companion bill has already been introduced in the House by Montana Rep. Denny Rehberg.

“It’s really very simple,” Rehberg said. “If a responsible state tightens its belt to save tax dollars, we shouldn’t be rewarding irresponsible states by adding those savings to their take.”