WASHINGTON – Marco Rubio has a difficult choice to make in 2016 — run for president or run for re-election to the Senate.
Although state law bars someone from running for both offices on the same ballot, the West Miami Republican theoretically could do so. For a while.
He could dip his toe in presidential campaign waters but pull back in time to qualify for re-election if it looks like the GOP nomination for a White House run isn't going to happen.
But Rubio says he won't do that.
"If someone decides to run for president of the United States, you run for president of the United States," he told a National Press Club audience Tuesday, dismissing what he called "an exit strategy."
"If someone decides to run for an office of that importance, you do so because that's what you want to be and not simply try to find some sort of eject button that allows you to get out if it isn't going well (to) keep yourself in politics," he said.
Rubio has said he'll make a decision by end of the year, but recent actions suggest he's already begun positioning himself to run for the Oval Office. Last week he traveled to New Hampshire, which holds the nation's first primary. He's also delivered a series of major policy speeches in recent weeks, and he's raised money through his Reclaim America political action committee.
Despite general, election-year gridlock on Capitol Hill, lawmakers are working on a federal highway and transit reauthorization bill that would deliver close to $2 billion annually to Florida.
The surface transportation law expires Sept. 30.
An even more pressing issue is the prospect the Highway Trust Fund, which provides millions of dollars for roads, bridges and transit systems, will run out of funds this summer. Without congressional action to avoid insolvency, scores of projects in Florida and across the country might not go forward.
Projects that are using state money or federal money that's been disbursed could continue, "but for uncertain time and uncertain duration," Brian Deese, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters Wednesday. New projects that need federal money wouldn't get any, he said.
"States have to make decisions about projects that are underway or projects where there's an anticipation of a new federal disbursement — where to delay, where to not move forward (and) where to close up shop," he said.
Congressional committees are working on their own versions of a highway bill.
On Thursday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will mark up a six-year bill that would fund transportation programs at current levels plus inflation. The House is working on its version but there's no date on when it will be released.
Days after the Federal Election Commission approved the use of bitcoins to make political donations, Florida's Libertarian candidate for attorney general, Bill Wohlsifer, announced his campaign is accepting the digital currency.
Wes Benedict, executive director of the national Libertarian Party, said members favor the new type of currency because it "shows a little bit of protest against Federal Reserve policies." He said many in his party would prefer a gold-backed currency.
The FEC has grappled with whether to recognize bitcoins. But Chairman Lee Goodman said the commission "has historically regulated the in-kind contribution of many different things of value donated to campaigns," including barter credit units, securities, silver dollars and works of art.
"Bitcoins are not different in any material respect from these kinds of contributions and can be regulated in the same manner," he wrote in an advisory opinion issued May 8.
Ledyard King writes for The News-Press Washington bureau