Rubio says government shutdown would have "destabilizing" impact on global affairs

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said that a government shutdown would have a “destabilizing” impact on global affairs amid the ongoing conflict in Syria and as “potential crisis” is brewing with North Korea.

Rubio, who appeared on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” Sunday, said a fight over border wall funding is a “fight worth having” but that the “last thing” the U.S. can afford is the appearance that the country is “only partially functioning.”

Congress has until Friday to pass spending legislation to avoid a shutdown, and White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has indicated border wall funding is a top priority.

“Uunderstand we’re just trying to finish out the current cycle, the current budget year,” Rubio said. “And so I think that’s a fight worth having and a conversation and a debate worth having for 2018. And if we can do some of that now, that’d be great.”

“But we cannot shut down the government right now,” he said. “We have a potential crisis brewing with North Korea. We’ve seen what’s going on-- the ongoing crisis in Syria. We don’t know what the outcome of the French election is going to be, but that could potentially throw the European Union and the NATO alliance into some level of consternation.”

“The last thing we can afford is to send a message to the world that the United States government, by the way, is only partially functioning,” Rubio said. “I mean, that would just have catastrophic impact in my view or certainly very destabilizing, I should say, impact on global affairs.”


Asked if the U.S. is going to war with North Korea, Rubio said, “I hope not.” He also said that the possibility of North Korea launching nuclear weapons and hitting the U.S. is an “unacceptable risk,” he said.

Rubio’s interview came briefly after reports that North Korea has detained a third U.S. citizen.

“Obviously we have to ask ourselves a very fundamental question,” Rubio said. “And that is: Is it acceptable? Can we live in a world where Kim Jung-un possesses not just nuclear weapons but the ability to deliver those weapons against the continental United States? Can we live in a world like that?”

“If the answer is yes, then I suppose that, you know, there’s all sorts of things we would not do,” Rubio continued. “If the answer is no, then the options -- and the answer is no for me -- then the options before you are truly quite limited. And none of them are good. I mean, none of those options are good. But it is my view at the end of the day that we must do almost whatever it takes, just about anything, to prevent Kim Jung-un from acquiring a nuclear capability he can deliver against the mainland of the United States of America.”

Rubio, who had reservations on the campaign trail about then-candidate Donald Trump’s ability to handle foreign affairs, said he believes President Trump is handling North Korea “with the seriousness that this deserves.”

  • Kathryn Watson

    Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.