Rubio: Senators Will 'Have to Explain to Their Constituents Why They Voted for This'

By Susan Jones | September 27, 2013 | 6:44 AM EDT

Sunrise at the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo)

( - Sen. Ted Cruz's 21-hour speech on the Senate floor explained the devastating impact of Obamacare, and any senator who votes to let Democrats reinstate funding for the law on Friday will have to explain that vote to his or her constituents, Sen. Marco Rubio told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren on Thursday.

"[T]he American people are more aware today than they were 24, 48 hours ago about why Obamacare is so bad and the dangers of it. And now everyone here will have to vote, and they'll have to explain -- if they vote against defunding Obamacare -- when this thing goes through and it starts hurting people, like it already is -- they're going to have to explain to their constituents why they voted for this and why they keep funding it."

Conservative Republicans insisted that the Senate vote be held on Friday, during normal business hours, "so the American people can see how their representatives and how their senators voted," Rubio said. Conservatives blocked an attempt by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to "fast-track" the vote by holding it on Thursday night when fewer Americans would be paying attention.

On Friday around noon, the Senate is scheduled to vote on a procedural motion to cut off debate on the House-passed continuing resolution that defunds Obamacare.

As reported, 21 conservative members of the House of Representatives sent a letter late Thursday to all 46 Senate Republicans, warning them that voting to cut off debate (a cloture vote) would be the same as voting for Obamacare itself. That's because a vote for cloture would allow Senate Democrats to amend the continuing resolution, reinstating funding for Obamacare with just 51 (Democrat) votes.

Rubio said the law could be defunded if four of five Democrats join Republicans in the effort.

"The problem is that they're so locked into it," he said. [T]hey're so afraid of the left-wing base of their own party, they're so afraid being attacked by the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, that they can't -- they can't even express their sentiments about Obamacare.

When Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Thursday said he'd be open to delaying Obamacare for a year, he was attacked by liberals, Rubio said.

"So again, there's a lot of pressure on some of these Democrats from the left-wing base of the party. And Obamacare has become almost, in their minds, like the holy grail. You can't touch it. You can't fix it. You can't deal with it. You can't do anything about it. The only one who's allowed to ignore and make changes to Obamacare is Barack Obama, in their eyes.

Rubio says conservative Republicans are trying to stop Obamacare now -- four days before the sign-up begins -- for the sake of "people who are trying to make it" in this country.

"The truth is, this isn't about shutting down the government. This is about shutting down Obamacare. This is because it's hurting people and it's hurting the American dream. And you know, the argument we've made this week is that this law is so bad because it's hurting people who are trying to make it."

Rubio called it "ironic" that the people being hurt most by Obamacare are the ones that the law was supposed to help -- "the working class, the middle class, students that are just graduating from college. They're the ones that are going to be hurt the most by this.

"You know, the millionaires and billionaires, as the president likes to call them, you know, they may not like Obamacare, but they're going to be able to afford to deal with it. But it's the people who are trying to make it that are going to be hurt the most. I think it's pretty sad."

People who are trying to start a business, or those full-time workers who have had their hours cuts back to part-time -- "these are the people that are really going to be hurt by this. And it isn't fair. It's wrong."