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Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio Break With Conservatives and Liberals on Syria

January 27, 2015 - 6:00pm

Sometimes there are fault lines in politics that have nothing to do with party -- but have plenty to do with establishments against outsiders, with one congressional chamber against another.

Take a foreign-policy debate this week. Therea civil war brewing in Florida politics and its over what to do in Syria.

Over in the Senate, both of Floridas senators -- Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio -- want to send assistance to rebels looking to take down the Syrian government. Nelson even took to the Senate floor on Wednesday and called for America to provide training and weapons to the Syrian forces battling Islamic State (IS) forces.

But there are plenty of Florida politicians who want to ensure that nothing of the sort happens, and if Nelson and Rubio have any doubts, they can look to the other end of Capitol Hill.

Over in the House this week, Ted Yoho, a conservative Florida Republican, teamed up with John Conyers, a liberal Michigan Democrat, to write Barack Obama against sending shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (MANPADs) to Syria. Yoho and Conyers pointed to American and Israeli concerns about terrorists using MANPADs to bring down airplanes.

Yoho brought along plenty of Florida Republicans on the issue, including fellow tea party darling Curt Clawson as well as Jeff Miller, Bill Posey and Tom Rooney. But its not just conservatives on board with Yoho. Conyers helped round up liberals like Barbara Lee and Floridas own Alan Grayson to sign on the letter.

There are plenty of issues where both the left and the right team up against the establishment of both parties. Free trade is a prime example, as anyone who remembers the unlikely pairing of Jesse Jackson and Pat Buchanan teaming up to kick NAFTA can attest to. The same is true on Common Core where plenty of teachers' unions align with the tea party, not to mention plenty of frustrated parents, while Obama and corporate Republicans think the standards will help tie education to a changing marketplace.

To be sure, Yoho and Grayson arent exactly the most natural of allies. Neither are Nelson and Rubio. But sometimes, politics makes strange bedfellows and unlikely allies can team up across party lines as the brouhaha over Syria this week clearly shows.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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