McConnell accused of vindictive move when Rick Scott and Mike Lee are booted from key committee

Increased anger against already embattled Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is mounting over new reports that he’s reportedly denied two top Republicans seats on the Senate Commerce Committee.

“Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Rick Scott of Florida were removed from the Senate Commerce Committee,” Fox News confirmed Wednesday.

Scott immediately blamed McConnell.

“I represent the third-biggest state in the country. What they told me today at lunch is the way the rules work, McConnell gets to pick. So guess who [was] kicked off? Mike Lee and me,” he said to Fox News.

Lee evidently also blames McConnell:

Scott added that he’s “not going to back down” and that he believes he “did the right thing” when he earlier challenged McConnell’s position, noting that the GOP conference “needs to change.”

“We have to stop giving in to the Democrats,” he said.

He referenced what happened back in November.

“Sen. Rick Scott announced a challenge to Mitch McConnell in a closed-door party lunch on Tuesday afternoon, the first such opposition for the Senate GOP leader in 15 years at the helm,” Politico reported at the time.

“Scott told reporters that he is ‘not satisfied with the status quo,’ a clear criticism of McConnell’s time as leader. The Kentucky Republican said afterward that while Scott was free to run against him, he won’t lose to the first-term Florida senator.”

And McConnell was ultimately right:

Continuing his remarks to Fox News, Scott said he believes McConnell made the decision to oust him precisely because he “ran against him” last year.

What about Lee? Well, he reportedly gave a nominating speech for Scott’s bid as Senate leader. However, after McConnell won last year, he claimed he had no hard feelings.

“I’m not in any way offended by having an opponent or having a few votes in opposition,” he reportedly said.

But on the other hand, he also made it clear he had no intention of changing how things are done in the Senate.

“McConnell was quick to defend how he leads the conference after defeating Scott’s challenge, noting his members meet thrice a week and a small group of senators can call a conference meeting. He said ‘there’s nothing to negotiate’ with regard to how the Senate GOP operates,” Politico reported at the time.

Members of the public for their part appear to strongly believe McConnell’s decision to oust Scott and Lee is indeed linked to what happened last year.


This latest hiccup comes not long after McConnell was excoriated in December for allowing Democrats to move forward with a pork-laden, obscene omnibus spending bill that a large number of congressional Republicans opposed.

He claimed the bill would boost defense spending above the rate of inflation and increase nondefense spending at a lower rate than inflation, effectively resulting in a cut.

“Well, we’re moving toward completing the business for the year and I think in a highly productive way from the point of view of the vast majority of Senate Republicans, this omnibus bill, it will be on the floor, provides a real dollar increase for the defense baseline and a real dollar cut,” McConnell crowed to reporters.

“For the non-defense baseline if you exclude veterans. That is absolutely critical in breaking the pattern we’ve had in the past where we’ve ended up in one of these situations where every time Republicans tried to get an increase in defense, we would, in effect, have to pay a ransom to the Democrats on the domestic side, wholly aside from the needs of the country,” he claimed.

Yet Republicans DID pay a ransom. A hefty one. For example, the omnibus included $45 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine. It was the largest American infusion of assistance given to Ukraine to date. In fact, it was even greater than President Joe Biden’s $37 million emergency request.


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Vivek Saxena


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