McConnell defiant in face of pressure from fellow Senate Republicans: ‘They had their shot’

A shift in status quo was slapped down by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who clapped back at calls for his ouster: “They had their shot.”

The border crisis may be a top priority for Republican voters and conservatives in the legislature listening to their constituents, but for the octogenarian lawmaker the matter was brushed aside as the issue of “persistent critics.”

These remarks came as McConnell spoke with Politico in response to renewed calls that he step down from his role after orchestrating the dead-on-arrival border deal that legitimized illegal entry while sending a majority of $118 billion in funding overseas to Ukraine, Gaza and Israel.

“I’ve had a small group of persistent critics the whole time I’ve been at this job. They had their shot,” the Kentucky lawmaker said referencing Florida Sen. Rick Scott’s bid to take over the Republican Conference’s leadership position.

Not long after the Nov. 2022 effort failed in a vote of 37-10, Scott and ally Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) found themselves bumped from the Senate Commerce Committee. At the time, Scott told Fox News, “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.”

The leader proceeded to brush aside the border issue as being of little concern for GOP lawmakers while Democrats held the Senate and White House as he told Politico, “The reason we’ve been talking about the border is because they wanted to, the persistent critics. You can’t pass a bill without dealing with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate.”

Rather than pitting his leadership against merely a minority of senators, McConnell appeared to position the establishment against Republican voters writ large as tensions were reported in the aftermath of the border deal’s release.

Politico attributed the “screaming” previously reported during a closed-door meeting to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Indiana Sen. Todd Young, described as trying to “rebut [former President Donald] Trump’s influence on the party.”

“Young played down the spat afterward: ‘Ron and I have a very good relationship. We can be very candid with one another,'” wrote the outlet.

Meanwhile, between their social media accounts and a press conference, conservative figures had continued calls to break away from “failure theater” with Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance referring to the deal as “pure, unadulterated bullsh*t.”

“The idea that we committed to supporting whatever came out of this negotiation is pure, unadulterated bullsh*t. We supported a negotiation to bring commonsense border security to this country. We did not agree to a border fig leaf to send another $61 billion to Ukraine,” said the Ohio lawmaker.

“Time to disband The Firm™,” posted Lee as part of ongoing commentary against business as usual in Washington, D.C. as Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley had remarked, “Wouldn’t it be nice if Republican leadership in the Senate cared as much about Republicans as they do about Chuck Schumer. Just an observation.”

Kevin Haggerty


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