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Top GOP Senators Moving To Oust McConnell As Leader


Dissension in the ranks of the Senate Republicans means Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving leader in either party in history, may soon face the toughest coup of his career.

A cadre of Republican senators critical of McConnell unveiled plans to the Daily Caller that may culminate in a vote to remove the Kentucky Republican as leader within the coming weeks. Among them is Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who said McConnell’s push for a supplemental spending bill backed by Democrats and the White House was tantamount to a betrayal of conservatives.

“Mitch McConnell, in effect, gave the largest in-kind campaign contribution to the Democrats’ Senate campaign committee in history,” Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz told the Caller.

As evidence, earlier this week talks between Democrats and Republican Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) collapsed amid disagreements over the terms of increased border security in exchange for tens of billions of dollars in new funding for Ukraine and Israel, a priority of President Joe Biden that McConnell has privately favored as well. Conservative senators speaking with the Caller reiterated their belief that the Minority Leader has failed to push for hardline measures that would satisfy Republican voters and pass the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) has said the current bill would be “dead on arrival.”

“I think this is our opportunity to take him out, and we’re sort of working to figure out if that’s possible. I think that there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem where I think you probably have the votes, but you need somebody to step forward and that person’s that unwilling to step forward unless you have the votes, it can’t just be a Mike and Ted and a sort of everybody who hates Mitch thing,” one Republican senator, who was granted anonymity to speak freely without worry of retaliation from leadership, told the Caller. “You obviously have to get kind of the middle of the conference. So that’s all being worked on behind the scenes. And I think, frankly, how this vote works out will help determine whether the conference, broadly speaking, is willing to go in that direction.”

The use of Lankford, who is not seeking reelection, was seen by conservatives as a thinly veiled attempt by McConnell to hold talks that were never serious, leading to the current fallout which has provided ammunition to President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who said Republicans are not serious about shutting down the border.

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“Every single Democrat candidate in the country running for Senate, running for House will use the identical talking points — they will all say: We wanted to secure the border. We tried to secure the border, but the Republicans wouldn’t let us,” Cruz continued. “Now, that is a wild-eyed lie. It is completely false. This bill would have made the border crisis worse.”

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“As long as I’ve been serving in the Senate, there’s never been an issue where the American public is so overwhelmingly in support of our position, which is to secure the border. So how can you take as leader, how do you take an issue where the American people support us and lead us into a box, where now, when a bill is produced, it is worse than doing nothing,” Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said. “When that’s rejected, we get blamed. I mean, you got to work overtime to screw that up.”

J.D. Vance (R-OH), the newly minted Ohio Republican who came into office with strong backing from former President Donald Trump, echoed those concerns.

“I’ve even heard privately, Democratic colleagues, tell me ‘your leadership was desperate to make a deal, that it made us less willing to negotiate’. So this is an open secret that these guys were not driving a hard bargain and you see the results in the border package that came out,” Vance told the Daily Caller. “And now we’re seeing the second step of the process, which is kill the border package. Jam through the Ukraine package. It doesn’t make any sense.”

The $118 billion spending bill, which failed on a vote of 49-50, contained provisions that would have allowed for up to 5,000 illegal crossings per day across the southern border, a nonstarter for conservatives in the House.

So far, other Senate Republican leaders such as Whip John Thune (R-SD) and Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) have stood by McConnell, indicating conservatives have a ways to go in searching for an alternative who could sufficiently win over votes from a majority of the conference that has stood by the longtime leader despite such failures. Both Thune and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) have been floated in recent months as alternatives who could bridge the divide.

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