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Newsmax: GOP Publicly Attacking McConnell Over Border Bill

  |   By Polling+ Staff

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

GOP Publicly Attacking McConnell Over Border Bill

Well that didn’t take long.  With the implosion of the secretly negotiated border bill, Newsmax reports:

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, finding himself under attack from the right for his attempts to work with chamber Democrats and the White House on legislation linking border security and the war in Ukraine, is rejecting the criticism as coming from enemies who will not recognize the consequences of a divided government.

‘I’ve had a small group of persistent critics the whole time I’ve been in this job,’ the Kentucky Republican told Politico, adding that ‘they had their shot’ when Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., attempted to challenge his party leadership in a failed 2022 bid. 

The reason for the work on the border bill, he added, is because the ‘persistent critics’ wanted the legislation.  

‘You can’t pass a bill without dealing with a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate,’ McConnell said. 

Republicans in the Senate are expected Wednesday to reject the deal, and McConnell’s critics are slamming him for how he has handled the legislation. Tuesday, several of them held a press conference, where Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, demanded that McConnell step down from his party leadership position.

Meanwhile, with former President Donald Trump leading in the GOP primary and potentially returning to the White House next year, McConnell may find it harder to hold onto his leadership spot. 

Trump, whose opposition to the border deal has reportedly led to its opposition from Republican lawmakers, has often called for McConnell to be ousted, including after the senator criticized Trump in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol violence. 

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This has prompted McConnell’s critics to speak out more publicly against him over the bill. 

During a closed-door Republican meeting Monday, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah posted a fundraising link asking donors to ‘kill this border bill’ and demanded “new leadership” for the party. 

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., posted a meme depicting McConnell as Charlie Brown attempting to kick a football being held by Sen. Krysten Sinema, I-Ariz., and said later that he has been ‘super unhappy’ since the discussions on the compromise bill started. 

‘Leader McConnell completely blew this,’ he added. 

McConnell conceded Monday that the bill is headed for failure. It has come under attack by Trump and Speaker Mike Johnson, who rejected its future in the House, with several GOP senators attacking it on social media and television interviews. 

McConnell, noting the work of Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., on the bill and saying that it was endorsed by the Border Patrol union, told Politico that the measure will fail because members of the Senate have decided ‘they didn’t want to deal with it’ since it would never become law … ‘I don’t know who is at fault here, in terms of trying to cast public blame.’

During a party meeting Tuesday, Cruz told McConnell that the border deal could not be defended, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska asked why the party was abandoning it, sources with knowledge of the meeting said. 

McConnell still has an immense amount of power in the Senate, despite his detractors. He has a measure of control over the Senate Leadership Fund super PAC, which senators like Cruz and Scott will likely need to be reelected. 

He also has powerful supporters, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who said blaming McConnell for the border bill’s failure is “a bit misplaced.”

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., also said it’s ‘not Mitch’s fault’ about the bill’s failure, nor Lankford’s, who he said ‘did the best he could under the circumstances.’

This was inevitable, one suspects. Negotiating a bill of this critical nature in secret, only to have it blow up in the faces of the negotiators, was bound to bring calls for a change in the GOP Senate leadership.