EXCLUSIVE: GOP Civil War Deepens As Senators Claim McConnell Threw Party’s Voters ‘Under The Bus’ On Ukraine, Border

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and pro-Ukrainian hardliners in his chamber voted to send billions of dollars more in aid to Ukraine despite not reaching a border security deal. Several Republican senators, increasingly frustrated with party leadership, told the Daily Caller that he had given up influence.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, and Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida all criticized Mr. McConnell in interviews with the Daily Caller, saying that He thanked Speaker of the House Mike Johnson for the unspecified assistance to Ukraine. He will be “dead on arrival” in the House of Commons. Mr Johnson’s comments came just two days after Kohler first published leaks of the proposed border deal.

“I can’t believe McConnell did something this bad,” Johnson told the Caller. “McConnell has shattered the influence we have in the Senate.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) questions U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 14, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“It’s difficult to negotiate border security from a position of strength when so many members of Congress share the Democratic belief that protecting Ukraine is more important than protecting the United States,” Lee said. (Related: Exclusive: Senate Republicans denounce leaked border deal, say they will never vote for it)

Republicans in the House and Senate have been talking for months about efforts to wring a compromise from President Joe Biden’s Democratic Party, combining more aid for Kyiv with concessions on immigration. Addressing the ongoing crisis at our southern border.

When push came to shove, Republicans were unable to reach an agreement. A bipartisan Senate border and foreign aid bill negotiated by Republican leaders and Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford failed to even get a full vote due to significant public backlash and opposition from former President Donald Trump.

But Democrats, with the help of 22 Republican senators who last week voted in favor of passing a nearly $100 billion military aid bill for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, despite failing to reach a border deal. In the end, they succeeded in passing their side of the agreement.

Rachel Bovard, vice president of programs at the Conservative Partnership Institute (CPI), said unless Republicans are willing to walk away from the table, there will never be an effective border deal.

“Unless enough Republicans are willing to vote for the final version no matter what, we’ll never be able to reach agreement on policies that actually solve the border crisis,” Bovard told the Caller. Ta.

“Certainly, Senate Republican leadership doesn’t seem to be that serious about trade-offs between Ukraine and the border. Sen. Rick Scott has taken off the table the idea that Mr. McConnell would link funding to Ukraine with border security. Sen. Thom Tillis did just that when he said he wouldn’t support a bill that didn’t have support from a majority of the Republican conference. And Sen. Mitt Romney did just that on the Senate floor. , gave the game away by saying, “Senators will cast the most important vote ever,” on a vote to support Ukraine that doesn’t come with a border deal,” she continued.

The bill faces a steep road to passage in the House due to opposition from Speaker Johnson. But Senate Republicans appear to have lost influence over potential solutions to the border issue for now, depending on the eventual outcome of support for Ukraine in the House.

“The reason so many of us are speaking out against McConnell is because he exposed this. It’s historic. It was a monumental blunder, a blunder. I We don’t appreciate that. But again, the good news is that even if the House doesn’t pass it, we still have that influence,” said Sen. Johnson. Told. “Of the many elements of this failure, perhaps the most important was the failure to recognize that the negotiating parties were not negotiating in good faith… [all] What Democrats wanted was political cover, and Mr. McConnell gave it to them. Again, this is historical in nature. Senate majority leaders of both parties have gone to great lengths to give their political opponents a kind of political cover, which Mr. McConnell has just handed over to Democrats on a silver platter. It’s just amazing. ”

“It’s clear that Senate Republican leaders didn’t enter border negotiations looking for a win. They wanted to eliminate conservatives in order to pass funding for Ukraine, which is their real priority. That’s why a bill was introduced that would force the Biden administration to achieve operational control of the border, rather than fulfilling Republican demands,” Lee said.

If polls are to be believed, claims that Republican leaders are prioritizing Ukraine over the southern border could come back to haunt voters. While immigration is consistently rated as a top issue for all Americans, especially Republicans, the same cannot be said for additional aid to Ukraine.

“[Ukraine] Not registered. That’s not what they think…I can tell you now, it’s probably above climate change, which was really low,” said Republican pollster and Trafalgar Group founder Robert. Kahei spoke about where Ukraine ranks in the priorities for voters in 2024.

“All these wars and everything are big issues when you look at them as a whole, and they’re in the rankings. But not just Ukraine. It’s kind of an idea about America’s weakness around the world. is.”

Lee said dissatisfied voters, along with their House opponents, could save Republican senators from themselves. “The two most effective means for us to move forward are a Republican House majority that will actually fight for our priorities and a very angry electorate, likely elected by the Republican Party. I’m tired of being thrown under the bus by officials.”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said during a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, July 20, 2021, that the president consults with Congressional leaders before exercising certain national security powers. He announced that he would be announcing a bill that would need to be approved by Congress. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Mr. Scott, the most recent Republican candidate to challenge Mr. McConnell for the leadership position, has criticized Mr. McConnell for trying to push his priorities across the finish line without securing the border. He said people should be prepared for backlash.

“I’ve talked to Mike Johnson quite a bit. And I’ve talked to a lot of members of Congress, and they have no interest in what we pass. And you know what I don’t understand. “I’m a businessman and I’ve bought and financed a lot of companies. I’ve never closed a deal without talking to people,” he said. “There was no conversation about how this would pass through the house. Zero. Mike Johnson was clear. This is dead on arrival. So why pass something that clearly can’t pass through the house?” I just couldn’t understand why you were trying to do that.”

“I mean, people are crazy. I mean, when I’m traveling through Florida, I can’t tell you how much hate Mitch McConnell is because this guy supports all the Democrats’ issues. And, you know, it hurts us. Well, you know, their modus operandi is to immediately move forward with a bill that has no border provisions, and they don’t seem to care. “Scott continued.

Rick Scott (R-Florida) speaks to reporters on his way to a secret Senate-wide conference on artificial intelligence at the U.S. Capitol on July 11, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The caller contacted the offices of all 22 Senate Republicans who voted to send $95 billion in military aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan without border provisions. Given that the Republican leadership immediately voted to inject funds to aid Ukraine after the border deal collapsed, no one answers the specific question of whether the Republican leadership was serious about trade-offs between Ukraine and the border. There was no one there.

Some Senate Republicans who voted for aid to Ukraine have been unsuccessful in trying to appeal to a skeptical base about why the aid is needed. Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah simply said the vote would be one of the most important the Senate has ever taken.north carolina state senator hinted at by Thom Tillis Senators know better than voters, but voters may not understand as well why Ukraine needs aid.

Mr Kahaly said the problem was that he could not assert this claim.

“Tell me what winning looks like. Tell me the goal. People are tired of America just playing games with no end in sight,” he said. “It starts to feel like Afghanistan, Iraq, Vietnam. People don’t like it.”

Mr. McConnell’s disconnect with Republican voters has long been a focus of critics. Sen. Johnson said he was “deeply disappointed” in the 22 Republicans who ultimately voted for more aid to Ukraine without border provisions, adding, “The most important thing to do is provide $60 billion to Ukraine.” “We had leaders who made it a priority.” And you have to ask him why he thinks that is more important than defending our homeland. ”

Johnson added that one underreported factor is how quickly McConnell and his staff “passed their own legislation” after helping write the bill. Mr. McConnell reversed his course after seeing backlash from Mr. Johnson and other Republican senators, including angry voters, and told Republicans not to vote on the very bill he had negotiated.

“The bill he wrote was such a colossal failure. It wasn’t people like me who were asking legitimate questions about it that ruined that bill, it ruined the bill itself. So not only did Mr. McConnell vote no, he encouraged his Republican colleagues to vote no. That’s just amazing,” Johnson told the Caller. (Related: Exclusive: ‘This is our chance’ — Top Republican senators game to oust McConnell over failed border deal)

Some Republicans also criticize their leaders for providing political cover for Democrats. Mr. Biden and his allies quickly turned to blaming Republicans for the porous border after the Senate deal broke down, arguing that Congress could not give the president the power to fix the problem. falsely claimed that it did not.

“All the Democratic candidates running for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives across the country are going to use the same talking points — they’re going to say, ‘We wanted to secure the border.'” We tried to secure the border, but the Republicans wouldn’t let us,” Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz previously told the Caller. “Now, that’s an outrageous lie. It’s just flat out false. This bill will make the border crisis even worse.”

Pollsters like Kahei said they didn’t expect the gambit to work, but said “the public knew it wasn’t real and didn’t buy into it all.” Ta. “Biden will pay the real price for immigration, because no one thinks it’s not his fault. There’s a lot of blame, but no one thinks it’s not Biden’s fault. ”

Republican pollster Robert Brizard agreed, warning that Republican senators up for re-election in 2026 may need to be careful if they continue to prioritize Ukraine over the border.

“I don’t know about the next election cycle, but it depends on what happens over the next two years. Maybe people going into the election in 2026 may need to be careful,” he said.

In the end, Mr. McConnell is the one most likely to feel the ire of voters, and that could be his downfall, Mr. Lee hinted.

“When Republican lawmakers and millions of voters rejected that bill, they turned around and moved forward with funding to Ukraine anyway,” he said. “On the bright side, more than half of the conference refused to buy into this charade. Senate Republicans deserve real leadership, not just two Democrats, and my colleagues Many are aware of this.”

The caller contacted Mr. McConnell’s office about the criticism from Republican senators, but they declined to comment.

Dylan Hausman contributed to this report.



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