EXCLUSIVE: ‘This Is Our Opportunity’ — Top GOP Senators Game McConnell’s Ouster After Botched Border Deal

Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who leads the Republican minority, may not have long to live after Senate leaders this week rejected a bipartisan supplemental national security aid bill. Several prominent Republican senators told The Daily Caller in an exclusive conversation Wednesday that the border bill fiasco has signaled the Republican conference could go over the edge and remove McConnell from leadership. Ta.

“Mitch McConnell has effectively made the largest in-kind campaign contribution in history to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told the Caller.

Conservatives inside and outside the official Republican establishment have long criticized Mr. McConnell, who has a reputation in the Senate for shrewd negotiation and deft maneuvering, for not taking strong enough stances on issues important to the party’s base. McConnell has held the reins of power through the Republican convention for nearly two decades, but momentum to remove him from office is at a fever pitch following a massive backlash over border policy proposals released this week.

“I think this is an opportunity to beat him, and I’m trying to figure out if that’s possible. I think there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. You probably have the votes. But I think somebody has to come forward and that person doesn’t want to come forward unless you have the vote, and it can’t be just Mike.And Ted, and Mitch. Those are the kinds of people you hate,” one Republican senator told the Caller, given anonymity to speak freely without fear of retaliation from the leadership. “Obviously we’ve got to get to about halfway through the conference. I mean, it’s all happening behind the scenes. And frankly, what this vote is going to be, broadly speaking, is where the conference is headed. I think it will help you decide if you are willing to move forward.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) speaks during a Supreme Court press conference at the U.S. Capitol on July 19, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Mr. McConnell has put Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford in charge of negotiating a border deal with Democrats and the Biden administration. But all the Senate Republicans The Caller spoke to placed the blame on McConnell, saying he was actually behind the deal and that Lankford, who is not running for re-election, was the one in charge of the deal. He said he used his statements as a pawn to deceive. It’s a gift to your opponent.

“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 our border, but Republicans wouldn’t let us,” Cruz continued. “Now, that’s an outrageous lie. It’s just flat out false. This bill will make the border crisis even worse.”

“As long as I have served in the Senate, there has never been an issue where the American people have been so overwhelmingly supportive of our position on securing our borders. How do we take on the issues that keep us in the box, and how do we take on the fact that even with a bill introduced, it’s worse than doing nothing?” said Republican Wisconsin Sen. Ron Ron. Johnson said. “If it’s denied, we’ll be blamed. That means we’ll have to work overtime to screw it up.”

“I’ve even personally heard my Democratic colleagues say, “Leadership was so desperate to get a deal that it discouraged us from negotiating.” So it’s an open secret that they didn’t negotiate hard, and you can see that in the border package that came out,” Republican Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance told the Daily Caller. told. “And now his second step in the process, border termination of his package, is taking place. Jam the Ukrainian package. It makes no sense.”

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) questions former executives of failed banks during a Senate Banking Committee hearing on May 16, 2023, at the Capitol in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Senate deal, which included $60 billion in aid to Ukraine, was terminated Wednesday afternoon after a follow-on motion failed 49-50. Lankford and Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Mitt Romney of Utah were the only Republican senators to vote for passage of the bill. Several Democrats also opposed the deal, including Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, and Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer then placed a package on the floor for aid shipments to Ukraine and Israel, with no provisions for border security.

Meanwhile, Cruz and others’ predictions came true Wednesday, even before the deal was finalized. President Joe Biden this week blamed Republicans for the crisis at the southern border, saying their inability to pass legislation to fix the problem will be used against them every day on the campaign trail from now until November. Ta. Other Democrats are beginning to develop similar policies.

Republican hopes of using Ukraine aid to score a big victory on the border, perhaps the biggest issue of 2024, have come under fire.

“If we’re going to pass Ukraine aid, if we’re going to pass a Ukraine aid bill, given that Democrats really want that and we really want secure borders, we’re going to “I agreed that we need to find a way to leverage that desire among Democrats to secure the kind of border controls that we want,” Utah Republican Sen. Councilman Mike Lee told the Caller. “And among other things, we suggested that it might be good to install HR2. We can get something out of it, but the most consistently expressed suggestions, requests, demands are It was to tie funding to Ukraine to achieving certain border security standards.”

“Many of us say we can’t help Ukraine unless we secure our borders. And many of us say, well, our regime is lawless, so to bring down the numbers near the border , said we need to tie something together that the Biden administration wants. And Mr. McConnell said that’s not part of this deal, and we’re not told that it wasn’t part of this deal. There wasn’t,” said Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott. “My opinion as to why we did this is that we wanted to actually get border security, not an immigration bill. So what we ended up submitting was: It was an immigration bill with no border security. And now all they want to do is say, “Well, we tried.” No, it wasn’t.

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) 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)

Before the document was released, several Senate Republicans told callers they were very concerned about border agreement negotiations between the White House and Republican leadership. Some of the leaked proposals did not get off to a great start for most of the meeting. (Related: Exclusive: Senate Republicans denounce leaked border deal, say they will never vote for it)

Mr. Schumer took the procedural vote Wednesday, knowing his original border-Ukraine deal would not garner enough votes. (Related: Senate Republicans, border stoppage bill)

House Speaker Mike Johnson declared that even if the bill had passed the Senate, “it would have died on arrival in the House” after the text was released. Mr. McConnell then directed Senate Republicans to block the very bill he helped author.

Now, McConnell’s seat is hotter than it has ever been since he took control of the conference 17 years ago.

“I was one of the leaders who voted to replace him (Mr. McConnell) at the beginning of this Congress. Rick Scott knew his chances were very slim and was willing to run. But I certainly helped lead the effort to at least challenge McConnell,” Johnson said. “So the next time we vote on this, we’re going to take on another challenge. But I think it’s important that our Republican colleagues really assess the reality of the situation here and understand how we got into this position. I hope we start to seriously ask ourselves what we have fallen into. Who put us in the position where we are now being censured in Congress for the open border policies of Joe Biden and his Democratic allies? I mean, how did that happen?”

Scott, the most recent Republican to challenge McConnell for the top spot, said he still believes change is needed. A conference is basically run by one decision maker. And they worked with Schumer to give us a ton of bad bills… It takes 25 people to do this. I ran it a little over a year ago. Therefore, I believe, and I have believed for quite some time, that we need to change the way we operate. ”

Cruz added that the debacle was the result of “the hard work of the Senate leadership,” and said it would be a “grave political mistake” for Republicans to help pass the Ukraine bill without border security. He claimed that a significant portion of the meeting agreed with his views.

“Right now, Mr. McConnell is saying internally and externally, ‘Oh, we did the right thing.’ The goals that we set months ago were the right thing to do. But the political winds have changed.” Not true. That’s simply not true,” Lee explained. “What happened was we asked for something to protect our borders, and what was negotiated didn’t achieve that. I don’t think the answer to that is ‘Okay.’ Masu. Let’s just give up and give them all the Ukraine aid they want without doing anything else. ” The answer to that should be “okay.” Tell them you’re not going to give them your vote. ”

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett at the Hart Senate Building in Washington, DC, on October 12, 2020. (Erin Shafpour/Getty Images)

Mr. Cruz said Mr. McConnell’s handling of the process was in Mr. Schumer’s hands. “But the real purpose of this bill from Chuck Schumer’s perspective. What Schumer most wanted was a bill that did nothing to secure our border.” said. “He got it. Number two. Mr. Schumer wanted the bill to fail. He got it. But number three, the real purpose of this bill. And Schumer ‘s point of view was to provide camouflage for Democrats, and he got that very well.”

Mr. Vance agreed that Republican leadership “didn’t really try,” adding that Mr. McConnell and others tried to “two-tier” the rest of the party.

Johnson said Republicans must move forward with the border fight despite setbacks because voters want it. “It shows you what his priority was always here, which was to secure Ukraine’s borders before securing Ukraine’s borders. We rejected that. You know, our supporters rejected it. So I’m not giving up.”

“We can’t let this die. We can’t say, ‘Oh, we failed.’ Let’s move on. ‘No, this does not solve the problem. We need to secure our borders. We cannot get away with blaming the Republicans for the problems Biden has caused. ”



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