Mar 1, 2022 - Politics & Policy

McConnell rejects NRSC Chair Rick Scott's tax pitch

McConnell and Rick Scott
Photos: Joe Raedle/Getty Images; Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has publicly swatted down a controversial tax proposal pitched by Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, in an unusual airing of private tensions between the two senior Republicans.

Driving the news: Standing before a crowd of reporters at the Capitol, Tuesday afternoon, McConnell sentenced the Scott plan to death.

  • "We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years," McConnell said.
  • "That will not be part of the Republican Senate Majority agenda. We will focus instead on what the American people are concerned about: inflation, energy, defense, the border and crime."

Behind the scenes: Scott infuriated McConnell and other top Republicans with his recent decision to release a policy agenda ahead of the midterms. The agenda, dubbed Scott's 11-point plan to "rescue America," contained controversial provisions that the Democrats are already turning into attack ads.

  • The statement that put Republicans most on edge raised the prospect of new taxes on the poorest Americans: "All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax."

During Monday night's leadership meeting, which McConnell convened, members of leadership took turns taking shots at Scott over his decision to release the agenda ahead of the midterms.

  • Senators at the meeting — which included Senate Republican conference chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Senate minority whip John Thune (R-S.D.) — grilled Scott over why he released an agenda that Democrats were now weaponizing against them.

What they're saying: Scott has defended his decision by saying that he released the agenda in his personal capacity as a rank-and-file senator — not as a party platform.

  • But given his role as chair of the NRSC, it "makes it a little confusing," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told Politico.

Scott and his team are not backing down. The Senator told Axios in a statement Tuesday he will continue to talk about his plan:

  • "The Democrats’ assertion that I want to raise taxes on working Americans or retirees is simply a lie," Scott said. "I do, however, want to have a conversation about able-bodied Americans who are living off of government programs instead of working, a reality caused by Democrat policies."
  • "I agree with Senator McConnell that this election will primarily be about Joe Biden and the Democrats’ failures, but have been clear that I also believe Republicans should talk about a plan for turning this country around."
  • "I’m a business guy and I’ve always believed in making plans in order to get things done. Republicans, and really all Americans outside of Washington, are demanding it," he added.

The bottom line: As Axios first reported, McConnell has been telling colleagues and donors Senate Republicans won't release a governing agenda before November's elections.

  • McConnell prefers to keep the focus squarely on Democrats and their perceived failings and to avoid offering Democrats targets to whack Republicans.

Editor's note: This post has been updated with a statement from Sen. Rick Scott.

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