Border failures put McConnell under tough new microscope
The Senate border deal debacle is giving new fuel for conservative critics who want to oust GOP leader Mitch McConnell.
Why it matters: The long-serving top Republican faces a growing wave of GOP senators who are more loyal to former President Trump than their Senate leaders.
- "I've had a small group of persistent critics the whole time I've been in this job. They had their shot," McConnell told Politico.
Zoom in: McConnell found himself endorsing the bipartisan border deal Monday morning, and admitting defeat Tuesday afternoon.
- Some of his loudest critics — including Trump, Sen Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) — led the charge against the border package.
- McConnell has emerged from past challenges to his leadership unscathed, but the border failure is reigniting his critics.
- While House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) is under constant threat of ouster by the right wing of his party, McConnell won't face any real leadership challenge until after the 2024 election and the start of a new Congress.
What they're saying: "WE NEED NEW LEADERSHIP — NOW," Lee tweeted shortly after the text of the supplemental package dropped Sunday night.
- When asked if it was time for McConnell to go, Cruz said at a Tuesday press conference, "I think it is."
- Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) posted a Charlie Brown meme mocking McConnell's failure on the border.
- "I would hope my Republican colleagues would begin to question why we were lead into a situation where we get blamed for a problem that was 100% caused by Biden and his Democrat allies in Congress," Johnson told Axios.
Between the lines: Tension and animosity between McConnell and Trump is a big factor. McConnell has repeatedly refused to weigh in on the presidential race.
- Meanwhile, Trump had been loudly campaigning against the border deal and has at times called to withhold more aid for Ukraine.
- He has also repeatedly called for McConnell to be removed from leadership.