Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell may be on the ropes after the border deal went down in flames.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, tapped Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., to negotiate a border aspect to include in the supplemental foreign aid package that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wanted to pass. McConnell himself has emphasized that Congress should provide more funding for Ukraine and Israel. President Biden has requested $61 billion for the Ukraine war and $17 billion for Israel’s war against Hamas.
The border deal was greeted with harsh criticism from conservatives in Congress, particularly the threshold that would trigger the new emergency authority given to the president. In the bill, the president would have authority to order the closure of the southern border if immigrant encounters reach an average of 5,000 per day over a seven day period.
Former President Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 GOP nomination, warned the GOP not to make a border deal with Democrats. “A bad border deal is far worse than no border deal,” Trump wrote on Truth Social.
On Wednesday, Senate Republicans voted to block the border deal from advancing as part of a $118 billion package that included foreign aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan as well as humanitarian assistance for Gaza.
“McConnell, this was his doing. He was the mastermind of this debacle, this disaster of this immigration bill that again, once it actually was made public, it failed,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., on the “Just the News, Not Noise” TV program on Thursday. “Within hours, it didn’t take 40 to 72 hours, this thing was dead as soon as it hit the airwaves.”
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., said the entire GOP caucus is “disappointed” in how everything played out with the border deal. “We’re all disappointed that we’ve given up, it seems, like we’ve kind of given up as a caucus on our border,” Tuberville told Just the News.
“And the very quick shift yesterday with a vote, voting down this non-essential border bill that would not do anything to protect our American citizens at the border and then very quickly turn around and vote on the supplemental to give $100 billion, basically, overseas to other people’s borders, before we secure ours, doesn’t make any sense to me,” he added.
Tuberville revealed that a “growing number” of Senate Republicans are turning on McConnell, the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in history.
“I’m one that’s going to follow the leader until it’s changed but we do have some very vocal people in our conference saying, ‘enough’s enough. Let’s get a new leadership team and let’s make some progress,'” Tuberville said.
“We haven’t done anything since I’ve been here. We’ve had the leadership team that has voted to give things away, such as the infrastructure bill, the CHIPS Act, a lot of things that have passed and been giveaways that I don’t think really helped the American people except the Democrats. And last time I looked, we’re conservative Republicans and should be helping the American people,” he continued.
Tuberville elaborated on his personal view of McConnell’s job performance. “I’m one that I wish he would be more forceful, be more of a leader since his fall last year, about a year ago, where he was having problems just being able to get through a day, I think he’s gotten better,” he said.
“But in this situation, this day in time, when our country’s on fire, and every country across the world looks like it’s kicking up dust and trying to make war, we need strong leadership and he’s got a team around him that, some lacking, some don’t. But that being said, I think that’s gonna have to be addressed in the near future,” he added.
The Senate is now debating a clean $95 billion foreign aid package without the U.S. border security provisions. The current version of the bill does not include provisions to cover the cost of the foreign aid, making its future uncertain should it pass to the GOP-led House.
In November 2022, after the midterm elections, Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., challenged McConnell for the GOP leader position but lost. McConnell was ultimately re-elected by the caucus.
Frustration with McConnell among Senate Republicans was brewing shortly after he was re-elected leader. McConnell supported passage of the massive $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, which Biden signed in December 2022 after Republicans won back the House majority. The bill ultimately passed the Democrat-led Senate with votes from some Republicans. It also passed in the Democratic-led House before the new session of Congress began with the House under Republican control.
Kevin McCarthy, the incoming House speaker at the time, opposed the omnibus bill for not reducing federal spending. He described the spending bill as “more money for woke-ism in the government and the military” and funding for “left-wing pet projects.”
McConnell was elected Senate Republican whip in 2003. He started as the Senate GOP leader in January 2007. At that time, the national debt was approximately $9 trillion.
The national debt is currently climbing to $35 trillion, according to the latest U.S. Treasury Department data.