Mitch McConnell to remain GOP Senate leader despite failure of border deal

By 
 February 10, 2024

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is likely to remain the Senate Republican leader despite calls by some for him to step down after the failure of a border deal and aid to Ukraine and Israel.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who was instrumental in the bill's downfall, was the loudest in calling for McConnell to step down.

Cruz also challenged McConnell's leadership at the beginning of 2023 after Republicans failed to regain a majority in the Senate, since McConnell provides a lot of the fundraising and other support in those races.

“I think we can all agree that Senator Cruz isn’t a fan," McConnell said during a press conference on Tuesday.

Others joining in

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) also posted to X, “WE NEED NEW LEADERSHIP—NOW!”

But the vocal minority of Republicans in the Senate is just that--a minority.

Most Republicans still think McConnell's leadership is the best chance for Republicans--or they are afraid to cross him because then he won't support them for re-election or committee spots.

McConnell, who is the same age as President Joe Biden at 81, has had a stranglehold on Republican power in the Senate for decades.

The reasons why

Despite recent health issues that led to a collapse at a fundraising event and subsequent hospitalization plus some recent gaffes or strange zoning out behavior during speeches, most Republicans are not yet ready to see a new leader.

“We have a leadership election once a Congress,” Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) told reporters. “We'll see if we have another one. I’m skeptical.”

Vance is part of the group who would like to see new leadership, which also includes Rick Scott (R-FL) and Rand Paul (R-KY).

Besides McConnell's decline in health and mental acuity, most of those who want to see him ousted think he is too moderate and too ready to compromise with Democrats on key issues.

The border bill was the latest example to prove conservatives' point. Instead of just attaching Ukraine and Israel aid to HR-2, a solid border security bill already passed in the House and telling Democrats it was that or nothing, McConnell sent Sen. Jame Lankford (R-OK) to negotiate to the point that the final bill allowed 5,000 illegal immigrants a day and gave taxpayer-funded lawyers to unaccompanied minors.

It also gave Democrats a valid talking point to claim that they tried to secure the border, but those bad Republicans blocked it. McConnell has clearly lost his edge, and if Republicans don't replace him soon, it will be to their detriment.

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