Ted Cruz calls for McConnell to resign as border bill backlash mounts

 February 8, 2024

Republican senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) called for Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to resign on Tuesday, as backlash grows over his support of President Biden's border bill. 

"I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans,” Cruz said.

Mitch urged to resign

McConnell has long enjoyed the respect of Republican colleagues in the Senate, few of whom dared to call for his ouster even when he had a health scare last year.

But McConnell is now facing an unusual level of public dissent, with critics like Cruz emboldened by the furious conservative backlash over the border bill.

Cruz echoed frustrations with McConnell that have festered for years in the Republican base, where he is widely seen as the embodiment of weak Republican leadership that is too quick to compromise with Democrats.

“In 2017 and 2018 when we had a Republican president, Republican Senate, Republican House, not one single time, did a group of Democrats join with Republicans to pass the Republican agenda,” Cruz said. “So we’re the only ones who do it.”

“But I turned to Mitch and I said, Is there anything — what are we willing to fight on?" he continued.

Strategic blunder

The border bill was packaged together with aid for Ukraine and Israel into a massive "national security" bill, but the bill's Republican critics say it doesn't do anything substantively to secure the southern border.

While McConnell has long been seen as almost Machiavellian by his critics, many Republicans say it was a strategic blunder for McConnell to negotiate with Democrats on border security as they seek to shift blame for the border crisis ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

“I hope a lot of my colleagues are asking themselves: How did we get ourselves in a situation where we’re being blamed for Biden’s open border policy? How could that be possible? The answer is McConnell made that possible," Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wi.) said.

McConnell, who has prioritized aid to Ukraine, was humbled Wednesday when the border package was shot down by all but four Republicans. McConnell also backtracked.

He had a dry response when asked about the latest comments from Cruz.

“I think we can all agree that Sen. Cruz is not a fan,” he said.

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