Republican rage against McConnell rises after border deal debacle, Ukraine funding push

Sen. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., found himself in the spotlight this week as Republicans buzzed against his handling of the much-anticipated border bill appended to the national security supplemental package that included aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

The bill was defeated in a 50-49 vote and needed 60 votes to pass.

McConnell, once an optimistic proponent of the border deal negotiated between senators James Lankford, R-Okla, Krysten Sinema, I-Ariz., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Biden officials, reversed course and announced the bill had no path forward after most of the GOP caucus argued the legislation was “hardly” a border security bill at all. 

The leader took the brunt of the blame this week for the doomed bill, which was endorsed by the Border Patrol union, but appeared unfazed by critics like senators Rick Scott, R-Fla., JD Vance, R-Ohio, Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas and others who railed against McConnell’s handling of the controversial aid package Tuesday afternoon. 

SENATE TANKS IMMIGRATION, FOREIGN AID SPENDING PACKAGE AFTER GOP BACKLASH AGAINST BORDER PROVISIONS

“Mitch McConnell is good at taking the heat,” one Senate aide told Fox News Digital in response to the criticism. 

Cruz, one of 10 GOP senators who voted against McConnell’s re-election as Senate minority leader in 2022, went as far as calling for McConnell to step down. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has long been an opponent of Russian geopolitical machinations.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has long been an opponent of Russian geopolitical machinations. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

After tanking the combined border and foreign aid bill, the Senate voted Wednesday night to begin work on a “clean” supplemental package with standalone aid to Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan, priced at $95 billion. Senators will reconvene Thursday at noon for another procedural vote on the national security package without the border security provisions.

Republicans are vowing to add what they call “real” border provisions to the package before they agree to aide for Ukraine, one senator told Fox News Digital Wednesday. 

SENATE RELEASES LONG-AWAITED BORDER LEGISLATION, MAJOR ASYLUM CHANGES

Meanwhile, McConnell, one of the Senate’s most supportive lawmakers of continued aid to the Eastern European nation, has been urging Congress to pass the supplemental since funding for Ukraine ran out last year. Hawkish GOP senators critical of funding Ukraine’s military have been divided on that issue, too. 

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., told Fox News Digital in an interview Wednesday evening his frustrations with GOP leadership “started quite some time ago,” but the border negotiations were the nail in the coffin.

His frustrations intensified “specifically on this border bill, when we started entering secret negotiations,” Johnson said. Despite his discontent with McConnell’s handling of it, he mostly blamed President Biden for not using his authority to shut down the border, a point Senate Republicans have repeatedly argued this week. 

Biden has said he needs Congress to act first.  

Migrants line up at US border

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, sounds off on Democrats over the migrant crisis and southern border chaos. (Getty Images)

“So, we can’t give up this fight,” Johnson added. “We can’t just say ‘Oh, sorry, Mitch’s strategy utterly failed. Let’s move on.’ No, that’s not acceptable.

“The discussion at lunch was to get enough Republicans to deny cloture on this, so that we can offer pretty simple measures that would actually force the president to secure the border to at least expose the fact that he has the power to do so — so that we don’t get blamed if he decides not to do so.”

IMMIGRATION HAWKS WARN CONGRESS THAT SENATE DEAL WILL HANDCUFF FUTURE ADMINISTRATIONS ON SECURING BORDER

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., who called for McConnell to step down in September, also threw jabs at the leader on X Wednesday following the standalone supplemental package. 

“So let’s see, now McConnell & Co. want us to give Ukraine $8 BILLION to pay the salaries of government bureaucrats — in Ukraine! — with no real oversight or accountability,” Hawley wrote of the clean supplemental package released Wednesday.   

Lee also wrote on X, “The Law Firm Schumer & McConnell … has had a long, successful run at the game it plays—writing bills in secret, then ramming them through quickly, under artificial time constraints contrived by The Firm™️.”

“This time it didn’t work,” he wrote. “I hope it never works again.”

Joe Biden southern border immigration

President Biden speaks with a member of the U.S. Border Patrol as they walk along the U.S.-Mexico border fence in El Paso, Texas, Jan. 8, 2023.  (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Image)

Republicans argued for the reinstatement of Trump-era policies, asserting that President Biden’s administration could address the border crisis with existing measures rather than requiring additional authority or legislation. Meanwhile, Democrats rejected the bill because they said it would have made it harder for migrants to receive asylum. Even if the bill did pass in the Senate, the GOP-led House considered it dead on arrival. 

McConnell has also worked closely with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to maintain bipartisan lawmaking the last two years, and both have been calling for Republicans to act on Ukraine. GOP senators have quipped they want McConnell to “listen to his members.”

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“Republicans have to realize when they vote as a minority to drag us into this, the majority of the caucus doesn’t want it,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told Fox News Digital in an interview this week. “It really adds to discord and strife and really makes many of us wonder about our leadership just dragging us into Democrat deals that are all the Democrats and a handful of Republicans. Just doesn’t seem like a very unifying way to run our caucus.”

In response, McConnell said he “followed the instructions of my conference who were insisting that we tackle this in October.” 

“I mean, it’s actually our side that wanted to tackle the border issue,” McConnell said this week.

McConnell said last year amid health complications he plans to complete his two-year term as leader and his full six-year term in office. 

Original News Source Link – Fox News

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