Republican senators declared the bipartisan border bill ‘dead’ before it even goes to the floor for a vote on Wednesday.
A group of Senate Republicans, frustrated with the leadership of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) amid a “dead” bipartisan border bill, called for his resignation on Tuesday.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), standing alongside six Republican senators, expressed frustration with negotiations over a supplemental funding bill that tied U.S. border security to funding for Ukraine.
When asked by reporters whether it’s time for Mr. McConnell to go, Mr. Cruz said, “I think it is,” adding that the Senate lawmakers flanking him at the press conference “also supported the leadership challenge” to Mr. McConnell following the 2022 midterm elections, when Republicans lost seats.
“I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans,” added Mr. Cruz, who has been a strong opponent of Mr. McConnell since 2013.
Mr. Cruz was joined at the press conference on Tuesday by Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), JD Vance (R-Ohio), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), and Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.).
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr. McConnell announced that the border agreement, which is a $118 billion supplemental spending bill that includes funding for Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan, is dead in the Senate. He said, “We have no real chance to make a law.”
Mr. Cruz revealed on Tuesday that after Republicans faced losses in the “very disappointing” 2022 midterms, he urged Senate Republicans to elect a new leader.
“We lost a seat in the Senate, and we barely got a majority in the House. And I stood up and said in any ordinary organization, when you’re faced with failure, if you’re running a business and you lose $50 million, you don’t just say, ‘Hey, everything’s great; let’s keep doing it.’ No, you sit down and say, ‘What are we doing wrong?’” Mr. Cruz said.
‘Designed to Lose’
At the time, he said that he turned to Mr. McConnell, frustrated that Republicans had voted with Democrats in 2017 and 2018 on certain measures, and asked, “What are we willing to fight on? What are you willing to fight on? Is there anything you’re willing to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘We will fight?’ And he refused to answer that question.”
Mr. Cruz said, “That’s why we’re in this mess,” adding that the Senate border security bill was “designed to lose.”
Asked about Mr. Cruz’s comments, Mr. McConnell quipped, “I think we can all agree that Sen. Cruz is not a fan.”
Republicans have been critical of the border bill that was negotiated by Sens. James Lankford (R-Okla.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), and Biden administration officials. Over 20 Republicans have pledged to reject the bill on Wednesday, claiming they require “adequate time” for amendments and further analysis.
The supplemental includes $60 billion allocated to Ukraine, $14.1 billion to Israel, and $20 billion to implement border security measures.
Wrangling over border security comprised the bulk of the negotiators’ time, as Republicans sought to gain stricter concessions on border security and Democrats sought less strict provisions.
Mr. Vance, who joined the Texas senator at the press conference, echoed his criticisms of Mr. McConnell.
“I want to echo everything that Ted has said. I think all of us has made this argument: The leadership really screwed this up,” Mr. Vance said.
“I think they made a series of political arguments that were never going to actually fly. They knew or at least should have known that this bill was never actually going to get there,” he added.
“Certainly on the Ukraine question, I think leadership is massively out of touch with Republican voters. We are not as a Republican Party behind unlimited, unaccounted-for aid to Ukraine without any goals in mind,” he said.
The senators declared the bipartisan border bill, which President Joe Biden urged Congress on Tuesday to pass, “dead” before it even goes to the floor for a procedural vote on Wednesday.
The chances of the Senate passing a procedural motion to end debate and vote on the supplemental spending bill come Wednesday are “unlikely,” according to Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), The Hill reported.
‘We Did Not Agree to a Border Fig Leaf’
Mr. Vance said that Mr. McConnell should have “walked away” from negotiations with Democrats over the border agreement before getting to this point. He ferociously rejected the notion that GOP lawmakers would back whatever deal was reached, an idea he said was being put forward by Republican leaders.
“We’re not committing ourselves to voting for this thing just because we entered the negotiation, and you hear this from some of our leadership—and hopefully they will stop—the idea that we committed to supporting whatever came out of this negotiation is pure, unadulterated [expletive],” Mr. Vance said.
“We supported a negotiation to bring commonsense border security to this country,” Mr. Vance added. “We did not agree to a border fig leaf to send another $61 billion to Ukraine.”
They criticized the bill for not doing enough to close the border and for expanding the powers available to President Joe Biden.
Many rank-and-file GOP lawmakers think that the bill doesn’t do enough to stop the constant influx of illegal immigrants, firstly, while signaling their openness to look at visa options secondarily.
The Epoch Times contacted Mr. McConnell’s office for comment.