OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Senate Republicans doubt that Mitch McConnell is the right person to lead the party’s goals after the recent border bill fiasco. McConnell has led the party for almost two decades. The doubts were shared exclusively with The Daily Caller.
“Mitch McConnell, in effect, gave the largest in-kind campaign contribution to the Democrats’ Senate campaign committee in history,” Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told The Daily Caller.
“Every single Democrat candidate in the country running for Senate, running for House will use the identical talking points — they will all say: We wanted to secure the border. We tried to secure the border, but the Republicans wouldn’t let us,” Cruz said. “Now, that is a wild-eyed lie. It is completely false. This bill would have made the border crisis worse.”
Despite McConnell’s familiarity with Senate maneuvers and procedures, he has long been outside the Republican base on issues that are important to them—illegal immigration and border security foremost among them.
“I think this is our opportunity to take him out, and we’re sort of working to figure out if that’s possible,” according to one Republican senator, granted anonymity by The Daily Caller.
“As long as I’ve been serving in the Senate, there’s never been an issue where the American public is so overwhelmingly in support of our position, which is to secure the border.
“So how can you take — as leader — how do you take an issue where the American people support us and lead us into a box, where now, when a bill is produced, it is worse than doing nothing,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said. “When that’s rejected, we get blamed. I mean, you got to work overtime to screw that up.”
McConnell, not Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, struck the deal with the Democrats, according to every senator who spoke with The Daily Caller. Lankford was assigned to lead the negotiations and was considered the best option in the event that the bill failed, which it did.
“I’ve even heard privately, Democratic colleagues tell me, ‘Your leadership was desperate to make a deal, that it made us less willing to negotiate,'” JD Vance, R-Ohio, told The Daily Caller. “So this is an open secret that these guys were not driving a hard bargain, and you see the results in the border package that came out. And now we’re seeing the second step of the process, which is kill the border package. Jam through the Ukraine package. It doesn’t make any sense.”
The $118 border security bill with $60 billion for Ukraine failed by one vote. Cruz thinks McConnell should go because of it. McConnell blames Republican senators for not supporting his pro-migration bill drafted with Democrat leaders.
“The reason we’ve been talking about the border is because they [GOP Senators] wanted to,” he told Politico, adding, “The reason we ended up where we are is the members decided, since it was never going to become law, they didn’t want to deal with it … I don’t know who is at fault here, in terms of trying to cast public blame.”
The top Democrat on the negotiation panel, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), told NBC News that McConnell was central to the negotiations: “He didn’t just bless the deal. He wrote the deal … [His team] were in the room every single day.”
The bill faced significant opposition from GOP voters and senators like Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) due to its pro-migration stance and what they perceived as deceptive marketing. As a result, the bill quickly collapsed upon its release.
“The border deal is even worse than we thought. No one who cares about our border security should support it. It is a betrayal of the American people,” Lee wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter