OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Sen. Ted Cruz did not mince words late last week after the chamber failed to advance a “bipartisan” piece of legislation that was advertised as a border security bill but which actually sent billions more dollars to Ukraine, Israel, and other countries.
The Texas Republican made it clear he believes it is time for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to step down from the party’s leadership and quite possibly even leave the chamber altogether.
During a press conference, Cruz was asked if he believes it is time for McConnell to step down after the deal collapsed amid pressure from conservatives and GOP constituents who complained that the bill did more to secure Ukraine and other foreign nations than it did the U.S. border.
“I think it is,” Cruz responded as he pointed out that all the GOP senators standing with him wanted McConnell to step aside. “I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans.”
Cruz was joined by Sens. Rick Scott (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), JD Vance (R-OH), Roger Marshall (R-KN) and Eric Schmitt (R-MO).
Later, McConnell was asked to respond to Cruz’s comments, to which he said: “I think we can all agree that Sen. Cruz is not a fan.”
Earlier on Wednesday, several Republican senators were heard engaging in spirited discussions behind closed doors as they deliberated on legislation. The proposed bill aimed to allocate some funding for border security while allocating a larger portion of aid to countries such as Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan.
Fox News Capitol Hill reporter Aishah Hasnie informed viewers on the network’s program “America’s Newsroom” Tuesday morning that even one of the bill’s co-sponsors, Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, was leaning towards voting against it. The shift in position is attributed to the bill’s contentious provisions, including the continuation of allowing thousands of illegal migrants into the country daily, with President Joe Biden being required to shut the border down.
Prior to the vote in the Senate, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) had declared the bill “dead on arrival” in the lower chamber after publishing a list of 64 problems he found with it.
“Last week, in a weak attempt to shift blame for a crisis their own policies created, the White House clumsily tried to claim that House Republicans had an ‘anti-border security record’ by voting to ‘eliminate over 2,000 border patrol agents and erode our capacity to seize fentanyl,’” the Speaker said on his website.
“These claims were demonstrably untrue, previously disproven, and underscored the Biden Administration’s failure to secure our southern border, marked by record high crossings in December and widespread national recognition that the situation at our border is a crisis,” he said.
“Since his first day in office, President Biden and his administration have worked to systematically undermine America’s border security,” the Speaker said. “On more than 60 occasions, he has manipulated the federal bureaucracy to open our borders to illegal immigrants, human trafficking, fentanyl, and potential terrorists. The result is a humanitarian and national security catastrophe. The President must use his executive authority to repair what he has broken. I am calling on him to do so. “
As for McConnell, he defended the legislation and appeared to put the blame for its failure on his own party.
“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.”