Internal GOP tension rises as McConnell’s deal puts him at odds with McCarthy

But now he has helped push through a string of major bipartisan victories that Democrats in particular are touting, shattering his own conference and leaving some House Republicans furious.

“Of course, there was great frustration” with those Republican votes in the Senate, said Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, a House GOP leadership ally and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. “I thought that was totally wrong.”

The rift is most pronounced between McConnell and House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has whipped his members to oppose some of the costliest items McConnell has backed, raising concerns among some Republicans about the how the two will work in a potential GOP majority. year.

“Too often we see Republicans in the Senate losing fights because they don’t stick together,” a Republican House member told CNN. “In the majority, we would hope for the Senate to be a partner, rather than an obstacle.”

McCarthy, who regularly meets with McConnell when both houses are in session, said he complained directly to McConnell about mandatory spending levels in bills the Senate sent to the House.

“They’re going too big,” McCarthy said.

Over the past year, McConnell and some of his aides have backed bipartisan deals on Infrastructure, Gun violence and the global chip shortage — all of which the majority of Senate Republicans opposed, putting McConnell in his own party’s minority. What Has Angered Some Conservatives Lately: McConnell’s threatens to brandish a larger version of the chip bill because the Democrats were pursuing their own party-line economic package.
Schumer plans to vote on the burnt graves on Monday as Republicans continue to vent frustration
Ultimately, however, McConnell agreed to back a scaled-down version of the chip bill as Democratic talks appeared to stall. When Democrats suddenly announced a deal on their economic plan after the chip bill passed en route to President Joe Biden’s officesome Republicans openly questioned his strategy.

“I think it was a mistake,” Sen. Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas, said Thursday when asked about McConnell’s threat. “When you make a threat, you have to follow through on it. … Bluffing doesn’t work if you don’t call.”

McConnell’s allies say his willingness to support bipartisan agreements, even if it puts him at odds with McCarthy and most of his party, is partly driven by a desire to preserve Senate filibuster as well as to show that the GOP is not reflexively opposed to interim legislation. By delegating Republicans to be involved in bipartisan talks on a number of issues, McConnell helped Republicans get the best deal possible, his supporters say.

“Lead McConnell has a different role than other Republican caucus members in the Senate and members here,” GOP Rep. Andy Barr of Kentucky said. “His job is to win back a majority…He is playing the long game and I will never question his tactical moves to do what he needs to do with his members in these states.”

When McConnell supported the gun violence bill this summer, the first major gun bill in three decades, he made it clear he thinks the bill might appeal to suburban voters upset by rising cases of mass shootings.

“It’s no secret that we’ve lost ground in suburban areas. We pretty much own rural, small-town America, and I think that’s a sensible solution to the problem we’re facing.” , McConnell said, adding that he hoped it would be “seen favorably by voters in the suburbs that we need to win back in order to hopefully be in the majority next year.”

And when he backed the infrastructure deal last summer, McConnell said he became “unnecessarily” politicized given that public works projects had long enjoyed bipartisan support.

But when asked Thursday about his support for the chip bill amid the Democratic breakthrough on their party’s economic package, McConnell didn’t hesitate.

“It’s an absolute disaster for the country and we’re going to fight it as hard as we can,” McConnell told reporters. the agreement reached by Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

Other Republicans blamed Manchin, who initially balked at including climate and tax provisions in the bill before agreeing to both in a sprawling package that would also target prescription drug prices and extend health care subsidies. expiring health.

“It’s an incredible turnaround,” Cornyn said of Manchin. “You can’t trust anyone here anymore.”

Yet McConnell’s criticism goes beyond Capitol Hill.

This is where the battle for control of the Senate will be won or lost.

Former President Donald Trump, with whom McConnell severed ties after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, has repeatedly called for someone to oust McConnell as GOP leader, though no one has come forward. mobilized or had the internal support to prevent him from remaining at the top of the conference. McConnell, who cemented his legacy by inaugurating three conservative Supreme Court justices, maintains a good reputation within his own Senate conference.

But in the House, where tensions between the two chambers are not new, it’s a different story. His critics question McConnell’s decision-making and express anger that he and other Republicans helped Democrats secure a series of key victories in an otherwise difficult political environment for Biden’s party. And the divide between House and Senate Republicans — on everything from policy to politics — could become even more pronounced next year if Republicans win a majority, where they are expected to strike deals with a Biden administration on must-haves like government funding.

“Mitch McConnell is one of the best allies the Democrats have ever had,” said Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, a longtime McConnell critic. who recently lost his auction serve in the Senate. “He compromises far too much, to the detriment of us Conservatives and our values.”

Some Republicans believe McConnell was outwitted by Schumer.

McConnell and some of his aides ended up backing the chip bill on Wednesday as it looked like Democratic talks over the economic deal were on the verge of collapse – only to learn hours after they voted on it. the chip bill that Democrats had reached an agreement on the economic package.

“I think everyone was certainly surprised by the representations that had been made by the Democrats about this deal, and I think there were a number of people caught off guard – not just on our side but on the side of the Democrats,” said Senate Republican Whip John Thune. CNN when asked if the GOP was tricked into letting the chip bill pass before the Democrats’ economic deal was cut.

When asked if McConnell had played properly, Thune replied, “You’ll have to discuss it with him.”

Some House Republicans have expressed understanding of the position McConnell faces in the 50-50 Senate.

“I think he thought in each case they got the best deal possible,” said veteran Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma. “He knows when to hold them and when to bend them as well as anyone in this building.”

And House GOP conference chairwoman Elise Stefanik of New York said the real anger should be directed at Democrats.

“In my district, they’re the most unhappy with Chuck Schumer,” she said.

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