(UnitedVoice.com) – Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) removed fellow Republicans Mike Lee (UT) and Rick Scott (FL) from the Senate Commerce Committee on February 1. The move follows an aggressive attempt by the two in November to replace McConnell’s leadership within the GOP, prompting some people to suspect the prominent lawmaker made his decision as an act of revenge.
Challenge to Republican Leadership
The Senate GOP suffered some serious setbacks after its highly anticipated red wave failed to manifest in the 2022 midterms. Members attempted to shift the blame in all possible directions, and Sen. Scott went as far as to point the finger directly at McConnell. In response to what he deemed their leader’s failure to empower the Right in the Senate, the Florida lawmaker challenged the minority leader for the high-ranking spot. Former President Donald Trump had supported the bid, which the New York Post reports led to “lively” and “candid” discourse between the candidates.
Lee was also among Scott’s most avid backers. He presented a nomination speech for his colleague before the failed attempt to oust McConnell. Ultimately, the challenger was able to collect 10 votes against McConnell’s 37, affording the minority leader another two years in the position.
After the vote, McConnell reportedly gave a thumbs-up upon leaving the chamber, saying, “I’m not going anywhere.” Having initially assumed the role of Senate GOP leader in 2007, he will soon overtake Mike Mansfield’s 16-year record as the longest-served party leader in the Upper Chamber.
Rumors of Revenge
Scott made it clear that he’s taking his committee removal personally. He believes McConnell is retaliating for his attempts to overtake the GOP leadership position. He told the New York Post, “This is what happens when you challenge leadership.”
Scott listed off his credentials, implying his qualifications had nothing to do with the decision. According to The Hill, the outcome has the lawmaker “furious.” The publication notes, however, that lost committee positions could simply be an “unfortunate consequence” of lost GOP Senate seats in the midterms.
The Senate Minority Leader has insisted Scott’s actions haven’t impacted him, stating that he isn’t “in any way offended.” Still, the Salt Lake Tribune notes that no other Republican senators lost their committee assignments under McConnell’s restructuring. Republicans Ted Budd (NC), Eric Schmitt (MO), and J.D. Vance (OH) — all newcomers — will be replacing Lee and Scott, as well as Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), who moved to the Senate Finance Committee.
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