Senate

RSC chairman: McConnell should call it a career

Camille Fine

The chairman of the Republican Study Committee says Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) should step down as majority leader.

“I think he’s a huge part of the problem,” Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.) told NBC News, comparing McConnell to the manager of a losing baseball team.

He noted that usually when a team goes on a bad losing streak, it’s the manager, not the players, who is fired.

{mosads}“There’s a growing consensus that would be very happy if the fine senator from Kentucky called it a career,” Walker told NBC.

Walker leads a group of 150 conservative House GOP lawmakers.

House members have been increasingly frustrated with the Senate, which this week failed again to make progress on ObamaCare repeal.

A spokesman for McConnell declined to respond publicly to the criticism, but allies of the senator waived it off, noting that House members don’t vote in Senate leadership races.

No Republican senator has publicly expressed interest in challenging McConnell for the Senate’s top job, and even after the demise of the health-care repeal bill, Senate Republicans said his leadership position is safe.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has also been under pressure to step aside, one McConnell ally noted, arguing that grumbling over leadership is nothing special on Capitol Hill.  

McConnell’s longtime conservative critics are seizing on the health-care setback to put political pressure on the GOP leader, whom they have long viewed as a member of the Washington establishment.

McConnell suffered a blow this week when the candidate he backed in the Alabama Senate Republican primary, Sen. Luther Strange, lost to former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who vowed in a fundraising email to end McConnell’s reign as majority leader.

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who works closely with McConnell, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday that frustration with the Senate is boiling over among House Republicans.

“We’re really frustrated. Look, we passed 373 bills here in the House — 270-some are still in the Senate,” Ryan told host Joe Kernen.

Ryan noted that the House has passed more bills at this stage of the Trump administration than at similar points in the Obama, Clinton and both Bush administrations.

Those accomplishments include legislation repealing and replacing the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, border security legislation and education reform.

“We’re all frustrated in the House. The Senate has rules that perplex us, that frustrate us but it is the way our system works,” Ryan further lamented.

Other House Republicans, however, say senators like John McCain (Ariz.) and Susan Collins (Maine) are bigger problems than McConnell.

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas), the second-ranking member of the GOP leadership and one of the most qualified candidates to serve as the next Senate Republican leader, on Wednesday said McConnell’s job is safe. 

“Sen. McConnell’s standing as the leader in the Republican Conference I think is very solid,” he said. 

Tags John Cornyn John McCain Luther Strange Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan Susan Collins
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