Republicans warn Cuccinelli won't get confirmed by GOP Senate

Senate Republicans are warning that Ken Cuccinelli, who was tapped Monday to serve as the acting head of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), will not be confirmed by the GOP-controlled Senate. 
 
ADVERTISEMENT
Cuccinelli started his job atop the immigration agency Monday, a controversial move that came even after top Senate Republicans publicly warned that the former Senate Conservatives Fund leader would face a rocky reception on Capitol Hill. 
 
Trump hasn't said if he will try to get Cuccinelli confirmed to the spot on a permanent basis. But Republican senators sent a warning shot on Monday, predicting that he likely cannot be confirmed in the GOP-controlled Senate, where a nomination has to lose four Republican senators to fall short of the simple majority required for nominations. 
 
 
Asked about putting Cuccinelli in the spot in an "acting" capacity, Thune added that it's "probably the only way they could get him in there" and that it would be "hard" for the administration to get the former Virginia attorney general in the role permanently. 
 
 
“He’s made a career of attacking other Republicans and frankly attacking President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff pleads to Senate GOP: 'Right matters. And the truth matters.' Anita Hill to Iowa crowd: 'Statute of limitations' for Biden apology is 'up' Sen. Van Hollen releases documents from GAO investigation MORE, so I doubt he’ll have the support to get confirmed,” Cornyn said.
 
Republicans have a 53-47 majority in the Senate. Cuccinelli would have to lose four Republican senators and win no support from Democrats if he was sent before the Senate for confirmation. 
 
But the pushback from top Senate Republicans comes after McConnell publicly warned earlier this year that he did not want Cuccinelli as the next Department of Homeland Security secretary. Cuccinelli tried to unseat McConnell in 2014, including backing his primary opponent, Matt Bevin. 
 
"I've not spoken to him about any of them. I have expressed my, shall I say, lack of enthusiasm for one of them … Ken Cuccinelli," McConnell told reporters in April.
 
Cuccinelli is replacing Lee Francis Cissna, who was forced out as USCIS chief late last month amid a shake-up at the department that was engineered by top White House policy adviser Stephen MillerStephen MillerConservatives slam Warren's call to put transgender women in women's prisons Immigrants are an economic boon to America Giuliani's unofficial role allowed him to avoid White House disclosure rules: report MORE
 
The ousting of Cissna sparked backlash from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTrump to sign USMCA next Wednesday Trump administration releases rule to restrict 'birth tourism' On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Grassley signs USMCA, sending it to Trump's desk | Union membership falls to record low | Manufacturers want Trump tax provision made permanent | Warren presses banks on climate plans MORE (R-Iowa), who called acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneySenate Republicans confident they'll win fight on witnesses Hakeem Jeffries tells Senate in impeachment proceedings they should subpoena Baseball Hall of Fame after Jeter vote Video becomes vital part of Democrats' case against Trump MORE to make the case for keeping the former Grassley staffer in the USCIS position. 
 
Cuccinelli is also the latest in a growing number of administration positions Trump is filing in an "acting" capacity, letting him avoid having his nominations go through potentially bloody Senate confirmation battles.
 
Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenators press DHS over visa approval for Pensacola naval base shooter Lawmaker wants Chinese news outlet to register as foreign agent Apple under pressure to unlock Pensacola shooter's phones MORE (R-Fla.) said on Monday that he didn't think appointing Cuccinelli in an acting capacity was a "wise move" because the tensions could spill over into other nominations. 
 
"Just knowing people the way I do, it's going to make some people angry," Rubio said. 
 
 
"I prefer votes in the Senate for positions of that nature," he said.