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. 
 
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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. 
 
"I think … he would have had a hard time getting confirmed," Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneImpeachment threatens to drown out everything Republicans show signs of discomfort in defense of Trump   Embracing President Mike Pence might be GOP's best play MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters. 
 
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 TrumpWHCA calls on Trump to denounce video depicting him shooting media outlets Video of fake Trump shooting members of media shown at his Miami resort: report Trump hits Fox News's Chris Wallace over Ukraine coverage 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 MillerThe Memo: Drip, drip of revelations damages Trump Trump says acting Homeland Security chief McAleenan will step down Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases MORE
 
The ousting of Cissna sparked backlash from Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyPhRMA CEO warns Pelosi bill to lower drug prices would be 'devastating' for industry GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe On The Money: Judge tosses Trump lawsuit over NY tax return subpoena | US, Japan sign trade deals | Trump faces narrowing window for trade deals | NBA sparks anger with apology to China MORE (R-Iowa), who called acting White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyJohn (Mick) Michael MulvaneyHillicon Valley: Trump official declines to testify on trade protections for tech | Senators call for better info-sharing on supply chain threats | Apple pulls app after Chinese pressure Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions 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 RubioFurious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria Five ways Trump's Syria decision spells trouble Rubio criticizes Warren response on same-sex marriage opposition as condescending 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.