Senate GOP sticks with leadership team

Haiyun Jiang

Senate Republicans on Tuesday approved letting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) leadership team remain in their posts through 2018.

Three leaders — Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (S.D.), Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.) and conference vice chairman Roy Blunt (Mo.) — had faced the possibility of term limits kicking in at the end of this year. 

{mosads}Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), a Tea Party favorite and close friend of presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), had stirred the controversy last week by arguing that the three leaders should have to leave their posts after the election.

But the conference took a voice vote Tuesday and agreed the partial term the leaders served in 2012 should not count against the rule that restricts leaders to serving three terms. 

Lawmakers who attended the meeting said the motion was adopted by an overwhelming voice vote. No dissent was heard.

Thune, Barrasso and Blunt won election to their jobs at the start of 2012, when Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) stepped down as Senate Republican Conference chairman, creating a domino chain of promotions.

The Senate Republican Conference rules state that leaders may serve only three terms and that a term may not extend more than two years, which on its face suggests that a year of service should count as a term. 

But McConnell has argued that partial terms should not count against leadership limits because they do not do so for committee chairmanships. He notes it would be impractical to change committee chairmen in the middle of a two-year Congress.

“We just completed a Senate Republican Conference in which we basically reconfirmed the precedent with regard to partial terms and their impact on the three-term limit to some of our leadership positions and committee chairs,” McConnell told reporters after the lunch meeting.

Alexander called for Tuesday’s meeting to help settle the dispute.

He proposed that partial terms of less than a year should not count against the three-term limit, while terms longer than a year should.

“I moved that we affirm, that we re-affirm, the precedent that partial terms don’t apply to the six-year term limit for leaders. We already had that for committee members,” he said.

Thune, Barrasso, Blunt and Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) will have to step down from their posts at the end of the 115th Congress, in 2018.

This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. Jordain Carney contributed. 

Tags John Barrasso John Cornyn John Thune Lamar Alexander Mike Lee Mitch McConnell Roy Blunt Ted Cruz

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video