Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was reelected by his caucus as Senate Republican leader, fending off a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida — the first such challenge McConnell has faced in 15 years.
After a failed effort by some senators to postpone the vote, the 37-10 result in favor of McConnell, conducted via secret ballots, puts the Kentuckian on track to become the longest serving party leader in U.S. history. McConnell has led Senate Republicans since 2007 and is poised to break the record held by former Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-MT), who served as Senate Majority Leader from 1961 to 1977. Asked Wednesday whether he might step aside once he tops Mansfield’s record in 2023, McConnell said, “I'm not going anywhere.”
Other Senate Republicans securing leadership posts include John Thune of South Dakota, who will continue as minority whip; John Barrasso of Wyoming, who will remain conference chair; Montana’s Steve Daines, who will replace Scott as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee; Iowa’s Joni Ernst, who will become policy chair; and West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, who will serve as the GOP conference’s vice chairwoman.
Scott Doubles Down on Call to Change Social Security and Medicare
Unbowed by his failed challenge to McConnell, Scott issued a statement reiterating his calls for Congress to cut federal spending and make some dramatic changes to Social Security and Medicare.
Scott had issued a proposed agenda for Republicans that initially said that all Americans should have to pay some federal income “to have skin in the game” and called for all federal programs, including Social Security and Medicare, to sunset or be renewed by Congress every five years. Scott backtracked on the tax increase, insisting he never wanted any tax hikes at all. But he is not shying away from his calls to change Social Security and Medicare — calls that some Republicans say hurt their party in the election by giving President Joe Biden and Democrats ammunition for attacks.
In his statement, Scott said:
“I will never stop fighting to end Joe Biden’s reckless government spending and the devastating inflation Democrats have caused. I will never stop fighting to finally take action to protect Social Security and Medicare and preserve the promise of these programs for our children and grandchildren; to hold government accountable, from the FBI to the IRS; to truly combat the extreme danger posed by Communist China; and to refocus our military on lethal defense instead of woke nonsense.”
To be clear: Scott’s plan, rejected by McConnell and some other Republicans, would have sunset Social Security and Medicare every five years, requiring lawmakers to re-up the programs. The plan also proposed to “Force Congress to issue a report every year telling the public what they plan to do when Social Security and Medicare go bankrupt.”
UPDATE, 11/17: Clare Lattanze, a spokesperson for Scott emails: "In general, Senator Scott has been very vocal on the need for Congress to discuss and take real action to preserve Social Security and Medicare, which are on track for bankruptcy and need to be preserved, protected and made solvent for the American people who have paid into and rely on them. Congress regularly reviews essential programs and functions of the federal government— Social Security and Medicare should be no different."