Advertisement

After border bill fiasco, Sen. Ted Cruz calls for Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s replacement

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz lashed out at his party’s leader in the Senate this week over his frustration with the chamber’s ill-fated bipartisan border security and foreign aid bill, once again calling for Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to be ousted.

The junior senator from Texas declared it’s time for McConnell to go at a Tuesday news conference with six of his conservative Senate colleagues.

“I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans.” Cruz said.

He also criticized the policy and politics behind the border bill that McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, backed on his podcast, The Verdict, Wednesday. Cruz was opposed to the bill well before most of his Republican counterparts.

Republican senators, who have for months demanded tougher border legislation, swiftly reversed course after former President Donald Trump moved to thwart it. Senate Republicans had insisted that border security measures be a part of a bill to send aid to Ukraine and Israel.

The bipartisan bill, which failed to gain enough votes to overcome a filibuster Wednesday, aimed to overhaul asylum, expand alternatives to detention and end humanitarian parole.

[Ted Cruz votes against Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader]

It garnered the notable endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council — an organization that had previously endorsed both Cruz and Trump. But Cruz opposed it for not going as far as a House bill he sponsored in the Senate. That bill would restart construction of the border wall, increase the number of border agents, and criminalize visa overstays.

Cruz chalked up the bipartisan bill’s “terrible” policy to “terrible” politics, slamming it as a “total cluster by Senate Republican leadership.” He said the bill was a political win and an out for Democrats who can point fingers at Republicans for sinking it.

“I get why [Democratic Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer wants that as a political talking point, but why the hell would Republican leadership in the Senate?” Cruz said.

In response to the criticisms from the opposition flank, McConnell defended the bill Tuesday by noting that the Senate and White House are controlled by Democrats. He said it was Republicans who started this by demanding a border bill be tied to Ukraine funding.

“I think we can all agree that Sen. Cruz is not a fan,” McConnell quipped at his Tuesday press conference in response to Cruz’ criticism.

Cruz has long been a critic of McConnell, and voted against him for minority leader in 2022. Cruz is up for reelection this year and a host of Democrats are competing to challenge him. One of those, U.S. Rep. Colin Allred, D-Dallas, jumped on Cruz’s claims that the bill would have given “political cover” to Democrats.

“Texans need a Senator who will get something done to fix the crisis at our border – not just use our overwhelmed Texas border communities as backdrops for Fox News interviews,” Allred said in a statement. “I will keep working to secure the comprehensive, bipartisan immigration reform that Texas needs.”


We can’t wait to welcome you to downtown Austin Sept. 5-7 for the 2024 Texas Tribune Festival! Join us at Texas’ breakout politics and policy event as we dig into the 2024 elections, state and national politics, the state of democracy, and so much more. When tickets go on sale this spring, Tribune members will save big. Donate to join or renew today.