Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is facing resistance from conservative members of the Senate due to his opposition to the House Republicans’ emergency aid bill for Israel.
Several GOP senators believe that McConnell’s actions are undermining newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson by pushing for a broader Israel-Ukraine package that aligns more closely with what Democrats want.
“I think our role, as Republicans in the Senate, should be to support the new speaker — not undermine him,” said Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin. “What McConnell is doing is undermining the new speaker.”
Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming, stressed the importance of supporting the House effort given the recent chaotic process to choose a new speaker after the removal of Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
“It finally breaks the logjam around here and gets the process functioning again. It’s not an either-or choice,” Ms. Lummis said regarding the emergency aid for Israel and Ukraine. “We can have them both. Why not get one across the finish line, take the win, and then we can start working on Ukraine?”
President Biden has requested $106 billion for Ukraine, Israel, the Indo-Pacific, and the U.S. border, which Mr. McConnell agrees should be addressed in a comprehensive supplemental aid package.
House Republicans, however, want to handle each issue separately with single-subject bills, setting up a clash between Mr. Johnson, Mr. McConnell, and the Democrats. The House plans to pass a $14.3 billion standalone measure for Israel this week, offsetting the spending with IRS cuts.
Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has dismissed the Israel proposal as “insulting” and declared it dead on arrival.
Mr. McConnell defended his decision to diverge from his House GOP counterpart, stating, “Conceptually, Sen. Schumer and I are in the same place in the sense that we view all of these problems as connected.”
“I’m just speaking for myself. I think we need to address all four of those areas in a credible way,” Mr. McConnell said. “That’s an opinion many people have. It’s not surprising, but to make a law, you have to pass both bodies and be signed by the president.”
This more outspoken approach by McConnell is a departure from his hands-off strategy during debt-ceiling negotiations earlier this year, in which he aimed to avoid a default alongside Mr. McCarthy and President Biden.
Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, suggested that McConnell is out of touch with the GOP base and is “cutting his legs out from under” Mr. Johnson while siding with the Democrats.
“His opinion is disconnected from the conservative electorate of Kentucky and from the conservative electorate in the Republican Party,” Mr. Paul said.
McConnell’s top deputies also pushed back against the House speaker’s approach, emphasizing that Democrats still have work to do on stricter immigration policies if they hope to strike a bipartisan deal to address the rush of migrants at the southern border.
Mr. Biden’s proposed package primarily focuses on processing immigrants who are already in the country illegally instead of deterring them from entering with policy changes. It includes funding to hire more Border Patrol agents and immigration judges, as well as to accommodate more migrants awaiting deportation hearings.