Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) went after Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Thursday, saying his support for a bipartisan border security deal was his “worst” mistake and “spectacularly stupid.”
McConnell initially backed a border security deal that quickly faced loud opposition from House Republicans after being endorsed by Democrats, including President Biden. McConnell then urged Senate Republicans to vote against it once it was clear it would not even be taken up in the House.
“What Senate Republican leadership was basically saying is, ‘We’re for two-thirds of Joe Biden’s open borders.’ That was really foolish,” Cruz said in a Fox Business Network interview Thursday.
“They released it Sunday night. And within 24 hours the bill was dead because Republicans understood they couldn’t support a bill that leaves the border open,” he continued.
Former President Trump has led opposition to the border deal, urging Republicans to shut it down to ensure that Biden and Democrats can’t get a political victory on the immigration issue before the 2024 election. Democrats have in turn jumped on the failure of the bill, painting Republicans as ineffective and not interested in policy.
Cruz pinned blame on McConnell, saying it’s “well past time” that the leader stepped down. He has led the Senate GOP since 2007.
“I think there have been a lot of enormous mistakes. But — but this mistake was the worst,” Cruz said.
“And throughout this battle he goes out and what he is saying is benefiting Chuck Schumer and the Democrats,” Cruz continued. “Why did Chuck Schumer do this misguided border deal? He knew that he wasn’t going to give in on anything to actually secure the border.”
“The reason he did it is Schumer wanted this to fail. Why?” he continued. “Because every single Democrat running for office, every Democrat Senate candidate, every Democrat House candidate, is now out saying, ‘Gosh, I wanted to secure the border, but the mean old Republicans wouldn’t let us.’ And that was spectacularly stupid.”
“Mitch McConnell is saying the exact same thing that Chuck Schumer is. I think that is malpractice for the leader of a party in the Senate,” Cruz added.
McConnell is the longest-serving leader in Congress, of both parties, and is facing a diminishing influence as younger senators more closely aligned with Trump gain prominence. Many of McConnell’s closest allies throughout his tenure have retired in recent years.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), who replaced the McConnell-allied Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) in 2023, also laid into McConnell on the border bill on Tuesday.
“The leadership really screwed this up,” Vance said. “I think they made a series of political arguments that were never going to actually fly. They knew, or at least should have known, that this bill was never actually going to get there.”
Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), who replaced another McConnell ally in Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), made similar comments. He argued “the language” of the bill “is actually worse than anyone could have possibly imagined, adding that the bill is a “total disaster.”
On Tuesday, McConnell dismissed the criticism from Cruz. The Senators have long fought over strategy and policy.
“I think we can all agree that Sen. Cruz is not a fan,” McConnell said.
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