Congressional Republicans are headed towards summer recess in turmoil and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says it’s because Republican leaders are acting like big-spending liberals and conservatives have had enough of it.
The House of Representatives is the scene of the latest unrest, as Rep. Mark Meadows, R-NC, filed a motion to remove House Speaker John Boehner from his leadership position. Boehner says he will not allow a vote before recess.
Things are just as intense in the Senate. Last Friday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a liar on the Senate floor for allegedly insisting to GOP colleagues that there was no deal with Democrats to add an amendment to the highway funding bill that would re-authorize the Export-Import Bank. That amendment was easily approved, while McConnell refused to consider amendments to defund Planned Parenthood of withhold homeland security funds from sanctuary cities.
McConnell vows to hold a separate vote to defund Planned Parenthood and the process is being fast-tracked. Nonetheless, conservatives are fed up with what they see as a GOP leadership abandoning the conservative principles they espoused last year to win the majority.
“Mitch McConnell is now an affliction upon America as majority leader,” said Cuccinelli, who is now president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has contributed to numerous challengers to moderate or liberal incumbent Republicans.
He says the difference between the campaign rhetoric and the legislative record is as different as night and day.
“The simple measure is have they passed anything that is helpful from a conservative standpoint. Sadly, in the U.S. Senate, the answer is no,” said Cuccinelli. “You literally cannot name, here at the end of July headed into the August recess, one thing that has come out of the United States Senate that conservatives can be proud of. Not one thing.”
In denouncing the GOP leader, Sen. Cruz also asserted that a Senate run by McConnell is largely identical to the one run for eight years by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D- Nev. Many on the right have suggested that statement is an exaggeration. Cuccinelli doesn’t think so.
“If you just close your eyes and look at what’s come out of the Senate, it wouldn’t surprise you at all to learn that Harry Reid was the majority leader. If you just look at what’s coming out of the Senate, President Obama, for his ranting and raving at times, has every reason to be very happy with it all,” said Cuccinelli.
Not only does Cuccinelli see McConnell and other Republican leaders squandering the power they won in the midterm elections, but he says the past six months have greatly dispirited the base.
“When Republicans govern like big government Democrats, and they squash conservatives and they squash any sense of fiscal responsibility, Republican grassroots voters abandon them and get fed up and furious. They are destroying this party from the top of it,” said Cuccinelli.
“As you’ve seen from polling, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner together are driving Republicans’ view of Republican leadership into the dirt, face first, no hands to catch yourself,” he added.
Cuccinelli says the proof is not only in the lack of conservative accomplishments but in the backlash aimed at those who mention it. He says Cruz was never rebutted on the facts of his allegation against McConnell but was admonished for going public.
“When did telling the truth become beneath the decorum of the Senate?” he asked.
Another concerning moment for Cuccinelli centered on McConnell attaching an amendment to the highway bill to defund Obamacare. He says it quickly became clear this wasn’t a serious effort.
“Mitch McConnell said he was going to fight to pull out Obamacare root and branch. He abandoned Mike Lee’s effort to support Mitch McConnell’s own amendment to do that,” said Cuccinelli. “He became horrified when Lee figured out a way to actually get the amendment considered as opposed to just giving Mitch McConnell credit for submitting it. So then Mitch McConnell was whipping votes against his own amendment,” said Cuccinelli.
He says the conservative members are now getting hammered for trying to advance the party’s stated priorities.
“They’re beating up Ted Cruz for simply telling the truth. They’re beating up Mike Lee for actually trying to keep promises that all of them made. God forbid we do what we said we were going to do,” said Cuccinelli.