Tea Party Groups Want McConnell, Senate GOP Leaders to Quit

Steve Bannon is eager to streamline Senate rules

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Photo: McConnell) Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Photo: McConnell)

The heads of five conservative groups sent a letter to Senate Republican leaders calling on them to step down from their posts, saying they aren’t making progress on the GOP’s agenda and haven’t worked hard enough.

Representatives of FreedomWorks, Senate Conservative Fund, Tea Party Patriots, For America and Media Research Center said Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and the four other leaders of the Senate GOP conference should step down.

“2017 has been a disappointing year for the millions of Americans who fully expected, and had every right to expect real change in Washington,” wrote the leaders of the groups, most of which are allied with the Tea Party movement. “Republicans were given full control of the federal government. They –-you -– have done nothing.”

Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Conservative Leadership Fund, said at a news conference on Wednesday that this year has been a “spectacular failure” with them in charge.

(Related: Pence Aide Calls to ‘Purge’ GOP Lawmakers Who Don’t Back Trump)

The Senate isn’t make enough progress on cutting taxes, undoing Obamacare, controlling the deficit and securing the border, said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center. “The Senate under the leadership of Mitch McConnell has done nothing to honor those promises,” Bozell said, adding that “it’s been an absolute betrayal.”

The letter chided Republican leaders for not working hard enough. “Perhaps more could be accomplished if you and the rest of your Gang of 5 leadership team would work harder, and require the rest of the Senate to do the same,” they wrote.

The move underscores a protracted intraparty war between the GOP’s pro-business “establishment” wing and a more-rebellious wing that helped elect President Donald Trump and favors smaller government and a crackdown on immigration.

Republicans have advantages in 2018’s race for control of the Senate, with Democrats defending 23 seats and the GOP only nine. The split between party leaders and conservatives threatens to undercut that edge.

Two Republican incumbents are particularly at risk: Jeff Flake of Arizona and Dean Heller of Nevada. Both are moderates who face primary opponents that are more closely embracing Trump’s agenda.

Steve Bannon, President Donald Trump’s former chief strategist, plans to back primary challengers to almost every Republican senator who runs for re-election next year in an effort to depose McConnell and streamline Senate voting procedures. He’ll support only candidates who agree to two conditions: They will vote against McConnell as majority leader, and they will vote to end senators’ ability to block legislation by filibustering.

“We are talking to many organizations, including Steve Bannon,” Bozell said Wednesday. “This is just the beginning.”

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