The collapse of a border deal in the U.S. Senate has lawmakers demanding a different approach. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott criticized his own caucus’s leadership for the situation, and may be laying groundwork for a leadership campaign.
The Naples Republican led a press conference with self-described Senate conservatives. He and other participants criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as frequently as President Joe Biden.
“McConnell decided we are not going to have something that forced a lawless administration to secure the border,” Scott said.
McConnell at a conference meeting recommended Republican Senators vote “no” Wednesday on a budget deal expected to go to the floor. That was after a majority of Senators in the caucus publicly said they opposed the deal, including both of Florida’s U.S. Senators, Scott and Marco Rubio.
In 2022, he became the first challenger to McConnell in decades. He ultimately lost a 37-10 vote. Florida Politics asked Scott’s office if he intends to challenge McConnell for the job of caucus leader, but officials said the Senator has not made any such announcement.
Asked about his last run for caucus leader, Scott at the press conference voiced some resentment that the election was held in November, rather than waiting until all Senate races in the cycle had been resolved in January.
“They rushed it, and we talked about what we wanted to do different,” he said at the press conference.
But as the border deal collapsed, Republicans in Congress took arrows from all sides.
After U.S. Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican, negotiated a deal with Senate Democrats that set thresholds for shutting down the border after 5,000 interactions in a day, former President Donald Trump criticized the deal as soft on immigration.
McConnell last month characterized that as a political move intended to leave the border to languish so Trump could run against Biden on the issue in November.
As the deal collapsed, Democrats said Republicans now own any border problems.
“Republicans in Congress cannot get anything done,” U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, told Florida Politics in a statement.
“Extreme MAGA Republicans complain about border security but refuse to act to address the issue. Republicans demanded a border fix and then walked away because they thought fixing the problem may help President Joe Biden.”
But Scott said the means of negotiation, primarily with leadership engaged but the rest of the caucus left in the dark, was the problem.
“We’re going to have to change the way this place works,” Scott said. “I’m a business guy. If I asked somebody to go to negotiate a deal for me, if they didn’t keep me informed, they’re taking a big risk the deal would not happen. That’s exactly what happened here. We had meetings. A lot of us at conference meetings, we told our position both on the border and on Ukraine, and then decisions were made completely without us.”