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‘The final straw’: Republican senators TURN on Leader Mitch McConnell over $1.7T bipartisan spending bill, saying GOP ‘got our you-know-whats handed to us’ by passing omnibus

  • GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin made comments on the conservative NYC talk radio show ‘Cats Roundtable’ on Christmas Day
  • All Democrats and 18 Senate Republicans voted to pass the spending deal
  • Johnson and Lee were among GOP who wanted talks pushed back to January
  • At that point, Republicans would control the House of Representatives 

A pair of Republican senators loudly denounced GOP Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday after he helped shepherd through a $1.7 trillion ‘omnibus’ spending bill to keep the government funded through September 2023.

Eighteen Senate Republicans voted with Democrats to pass the funding package, which includes fiscal victories for both parties. Many on the right who voted for it made clear that it was not the fiscal agenda they preferred but believed it was necessary to keep the military and other critical aspects of the government running smoothly.

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But federal spending priority talks have divided the GOP. Many on the right having opposed working with Democrats on where the government spends dollars next year.   

Speaking to Cats Roundtable on WABC on Sunday, GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin criticized McConnell for not waiting until early next year – when Republicans control the House of Representatives – to discuss long term spending.

Lee warned that McConnell approving the bipartisan funding talks was ‘the final straw’ and called for ‘different’ circumstances in the new Congress.

Johnson, meanwhile, claimed Republicans ‘got our you-know-whats handed to us’ with the final omnibus despite McConnell championing its foreign policy deliverables as GOP victories. 

‘Our leadership turned on Republican voters, turned on the Republican base, turned on most Republican senators,’ Lee told radio host John Catsimatidis.

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (seen showing off his University of Louisville sweater on the way to the Senate floor on December 22) has been fielding pushback from conservatives within his conference over the bipartisan spending deal

Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (seen showing off his University of Louisville sweater on the way to the Senate floor on December 22) has been fielding pushback from conservatives within his conference over the bipartisan spending deal

‘It’s happened before, but this is one too many times. For me, this is a final straw.’

He added, ‘Things are gonna have to be very, very different when we come back next year.’

Lee saved particular ire for fellow GOP senators who did not vote for his amendment to the omnibus that would have extended the Title 42 border expulsion policy, or risk defunding the Department of Homeland Security.

‘This is yet another example of how badly those Republicans who voted for this thing botched it. They killed our last chance to save the border,’ the Utah conservative said.

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‘Something is terribly wrong with the direction taken by Senate Republican leadership here. There will have to be consequences.’

Johnson called the $1.7 trillion deal ‘grotesque’ and an ‘abomination.’

Utah Senator Mike Lee's amendment to the omnibus that would have ended the Title 42 expulsion policy failed

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson called the spending package 'grotesque'

Utah Senator Mike Lee (left) and Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson (right) have been among the most vocal opponents of the omnibus bill

‘We should have allowed the House to come in the next Congress with the Republican majority we had’ before negotiating a spending deal, the Wisconsin Republican said.

He claimed it was ‘arrogance’ that made McConnell and wider GOP leadership ignore House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy’s calls to delay spending bill talks until his expected Speakership next year.

‘They said we know we know better than the House members, we’re going to pass this and take this off your plate,’ Johnson said.

‘I’m not buying it. And fortunately, our our supporters aren’t going to buy it either.’

McConnell said of the bill earlier this month, ‘This is an impressive outcome for the Republican negotiators, and more importantly, it is the outcome that our country needs.’

‘To keep helping Ukraine and our other friends; to keep out-innovating and outcompeting Russia and China; and to keep our brave men and women in uniform equipped with the best training, tools, and technologies the world has ever seen,’ he said.

The bill includes more defense spending than President Joe Biden had originally requested – including $45 billion in aid to Ukraine in defending itself against Russia’s invasion. 

But on Sunday, Johnson compared GOP celebrations over the omnibus’ defense dollars to ‘a football team that just lost the game 60 to zero, and they kick a field goal in the waning seconds, and say the field goal was a big win.’

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‘We just got our you-know-whats handed to us,’ Johnson said.

‘Over the last couple of years, Democrats got trillions of dollars of spending. Now there’s no doubt about it – their excess partisan spending sparked inflation. Republicans aren’t helping matters by voting for more deficit spending.’

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