Rick Scott sees retribution in McConnell decision to pull him off Senate Commerce Committee
By Shawna Mizelle
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said Thursday that he sees Mitch McConnell’s decision to pull him off the Senate Commerce Committee as retribution for challenging the Kentucky senator’s position as leader of the GOP conference.
“He completely opposed me putting out a plan,” Scott said to CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, referencing his “Rescue America” platform announced last year that would have subjected all federally elected officials to a 12-year term limit, closed the Department of Education and created a slew of other initiatives. “I believe that everybody up here — this is not a Republican-Democrat issue — we all ought to be putting out our ideas and fight over ideas up here.”
McConnell defeated Scott in a secret-ballot leadership election in November following the midterm elections.
“He didn’t like that I opposed him because I believe we have to have ideas — fight over ideas. And so, he took Mike Lee and I off the committee,” the former Florida governor said on “CNN This Morning.”
McConnell released a list Wednesday of Senate Republicans’ assignments. While Scott was removed from the Commerce committee, he serves on four other Senate panels. He said he plans to keep doing his job although he doesn’t think McConnell’s decision “made any sense.”
“I don’t know why,” Scott told CNN.
The pair have had a long-simmering conflict — over messaging, outlook and how to spend resources — that boiled over after Senate Republicans failed to win back the majority in the midterms.
Scott announced his decision to challenge McConnell for the Senate GOP leader post just weeks after the midterm elections, saying he was “not satisfied with the status quo and so I think we ought to have an option.”
“Some feel pressured to vote for bills that are either against their core beliefs and what they campaigned on or against the best interests of their state,” he wrote at the time in a letter to colleagues. “Some believe Republican donor funds are only used to help those who support leadership. Some believe we don’t take advantage of the opportunities presented to move the Republican message forward.”
While Scott ultimately lost the bid, he was the first real opponent McConnell had faced in his 15 years leading the GOP conference.
“Our job is to represent the people of the country– this is not about winners and losers, it’s not about partisan stuff, this is about who are the best people to solve the problems of this country?” Scott said on Thursday. “We have a lot of problems, so I’m going to keep fighting for them. I don’t know why he did it. That’s life.”
Scott, who is up for a second term next year, also called on McConnell to get involved in negotiations over the debt ceiling, saying, “This is not a partisan issue. We have $31.5 trillion worth of debt — if we don’t address it now, at 35, at 40, 45, 50? … We have got to figure this out. We have got to get our fiscal house in order.”
™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.
CNN’s Donald Judd contributed to this report.