Rick Scott sees retribution in Mitch McConnell decision to pull him off Senate Commerce Committee
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said Thursday that he sees Mitch McConnell’s decision to pull him from the Senate Commerce Committee as punishment for challenging the Kentucky senator’s position as GOP conference leader.
“He totally resisted me coming up with a plan,” Scott told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, referring to his “Save America” platform announced last year that would subject all elected federal officials to a 12-year term, closed the Department of Education and created a host of other initiatives. “I believe that everybody up here — this is not a Republican-Democrat issue — we all have to get our ideas out there and fight for ideas up here.”
McConnell defeated Scott in a secret leadership election in November after the midterm elections.
“He didn’t like that I opposed him because I believe we should have ideas – fight for ideas. And so, he removed me and Mike Lee from the committee,” the former Florida governor said on “CNN This Morning.”
McConnell released a to-do list of Senate Republicans on Wednesday. While Scott was removed from the Commerce committee, he serves on four other Senate panels. He said he plans to continue doing his job even though he doesn’t think McConnell’s decision “made any sense.”
“I don’t know why,” Scott told CNN.
The pair have had a long-standing conflict — over messaging, perspective and how to spend resources — that boiled over after Senate Republicans failed to regain a majority in the midterm elections.
Scott announced his decision to challenge McConnell for Senate GOP leader just weeks after the midterm elections, saying he was “not happy with the status quo and so I think we have to have an option “.
“Some feel pressured to vote for bills that are either against their core beliefs and against what they campaigned for or against the best interests of their state,” he wrote at the time in a letter to colleagues. “Some believe that funds from Republican donors are only used to help those who support the leadership. Some believe that we are not taking advantage of the opportunities presented to advance the Republican message.”
While Scott ultimately lost the bid, he was the first real opponent McConnell faced in his 15 years leading the GOP conference.
“Our job is to represent the people of the country – it’s not about winners and losers, it’s not about party stuff, but who are the best people to solve the problems of this country?” Scott said Thursday. “We have many problems, so I will continue to fight for them. I don’t know why he did it. This is life.”
Scott, who is up for a second term next year, also called on McConnell to get involved in the debt ceiling negotiations, saying, “This is not a partisan issue. We have $31.5 trillion in debt – if we don’t deal with it now, in 35, in 40, 45, 50? … We have to understand that. We need to get our fiscal house in order.”