It’s no secret that Mitch McConnell has been distancing himself from the MAGA wing of the Republican Party for some time, particularly as the 2022 midterms loom just over the political horizon.
McConnell, who supported President Trump publicly while in office, has taken a turn toward the center during this Biden administration, and it has him at odds with some other major players within the GOP.
This week, as the Senate Minority Leader visited Ukraine, the MAGA Movement was stewing back in Washington.
The Senate minority leader’s secret visit to Kyiv this weekend to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, along with McConnell’s staunch advocacy for the $40 billion Ukraine aid bill in Congress, is putting him at odds with his party’s non-interventionist wing. A growing number of GOP lawmakers, candidates and former President Donald Trump are hitting the effort to send billions to Ukraine as misguided given domestic problems at home.
Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate Kathy Barnette challenged McConnell directly: “Why is Leader McConnell visiting Ukraine in the midst of the various crises right here in America?” But McConnell is unbowed.
Another Republican row was evident as well.
McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer made a rare joint request for a quick vote on the $40 billion aid legislation on Thursday, but [Republican Senator Rand] Paul said no, pushing the legislation into this week. McConnell addressed his disagreement with Paul, whose blockade prevented McConnell from traveling to Ukraine with a fresh congressional victory in hand.Advertisement - story continues below
“Well, it’s no secret. Rand and I have a different world view of the importance of Americans’ role around the world. So that was not surprising. And it won’t create a problem. We’ll get the job done by Wednesday,” McConnell said. He was accompanied on his trip by Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).
McConnell was unfazed, however, and the friction between he and the far right could continue to build well into the heart of the midterm contest.