Temperatures calm in House as tension between McConnell and Scott emerges before Senate GOP election

Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott was disinvited to Tuesday's Senate Republican leadership press conference after announcing that he planned to challenge Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell for Senate GOP leader

Updated: November 16, 2022 - 12:26am

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As temperatures calmed in the House after a GOP leadership election in that chamber, controversy was simmering among the Senate Republican leadership. 

Florida GOP Sen. Rick Scott was "un-invited" to Tuesday's Senate Republican leadership press conference after announcing that he planned to challenge Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, according to Scott's office.

Scott, a member of the Senate GOP leadership team as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, typically appears at the weekly news conference with McConnell and other GOP leaders.

"He was un-invited to today's presser," a spokesperson for Scott told Just the News.

McConnell's team informed Scott that he didn't have accommodations ahead of the news conference.

“Sen. Scott was planning to attend the leadership stakeout. After his announcement, McConnell’s team said he ‘couldn’t be accommodated,’” said McKinley Lewis, Scott’s communications director.

McConnell's office didn't respond to a request for comment.

The Kentucky Republican said he welcomed the challenge from Scott during the news conference

“I don’t own this job. Anybody in the conference is certainly entitled to challenge me," McConnell said. "And I welcome the contest.”

He then predicted he would have the votes to win the election, which is scheduled for Wednesday. Some GOP senators have said it should be delayed until after Georgia's U.S. Senate runoff election. As of Tuesday evening, the election was still planned for Wednesday. 

On the House side, McCarthy beat back a challenge for the House speaker nomination from Arizona GOP Rep. Andy Biggs, the former chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus have been calling for a series of changes to the rules that the House GOP conference will follow as the majority party in the 118th Congress. 

Many conservatives were calling for the election to be delayed given that control of the House had not been officially determined yet. The election took place on Tuesday and McCarthy won 188-31. The final rules package will be adopted at a future meeting.

Biggs' office told Just the News that conservatives are now in a stronger position to get their desired rules changes adopted.

"No leverage was lost at all today. Congressman Biggs secured 31 votes meaning Minority Leader McCarthy still doesn’t have the votes to become the next speaker. McCarthy will have to make a number of concessions—starting by implementing the rules changes sought by the House Freedom Caucus—for any legitimate chance of gaining speakership," said a spokesman for Biggs.

Kentucky Republican Rep. James Comer, the likely chairman of the House Oversight Committee in the next conference, told Just the News he is seeking unilateral subpoena authority for his planned investigations into Hunter Biden's business dealings and other matters.

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