The tension between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rick Scott has been palpable for months. After Scott tried to challenge McConnell for the Senate GOP leader role and failed, it seemed that the animosity between the two had reached a fever pitch. However, this week we’ve seen McConnell deliver a subtle yet effective blow to Scott, which brings the feud to a whole new level.
The animosity between McConnell and Scott began last year when Scott ran against McConnell for Senate GOP leader. Despite Scott’s efforts, McConnell won with relative ease. This wasn’t enough for Scott, who then formed the so-called “Breakfast Club” to apply even more far-right pressure on McConnell.
This week, NBC News reported that Scott had lost his seat on the Senate Commerce Committee, and Scott himself blamed McConnell for the decision. When asked if he thought the move was retaliatory, Scott didn’t deny it.
It’s worth noting that Scott wasn’t the only one removed from the Commerce Committee—Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson and Utah’s Mike Lee received the same news this week. However, while Johnson was moved to the Senate Finance Committee and Lee was added to the Senate Budget Committee, Scott wasn’t given another slot.
This move from McConnell is a reminder that, though the circumstances on Capitol Hill have changed, senators are still hesitant to pick fights with Senate party leaders for fear of reprisal. Scott, however, picked a months-long fight with McConnell knowing that there wasn’t much the longtime incumbent could do to him—until now.
It’s clear that McConnell has exacted a small amount of revenge by removing Scott from the Senate Commerce Committee. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to another round of hostilities between the two senators or if they will be able to move past this latest feud.