The recent months saw significant changes in the leadership of both the Republican and Democratic caucuses in the US Congress. Republican Senators Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy have both faced setbacks in their efforts to maintain complete control over their respective party’s caucus in the last weeks.
McConnell, the Republican Majority Leader, has been struggling to maintain firm control over his fellow party members in the Senate as multiple senators have recently broken off from the Republican party’s unified front against the Democrats. In the last month alone, three Republican Senators – Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Susan Collins – have taken public stances against their party’s attempts to block certain bills from passing. Additionally, several senators have refused to sign an open letter sponsored by the party leadership that listed why Democrats’ proposed bills should be blocked.
Meanwhile, Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, has had similar issues with his party. While McCarthy himself has managed to stave off criticisms over his handling of inter-party debates, several prominent members of the Republican caucus have stepped up their criticism of the leadership. Congressman Liz Cheney, for example, has been vocal about her opposition to McCarthy’s attempts to silence dissenting opinions within the Republican party.
The events of the past few months highlight just how critical it is for the party leadership to stay firmly in control of their caucus. Without a unified front, legislative action grinds to a halt, as seen with the current deadlock in Congress. If McConnell and McCarthy want to maintain control, they’ll need to take more proactive steps to ensure their party members are in line with the goals of the leadership.