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Hill Reacts to Rick Scott’s GOP Leadership Platform

Among Senator Rick Scott’s proposed reforms, the most talked about is a six-year term limit on the conference leader.

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Senator Rick Scott of Florida has thrown his hat in the ring to succeed Mitch McConnell as Senate Republican leader.

Scott joins a field of two Johns: Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the Senate GOP whip. Other candidates could soon join the race, too, such as Senator Steve Daines of Montana, who currently occupies Scott’s former position as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC).

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The Junior Senator from Florida announced his bid for GOP leader through a “Dear Colleague” letter that circulated around Capitol Hill on Wednesday. In the letter, obtained by The American Conservative, Scott claims that “the path our nation is going down is not sustainable.” Scott “cit[ed] the open border, the national debt, the precarious geopolitical situation abroad, inflation, American dependence on China, the drug overdose crisis, the insolvency of Social Security, and the presence of men in women’s sports,” Mason Letteau Stallings, reporting for TAC, wrote.

From Scott’s perspective, American decline has, in part, been brought about by poor Republican leadership. “Republicans all across America want the Republicans they elected to the U.S. Senate to stop caving in to Democrat demands,” Scott wrote. “This is not an unreasonable request or expectation.”

It’s time to “upend the status quo in Washington,” Scott claimed.

“It is not time to make small adjustments,” Scott continued. What’s needed is “a dramatic sea change to save our country.”

“I don’t think it was a big surprise, I mean he’s talked about it.... Everybody who wants to run is entitled to run,” Thune said of Scott entering the race, according to POLITICO’s Burgess Everett.

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The GOP whip added, “I suppose everybody has a chance. I’m not going to handicap his chances.”

Nevertheless, Scott has some reforms in mind. If he becomes leader, the Florida Senator proclaimed his intent to reopen the debate and amendment process while considering legislation, which McConnell has increasingly throttled over his tenure as leader. 

Scott has also proposed limiting a Senator’s tenure as GOP leader to six years. 

One of his opponents, Cornyn, has also come out in favor of term limits. “One reason I am running to be the next Republican Leader is because I believe the Senate needs more engagement from all of my colleagues, and that includes the opportunity for any Member to serve in Leadership,” the Texas senator tweeted. “I will support a conference vote to change the rules and institute term limits for the Republican Leader.”

The other John in the race, John Thune, previously said he is not “averse to having that conversation. But there are a lot of things we need to think through. I don't think we need to rush into those decisions.”

The GOP’s departing leader, the longest-serving leader in the Senate’s history, is unsurprisingly not in favor of term limits: “We have term limits now, they’re called elections,” McConnell said previously.

Senator Mike Lee of Utah told TAC, “I'm very glad that Rick Scott has pledged to observe a term limit if elected Senate GOP Leader, as has John Cornyn. I'm eager to hear if the other contenders for the position can give us a similar guarantee.”

“It’s a great development for the Senate GOP that there are multiple, competing visions for how the conference should be run,” Rachel Bovard of the Conservative Partnership Institute wrote in a text message to TAC. “Sen. Scott brings a fresh perspective on how members should be represented in leadership, and importantly, how the conference can better reflect the priorities of the voters instead of Washington DC interests.”

“I like the idea,” Vivek Ramaswamy told TAC after addressing TAC’s foreign policy conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday. “I endorsed Rick Scott as soon as I found out he was running. I think he's by far the best of the candidates running and embodies good America first principles.”

“[Scott] can do the job,” Ramaswamy asserted. “He certainly has the capabilities, but he's also got the right ideological commitment to serving voters as opposed to serving special interests and I think he is by far the best candidate. He has my support.”

“Term limiting the Leader is one of the most important reforms that can be made at the top,” Bovard continued. “Every position in Senate leadership is term limited except for the Leader. Extending that term limit will ensure the accountability of conference management, and give other members a chance to present a new vision every 6 years. Politics is dynamic, and the Senate GOP bench is deep. Why would you entrench one voice at the top for decades, particularly if they’re just intent on accumulating their own power base and ruling from the top down?”

“Term limiting the Leader democratizes conference leadership in a powerful way and deserves the support of every candidate in the race,” Bovard concluded.

Come January 2025, Scott predicts that Republicans will have “a mandate for dramatic change,” through the election of Donald Trump and the GOP taking back control of the Senate. A lot is riding on whether the Senate GOP decides to fulfill that mandate in the expanding Senate leadership race.