At the end of the 113th Congress, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) infuriated GOP leadership in the upper chamber when they delayed a vote on the cromnibus and attempted to shoot down the bill with a constitutional point of order related to the funding of President Obama’s immigration orders.
Only 22 Republicans voted for the point of order, and many senators contended that the Cruz-Lee strategy gave Democrats room to push through nominations including Obama’s controversial pick for surgeon general.
Lee denied that. “It’s always worth it when you stand behind the American people who want to make sure that these things are being voted on,” he said then. “When we have a president who engages in acts of lawlessness and behaves as if he were a government of one, it’s always worth it to stand up for the American people and get a vote on whether or not the president should’ve taken that action.”
Today, on the first day of the 114th Congress, the renegade senator joined the ranks of GOP leadership.
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appointed Lee as counsel to “offer input, guidance and advice.”
“As a member of the Senate Republican leadership team, Sen. Lee will bring invaluable insight to our conference on issues that affect American families,” McConnell said in a statement. “He is firmly committed to working on increasing jobs and improving the economy for America’s middle class, and getting the Senate back to work.”
Not only has Lee frequently defied leadership since his election in the Tea Party rout of 2010, but he ousted one of McConnell’s friends and his first counsel — Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) — to win his seat.
“Republicans have bold ideas and effective solutions to handle some of the country’s most challenging and persistent problems,” Lee said. “I am excited to have the opportunity to put these conservative policy reforms into action, move forward on a positive agenda, and begin restoring trust and transparency in government.”
Lee is one of four senators hand-picked for the role by McConnell. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) round out the quartet.
Capito, Fischer and Portman were also appointed to Majority Whip John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) team to round up the caucus on key votes. Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) is chief deputy whip.
Fischer, lauded as a “mama grizzly” by the Tea Party during her 2012 campaign, said she was “grateful” for McConnell’s invitation to join the leadership team.
“This position will give me the unique opportunity to present the concerns of Nebraskans directly to Republican Leadership at our weekly meetings and add a new perspective to our conference,” Fischer said. “I look forward to working for the people of Nebraska in this new role.”