Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in an interview airing Sunday that he had no one in particular to single out when it comes to any Republican in the House who could lead the conference as it struggles to elect its next Speaker.
McConnell told CBS “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan that he hopes the House will settle the problem “pretty quickly” but wouldn’t put his backing behind any of the fresh batch of candidates that have emerged since late last week, when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) again failed to win enough voters to lead the chamber.
“Look, I’m not an expert on the House. I have my hands full here in the Senate, and we’re gonna do our job and hope the House can get functional here sometime soon,” McConnell said when asked if there was “anyone in the House who can lead the Republicans.”
In addressing other crucial vacancies, McConnell was asked about the lack of a U.S. ambassador to Israel as the country continues its offensive against the Gaza Strip following the Oct. 7 surprise attack by Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 Israelis.
The nominee for that post, Jack Lew, has faced opposition by Republicans in the Senate over his involvement in the Iran nuclear agreement during the Obama administration when Lew served as Department of Treasury secretary.
“He is a very controversial nominee because of his relationship with the Iran nuclear deal, which was opposed by everybody in my party. And by the way, I hope that flirtation with Iran is finally over with regard to the nuclear deal,” McConnell said, referring to the Biden administration’s attempt to revive the deal.
The Kentucky Republican also referred to a bill he and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) introduced to keep $6 billion in Iranian funds from being released as part of a U.S.-Iran prisoner swap negotiated by the White House earlier this year. The administration, however, has maintained that none of that money has been spent and still sits in Qatar.
“Yeah, but we’d like to make it law so that it can’t be undone,” McConnell said. “And I do think the weakness of both the Obama administration and the Biden administration is the thought that somehow we could do business with Iran on something.”