The pending tax overhaul may be the ultimate test of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s future as the Republican leader in the chamber. And one person who will be watching closely is Sen. David Perdue.
The Georgia Republican fired a shot across McConnell’s bow on Thursday, before sharply criticizing three of his Republican colleagues who joined with Democrats to help sink the GOP health care bill.
“The way you evaluate leadership over time is results, and that’s all I can say. If you continue to not get results then you have to evaluate it,” he said when asked about McConnell’s future and the tax bill during an interview for C-SPAN’s Newsmakers.
But Perdue reserved his harshest words for Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and John McCain of Arizona, all of whom chair Senate committees and voted against the GOP legislation to overhaul the 2010 health care law.
“You have a leadership issue, but you also have a membership issue,” Perdue said. “The Republican Party does not have as much control over chairman as the Democratic caucus does. The rules are different.”
His criticisms are not new. Shortly after the health care bill failed in dramatic fashion on the Senate floor, Perdue, referencing the trio, released a statement in which he blasted the “complete lack of Congressional leadership and … accountability to get results.”
And while he is not prepared to call for their removal from those posts, Perdue does believe that there should be consequences for bucking the party.
“We need to have more recourse,” he said.
While Perdue recognizes senators have a vow to their constituents, he said that some people “put their self-interests in front of the national interest” on the health care legislation.
“As a group, leadership of the Republican party in the Senate decided earlier this year that we would do this this way. They chose reconciliation, they chose not to go in a committee, and everyone pretty much agreed with that,” he said. “Later in the day, as we got on these bills, we saw a few chairmen go sideways.”
Asked whether he would be interested in pursuing a Senate leadership role, Perdue sidestepped the question.
“We have a leader, we have leadership,” Perdue said. “That’s my only priority, to get results for this president.”