- Mike Lee Seeks Senate GOP Leadership
- May 10, 2016
- Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
- This week, Tea Party leaning Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), who has made a name for himself bucking leadership in the Senate, announced that he would run for Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman. This leadership slot is currently being occupied by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) who has said he is planning on running for re-election.
Leadership elections are generally held a few weeks after the November elections.
Policy Committee Chair is the number four spot in GOP leadership in the Senate and Barrasso is expected to have the support of the majority of the caucus. Lee, however, believes that he won’t have to beat Barrasso. Lee believes Barrasso is ineligible to run for another term.
Senators in Republican leadership are currently limited to serving three terms. Barrasso served one partial term and is in the middle of his second full term. Lee believes the partial term counts - this is not a position shared by most of his GOP colleagues.
If Lee’s understanding of the rule was accepted, it would mean that not only would Barrasso be ineligible to run for re-election, it would also mean that Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Conference Vice Chairman Roy Blunt (R-MO) would also be ineligible to run for another term.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unequivocal about his understanding of the rule. McConnell said, “If the term limit kicked in at that point you’d have the absurd position at the end of the term limit that you would be in the middle of a Congress, changing, having elections and changing leadership, and changing staff, and all the rest-. We’ve had this issue a couple times in the past, and so I think I can safely say it’s been the position of the conference that a partial term does not count toward a three-term limit.”
Barrasso was elected as the Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) stepped down from Senate GOP leadership in January 2012.