The Latest on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)
(all times local):10:40 p.m.
Republicans are outraged by Rep. Steve Scalise’s sudden resignation from Congress, slamming him for his “cowardly” decision to take his own life, according to a letter sent Wednesday by members of the House GOP conference.
In a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R.W.), Rep. Sean Duffy (R.-Wis.) and Rep. Chris Collins (R., N.Y.), the letter said Scalise, a member of the Republican Study Committee, took his own lives after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in late January.
They called for Ryan to step down immediately, citing Scalise “sickened” by the comments and his refusal to take responsibility for them.
“It is sickening that Speaker Ryan would have any sort of grudge against this cancer patient who he clearly believes to be so ill,” the letter states.
“This man is a disgrace to the House Republicans for his cowardly and heartless actions.
It is clear that he did not want to see anyone hurt, but he chose to take this path.
This sickening and disgusting behavior is absolutely disgusting.
I hope this disgusting and disgusting conduct is not what we see from Speaker Ryan in the future.”
The letter comes as Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell, who had been expected to take the reins of leadership in the GOP after Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), said Thursday that the majority leader will step down from the gavel as the party moves toward a conference meeting on a new healthcare bill.
But the letter also says that while Republicans want Ryan to resign, they have no plans to do so.
“As Speaker, we are deeply disappointed to learn of the passing of Congressman Steve Scalis, the longest-serving Republican leader in our history,” the lawmakers write.
“The Senate will work closely with House Republicans to come up with a plan that will allow Speaker Ryan to lead the party in the coming weeks and months.
The best way forward for Speaker Ryan is to step aside, and we hope that President Trump will do the same.””
We will continue to support Speaker Ryan, the Speaker of the Senate, and the House Republican Conference and stand with them to ensure that no member of Congress or officeholder ever has to experience this kind of pain,” the four lawmakers add.
McConnell, who is currently in the midst of his first six months in the Senate as a member, was asked on the Senate floor Thursday if he planned to resign when he returns from his first term in the chamber, but did not answer directly.
Instead, he took a shot at Ryan, saying, “I don’t know what that means.
I think it’s sickens me to hear people talk about this.”
He added later: “I have a lot of respect for him, and I think the way he handled this, I think he’s handled it extremely well.”
“I am not sure what that was about,” he said.
“I know that I know he is a very good friend of mine.
I’m not sure.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.