A group of conservative U.S. senators appear determined to influence how the chamber's Republican conference performs in the next Congress.
About a half-dozen senators, several of whom last month publicly opposed reelecting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., as their conference's leader, have been meeting on a regular basis to strategize future battles worth picking, Politico reported Wednesday.
"Somebody's called it the Breakfast Club," said Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., one of the participating senators, Politico reported.
"It's mostly folks that are concerned about a broken process here that has no participation and no transparency. And it's politically fraught, because it hasn't been working for us with our performance in recent elections."
The conservative senators previously met sporadically for years on certain issues, though they've not been as organized as the House Freedom Caucus.
"We're getting together more frequently," Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Politico reported."We feel like there are some things that conservatives want throughout the country."
The group plans a Wednesday press conference pressing colleagues to reject a leadership-negotiated spending bill. Four GOP senators last week sent McConnell a letter reiterating the need for a short-term continuing resolution that only covers funding the federal government through early January.
Politico reported that the group is prepared to call a special conference meeting next week to begin a larger discussion within the GOP conference. Outlet sources said the conservatives seek a formal legislative agenda, and want to extract more concessions from Democrats.
"Democrats have done a pretty good job of picking issues that motivate their base and that have wider support among the public," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who voted against McConnell last month, Politico reported.
"We need to be doing the same thing. I think a lot of people in the Republican Party don't see us doing it as emphatically as Democrats."
Besides Braun, Paul, and Graham, group members include Sens. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Mike Lee, R-Utah, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rick Scott R-Fla. Scott last month unsuccessfully challenged McConnell for the GOP leadership position.
Although Senate Republicans will be in the minority for at least the next two years, the legislative filibuster remains intact. That, combined with individual senators able to influence the chamber schedule, makes conservatives motivated to stick together to "wield significant sway," Politico said.
The group could demand amendment votes and pressure leaders for concessions.
McConnell "might be" mad about the group's efforts, Johnson said, Politico reported. "I don't care."
"We hope to make an impact. We may have already had our first impact," said Johnson, referring to negotiations to peel back military vaccine mandates. "We'll take our little wins."
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