Sunday show round-up: Tea Party "unlikely" to challenge McConnell

Rand Paul says he hasn't heard of a McConnell challenger coming forward, plus more from the Sunday shows

By Jillian Rayfield
Published February 10, 2013 5:24PM (EST)

This week's Sunday shows were all about the looming automatic budget cuts known as the sequester, with a side note from Rand Paul on the division (or lack thereof) between the Republican establishment and the tea party. Here are the highlights:

On sequestration:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told Fox News' Chris Wallace that sequestration is "a bad idea all around" and said there should be a combination of spending cuts and closing tax loopholes to avoid it. "It is almost a false argument to say we have a spending problem. We have a budget deficit problem that we have to address," she said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he might not be opposed to new revenues in order to avoid the cuts. "We've got to avoid it, we've got to stop it," he said on "Fox News Sunday." "Would I look at some revenue closers? Maybe so. But we've already just raised taxes. Why do we have to raise taxes again?"

But House Republicans were adamant that new revenues would not happen. Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said he opposed any new revenues. "We can't be raising taxes every three months in this town," he said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Deputy Majority Whip Tom Cole, R-Okla., said on ABC News's "This Week" that there would "absolutely not" be new revenues as part of the deal: "The president accepted no spending cuts back in the ‘fiscal cliff’ deal 45 days ago, so you get no spending cuts back then, then you’re going to get no revenue now."

On the tea party:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who on Tuesday will give the Tea Party's rebuttal to Marco Rubio's rebuttal of Obama's State of the Union address, said that he doesn't think his speech will contribute to the split between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment. "To me I see it as an extra response. I don’t see it as necessarily divisive," he said on CNN's "State of the Union."

He added that he thinks it's "unlikely" that Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will have a tea party challenger in the Republican primary in 2014. "I haven't heard of any challenger coming forward," Paul said.

On Chuck Hagel:

McCain told Chris Wallace that it's "fair" to say he's leaning toward voting against Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nomination for Defense Secretary, but added that he was opposed to a filibuster of the nomination. "The fact is, we have never filibustered a cabinet appointee and [that's] why I do not believe we should filibuster his nomination."

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., threatened to hold up the confirmation of Hagel and John Brennan unless the White House provides more information about the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. “I don’t think we should allow Brennan to go forward for the CIA directorship, Hagel to be confirmed secretary of Defense until the White House gives us an accounting,” he said on CBS’s "Face the Nation."

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., meanwhile, said he thinks Hagel won't be filibustered. "I think Sen. Hagel will be confirmed," he said on "Meet the Press." "Republican senators have told me privately that they are not going to initiate the first filibuster in history on a secretary of defense nominee."

On beleaguered Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.:

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., addressed the allegations surrounding Menendez, including questions about his ties to a shady donor in Florida and accusations that he may have solicited prostitutes during a trip to the Dominican Republic.

"Sen. Menendez has give us his assurance that there is no substance in these charges," Durbin said on "Meet the Press."  "It's being looked at by the ethics committee and of course I can't comment beyond that."

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Eric Cantor Mitch Mcconnell Rand Paul Sequestration Sunday Show Roundup Tea Party