06:46 - Source: CNN
McConnell speaks after 'skinny repeal' fails

Story highlights

"He's got a job to do, and if he can't do it, as 'the Apprentice' would say, 'You're fired,'" Brooks said

Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined with Democrats to oppose the measure

CNN  — 

If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can’t shepherd President Donald Trump’s agenda through the Senate, he should be replaced, Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Alabama, said Friday.

“You think the problem is leadership? You think it’s time for a change for Republicans in the Senate?” CNN’s Chris Cuomo asked Brooks on “New Day.”

“Unquestionably, the leadership at the top is responsible,” the Alabama congressman and US Senate candidate replied. “The buck stops there. That’s why you take on that kind of responsibility.”

The Senate dealt a devastating setback to Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, defeating a GOP “skinny repeal” bill early Friday morning.

Sens. John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins joined with Democrats to oppose the measure, which was a major blow to the White House and the Republican congressional agenda.

“If Mitch McConnell cannot get the job done on this, how is he going to get the job done on the rest of President Trump’s agenda over the next three and a half years?” Brooks asked.

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After the bill failed, a defeated McConnell turned to his caucus to admonish his GOP colleagues who voted no.

“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” McConnell said, his voice cracking. “We told our constituents we would vote that way. When the moment came, most of us did. We kept our commitments.”

The Kentucky lawmaker added: “It’s time to move on.”

“It’s not necessarily anything bad about Mitch McConnell himself personally, but he’s got a job to do, and if he can’t do it, as ‘The Apprentice’ would say, ‘You’re fired,’” Brooks added. “Get somebody who can.”

Brooks’ comments echo remarks he made earlier this week at an event hosted by the Heritage Foundation.

The congressman is currently challenging the appointed incumbent holding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat, Sen. Luther Strange, and his comments indicate a further effort to pull the race to the right and oppose McConnell, who has poured money into supporting the Strange campaign through a closely aligned super PAC.

The Republican primary for the seat has become a proxy battle over the direction of the GOP. Brooks is one of three strong contenders for the nomination, including Strange and former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. The campaigns believe the three candidates are the likely top vote-getters in the primary, which will advance to a top-two runoff if no single candidate emerges with more than 50% of the vote.

The primary is August 15 and a runoff would be September 26.

CNN’s Tal Kopan contibuted to this story.