Lee Won’t Challenge Barrasso for Leadership Post

Sen. Mike Lee’s bid for the chairmanship of the Senate Republican Policy Committee hits a snag after leaders insist that Sen. John Barrasso can keep the job for another two years.

Reports The Washington Post (see also related Politico story):

Lee doesn’t plan to fight Barrasso — who he believes is term-limited from seeking another stint in that post — directly for the job. That means his only option is to challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to a battle over party rules and risk spoiling any goodwill he might need.


Despite Lee’s argument to the contrary, McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that the rules are clear and that Barrasso can serve in his current role through the end of 2018.


“I think I can safely say it’s been the position of the conference that a partial term does not count toward the three-term limit,” McConnell said. “There are several precedents.”


Lee spokesman Conn Carroll said Tuesday that while Lee believes the rules clearly state that Barrasso’s time is up, “Sen. Lee is not intending to run against him.”


Carroll said that Senate GOP rules state that party leaders may only serve for six years and that each of three two-year terms expire at the end of a Congress. By those calculations, Barrasso, who was elected to a partial term in 2012 after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) stepped down from leadership, should vacate his chairmanship and allow another senator to run the policy shop.


Barrasso joined McConnell and other GOP leaders at a weekly press conference Tuesday but did not address Lee’s leadership hopes.