Mike Lee moves to block expansion of Senate leadership staff

Mike Lee is taking his battle with Senate leadership to new lengths.

The Utah Republican proposed an amendment to the spending bill that would dismantle the pay structure for some top staffers to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to a copy of the amendment obtained by POLITICO.

A number of top staffers for Schumer and McConnell are paid as “consultants,” and Lee’s amendment would block the use of the practice.

Lee refers to Schumer and McConnell as “The Firm” and has been railing against their work together on the Senate’s foreign aid bill, as well as its annual spending bills. He’s been calling on Republicans to block the spending bill that arrived in the Senate on Friday and took specific aim at the legislation’s potential expansion of leadership staff on Thursday.

“The 1,012-page spending bill doesn’t secure the border, but rest assured — it paves the way for Senate leadership to hire additional staff,” he posted on X.

At issue is a provision in the spending bill’s section on the legislative branch, which would expand the use of consultants on leadership staff. The Senate has paid staff through this designation for more than 20 years, with the amount of total pay gradually increasing to more than $4 million last year, according to Legistorm.

The minibus would move to align the current practice of paying a certain number of leadership staff as consultants with the law, according to a person familiar with the issue.

Lee’s amendment would stop that practice entirely. It’s unlikely to pass even if it gets a roll call vote, but nonetheless demonstrates the level of ire on the right toward Senate leaders.

Lee is also one of the most prominent opponents of McConnell as GOP leader, criticizing his leadership style and voting against him in the 2022 leadership elections. McConnell will step down as the Senate’s top Republican later this year, but the next GOP leader would likely benefit from the expansion of Senate consultants.