Sen. Mike Lee booted from powerful Senate Commerce Committee

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who was also removed from the panel, claimed the move was retaliation for his challenge to Sen. Mitch McConnell for Senate leadership.

(Mariam Zuhaib | AP) Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, center, Senator Rick Scott, R-Fla., right, and Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., left, speak during a news conference on spending, Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lee has been removed from his seat on the powerful Senate Commerce Committee.

Sen. Mike Lee was unceremoniously dumped from his spot on the powerful Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, seemingly for his support of Florida Sen. Rick Scott over Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell to be the Republican leader.

McConnell pulled Lee and Scott off the committee on Wednesday night. Scott told Fox News he believed his removal was retaliation for his challenge to McConnell.

“This is what happens when you challenge leadership,” Scott said in a statement to the New York Post.

Lee strongly supported Scott’s unsuccessful bid to oust McConnell last year — and even gave one of the speeches nominating Scott.

Lee’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The Utah politician acknowledged he was removed from the committee on his “BasedMikeLee” Twitter account but did not give a reason why only posting “Mitch happens” followed by the “nail polish” emoji.

Lee later added, “He (McConnell) has unreviewable discretion to make certain committee assignments. This was one of those.”

Lee and Scott were the only Republican senators who lost committee assignments. Republicans had their numbers on committees reduced after Democrats won a clear majority in the 2022 election. Committee representation is reflective of Senate partisanship.

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During his reelection bid last year, Lee claimed that independent challenger Evan McMullin would not be assigned to any committees by refusing to caucus with Republicans or Democrats.

Lee’s remaining committee assignments include the Joint Economic Committee, the Judiciary Committee, the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Special Committee on Aging.

The Senate Commerce Committee has broad authority to review legislation regulating consumer products and services, transportation, communications and technology.