McConnell Set to Step Down as Senate GOP Leader in November After Holding Position for Record Time

( – On Feb. 28, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who turned 82 on Feb. 20, announced that he will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November.

The longest-serving Senate leader in history, McConnell made his announcement from the well of the Senate with his emotions evident as he spoke about his career. He stated that he would finish serving his term, which ends in January 2027, “from a different seat in the chamber.”

In announcing his decision, McConnell added that it is time for “the next generation” to take over the Senate leadership role.

When McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984, he became the first Republican in 16 years to win a statewide race in Kentucky. Though he was the most junior Republican senator when he took his seat in the Senate, he had his sights set on running for a Senate leadership role someday. Though he lost races for lower positions in the party, he continued to aim for the leadership role, serving as the Senate Rules Committee chairman, and Senate majority whip. He was elected as party leader in 2006, going on to be re-elected as the party leader in nine straight elections, serving as the leader of the minority, and the majority.

During former President Donald Trump’s first term, McConnell confirmed 162 district court judges to the federal bench while serving as the majority leader. He also made moves that allowed the Supreme Court to have a 6-3 conservative majority. For about eight months in 2016, McConnell helped block Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing, who had been nominated to the Supreme Court by then-president Barack Obama. This allowed Trump to fill the seat in 2017 with Justice Neil Gorsuch. McConnell was also instrumental in ensuring Justice Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed to the Supreme Court just before the 2020 election.

Though McConnell gave no specific reason for his announcement, he said recent introspection has led him to realize the end of his time in the Senate is “closer than I’d prefer.” He said he loves the Senate, but “Father Time remains undefeated.”

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