Mitch McConnell to step down as Senate's GOP leader: ‘I know the politics…’ - Hindustan Times

Mitch McConnell to step down as Senate's Republican leader: ‘I know the politics within my party…’

ByShweta Kukreti
Feb 28, 2024 11:59 PM IST

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will step down as GOP leader in November. He the longest-serving Senate leader in the US history.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday announced that he will step down as GOP leader in November. The 82-year-old Kentucky lawmaker is the longest-serving Senate leader in history.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel(AP)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnel(AP)

McConnell, who has long been a towering presence in Washington, DC, made history throughout his political career.

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In 2018, he surpassed former Kansas Senator Bob Dole to become the chamber's longest-serving Republican leader.

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” McConnell said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press. “So I stand before you today ... to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”

Also Read: Mitch McConnell freezes and escorted away during press conference, bounces Back, 'I'm fine'

McConnell wants to complete his Senate term

McConnell said he intends to complete his Senate term, which expires in January 2027, but "from a different seat in the chamber." His aides cleared that McConnell's statement about the leadership position has no connection to his health. Last year, the Kentucky senator suffered a concussion after a tumble, and twice in public, his face suddenly froze while speaking.

“As I have been thinking about when I would deliver some news to the Senate, I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work,” McConnell said. “A moment when I am certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe. It arrived today.”

McConnell could not provide any specific explanation for the timing of his decision, but he did mention the recent loss of his wife's younger sister as a catalyst for introspection. "The end of my contributions is closer than I'd prefer," he admitted.

While stressing on course of his Senate career, he said: "I love the Senate. I was just happy if anybody remembered my name. It has been my life. There may be more distinguished members of this body throughout our history, but I doubt there are any with more admiration for it.”

“Father Time remains undefeated. I am no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues would remember my name. It is time for the next generation of leadership," he added.

A look at McConnell's connection with Trump and GOP

McConnel has faced immense pressure from his party's restive and sometimes hostile wing that has sided with ex-US President Donald Trump. The two leader parted their ways since December 2020, when McConnell refused to accept Trump's claim that 2020 elections were rigged.

Following this, McConnell's opponents inside the Republican party's conference had gradually become stronger. Despite resistance, notably from Trump, the senator has argued that Congress should approve a $60 billion foreign aid package for Ukraine.

“Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them,” McConnell said.

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