McConnell to step down as Senate GOP leader

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28 Feb 2024, 1:18 pm

The Hill

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) is stepping down from his leadership post in November, ending his history-setting tenure as longest serving Senate party leader.

McConnell, who turned 82 this month, announced the decision in a speech on the Senate floor.
“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter. So I stand before you today … to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate,” McConnell announced on the Senate floor shortly after noon Wednesday, catching many of his colleagues by surprise.

McConnell said he plans to serve out the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2027, and will continue to work hard leading his conference through this year’s election.

“I’m not going anywhere any time soon. However, I will complete my job my colleagues have given me until we select a new leader in November and they take the helm next January,” he said.

McConnell said he began reevaluating his career plans after his sister-in-law, Angela Chao, died in a car accident earlier this month.

“When you lose a loved one, particularly at a young age, there’s a certain introspection that accompanies the grieving process. Perhaps it is God’s way of reminding you of your own life’s journey to prioritize the impact of the world that we will all inevitably leave behind,” he said, noting his recent birthday. “I turned 82 last week. The end of my contributions are closer than I’d prefer.”

“I have the honor of representing Kentucky and the Senate longer than anyone else in our state’s history. I just never could have imagined – never could have imagined that happening when I arrived here in 1984 at 42,” he said, his voice full of emotion and his eyes rimmed with red.
“I’m filled with heartfelt gratitude and humility for the opportunity,” he said.

The announcement caught some Republican senators by surprise.
Sen. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) said he saw the news flash across a television screen while he was in a meeting.

Sen. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) learned of the decision while she was waiting in the Senate Republican cloakroom and quickly stepped on the floor to witness the momentous development.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was meeting with constituents in one of the Senate office buildings when he heard The Associated Press break the news that McConnell would soon announce his retirement from leadership.

“Good. It’s time,” Hawley said, reacting to the development.

The senator praised the decision as one that would give the Senate Republican conference a fresh start after weeks of bitter infighting over a proposal to provide military aid to Ukraine and reform the nation’s border security and immigration laws.

“This is a good decision and will be a chance to start fresh,” he said.

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