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McConnell Will Step Down As Senate GOP Leader In November

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Mitch McConnell, who has led the Senate for the longest period ever and survived significant upheavals within the Republican Party for nearly 20 years, will step down from his role in November.

“McConnell, who turned 82 last week, was set to announce his decision Wednesday in the well of the Senate, a place where he looked in awe from its back benches in 1985 when he arrived and where he grew increasingly comfortable in the front row seat afforded the party leaders,” the Associated Press reported.

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is knowing when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” he said in prepared remarks 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.”

“His decision punctuates a powerful ideological transition underway in the Republican Party, from Ronald Reagan’s brand of traditional conservatism and strong international alliances to the fiery, often isolationist populism of former President Donald Trump,” the AP reported.

As his Senate term expires in January 2027, McConnell stated that he intends to continue serving in the Senate, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber.”

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McConnell’s announcement about the leadership position, according to Aides, had nothing to do with his health. The senator from Kentucky suffered two episodes of facial freeze during public speeches last year, in addition to a concussion from a fall.

“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 in his prepared remarks. “A moment when I am certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe. It arrived today.”

McConnell mentioned the recent passing of his wife’s youngest sister as a catalyst for reflection, but he did not provide a clear explanation for the timing of his decision, which he has been thinking about for months.

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“The end of my contributions is closer than I’d prefer,” McConnell said. “I am unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world.”

“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. “That said, I believe more strongly than ever that America’s global leadership is essential to preserving the shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan discussed. For as long as I am drawing breath on this earth, I will defend American exceptionalism.”

Colleagues have expressed confidence in McConnell’s recovery in recent months, despite health concerns. McConnell had some additional physical limitations but was not cognitively impaired.

“I love the Senate,” he said in his prepared remarks. “It has been my life. There may have been more distinguished members of this body throughout our history, but I doubt there are any with more admiration for it.”

But he added, “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.”

There would be a time to reminisce, he said, but not today.

“I still have enough gas in the tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm to which they have become accustomed,” McConnell said.

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