McConnell Will Stop Being Senate GOP Leader in November After Holding Position for a Long Time

( – While Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was born in Alabama, his family moved to Kentucky when he was a boy. That’s where he grew up to become the longest-serving Senate leader ever in the Upper Chamber. McConnell started his career as an elected official back in 1977, joining the Senate seven years later. The lawmaker gained his leadership role in 2006 and has held that position ever since. But his reign heading up the GOP in the Senate is coming to an end in November.

What Happened?

On February 28, The Associated Press reported that the seasoned politician announced he would not seek Senate leadership after the next election, but would hand the baton to someone else. The 82-year-old made his declaration in the chamber in front of his colleagues and the nation. He said he knew it was “time to move on” from his position, but confirmed he would serve out his term through January 2027.

His fellow senators reportedly seemed surprised by the news, as he reminisced about his long career in the chamber during the announcement. The AP described him as emotional as he gave his speech, blotting tears as he spoke. Colleagues from both sides of the aisle filtered down to the floor to shake his hand and give him hugs following his speech.

While the minority leader has had some health scares lately and some concerning glitches that happened in front of the world, his aides said his decision was not health-related. Explaining his departure, McConnell said he “always imagined” he would have a moment of “clarity and peace about the sunset of [his] work” in the Senate. The lawmaker said that moment “arrived” that day. Although he’s stepping out of leadership, McConnell said he will “defend American exceptionalism” until his last breath.

Reactions and Replacements

The AP reported that President Joe Biden reacted to the news, stating the pair have a “great relationship,” although they “fight like hell.” Still, the president said McConnell was always honest with him about issues, “never misrepresent[ing] anything.” Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) commended the minority leader for “stepping forward” even when it was an “unpopular” thing to do.

While GOP members in the Senate will ultimately decide who that will be, Axios named three possibilities. The news source said the leading contenders were likely Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and Republican Caucus Chair John Barrasso (R-WY). McConnell didn’t name a preference during his announcement, stating he trusted his Republican colleagues would pick the right person for the job.

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