Longest-running Republican leader Mitch McConnell to step down

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky. walks to a Republican luncheon, after announcing that he will step down as Senate Republican leader in November, on Capitol Hill i
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell R-Ky. walks to a Republican luncheon, after announcing that he will step down as Senate Republican leader in November, on Capitol Hill i Copyright Jose Luis Magana/AP
By Euronews with AP
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McConnell's departure leaves the Senate, and the Republican Party itself, at an uncertain crossroads,

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Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving Senate leader in history, will step down from that position in November.

McConnell, who turned 82 last week, announced his decision on Wednesday in the well of the Senate, where he maintained his power in the face of dramatic convulsions in the Republican Party for almost two decades. 

Arriving at its back benches in 1985, he grew increasingly comfortable in the front-row seat afforded the party leaders.

One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter
Mitch McConnell
US Senate Minority Leader

“So I stand before you today... to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate,” he said.

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.

McConnell said he plans to serve out his Senate term, which ends in January 2027, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber.” 

Aides said McConnell’s announcement about the leadership post was unrelated to his health.

The Kentucky senator had a concussion from a fall last year and two public episodes where his face briefly froze while he was speaking.

McConnell gave no specific reason for the timing of his decision, which he has been contemplating for months. 

However, he cited the recent death of his wife's youngest sister as a moment that prompted introspection.

McConnell endorsed Reagan’s view of America’s role in the world and the senator has persisted in face of opposition, including from Trump, that Congress should include a foreign assistance package that includes $60 billion for Ukraine.

Against long odds, he managed to secure 22 Republican votes for the package now being considered by the House.

Trump has pulled the party hard to the ideological right, questioning long-time military alliances such as NATO, international trade agreements and pushing for a severe crackdown on immigration, all the while clinging to the falsehood that the election was stolen from him in 2020.

McConnell and Trump had worked together in Trump’s first term, remaking the Supreme Court and the federal judiciary in a far more conservative image, and on tax legislation. 

But there was also friction from the start, with Trump frequently sniping at the senator.

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