Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell Stepping Down 

Mitch McConnell, Senate Republican leader, said Wednesday he would step down from his leadership role, leaving a hole at the top of the party he’s led for almost 17 years — more than any other party leader in the chamber’s history.

“I turned 82 last week. The end of my contributions is closer than I prefer,” said McConnell from the floor of the Senate. “Father Time remains undefeated. I’m no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues remember my name. It’s time for the next generation of leadership.”

The legislator’s departure will remove an essential character in negotiations with the White House and Democrats on spending deals to avert a shutdown and keep the federal government funded.

McConnell’s step back comes amid the build-up to the November presidential election, a third of the Senate, and the full House of Representatives. It will cap off the career of a legislator despised by Democrats for helping cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that has expanded gun rights and moved to end some abortion rights.

Twice last summer, Senator McConnell froze while making public remarks, raising questions about his ability to continue carrying out his high-powered job duties. The concerns weren’t alleviated by a note made public on August 31 from the congressional doctor that cleared McConnell to continue working.

With the GOP having to elect a new party leader, conservative pressure to stay strong against a moderate spending deal with Dems might weigh more heavily on the leadership election and budget negotiations.

Senator McConnell had alienated Donald Trump

Senator McConnell lashed out at Trump, who has been impeached twice, for claiming falsely that widespread fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election.

The leader of the Senate had voted to acquit Trump of having incited an insurrection but then alienated him in a speech in the Senate by claiming he was “practically and morally responsible” for the riot at the Capitol.

“American citizens attacked their own government,” said McConnell at the time. “They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on Earth — because he was angry he’d lost an election.”

Senator McConnell’s uncompromising approach to governing was displayed in early 2016 when he orchestrated the GOP’s stonewalling of President Obama’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The leader argued it was too close to the upcoming presidential election and that voters should be allowed to choose the direction of the Supreme Court by casting their votes for president.

McConnell made another move in 2020, only weeks before another presidential election. By taking the opposite approach, he pushed through then-President Donald Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the high court, solidifying a 6-3 conservative majority.

Senators John Cornyn and John Thune, the #2 Senate Republicans, were expected to jockey for the top party job. It remains unclear what other senators could jump into the race.