Mitch McConnell to step down as Republican Senate leader this fall

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday in a speech on the Senate floor that he will step down as Republican leader in November. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 3 | Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Wednesday in a speech on the Senate floor that he will step down as Republican leader in November. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Wednesday he's stepping down as Republican leader in November.

"One of life's most underappreciated talents is to know when it's time to move on to life's next chapter," McConnell said from the Senate floor. "This will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate."


McConnell, 82, added that he still has "enough gas in my tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics, and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm with which they have become accustomed."

McConnell has served as Senate Republican leader since 2007.

He said his family is mourning the loss of Angela Chou, his wife's sister.

"We tragically lost Elaine's youngest sister, Angela, a few weeks ago. When you lose a loved one, particularly at a young age, there is a certain introspection that accompanies the grieving process," McConnell said. "Perhaps it is God's way of reminding you of your own life's journey to reprioritize the impact on the world that we will all inevitably leave behind."


McConnell is Kentucky's longest-serving U.S. senator. He cited his age as a factor in the decision to step down from his leadership role. McConnell became the longest-serving Senate party leader in 2023.

Even though he led the effort to acquit former President Donald Trump in both impeachments, McConnell broke with the former president after the pro-Trump mob's violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, 2021.

Despite his belief that Trump was morally responsible for the insurrection, McConnell still refused to vote to convict him, which would have barred Trump from ever again becoming president.

McConnell used his leadership position in the U.S. Senate in 2016 to block then-President Barrack Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

McConnell refused to hold a nomination hearing for Garland, who remained Obama's nominee for 293 days. He moved quickly on nomination hearings for conservative justices nominated by Trump.

On Wednesday after McConnell's announcement, President Joe Biden praised the working relationship he said he shared with McConnell.

"American Democracy is based on elected representatives coming together and bridging their different points of view to find common ground on behalf of the American people," Biden said in a statement from the White House. "I'm proud that my friend Mitch McConnell and I have been able to do that for many years, working together in good faith even though we have many political disagreements."


After his speech Wednesday, McConnell got a standing ovation from senators.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., shook McConnell's hand after the speech, as did other senators of both political parties.

McConnell downplayed obvious health issues he was having in October 2023, including freezing up and being unable to speak while addressing reporters on Capitol Hill. Afterward, he said he had recovered and was getting back to work as normal.

Earlier in March he suffered a concussion after a fall at a hotel in Washington, D.C.

In his floor speech on Wednesday, McConnell said he will remain in his current post until Republicans select a new leader, who will take on the role in 2025.

"Father time remains undefeated. I'm no longer the young man sitting in the back hoping colleagues would remember my name," McConnell said. "It's time for the next generation of leadership."

Latest Headlines