McConnell To Step Down As Senate Republican Leader
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, center, during a news conference following the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.
(Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Wednesday that he will step down as the top Senate Republican in the coming months.

McConnell, who recently turned 82, is the Senate’s longest-serving party leader with 16 years under his belt. He indicated in remarks on the Senate floor that he plans to stick for the remainder of his term as senator, albeit not as the GOP leader.

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” McConnell said. “So I stand before you today … to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”

McConnell said he will stay on as leader for the time being as his colleagues pick a new leader in November and that person will take on the role in January. “It’s time for the next generation of leadership,” he added.

Last year, McConnell was briefly hospitalized with a concussion in March after falling at a hotel in Washington, D.C., and in the months that followed he appeared to momentarily freeze and struggle to answer questions while speaking to the press.

Amid a torrent of speculation about McConnell’s condition and future in Congress, the Kentucky Republican declared in September that he intended to finish his term as leader and finish his Senate term.

McConnell’s current term ends in January 2027.

On Wednesday, McConnell reiterated his plan not to retire from the Senate early, saying, “I still have enough gas in my tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm with which they’ve become accustomed.”


The announcement comes as McConnell faced blowback from some GOP colleagues over his support of a border deal that failed to pass after months of bipartisan negotiations.

McConnell won the last GOP leadership race in November of 2022, prevailing over a challenge by Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL).

It was not immediately clear which GOP lawmakers will run in this year’s leadership race, but Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) are seen as contenders.

Unlike other Senate Republican leaders, McConnell has not endorsed former President Donald Trump or any other GOP candidates running for the White House in 2024.

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