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28 Feb, 2024 18:30

US Senate Republican leader says he will retire

Mitch McConnell of Kentucky intends to remain in his seat through 2027, however
US Senate Republican leader says he will retire

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the longest-serving Senate leader in US history, announced on Wednesday he will step down from his leadership position in November.

McConnell first became senator in 1985. He was elected to lead his party’s faction in 2006 and has been in the position ever since.

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” the 82-year-old said in a speech on the Senate floor. “So I stand before you today ... to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”

McConnell did not offer a specific reason for the announcement, but said the recent death of his wife’s youngest sister prompted him to reflect.

“Father Time remains undefeated. I am no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues would remember my name. It is time for the next generation of leadership,” he said. 

“I still have enough gas in the tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm which they have become accustomed,” McConnell added, noting he intends to remain in the Senate until the end of his current mandate.

I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them.

McConnell has spent the past four years propping up the establishment faction of the Republican party and working against former President Donald Trump, who seeks to challenge the incumbent President Joe Biden in the November election. In his speech, the Kentucky senator insisted that his support for funding Ukraine and other foreign aid was the right thing to do.

“I am unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world,” McConnell said. “That said, I believe more strongly than ever that America’s global leadership is essential to preserving the shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan discussed. For as long as I am drawing breath on this earth I will defend American exceptionalism.”

A Monmouth poll in December 2023 showed his approval rating at 6%, with 60% of Americans disapproving of his policies and positions.

The senator’s aides told AP that his partial retirement is unrelated to any health concerns. McConnell had several bad falls over the course of last year, the worst of which resulted in a concussion and a fractured rib. He has since struggled to answer reporters’ questions on multiple occasions. The worst incident happened last August, when McConnell froze mid-sentence during a press conference in Kentucky. Video from the event showed McConnell’s eyes rolling up and his mouth hanging open for a moment, prompting speculation of a partial seizure or a stroke.