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Mitch McConnell Announces Plan to Step Down as Republican Senate Leader

Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell announced his plan to step down as Senate Republican leader in November, delivering remarks before his colleagues on Wednesday, February 28.

Addressing the Senate, 82-year-old McConnell said, “I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work …. That day arrived today.”

McConnell confirmed this would be his last term as Republican leader and that he intended to select a new leader in November.

“I’ll finish my job the people of Kentucky hired me to do as well,” he said. His term as a senator runs through January 2027.

McConnell continued, “I’m immensely proud of some of the roles I have had for the American people. Today is not the day to discuss that, because I said earlier, I’m not going anywhere any time soon. 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 senator thanked his colleagues for “entrusting me with our success,” saying, “it’s been an honor to work with each of you. There will be plenty of time to express my gratitude in greater detail, as I sprint toward the finish line which is now in sight.” Credit: CSPAN via Storyful

Video transcript

- The Republican leader.

MITCH MCCONNELL: As some of you may know, this has been a particularly difficult time for my family. We tragically lost Elaine's younger sister Angela just a few weeks ago. When you lose a loved one, particularly at a young age, there's a certain introspection that accompanies the grieving process.

Perhaps it is God's way of reminding you of your own life's journey to reprioritize the impact of the world that we will all inevitably leave behind. I turned 82 last week. The end of my contributions are closer than I'd prefer.

My career in the United States Senate began amidst the Reagan revolution. The truth is, when I got here, I was just happy if anybody remembered my name. President Reagan called me "Mitch O'Donnell." Close enough, I thought.

My wife Elaine and I got married on President Reagan's birthday, February 6. It's probably not the most romantic thing to admit, but Reagan meant a lot to both of us. For 31 years, Elaine has been the love of my life, and I'm eternally grateful to have her by my side.

I think back to my first days in the Senate with deep appreciation for the time that helped shape my view of the world. I'm unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world. It's why I worked so hard to get the national security package passed earlier this month.

Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them. 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.

As long as I'm drawing breath on this Earth, I will defend American exceptionalism. So, as I've been thinking about when I would deliver some news to the Senate, I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work, a moment when I'm certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe.

That day arrived today. But now, it's 2024. I'm now 82. As Ecclesiastes tells us, to everything, there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. To serve Kentucky in the Senate has been the honor of my life.

To lead my Republican colleagues has been the highest privilege. But one of life's most underappreciated talents is to know when it's time to move on to life's next chapter. So I stand before you today, Mr. President, and my colleagues to say this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.

I'm not going anywhere anytime soon. However, I'll complete my job my colleagues have given me until we select a new leader in November and they take the helm next January. I'll finish the job the people of Kentucky hired me to do as well, albeit from a different seat. And I'm actually looking forward to that. So it's--