McConnell to Step Down as Leader at the End of the Year

Senator Mitch McConnell, the longtime top Senate Republican, said on Wednesday that he would give up his spot as the party’s leader following the November elections, acknowledging that his Reaganite national security views had put him out of step with a party now headed by former President Donald J. Trump.

“Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular time,” Mr. McConnell, who turned 82 last week, said in a speech on the Senate floor announcing his intentions. “I have many faults. Misunderstanding politics is not one of them.”

His decision, reported earlier by The Associated Press, was not a surprise. Mr. McConnell suffered a serious fall last year and experienced some episodes where he momentarily froze in front of the media. He has also faced rising resistance within his ranks for his push to provide continued military assistance to Ukraine as well as his close-to-the-vest leadership style. And his toxic relationship with Mr. Trump, whom he blamed for the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol — after orchestrating his acquittal in an impeachment trial on charges of inciting an insurrection — put him profoundly at odds with the rest of his party.

Mr. McConnell had said that he would serve out his full Senate term ending in 2027, but had been more opaque about whether he would try to remain leader after November.

His announcement placed an end date on an extraordinary run for a congressional leader known for his legislative prowess and talent for obstructing major Democratic agenda items. Mr. McConnell is revered by many Republicans for thwarting efforts to weaken the influence of money in political campaigns, helping to stack the Supreme Court with conservative justices and attempting — albeit unsuccessfully — to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Democrats regarded him as a chief nemesis for the same reasons, and Mr. McConnell made it clear on Wednesday that he relished that notoriety.

“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,” he said on the Senate floor, drawing applause.

Back to top button