Feb 29, 2024

Mitch McConnell Stepping Away from Senate Leadership

Mitch McConnell announces he will step back from Senate Republican leadership
RevBlogTranscriptsMitch McConnellMitch McConnell Stepping Away from Senate Leadership

McConnell will step down as the Senate Republican leader in November after a record run in the job. Read the transcript here.

Speaker 1 (00:00):

Republican leader.

Mitch McConnell (00:04):

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 6th. 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. My goals when I was narrowly elected to the Senate back in 1984 were fairly modest. Do a good job for the people of Kentucky and convince them that by doing so, they might rehire me for a second term. That was it. That was the plan. If you would’ve told me 40 years later that I would stand before you as the longest serving Senate leader in American history, frankly, I would’ve thought you’d lost your mind. I have the honor of representing Kentucky and the Senate longer than anyone else in our state’s history.

I just never could have imagined, never could have imagined that happening when I arrived here in 1984 at 42. I’m filled with heartfelt gratitude and humility for the opportunity. 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 and 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 will 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 time for me to think about another season.

I love the Senate. It’s been my life. There may be more distinguished members of this body throughout our history, but I doubt there were any with any more admiration for the Senate. After all this time, I still got a thrill walking into the Capitol and especially on this venerable floor, knowing that we, each of us, have the honor to represent our states and do the important work of our country. But Father Time remains undefeated. I’m no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues would remember my name.

It’s time for the next generation of leadership. As Henry Clay said in this very body in 1850, “The Constitution of the United States was not made merely for the generation that then existed, but for posterity, unlimited, undefined, endless perpetual posterity.” So time rolls on. There’ll be a new custodian of this great institution next year. Won’t surprise you. I intend to turn this job over to a Republican majority leader. I have full confidence in my conference to choose my replacement and lead our country forward.

There’ll be other times to reminisce. I’m immensely proud of the accomplishments I’ve played some role in obtaining for the American people. Today is not the day to discuss all of that. Because as I said earlier, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. There are many challenges we must meet to deliver for the American people, and each will have my full effort and attention. 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.

So to my colleagues, thank you for entrusting me with our success. It’s been an honor to work with each of you. There’ll be plenty of time to express my gratitude in greater detail as I sprint towards the finish line, which is now in sight. I yield the floor.

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