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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Alamy
Time to say goodbye

Mitch McConnell to step down as US Senate Republican leader in November

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter.”

MITCH MCCONNELL, THE longest-serving US Senate leader in history, who maintained his power in the face of dramatic convulsions in the Republican Party for almost two decades, will step down in November.

McConnell, who turned 82 last week, announced his decision today in the well of the Senate, a place where he looked in awe from its back benches in 1985 when he arrived and where he grew increasingly comfortable in the front row seat afforded to party leaders.

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

His decision punctuates a powerful ideological transition under way in the Republican Party, from Ronald Reagan’s brand of traditional conservatism and strong international alliances, to the fiery, often isolationist populism of former president Donald Trump.

McConnell said he plans to serve out his Senate term, which ends in January 2027, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber”.

McConnell has been the largely unchallenged leader of Republicans in the Senate since 2015 and was in the front line of the party’s battles against the policies of Barack Obama from 2009-2017.

He was instrumental in bringing Donald Trump to power in January 2017 as the party underwent dramatic changes, before falling out with Trump over the former president’s baseless claims to have won the 2020 election.

For years McConnell relished his self-given monicker as the “Grim Reaper” – one who doomed the hopes of Democratic lawmakers.

In the Senate he waged a fierce fight to enact a right-wing agenda, notably with the appointment of three Supreme Court justices who led the tribunal to end the federal right to abortion in 2022.

With reporting by  © AFP 2024

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