Updated Feb 28, 2024 - Politics & Policy

McConnell to step down as Senate GOP leader after 2024 election

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, wearing a dark gray suit, light blue shirt and purple tie, walking out of the Senate chamber.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Craig Hudson/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) plans to step down as the head of Senate Republicans following the 2024 election.

Why it matters: His departure marks the end of an era for the Senate. McConnell became the top Senate Republican in 2006.

  • "This will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate," McConnell said in a floor speech on Wednesday.
  • The 82-year-old cited his age as a factor: "One of life's most unappreciated talents is to know when it's time to move on to life's next chapter."
  • But McConnell also suggested he plans to serve out the remainder of his term, which lasts until 2027, stating he will "finish the job the people of Kentucky hired me to do as well, albeit from a different seat."

The backdrop: McConnell's announcement comes after a series of health scares last year that rattled his colleagues.

What's next: Senate Republicans will meet after the election to pick a new leader, who will start in the role in January, McConnell said.

  • The three Johns — Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), Republican Caucus Chair John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) — are seen as the leading contenders to replace McConnell.
  • McConnell did not endorse any candidate in his speech, saying he has "full confidence" in the GOP conference to pick his successor.
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