McConnell to Step Down as Senate GOP Leader Post-Election

Still Plans to Remain in Senate
Mitch McConnell addresses the Senate Feb. 28
McConnell will give up his leadership post but keep his Senate seat. “I still have enough gas in my tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics,” he quipped. (Senate TV via Associated Press)

[Stay on top of transportation news: Get TTNews in your inbox.]

Republican Mitch McConnell will step down as his party’s leader in the Senate after the November election, he said.

McConnell, 82, a fixture in the Senate since 1985 and the chamber’s longest serving party leader in history, has led Senate Republicans for more than 17 years.

“Father Time remains undefeated. I am no longer the young man sitting in the back,” he said on the Senate floor Feb. 28. “It’s time for the next generation of leadership.”

McConnell, who is up for re-election in 2026, does not intend to retire from the Senate at the end of the year.

“I still have enough gas in my tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics,” he quipped.

McConnell has been the last serious bulwark within the party against Donald Trump’s animosity toward U.S. international commitments, including in Ukraine. He also blamed Trump for the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

McConnell has faced health challenges, including a fall and concussion last year and two freezing episodes at news conferences. He is noticeably slower in his movement and his speech. That has accelerated the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by potential successors.

During his tenure McConnell secured a series of generational wins, including a crucial role in the rightward shift of the judiciary that ended federal abortion rights and numerous tax cuts.

Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate chamber

Mitch McConnell exits the Senate chamber Wednesday after delivering his remarks. (Mark Schiefelbein/Associated Press)

His power has been underpinned by a political shrewdness that inspired confidence in donors and Senate colleagues, allowing him to fund and build a political machine that helped elect allies. McConnell’s campaign skills were on display again recently, as he logged a recruiting victory: Maryland’s popular former governor, Larry Hogan announced a run for the Senate.

Want more news? Listen to today's daily briefing below or go here for more info: