Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced on Wednesday that he will be stepping down from his position as the Senate’s top Republican in the coming months, ending a 16-year stint in party leadership.

“One of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter,” McConnell, 82, said on the Senate floor. “So I stand before you today … to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.”

McConnell indicated that he will stay on as leader until his colleagues select a new leader in November. The replacement will officially assume the office in January. McConnell will then finish out the remainder of his Senate term, which will run through January 2027, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber.”

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McConnell’s departure comes amid party criticism stemming from his handling of the battle over border security and foreign aid payments, which has paralyzed the federal legislature for months. The latest proposal, which bundled border funding with supplemental aid packages for Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan, collapsed despite bipartisan support.

The senator’s age and physical condition have also been a cause for concern among his colleagues. McConnell, who turned 82 last week, was briefly hospitalized with a concussion last March, and he publicly froze up twice while speaking to reporters. However, his aides indicated that the resignation was not related to his health.

Related: Sister-in-Law of Mitch McConnell Dies in Mysterious Car Accident

As McConnell prepares to exit Republican Party leadership, it is not immediately clear which lawmaker will replace him. Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) are seen as contenders, and Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), who lost the last leadership election 37-10, may also join the race.

Multiple high-ranking Republicans expressed gratitude for McConnell’s many years of leadership, with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) highlighting his legacy of “confirming hundreds of principled constitutionalists to the federal judiciary.” Cruz had previously called for McConnell to step down but nevertheless thanked him for his service.

Other senators were less kind in their reaction, with Sen. Josh Hawley calling it “good news.”

“Why wait so long?” Hawley asked. “We need new leadership now.”


Connor Walcott is a staff writer for Follow Connor on X and look for him on VT’s “The Unusual Suspects.”

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