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Senator Mitch McConnell Announced He Will Step Down as Minority Leader

Updated: Mar 17

Senator Mitch McConnell just announced he will step down as Republican minority leader following the upcoming presidential election. Let's take a look at his position and potential successors.

The leadership of the Democratic and Republican parties in each chamber of Congress represents the values and the stance of their respective party on national and polarizing issues such as gun control, LGBTQ+ rights and immigration. Party leadership consists of numerous rules, including majority leader, but it did not always include such titles.  


What is the Job of a Party’s Leader?

There is a majority and a minority leader in each chamber. The majority leader is from the party in control of that chamber and the minority leader is from the other party. Both are considered the spokesperson for their respective party on polarizing issues and coordinate their party’s legislative strategies. The majority leader is responsible for calling bills on the floor, calling the senators related to each proposal and advising the members of their caucus about the daily legislative program.

For every debate, both leaders need to agree on unanimous consent to limit the amount of time for debate on every bill proposal and divide it between the parties.

On the floor, the leaders open and close the day’s proceedings, coordinate legislation and protect the rights of their party and the senators.


Legacy of Mitch McConnell

The current Republican leader in the Senate, Senator Mitch McConnell, announced on February 28 that he will step down as Republican leader after the next presidential election. His major accomplishment was blocking Obama’s Supreme Court justice nomination eight months before the 2016 presidential election. Back at that time, Justice Scalia unexpectedly passed away and Obama was facing a Republican Congress. Obama attempted to nominate Merrick Garland as the successor, but McConnell was able to convince the majority of the Republican senators to refuse to vote so the next president could nominate the successor. 

His legacy is built on his efforts to drive the judiciary system to the right. During his tenure, three conservative justices have been nominated to the Supreme Court and hundreds of young, conservative judges have been appointed in lower courts.


Potential Successors

Following his announcement, many Republican members have been considered as potential successors. One name that stands out is John Thune, the current Republican whip and McConnell’s protégé. When he officially entered the race, he wanted to create “a new generation of consistent, principled, conservative leadership.”

Senator John Cornyn, former GOP whip and former head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is another candidate who was working closely with McConnell.

A surprising candidacy is Senator Rick Scott. Many Republicans complained that the current candidates are not completely aligned with the current leader in the primaries, Donald Trump. Scott is a firm supporter of the ex-president. He already tried to battle McConnell for the leadership position in 2022, only getting 10 votes. However, with McConnell out of the equation and because of his stance, he represents a serious contestant to Thune and Cornyn. McConnell still has a lot of work to do before his retirement as Republican leader, so the race will be exciting and arduous.

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