As McCarthy Flounders, McConnell becomes longest-serving Senate leader
Mitch McConnell is set to make history Tuesday by becoming the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader ever after 16 years at the helm of the Republican Senate Conference.
The Republican from Kentucky will surpass the late Senator Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.), who was a highly respected party leader from 1961 to 1977, once the Senate has approved the start of the 118th Congress at noon.
McConnell, 80, was elected to the Senate in 1984 and became minority leader in 2007. He served as Majority Leader from 2015 to 2021, when Republicans retained control of the upper house.
The notoriously taciturn GOP leader is expected to deliver a speech on Tuesday praising Mansfield’s “behind-the-scenes” style as a leader “who preferred to focus on serving his colleagues rather than dominating them,” according to excerpts. . obtained by Politico. The comments are a clear reference to how McConnell likes to work.
But McConnell’s leadership style did not appeal to everyone in his conference. Following the GOP’s disappointing performance in the November 2022 midterm elections, a group of 10 Senate Republicans challenged McConnell by opposing him in a leadership election. McConnell still won hands down, but the drama exposed deep divisions within his conference, which deepened after the Republicans failed to win back the Senate last year.
During his tenure as leader, McConnell won praise within the GOP for obstructing much of President Barack Obama’s agenda, including confirming a Supreme Court justice. This latest move led to the repeal of federal abortion rights, a longtime goal of the conservative movement.
He took a transactional approach to Donald Trump’s presidency, passing legislation that cut taxes and confirming dozens of judges while turning a blind eye to the former president’s outbursts. And while he called out Trump for inciting the January 6, 2021 riot at the Capitol, he shielded him from conviction during his impeachment trial.
However, under President Joe Biden, McConnell has shown a willingness to walk down the aisle and support bipartisan initiatives, including a $1 trillion infrastructure overhaul, gun safety reforms and investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
McConnell is also expected to appear with Biden at an event in Kentucky on Wednesday to announce major infrastructure remarks — a notable move in today’s bitterly divided party politics. The bipartisan affair stands in stark contrast to the chaos in the House, where Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) is still struggling to collect the votes needed to become president amid a conservative uprising that seeks, among other things, more divisiveness approach. with the Biden administration.
McConnell gave no indication of his future in the Senate. When asked in November if breaking Mansfield’s record would lead him to retire at some point, he said“I’m going nowhere.”
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