Senator McConnell Remarks On Last Term As Republican Leader

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor:

“As some of you may know, this has been a particularly difficult time for my family. We tragically lost Elaine’s youngest sister, Angela a few weeks ago. When you lose a loved one, particularly at a young age, there is a certain introspection that accompanies the grieving process.

“Perhaps it is God’s way of reminding you of your own life’s journey to reprioritize the impact on the world that we will all inevitably leave behind.

“I turned 82 last week. The end of my contributions are closer than I’d prefer.

“My career in the United States Senate began amidst the Reagan Revolution. The truth is, when I got here, I was just happy if anybody remembered my name.

“President Reagan called me ‘Mitch O’Donnell’. Close enough, I thought.

“My wife Elaine and I got married on President Reagan’s birthday, February 6th. It’s probably not the most romantic thing to admit, but Reagan meant a great deal to both of us.

“For thirty-one years Elaine has been the love of my life and I am eternally grateful to have her by my side.

“I think back to my first days in the Senate with a deep appreciation for the time that helped shape my view of the world. I am unconflicted about the good within our country and the irreplaceable role we play as the leader of the free world.

“It is why I worked so hard to get the national security package passed earlier this month. Believe me, I know the politics within my party at this particular moment in time. I have many faults, misunderstanding politics is not one of them.

“That said, I believe more strongly than ever that America’s global leadership is essential to preserving the shining city on a hill that Ronald Reagan discussed.

“For as long as I am drawing breath on this earth I will defend American exceptionalism.

“So, as I have been thinking about when I would deliver some news to the Senate, I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work. A moment when I am certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe. It arrived today.

“My goals when I was narrowly elected to the Senate in 1984 were fairly modest – do a good job for the people of Kentucky and convince them by doing so to rehire me for a second term! That was it. That was the plan.

“If you would have told me forty years later that I would stand before you as the longest serving Senate leader in history – I would have thought you’d lost your mind.

“I have the honor of representing Kentucky in the Senate longer than anyone else in our history.

“I just never could have imagined that happening when I arrived here in 1984. I am filled with heartfelt gratitude and humility for the opportunity.

“But now it’s 2024. As I said, I am now 82.

“As Ecclesiastes tells us, ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.’

“To serve Kentucky in the Senate has been the honor of my life. To lead my Republican colleagues has been my highest privilege.

“But one of life’s most underappreciated talents is to know when it’s time to move on to life’s next chapter.

“So, I stand before you today, Mr. President and my colleagues, to say that this will be my last term as Republican leader of the Senate.

“I’m not going anywhere anytime soon, however. I will complete the job my colleagues have given me until we select a new Leader in November and they take the helm next January.

“I will finish the job the people of Kentucky hired me to do as well – albeit from a different seat in the chamber. I am looking forward to that.

“So it’s time for me to think about another season.

“I love the Senate. It has been my life. There may be more distinguished members of this body throughout our history, but I doubt there are any with more admiration for it.

“After all this time, I still get a thrill walking into the Capitol and especially on this venerable floor knowing that we – each of us – have the honor to represent our states and do the important work of our country.

“But Father Time remains undefeated.

“I am no longer the young man sitting in the back, hoping colleagues would remember my name. It is time for the next generation of leadership.

“As Henry Clay said in this very body in 1850, ‘The Constitution of the United States was not made merely for the generation that then existed but for posterity – unlimited, undefined, endless, perpetual posterity.’

“So time rolls on. There will be a new custodian of this great institution. Next year, I intend to turn this job over to a Republican Majority Leader. I have full confidence in my conference to choose my replacement and lead our country forward.

“There will be other times to reminisce. I’m immensely proud of the accomplishments I have played some role in obtaining for the American people.

“Today is not the day to discuss all of that because, as I said earlier, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

“There are many challenges we must meet to deliver for the American people and each will have my full effort and attention.

“I still have enough gas in the tank to thoroughly disappoint my critics and I intend to do so with all the enthusiasm which they have become accustomed.

“To my colleagues, thank you for entrusting me with our success. It has been an honor to work with each of you. There will be plenty of time to express my gratitude in greater detail as I sprint towards the finish line, which is now in sight.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”

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