‘Good riddance’: McConnell to step down as Senate GOP leader

Having secured a right-wing takeover of the U.S. federal court system in recent years, giving conservatives the power to shape the law on climate action, reproductive justice, and other key issues impacting millions of people across the country, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Wednesday he will step down from his leadership role in November.

The Kentucky Republican, who has held office since 1985 despite consistentlyreceiving low approval ratings from voters in his state, said he plans to finish his current term, which ends in January 2027, “albeit from a different seat in the chamber.”

An aide for McConnell told the Associated Press that his decision at age 82 is unrelated to his health, which has been a subject of concern in recent months following a fall last year and two incidents when the senator’s face appeared to freeze while he was taking questions from reporters.

McConnell’s career has been marked by frequent obstruction, with the senator nicknaming himself the “Grim Reaper” as he blocked votes on election security legislation, opposed campaign finance reform bills, blocked bipartisan background check proposals after numerous mass shootings, and delayed confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court justice pick—allowing Republicans to install their own right-wing nominee after Obama left office.

In a 2019 column at Common Dreams, former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted that in addition to his record of obstruction, McConnell also frequently bent the rules to get his way:

This is the man who got rid of the age-old Senate rule requiring 60 Senators to agree on a Supreme Court nomination so he could ram through not one but two Supreme Court justices, including one with a likely history of sexual assault.

This is the man who rushed through the Senate, without a single hearing, a $2 trillion tax cut for big corporations and wealthy Americans—a tax cut that raised the government debt by almost the same amount, generated no new investment, failed to raise wages, but gave the stock market a temporary sugar high because most corporations used the tax savings to buy back their own shares of stock.

While former Republican President Donald Trump “defaced and defiled the presidency,” said Reich on Wednesday, “no person has done more in living memory to undermine the functioning of the U.S. government” than McConnell.

Despite his disagreements with Trump and his opposition to the former president’s attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, McConnell voted to acquit the former president on the charge of inciting an insurrection on January 6, 2021. The Republican leader had admitted that Trump “provoked” the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali pronounced McConnell “one of the worst people to ever serve in office.”

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) have all been named as lawmakers who are likely to vie for the party leadership role. All three senators have announced their endorsements of Trump in the 2024 election in recent weeks.

From Common Dreams.