MITCH MCCONNELL STEPPING DOWN AS REPUBLICAN LEADER

Mitch McConnell, the longest-serving party leader in Senate history, announced Wednesday he will step away from leadership in November.

McConnell, who turned 82 last week, announced his decision in the well of the Senate shortly after noon, a place where he looked in awe from its back benches in 1985 when he arrived and where he grew increasingly comfortable in the front-row seat afforded the party leaders.

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

Though the Kentucky Republican will not be GOP leader after this year, he intends to finish his current senate term, which ends in January 2027. Sources familiar with his thinking told Fox News Digital the senator’s health was not a factor in his decision. McConnell had a concussion after a fall last year and two public episodes when he appeared to freeze while addressing reporters.

“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,” McConnell said on the Senate floor. “A moment when I am certain I have helped preserve the ideals I so strongly believe. It arrived today.”

Looking ahead to his departure, McConnell said it is time for “the next generation” to assume leadership in the Senate.

“There will be a new custodian of this great institution next year. As you know, I intend to turn the job over to a Republican majority leader,” he said. “I have full confidence in my conference to choose my replacement and lead our country forward.”

McConnell became emotional as he spoke. Dozens of his staff members attended his speech and colleagues from both parties, many of whom were taken by surprise, gave him a standing ovation after his remarks.

McConnell fondly recalled the beginning of his Senate career, when President Reagan once referred to him as “Mitch O’Donnell” on the campaign trail in Kentucky. At the time, in 1985, Kentucky was still a reliably blue state and McConnell was the first Republican to win a statewide election there in 16 years.

Reacting to the announcement, several Republicans expressed gratitude for McConnell’s leadership and honored his decades-long career in government.