Despite criticism from a number of conservatives in his own party about his willingness to support Democratic policies like the recent omnibus spending bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) began another term in the leadership position this week.
As the new legislative session began, the Kentucky Republican became the longest-serving Senate leader in the nation’s history.
From the inbox: "At 12:00pm ET today, U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, the senior senator for Kentucky, will become the Longest-Serving Party Leader in Senate History, breaking the record (16 years) previously held by Senator Mike Mansfield (D-MT)."
— Tana Weingartner (@TanaWeingartner) January 3, 2023
The previous record was held by a Democrat, Sen. Mike Mansfield of Montana, and McConnell referenced that stretch from 1961 to 1977 in a speech he delivered on Tuesday. He went on to note the varied styles of leadership that have been on display throughout the history of the U.S. Senate.
“There have been leaders who rose to the job through lower-key, behind-the-scenes styles; who preferred to focus on serving their colleagues rather than dominating them,” a draft copy of the speech asserts.
Prior to the start of his new term, his office provided a statement outlining a string of achievements in hopes of solidifying his reputation as an effective party leader since he first assumed the position in 2006. Among the accomplishments included in the list were his efforts to stop the closure of Guantanamo Bay, preserve the power of the minority party through use of the filibuster, and orchestrate a federal response to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Referencing one move that earned him some intraparty backlash, McCarthy asserted that “the most important vote” he has cast as GOP leader was in favor of certifying the 2020 presidential election results in the wake of a riot on Capitol Hill in January 2021.
Although McConnell easily secured the support necessary to clinch another term as leader, he faced his first Republican rival ever in a vote that followed November’s underwhelming midterm performances by GOP Senate candidates.
Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) asserted that he was “not satisfied with the status quo” when asked why he mounted the challenge.
While McConnell made it clear that he would “welcome” a competing bid from any senator, he maintained full confidence in his ability to win.
“I have the votes,” he said. “I will be elected. The only issue is whether it will be sooner or later. I don’t own this job. Anybody in the conference that’s serving can challenge me.”