Senator Mitch McConnell Makes History

Posted by on Jan 19, 2023 in Government, Stuff You Should Know, United States

The 118th Congress opened on January 3, 2023. Democrats and Republicans elect party leaders in the Senate and the House of Representatives at the start of each new session. The beginning of this Congress marked an important history-making event: Senator Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, became the longest-serving Senate party leader in American history. Senator McConnell has held a leadership position for the last 16 of his 38 years in the U.S. Senate.  McConnell just started his  seventh term in office. 

Who is Mitch McConnell? 

Senator Mitch McConnell began his career as a government lawyer after graduating from the University of Kentucky Law School in 1967. In 1984, he was elected as Senator and became the first Republican to win a statewide race in Kentucky since 1968. He is also the longest-serving senator in Kentucky’s history. He was first elected Senate Minority Leader in 2007, a role he held until he was elected Senate Majority Leader in 2015. The 118th Congress marks his second term as Senate Minority Leader since regaining the role in 2021. 

McConnell’s Winning Speech 

During the opening of the Senate on January 3rd, Senator McConnell celebrated his leadership win by giving a speech on television. His speech recognized other leaders of historic importance. McConnell recognized Senator Mike Mansfield, a democrat from Montana. Serving from 1961 to 1977, Mansfield previously held the record for longest-serving Senate leader. The speech showed appreciation for the Republicans who nominated him and Kentucky residents who elected him to his seventh term in office. McConnell then discussed leadership traits that he admired in people. He discussed the value of working with members of the opposing political party. He recognized the importance of following Senate rules. He promoted a vision of management with a simple style that unites members.   

Leadership Style and Policy Achievements 

Throughout his terms in Congress, McConnell has advocated for Republican ideas such as a  commitment to small government. He has successfully worked to lower business tax rates, increase military spending, and confirm conservative judges. During his time as Senate Majority Leader,  McConnell led the confirmations of three conservative Supreme Court Justices. 

Working Across the Aisle 

There are several examples of his cooperation with members of the Democratic Party.  In January 2023, he met President Joe Biden in Kentucky. Their meeting celebrated the passage of the 2022 infrastructure law, known as the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. This law ensures that the national railways, bridges, roads, and water systems around the country are updated or preserved. He has also endorsed a bipartisan bill to prevent another attack on the U.S. Capitol. In 2022, Mr. McConnell visited Ukraine to show support for the country after the Russian attacks. He continues to support financial and technological military assistance to help Ukraine win the war. 

A Stable Presence 

McConnell’s renewed leadership role is a contrast to the recent House leadership elections. The Republican Party experienced disagreements among members when selecting the leader of the House of Representatives. Senator McConnell’s constant leadership in the Senate remains a point of stability during the many changes taking place on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.  

What Do you Think  In your opinion, what behaviors or characteristics does a strong leader possess? Why is it important for leaders to work with people of different viewpoints or beliefs?