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 December 3, 2022

Mitch McConnell is out as Senate majority leader, may lose position as minority leader

Sen. Mitch McConnell will not become the Senate majority leader after a Republican wave failed to materialize in the midterm elections, the Courier-Journal reported. The Kentucky Republican held the position between January 2015 and January 2021.

Hopes were high for the GOP heading into November's midterms. However, as returns rolled it, it became clear that the Republican Party would remain in the minority in the U.S. Senate.

An upset win by Democratic Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada all but sealed the deal for Democrats to retain their slim lead. Even with the results of the Georgia runoff still outstanding, the die had already been cast, according to The Hill.

With the majority out of the question, McConnell faced pushback to retain his minority leadership role, CNN reported. For the first time in his 15 years in party leadership, he faced another candidate for the position.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott made a play for the role after McConnell seemingly dropped the ball in what should have been an easy win for Republicans, considering how poorly the Democrats have governed.  However, it wasn't enough to unseat McConnell, who maintained strong support.

"Although the results of today's elections weren't what we hoped for, this is far from the end of our fight to Make Washington Work," Scott said following his defeat. In the end, a secret ballot election revealed McConnell would retain his position with a vote of 37-10, with one abstaining.

Now Republicans are once again yoked to McConnell as the minority leader despite his spotty record on advancing important legislation. While Republicans were in the majority, McConnell was often criticized for being the "legislative graveyard" where proposals went to die.

Most of the Senate's agenda-setting will be the job of Democrats. Elections for their party leadership will take place on Dec. 8, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer expected to retain the position.

As for the House of Representatives, Republicans were able to eke out a lead to flip to a GOP majority, CBS News reported. While House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is the logical choice for House Speaker, he's already facing opposition within his party.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), who had challenged McCarthy, accused him of not doing enough to push back against the "radical Leftist" and made the case against him in an op-ed for the conservative website "American Greatness" on Nov. 18. "Now I am told that we will barely have a 3-seat majority, so we must not change leaders in order to protect unity," Biggs wrote.

"I, however, believe it is time to make a change. Those thoughts are most immutable," Biggs continued.

"Our current candidate for Speaker doesn't have the 218 votes necessary to become Speaker on January 3, 2023," he pointed out. The leadership role is open to a vote from both parties, and Democrats would likely side with their own, meaning defectors from the GOP could kill McCarthy's chances.

"I do not believe he will ever get to 218 votes, and I refuse to assist him in his effort to get those votes," Biggs added. "In the end, I must concur with my constituents: it is time to make a change at the top of the House of Representatives. I cannot vote for the gentleman from California, Mr. McCarthy."

Republicans are in turmoil after a disappointing showing in the midterms. However, fracturing the party from within will only exacerbate the problem and give Democrats another opportunity for further leadership inroads.

Written By:
Christine Favocci

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