WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set the record as the longest-serving GOP leader in the upper chamber, breaking the record previously held by Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.).
McConnell, who became Senate Republican leader in 2007 when GOPs were the minority party, is also the longest-serving senator in Kentucky history, first elected in 1984.
Dole served as Senate GOP leader from 1985 to 1996.
“Time and time again, he’s demonstrated what leaders always need to demonstrate, and that’s a remarkable degree of humility, sometimes preferring to work for the betterment of the conference and the country behind the scenes, rather than enjoy the spotlight,” Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said in a tribute to McConnell today on the Senate floor.
“It is true that sometimes he’s soft-spoken, but I can assure you that he’s never afraid to take a hard line when absolutely necessary,” he added. “He’s a rare example of what a senator ought to be, what a true public servant ought to be… It’s been his never-ending quest for this body he loves to function, not just ably, but at a consistently high level. That has been his greatest contribution to the people he serves.”
Cornyn further praised McConnell for “deftly navigating around the stop signs and roadblocks that naturally occur in a place like the Senate.”
“He doesn’t leave his full-time job behind when he puts his leadership hat on. He somehow has to balance the needs of both his constituents in Kentucky along with the larger needs of the Senate and of the country as a whole. Senator McConnell makes it look easy,” he continued. “…Leader McConnell is simply relentless. He never stops working, and in his view we, both as a conference and a country, still have miles to go before we sleep.”
“Thank you, Senator McConnell, for your example. Thank you for your mentorship and for your friendship, and congratulations once again on reaching this historic milestone today.”
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) also paid tribute to McConnell for his “historic milestone.”
“It is no secret that we disagree on a whole lot of issues, both political and philosophical, but that does not mean that we can’t or don’t work together, or that I don’t admire the qualities that have helped make him the longest-serving Republican leader,” Schumer said.
“He understands his caucus and represents them well. He knows how to fight, and he knows how to cooperate. The job is not an easy one, so it is a testament to his qualities that he has done it longer than anyone in the history of the Senate.”