Mitch McConnell to set record for longest-serving Senate leader as Kevin McCarthy flounders

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to set the all-time record for longest-serving Senate leader Tuesday, even as his counterpart in the House struggles secure the speakership.

McConnell plans to deliver a floor speech acknowledging the new record Tuesday afternoon. He will surpass the late Sen. Mike Mansfield, D-Mont. McConnell has served in the GOP Senate leadership since 2007.

‘Designated party floor leaders have been a feature of the Senate for more than a hundred years. And no two have done the job exactly alike,’ McConnell is expected to say during his speech, according to Punchbowl News. 

‘There’ve 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. And that … is how Senator Michael Joseph Mansfield of Montana became the longest-serving Senate leader in American history until this morning,’ he will add.

McConnell easily fended off a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., last year to maintain his position as leader. Meanwhile, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is facing an uphill battle to secure the votes he needs to win the speakership on Tuesday.

McCarthy requires 218 votes to win the position, meaning he can only afford five Republicans to vote against him. At least 12 are threatening to do so as of Tuesday morning.

The California Republican has offered extensive concessions to his opponents, including allowing any five House members in the majority party to initiate a vote to remove the current speaker. Opponents like Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., argue any one representative should be able to force such a vote, as was House policy until former Speaker Nancy Pelosi changed the rule under her leadership.

McCarthy held a final meeting with the GOP conference Tuesday morning ahead of the noon vote. Allies say he plans to hold as many votes as necessary until he secures the position.

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