WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will step down from the helm of the Republican Conference this year, ending his time as the longest-serving leader in Senate history.

The Kentucky Republican, who has served as GOP leader since 2007, made his announcement in a Senate floor speech Wednesday. An election to replace him as leader will occur in November with his successor taking charge in January.

“As I’ve been thinking about when I would deliver some news to the Senate, I always imagined a moment when I had total clarity and peace about the sunset of my work,” McConnell said. “That day arrived today.”

Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., with whom he has often sparred, was the first to shake his hand on the Senate floor after McConnell finished his speech.

McConnell is regarded as a brilliant political tactician and one of the most influential lawmakers in Washington. With President Donald Trump, McConnell helped enact a sweeping $1.5 trillion tax package in 2017 that slashed corporate rates, provided new breaks for private businesses and reorganized the individual tax code.

And he shepherded three conservative Supreme Court nominees — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — through the Senate confirmation process, reshaping the judiciary and American society. That court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, ending the national right to abortion.

McConnell, 82, had suffered serious health issues in recent years. Last March, he sustained a concussion and fractured a rib when he took a bad fall at a private dinner at a Washington hotel, sidelining him for six weeks.

Then in July, McConnell froze for 19 seconds at a news conference in the Capitol, worrying colleagues who said they had noticed a change in the longtime leader and they believed the fall had taken a toll. He appeared to freeze a second time at a Kentucky event the following month.

In announcing his decision, McConnell also noted the toll on his family following the recent death of his sister-in-law, Angela Chao, in a car accident.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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