McConnell has become the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader in the chamber’s history as the 118th U.S. Congress convenes.
As the 118th United States Congress meets for the first time on Tuesday, the upper chamber marks a record broken by Senator Mitch McConnelwho has become the longest-serving Senate Majority Leader in history.
McConnell, an 80-year-old Republican from Kentucky, has surpassed the 16-year record held by the late Democratic Senator Mike Mansfield. McConnell has served as Senate Majority Leader since 2007.
Tuesday’s Senate milestone stands in stark contrast to the drama unfolding in the House of Representatives, where McConnell’s counterpart — top Republican Kevin McCarthy – faces opposition within his own party to his bid to become House Speaker.
By the end of the congressional session on Tuesday, McCarthy had failed gather enough support in three separate votes, leaving the Speaker’s position unclaimed.
McConnell also faced opposition when he ran for re-election to his leadership position in November. But he handily overcame a challenge from Florida Senator Rick Scott and received 37 Republican votes, enough to beat the 10 votes in Scott’s favor.
In the 118th Congress, McConnell returns to his position as Minority Leader, following the Democrats foiled a “red wave” in midterm elections last November. They retained a slim majority in the 100-seat Senate, thanks to victories in key states like Georgia, where the Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock kept his seat in a December run-off.
Another incumbent, fresh off an interim victory, was New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, who had his own record to break. Senate Majority Leader Schumer became the longest-serving senator for his state on Tuesday, while Vice President Kamala Harris presided over the swearing-in ceremony.
The ceremony was also an opportunity to welcome seven new members to the Senate floor: two Democrats and five Republicans. One of those newcomers was John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, a Democrat and the only candidate flip a senate seat in the 2022 midterm elections.
The seat remained vacant after Republican Senator Pat Toomey announced his retirement, sparking a much-anticipated race between Fetterman and Republican nominee Mehmet Oza TV personality endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
The other new senators were Peter Welch of Vermont, Ted Budd of North Carolina, Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma, Eric Schmitt of Missouri, JD Vance of Ohio, and Katie Britt of Alabama, the first woman from her state to be elected to the chamber.
Washington Democrat Patty Murray also made history, as she became the first woman ever to serve as president of the Senate pro tempore. The role allows Murray to preside over the Senate in the vice president’s absence and also puts her third in line for president, behind the vice president and the speaker of the House.
Of Independent Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona the party receives committee orders from the Democrats and retains a narrow 51-to-49 majority in the Senate.
The chamber has the power to approve or reject presidential candidates for important executive and judicial positions. And though President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has resubmitted 85 nominations that failed to make it to the previous Senate.
They include Biden’s nominee for the Ambassadorship to India, Eric Garcetti. While he was mayor of Los Angeles, Garcetti faced allegations that he ignored sexual harassment complaints against an aide. But his nomination has yet to receive a full vote in the Senate.