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Mitch McConnell | 40 Things You Didn’t Know About Mitch McConnell
How well do you think you know about Mitch McConnell? Well, in this article, we’ll be telling you everything you need to know about Mitch McConnell. Addison Mitchell McConnell Jr. was born on the 20th of February, 1942. He is an American politician serving as Kentucky’s Senior United States Senator and as Senate Majority Leader. McConnell is the second Kentuckian to serve as a party leader in the Senate, the longest-serving U.S. senator for Kentucky in history, and the longest-serving leader of U.S. Senate Republicans in history. Now read further below to know more about Mitch McConnell.
McConnell was known as a pragmatist and a moderate Republican early in his political career but shifted to the right over time. He led the opposition to stricter campaign finance laws, culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that partially overturned the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (McCain-Feingold) in 2009. During the Obama administration, McConnell worked to withhold Republican support for major presidential initiatives and blocked many of Obama’s judicial nominees, including that of the Supreme Court nomination of Merrick Garland. Then during the Trump administration, Senate Republicans, under McConnell’s leadership, broke records on the number of judicial nominees confirmed; among those nominees were Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh who was confirmed to the Supreme Court.
McConnell was first elected to the Senate in 1984 and has been re-elected five times since. During the 1998 and 2000 election cycles, he was chairman of the U.S. National Republican Senatorial Committee. McConnell was elected as Majority Whip in the 108th Congress and was re-elected to the post in 2004. In November 2006, he was elected Senate Minority Leader, and held that post until 2015, when Republicans took control of the Senate and he became Senate Majority Leader. McConnell was included in the “Times” 100 list of the most influential people in the world in 2015.
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Everything You Need to Know About Mitch McConnell
Now let’s go ahead and update you bit-by-bit on things you need to know about Mitch McConnell as regards to his personal life and career.
About Mitch McConnell’s Early Life
- McConnell was born February 20, 1942, in Sheffield, Alabama, and grew up in nearby Athens, Alabama.
- He is of Scots-Irish and English descent, and a Southern Baptist.
- His parents are Addison Mitchell McConnell Sr. (1917–1990) and Julia Odene “Dean” (née Shockley) McConnell (1919–1993).
- In 1944, at the age of two, McConnell’s upper left leg was paralyzed by a polio attack. He received treatment at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation. The treatment potentially saved him from being disabled for the rest of his life. McConnell stated that his family “almost went broke” because of costs related to his illness.
- In 1950, when he was eight, McConnell moved with his family from Athens to Augusta, Georgia, where his father, who was in the Army, was stationed at Fort Gordon.
- In 1956, his family moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where he attended duPont Manual High School.
- McConnell was elected student council president at his high school during his junior year.
- McConnell attended the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King Jr. gave the “I Have a Dream” speech.
- He graduated with honors from the University of Louisville with a B.A. in political science in 1964.
- He was president of the Student Council of the College of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.
- Still in 1964 at the age of 22, he interned with Senator John Sherman Cooper. He has stated his time with Cooper inspired him to run for the Senate later in life.
- In 1967, McConnell graduated from the University Of Kentucky College Of Law, where he was president of the Student Bar Association.
- He was married to his first wife, Sherrill Redmon, from 1968 to 1980, and had three children.
- His second wife, whom he married in 1993, is Elaine Chao, Secretary of Labor under President George W. Bush and Secretary of Transportation under President Donald Trump.
Mitch McConnell’s Career
In March 1967, shortly before the expiration of his educational draft deferment upon graduation from law school, McConnell enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve as a private at Louisville, Kentucky. This was a coveted position because the Reserve units were mostly kept out of combat during the Vietnam War.
- His first day of training at Fort Knox, Kentucky was July 9, 1967, two days after taking the Bar exam, and his last day was August 15, 1967.
- Shortly after his arrival, he was diagnosed with optic neuritis and was deemed medically unfit for military service.
- After five weeks at Fort Knox, he was honorably discharged. His brief time in service has repeatedly been put at issue by his political opponents during his electoral campaigns.
- From 1968 to 1970, McConnell worked as an aide to Senator Marlow Cook in Washington, D.C., managing a legislative department consisting of five members as well as assisting with speech writing and constituent services.
- In 1971, McConnell returned from Washington, D.C., to Louisville, KY where he worked for Tom Emberton‘s candidacy for Governor of Kentucky, which was unsuccessful.
- McConnell attempted to run for a seat in the state legislature but was disqualified because he did not meet the residency requirements for the office.
- He then went to work for a law firm for a few years. During the same time period, he taught a night class on political science at the University of Louisville.
- In October 1974, McConnell returned to Washington, D.C. to fill a position as Deputy Attorney General under President Gerald R. Ford, where he worked alongside Robert Bork, Laurence Silberman, and Antonin Scalia.
- In 1977, McConnell was elected the Jefferson County Judge/Executive, which was the top political office in Jefferson County, Kentucky at the time. He was re-elected in 1981 and occupied this office until his election to the U.S. Senate in 1984.
- In January 1988, McConnell voted against the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987, and voted to sustain President Reagan’s veto of that legislation the following March.
- From 1997 to 2001, McConnell was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the body charged with securing electoral victories for Republicans.
- Republicans maintained control of the Senate throughout his time as chairman. He was first elected as Majority Whip in the 108th Congress and was unanimously re-elected on November 17, 2004.
- Senator Bill Frist, the Majority Leader, did not seek re-election in the 2006 elections. In November 2006, after Republicans lost control of the Senate, they elected McConnell Minority Leader.
- After Republicans took control of the Senate following the 2014 Senate elections, McConnell became the Senate Majority Leader.
- In June 2018, McConnell became the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in the history of the United States.
- McConnell is the second Kentuckian to serve as a party leader in the Senate (after Alben W. Barkley led the Democrats from 1937-49) and is the longest-serving U.S. senator from Kentucky in history.
- McConnell stated that if he was still Senate majority leader after the 2020 elections: “none of those things are going to pass the Senate. They won’t even be voted on. So think of me as the Grim Reaper.”
- In June 2019, Nancy Pelosi criticized McConnell for withholding votes on measures already passed by the Democratically-controlled House, including the For the People Act of 2019, the Equality Act, the Paycheck Fairness Act, and others.
- In January 2017, Republican President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left after Scalia’s death. Gorsuch’s nomination was confirmed on April 7, 2017, after McConnell eliminated the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees.
- On July 18, 2018, McConnell stated he considers the judiciary to be the item of Trump’s first two years with the longest-lasting impact on the country. The record for the number of circuit court judges confirmed during a president’s first year was broken in 2017, while the previous two-year record took place under President George H.W. Bush, and included 22 nominations.
- In July 2018, President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to replace the retiring Anthony Kennedy as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. McConnell accused Democrats of creating an “extreme” distortion of Kavanaugh’s record during his hearing process.
- In September 2018, Christine Blasey Ford publicly alleged that she had been sexually assaulted by Kavanaugh in 1982. After a report came out of Democrats investigating a second allegation against Kavanaugh, McConnell stated, “I want to make it perfectly clear. … Judge Kavanaugh will be voted on here on the Senate floor.” Kavanaugh was confirmed on October 6.
- In October 2018, McConnell said that if a Supreme Court vacancy were to occur during Trump’s 2020 re-election year, he would not follow his own 2016 precedent of letting the winner of the upcoming presidential election nominate a justice.
- By March 2020, McConnell had contacted judges appointed by previous Republican presidents, encouraging them to retire prior to the 2020 election, in an attempt to ensure their replacements would be under a Republican president (Trump) and a Republican-controlled Senate. The number of judges McConnell has so contacted is still unknown.
- In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, McConnell initially opposed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, calling it a Democratic “ideological wish list”.
- He subsequently reversed his position when Trump endorsed the proposed package, advising his unsatisfied colleagues to “gag and vote for” the bill despite their objections. At the time, he stated the Senate was “examining policy tools to put money directly and quickly into the hands of American families” in an effort to provide relief. The bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 90-