After 15 days of scandal and a public outcry for his resignation, Mississippi Senator Trent Lott has voluntarily stepped down as Republican leader of the United States Senate.
Lott will remain a senator, but has walked away from his position as leader of the Republican majority in the Senate "in the interest of pursuing the best possible agenda for the future of our country," according to a statement released by his camp.
Senator Lott came under fire for comments he made at a birthday party for South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond that seemed to be an open endorsement of racial segregation. In 1948, Thurmond ran for president on a segregationist platform. At Thurmond's birthday party, Lott said that the country would be better off if Thurmond had won that election.
Lott apologized for the way that many interpreted his comments, but after being admonished by Senate colleagues of both parties as well as by the White House, Lott went on to explain and apologize further, most notably in an interview with BET on Monday night.
The apologies still were not enough for many, including those in the hip-hop community, many of whom called for Lott to step down (see "Fat Joe, Talib Kweli: Trent Lott's Apology Not Enough").
Lott is likely to be replaced as Senate Majority Leader by Tennessee Republican Bill Frist.