The Senate is set to reconvene Tuesday… less than a week after the Senate Republican leader’s latest serious health scare.
The elderly Senate Minority Leader McConnell, R-Ky., appeared to freeze up and remained silent for about 30 seconds during a news conference Wednesday, four months after suffering a concussion. McConnell also froze at a press conference less than a month earlier, and has fallen numerous times throughout the last year.
Now, McConnell’s doctor has come forward with information that he has cleared McConnell for a return to work… but some senators are demanding to know more.
The Kentucky Republican’s office released a statement from Dr. Brian Monahan saying that he had consulted with McConnell and his neurology team and cleared the senator to continue with his schedule. He did not say if he had examined McConnell personally, and he did not provide any additional details or a diagnosis.
“After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned,” the short statement read. “Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration.”
McConnell’s office has only said that he was feeling “momentarily lightheaded” when he completely froze up on Wednesday. An aide eventually came to help usher him away.
But the “senior moment” has fueled growing concerns among Republican senators and intense speculation about his ability to remain as leader. But the longest-serving Senate party leader is still revealing little about his health condition, even to his closest colleagues.
There are certain to be questions from McConnell’s colleagues about his health, which has visibly declined since the concussion in March. Reporters for the Associated Press have observed that speaking has been more halting, and he has walked more slowly and carefully.
The lack of information from McConnell and his doctors has prompted more questions on Capitol Hill about whether he will run for reelection in 2026 and who may succeed him as GOP leader. But the discussion has remained behind closed doors, for now.
Most Republican senators publicly support McConnell. “I talked to Sen. McConnell yesterday and he seemed to be doing fine,” said Texas Sen. John Cornyn on Thursday after an event in his home state.
Cornyn once served as the No. 2 Republican in the Senate before reaching the role’s term limit, and so he may succeed McConnell upon his retirement.
Scott Jennings, a McConnell adviser, has defended his boss’s performance. He pointed out that McConnell spoke without any issues for 20 minutes before freezing on Wednesday.
But many congressional Republicans are deeply concerned and want more information.
After McConnell’s first public freeze-up in July, Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer of North Dakota said the job of leader calls for more transparency than it would for others.
“We should find out, you know, fairly soon what happened and how serious it is,” Cramer said then. “But I don’t have to tell you, Mitch is also, as an individual, a pretty private guy. So we’ll see.”
Former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Penn., encouraged McConnell to step back “based on what I see.”
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.