Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday insisted he had no plans to step aside amid questions about his health.
“I’m going to finish my term as leader and I’m going to finish my Senate term,” McConnell said during his weekly news conference. His current Senate term ends January 3, 2027.
Concerns about the 81-year-old’s health surfaced anew on August 30 when he appeared to freeze up, standing silent in front of the microphone for about 30 seconds during a Chamber of Commerce event in Covington, Kentucky.
It was at least the second such instance. In July, McConnell told reporters he was “fine” after freezing during a news conference in the U.S. Capitol building.
On March 8 McConnell was hospitalized after suffering a fall while dining at a DC restaurant. He was diagnosed with concussion and a fractured rib, but following a period of physical therapy at an inpatient rehabilitation facility and then rest at home, he returned to the Senate in April after a six-week absence.
Capitol Hill physician Dr. Brian P. Monahan said Tuesday that McConnell shows “no evidence” of having suffered a suffered a seizure disorder, stroke or Parkinson’s disease despite the recent incidents.
Last week, Dr. Monahan said that McConnell was “medically cleared” to continue his schedule following the incident in Kentucky, adding, “Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration.”
Since U.S. Senate returned to work Tuesday following its August break, McConnell’s Republican colleagues have expressed mixed reactions to McConnell’s health report.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) told reporters on Tuesday, “I don’t think it’s been particularly helpful to have the Senate doctor describing it as dehydration, which I think even a non-physician seeing that probably aren’t really accepting that explanation.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) posted on social media Wednesday, “Senator McConnell addressed his recent health episode and gave a detailed report of his doctor’s evaluation. Mitch was strong and clear, and I am confident in his ability to lead our conference. He has my full support.”
And Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) told reporters, “The health scares he’s had were frightening, but age comes for us all, and Mitch is stubborn as a mule and he’s tough. He’s been in my prayers in recent weeks and I have every hope he will recover to full strength.”