The Capitol attending physician on Thursday said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is “medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned,” after he appeared to freeze up while taking questions from reporters Wednesday.
Brian Monahan, the attending physician, said he consulted with McConnell and conferred with the GOP leader’s neurology team. He added that occasional lightheadedness, which a McConnell spokesperson said the senator experienced following Wednesday’s episode, “is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration.”
McConnell, 81, suffered a concussion and a rib fracture in March after falling at a private dinner in Washington, D.C. He was hospitalized and spent time at an in-patient rehabilitation facility before returning home then, to the Capitol for work in April.
“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team. After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned. Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” Monahan said in a statement.
Top Stories from The Hill
- First Proud Boy sentenced to 17 years in prison after seditious conspiracy conviction
- Trump in deposition says he averted ‘nuclear holocaust’
- Ukraine breaks through major Russian defense lines as counteroffensive picks up pace
- Clarence Thomas discloses multiple trips accepted from GOP megadonor Harlan Crow
During a press gaggle in Covington, Ky., on Wednesday, McConnell appeared to freeze for roughly 30 seconds while fielding questions from reporters. It was the second time in just over a month that the GOP leader froze up while answering questions from reporters in front of a camera. The first episode was during his weekly press conference in the Capitol in July.
On Wednesday, a reporter in Kentucky asked McConnell for his thoughts about running for reelection in 2026, which the GOP leader needed the reporter to repeat twice. McConnell then responded “that’s a,” before freezing and looking ahead for about 30 seconds.
Following the bout of unresponsiveness, McConnell answered two more questions — which his aide had to repeat — before walking away from the podium and exiting the room. The press gaggle took place after McConnell spoke for roughly 20 minutes, according to NBC News.
After the incident, a McConnell spokesperson said the GOP leader “felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today,” similar to what his office said after the first freeze-up episode. An aide for the Kentucky Republican added on Wednesday that the senator “feels fine,” but noted “as a prudential measure, the Leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event.”
Later on Wednesday, McConnell was photographed with Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who is running for Senate in Indiana.
President Biden on Thursday said he spoke to McConnell — who he called “a friend” — earlier that day, and that the GOP leader “was his old self on the telephone.” The president said he does not have any concerns about the senator’s ability to do his job.
McConnell also spoke with members of his leadership team on Wednesday, including Senate Republican Whip John Thune (S.D.), Senate GOP Conference Vice Chair Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), and Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), according to spokespeople for the three.
The Thune spokesperson said McConnell “sounded like his usual self and was in good spirits,” Capito’s aide said the senator “said the leader sounded fine and she looks forward to seeing him when the Senate is back on Tuesday,” and the Daines spokesperson said the NRSC chair “was glad to hear the Leader sounds like himself and is feeling fine.”
McConnell’s two freeze ups have raised questions about the longtime GOP leader’s political future. The Kentucky Republican has led the GOP conference for 16 years, and in January, he surpassed the late-Sen Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) as the longest-serving Senate leader in history.
But in the wake of his two freeze-ups, the fall in March and two other falls in Finland and Washington, D.C., this year, questions are swirling regarding McConnell’s tenure as the leader of the Senate GOP conference.
Updated at 3:28 p.m.