Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowed on Wednesday to keep his job as Senate Republican leader at least through 2024 and to finish his seventh Senate term, which runs through 2026, despite recent health problems.
“I have no announcements to make on that subject,” McConnell, who is 81, told reporters when asked about calls from fellow conservatives to step down as Senate Republican leader.
“I’m going to finish my term as leader and I’m going to finish my Senate term,” McConnell declared.
He made his statement after the National Review, a high-profile conservative magazine, called on McConnell in an editorial last week to “step aside.”
“McConnell has noticeably aged since his bad fall in March, when he sustained a concussion and a broken rib, and he should want, for his own sake and that of his colleagues, to go out on his own terms,” the magazine’s editors wrote on Aug. 31.
Longtime political commentator Bill O’Reilly, a former Fox News anchor, also said on Aug. 31 that “McConnell should resign tomorrow.”
McConnell pointed to a letter from the Capitol’s attending physician Brian Monahan when asked by reporters on Wednesday to discuss two recent incidents when he froze while speaking to television cameras.
Monahan, citing brain MRI imaging, EEG study and consultation with several neurologists, said McConnell shows “no evidence” of suffering from a seizure disorder, stroke or Parkinson’s disease.
“I think Dr. Monahan covered the subject fully. You’ve had a chance to read it. I don’t have anything to add to it and I think it should answer any reasonable question,” McConnell said.
Asked if doctors know the precise medical reasons for freezing at press conferences, McConnell said: “What Dr. Monahan’s report addressed was concerns people might have with some things that happened to me.”
“I really have nothing to add to that,” he said.
McConnell’s home-state colleague, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon, however, has raised doubts about Monahan’s medical findings.
“The doctor said that they ruled out seizure disorder from an EEG. A normal EEG doesn’t rule out seizures. First of all, 25 percent of people who’ve had a brain injury end up having seizures after their injury,” Paul told The Hill Wednesday.
“The bottom line is, it is a medical mistake to say that someone doesn’t have a seizure disorder because they have a normal EEG,” Paul said.
Other Republican senators have accepted the Capitol Hill physician’s conclusions without criticism or skepticism.
“I’m not his doctor, but I will say his doctor put out a statement listing the tests the leader has gone through and there was no evidence or any terrible thing that had happened,” Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a medical doctor, told the USA Today Network. “So at this point I say that Mitch can still be the leader of the Republican caucus.”