Senate Minority Leader McConnell downplays second public health episode in as many months

Capital Hill physician says there is “no evidence” McConnell suffered a seizure or stroke.
Published: Sep. 5, 2023 at 6:39 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Senators returned to Washington Tuesday after a 40-day break and following a second public freezing episode by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

Last week, Leader McConnell lost his ability to talk during a press conference in Kentucky. It was the second time in as many months that it happened in front of the cameras. On Tuesday, McConnell addressed his time back home and his health on the Senate floor.

“One particular moment of my time back home has received its fair share of attention in the press over the past week. But I assure you, August was a busy and productive month for me and my staff back in the commonwealth,” said McConnell.

Last week, Leader McConnell was asked about running for re-election in 2026. He started to answer the question. Then froze before having to be escorted away from the press. McConnell freezing up was eerily similar to when he abruptly stopped speaking during a weekly news conference in July.

In both instances, McConnell’s office said he felt “lightheaded,” however it has not stopped others from speculating there could be something more seriously wrong with the senator.

In a letter to McConnell Tuesday, the Capitol Hill attending physician says after several medical evaluations, “There is no evidence that you have a seizure disorder or that you experienced a stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease. There are no changes recommended in treatment protocols as you continue recovery from your March 2023 fall.”

Senate Democrats like Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) welcomed back McConnell Tuesday with a joke.

“I told (McConnell) it was great to see him back and I couldn’t wait to disagree with him. And I’m sure I’ll have that opportunity in the near future,” said Durbin.

There is plenty of work for the Senate to do including as McConnell put it, “keeping the lights on.” The federal government is set to shut down at the end of the month if a bipartisan deal cannot be reached.