In a recent development, Senator Mitch McConnell has been pronounced "medically clear" to continue with his planned schedule, according to a letter from the attending physician of Congress, Dr. Brian P. Monahan. This comes after McConnell experienced a freezing episode during a news conference, similar to one he had last month. Dr. Monahan, who consulted with McConnell and his neurology team, stated that occasional lightheadedness is common in concussion recovery and may be expected due to dehydration.
However, the statement did not address McConnell's increasingly frail appearance and recent string of medical incidents, which have raised concerns among his colleagues and led to questions about his ability to continue in his position. McConnell has had multiple falls since suffering a concussion in March, but his office has provided minimal information about his health.
During the news conference, McConnell froze mid-sentence and was briefly escorted away from the microphones before returning to continue his day as usual. His office did not confirm if he had been evaluated by a doctor, but emphasized that he had carried on with his activities, including attending a reception hosted by Major League Baseball later that evening. Although McConnell's spokesperson stated that he planned to be examined by a doctor after the incident, no further updates were provided regarding a diagnosis.
Unlike the president, members of Congress are not required to release detailed information about their health. Nevertheless, the public episode in Covington, Ky., has increased pressure on McConnell to provide an explanation. The National Review, a conservative publication, even called for McConnell to step down from his leadership position, claiming that the episodes have affected his ability to represent Senate Republicans effectively.
The incident occurred near the end of Congress's summer recess, when senators are often traveling on official trips. McConnell spoke with members of his leadership team and connected with President Biden over the phone following the episode. He also participated in a public event with Representative Jim Banks, a Republican from Indiana who is running for Senate. However, most Republican senators remain uninformed about McConnell's actual condition and have their own concerns about his ability to lead the conference in the future.
Dr. Monahan's letter offers some reassurance, attributing McConnell's freezing episodes to a normal recovery process from a severe concussion. President Biden, who has faced attacks about his own age and mental acuity, expressed confidence in McConnell's ability to return to his normal self. McConnell's health will undoubtedly remain a topic of discussion and speculation as he continues his duties in the Senate.