Doctor clears McConnell to keep working after latest health scare

September 1, 2023

Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has been cleared by the Capitol doctor to continue working following his latest health scare. 

The 81-year-old senator caught the attention of the nation Wednesday when he suddenly began to stare blankly while answering questions.

Dr. Brian Monahan said McConnell was probably lightheaded and attributed the cause to dehydration or a concussion McConnell suffered earlier this year.

McConnell cleared

McConnell could not have been asked a more ironic question: "What are your thoughts on running for re-election?"

The longtime Senate leader stared blankly for about 30 seconds before gathering himself.

McConnell had a similar episode in July. His staff - and his Republican allies in the Senate - have downplayed the concerning behavior as momentary lightheadedness, an assessment that Dr. Monahan endorsed in a brief letter.

"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," he wrote.

"Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration," Monahan added.

Pressure building

It's unlikely the doctor's evaluation will quiet doubts about McConnell's condition, which has brought calls for his resignation and renewed attention to Washington's aging leadership.

90-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein (Ca.), the oldest member of Congress, has also faced pressure to step down. 80-year-old President Biden is widely seen as unfit to serve by the population.

As he faces calls to step aside, McConnell has enjoyed steadfast support from Senate Republicans, whom McConnell has led since 2007. President Biden has also said he has full confidence in McConnell.

“I spoke to him today,” Biden said. “He was his old self on the telephone.”

But McConnell has found less support from President Trump and populist Republicans aligned with him, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.)

"Severe aging health issues and/or mental health incompetence in our nation’s leaders MUST be addressed," she tweeted. "Biden, McConnell, Feinstein, and [John] Fetterman are examples of people who are not fit for office and it’s time to be serious about it."

McConnell has given no signal he plans to retire anytime soon, but it may just be a matter of time.

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