WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Chief Mitch McConnell’s well being episodes present “no proof” of a stroke or seizure dysfunction, the Capitol doctor stated Tuesday, however his assertion nonetheless left questions in regards to the obvious freeze-ups which have drawn issues in regards to the 81-year-old’s scenario.
McConnell returned to work on the Capitol after the summer time recess, and his workplace launched a letter from attending doctor Brian P. Monahan in regards to the long-serving Republican chief’s well being. The GOP chief froze up final week throughout a press convention in Kentucky, unable to reply to a query within the second such episode in a month.
Strolling into the Senate on Tuesday, McConnell answered no questions as he smiled at reporters. He made solely passing reference to the incident throughout a speech within the chamber, his voice considerably muffled.
“One specific second of my time again dwelling has acquired its justifiable share of consideration,” McConnell stated. “However I guarantee you August was a busy and productive month for me.”
Requested later within the night if he would holding his common weekly press convention Wednesday, McConnell merely replied, “Yep.”
The episodes have fueled quiet concern and intense hypothesis about McConnell’s potential to stay the GOP chief. He suffered a concussion earlier this yr when he fell and hit his head at a dinner in Washington. It has left him visibly slower in his speech and stride, and he appeared slimmer Tuesday. The letter was the second from the Capitol doctor, who cleared McConnell to proceed along with his deliberate schedule after final week’s incident.
“There isn’t any proof that you’ve a seizure dysfunction or that you just skilled a stroke, TIA or motion dysfunction equivalent to Parkinson’s illness,” Monahan wrote, utilizing the acronym for a transient ischemic assault, a quick stroke.
However there was no elaboration as to what did trigger the episodes. The physician stated the assessments entailed a number of medical evaluations together with a mind MRI scan and “consultations with a number of neurologists for a complete neurology evaluation.”
“There aren’t any adjustments advisable in therapy protocols as you proceed restoration out of your March 2023 fall,” the physician stated.
All of it comes amid a swirl of well being issues in Washington, notably as COVID-19 instances present indicators of rising heading into fall. First girl Jill Biden examined constructive for COVID-19 over the weekend, however President Joe Biden examined detrimental.
Many Republican allies have flocked to McConnell’s aspect, making certain the famously guarded chief a effectively of assist. Rivals have muted any requires a direct problem to his management.
“When donkeys fly,” GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana stated when requested when McConnell would step down.
Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, stated he’s supporting McConnell as chief: “We’d lose from Mitch McConnell 20 seconds a day, however the different 86,380 seconds are fairly darn good.”
And but colleagues remained confused, involved and hungering for a fuller rationalization of the chief’s well being.
“If you happen to’re asking if I’m involved about his well being, yeah, in fact I’m,” stated Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. “I’m additionally involved in regards to the quantity of questions I get about it.”
Hawley stated in the course of the month at dwelling, he was requested repeatedly about McConnell’s well being in all places he went throughout Missouri “on the State Honest, from enterprise group leaders, farmers, I imply everybody.”
Some senators appeared to query the doctor’s analysis. However the prime potential successors to McConnell’s management stood by him.
The No. 2 GOP chief Sen. John Thune of South Dakota stated McConnell has his full assist, as did the No. 3 GOP chief Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, one other potential management inheritor, stated McConnell instructed him final week that whereas he’s mentally rebounded from the concussion, bodily it’s been just a little harder.
“It seems that it’s tougher to get better from a concussion while you’re 81 years outdated than possibly he thought,” Cornyn stated. “However he appears like he’s as much as the duty and I feel that’s the case.”
Stated Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas: “Age comes for us all. And Mitch is cussed as a mule. And he’s powerful.”
From the opposite aspect of the aisle, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin, the social gathering whip, spoke with McConnell after the GOP chief delivered his remarks within the Senate.
“He stated, ‘You realize, I’ve taken each check they’ve thrown at me.’ And he stated that ‘concussion can take its toll. So I’m going by way of recovering from a concussion,’” Durbin of Illinois instructed reporters afterward.
“And I instructed him I stated I used to be glad to see him again, couldn’t wait to disagree with him.”
Opening the Senate, Majority Chief Chuck Schumer stated of McConnell, “I’m glad to see him again and doing effectively.”
McConnell can be central to the autumn schedule as Congress returns from an prolonged summer time break for a flurry of exercise, most notably the necessity to approve funding to stop any interruption in federal operations by Sept. 30, which is the tip of the fiscal yr.
Some Home Republicans are keen to close down the federal government on the finish of the month if they’re unable to enact steep spending restrictions that transcend the settlement Biden reached with Republican Home Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this summer time.
In main Senate Republicans, McConnell is considered by the White Home and Democrats as a practical dealer who’s extra fascinated by avoiding a messy authorities shutdown that might be politically damaging to the GOP.
McConnell has additionally made it a precedence to make sure Ukraine continues to obtain assist from the U.S. because it battles Russia.
A $40 billion funding bundle for Ukraine and U.S. catastrophe aid for communities hit by fires, floods and different issues, together with the fentanyl disaster, is being proposed by the White Home, however it’s being met with skepticism from some Republicans reluctant to assist as a lot as Biden needs within the Ukrainian conflict effort.
McConnell’s well being has visibly declined for the reason that concussion in March, after which he took some weeks to get better. His talking has been extra halting, and he has walked extra slowly and punctiliously.
First elected in 1984, he turned the longest serving Senate social gathering chief in January. There have been questions earlier than his newest episode about whether or not he would run for re-election in 2026.
McConnell had been dwelling in Kentucky on the time maintaining a sturdy political schedule, talking often to the general public and press. Earlier than freezing up final week, McConnell had simply given a 20-minute speech with no points.
Equally, when he froze up throughout a press convention on the Capitol final month, he took a brief break in his workplace after which returned to area a few half-dozen different questions and banter with the press.
Related Press writers Kevin Freking, Farnoush Amiri and Stephen Groves contributed to this report.
This story has been corrected to indicate the spelling of the physician’s surname is Monahan, not Moanhan or Monohan.