Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell brushed aside concerns about his health Wednesday and said he would continue as party leader through the 2024 elections.
(Bloomberg) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell brushed aside concerns about his health Wednesday and said he would continue as party leader through the 2024 elections.
“I will finish my term as leader, and I will finish my Senate term,” McConnell told reporters Wednesday. His leadership term runs through the end of 2024 and his Senate term through 2026.
The 81-year-old senator froze twice at public appearances in the last two months, including for about 30 seconds while speaking with reporters in Kentucky last week, raising concerns about his capacity to lead Senate Republicans into the election.
McConnell declined to answer reporters’ questions about his health and the freezing episodes, instead pointing to a letter his office released Tuesday from the Capitol’s attending physician, Brian Monahan.
Monahan said he examined McConnell, including a brain MRI and EEG of him, and found “no evidence” of a stroke or seizure disorder. Monahan didn’t offer a medical opinion on the cause of McConnell’s freezing episodes.
McConnell told reporters Wednesday that the letter “should answer any reasonable questions,” and “I don’t have anything to add to it.”
McConnell’s allies have attributed the incidents to dehydration and the lingering effects of a concussion he suffered in a fall in March.
McConnell sought to assure Senate Republicans of his abilities at a private lunch meeting earlier Wednesday. He told them he’s been given a clean bill of health and hasn’t had any episodes of freezing other than the two during news events, according to GOP Senator John Kennedy, who described the meeting to reporters.
The Republican leader also told the senators he had raised $49 million for the party in August alone, Kennedy said.
Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who unsuccessfully challenged McConnell for the party leadership post after the 2022 elections, said the GOP leader had done “a good job” assuring Republican senators.
McConnell’s health troubles come as the GOP is angling to retake control of the Senate in 2024 and as the party is working to make President Joe Biden’s age an issue in next year’s presidential election.
The Republican leader, a consummate dealmaker, also could play a pivotal role in a looming standoff with hard-line House conservatives threatening to shut down the government as soon as Oct. 1 unless Biden and Democrats agree to deep spending cuts and other concessions.
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