McConnell Says He’s ‘Completely Recovered’ After 2 On-Camera Freeze-Ups

Ryan Morgan
By Ryan Morgan
October 23, 2023Politics
McConnell Says He’s ‘Completely Recovered’ After 2 On-Camera Freeze-Ups
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell appears to freeze up for more than 30 seconds during a public appearance after an event with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce in Covington, Ky., on Aug. 30, 2023, in a still image from video. (ABC Affiliate WCPO via Reuters)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he’s completely recovered after appearing to freeze up in front of reporters on two separate occasions this summer.

Mr. McConnell had his first freeze-up during a July 26 press conference when he abruptly stopped talking or responding to reporters asking questions. The 81-year-old Republican senator froze up in front of cameras and reporters once again about five weeks later, during an Aug. 30 press conference.

Congressional Attending Physician Dr. Brian Monahan issued a statement the day after Mr. McConnell’s second freeze-up, stating the senator is medically clear to continue working on his normal schedule. Dr. Monahan indicated that the freeze-up incidents may have been the result of occasional lightheadedness after he tripped and fell in March, sustaining a concussion and a minor rib fracture.

Mr. McConnell told The Epoch Times he was “doing fine” on Sept. 5, about a week after his second freeze-up. Still, questions about his health have persisted since and the issue came up again during a wide-ranging interview with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

“I’m fine. I’m completely recovered and just fine,” Mr. McConnell said when host Margaret Brennan asked him about his health.

Dr. Monahan has said, after reviewing MRI and electroencephalogram (EEG) tests and consulting with multiple neurologists, that he saw no indications that Mr. McConnell had experienced a seizure, stroke, mini-stroke, or a movement disorder caused by Parkinson’s disease.

“I wonder, is there anything the public should know that wasn’t disclosed,” the CBS host asked Mr. McConnell.

“I’m in good shape, completely recovered, and back on the job,” Mr. McConnell insisted.

Ms. Brennan continued to press the Senate Minority Leader about his health and willingness to serve during what she described as a time of “incredible dysfunction in Washington.” Mr. McConnell instead sought to change the topic.

“I think we ought to be talking about what we were talking about earlier, rather than about my health,” he said.

Ms. Brennan then asked the Senate Minority Leader about his views on former President Donald Trump and his leading position in the 2024 Republican presidential primary. Mr. McConnell, who has routinely found himself at odds with the Republican former president, said he would not comment on any of the candidates running for president next year.

‘I Have My Hands Full Here in the Senate’: McConnell

Mr. McConnell not only has a strained relationship with the 2024 Republican presidential frontrunner, but also has to navigate the challenges that come with a divided government and continued delays in the House Speaker selection process.

When asked about if there’s any leader that can unite the House Republican majority, Mr. McConnell said, “I have my hands full here in the Senate and we’re going to do our job and hope the House can get functional here sometime soon.”

Last week, President Joe Biden called on Congress to approve an “urgent” set of supplemental defense spending requests. The request calls for new spending to assist the Ukrainian military in their ongoing war with Russia, as well as funding to replenish Israel’s air defense systems after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks.

Mr. McConnell said he would like to see the United States “back up the Israelis in every conceivable way” following the Oct. 7 attacks. The Senate minority leader has also been supportive of sending military aid to Ukraine after Russian forces invaded the country in 2022, but his fellow Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have been more resistant to such aid efforts.

When asked whether it makes more sense to approve Israel and Ukraine aid as standalone bills, Mr. McConnell said it would be a mistake to separate the two issues.

“There are some Republicans in the Senate and maybe more in the House that think Ukraine is somehow different. I view it as all interconnected,” he said.

Republican lawmakers have been less resistant to passing new aid for Israel but may resist President Biden’s supplemental spending request depending on what else it includes.

President Biden has indicated his supplemental defense spending request includes spending for the residents of Gaza impacted by the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas. In a Friday press statement, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip could end up becoming a “slush fund” to “resupply” Hamas and said the Biden administration’s request is “dead on arrival.”

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