WASHINGTON — One day after Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze up at a public event, Brian Monahan, the attending physician for the U.S. Capitol, said that he told McConnell “he is medically clear” to continue to work.
Monahan said in a statement that he had “consulted” with McConnell, 81, and “conferred” with the Kentucky Republican’s neurology team and determined that “he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned.”
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” the doctor said.
The statement released by his office is the first time McConnell's team has acknowledged that the staring spells McConnell has been dealing with could be attributed to lingering effects from his fall and concussion in March that sidelined him for nearly six weeks.
After the fall at a Washington hotel, McConnell had other health episodes. NBC News reported that on July 14, McConnell, a polio survivor who has struggled to navigate stairs and other obstacles, fell disembarking from a plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. He was not seriously hurt.
But later that month, McConnell stunned reporters, Senate colleagues and aides when he froze up at his weekly leadership news conference for nearly 20 seconds in front of the TV cameras.
It happened again Wednesday at an event in Covington, Kentucky, where McConnell appeared unable to speak for roughly 30 seconds after a reporter asked him if he planned to run for re-election in 2026.
A spokesman explained the long pause by saying that McConnell, the longest-serving Senate leader in either party, had "felt momentarily lightheaded."
Addressing Hurricane Idalia at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, President Joe Biden said Thursday that he had just spoken to McConnell, his former Senate colleague whom the president called "a friend."
"He was his old self on the telephone," said Biden, who survived two brain aneurysms in 1988. "And having a little understanding of dealing with neurosurgeons and people. ... It’s not at all unusual to have the response that sometimes happens to Mitch when you’ve had a severe concussion."
"It’s part of, it is part of the recovery. And so I’m confident he’s going to be back to his old self," Biden said.