Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) latest freeze in front of cameras on Wednesday has reportedly sparked discussions among some Senate Republicans about holding a bigger party discussion regarding McConnell and the future of their party’s leadership.
Politico’s Burgess Everett reported that several Republican senators outside of leadership were participating in the talks, citing a source “directly involved in the conversations.” While they weigh bringing the discussion to higher-ups and the rest of their colleagues, Everett noted two potential forums where such talks could happen:
It takes just five Republican senators to force a special conference meeting, which is the most direct way to have a specific discussion about the minority leader after his public pause on Wednesday revived questions about his condition. But the Senate GOP also holds private lunches two or three times a week, giving members another forum for hashing out the direction of the party’s leadership — one that could forestall the need for a special confab.
However, one senator told Politico trying to remove McConnell, who suffered a concussion earlier this year and was absent for nearly six weeks, would be unsuccessful, just as it was when Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) attempted to wrestle the leadership role away from the 81-year-old earlier this year.
“If a handful goes down that path, it will be a rerun of the last time,” the senator said anonymously to Politico.
McConnell’s freeze came when he was asked about potentially running for reelection at the end of his term. He stared, unblinking, into the distance for an extended time and seemed to say “yes” when asked if he heard the question but continued to remain silent. He answered at least one more reporter before walking slowly from the podium.
BREAKING NEWS: Sen. Mitch McConnell appearing to have another scary episode in the media gaggle in Covington today. Aides had to step in to help him out and repeat questions. He was eventually lead away. We'll have the full video on @WLWT pic.twitter.com/q9ex5MHxLV
— Hannah Thomas (@HannahPThomas) August 30, 2023
“Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today,” a spokesperson for McConnell said in a statement to Breitbart News shortly after the incident. An aide noted that he would consult a physician and said he feels fine.
McConnell’s office on Thursday released a note from Dr. Brian Monahan, the attending physician of Congress, stating he was cleared to work.
“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team,” Monahan wrote. “After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell 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,” he added.
A strikingly similar incident happened just over a month ago on July 24 at the U.S. Capitol, when McConnell froze for more than 20 seconds and had to be escorted from the podium, but later returned and told reporters he was “fine.”
President Joe Biden came to his defense on Thursday, saying the episodes are “part of his recovery” from his concussion.
“I’m confident he’s going to get back to his old self,” Biden said.