Mitch McConnell returns to the Senate after freezing incidents
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 81, is expected to return to Washington, D.C., Tuesday as the Senate reconvenes after a 40-day recess hiatus. McConnell’s health is under increasing scrutiny following his second public freeze-up in recent weeks during a press conference in Kentucky where he didn’t respond for 30 seconds.
The episode mirrored the senator’s first freezing event that occurred at a July press conference in the Capitol. It also comes just months after McConnell suffered a concussion and broken rib when he tripped and hit his head at the D.C. Waldorf Astoria and was admitted to hospital for treatment. His office said last week that the minority leader was just feeling ‘lightheaded’ and assured he would consult a doctor as a precautionary measure. Capitol Physician Dr. Brian Monahan cleared McConnell to continue working, saying the episode could be attributed to dehydration and that it’s normal to experience lightheadedness during concussion recovery.
Senators will reconvene at 3pm today for the first time since the end of July. It is customary that the leader would make remarks on the Senate floor at that time, but it is unclear if McConnell plans to do so or if he will address his recent health issues. The Senate has a busy few weeks ahead as government funding is set to run out by Oct. 1. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has stated his plan to move forward a series of spending bills over the next several weeks. But the House of Representatives is not set to return to D.C. until next Tuesday, not leaving much time to get a deal done and starve off a government shutdown.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy (pictured) has floated the idea of a one-month short-term funding bill, but he is receiving push back from farther right members of his conference. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., is also continuing his blockade on military appointments – which sparked a rare public rebuke from the secretaries of the Army, Air Force and Navy in an op-ed calling it a ‘dangerous hold.’ The House Minority Leader made a series of calls to his Senate allies following the latest troubling episode, DailyMail.com confirmed last week. It was an apparent effort to assure them of his stable health and drum up support as worries intensify.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s spokesperson Ryan Wrasse confirmed to DailyMail.com that the Minority Whip spoke with McConnell and the leader ‘sounded like his usual self and was in good spirits.’ A spokesperson for Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., did not confirm that a call took place between the senators, but said they were aware of reports that the two spoke. McConnell told Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, that he is doing well when the two spoke after the incident on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the senator confirmed to DailyMail.com.
The GOP senators, known as the ‘Three Johns,’ are also next in line to replace the minority leader in the event that he steps down or is unfit to serve. The very swift all-clear comes as reports emerge that a handful of Republican senators are discussing holding a meeting amid McConnell’s declining health. It does not appear that party leadership is involved in these alleged talks. At least a dozen GOP offices said when reached by DailyMail.com last week that they are not aware of any meetings on the topic.
The latest episode has led to renewed calls for term limits in the House and Senate – even from those within the walls of Congress. GOP presidential hopeful Nikki Haley called the Senate the ‘most privileged nursing home in the country’ after McConnell’s recent episode. ‘What I will say is, right now, the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country,’ she said last week. ‘I mean, Mitch McConnell has done some great things and he deserves credit. But you have to know when to leave.’ Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., said the limits would help restore ‘human decency’ for elderly politicians like McConnell and Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 90, who is also suffering public health scares.
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