Sen. Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader of the Republican Party, was cleared to return to regular business on Friday after attending physician Dr. Brian Monahan said there was “no evidence” that McConnell had a seizure or a stroke last week when a freeze-up caused concern.
On August 30th, McConnell was at a press conference in Covington, Kentucky when he froze for over thirty seconds after being asked, “What are your thoughts on running for re-election in 2026?” Aides quickly rushed to his side but McConnell regained composure shortly afterward, though reportedly only after prompting from aides.
Monahan said McConnell’s evaluation included a brain MRI, EEG study, and several meetings with neurologists for an assessment. Afterward, the doctor concluded that there was “no evidence” of a seizure disorder or a stroke. Monahan also said no changes to McConnell’s treatment were recommended.
McConnell’s freeze-up followed a fall in March at a Washington hotel that resulted in a concussion and a fractured rib. He spent some time in recovery at an inpatient rehabilitation facility before returning to the Senate.
“Leader McConnell felt momentarily lightheaded and paused during his press conference today,” said Kristen Kukowski, McConnell’s spokesperson following last week’s incident.
Anthony Fauci, Chief Medical Advisor to the President, said, “I applaud Senator McConnell for receiving an evaluation from a qualified physician. It is always wise to err on the side of caution and assess any individual's health if there’s a potential concern. I am pleased to hear that the consultations found no evidence of any further issues or concerns.”
When asked about Scott DesJarlais, doctor and Republican congressman from Tennessee, who recently tested positive for COVID-19 after having refused to wear a mask, McConnell deflected the question back onto Democrats, saying, “I'm not going to comment on the personal behavior of any members. I will simply point out the double standard that exists in Washington. I encourage everyone to be attentive to do what their local health professionals are saying.”
McConnell’s likely 2026 re-election campaign will be his seventh overall, having been first elected to the Senate in Texas in 1984. He will turn 85 the year of the election and will face likely challengers from Kentucky.
McConnell’s health issue may not have much bearing on his election prospects given that Dr. Monahan’s statements all but eliminated any potential medical concerns the senior senator has. However, and fortunately for McConnell, the episode may have served instead to redirect the conversation away from other matters, like DesJarlais’ COVID-19.