It was a brief moment of uncertainty as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) froze up during a press conference held Wednesday with other Republican Senate leaders.
McConnell was discussing the progress of the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) when he went silent for about 20 seconds. At that point, his colleague, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) – a physician – intervened by asking if the senator was okay and offering to take him back to his office.
Odd moment: McConnell freezes at start of Senate GOP leadership press conference and is escorted to the side by his colleagues pic.twitter.com/hT5bLnstOS
— Raquel Martin (@RaquelMartinTV) July 26, 2023
McConnell then stepped away with Barrasso for a brief period of time before returning. During the interim, Sen. John Thune (R-SD) took over the press conference.
Fortunately, an aide of McConnell later revealed that the senator “felt light-headed and needed to step away for a moment” but was “sharp” when it came to answer questions.
Barrasso himself expressed his concern for the senator’s well-being as he noted that McConnell had experienced a fall and been hospitalized back in the winter.
“And I think he’s made a remarkable recovery,” Barrasso said. “He’s doing a great job leading our conference, and he was able to answer every question that the press asked him today. And you may note he answered more questions than he normally does.”
For his part, McConnell later made a joke about the incident, and his previous health scare, at the expense of President Joe Biden. Noting that Biden took a tumble on the stage during an Air Force commencement ceremony in Colorado Springs earlier this year, McConnell quipped that, “The president called to check on me. I told him I got sandbagged. … Gotta watch those sandbags!”
The scare aside, Sen. McConnell appears to be doing alright, and the NDAA is making steady progress. It remains to be seen how the rest of the deliberations will fare, but McConnell’s quick determination in entertaining questions afterwards shows just why he is such an effective leader in the Republican Senate.
BREAKING: Biden takes a big fall on stage just now at the U.S. Air Force Academy graduation pic.twitter.com/GxkMbpyoNo
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) June 1, 2023