Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been medically cleared to return to work in the senate. On Wednesday, McConnell appeared to freeze and seemed unable to respond to reporter’s questions at a press event in Covington, Kentucky, on Wednesday.

This was the second incident in the last five weeks where the 81-year-old Republican senator appeared to freeze for around 30 seconds, The Washington Post reported, causing concerns about his health and physical condition.

Earlier this year in March, McConnell was also hospitalized after a serious fall at a Washington, D.C., hotel. He suffered a concussion and a rib fracture from the fall but returned to work shortly after, the Deseret News reported.

How was McConnell cleared to work?

The attending physician of Congress signed a four-line letter releasing McConnell to go back to work, according to The New York Times, suggesting the recent incidents could be linked to concussion recovery.

Dr. Brian P. Monahan said “occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” per the Times.

McConnell got on a phone call shortly after the frozen moment Wednesday, “apparently seeking to minimize political fallout,” CNN reported. He says he “feels fine” and has continued to strike down concerns about his health.

McConnell freezes again during press gaggle, raising concerns about his health
Mitch McConnell released from hospital after being hospitalized for serious fall

What are McConnell’s colleagues saying?

McConnell was elected to his seventh six-year term in 2020. While most Republican leaders remain supportive publicly of McConnell staying in office, some have expressed concerns about his health issues.

“If he wants to stay as leader, he needs to be transparent and open about his current condition,” a House Republican, requesting anonymity, told NBC News.

Here’s what other leaders are saying”

  • Sen. John Cornyn (R, Texas) — “I talked to Sen. McConnell yesterday and he seemed to be doing fine. We all wish him well,” per the Post.
  • Bob Barney, Republican Party chair in Jessamine County, Kentucky — “We’re all very disappointed that he didn’t let someone else take over as leader in 2022. That would’ve been a wise decision at the time,” he told the Post.
  • Rep. Dean Phillips (D, Minn.) — “For goodness sake, the family, friends, and staff of Sens. Feinstein and McConnell are doing them and our country a tremendous disservice. It’s time for term limits for Congress and the Supreme Court, and some basic human decency,” he tweeted.
  • President Joe Biden — “He was his old self on the telephone,” per WSJ.
  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R, Ga.) — “Severe aging health issues and/or mental health incompetence in our nation’s leaders MUST be addressed,” she tweeted Wednesday.

What could happen if McConnell has a health scare again?

If concerns continue to rise, Senate Republicans “could request a special meeting of the Senate GOP conference to discuss” whether McConnell is physically fit to continue representing the people of Kentucky, as well as the needs of the American public, per the Post. It would require “just a handful of signatures to prompt such a request.”

“Texts between members are being exchanged,” one person familiar with the senators discussions told The Wall Street Journal. “But my guess is there’ll be a wait-and-see attitude certainly until we get back to see what’s happening.”

The power to name a replacement senator in Kentucky if a senator dies in office, is expelled or retires before their term is up goes to a state executive committee composed of members from the same political party as the senator, per the Times. The committee can “name three candidates that the governor can choose from to fill the vacancy on a temporary basis.”

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