The Capitol’s attending physician, Brian Monahan, said in a new letter that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell did not suffer a stroke or seizure – and is not suffering from Parkinson’s disease – after the 81-year-old Kentuckian was evaluated by a group of neurologists following two recent health scares in front of TV cameras.
The new letter, released by McConnell’s office Tuesday, comes after he froze in front of cameras for the second time in as many months, raising questions about whether the GOP leader could continue to hold his powerful position atop the Senate GOP Conference. After he froze last week in Covington, Kentucky, McConnell was evaluated by four neurologists, according to a person familiar with the matter.
McConnell appears to freeze while speaking with reporters
Monahan said in the Tuesday letter that he consulted with McConnell’s neurologists and conducted several evaluations, including brain MRI imaging and a test that measures electrical imaging in the brain.
“There is no evidence that you have a seizure disorder or that you experienced a stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease,” the letter said.
McConnell made a passing reference to his freezing episode, saying that “one particular moment of my time back home has received its fair share of attention and the press over the past week.”
“But I assure you, August was a busy and productive month for me and my staff back in the Commonwealth,” he said during floor remarks Tuesday. McConnell detailed events he attended during the recess, pausing once to take a drink of water.
McConnell freezes during July 2023 press conference
It’s still unclear exactly why McConnell froze up for roughly 30 seconds each time.
The Republican leader’s office had attributed the two frozen moments to “lightheadedness,” and Monahan had indicated in a previous letter that it’s “not uncommon” for victims of concussion to feel lightheaded. McConnell suffered a concussion and broken ribs after falling at a Washington hotel and hitting his head in March, sidelining him from the Senate for nearly six weeks.
The note comes as the Senate returns to session Tuesday after a five-week recess and as GOP senators are expected to face questions about whether they believe the Republican leader can continue leading his conference as he has for the past 16 years – longer than any party leader in Senate history. McConnell is expected to continue to stay through this Congress as leader, but there are growing questions about whether he will continue to serve in the next Congress, which begins in 2025.
This story and headline have been updated with additional developments.