In a sign of growing Republican uncertainty about Mitch McConnell’s handling of questions about his health, a Senate colleague cast doubt on assurances from the congressional physician that the 81-year-old Kentucky senator is fit to lead his party despite freezing twice in front of reporters.
“I’m just trying to counter the misinformation from the Senate doctor,” Rand Paul said in a statement likely to anger the Republican leader in the Senate.
Two letters from that doctor, Brian P Monahan, have been released since last Wednesday, when McConnell suffered his second freeze in little more than a month.
The first letter said McConnell might be suffering the after-effects of a concussion, sustained in a fall in March, or from dehydration. The second letter said McConnell was not suffering from a “seizure disorder”, a stroke or a “movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease”.
McConnell is the longest-serving party leader in Senate history, in place since 2007. His power over his caucus has rarely been questioned but his health scares have stoked speculation about whether he will finish his seventh six-year term, which ends in January 2027.
McConnell rejected such speculation on Wednesday, telling reporters: “I have no announcement to make on that subject. I’m going to finish my term as leader and I’m going to finish my Senate term.”
According to Fox News, McConnell also used a closed-door party luncheon to reassure senators he was up to the job. Rick Scott of Florida, who challenged McConnell last year, told Fox McConnell did well.
Paul is Kentucky’s second Republican senator. Speaking to reporters about the doctor’s letters, he said: “When you get dehydrated you don’t have moments when your eyes look in the distance with a vacant look and you’re sort of basically unconscious with your eyes open. That’s not a symptom of dehydration.”
Monahan has also said “several medical evaluations” of McConnell included “brain MRI imaging, EEG study and consultations with several neurologists for a comprehensive neurology assessment”.
Paul – formerly a practising opthalmologist – added: “It is a medical mistake to say someone doesn’t have a seizure disorder because they have a normal EEG” or electroencephalogram.
“My point is that I’m just trying to counter the misinformation from the Senate doctor. It is basically not believable to come up and say that what’s going on is dehydration. It makes it worse.”
Paul said his remarks had “nothing to do with [McConnell’s] fitness to serve and whether he’s doing a good job or a bad job”.
In his second letter, Monahan called McConnell’s freeze in Kentucky last week a “brief episode”.
Press attention to McConnell’s health has been constant since he fell in Washington in March, sustaining injuries that kept him away from Capitol Hill, and since he froze in front of congressional reporters in July. Other falls were reported then, including a “face plant” at an airport.
Polling shows most Americans think many politicians stay in their roles too long. More than 75% think that at 80, Joe Biden is too old for a second term as president.
Part of the oldest Senate on record, McConnell is nine years younger than the oldest senator, 90-year-old Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, and eight years younger than the oldest Republican, Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
We are sorry that this article was not useful for you!
Let us improve this article!
Tell us how we can improve this article?