The 118th Congress will still be led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to a statement issued by his Kentucky office on Friday.
“Questions about the future of McConnell, 81, were swiftly raised this week after he froze for 30 seconds during a news conference. The statement doesn’t address his plans for the next Congress, which begins in 2025,” CNN reported.
McConnell was addressing reporters during the weekly Senate Republican Agenda press conference on Wednesday when he suddenly became silent. He stood silent at the stage for a few seconds until his colleagues intervened to lead him away.
He made light of receiving a call from President Joe Biden with a few congressional reporters later on Wednesday. Soon later, he came back to answer queries.
“The president called to see how I was doing. McConnell told reporters, “I told him I got sandbagged.”
After falling at a hotel in the Washington, D.C., region in March, McConnell required extensive concussion care. After leaving an event, the former senator from Kentucky fell, breaking a rib and hurting his head, according to the Associated Press.
According to a recent article by NBC’s Garrett Haake and Sahil Kapur, sources said McConnell fell on the ground on July 14 as he was getting off a plane at Reagan National Airport:
McConnell, 81, was not seriously hurt and was seen at the Capitol later that day, where he interacted with at least one reporter.
The July 14 fall, which has not been previously reported, occurred after the flight out of Washington was canceled while everyone was on board. McConnell, R-Ky., who was a passenger on the plane, had a “face plant,” someone who was on the plane at the time but did not witness the fall told NBC News. That passenger also said they spoke to another passenger who helped tend to McConnell after the fall.
The Senate’s top Republican has also recently been using a wheelchair as a precautionary measure when navigating crowded airports, according to a source familiar with his practices.
“McConnell has also recently been using a wheelchair as a precaution when he navigates crowded airports, said a source familiar with his practices. McConnell, a polio survivor who has long struggled to navigate stairs and other obstacles, has had a difficult recent history with falls. He sustained a concussion and a cracked rib in a fall in Washington this year, and he spent six weeks away from the Senate. He fractured a shoulder in a fall in Kentucky in 2019, requiring surgery,” NBC News reported.
“He’s definitely slower with his gait,” said a Republican senator, who allegedly spoke to NBC on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. The GOP senator added that in private meetings, McConnell “doesn’t address it,” referring to health issues.
When McConnell eventually returned to the press conference, he told reporters that he was “fine,” according to CNN’s Manu Raju, and he accepted several questions.
Raju later learned from a McConnell assistant that the Republican leader had experienced “lightheadedness” during the incident.
“From a McConnell aide: ‘He felt light-headed and stepped away for a moment. He came back to handle Q and A, which as everyone observed was sharp,’” Raju tweeted.
From a McConnell aide: “He felt light headed and stepped away for a moment. He came back to handle Q and A, which as everyone observed was sharp.” https://t.co/MnuUzkpmLo
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) July 26, 2023
After his fall, which resulted in a severe concussion, McConnell may have thought about retiring, according to reports from back in March.
“Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has been out of the public eye for weeks, following a serious fall that hospitalized him. Now multiple sources confirm that Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas, and John Thune of South Dakota are actively reaching out to fellow Republican senators in efforts to prepare for an anticipated leadership vote — a vote that would occur upon the announcement that McConnell would be retiring from his duties as leader, and presumably the Senate itself,” The Spectator reported at the time.