Sen. McConnell’s medical episodes show no evidence of a stroke or seizure, but questions remain

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnells Health episodes A Capitol doctor said Tuesday there was “no evidence” of a stroke or seizure disorder, but his report still leaves questions about the apparent paralysis that raised concerns about the 81-year-old’s condition.

McConnell returned to work at the Capitol after the summer vacation, and his office has consulted Dr. Brian B. Published a letter from Monahan. GOP leader It froze last week During a press conference in Kentucky, he was unable to answer a question in the second such episode in a month.

Entering the Senate on Tuesday, McConnell did not answer any questions, smiling to reporters. He only mentioned the incident during a speech in the room, his voice slightly muffled.

“A particular moment in my time back home has gotten its fair share of attention,” McConnell said. “But I can assure you that August will be a busy and productive month for me.”

Asked later in the evening if he would hold his regular weekly press conference on Wednesday, McConnell replied, “Yes.”

The episodes have fueled quiet concern and intense speculation that McConnell could last as GOP leader. He suffered a concussion earlier this year He fell and hit his head At a dinner party in Washington. It unknowingly slowed his speech and progress, and he appeared thin on Tuesday. The letter is the second letter from the capital doctor He allowed McConnell to continue With his planned schedule after last week’s incident.

“There is no evidence that you have epilepsy or that you have experienced a stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease,” Monahan wrote, a stroke short for a transient ischemic attack.

But there are no details on what causes the episodes. The doctor said the evaluations included several clinical evaluations, including a brain MRI scan and “consultations with multiple neurologists for a comprehensive neurological evaluation.”

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“As you continue to recover from the March 2023 fall, no changes in treatment protocols are recommended,” the doctor said.

All of this comes amid a whirlwind of health concerns in Washington, especially as COVID-19 cases show signs of trending downward. First Lady Jill Biden is confirmed to be infected with Covid-19 over the weekend, but President Joe Biden tested negative.

Many Republican allies have flocked to McConnell’s side, bolstering support for the popularly guarded leader. Rivals have muted any calls for a direct challenge to his leadership.

“When donkeys fly,” Louisiana’s GOP Sen. John F. Kennedy said when asked when McConnell would step down.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, said he would support McConnell for president: “We may lose 20 seconds a day from Mitch McConnell, but the other 86,380 seconds will be great.”

Still colleagues were confused, worried and yearning for a fuller explanation of the leader’s condition.

“If you’re asking if I’m concerned about his health, yes, of course I am,” Sen. R-Mo. Josh Hawley said. “I’m also concerned about the amount of questions I get about it.”

During his month at home, Hawley said he was repeatedly asked about McConnell’s health everywhere he went, “at the state fair, business leaders, farmers, I mean everybody” across Missouri.

Some senators questioned the doctor’s diagnosis. But potential successors to McConnell’s leadership sided with him.

South Dakota’s No. 2 GOP leader, Sen. John Thune, McConnell has full support, as does Wyoming’s No. 3 GOP leader, Sen. John Barrazzo also said.

Republican Senate of Texas. Another potential leadership successor, John Cornyn, said McConnell told him last week that while he was recovering mentally from the concussion, it was physically a bit tough.

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“It seems like it’s harder to recover from a concussion when you’re 81 than he thought,” Cornyn said. “But he feels he’s up to the task, and I think that’s the way it is.”

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said: “Age comes to us all. And Mitch is stubborn as an ass. And he’s tough.

From the other side of the aisle, after the GOP leader delivered his remarks on the Senate floor, the Senate Democrats. Dick Durbin, the party’s whip, spoke with McConnell.

“He said, ‘You know, I’ve taken every test they’ve thrown at me.’ And he said, ‘A concussion can take its toll. So I’m coming back from a concussion,'” Durbin, of Illinois, told reporters afterward.

“And I told him I was glad to see him back and couldn’t wait to disagree with him.”

Opening the Senate, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said of McConnell, “I’m happy to have him back and doing better.”

McConnell will be central to the fall schedule Congress returns During the summer recess, funding must be approved to prevent any disruption to federal operations from an extended period for emergency action, particularly by September 30, the end of the fiscal year.

Some House Republicans are poised to shut down the government by the end of the month if they can’t pass steep spending controls beyond the deal Biden struck with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy earlier this summer.

Among the leading Senate Republicans, McConnell is seen by the White House and Democrats as a pragmatic broker who is more interested in avoiding a messy government shutdown that could harm the GOP politically.

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McConnell has also made it a priority to ensure that Ukraine continues to receive support from the United States in its fight against Russia.

A $40 billion fund package Ukraine and U.S. disaster relief for communities affected by fires, floods and other problems, including the fentanyl crisis, are being proposed by the White House, but are being questioned by some Republicans who are reluctant to help as much as Biden wants. Ukrainian war effort.

McConnell’s health took a turn for the worse after a concussion in March, and it took him weeks to recover. His speech was still halting, and he walked slowly and carefully.

First elected in 1984, he served as Senate party leader for the longest time in January. Before his latest episode there were questions about whether he would seek re-election in 2026.

McConnell maintained a strong political schedule in Kentucky at the time, speaking frequently to the public and the press. Before freezing last week, McConnell delivered a 20-minute speech without any problems.

Similarly, when he froze during a press conference at the Capitol last month, he took a short break in his office, then returned to a half-dozen questions and joked with reporters.

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Associated Press writers Kevin Freking, Farnoosh Amiri and Stephen Groves contributed to this report.

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This story has been edited to show that the spelling of the doctor’s surname is Monahan, not Monahan or Monohan.

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