Capitol Hill doctor: According to a new letter from the Capitol’s attending physician, there is no evidence that Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell suffers from seizure disorder, stroke, Parkinson’s disease or any other movement disorder after he was evaluated by a group of neurologists following two recent health scares in front of television cameras.
It comes after McConnell froze in front of cameras for the second time in as many months, raising questions about whether he can sustain his position atop the Senate GOP Conference. A person familiar with the matter said McConnell was evaluated by four neurologists after he froze last week in Covington, Kentucky.
McConnell’s neurologists consulted with Monahan, who conducted several evaluations, including brain MRIs and tests measuring the electrical activity of the brain.
According to the letter, “There is no evidence that you have a seizure disorder or that you experienced a stroke, TIA, or a movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease.”
An EEG study, according to CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is a snapshot in time.
“Someone can have a seizure, then have a normal EEG, then have another seizure later,” Gupta said, adding that McConnell’s tests were fairly detailed.
They can give you a fair amount of information, but they cannot rule out a seizure for sure. “Again, they can just give you a snapshot in time,” he said.
A passing mention of McConnell’s freezing episode was made, saying that “one particular moment from my time back home received a lot of attention and media attention.”
The month of August was busy and productive for me and my staff back in the Commonwealth, he said Tuesday. While taking a drink of water, McConnell discussed the events he attended during the recess.
As they emerged from their weekly meeting on Tuesday, members of the Senate GOP leadership team dismissed concerns over McConnell’s health.
McConnell is expected to discuss his health during a closed-door meeting with Republican senators on Wednesday, Texas Sen. John Cornyn told CNN.
During McConnell’s lunch address on Wednesday, Cornyn said, “I think he understands that transparency is his friend and that it eliminates a lot of speculation.”
“I don’t even want to speculate about McConnell staying as leader in the next Congress,” Senate GOP Whip John Thune told CNN when asked if he supported McConnell staying. It’s still unclear why McConnell froze up for roughly 30 seconds each time, but he has my full support, as well as the conference’s.
According to the Republican leader’s office, the two frozen moments were caused by “lightheadedness,” and Monahan had previously said that concussion victims often feel lightheaded. In March, McConnell suffered a concussion and broken ribs after falling at a hotel and hitting his head, preventing him from returning to the Senate.
As the Senate returns to session Tuesday after a five-week recess, GOP senators will be asked if they believe that the Republican leader can continue leading his conference, as he has done for the past 16 years – longer than any other party leader in Senate history. McConnell is expected to continue to serve 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.
Collins said McConnell is “fully prepared” to handle his responsibilities after speaking with him the day after the recent freezing incident.
CNN asked the Maine Republican if she was concerned about McConnell’s health. “I spoke with Leader McConnell the day after the incident. He sounded fine.” I feel that he is fully prepared and capable of conducting his duties as we discuss the resumption of business this week.”
Romney said McConnell is doing “a pretty darn good job” even when he has a 20-second “checkout” a day.
The reality is that Mitch McConnell may checkout for 20 seconds a day, but he does a pretty good job the other 86,380 seconds,” he said.
However, not all Republican senators were satisfied with McConnell’s explanation. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said the dehydration diagnosis was “inadequate” and “it does not appear to be dehydration.”
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Senator Tommy Tuberville of Alabama told CNN that McConnell has not fully recovered from his concussion earlier in the year. He is concerned McConnell might not be able to perform his duties.
As much as he would like McConnell to remain leader, Tuberville said he must hear from the Kentucky Republican at Wednesday’s full conference meeting.
“I hope he can do it. I mean, it’s like being a quarterback. I hope he can,” said the former Auburn University football coach.
I’ve seen kids struggle for a long time after concussions, Tuberville said. “That’s the reason you don’t play them after that. You don’t go back until you’re completely well. And he’s clearly not completely well.”
This article has been updated to clarify that McConnell has not been diagnosed with seizure disorders by the Capitol physician.