Updated Sep 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Capitol physician rules out seizure and stroke in McConnell freeze-ups

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Congress’ attending physician Tuesday said there's “no evidence” of a "seizure disorder or stroke, TIA or movement disorder such as Parkinson's disease" leading to freeze-ups by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.).

Why it matters: The revelation came in a letter released by the Kentucky senator’s office just hours before the Senate is scheduled to return from a month-long recess.

Driving the news: Dr. Brian P. Monahan said in the letter that McConnell has undergone a series of tests and consultations since his latest apparent freeze up during a news conference last month.

  • These included brain MRI imaging and consultations with multiple neurologists for "a comprehensive neurology assessment," he wrote.
  • Monahan concluded that there are "no changes recommended in treatment protocols" as the 81-year-old senator continues his recovery from a fall in March that resulted in a weeks-long recovery.

The Capitol physician said in a letter last week — a day after the most recent freeze up — that McConnell was "medically clear" to continue working.

  • "Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration," Monahan wrote.

The backdrop: McConnell's first freeze-up occurred in July, when he went silent for about 15 seconds during a press conference at the Capitol before being escorted back to his office by his Senate leadership colleagues.

  • The latest incident involved a roughly 30-second freeze at an event in Kentucky.
  • In both cases McConnell was able to complete the press conference, with his office chalking both incidents up to lightheadedness and his colleagues reaffirming their confidence in his leadership.
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