Sep 6, 2023 - Politics & Policy

McConnell says he won't retire from Senate before 2026

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Wednesday he has no plans to retire before his Senate term expires or step down prematurely as leader.

Why it matters: The announcement comes despite recent public concerns about the 81-year-old senator's health following two televised freeze-ups at press conferences this summer.

Driving the news: "I have no announcements to make on that subject," McConnell said during a Senate Republican leadership press conference on Wednesday when asked if he plans to retire soon.

  • "I'm going to finish my term as leader and I'm going to finish my Senate term," he said.
  • Senate Republicans aren't slated to vote again for leader until after the 2024 election, while McConnell's Senate term will last until 2027 – when he will be 84.

At the press conference, McConnell – who had a concussion after a fall in March – repeatedly dodged questions asking for specifics about his health.

  • He referred to letters from Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol's attending physician, clearing him to continue working and ruling out a stroke, seizure or movement disorder as possible causes of his freeze-ups.
  • "I think Dr. Monahan covered the subject fully ... I don't have anything to add to it," he said.

The latest: McConnell gave an overview of his health at the Senate GOP lunch on Wednesday to try to clear up any concerns from colleagues.

  • "I think everybody left feeling very good about where he's at," Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), McConnell's deputy, told reporters.
  • Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who unsuccessfully challenged McConnell for leader last year, said he did a "good job" at the lunch.

Yes, but: Some conservative senators who openly questioned McConnell's health on Wednesday left sounding less than satisfied.

  • Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told reporters McConnell said "not much" at the meeting and didn't face any questions from his colleagues.
  • "I don't have any reaction," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) coming out of the lunch.
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