(Bloomberg) -- The US Capitol’s top health official cleared Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell to work a day after he froze for the second time in as many months at a public event.
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Dr. Brian Monahan, the Capitol’s attending physician, described the episode as “lightheadedness” potentially stemming from a concussion the 81-year-old sustained after falling earlier this year.
“Occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration,” Monahan said.
The episode raised fresh concerns about McConnell’s health and his ability to lead his party in the Senate, particularly in the run-up to the 2024 election. McConnell’s lieutenants in the Senate have continued to back the leader, and no Senate Republican has suggested he step aside.
However, the conservative National Review Thursday afternoon called in an editorial for the seven-term senator to step down, saying he has “noticeably aged” in recent months and the two recent incidents affect “his ability to function as the leading representative of his caucus.”
On Thursday, President Joe Biden said he’s confident McConnell will be back to his “old self” and said he has no concerns about his ability to do his job. The 80-year-old president’s own age has been a central concern in his reelection bid.
McConnell abruptly stopped and stared ahead for more than 30 seconds after a reporter’s question Wednesday about a potential 2026 reelection run during an appearance in Covington, Kentucky. It was the second public episode in as many months to raise concerns about the health of the 81-year-old lawmaker.
In July, McConnell froze for about 20 seconds during a news conference on Capitol Hill. He was led away for a few minutes but then returned to the microphones and said he was “fine” and able to do his job. He suffered a concussion and broken rib in a March 8 fall at a fundraiser in Washington and didn’t return to the Senate until mid-April.
--With assistance from Jennifer Jacobs.
(Updates with National Review editorial in fifth paragraph.)
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