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Some Republicans want more details on McConnell’s health after another freeze

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell released a medical note Thursday saying he was “free” to return to work after appearing to freeze for the second time in two months.

But that doesn’t satisfy Republicans who worry that McConnell, R-Ky., the longest-serving leader in Senate history, isn’t being fully transparent about his health issues.

“If he wants to remain a leader, he needs to be transparent and open about his current health,” said a House Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss McConnell’s health.

A Second House Republican close to the leadership says McConnell, 81, has a greater obligation to be open about any medical issues because of his position as leader, which allows him to participate in classified briefings of the “Gang of Eight” on some of the most sensitive national security issues.

McConnell should be more transparent “under that position, and I’m not sure that’s inappropriate,” the second-placed GOP lawmaker said. “I mean, the role that leaders are asked to play is a very serious calling and position, and it impacts all of the members.

“He’s obviously, you know, a proud man. He was a strong leader. He enjoys this position, ”said the second legislator. “And people in that position aren’t likely to give it up – until they get them out.”

On Tuesday, just a day before McConnell’s final freeze, House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., revealed to the public that he was not feeling well and had been ‘diagnosed with multiple myeloma’ , which he described as “a very treatable disease”. leukemia.” He will undergo treatment over the next few months, he said, which will keep him away from Washington.

The explanation for McConnell’s gaze seizures has not been so straightforward, with his aides attributing it to things like dizziness and dehydration; On Thursday, his office acknowledged a link between the incidents and the concussion he suffered after a fall this year. And his aides and close allies are circling as they attempt to weather what may be the most politically vulnerable moment of his nearly 40-year career in the Senate.

McConnell’s office and his allies decline to talk in detail about the two episodes, share his doctors’ medical diagnosis, or discuss whether he’ll be able to lead Senate Republicans through the 2024 election, as he s is committed to doing so.

After saying McConnell would see a doctor on Wednesday, his team did not respond if he had actually seen his doctor. And it was not specified when or where McConnell’s next public appearances would take place. Asked by NBC News whether McConnell had recently seen his team of neurologists cited in his medical statement on Thursday, his office did not respond.

Former aides still close to McConnell declined to comment for this article, even anonymously.

McConnell’s potential successors continue to support him.

After Wednesday’s freeze, Minority Whip John Thune, RS.D., and several other members of McConnell’s leadership team spoke to him by phone and issued statements with the same sunny message: the leader looked “good” and they look forward to seeing him next week when the Senate returns from its summer recess.

Senator Susan Collins, R-Me., said in a Tweeter On Thursday evening, she had spoken to McConnell earlier in the day and “to discuss the resumption of Senate business next week. He is fully prepared to continue to lead our caucus when the Senate resumes session on Tuesday.”

Amid calls for more transparency, McConnell’s office released a 51-word statement on Thursday afternoon from U.S. Capitol attending physician Dr. Brian Monahan, who said he told McConnell he was “medically cleared” to continue to work.

Monahan said he “consulted” with McConnell and “conferred” with McConnell’s neurology team and determined that McConnell was “medically cleared to continue with his schedule as planned.”

“Occasional dizziness is not uncommon during concussion recovery and can also be expected due to dehydration,” Monahan said.

But this statement seems to raise more questions than answers. It was unclear whether Monahan had personally assessed McConnell. Monahan also did not explain how he came to the conclusion that McConnell had been cleared and was able to work.

A vocal minority within the GOP is calling on McConnell to step down. Right-wing Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., not a fan of the McConnells, immediately demanded his resignation after Wednesday’s incident, saying he was “not fit for duty.” On Thursday, a second Republican said it was time for McConnell to go.

“Yes, I think his family and his staff should agree that it’s time,” Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., told NBC News. “I think too often these people are more concerned about their future than our country. »

Editors of the generally friendly magazine National Review, which called McConnell a “legend of the United States Senate” and “one of the most effective leaders”, also said they were concerned about his bouts of freezing and that he had to resign.

“(T)he time has come for the Kentucky senator, after his long and impressive career, to make the decision to step down from leadership,” wrote the editors of the National Review. “McConnell has now frozen in two recent press briefings. His team said he was simply suffering from bouts of dizziness, and a public note from his doctor suggested the same. To the layman, the incidents seemed more ominous than that.

“Either way, this is obviously not normal and it affects his ability to function as the main representative of his caucus. »


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