McConnell Releases Letter Declaring Him ‘Medically Clear’ to Work After Episode

Senator Mitch McConnell, the minority leader, on Thursday released a letter from the attending physician of Congress pronouncing him “medically clear” to continue his schedule as planned, a day after the Kentucky Republican froze up suddenly at a news conference in what appeared to be a medical episode similar to one he had on camera last month.

“I have consulted with Leader McConnell and conferred with his neurology team,” Dr. Brian P. Monahan said in a brief statement on his letterhead that was made public by Mr. McConnell’s office on Thursday afternoon. “After evaluating yesterday’s incident, I have informed Leader McConnell that he is medically clear to continue with his schedule as planned.”

Dr. Monahan said that “occasional lightheadedness is not uncommon in concussion recovery and can also be expected as a result of dehydration.” He did not say that he had examined Mr. McConnell, whose increasingly frail appearance and recent string of medical incidents have alarmed his colleagues and raised questions about his ability to continue in his post.

The brief statement was the only medical information to be released by the famously tight-lipped Mr. McConnell, 81, in months, since he had a concussion in March after falling at a Washington hotel. That incident left him absent from the Senate for weeks as his office shared little about his health status. Since then, he has had at least two more falls, which his office did not disclose.

Last month, after Mr. McConnell froze midsentence during an appearance at his weekly news conference in the Capitol and was briefly escorted away from the microphones to recover, his office did not even say whether he had been evaluated by a doctor. Instead, they emphasized that he had continued on with business as usual for the rest of his day, even attending a reception hosted by Major League Baseball that same evening.

After Wednesday’s spell, a spokesman said Mr. McConnell planned to be examined by a doctor before continuing on to his next event, but no update was provided about a diagnosis.

Unlike the president, who is required to make public a detailed annual physical, members of Congress are not required to release any information about their health. But the second public episode, which took place on Wednesday in Covington, Ky., increased the pressure on Mr. McConnell to offer some explanation of what was going on.

It also prompted at least one call from the Republican establishment outside Congress for Mr. McConnell to give up his leadership post. In a piece published on Thursday, the editors of the conservative National Review wrote that it was obvious that the episodes had affected Mr. McConnell’s ability to represent Senate Republicans. “The time has come for the Kentucky senator, after his long, impressive run, to make the decision to step aside from leadership,” they wrote.

Mr. McConnell’s latest medical incident came at the tail end of Congress’s long summer recess, a time when senators are traveling all over the world on official trips. Mr. McConnell spoke with members of his leadership team on Wednesday after the incident, and connected on the phone with President Biden on Thursday. On Wednesday evening, he participated in a public event with Representative Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana, who is running for Senate.

But Republican senators remained mostly in the dark about Mr. McConnell’s actual condition, and some had their own questions about his ability to continue leading the conference moving forward. On Thursday, they were given the same brief statement from Dr. Monahan and no additional information.

“He was his old self on the telephone,” Mr. Biden, who has been the target of vicious Republican attacks about his age and mental acuity, told reporters on Thursday after his conversation with Mr. McConnell. Mr. Biden attributed the freezing episodes to a normal process of recovery from severe concussion and said he was “confident he’s going to be back to his old self.”

Carl Hulse contributed reporting.

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