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Mitch McConnell to consult doctor after freezing, struggling to speak for second time this summer

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Sen. Mitch McConnell froze before a gaggle of reporters Wednesday, once again raising concerns about the 81-year-old Republican leader’s health.

At an event in Kentucky Wednesday, he was asked about running for reelection in 2026 and appeared to begin an answer before quickly freezing and going silent for 7 seconds.

This is the second time in less than two months the senator has had to be escorted away from microphones in the middle of a press conference.

The Senate Minority Leader will be consulting a physician prior to his next event, a McConnell aide, who asked for anonymity in order to speak candidly, told USA TODAY Wednesday.

His office has not responded to multiple questions this summer about how this problem keeps occurring and hasn’t shared what medical advice or diagnosis McConnell has previously received. 

Earlier in the day, McConnell spoke fluently about a possible government shutdown and a possible short-term spending deal.

President Joe Biden, who learned about the incident shortly before making public remarks about the federal response to Hurricane Idalia, said he would reach out to McConnell.

“I’m going to try to get in touch with him later this afternoon,” Biden told reporters. “I don’t know enough to know.”

What happened to McConnell?

During a press conference late last month at the U.S. Capitol, McConnell abruptly stopped speaking and stood silently for roughly 28 seconds. He was then escorted away from a lectern by his Republican colleagues.

A McConnell aide, who asked for anonymity in order to speak candidly, told USA TODAY after the July incident the Kentucky Republican, “felt lightheaded and stepped away for a moment.” When he came back to the press conference, McConnell was “sharp” the aide pointed out.

McConnell was hospitalized in March for a fractured rib and concussion he suffered from a fall at a hotel in Washington.

McConnell has fallen at least two other times this year – once at a Washington, D.C., airport on July 14 and another time during a foreign trip in February – a source close to the senator who is familiar with his work habits confirmed with USA TODAY.

A McConnell spokesperson declined to comment on the falls but noted the GOP leader has still been walking around the Capitol for the past few months, delivering floor remarks and leading media stakeouts. As a safeguard, he has been using a wheelchair in certain circumstances.

“This is simply a prudent and precautionary measure in a crowded area,” the McConnell spokesperson told USA TODAY late last month.

This story will be updated.

Maureen Groppe contributed to this report.



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