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UPDATE (4/13) 6 PM ET: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced on Thursday that he plans to return to the upper chamber next week.
“I am looking forward to returning to the Senate on Monday,” McConnell said in a tweet. “We’ve got important business to tackle and big fights to win for Kentuckians and the American people.”
Earlier reports on Thursday claimed that McConnell may be on the verge of retirement after a fall last month that left him with a severe concussion and potential serious brain damage.
“Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell has been out of the public eye for weeks, following a serious fall that hospitalized him. Now multiple sources confirm that Senators John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas, and John Thune of South Dakota are actively reaching out to fellow Republican senators in efforts to prepare for an anticipated leadership vote — a vote that would occur upon the announcement that McConnell would be retiring from his duties as leader, and presumably the Senate itself,” The Spectator reported.
“One source says that Cornyn has been particularly active in his preparations, taking fellow senators with whom he has little in common to lunch in attempts to court them. Requests are being targeted at a plethora of conservative senators, including the sixteen who voted to delay the leadership election earlier this year, a proxy for opposition to McConnell’s leadership. Rick Scott, the Florida senator, and former NRSC head who challenged McConnell, ultimately received ten protest votes. These members could prove key to determining the next Republican leader. Queries are also being made internally about the rules regarding replacement, and how the contest would be structured given the lack of an obvious heir apparent,” the outlet added.
McConnell experienced a "major fall and concussion" at the Senate Leadership Fund on March 8 at the Waldorf Astoria, formerly the Trump Hotel, and has been absent ever since. Mitch McConnell is 81.
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) April 13, 2023
“The Republican bigshot, 81, banged his brain in a terrible March 9 tumble at Washington D.C.’s Waldorf Astoria hotel — nearly four years after another serious fall forced him to have shoulder surgery,” RadarOnline reported.
After the recent fall, McConnell was admitted to the hospital where he spent six days receiving treatment. Following his discharge, he was transferred to an inpatient rehabilitation facility to receive care for a brain injury. One medical expert told the outlet that can cause “loss of consciousness, convulsions, seizures, loss of coordination, slurred speech, agitation, and confusion.”
Sources reportedly told the outlet that McConnell has experienced other medical emergencies in the past, to go along with his childhood encounter with polio. That includes a triple bypass operation in 2003.
In a public appearance three years ago, he displayed bruised and bandaged hands but declined to provide an explanation for his injury, the outlet noted further.
“McConnell’s falls could be the result of a coordination problem that signifies the presence of a more serious progressive cognitive condition,” one expert, Dr. Gabe Mirkin — who has not treated McConnell — told RadarOnline.
A D.C. insider told the outlet: “Mitch has been a lion of the Senate so long that it’s hard to imagine him not being there. But he’s 81 years old, and this isn’t the first time that he’s fallen. The talk is he may consider stepping down long before his current six-year term expires in 2027!”
It should be noted that if McConnell has to step down, his replacement will be named by Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, who is a Democrat, and that person will serve until 2026, when McConnell would have been up for reelection.
Earlier this month, people close to McConnell warned he would not be returning to his legislative duties as soon as some believed he would after falling and having to be hospitalized.
“He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days of observation and treatment. The Leader is grateful to the medical professionals for their care and to his colleagues for their warm wishes,” his communications director David Popp said in a statement to Axios shortly after McConnell’s accident.
A few days later, Popp explained what the treatment plan for McConnell would be.
“Leader McConnell’s concussion recovery is proceeding well and the Leader was discharged from the hospital today. At the advice of his physician, the next step will be a period of physical therapy at an inpatient rehabilitation facility before he returns home,” Popp said last week.
“The Leader and Secretary Chao are deeply thankful for the skilled medical care, prayers, and kindness they have received,” Popp continued on behalf of McConnell and his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
Additionally, Popp disclosed that McConnell had incurred a minor rib fracture in addition to the previously disclosed concussion from the accident, information that had not been previously shared. One of McConnell’s aides, meanwhile, indicated that the Republican leader might stay at the medical facility for a period ranging from several days to a few weeks, according to CNN.
“That decision will be made by the Leader’s physicians and the therapists. It is very common to undergo physical therapy to regain strength after a hospital stay and this ranges anywhere from a week to two weeks,” the aide said, according to the outlet.