Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Wednesday vowed to finish his term in office, brushing off questions about his health after he froze up in public twice this summer.
“I’m going to finish my term as leader and I’m going to finish my Senate term,” McConnell told reporters at the U.S. Capitol.
The 81-year-old leader said he had no announcements to make about retiring from the Senate. His current terms ends in January 2027.
On two separate occasions this summer, McConnell briefly froze up and lost the ability to speak during press events. In the second instance on Aug. 30, McConnell was virtually unresponsive for about 30 seconds.
The attending physician for the U.S. Congress said after evaluating McConnell that the senator is able to perform his duties, and that there was no evidence he suffered a stroke.
McConnell was hospitalized in early March after suffering a concussion from a fall at a hotel during a private dinner in Washington, D.C.
After reportedly considering forcing a closed-door meeting to discuss McConnell’s health, some of his Republican colleagues have begun to express their concerns more openly.
“The last freeze-up, it puts a question in everybody’s mind whether he can do it or not,” Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
“We need a good quarterback,” added the former football coach turned senator.
Sen. Rand Paul, McConnell’s Kentucky colleague who was a practicing ophthalmologist, told reporters Tuesday that he doesn’t think the Capitol physician, Dr. Brian Monahan, gave “a valid medical diagnosis.”
“Everybody has seen the clips,” he said.
But other GOP senators are defending McConnell.
“The reality is that we may expect that Mitch McConnell will check out for 20 seconds a day, but the other 86,380 seconds in the day, he does a pretty darn good job,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, told NBC News on Tuesday.