Concerns have been being raised about the apparent weight loss of Mitch McConnell after the Senate Minority Leader returned to the Capitol for the first time since a recent incident in which he appeared to freeze up.
McConnell, 81, appeared on the Senate floor Tuesday following the August recess to give an update on the work being done in the upper chamber, while also making a brief mention of the recent incident that gained “its fair share of attention” in the press.
The Republican froze and stopped talking while taking questions from reporters in Covington, Kentucky, on August 30. It was the second such incident in recent months involving the senator, who froze mid-sentence and appeared disorientated for several seconds while speaking to reporters at the Capitol in D.C. during a weekly press conference on July 26.
On Tuesday, McConnell’s office released a letter from the Capitol physician Brian Monahan, who said that there is “no evidence” that the senator suffered a seizure disorder, stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or movement disorder such as Parkinson’s disease during the latest incident.
Following McConnell’s return to the Capitol, social media users noted that the 81-year-old appears to have noticeably lost weight at a time when concerns about McConnell’s health have sparked calls for him to resign and reignited the debate on term limits for U.S. lawmakers.
“Mitch McConnell wearing the same tie today that he wore for his first post-August floor speech last year, but his appearance is otherwise pretty different,” Adam Fritschner, deputy chief of staff for Democratic Virginia congressman Don Beyer, posted on X, formerly Twitter, while sharing images of McConnell from Tuesday and September 2022.
“Look at Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor, trying to prove his okay. He’s never looked more sick,” wrote X user David Poland. “Not political. He has lost too much weight and his color is way too pale.”
Another social media user speculated: “Nothing is wrong with Mitch McConnell but the man lost at least 50 lbs, not that he worked on it…There is an underlying problem.”
McConnell’s office has been contacted for comment via email.
During his speech on the Senate floor on Tuesday, McConnell only made a passing reference to his most recent incident.
“One particular moment of my time back home has received its fair share of attention in the press over the past week, but I assure you, August was a busy and productive month for me and my staff back in the commonwealth,” McConnell said.
Elsewhere, some Republican Senators have voiced their concerns about whether McConnell will be able to continue in office. Others are also not happy with a previous assessment from Monahan suggesting the 81-year-old may have froze in August because he was lightheaded or dehydrated, which may have been triggered by the concussion McConnell suffered in March following a fall at a D.C. hotel.
“I don’t think it’s been particularly helpful to have the Senate doctor describe it as dehydration—which I think even non-physicians seeing that, probably aren’t really accepting that explanation,” Kentucky Senator Rand Paul told reporters.
“What’s occurring from what I’ve seen, it’s a neurological event.”
Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a vocal critic of McConnell, also claimed he heard a “lot of questions” about the 81-year-old’s future back home over the recess.
“I’m concerned about it. I’m concerned about his health, just like I’m concerned about the president’s health,” Hawley said.
Louisiana John Kennedy was one of those to defend the veteran Senate leader following his return to the Capitol.
“The only person in the Milky Way that can make Mitch quit is Mitch,” Kennedy said. “And knowing him as I do, I think that’ll happen right about the time donkeys fly.”