Thursday, July 25, 2024

Mitch McConnell’s well being and future within the Senate: What we all know

Senate Majority Chief Mitch McConnell appeared to expertise a well being episode throughout a press convention on Capitol Hill Wednesday, freezing mid-sentence for about 20 seconds on the podium earlier than he was briefly ushered away after which returned saying he was “positive.”

It’s not clear what may need occurred. McConnell’s workplace has mentioned that he was feeling light-headed however has not elaborated on his situation. President Joe Biden reportedly known as McConnell to check out him Wednesday, and the senator attended a reception for Main League Baseball that night.

This incident is the most recent in a collection of well being points which have raised issues concerning the 81-year-old Senate chief’s well being. He suffered from a concussion and a fractured rib from a fall at a DC resort earlier this yr, for which he was hospitalized for 5 days and stayed at a rehabilitation facility. He didn’t seem on the Senate flooring for six weeks following the autumn. He additionally tripped and fell whereas disembarking from a aircraft earlier this month. Although he didn’t undergo any severe accidents because of this, he now makes use of a wheelchair at airports.

McConnell is just not the one senator dealing with issues associated to their well being and age. Ninety-year-old California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has lately confronted calls to resign from congressional Democrats amid questions on her cognitive talents.

Whereas McConnell has not articulated any intention of stepping down anytime quickly, laughing off a query a few successor Wednesday, his retirement would dramatically shake up the dynamics within the Senate.

What may need occurred to McConnell?

With out an official report of a prognosis (which McConnell has not launched), it’s not possible to know for certain what occurred. However one clarification might be that he skilled an episode of transient aphasia, which is a short lived interruption in an individual’s potential to make use of language. This interruption may coincide with the individual not understanding what’s being mentioned to them or what’s occurring, however it’s additionally doable for the individual to be totally conscious of what’s taking place through the episode.

Aphasia is usually a long-lasting or everlasting function of circumstances affecting the mind, together with cancers, infections, and plenty of types of dementia. Nonetheless, it will probably additionally happen in shorter bursts when it’s brought on by short-term adjustments in mind circulation or within the pathways that conduct electrical impulses by means of the organ.

Some of the widespread causes of transient episodes of aphasia is a short lived blockage of a blood vessel within the mind, known as a transient ischemic assault, or a “mini-stroke.” When an individual has certainly one of these occasions, it suggests they’re at excessive threat of a full-blown stroke within the subsequent few days or perhaps weeks.

Sure varieties of seizures may also trigger episodes of transient aphasia. Seizures have many doable causes and are typically the primary symptom of medical circumstances affecting the mind, together with strokes and head accidents. It’s unclear whether or not McConnell’s a number of falls earlier this yr characterize the reason for his freezing episode, the results of an ongoing situation, each, or neither.

Different, much less probably circumstances — like migraines and drugs reactions — may result in related signs however are much less probably on this case. Once more, with out an official prognosis, it’s not possible to know the trigger; regardless, an occasion like this deserves an instantaneous medical analysis to diagnose and deal with no matter underlying situation brought about it.

It’s not clear what sort of analysis McConnell had after his episode. Though he left the rostrum instantly after the occasion, he returned a couple of minutes later to reply questions from the press corps, and he spoke with reporters within the night. —Keren Landman

Who may exchange McConnell if he retires?

McConnell’s Republican colleagues stay supportive of him. Texas Sen. John Cornyn mentioned Wednesday, “I’ll assist Senator McConnell so long as he desires to stay as chief.” And Texas Sen. Ted Cruz advised Politico, “That clearly was regarding. I hope it was only a momentary challenge and that he’s doing higher. … I’ve each hope that he’ll battle again from any well being points and totally get well.”

McConnell’s time period is up in 2027, and he’s ensured that if he have been to retire earlier than then, anybody who replaces him must be a Republican. In 2021, he pushed for the passage of a new regulation in Kentucky that requires the governor to nominate a Senate substitute from the identical occasion because the earlier senator and from an inventory of names offered by the state occasion. That implies that regardless that Kentucky’s governor is a Democrat, ought to McConnell retire, it wouldn’t change the stability of energy within the Senate.

Then there’s the query of who would exchange him because the occasion’s chief within the Senate. Cornyn, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) are seen are doable contenders to be McConnell’s successor. All three have at occasions sought to maintain their distance from former President Donald Trump.

Cornyn, previously McConnell’s whip and head of the Nationwide Republican Senatorial Committee, has likened his relationship with Trump to a unhealthy marriage (regardless that he has forged votes supporting Trump’s agenda 95 p.c of the time.)

Thune, McConnell’s present deputy, has endorsed South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott for president over Trump. That made him the highest-ranking Republican to interrupt with Trump within the 2024 contest.

What would McConnell’s retirement imply for the Senate?

McConnell has usually been at odds with the MAGA wing of the Republican occasion, which has not forgiven him for acknowledging the occasions of January 6, 2021, as a “violent rebel” on the US Capitol whereas the Republican Nationwide Committee insisted it was “professional political discourse.” He’s additionally lately damaged with MAGA on funding for the battle in Ukraine and has mentioned that he received’t simply again the candidates endorsed by Trump going ahead after such candidates broadly underperformed within the 2022 midterms.

Whereas the people who find themselves probably to succeed McConnell aren’t within the mildew of Trump, McConnell’s departure would create an influence vacuum — and a gap for the MAGA wing of the occasion to develop its affect. Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL), who identifies as a key Trump ally, launched a management problem to McConnell earlier this yr. Although Scott solely picked up 10 votes, it was a sign that the occasion is present process an ideological shift that, in McConnell’s absence, may speed up.

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