Mitch McConnell—the 81-year-old Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate—is creating concerns for Republican leadership after two incidents of freezing up during press conferences.
- On March 5, McConnell was hospitalized after a fall at a D.C. hotel that resulted in a concussion.
- On July 26, McConnell paused for 30 seconds during a press conference, later reporting that he was “fine” and could continue leading.
- On August 30, McConnell paused again for 30 seconds before resuming his remarks, with his office claiming he was just “momentarily lightheaded.”
- On Thursday, the attending physician of Congress pronounced McConnell “medically clear” to continue with his work schedule and public appearances.
- Several neurologists argued to The New York Times on Friday that McConnell may be suffering seizures or mini-strokes, joining Republicans and Democrats asking for more health transparency.
Why It’s Important
Age is rapidly becoming a massive issue for many of the most powerful and prominent politicians in Washington, D.C. Many of the most popular politicians in the country at the moment are serving out their terms in their advanced years and are raising concerns about their health and well-being.
The average age in the U.S. Senate is 64 years old, compared to the median age in the population of 38.8 years, according to the Census Bureau.
As we previously reported, recent polls have suggested that bipartisan voters consider the 80-year-old Joe Biden to be too old for a second term. Former President Donald Trump is 77 years old. The 90-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has also displayed symptoms of cognitive decline in her recent public addresses. The late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was 87 years old when she died in 2020.
While Republican leadership has not weighed in on whether McConnell should relinquish his position, several senators have privately debated forcing a special conference meeting to replace the aging Kentucky senator—who has served various offices since becoming the Assistant Attorney General in 1975 under the Gerald Ford administration. His current term does not end until 2026.
Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and Conference Chair John Barrasso (R-WY) are likely candidates for McConnell’s successor. All three candidates are between the ages of 62 and 71. McConnell successfully avoided a leadership challenge from Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) last year.
Presidential candidate Nikki Haley condemned the current state of Washington, telling Fox News that leaders should advocate for mental competency tests for politicians over the age of 75 or even as young as 50.
“It’s sad. No one should feel good about seeing that any more than we should feel good about seeing Dianne Feinstein, any more than we should feel good about a lot of what’s happening or seeing Joe Biden’s decline,” she says. “What I will say is, right now, the Senate is the most privileged nursing home in the country. I mean, Mitch McConnell has done some great things, and he deserves credit. But you have to know when to leave.”