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Momentary freeze sparks health concerns over US senator McConnell

Mitch McConnell stopped speaking and froze at the press conference in the Senate
Source: Video Screenshot

Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell sparked health concerns Wednesday when he appeared to physically seize up at a press conference in Congress.

McConnell, 81, froze in mid-sentence and stood motionless at a microphone for about 20 seconds before aides and fellow senators walked him away.

But the veteran Kentucky politician returned several minutes later and told reporters “I’m fine” before taking questions on various political issues.

McConnell has been the top Republican in the US Senate since 2007, and wielded unflinching power as Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021.

In that role he stifled policies of the Democratic administration of president Barack Obama and bolstered Republican president Donald Trump when he took office in January 2017.

He most notably helped engineer conservatives taking a majority on the Supreme Court by stalling a hearing for Obama’s progressive appointed nominee in 2016.

He also ensured that Trump was not convicted at trial after his unprecedented two impeachments, though he was critical of Trump’s behavior.

In March McConnell was hospitalized after he tripped and fell during a private dinner.

He suffered a concussion and a fractured rib, and spent six weeks away from the Senate, undergoing physical therapy.

The incident Wednesday highlighted the challenge of the aging leadership in the US Congress.

Three other senators are older than McConnell, including Republican Chuck Grassley, 89, and Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who is 90.

Another two-dozen senators are 70 or older.

Age is also a central issue in the looming 2024 presidential battle: incumbent Joe Biden is 80 while Republican front-runner Donald Trump is 77.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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