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Top US Senate Republican McConnell to serve out term despite health concerns

Published 09/06/2023, 03:15 PM
Updated 09/06/2023, 06:06 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate floor amid ongoing talks over government funding, as the threat of an October government shutdown looms on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2023. REUTERS/Juli

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Top U.S. Senate Republican Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday he plans to serve the rest of his two-year term as party leader and his full six-year term in office, allowing for the possibility that he would step down from leadership before leaving office.

KEY QUOTE

"I am going plan to finish my term as leader and I'm going to finish my Senate term," McConnell told reporters.

THE TAKE

Two recent episodes in which McConnell, 81, froze up while in public have raised questions about how long he will continue to serve and McConnell has offered few details as to what caused the incidents.

Already the longest-serving party leader in U.S. Senate history, McConnell's current term as leader expires in January 2025, while his term as a senator runs through January 2027.

McConnell did not address the two-year gap between the end of his current job as leader and end of his Senate term. A spokesperson declined further comment.

CONTEXT

* There is precedent for long-serving and powerful party leaders remaining in office after leaving their leadership role. Democratic former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has done so and is currently serving in the rank-and-file as speaker emerita.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to the Senate floor amid ongoing talks over government funding, as the threat of an October government shutdown looms on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., September 6, 2023. REUTERS/Julia Nikhinson

* McConnell tripped at a Washington dinner on March 8 and was admitted to a hospital for treatment of a concussion. He returned to the Senate in April. He has frozen up twice in public since then, most recently while speaking to reporters in his home state of Kentucky on Aug. 30.

* McConnell has served as Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021 and as Senate minority leader since then.

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