Senate Republicans consider meeting to discuss McConnell

September 1, 2023
Matthew Boose

Senate Republicans are discussing a "special" meeting next week to discuss Mitch McConnell (Ky.) after his second freeze-up. 

According to Politico, nothing is set in stone yet, but a handful of Senators have brought up holding a conference meeting when Congress returns from the August recess.

It's a sign that McConnell's allies in the Senate are beginning to grapple with his health condition and the possibility that he is nearing retirement.

McConnell meeting?

McConnell, 81, froze up Wednesday when asked whether he would seek re-election in 2026. The episode renewed calls for the senator, who had a similar episode a month ago, to resign.

Some rank-and-file members have discussed a conference meeting to discuss the party's future, but the leadership has not been involved in those discussions, Politico reported.

As an alternative to a special meeting, senators could discuss their concerns over their regular lunchtime huddles, which would draw less publicity.

If he does step down, the senators seen as his likeliest successors are minority whip John Thune (R-Sd.), Senate Republican conference chair John Barrasso (R-Wy.), and John Cornyn (R-Tx.).

Even still, some are skeptical that a change in leadership is coming, with one senator telling Politico that a challenge to McConnell would end the same way as Rick Scott's (Fl.) failed bid last year.

“If a handful goes down that path, it will be a rerun of the last time,” the senator said.

Delaying the inevitable...

Senate Republicans were dismissive of questions about McConnell's health following his first freeze-up in July, and they have continued to support him - at least publicly.

Not surprisingly, criticism of McConnell has been much more candid in the House, where pro-Trump sentiment is stronger. McConnell is a rival of Trump, who has made no secret of his view that McConnell should go.

Pro-Trump hardliner Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) said McConnell is "not fit for office" following his latest health scare - also listing Joe Biden, John Fetterman, and Dianne Feinstein as examples of politicians who should not be in power.

The Capitol physician has cleared McConnell to continue working - saying he is likely experiencing lightheadedness as a result of a concussion earlier this year.

It would probably take a lot for McConnell's Senate allies to turn on him. But if his health continues to deteriorate, they may have no choice.

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