Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he’s fully recovered from health issues that led him to freeze in public and he prodded House GOP members to agree on a new speaker to end the paralysis of the U.S. legislative branch.
Questions about the 81-year-old McConnell’s health have lingered since he suffered a serious fall at a political fundraiser in March, then abruptly halted speaking twice within two months at events.
“I’m completely recovered, and I’m just fine,” he said in an interview airing Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. “I’m in good shape, completely recovered and back on the job.”
While Democrats are in control of the U.S. Senate, Congress has been hamstrung for almost three weeks by a speakership vacancy in the Republican-led House, where a group of right-wing dissidents instigated the ouster of Kevin McCarthy. Two other candidates failed to win enough support and new candidacies are due by noon Sunday.
“It does send a poor message to our allies and our enemies around the world,” McConnell said on Fox News Sunday. “And we also have work to do. We have appropriation bills to pass. We have a supplemental to deal with.”
McConnell reaffirmed that he’s broadly aligned with President Joe Biden on immediate foreign-policy matters. He said he’s “generally in the same place” as Biden on U.S. aid for Israel and Ukraine, and that he opposes decoupling the two issues.
“I just think that’s a mistake,” he said. “I know there are some Republicans in the Senate, and maybe more in the House, saying Ukraine is somehow different. I view it as all interconnected.”
Biden said last week he’s requesting almost $106 billion in emergency funding for aid to Ukraine and Israel and to reinforce the U.S.-Mexico border. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is approaching its next funding deadline in November.
McConnell said that he and fellow Senate Republicans will give the supplemental budget request a “serious look,” while adding “I would recommend some changes as well.”