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Mitch McConnell shuts down retirement rumors, announces return to Senate

By Ben Marquis
|
April 14, 2023

Ever since Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky fell at a fundraiser event in early March and was hospitalized with a concussion and rib fracture, there have been rumors and reports that he would soon retire instead of return to the Senate.

The top Republican in the Senate shot those rumors down on Thursday, however, with an announcement that he would return to Capitol Hill on Monday, the Daily Mail reported.

McConnell has been out of action for just over five weeks now as he was first hospitalized for several days following the March 8 incident and then spent a few weeks at an inpatient rehabilitation facility before finally continuing his recovery from home.

Jockeying for votes to replace McConnell

On Thursday, The Spectator reported that multiple unnamed sources had said that the top three Republicans on the Senate GOP leadership team had been quietly reaching out to other members of the Senate in preparation for a possible vote on a new leader.

That includes Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, John Cornyn of Texas, and John Thune of South Dakota, with Cornyn being noted by one source as "particularly active" in his efforts to gauge support for a leadership bid by taking other members out for lunches, including some that he otherwise had little in common with.

The report further stated that extra attention was being devoted to the more conservative members of the Senate GOP who had backed a failed effort by Sen. Rick Scott of Florida to challenge McConnell's position as Leader in December.

Though 16 GOP members had initially voted to delay the leadership election, Scott ultimately garnered just 10 votes in protest of McConnell's continued leadership.

It was also noted in the report that those three senators seeking to possibly replace McConnell as the GOP's Senate leader was fielding numerous questions from members about what the rules were for the replacement of a leader and how such a vote and transition of power would be handled.

McConnell is "looking forward to returning"

The speculation fueled by that Spectator report didn't last long, though, as Leader McConnell announced his imminent return to work on Thursday afternoon.

In a message posted to his official Twitter account, McConnell said, "I am looking forward to returning to the Senate on Monday. We've got important business to tackle and big fights to win for Kentuckians and the American people."

In light of the above report from The Spectator, The Daily Signal reached out to McConnell's office and asked if there were any plans at all for the senator to retire before his current term expires in January 2027.

McConnell's press office simply replied, "No, he’ll be back Monday."

Two Democratic senators remain hospitalized

Meanwhile, as Republicans await the now-confirmed return of Sen. McConnell to his role as Minority Leader, Senate Democrats continue to be shorthanded as two of their own members remain hospitalized at this time, the Daily Mail reported.

Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania has been checked in as a patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for roughly two months now to deal with clinical depression.

It has been rumored that he could return to the Senate next week alongside McConnell, but that is difficult to know with any certainty since Fetterman's team has been saying the entire time that he has been gone that he will be coming back to work "soon."

Also currently hospitalized is Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who has been receiving treatment for and recovering from a bad case of shingles.

It had been announced prior to her hospitalization that she would retire at the conclusion of her current term in January 2025, though some have suggested that she go ahead and step down now in light of her extended absence, which this week included her telling Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York to temporarily replace her on the Senate Judiciary Committee in order for that committee to continue to approve President Joe Biden's judicial nominees.