Drew Angerer/Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) — In a shocking moment on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to finish his opening remarks during his weekly press conference — and briefly left the event but later returned to take questions from reporters.

McConnell, 81, approached the microphone and began a sentence about the National Defense Authorization Act before trailing off for about 20 seconds, staring blankly forward without blinking.

“In a string of–” he began before stopping mid-sentence.

After 20 seconds, he was approached by Sens. Joni Ernst and John Barrasso. McConnell felt light headed, an aide told ABC News.

Barrasso, a doctor, was heard saying, “Are you OK, Mitch? Is there anything else you want to say to the press or should we just head back to your office?”

McConnell then stepped back from the microphone. At first he seemed insistent upon staying, but shortly thereafter he was escorted back to his office by Barrasso.

McConnell returned to the microphone within a few minutes and, after his colleagues finished speaking, he took a variety of questions from reporters that he responded to clearly, sometimes with lengthy answers.

When a reporter asked him to describe what occurred, he responded only, “I’m fine.”

Asked later Wednesday afternoon about McConnell freezing up during his press conference, Ernst told reporters, “As far as I know, everything’s OK.”

Asked for comment, McConnell’s office referred to his “fine” remark and declined to answer any other questions about his health or whether he will see a doctor.

Barrasso, who escorted McConnell off, said that during a luncheon right before, McConnell “spoke” and “led the discussion.”

McConnell was treated for a concussion in March after he fell at a hotel in Washington. Days later, he was discharged from the hospital, and his communications director said he would head to an inpatient rehabilitation facility for physical therapy.

“I was concerned when he fell and hit his head months ago and was hospitalized,” Barrasso told reporters on Wednesday. “And I think he’s made a remarkable recovery. He’s done a great job leaving our conference and was able to respond to every question that the press asked him today.”

Barrasso said he has “no new concerns” about McConnell’s health.

In early June, McConnell had difficulty answering several questions, a challenge his office attributed to difficulty hearing at the time.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.