Turkey cave rescue and Pennsylvania prison escape: Morning Rundown

Questions over Mitch McConnell’s health undermine Republican criticisms of Joe Biden. Rescuers race to find an American stuck in a Turkish cave. And a woman’s day of cooking and watching TV stirs up conservative criticisms.

Here’s what to know today.

McConnell’s recent freezes chill Republican attacks on Biden

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has put Republicans in a tough spot. The 81-year-old’s recent freeze-ups and health problems have garnered scrutiny from opponents and created a conundrum for Republicans who have attacked President Joe Biden’s age, health and mental acuity as he seeks re-election. If he wins in 2024, Biden would be 82 when he enters a second term.

McConnell sought to reassure his Republican colleagues upon his return to Congress with a business-as-usual attitude, and he vowed to serve the rest of his term, until 2027. Most Senate Republicans are sticking by him.

But “both sides have problems with aging leaders,” a Republican senator said.

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Sen. Josh Hawley, 43, a critic of both Biden and McConnell agreed. “I mean, if you’re concerned about the president’s ability to do his job — and I am, and a lot of Republicans say they are — then you’ve got to be concerned when it’s somebody from your own party, right?”

They aren’t the only lawmakers to speak out. And their concerns about aging politicians are not limited only to McConnell and Biden.

Covid cases are rising, but patients aren’t as sick

Despite a rise in Covid-related hospitalizations in recent weeks, doctors say patients aren’t getting as sick as in the early days of the pandemic. They “tend to respond faster to treatment, they’re less likely to die, and they’re more likely to get discharged earlier,” one doctor said. There are several reasons for the changes in patient health, from the severity of Covid variants to the treatments now available to the public.

Meanwhile, updated Covid boosters will potentially be available beginning next week, but it’ll depend on when the FDA and the CDC both sign off on the shots. Moderna’s booster will target the BA.2.86 omicron subvariant, while Pfizer said its booster generated a strong antibody response to it and other omicron variants.

Complex rescue underway in Turkey cave

About 150 rescuers in Turkey are involved in “logistically and technically one of the largest cave rescues in the world” to save an American caver trapped thousands of feet inside the Morca Cave. Mark Dickey, 40, was co-leading an expedition to find and map a new passage in the cave when he suffered gastrointestinal bleeding over the weekend. Though his condition is stabilizing and he can walk with assistance, Dickey needs to be carried out on a stretcher, the Turkish Caving Federation said. It could take days before he reaches the entrance. Here’s what else we know about the rescue.

Special counsel will seek another Hunter Biden indictment

New charges could be filed this month in two cases against Hunter Biden — one over the alleged possession of a gun while using narcotics and a misdemeanor tax case — according to a new court filing. In the filing, special counsel David Weiss indicated he plans to seek a grand jury indictment before the end of the month. Biden’s previous plea deal, which would have resulted in the gun charge being dismissed in two years under certain conditions, fell apart earlier this year.

Today’s Talker: An escaped Pennsylvania inmate scaled…

… a pair of walls in order to break out of Chester County Prison, newly released surveillance video shows. Officials said 34-year-old Danelo Cavalcante, who is considered extremely dangerous, escaped the same way another inmate did just a few months ago — except this time, he had to contend with razor wire. Now, the prison is considering even more security protocols, and the search for Cavalcante continues.

Politics in Brief

Immigration: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has until next Friday to remove a 1,000-foot floating barrier placed in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass to deter migrant crossings after a judge ruled the barrier’s installation violated federal law.

Georgia election case: The judge presiding in the case against Donald Trump and his allies in Fulton County said District Attorney Fani Willis’ plan to put all 19 defendants on trial next month seemed “a bit unrealistic.”

Funding fight: The Senate is displaying a rare unified front on government funding and putting the squeeze on the Republican-led House as the Sept. 30 deadline to avert a shutdown looms.

Trump investigations: A federal judge in New York ruled Trump is liable for defamation in writer E. Jean Carroll’s second civil case, and an upcoming trial will focus solely on what money damages he owes her.

Staff Pick: 29, single and thrust into a culture war

Julia Mazur’s relaxing Saturday as a single and childless 29-year-old entailed cooking and watching TV, she explained in a recent TikTok video. The next day wasn’t so peaceful. Instead, she became fodder in an ongoing culture war around societal expectations of women after a conservative media provocateur posted her video. Reporter Kat Tenbarge got Mazur’s reaction to the overnight fame. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

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This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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