09 March 2023

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell remains in hospital after concussion

09 March 2023

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell suffered a concussion after a fall at a local hotel and will remain in hospital “for a few days of observation and treatment”, a spokesman said on Thursday.

The Kentucky senator, 81, was at a Wednesday evening dinner for the Senate Leadership Fund, a campaign committee aligned with him, when he tripped and fell.

The dinner was at the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC, formerly the Trump International Hotel, Washington DC.

Spokesman David Popp said Mr McConnell is being treated for a concussion and “is grateful to the medical professionals for their care and to his colleagues for their warm wishes”.

Mr McConnell’s office did not provide additional detail on his condition or how long he may be absent from the Senate.

US President Joe Biden tweeted that he wishes Mr McConnell a “speedy recovery” and looks forward to seeing him back on the Senate floor.

South Dakota Senator John Thune told reporters earlier on Thursday that he had not spoken to Mr McConnell. He said he was at the dinner and Mr McConnell had delivered remarks “as usual”.

“Evidently it happened later in the evening,” said Mr Thune, who had moved on to another reception under way at the hotel and did not see Mr McConnell fall.

In 2019, Mr McConnell tripped and fell at his home in Kentucky, suffering a shoulder fracture. At the time, he underwent surgery to repair the fracture in his shoulder. The Senate had just started a summer recess, and he worked from home for some weeks as he recovered.

First elected in 1984, Mr McConnell in January became the longest-serving Senate leader when the new Congress convened, breaking the previous record of 16 years.

The taciturn Mr McConnell is often reluctant to discuss his private life. But at the start of the Covid-19 crisis he opened up about his early childhood experience fighting polio.

He described how his mother insisted that he stay off his feet as a toddler and worked with him through a determined physical therapy regime. He has acknowledged some difficulty in adulthood climbing stairs.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the Senate floor on Thursday morning that he had called Mr McConnell and spoken with his staff “to extend my prayers and well wishes”.

The Senate, where the average age is 65, has been without several members recently due to illness.

Senator John Fetterman, 53, who suffered a stroke during his campaign last year, was expected to remain out for some weeks as he received care for clinical depression.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, 89, said she was taken to hospital last week to be treated for shingles.

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