U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell suffered a concussion after a fall at a local hotel and remains hospitalized “for a few days of observation and treatment,” a spokesman said Thursday.
The 81-year-old 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 D.C.
Spokesman David Popp said 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.” McConnell’s office did not provide additional details on his condition or how long he could be absent from the Senate.
President Joe Biden tweeted that he wishes McConnell a “speedy recovery” and looks forward to seeing him back on the Senate floor.
Senator John Thune, who is the Number 2 Republican in the Senate, told reporters Thursday that he had not spoken to McConnell. He said he was at the dinner and McConnell had delivered remarks “as usual.”
“Evidently it happened later in the evening,” said Thune, who had moved on to another reception underway at the hotel and did not see McConnell fall.
Concussions can be serious injuries and take time for recovery. Many professional sporting associations have focused on the dangers of repetitive head injuries. Even a single incident of concussion can limit a person’s abilities as they recover.
In 2019, the McConnell tripped and fell at his home in the U.S. state of 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, McConnell in January became the longest-serving Senate leader when the new Congress convened, breaking the previous record of 16 years.
The taciturn McConnell is often reluctant to discuss his private life. But at the start of the COVID-19 crisis he spoke 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.
Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who is the Senate Majority Leader, said on the Senate floor Thursday morning that he had called McConnell and spoken with his staff “to extend my prayers and well wishes.”
“I joined every single one of my colleagues in wishing Leader McConnell a speedy and full recovery,” Schumer said.
The Senate, where the average age is 65, has been without several members recently due to illness.
Democratic Senator John Fetterman, 53, suffered a stroke during his campaign last year and was expected to remain out for some weeks as he received care for clinical depression. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, 89, said last week that she had been hospitalized to be treated for shingles.
The absences of Democratic senators have proved a challenge for Schumer, who is navigating a narrow 51-49 majority.