Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was being treated Thursday for brain damage and is expected to remain in the hospital for “a few days” after he tripped and fell at a hotel dinner the night before, his spokesman said.
Doctors said McConnell had a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) — also called a concussion, a serious injury for considering the elderly statement’s age.
McConnell, 81, was at a Wednesday evening dinner after a reception for the Senate Leadership Fund, a campaign committee aligned with him, when he tripped and fell. The events were at the Waldorf Astoria Washington DC, formerly the Trump International Hotel.
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Spokesman David Popp said the Kentucky senator is being treated for a concussion and “is grateful to the medical professionals for their care and to his colleagues for their warm wishes.”
Concussions can be serious injuries and take time for recovery. Even a single incident of concussion can limit a person’s abilities as they recover. McConnell’s office did not provide additional detail on the level of brain damage McConnell suffered or how long he may be absent from the Senate.
In the past, McConnell has missed work due to other injuries caused by falling. In 2019, he tripped and fell at his home in Kentucky, suffering a shoulder fracture that required surgery. 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.
In his memoir, McConnell discussed his childhood struggle with polio, which can result in mobility problems late in life even after an apparent recovery. Older adults can also suffer from other ailments associated with low mobility.
Colleagues have been wishing McConnell well during his recovery.
“Senator McConnell made it through polio as a child and I know he will get through this,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in a tweet.
Returning from a trip to Philadelphia Thursday evening, President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House that he’d spoken with McConnell’s family.
“I think he’s gonna be all right,” Biden said of his former Senate colleague.
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Senators leaving a Republican conference lunch on Thursday said that McConnell’s staff had given them an update on his condition. Utah Sen. Mitt Romney said they were told that “he’s doing well, feels fine, but had a concussion.”
Romney predicted that McConnell would stay in the hospital over the weekend and return to the Senate next week.
South Dakota Sen. John Thune, the No. 2 Republican, said he was at the event Wednesday evening 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.
None of the senators had talked to McConnell, though several said they had reached out to wish him well. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley said he had sent a note but that it was his understanding that McConnell was not taking calls.
“We just need to make sure that the leader does what he’s told,” said Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the Senate floor Thursday morning that he had called McConnell but spoke with his staff “to extend my prayers and well wishes.”
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article.