Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is being treated for a concussion after falling at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night.
“He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days of observation and treatment,” McConnell’s spokesperson said Thursday, in the first official update on the senator’s condition. McConnell, 81, fell at the hotel during an event for the Senate Leadership Fund.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told reporters that McConnell is awake and talking, and that he’s expected to make a full recovery, though Barrasso said he had not spoken to McConnell himself. For the most part, GOP senators attending their weekly closed-door luncheon didn’t know much more than what had been released by McConnell’s office. The Senate minority leader is expected to be in the hospital through the weekend.
“They didn’t give any indication, just said he’s doing OK with not a lot of details,” Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) said when asked if he knew when McConnell would be released from the hospital.
The lack of fuller details, especially in a brief statement released by his office on Wednesday after the fall occurred, fueled speculation on Capitol Hill about McConnell’s health. Senate waitstaff were required to take the unusual measure of checking their phones and other electronics at a small cubby outside the room where Republicans met for lunch on Thursday.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said she hoped McConnell would make a quick recovery. She sent a sampling of Thursday’s GOP lunch menu ― Alaskan halibut, of which McConnell is a big fan ― to his staff as a care package.
“We just know he’s in good spirits. Hopefully, now he’ll be in better spirits,” Murkowski said.
McConnell’s health previously came into question after a serious fall in 2019 that required shoulder surgery and weeks of recuperation at home. The Kentucky Republican, who overcame polio as a child, also underwent triple bypass heart surgery in 2003.
In late 2020, McConnell was photographed with bruised and bandaged hands, but insisted at the time that he was “just fine” and offered no explanation for his condition.
The median age for senators is 65, about a decade older than their counterparts in the House, meaning health issues are not uncommon for members of the chamber. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), 89, announced last week that she had been hospitalized with shingles. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is five months older than McConnell, suffered a heart attack in 2019 while running for the Democratic nomination for president.
Along with Feinstein, Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.), 53, has been away from the Senate as he undergoes treatment for clinical depression, proving challenging for Democrats’ slim 51-49 majority there.
Earlier this year, McConnell, who has been in office since 1984, became the Senate’s longest-serving party leader.