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McConnell suffered concussion in fall, will remain hospitalized for several days

Mitch McConnell hospitalized with concussion
Mitch McConnell hospitalized after suffering concussion in fall 01:43

Washington — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell suffered a concussion after tripping at a Washington hotel on Wednesday and is expected to remain hospitalized for several days, a spokesman for the senator said.

The senator from Kentucky, 81, was attending a private dinner when he tripped. He was taken to a hospital for treatment.

"Leader McConnell tripped at a dinner event Wednesday evening and has been admitted to the hospital and is being treated for a concussion. He is expected to remain in the hospital for a few days of observation and treatment," spokesman David Popp said Thursday. "The Leader is grateful to the medical professionals for their care and to his colleagues for their warm wishes."

On Wednesday evening, McConnell appeared at a reception and separate private dinner hosted by the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC he launched to help elect Republicans to the Senate. He first appeared in the Franklin Room ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria and hosted a separate dinner afterward in the hotel for the PAC's largest donors. 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 6, 2023.aSenate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 6, 2023.Congressional Lawmakers Return To Capitol Hill After The Weekend
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol on March 6, 2023. Drew Angerer / Getty Images

The Senate Leadership Fund was the largest TV and digital ad spender last fall in the most-critical U.S. Senate contests, spending more than $170 million on advertising in the closing months in Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.   

One person who attended the reception told CBS News that McConnell "was good, walking around" and greeting donors before addressing the crowd.  

President Biden told reporters he's spoken to McConnell's family, and thinks the senator is going to be alright. 

GOP senators on Capitol Hill expressed their optimism that McConnell would make a full recovery and return to the Senate soon. 

"He's going to be fine. He's going to be observed, you know, concussion protocol. I expect a full recovery," Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming told reporters. "He's awake talking to people."

In 2019, the GOP leader 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, McConnell in January became the longest-serving Senate leader when the new Congress convened, breaking the previous record of 16 years. He was Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021, then became minority leader, the post he still holds.

The taciturn 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.

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

Democratic Sen. 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. And Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, 90, said last week that she had been hospitalized to be treated for shingles.

The Democratic absences have proven a challenge for Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who is already navigating a very narrow 51-49 majority.

The Republicans, as the minority party, have had an easier time with intermittent absences. It is unclear if McConnell will be out on Thursday and if that would have an effect on scheduled votes. Sen. John Thune of South Dakota is the Senate's No. 2 Republican.

Ed O'Keefe contributed to this report.

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