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Mitch McConnell hospitalized with a concussion after a fall

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters following a closed-door policy meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 7, 2023.
J. Scott Applewhite
/
AP
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks to reporters following a closed-door policy meeting, at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March 7, 2023.

Updated March 9, 2023 at 2:07 PM ET

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell suffered a concussion and will remain in the hospital for "a few days of observation and treatment" after a fall at a D.C. hotel, a spokesman said.

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

On Thursday, several congressional members said they had reached out to the 81-year-old senator to share well wishes.

A source familiar with the incident confirmed McConnell fell at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Washington, D.C.

Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso, a physician who also chairs the Senate Republican Conference, said an event was held Wednesday evening for GOP members at the Waldorf Astoria by the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC group aligned with establishment Republicans.

Barrasso said several members were going back and forth between the event and the Capitol for an evening vote in the Senate chamber. Barrasso said he saw McConnell earlier Wednesday evening at the hotel before the report of the fall, but has not received an update since.

A District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department spokesman told NPR they received a call for a fallen adult male at 9:17 p.m. Wednesday at 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, which is the address for the Waldorf Astoria. They transported the man to an area hospital, but declined to share his identity or further details as a result of privacy laws.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said he spoke to McConnell's staff and said he hopes for a speedy recovery.

"This morning I offer a prayer of strength and healing for the leader and his family," Schumer said on the Senate floor.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he had yet to talk to McConnell, but hoped the two could catch up later on Thursday.

"I'm trying to get an update on the senator. I know he tripped last night but I don't have any new information," McCarthy told reporters. "Hopefully I'll be able to talk to him today."

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise also said he wished McConnell well, and hopes "he gets better."

GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas wished McConnell a speedy recovery in a tweet Thursday morning.

McConnell is a survivor of polio from his childhood, when he was diagnosed before a vaccine had been developed. In 2018, he cited his personal battle as motivation to eradicate the disease around the world.

"I think it's under-appreciated outside the public health community just how much hard work and innovation has to continue after a disease has dropped off the front pages," McConnell said in a report from Roll Call. He warned that without continued support, "progress could erode rapidly."

In 2019, McConnell had surgery after injuring his shoulder in a fall at his Louisville, Ky. home. The following year, he brushed off questions regarding his health after he bruised and bandaged his hands.

And in 2003, he underwent triple bypass heart surgery.

McConnell was first elected in 1984 to the U.S. Senate. He is the longest-serving Senate Republican leader in history.

NPR's Lexie Schapitl contributed to this report contributed to this story

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Claudia Grisales is a congressional reporter assigned to NPR's Washington Desk.
Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.