Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, one of the most influential figures in Washington, has been hospitalized after tripping and falling at a hotel in the U.S. capital on Wednesday, his spokesperson said.
McConnell, who is 81 and was first elected to the Senate in 1984, “tripped at a local hotel during a private dinner. He has been admitted to the hospital where he is receiving treatment,” his spokesperson said in a statement early on Thursday, giving no further details.
Representatives for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.
The Kentucky senator’s legislative skills have torpedoed many Democratic initiatives over the years, both when his party held a majority in the chamber and when Democrats have held the edge, as they currently do.
Democrats were particularly upset with McConnell for his tactics that allowed Republicans to build a 6-3 conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, including having the Senate refuse to consider a 2016 nomination to the high court by Democratic then-President Barack Obama.
McConnell, however, has long been criticized by both Republicans for playing the middle on many issues with some accusing him of promoting a “uniparty” for not pushing more strongly against the liberal ideology of Democrats.
Most recently he caught the ire of GOP members for criticizing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s release of the Jan. 6 tapes to Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
McConnell has also maintained his support for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion last year even as some Republicans have questioned what they have called a “blank check” for the Ukrainians.
With Republicans now holding a narrow 222-213 majority in the House of Representatives, McConnell has so far stayed out of the limelight in the debate over raising the U.S. debt ceiling, leaving talks to Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
McConnell has faced other health issues in recent years, including a broken shoulder in 2019 after falling in his Kentucky home.
Currently serving his seventh six-year term, which runs through 2026, McConnell is the third U.S. senator to be hospitalized in recent weeks. Democrat John Fetterman is being treated for depression, while Diane Feinstein, also a Democrat, was discharged to recuperate from home following a bout with shingles.
McConnell served as Senate majority leader from 2015 to 2021 and now as Senate minority leader. Democrats, including three independents who vote with them, currently hold a 51-49 majority in the Senate.
Senate Republicans this year re-elected McConnell as their leader. Senator Rick Scott of Florida challenged McConnell to lead the Republican caucus with the backing of other Trump allies including Senator Josh Hawley.
Several of his colleagues wished him well on Thursday.
“Looking forward to seeing @LeaderMcConnell back in floor action as soon as possible. Wishing him a speedy recovery and keeping him in our prayers,” Republican U.S. Senator Mike Rounds posted on Twitter.
Copyright 2023 Thomson/Reuters. Additions and edits by Michael Cardinal.