Mitch McConnell in hospital with concussion after fall in Washington DC | Republicans

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, was taken to hospital in Washington DC on Wednesday night after he tripped and fell at a hotel, a spokesperson said.

David Popp said McConnell, 81, fell “during a private dinner”.

On Thursday, Popp said McConnell suffered a concussion and would remain in hospital for “a few days” for observation and treatment.

“The leader is grateful to the medical professionals for their care and to his colleagues for their warm wishes,” Popp said.

McConnell is a survivor of childhood polio. In 2019, he tripped and fell at his home in Kentucky, suffering a shoulder fracture.

In 2020, he dismissed speculation over his health, prompted by pictures of his bruised and bandaged hands and bruising around his mouth.

He did not say what caused the bruising. Snopes, a fact-checking website, said guesses ranged from “Covid-19 to the possibility that [McConnell] has a vascular disease and/or is undergoing dialysis and is taking blood thinners … a definitive answer is not yet available.”

The Senate has recently been without several members, due to illness.

The office of the California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, 89, said she was taken to hospital last week to be treated for shingles.

The Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman, 53, who suffered a stroke during his campaign last year, has been in hospital, receiving care for clinical depression.

At a hearing on the Ohio train toxic spill on Thursday, Fetterman submitted questions which were posed for him.

Such absences have proven a challenge for the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, who must lead with a 51-49 majority.

On the Senate floor on Thursday, Schumer said he had called McConnell and spoken with his staff “to extend my prayers and well wishes”.

“I joined every single one of my colleagues in wishing leader McConnell a speedy and full recovery,” Schumer said.

The number two Republican, John Thune of South Dakota, was at the dinner with McConnell on Wednesday – in support of a conservative Super Pac fundraising committee, the Washington Post reported.

Thune told reporters that McConnell delivered remarks “as usual”.

“Evidently it happened later in the evening,” said Thune, who had moved to another reception at the hotel when McConnell fell.

On Thursday at the Capitol, Thune said he had not yet spoken to McConnell.

“We have very limited information,” Thune said. “I’m sure we’ll get more.”

McConnell was elected to the Senate in 1984. He was majority leader from 2015 to 2021. Before his election to the Senate, he was judge-executive of Jefferson county, Kentucky, from 1978.

McConnell is the longest-serving leader in Senate history, but only the fourth-oldest member of the current chamber. Feinstein is the oldest senator, three months senior to her fellow 89-year-old Chuck Grassley, a Republican from Iowa. Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, is 81.

Proposals for age and term limits for public officials have featured in the race for the Republican presidential nomination.

Nikki Haley, the 51-year-old former governor of South Carolina, says candidates older than 75 should be subject to mental competency tests.

The candidate who dominates polling, former president Donald Trump, is 76.

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