United States

Top US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell hospitalized after fall

Top US Senate Republican Mitch McConnell hospitalized after fall

MCCONNELL. US Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch at the US Capitol in Washington, US, on February 28, 2023.

Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who is 81 and was first elected to the Senate in 1984, 'tripped at a local hotel during a private dinner'

WASHINGTON, DC, USA – 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 US capital on Wednesday, March 8, 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, March 9, 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.

McConnell has long been criticized by Democrats, particularly for his tactics that allowed Republicans to build a 6-3 conservative majority on the US Supreme Court, including having the Senate refuse to consider a 2016 nomination to the high court by Democratic then-President Barack Obama.

He has also drawn the ire of Donald Trump, including for rejecting the Republican former president’s false claims that his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden was the result of widespread voting fraud.

McConnell has also maintained his support for Ukraine after Russia’s invasion last year even as some far-right Republicans have questioned US aid 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 US 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 US 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.

A former judge-executive of Kentucky’s Jefferson County, McConnell has helped steer the federal judiciary sharply to the right, having the Senate speedily confirm Republican nominees.

Senate Republicans this year reelected 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 our prayers,” Republican US Senator Mike Rounds posted on Twitter.

House Republicans held 15 rounds of voting before electing McCarthy as speaker after securing a narrow majority in last November’s elections.

While his efforts to sink liberal initiatives led him to dub himself the “Grim Reaper,” his absence in the Senate could further inflame divisions within his party. McConnell has stood as a bulkhead against Trump’s “Make American Great Again” faction even as the former president has attacked him and his wife, Elaine Chao.

McConnell condemned the January 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol by Trump supporters but ultimately voted to acquit the former president on a House-approved impeachment charge of incitement even as he held him “practically and morally responsible.”

Trump has accused McConnell of being a “RINO,” or Republican in Name Only, calling him an “old crow,” and lobbing repeated racist attacks against Chao, who served as US transportation secretary under Trump but resigned after the January 6 attack.

McConnell has declined to say whether he would back Trump’s 2024 reelection bid but has said he would back the ultimate Republican nominee. – Rappler.com

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