Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has been released to rehab for in-patient physical therapy, the Western Journal reported. The Kentucky Republican sustained a concussion and rib fracture last week after he tripped during a fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Washington, D.C.
Initial reports Wednesday did not mention the fact that McConnell sustained what doctors are calling a "minor rib fracture." McConnell was released from the George Washington University Hospital Monday to the facility to recuperate and regain his strength.
It's unknown how long McConnell will spend there as recovery times vary. "That decision will be made by the leader's physicians and the therapists," an aide to McConnell said.
"It is very common to undergo physical therapy to regain strength after a hospital stay and this ranges anywhere from a week to two week," the aide explained. It certainly doesn't help that McConnell is 81 years old and has previously suffered ill health.
In 2019, McConnell fell at his home in Kentucky and was injured, CNN reported. "This morning, Leader McConnell tripped at home on his outside patio and suffered a fractured shoulder," communications director David Popp said at the time.
"He has been treated, released, and is working from home in Louisville," Popp added. McConnell has blamed his unsteady gait on his medical history.
As a child, McConnell suffered from polio and often used railings when entering and exiting the Senate chambers, the Wall Street Journal reported. He also underwent triple bypass surgery in 2003.
McConnell is just one of several lawmakers unable to vote due to illness or injury. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) is out with COVID-19, but the two most severely ill are Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA).
Feinstein, who is 89 years old, was hospitalized with shingles, which can be very painful and keep her sidelined. Fetterman, 53, is currently receiving in-patient treatment for clinical depression due to a serious stroke he had during his campaign.
These absences create a problem for a Senate narrowly divided. Democrats enjoy a slight advantage at 51 to 49 over Republicans, and McConnell's inability to vote could make all the difference.
For Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who was being groomed as McConnell's successor, the chance to step into the second-in-command in the Senate is a golden opportunity. Still, McConnell's 16 years as Senate leader means both Republicans and Democrats speak well of him.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wished McConnell a speedy recovery. "My thoughts this morning are with my good friend, Leader McConnell, who is recovering in the hospital after a fall last night," the New York Democrat said from the floor of the Senate last week.
Schumer said he "spoke briefly with his staff to extend my prayers and well wishes. My thoughts are also with Leader McConnell's family and his team," he added. President Joe Biden also wished McConnell well and reached out to his family. "I think he's going to be all right," he said.
Many of America's lawmakers are elderly, and this will mean more frequent absences as the years wear on. Still, even with his most recent injury, McConnell is not the worst off by far.