October 11, 2017
“I’m feeling good,’’ Scalise, 52, said in an interview with USA TODAY in his office in the U.S. Capitol. “I missed home and I missed my job — what I love doing. I really enjoy being a member of Congress and representing southeast Louisiana and love doing the job of majority whip.’’
Thursday marks two weeks since Scalise, the third-ranking Republican in the House, leaned on crutches and hobbled into the House chamber for the first time since he was shot in June.
He was greeted by a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats and delivered an emotional speech.
“You have no idea how great this feels to be back here at work in the people’s house,” he told the packed chamber.
Scalise was shot in the left hip June 14 while practicing with Republican teammates for a charity baseball game on a field in a Virginia suburb.
The gunman James Hodgkinson from Belleville, Ill., was shot and killed by Scalise’s bodyguards — Capitol Police special agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey. They were also injured along with congressional aide Zachary Barth and lobbyist Matt Mika.
Scalise, who arrived at the hospital near death, has undergone multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation. He was discharged from MedStar Washington Hospital Center in July.
From his hospital bed this summer, Scalise was briefed by staffers about issues in Congress. He said he was “incredibly disappointed’’ to watch the Republican’s failed effort in the Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
The House led in part by Scalise narrowly passed a repeal bill.
Despite the shooting and the recent shooting in Las Vegas that left 59 dead and 527 injured, Scalise said he remains a strong supporter of the Second Amendment.
“I saw firsthand how my security detail having guns and being able to counter the shooter are what saved my life and a lot of other people’s lives,’’ he said. “If the shooter was out there and he was the only one with a gun he would have been able to take everybody down.’’
Scalise said the shooting did reaffirm his faith and love for his family.
He said he prayed “directly to God’’ as he lay in the middle of the ball field after being shot.
“I saw real miracles happen on that ball field,’’ he said. “There’s no explanation for why some of my colleagues weren’t either shot or killed with some of the direct shots that the shooter had on them.’’
Scalise said the miracles continued as went into the operating room with a zero blood pressure reading.
“There’s a lot of reasons why I shouldn’t be here, but I am,’’ he said. “I think it’s through direct miracles from God. I saw my faith reaffirmed in so many ways.’’
Scalise said he and his wife, Jennifer, appreciate the outpouring of support from colleagues, world leaders and folks back in Louisiana.
In the weeks following the shooting, lawmakers, staffers and others lined up in congressional office buildings to donate to area blood banks on his behalf.
Last Friday, Scalise, a baseball fan, threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs play Game 1 of their National League Division Series.
The day after the shooting, Democratic and Republican players gathered at Nationals Park to play the charity baseball game, dedicating the game to Scalise and others injured in the shooting.
Spectators broke attendance records at the game where Scalise was supposed to play second base. Players sported LSU baseball caps and fans wore other LSU gear. Scalise is an LSU grad.
Scalise has visited Louisiana twice since he’s been out of the hospital, stopping this past weekend to have charbroiled oysters at Dragos, a popular seafood restaurant in his hometown of Metairie.
And Scalise said he has every intention of fulfilling his role in February as captain of the D.C. Mardi Gras, a celebration of Louisiana culture.
“I might even be on crutches still but I got my whole captain’s costume and going to run the show,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Scalise still has therapy three times a week. He can’t walk without crutches and says he’s still moving slowly, “but getting a little bit faster every week.’’
His goal is to walk on his own again and maybe one day run again. He says that’s still an unknown.
But he does plan to hit the field again at next year’s congressional baseball game. He warns Rep. Cedric Richmond, another congressman from Louisiana and the star pitcher for the Democratic team, that he’ll be back.
“I want to regain my starting position, but time will tell,’’ Scalise said. “Cedric ought to be worried about me after Friday night.’’
Scalise’s pitch at the National’s game went right down the middle.
“It even had a little movement on it,’’ he said.
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