On Thursday September 28th, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise made his first public appearance, arriving at the House for the first time since he was wounded in June. How did people react to his return to the House?
“[With] hugs and a roaring bipartisan standing ovation,” reported AP.
Scalise had been absent from the House for more than three months after a shooter shot him. On June 14th, a shooter targeted the Republican Congressional Baseball team, who were practicing. The shooter left Scalise fighting for his life.
“You have no idea how great this feels to be back here at work in the people’s House,” the 51-year-old from Louisiana.
His comments caused cheering from the packed chamber. Lawmakers, including senators, were all there to welcome him back.
Scalise still hasn’t completely recovered from the shooting. AP says he hobbled into the chamber on crutches, but that didn’t seem to bother him. He was also “smiling broadly and blowing kisses.”
After Scalise entered, Speaker Paul Ryan—in an extraordinary gesture—ordered the lawmakers to sit in their chairs to listen to Scalise’s remarks.
Ryan told them, “Our prayers have been answered.”
The House has been bitterly divided in recent months, but both Democrats and Republicans banded together over Scalise’s shooting. His triumphant return also marked a bipartisan moment.
"I am definitely a living example that miracles really do happen," declared Scalise in his remarks reported CNN.
He took the opportunity to thank God for the answered prayers, his wife for her support, and the doctors who saved his life. He also took the opportunity to thank Capitol Police officers, especially David Bailey, who was in the chamber Thursday.
“David, you are my hero,” said Scalise.
Scalise identified another hero during his speech to the House, Rep. Brad Wenstrup. Scalise said he saved his life during the shooting, reported the Washington Examiner.
Wenstrup, a Republican from Ohio, is a former Army medical officer, so he acted quickly when he saw Scalise had been shot. He managed to get to Scalise and apply a tourniquet as he was bleeding on the baseball field.
“Who would have thought that God would have put Brad out there on the field with me because the tourniquet he applied, many will tell you, saved my life so I could actually make it to the hospital in time with all the blood loss,” declared Scalise in his emotional thank you.
Scalise was among the five people injured in June when a gunman with grievances against President Trump and the GOP opened fire on a Republican baseball practice Alexandria, Virginia. Capitol Police and other officers on the scene returned fire and killed the gunman, but not before he shot Scalise in the hip. The bullet did significant damage to his blood vessels, bones, and internal organs.
Scalise announced that he is planning to return to his job at the Capitol while continuing out-patient rehabilitation. A tweet confirmed that. The photo, which showed a silhouette of him at the Capitol, was simply captioned: "I'm back.”
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