By John Celock
With words of praise for the U.S. Capitol Police and his doctors, U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) returned to Congress Thursday for the first time since he was wounded in a shooting in June.
Scalise entered the packed House chamber on crutches to a standing ovation prior to delivering a speech to colleagues. Scalise was wounded when Illinois resident James Hodgkinson started shooting at a practice of Republican members of Congress and staffers for the annual congressional baseball game at a field in Alexandria, Va. Hodgkinson was killed by two U.S. Capitol Police officers on Scalise’s security detail.
“You have no idea how great it feels to be back at work here in the People’s House,” Scalise said.
Scalise had praise for the Capitol Police officers on his detail, noting that their actions saved the lives of others on the field during the shooting. He noted that their work reminded him of the importance of the Capitol Police and why House leaders are assigned security details.
Scalise said that after he had been shot he started praying while laying on the field, an action that he said brought calm to him. He noted that he could hear the gunfire continue around him until another member of Congress was able to apply pressure to his wounds, which helped save his life.
Scalise is the first member of Congress to be the victim of an assassination attempt since former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot outside a Tucson supermarket during a constituent outreach event in 2011.
Scalise praised his wife, Jennifer, for what he said was holding his family together during the months of surgery and rehabilitation he has undergone since the shooting. He also noted the support of his kids and bipartisan support from other members of Congress.
Scalise said that he has received support from residents of his Louisiana district and from across the country and from world leaders. Among the world leaders he said reached out to him were Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister Theresa May and King Abdullah of Jordan.
Scalise said that foreign leaders and citizens look to the United States for democratic government and that Congress serves as an example of representative democracy. He said that foreign leaders viewed the shooting as an attack on the United States.
Scalise received bipartisan praise on his return to Congress with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) welcoming him back.
Scalise said that while some people could view the shooting as a negative memory he is trying to focus on the positive memories of the past few months.
“To me I remember the thousands of acts of kindness and love that kept me going through this,” Scalise said.