Rep Steve Scalise, a member of the House Republican leadership, is known for his love of baseball and the late-night meals he often serves his colleagues in his office near the Capitol’s ornate Statuary Hall. Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, was shot Wednesday along with several others during a GOP baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. Scalise distributed commemorative baseball bats to fellow members when he ran for a leadership post in 2014. The Louisiana conservative was elected majority whip, the job of chief vote counter for the GOP leadership team.
Scalise, 51, was first elected to the House in 2008 and served as chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives, before becoming whip in the leadership shuffle that followed the surprise defeat of then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Republican primary. In his whip campaign, he boasted about his conservative credentials and pointed out that he’d be the only GOP leader from the South, which had a major role in giving Republicans their largest House majority in decades.
Scalise, who was shot in the hip, was transported to a Washington hospital and was undergoing surgery. He is in stable condition. “Prior to entering surgery, the whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone. He is grateful for the brave actions of US Capitol Police, first responders and colleagues,” his office said in a statement.
Scalise has forged a close relationship with President Donald Trump, working together on the House health care bill and a pending effort to overhaul the tax code. Trump said in a tweet Wednesday that Scalise is “a true friend and patriot,” adding that he “was badly injured but will fully recover. Our thoughts and prayers are with him.” As the No. 3 House Republican, Scalise has a security detail assigned to him at all times. Lawmakers who were at the practice said the shootings could have been much worse if the security detail was not there.
Scalise represents a district that includes some New Orleans suburbs and bayou parishes. Before entering Congress, he was a lawmaker in Louisiana for eight years. Scalise faced questions last year about some of his Louisiana ties. Six months after his election as whip, it came to light that he had spoken in 2002 to a white supremacist group founded by Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Scalise apologized for the speech and said he was unaware of the group’s racial philosophy when he agreed to speak as a state legislator. “I reject bigotry of all forms,” Scalise said then. He and his wife, Jennifer, have two children.