Sept. 28 (UPI) — Rep. Steve Scalise marked an emotional return to the floor of the House on Thursday, greeted with tears and applause by colleagues three months after he was nearly killed by a gunman while practicing for the annual congressional baseball game.
The Louisiana Republican was welcomed to the floor by a teary-eyed House Speaker Paul Ryan, who said “our prayers had been answered” by the Louisiana congressman’s recovery.
As per parliamentary procedure, Scalise was asked the purpose for his speech. The lawmaker laughed at the question and proceeded to tell the packed chamber about his harrowing near-death experience.
“As you can imagine these last three and-a-half months have been pretty challenging times for me and my family,” Scalise, who holds the leadership position majority whip, said.
He went on to thank the member of the Capitol Police who were assigned to his detail and first responders who returned gunfire, killing the shooter, James Hodgkinson, 66 of Belleville, Ill. A congressional staff member and three others were also wounded, but have since recovered.
In an interview with CBS News that is scheduled to air Sunday on 60 Minutes, Scalise said the bullet, which struck him in the hip, created a huge challenge for doctors because of the widespread damage it did.
“I found out later just how much damage was done internally,” Scalise said. “You know, I mean, my femur was shattered. The hip and pelvis had serious damage where the bullet went through and, you know, did some damage to areas that had to be shored up with steel plates and then they did a phenomenal job of rebuilding, you know, kind of the, rebuilding Humpty Dumpty. I mean, there were, there was a lot of damage inside that — that had to get fixed.”
Scalise was released from the hospital in July. After the initial surgery he received an infection that landed him back in the intensive care unit and required another operation. After his release, he underwent weeks of intensive in-patient rehabilitation.
“It’s something you just can’t underestimate” Scalise said, adding “[I’m] definitely a living example that miracles really do happen.”