Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) returned to the House floor on Thursday after he was badly injured in a shooting back on June 14 — and the first thing he did was thank God.
It has been a long road back to recovery for the wounded congressman after the devastating shooting in Alexandria, Virginia, which occurred on a ball field while a group of elected officials and staffers were practicing for a charity baseball game.
Scalise talked about the power of prayer — and said this incident “only strengthened my faith in God.” The congressman is a Roman Catholic and a descendent of Italian immigrants.
“If you look at the outpouring of love, of warmth, of prayer, my gosh, Jennifer [his wife] and I have been overwhelmed with all of that outpouring. It’s given us the strength to get through all of this and to get to this point today. And it starts with God,” said Scalise to his Capitol Hill colleagues.
They applauded him and gave him a standing ovation when he first came into the chamber on crutches. The shooting occurred 15 weeks ago and doctors had said he was at “imminent risk of death.” The gunman, identified later as James Hodgkinson, was ultimately killed by police — thus preventing far more tragedy.
Scalise sustained a single gunshot wound — it entered his left hip and passed through his right hip (also known as a trans-pelvic gunshot wound). The round did enormous damage to his bones, internal organs and blood vessels, according to Dr. Jack Sava, director of trauma at MedStar Washington Hospital, where Scalise was treated after the shooting, as Fox News and other outlets have reported.
MORE NEWS: Race: Color Blind Lessons from Children
“When I was laying out on that ball field, the first thing I did once I was down and couldn’t move anymore is I just started to pray,” said Scalise, who is 51 and has two children. “And I’ll tell you, it gave me an unbelievable sense of calm knowing that at that point it was in God’s hands.”
“But I prayed for very specific things, and I will tell you pretty much every one of those prayers was answered. And they were some pretty challenging prayers I was putting in God’s hands. He really did deliver for me and my family, and it just gives you that renewed faith and understanding that the power of prayer is something that you just cannot underestimate,” the congressman said.
It has been a long, difficult journey for Rep. Steve Scalise — he has worked hard to recover from his injuries. But his dramatic return is a symbol of hope — and a refreshing moment of unity on Capitol Hill.