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Rep. Scalise Returns To Capitol Following Shooting


Congressman Steve Scalise made a surprise return to Capitol Hill today. The Louisiana Republican was shot in June on a baseball field. The Republican team had been practicing for the annual Congressional Baseball Game. Scalise had life-threatening injuries. He had to undergo several surgeries, and even now he's still learning how to walk again. In an address to the House, Scalise said the violent act cemented his faith - faith in God, faith in people and faith in Congress. NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis has this report.

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Aided by a motorized scooter covered in Louisiana State University decals and using forearm crutches, Steve Scalise slowly made his way onto the House floor to a standing ovation. House Speaker Paul Ryan presided over a packed chamber to welcome him back.


PAUL RYAN: The chair wishes to mark the return to the chamber of our dear friend and colleague from Louisiana, Mr. Steve Scalise.


DAVIS: An upbeat Scalise started his remarks to his colleagues this way.


STEVE SCALISE: You have no idea how great this feels, to be back here at work in the people's House.


DAVIS: Scalise is from southern Louisiana, where he noted joie de vivre is the driving life force. He said the violent act that nearly took his life did nothing to shake his.


SCALISE: When I was laying out on that ball field, the first thing I did once I was down and I couldn't move anymore is I just started to pray. And I will tell you, it gave me an unbelievable sense of calm knowing that at that point it was in God's hands.

DAVIS: If anything, Scalise says he and his family have marveled at what he called the little miracles that helped save his life, like that U.S. Capitol police officers were on the scene and able to take out the gunman and that one of the Republicans there was Ohio's Brad Wenstrup, a former Army combat surgeon.


SCALISE: Who would have thought that God would have put Brad out there on that field with me? Because the tourniquet he applied, many will tell you, saved my life so that I could actually make it to the hospital in time with all the blood loss.

DAVIS: Scalise is a conservative Republican and serves in leadership as the majority whip, which means he's in the thick of the most partisan fights on Capitol Hill. That's why he says his family was most humbled by the outpouring of support from world leaders and from people all over the country and from all political stripes.


SCALISE: It was one of those things that was hard for us to completely comprehend, that you had people from all walks of life that had never met me before and yet they saw what had had happened and they just wanted to offer prayers.

DAVIS: He also noted that one of the first lawmakers by his side that June day was a Democrat.


SCALISE: Cedric Richmond somehow figured out which hospital I was sent to and got there - probably the first person there on the scene - in his baseball uniform to check on me.

DAVIS: Richmond says he's looking forward to facing off against Scalise at next year's Congressional Baseball Game.


CEDRIC RICHMOND: Probably not at a hundred percent, but I don't think - I don't think anything can keep him from being on that field.

DAVIS: Scalise was shot by a gunman who likely targeted them because they were Republicans. But Scalise says that kind of political division has only reminded him that in reality, Congress has its own joie de vivre.


SCALISE: It really does show the warm side of Congress that very few people get to see.

DAVIS: Scalise's office says as of today he will resume work at the Capitol while he continues physical therapy. And that is something that had every member of Congress saying amen. Susan Davis, NPR News, the Capitol.

(SOUNDBITE OF LOUIS LOGIC SONG, "STREET SMARTS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Susan Davis is a congressional correspondent for NPR and a co-host of the NPR Politics Podcast. She has covered Congress, elections, and national politics since 2002 for publications including USA TODAY, The Wall Street Journal, National Journal and Roll Call. She appears regularly on television and radio outlets to discuss congressional and national politics, and she is a contributor on PBS's Washington Week with Robert Costa. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Philadelphia native.