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He’s running: After near-death shooting, Scalise is back on a treadmill and fighting for a GOP majority in 2022

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It’s been more than four years since House Minority Whip Steve Scalise nearly lost his life to a lone gunman who took aim at Republicans practicing on a baseball field near Washington, D.C.

Scalise was hospitalized for six weeks and had to learn to walk again thanks to a grievous wound caused by a bullet to his hip.

When the Louisiana Republican returned to the Capitol months after the attack, he moved slowly with the aid of a walker and the help of a motorized wheelchair.

Now he’s back to walking at a fast-paced clip through the hallways of the House and is even running on a treadmill in physical therapy, which he must still attend in order to regain more mobility.

Scalise is aiming for a full recovery and also has big ambitions for the House GOP, which he believes will regain the majority in the 2022 midterm elections when voters reject the left-leaning agenda pushed by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Joe Biden.

House Democrats hold a slim, four-seat lead.

“I think you're seeing people across the country revolt against this socialist brand of politics that President Biden and Pelosi are pushing through because they didn't run on that,” Scalise told the Washington Examiner.

Scalise is poised to become the majority leader if the GOP defeats Democrats next year, but he declined to say specifically what leadership role he would seek and sidestepped speculation that he would vie for the speaker’s gavel by running against the House GOP leader, Kevin McCarthy, 56, of California.

“Kevin and I are not running against each other,” said Scalise, 55. “Obviously he's had a strong interest in speaker, and he's going to get there. But I've been clear, too. I’m not talking about what position I'm going to run for tomorrow. I’m working on the job I’ve got to do today.”

Scalise said a GOP-led House would immediately get to work to reverse the damage that Republicans say Democrats and Biden are inflicting on the country with plans for staggering levels of new spending, a massive increase in illegal immigration, and rising crime rates.

“I’m confident we will win the House back next year and then be able to start getting our country back on track and dealing with inflation that's out of control, dealing with spending that's out of control, dealing with crime and the border crisis,” Scalise said. “Democrats are spending trillions of dollars like it’s paper money.”

Scalise said Republicans are fighting to block a new round of spending legislation that would top $4 trillion. The Senate advanced a $1.2 trillion infrastructure measure with bipartisan support and a vote from Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican. Democrats are planning to pass a $3.5 trillion spending package on “human infrastructure” programs such as free community college, universal day care, and expanded healthcare subsidies as well as broader coverage for Medicare — without any Republican support.

While the GOP minority in the House has little power to block legislation, Republicans are hoping to make it harder for Democrats to pass the measure. The Democratic Party’s bare majority means that if more than a small handful of Democrats oppose the spending bill, it will fail.

Republicans are targeting vulnerable Democrats from districts where centrist voters may be more likely to oppose the tax increases on businesses and the wealthy that Democrats plan to impose in order to pay for much of the new spending.

“We’re putting a lot of pressure on Democrats who ran in swing districts saying they were pro-business,” Scalise said. “And now they're contemplating voting for some of the most anti-business, anti-middle class tax hikes that would devastate those families. And I think they're realizing now that people in their districts don't want this crazy radical spending.”

Scalise said the GOP plans to show voters “how it can be done better” and would immediately have legislation to address the damage Republicans believe has been done by the Democratic agenda.

House Republicans in May introduced a $400 billion infrastructure proposal paid for with unused COVID aid, user fees, and private partnerships.

In the meantime, Scalise said, “We are going to keep working to stop the damage from being done.”

The GOP is taking on Pelosi directly, labeling her a “lame-duck” speaker and criticizing policies she has implemented in the House that has divided lawmakers and concentrated power in the offices of top leaders rather than spreading it among the 435 members.

Scalise said the GOP is “looking into the best ways” to counter a Pelosi-appointed committee that is now holding hearings on the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. Pelosi banned two Republicans appointed by McCarthy, leading McCarthy to pull all of his appointees to the panel.

Republicans said they would launch their own investigation but have no immediate plans to hold their own hearing. The House is set to embark on a seven-week recess.

Republicans say they want to find out whether Pelosi did not do enough to protect the Capitol ahead of the riot, Scalise said.

“We’ve actually raised a number of questions that Speaker Pelosi pulled off the table, and some of those involve what role she played in turning down National Guard help,” Scalise said.

Democrats have lashed out at Republicans for refusing to participate in their investigation and for trying to pin the blame on Pelosi. Democrats believe former President Donald Trump is responsible for inciting the riot and say some Republicans are also culpable for opposing the certification of Biden’s election victory.

Pelosi on Wednesday called McCarthy “such a moron” for opposing a renewed mask mandate in the House aimed at mitigating the spread of a new COVID-19 variant.

She has aggravated GOP leaders by appointing to the riot committee Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who are both outspoken Trump critics.

Scalise and McCarthy are Trump allies. Scalise wouldn’t talk about what punishment, if any, Republican leaders would impose on Cheney and Kinzinger for accepting Pelosi’s appointment to the riot panel, which the GOP believes will be weaponized against the party ahead of the critical 2022 election.

“They've made their positions clear,” Scalise said when asked about the fate of Cheney and Kinzinger. “In the meantime, over 95% of our conference is very, very unified at getting to the truth on a number of fronts but also confronting the real problems that are facing families today.”

Political analysts favor a House GOP victory next year. The site FiveThirtyEight, which provides statistics and race ratings, points out that the party in power has lost an average of 27 seats in midterm elections since 1946.

Republicans need to win back just a fraction of those seats to control the House once again.

Scalise, who is up to a half-mile treadmill run, said that is when he’ll start thinking of his own future, and his decision could hinge on what fellow GOP lawmakers ask him to do.

Scalise recalled his ascension to Republican Study Committee chairman in 2013 after members recruited him to run. The conservative Republican Study Committee is the largest House Republican caucus, and the role helped elevate Scalise’s status in the GOP and led to his election to majority whip in 2014.

“I’ve always had an adage that if you focus on doing your job today and if you're doing your job well, good things will happen.”

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Tags: News, Congress, Steve Scalise, Congressional Republicans, 2022 Elections, Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi

Original Author: Susan Ferrechio

Original Location: He’s running: After near-death shooting, Scalise is back on a treadmill and fighting for a GOP majority in 2022

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