Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot Wednesday morning at a baseball field in Alexandria, Va., where congressional Republicans were practicing for a charity game. Here are five things to know about him.
Scalise was elected whip by his colleagues in June 2014 and reelected in November, making him the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives. As the title suggests, his job is to whip up support for bills that GOP leaders want to pass.
Scalise's position is significant because most members of Congress are not regularly accompanied by security details, but leaders are. The Capitol police officers who fired back and ultimately stopped the gunman Wednesday morning were present only because Scalise was participating in the baseball practice. Had Scalise not been at the field, other members of Congress would not have had police protection.
Scalise easily won a seat in Congress in a special election in May 2008, replacing Bobby Jindal, who had been elected governor of Louisiana the previous fall.
In his role as majority whip, Scalise helped secure enough support to pass a GOP health-care bill last month. He had been working toward an Obamacare alternative long before that, however.
Scalise previously chaired the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservatives in the House. (The committee is not quite as conservative as the Freedom Caucus, but there is overlap in membership.) As chairman in 2013, he rolled out a conservative health-care plan that garnered 130 co-sponsors but did not win enough support to pass.
A member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Scalise counts passage of an amendment to a 2011 agriculture bill among his top legislative accomplishments. The amendment blocked funding for an Agriculture Department regulation aimed at studying and curbing the effects of climate change.
Scalise opposes cap-and-trade plans that limit greenhouse gas emissions and allow industries with low emissions to sell their leftover allowances to industries with higher emissions. He and former vice president Al Gore engaged in a memorably tense exchange on the subject during a congressional hearing in 2009.
Scalise admitted in 2014 that he delivered a speech 12 years earlier at a convention of the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, a group founded by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. He said he did not know, at the time, that EURO was a white nationalist group.
“When someone called and asked me to speak, I would go,” Scalise told the Times-Picayune. “If I knew today what they were about, I wouldn’t go.”