Scalise's first public remarks since shooting: I can't wait to 'get back home'

Scalise's first public remarks since shooting: I can't wait to 'get back home'
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House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), who nearly lost his life in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice in June, says he can’t wait to return home to Louisiana.

"I wish I could be there in person but I’m still recovering at a rehabilitation hospital and I can tell you, I cannot wait til the day that I can get back home," Scalise said during a pre-recorded audio message played Thursday night during the Louisiana Family Forum’s annual awards gala.

Louisiana news outlet The Advocate posted audio of Scalise’s minute-long message in which he accepted the conservative Christian organization’s “Gladiator Award.”

His address was met with a standing ovation.

Scalise's voice sounded strong in what is believed to be his first public remarks since a gunman opened fire on a ball field in Alexandria, Va., where Republicans were practicing for the next day’s charity Congressional Baseball Game. Scalise, a member of his Capitol Police security detail, a staffer and a lobbyist all were shot.

Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, was struck in the hip and suffered broken bones, damage to his organs and internal bleeding. The 51-year-old lawmaker spent weeks fighting for his life and battling infections at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, then was transferred to a D.C. rehabilitation center, where he is learning how to walk again.

In his audio message, Scalise did not indicate when he would return to Capitol Hill or to his home in Jefferson, La. Some House GOP colleagues who have visited Scalise said he could come back to work as early as this month.

But Scalise spokeswoman Lauren Fine said the date of his return has not yet been decided. Scalise is still focusing on his recovery at the in-patient rehab center “and will be looking forward to returning to the Capitol as soon as his doctors allow,” Fine told The Hill on Friday.

Those who have recently visited Scalise say the GOP’s chief vote-counter is growing restless in the rehab center. So he’s been working the phones.

He’s called into leadership meetings, GOP conference calls and whip team meetings. He’s also been checking in with individual members as Republicans gear up for a tax-reform fight this fall and another battle with Democrats over government funding and the debt ceiling this December.