To bipartisan hugs, tears, and a roaring standing ovation, a hobbling House Republican Whip Steve Scalise returned to the House on Thursday, more than three months after a gunman sprayed fire at a baseball practice and left the lawmaker fighting for his life. Scalise limped into the chamber on crutches and wearing sneakers, smiling broadly and blowing kisses in his first public appearance since the June 14 shooting, per the AP. Earlier, he'd tweeted, "I'm back." In an extraordinary gesture, Speaker Paul Ryan presided and ordered members to sit in their chairs to listen to Scalise's remarks. "Our prayers have been answered," Ryan said.
Scalise thanked the two wounded Capitol Hill police officers who returned fire and helped kill the shooter, James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, and the doctors who patched him together through repeated surgeries. The officers, Crystal Griner and David Bailey, were also injured. "David, you are my hero," Scalise said to Bailey, who was in the chamber. "You saved my life." Griner is still recovering at home. The lawmaker also thanked his wife, Jennifer, who watched from the visitor's gallery. Those Scalise embraced included Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, who, after the shooting, applied a tourniquet that Scalise said helped control his bleeding and saved his life. Wenstrup, a surgeon, was red-faced and teary-eyed.