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At This Hour

Rep. Scalise Back On Hill For First Time After Shooting. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired September 28, 2017 - 11:00   ET



REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LO), CONGRESSMAN WHO SURVIVED JUNE SHOOTING: -- you have no idea how great this feels to be back here at work in the people's house. As you can imagine these last three and a half months have been pretty challenging times for me and my family, but if you look at the outpouring of love, of warmth, of prayer, my gosh, Jennifer and I have been overwhelmed with all of that outpouring.

It's given us the strength to get through all of this and to get to this point today. It starts with God. 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. But I prayed for very specific things, and I will tell you, pretty much every one of those prayers was answered and there were some pretty challenging prayers I was putting in God's hands.

But he really did deliver for me and my family and it just gives you that renewed faith and understanding that the power of prayer is something that you just cannot underestimate.

So, I am definitely a living example that miracles really do happen. The first place I want to go to thank true angels along the way, it starts with the United States Capitol Police.

When I was elected majority whip as you know the elected leadership has a security detail and if anybody ever wondered why we're assigned security detail, I surely found out that day. Let me tell you, I want to specifically mention Crystal Griner and David Bailey.

Crystal and David were assigned to my security detail that morning and day in and day out, they're part of our family. Jennifer and I truly do treat them as part of our family because they're with us everywhere we go.

And on that day was no different, on June 14th, they came 6:30 in the morning we arrived at the baseball field just to play and practice for a game of charity baseball and nobody would have suspected what ensued.

And yet, as soon as those shots were fired, I'll tell you, when I was laying on the ground, one of the things I prayed for, is that David and Crystal would be successful in carrying out their duties and both David and Crystal are incredibly well trained, incredibly professional.

But when I was laying there not long after the first couple of shots were fired, I could hear a different caliber of weapon and that told me that they had immediately engaged the shooter.

Let me tell you, if they didn't act so quickly, and even after being shot both themselves, continued to engage the shooter and ultimately got him down, which not only saved my life, but saved the life of a lot of other people that are here in this chamber today.

Crystal couldn't be with us today, but David Bailey is with us. David, you are my hero, you saved my life. Thank you so much.

[11:05:07] Thanks. Tiger blood. I also thank -- owe thanks to a lot of people on the field with me right after the shooter was down, a lot of my colleagues came and ran to come check on me.

And one I want to mention in particular, is one of those things that Jennifer and I call the little miracles that happen, that day and throughout the next few months of our recovery.

Happened to have Brad Winstrop on the field that day and he was one of the first to come to my side. As you know Brad is not only a doctor, but he's a decorated Army Ranger, who served in combat and one of his roles and missions was to take care of people that were wounded before they went off on the helicopter to go get prepared.

Who would have thought that God would have put Brad out there on the 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. Brad, where are you at? Right down front. Right down front. I'm glad. Thank you.

Once I arrived at Medstar Hospital, I was a little bit out of it at that point. But luckily, I ended up in the trusted hands of Dr. Jack Sava and his great team over at Medstar.

They gave me a second chance at life and through many, many surgeries, where my life was truly in the balance a few of those, they did a wonderful job at making sure that I was well taken care of and ultimately made it through that point so I could get to Dr. Golden and his team who actually put me back together again, which was quite a task, to the point where I'm actually able to relearn how to walk again.

So, Dr. Sava and Dr. Golden, thank you for being here and thanks for your team's work. Above all else, I want to thank my lovely wife, Jennifer. Those of you who know who, know how strong Jennifer is.

She's an incredibly warm and loving wife and an incredible mother to our children and somehow through the late nights and the surgeries and all the other things, she managed to hold our family together, to make sure that Harrison and Madison were cared for as well and still to this day, she's not only by my side, but she's also serving as a great mother.

I am lucky to have you. Thank you for being here. Love you, sweetheart.

And while it's been a challenging time for my family, the thing that really overwhelmed us from the start was the outpouring of love and warmth and prayers from Southeast Louisiana, the district that I represent, we saw blood drives at Saint Catherine, prayer groups at First United Methodist Church in Slidel.

But what we also saw were prayer groups and well wishes being given from people that we never met before throughout all of your districts, and you shared it with me. And it was one of those things that it was hard for us to completely comprehend, you had people from all walks of life that had never met me before.

And yet they saw what had happened and they just wanted to offer prayers, and let me tell you to each and every one of you and please convey it to your constituents and I sure convey it to my constituents back home that warmth and love gave us just incredible strength that you can't imagine during some really, really difficult times.

And so, that is one more example of the power of prayer. Something else I saw firsthand, wasn't a surprise to me, but it was the outpouring of love from you, my colleagues.

[11:10:08] Both Republican and Democrat. I know right after the shooting, we were practicing on the Republican side and the Democrats were practicing too. And my colleague and friend and sometimes arch rival in baseball from back home in New Orleans, unfortunately, the star of the game too many times.

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. So many others of you, again, both Republican and Democrat, reached out in ways that I can't express the gratitude and how much it means to me, Jennifer and our whole family.

It really does show the warm side of Congress that very few people get to see and so, I want to thank each and every one of you for that. You don't know how much it meant to me and when I come back into this chamber today, seeing the faces of all of you, it just means more to me than you can imagine, so thanks for all of that love and support.

A lot of people ask, did this event change you? And I think those of you who know me know I'm an optimistic person, just a fun-loving person, from South Louisiana and we believe you work hard and you play hard.

Is an event like this going to change that? And the first thing I can tell you is, yes, it changed me, but not in the ways you might think. It's only strengthened my faith in God, and it's really crystallized what shows up as the goodness in people.

I got to see that goodness in people and so while some people might focus on a tragic event and an evil act, to me, all I remember are the thousands of acts of kindness and love and warmth that came out of this and kept me going through all of it and again, just re-emphasized just how wonderful most people are and how much compassion there is out there.

And finally, I want to talk about something that I guess hit me and probably struck me more than anything that I was not expecting and that was the outpouring of love and support from world leaders.

People I've met and known, Benjamin Netanyahu and I have had some incredible conversations from the hospital, Theresa May reached out, King Abdu Abdul of Jordan so many of us have met reached out.

But other world leaders also reached out. People I had never met before and that touched me in a different way because each and every one of us we come here and fight for the things we believe in. I have passionate beliefs.

For some reason, some of you don't agree with all of those, but it's so important we come up here. We are the people's house. This is the place where these ideas are supposed to be debated and we fight through those issues, but ultimately, we come together on whatever the board shows is 218.

If you can put the majority together, that's what rules the day. It's so important that as we're having those political battles, we don't make them personal. Because one of the things I saw and I guess this is the thing that really kept coming back to me, is I tried to make sense of all this and comprehend the outpouring of love that I saw, it kept coming back to those world leaders.

You know, why would leaders from around the world that I had never met before, reach out and say, Steve, we hope you can get back to work. We hope you can come through this. And what it says is, sure, they cared about my well-being, but more than that, they saw this as an attack on all of us.

They saw this as an attack on the institution of the United States Congress and our government and they really count on us to be successful. Look, we all know the United States is the leader of the free world.

It's something that we've, frankly, had the honor as a country to hold as a distinction for generations. And yet, when you look at that title, what it really means is that there are people all around the world that want freedom, maybe that have freedom, but they know that the United States being strong is critical to the rest of the world having the opportunity for freedom.

But that's why I'm so excited to be back, because as we're fighting through the issues of the day, let's just keep in mind that we rise above the challenges of the day.

[11:15:05] And understand it's not just us and our constituents and the country, the United States, that's counting on us being successful, people all around the world that believe in freedom are counting on us as well and we will deliver for them. That's why I'm so honored to be back here in the House serving with you. God bless each and every one of you and God bless the United States of America.

Mr. Speaker, with that I yield back the balance of my time.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Gentleman yields back the balance of his time for what purpose does the minority leader seek recognition.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: I ask unanimous consent to speak out of order to join you in thanking God for the return of our colleague, Steve Scalise, and to do so -- have him do so in such a strong way. You're brief, Mr. Speaker, I will be briefer. Thank God our prayers are answered.

I take great pride in Steve because we're both Italian-Americans and I think that's a sort of some of his strength, right, Steve. I, too, want to say how proud we are of Jennifer Harrison and Madison and of your staff and of our first responders, our capitol police, who took such good care of you.

But if, as you said, an attack on you is an attack on all, we all came through this magnificently because of your strength. So, the power of Steve Scalise today we came to the floor when you weren't here, we were all Team Scalise. Today we are Team Scalise. Thank you for being so wonderful. God bless you.

RYAN: Five-min voting will continue. The question is on passage of the bill, those in favor say aye.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. With that, I think we can all say welcome back, Congressman Scalise. Congressman Steve Scalise, after three months of being in the hospital, in patient recuperation after being shot in the hip on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia, walked into work today for the first time since that horrific incident with such a powerful message and so many, very worthy standing ovations from his colleagues.

Steve Scalise back in the people's house as he says for the first time since his shooting. With me right now David Chalian and Phil Mattingly, who are listening along in this powerful moment.

Phil, these are one of these moments that just give you chills and that it's a really important you were there to be able to witness it. Just seeing Steve Scalise there and the powerful message he gave that he is a living example that miracles can really happen.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, you flashback three and a half months ago, Kate, and just how palpable it was that everybody was so shaken. Nobody could believe the vulnerability. Nobody could believe a targeted attack could occur. More importantly nobody knew if Congressman Scalise was going to be OK.

There were several days and nights where it was very touch and go. The congressman referenced those. I think one of the most interesting and best elements of what was an excellent return to the House floor, was pointing out David Bailey, one of the capitol police officers along with Crystal Griner, who is in the audience, who saved his life.

Also, pointing out his doctors at Medstar who admitted made very clear had to save his life on the operating table multiple times as well. I want to point out the man sitting directly behind Congressman Scalise, Cedric Richmond, a Democrat from Louisiana.

Ideologically these two individuals are nowhere near one another and they are also on the opposite side of the congressional baseball team as well as Congressman Scalise mentioned and yet they're two very close friends.

[11:20:11] I think the biggest thing a lot of people took away once everybody was assured that Congressman Scalise was making a recovery, was there are moments to unify no matter how divergent people are on the policy, no matter how poisonous politics have gotten over the course of the last couple of years and this was one of those moments.

You heard it from Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. You heard it from Speaker Paul Ryan. I think everybody is very happy, very thrilled, and just to underscore one point here, this was very bad. There were multiple people who were attacked. There was a targeted attack on individuals.

Matt Myka (ph), a former congressional staffer hurt very badly. A lot of people were concerned if he would recover. He has recovered. The two capitol police officers have recovered.

Another congressional staffer who was also hit has recovered and now Congressman Scalise, walking again, slowly but surely, recovering. Nothing but good news and good vibes coming out of this moment today in the capitol -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Good vibes. Something that is much needed, David Chalian. We will keep an eye right where Phil is standing we might see Steve Scalise walk past once again as he's making his way out of the House chamber.

But David, I mean, the message from Steve Scalise, was a powerful one and I think one that is worth taking a moment to just appreciate, a bipartisanship. He says that's the warm side of Congress, the very few people get to see. That's something that I think we can hopefully carry on going forward.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: A powerful message delivered powerfully. I mean, I just can't believe the strength that Steve Scalise has on his return --

BOLDUAN: I can't believe he walked into the chamber. I mean, it's just amazing.

CHALIAN: Yes. It is truly astonishing and it is unbelievably heartwarming, of course. You are right. It gives you chills. I think back when I was just listening to the Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on the floor, and I think back to the time when they all came to the floor the day of the shooting as she referenced and Steve Scalise wasn't there.

And to your point about bipartisanship, Kate, that day they spoke of that as well. Of course, between that day and this day, there's lots of anything but bipartisanship that took place in the halls of Congress.

It seems remarkably difficult for the members to hold on to this sentiment, but Steve Scalise made a very powerful argument about the benefits of the togetherness, the unity, the family of Congress, that America just doesn't see at all, sadly.

And it seems that even hugely tragic moments like this, Kate, it remains still difficult for Congress to operate in a way, the way you see it operating right now, and it maybe is a little Pollyannaish, but it would be everybody's wish to see a little more of this in the day- to-day business of Congress.

BOLDUAN: And I think it is OK to be Pollyanna about that that's for sure. These reminders still even if they are short lived and even if the partisanship returns so quickly, I think it's OK to note it.

Phil, before we go, can we just note that powerful -- talk about moments of power, when the other congressman, Brat Winstrop called him up to hug him, to give him just the kudos well deserved of that tourniquet and his skills from his military days and as a doctor that saved his life.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Look, and I think that was something that a lot of people may have missed in kind of the craziness that occurred over the course of the 24, 48 hours after the shooting.

Brad Winstrop is a Congressman, he was also a combat medic and served down range, served in combat and his just being there, was so crucial to stabilizing Steve Scalise to the point they could get him to the hospital.

Congressman Scalise talked about how lucky he was, the power of prayer, talked about being a miracle, the things that had to go right on that day between the security detail, how incredibly good they were at their jobs as the congressman noted, as Congressman Winstrop being there as well, as well as several other congressmen who helped, the doctors at the hospital.

Everything went the best possible way and again, based on what we've heard, based on what we've been told, without that, nothing good was going to happen at the end of that. So, all of that coming together, the congressman being there with his combat medic experience, was just -- it's unbelievable.

And it just kind of underscores that this was a moment that very likely could not have happened based on just the scope of the attack. The attack could have been significantly worse and yet Steve Scalise, back on the House floor, calling for unity, thanking everybody.

It's just a good moment. It's a really good moment and there were so many ways this could have gone significantly worse -- Kate. BOLDUAN: Absolutely right. Phil, David, thanks for being here. I'm glad we could all have this moment to see this. We'll see if maybe Phil has a chance to grab Steve Scalise as he makes his way out of the House chamber.

We will continue over to our breaking news, though, coming up for us, we will be talking about the growing crisis that's playing out in Puerto Rico and the growing calls for the federal government to do more to get there, to be -- to get there faster and things out faster.

Shipping containers is what you're looking at right now, they are holding critical supplies. They're just sitting at the port of San Juan. FEMA Administrator Brock Long is here to answer some questions for us. That's coming up.



BOLDUAN: Breaking news and growing frustration right now as nearly 3.5 million Americans struggle to find food, water and power in Puerto Rico. A potential lifeline of aid appears virtually choked off at the island's largest port.

The 9,500 containers filled with critical supplies is stranded, it seems, and out of reach from those who desperately need it at this moment. The mayor of San Juan said this morning there is no reason at all that the cargo should be just sitting there.

The latest update from the governor not painting a much better picture, 97 percent there still without power, 44 percent have no access to clean and safe drinking water, 90 percent of the cell phone towers out of service. Forget the numbers, just look at the images that's all you have to see.

Let's go there now, somewhat shocking image of shipping containers holding supplies sitting at port of San Juan. Leyla Santiago is joining me now right there. Leyla, what you hearing about this?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's also what I'm seeing about this, Kate --