House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R., La.) on Thursday night gave his first address to a public audience since he was shot in the hip in June, telling Louisianans he cannot wait to "get back home."
"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 in a pre-recorded message played at the Louisiana Family Forum's annual legislative awards gala. The organization was honoring Scalia with its "Gladiator Award."
The audience at the socially-conservative Christian Family Forum's event, which included several high-profile Louisiana politicians, gave Scalise a long standing ovation, according to the Advocate, a Baton Rouge-based newspaper.
Scalise remains in inpatient rehab in Washington, D.C., after he was discharged from MedStar Washington Hospital Center in July.
The Louisiana Republican was shot in the hip in June by a gunman who targeted a GOP congressional baseball practice in Alexandra, Va. He was quickly rushed to the hospital in critical condition after the shooting.
Sen. Rand Paul (R,. Ky.) was practicing along Scalise at the time and said the shooting would have been a "massacre" if Capitol Hill Police had not saved their lives.
"The Capitol Hill police, from my understanding, is incredibly brave and probably saved the lives of everybody there. Had they not been there, it would have been a massacre because there's no escaping a guy who has several hundred bullets," Paul said. "We had no weapons and no place to hide, so if he had advanced on the rest of us, there would have been no chance. The only chance we had was that the shots were returned by the Capitol Hill police."
Scalise had hoped to return to work when Congress reconvened in September after the August recess, and some had speculated he would attend the Family Forum's gala in person to accept his award.
Scalise's spokeswoman, Lauren Fine, told the Hill that the lawmaker has been focused on his recovery "and will be looking forward to returning to the Capitol as soon as his doctors allow."
Fine also noted to the Washington Examiner that "within the last couple weeks, he [Scalise] recorded a similar audio message for a Louisiana Restaurant Association event he also could not attend."
"He wanted to ensure he was honoring his commitments back home while he still focusing on his recovery at an in-patient rehabilitation facility," Fine added.
Scalise has stayed in constant contact with congressional leadership and individual members of Congress, as well as attended whip team meetings, through phone calls.