Leading House Republican Steve Scalise announces cancer diagnosis
Steve Scalise, the Republican majority leader in the US House of Representatives, said on Tuesday he has cancer.
In a statement, the 57-year-old Louisianan said: “After a few days of not feeling like myself this past week, I had some blood work done. The results uncovered some irregularities and after undergoing additional tests, I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a very treatable blood cancer.”
Scalise said he had begun treatment, which would “continue for … several months”. He said he expected to continue working.
“I am incredibly grateful we were able to detect this early,” he said, “and that this cancer is treatable. I am thankful for my excellent medical team, and with the help of God, support of my family, friends, colleagues and constituents, I will tackle this with the same strength and energy as I have tackled past challenges.”
Scalise was elected in 2008. Sometimes dogged by reporting linking him to far-right groups, he nonetheless rose in the party hierarchy.
In 2017, in Virginia, Scalise was one of four people shot when a gunman who claimed leftwing ideals attacked practice for the congressional baseball game. The gunman was killed by police. The hospital which treated Scalise said a bullet “travelled across his pelvis, fracturing bones, injuring internal organs, and causing severe bleeding”.
The next year, returning to work, Scalise said the shooting “was one of the very few moments in my life, from the birth of my kids and marriage … that [I] will always remember. There were days where I [wasn’t] sure I was going to be able to walk back on to the House floor on my own, with my crutches.
“Those were some dark days. You could take a bear down with the bullet I was hit with. When I looked at the caliber bullet, I was amazed I was still alive. Frankly, there are a lot of miracles that happened along the way.”
Scalise also said he was “a strong supporter of the second amendment before the shooting and frankly, as ardent as ever after the shooting in part because I was saved by people who had guns”.
Sticking close to the former president Donald Trump as the billionaire took over the Republican party, Scalise became majority leader, No 2 to the House speaker, Kevin McCarthy, after the midterm elections last year. On Tuesday, fellow Republicans wished Scalise well.
Elise Stefanik of New York, the No 3 House Republican, said: “There is no stronger fighter than Steve Scalise. Steve is as tough and kind as they come, and he has beaten so many unbeatable odds. The Legend from Louisiana is beloved by his colleagues and America and we know he will fight this next battle with that same resolve.”
Marjorie Taylor Greene, the hard-right conspiracy theorist congresswoman from Georgia, said she was praying for Scalise “and his entire family”.