NEW: President Donald Trump and former Rep. Gabby Giffords praise Scalise
Steve Scalise was shot at a congressional baseball team practice in June
Rep. Steve Scalise, the House Republican whip who was shot in June at a congressional baseball team practice, returned to Capitol Hill Thursday for the first time since being seriously wounded and said his prayers had been answered during his recovery process.
“I am definitely a living example that miracles really do happen,” Scalise said with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy at his side. Scalise thanked God and his wife as well as the Capitol Police officers and doctors who saved his life.
During his speech, Scalise said leaders from around the world – including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister Theresa May and King Abdullah II of Jordan – reached out to him to send well wishes, a sign he saw of how important the US Congress is to the rest of the world.
But he added that leaders he hadn’t met also reached out to him.
“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,” he said. “They saw this as an attack on the institution of our Congress and our government.”
He continued: “They know the United States being strong is critical to the rest of the world having the opportunity for freedom.”
On his way into the chamber, the Louisiana congressman told reporters it “feels great to be back” and he was greeted by a bipartisan standing ovation from his colleagues just before 11 a.m. ET.
“Wow, thank you, Mr. Speaker,” Scalise said after being recognized by House Speaker Paul Ryan. “You have no idea how great this feels to be back at work at the people’s house.”
He is planning to resume his job at the Capitol while continuing out-patient rehabilitation, a statement from his office said. A source close to Scalise told CNN later Thursday that he is now well enough to travel home to Louisiana, though declined to detail when that might be.
Scalise tweeted Thursday morning, “I’m back” following a photo of a silhouette of him at the Capitol.
Later Thursday, President Donald Trump welcomed Scalise back on Twitter: “Welcome back @SteveScalise #TeamScalise” along with video of the congressman’s return to the House floor.
Former Rep. Gabby Giffords, an Arizona Democrat who was severely wounded in a shooting in January 2011, also tweeted her support for Scalise moments after he finished.
”.@SteveScalise has a strength only survivors know. Welcome back to the people’s House. Your courage & resilience sends a powerful message,” she tweeted.
Scalise’s return comes after CBS released an excerpt of his first interview since he was seriously injured, when he said doctors “put me back together again.”
“I found out later just how much damage was done internally,” the Louisiana Republican told CBS in an excerpt of an interview that will air Sunday.
“You know, I mean, my femur was shattered. The hip and pelvis had serious damage where the bullet went through and, you know, did some damage to areas that had to be shored up with steel plates … they did a phenomenal job of rebuilding, you know, kind of rebuilding Humpty Dumpty. I mean, there were, there was a lot of damage inside that that had to get fixed.”
He continued: “They put me back together again.”
Scalise, the House majority whip, was critically injured when a gunman, identified as James T. Hodgkinson, opened fire on the GOP baseball team as it was practicing for a charity game in June. Hodgkinson was killed in a gunfire exchange with police.
Scalise sustained a single gunshot wound to his left hip and suffered “significant damage” to his blood vessels, bones and some internal organs, his doctor said at the time.
Four people, including Scalise, were shot and two others were injured.
This story has been updated and will continue to update with new developments.
CNN’s Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.