U.S. lawmakers back at work after shooting, congressman still hospitalized

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 15, 2017 10:24 AM

By Richard Cowan and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers returned to regular business on Thursday and prepared to play their annual charity baseball game, one day after a man who had expressed anger toward President Donald Trump opened fire on Republican legislators, leaving a senior congressman in critical condition.

Vice President Mike Pence said he visited on Thursday morning the Washington hospital where Steve Scalise, the No. 3 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, was being treated for injuries to internal organs, broken bones and severe bleeding after being shot in the left hip.

Scalise, 51, and three others were wounded when a man identified as James Hodgkinson, 66, from the St. Louis suburb of Belleville, Illinois opened fire on Republican lawmakers in Alexandria, Virginia practicing for the charity game. The others wounded were a police officer, a congressional aide and a lobbyist.

The charity game, pitting Republican lawmakers against their Democratic colleagues, was set to proceed as scheduled at 7:05 p.m. (2300 GMT) at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball team, with thousands of spectators expected in the stands.

Representatives for MedStar Washington Hospital Center and Scalise offered no updates on his condition on Thursday morning.

Trump, after visiting the Louisiana Republican at the hospital, on Wednesday said Scalise was "in very tough shape - but he is a real fighter."

The gunman died after being wounded in a gunfight with police. He had a history of posting angry messages against Trump and other Republicans on social media.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the attack, which has raised questions about lawmakers' security, renewed the nation's contentious debate over guns and drawn fresh attention to the harsh rhetoric that reflects the deep political divisions in America.

"Civility is indeed a part of civilized government and an open political system, and if you let these forces play out you end up in a very bad spot. And I think what happened yesterday was symptomatic of it," Republican Representative Mark Sanford told MSNBC on Thursday.

After the shooting, Republicans at the practice returned to the U.S. Capitol clad in practice uniforms and described a chaotic scene dodging a hail of bullets. The House and Senate got back to normal business on Thursday.

Trump called for unity in remarks at the White House on Wednesday, but Sanford and other Republican lawmakers also pointed to the president's own harsh rhetoric.

"I would like to see the president stay off of Twitter," Republican Senator John Thune told MSNBC, adding that lawmakers had to do their part to tone down comments and work with the opposing party.

The two team managers, Republican Representative Joe Barton and Democratic Representative Mike Doyle, both vowed that their squads would win the charity game.

"I did tell Joe that I love him before the game and I love him after the game. But during the game, we're going to play to win, and I know Joe's team is going to do the same thing," Doyle said on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by David Morgan; Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Will Dunham)