Steve Scalise: Republicans will hold U.S. House

U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, believes that despite a Democratic push to take control of the House in this fall’s election, Republicans will remain in charge.

“I think we’re going to maintain the House, and I think it’s because people like the job that we’ve done in terms of tackling tough problems,” Scalise said by telephone as he was traveling to Springfield to appear at a fundraiser at Illini County Club for U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville.

“And you look at the tax cut bill especially,” Scalise said. “The economy had been struggling for 10 years, and we finally confronted some of the problems to get it back on track. And that’s being done by putting more money in the pockets of hardworking taxpayers and making sure that we’re competitive.”

Asked about the decision by U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, not seek re-election, Scalise said it will be “a loss.”

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Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana throws out a ceremonial first pitch before Game 1 of the NLDS in Washington. (AP)

But, he added, “he’s leaving at a time when he’s got some important accomplishments and he’s done a lot for our team to lead us in terms of an agenda — but especially to raise the money necessary to allow us to keep the House majority.” He noted that Ryan didn’t seek to be speaker and now will be able to do something so important to him — spend time with his young family.

“So I applaud him for his decision,” Scalise said.

Scalise thinks President Donald Trump is “doing a really good job.

“I enjoy working with him because he’s focused on following through on the promises he made during the campaign,” Scalise said. “One of the things he said he would do is lower taxes rates, and to stand up for the United States and our allies” while “pushing back” on countries like North Korea and Iran.

While there has been some concern about Trump’s talk of tariffs on foreign imports leading to retaliation that could affect American agriculture, Scalise believes good will come out of the controversy.

“I think we’ve seen the president be selective and strategic” about the focus of the tariff policy, Scalise said.

“Primarily, it’s on China, who’s abused a lot of the trade rules,” Scalise said. “And that’s, I think, where the focus ought to stay. Let’s maintain our friendships around the world and trade with countries who are fair to us, but if China’s cheating, which most countries would agree they are, then they ought to be held accountable.”

“Just the fact that President Trump has put the threat of tariffs on the table, it’s brought China to the table,” Scalise said. “And so I think it’s ultimately going to end up in a positive result for the United States. I think a lot of the threats of retaliation are not going to be followed through. It’s just going to be fairer treatment for American jobs.”

Scalise and Davis were both at a House GOP practice for a charity baseball game in June 2017 when a gunman who had grievances against Trump and the GOP opened fire at the Alexandria, Virginia, field. Scalise was seriously injured, with a shot to his hip shattering bone and damaging internal organs. Two Capitol police officers were also shot, but they were able to return fire and kill the 66-year-old gunman. Davis, who was at bat when the shooting started, wasn’t seriously hurt.

“I’m doing really well,” Scalise said. “I’m fully back at work.” He said he had the last of nine surgeries two weeks ago. He said he has rehabilitation three days a week, and is “just glad to be able to get back to work and do the things I love.”

The experience doesn’t make Scalise think more gun laws are needed.

“Our founding fathers believed strongly in the right of Americans to be able to defend themselves,” he said. “That’s a hallmark of our country.”

Gun control advocates have called for banning bump stocks — devices that make semi-automatic guns repeat fire like automatic weapons.

“The president asked that his agencies go back and look at some of the regulations like bump stocks, and that is happening as we speak,” Scalise said. “But he’s also been clear that taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens is not the direction.”

Scalise said he was happy to be visiting Springfield again and said he has named a room in his whip office in Washington for Springfield’s most famous citizen.

When President Abraham Lincoln served one term in the U.S. House, Scalise said, “he used to sit in this little office by a fireplace. And now it’s one of my offices, and I renamed it the Lincoln Room. So, a lot of neat history.”

Scalise said Davis is a “great member” of his whip team — helping round up votes to move the agenda.

“And he’s had a real successful track record himself of passing legislation and working across the aisle, which is real important,” Scalise said. “We need good people like him to come back.”

Davis, also by telephone while traveling with Scalise, said he “couldn’t ask for a better guy and a better friend” to come to the 13th Congressional District to campaign for him.

“He has always been a supporter,” Davis said, “but this year is much more special. Watching him recover from what he experienced … on the baseball field that day, it’s really great to be able to see the courage and the strength that he’s shown, and I’m proud to introduce him to a lot of my friends and family and supporters.”

Davis faces Democrat Betsy Dirksen Londrigan of Springfield in the Nov. 6 election.

Contact Bernard Schoenburg: bernard.schoenburg@sj-r.com, 788-1540, twitter.com/bschoenburg.

http://www.sj-r.com/news/20180501/rep-steve-scalise-republicans-will-hold-us-house

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