House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., participated in the House GOP conference call Monday, his first since he was shot in the hip by a gunman in mid-June.
The call, coming two weeks before members return to Washington for a crucial legislative month, centered around the looming spending fight and appropriations, according to a Scalise aide. He also thanked his whip team, led by Rep. Patrick McHenry, the top deputy whip, for their work over the past two months.
"He made it clear that he is focused on his inpatient rehabilitation, and that the timing of his return to work will be based on his doctors' advice, and has not yet been determined," the aide said.
During a Monday night town hall on CNN, House Speaker Paul Ryan said it was "very emotional" for the caucus to hear Scalise on the call as most hadn't heard from him until the conference call.
"He's going to be okay," Ryan said. "He's got a long road ahead of him, but he's going to be okay ... It was extremely cathartic for all of us and all of our members were really, really relieved just to hear his voice. He was just talking about work. He was just talking about getting back to work and getting things done."
Scalise tweeted about his involvement in the meeting, saying that he looks forward to seeing his colleagues soon.
Despite no clear-cut timing for his return, the call shows Scalise remains focused on work despite not being able to return to the Capitol yet. Last week, Rep. Garrett Graves, R-La., said in a local radio interview that Scalise is eyeing a return to Capitol Hill after Labor Day — when August recess concludes, but Scalise staffers are adamant that no date has been set for his return.
He remains at MedStar Washington Medical Center in intensive inpatient rehab after he was shot by James T. Hodgkinson during practice for the Congressional Baseball Game in mid-June. He was discharged from the hospital on July 26 after MedStar said he had made "excellent progress," including after surgery to manage an infection.
Previously, Scalise phoned into one whip meeting prior to the August recess, prompting cheers from those at the meeting.
On the call, members discussed appropriations bills the House is expected to bring up after recess. Lawmakers were hopeful to pass the bills prior to the recess, but they did not have necessary support from moderate members.