Who is Steve Scalise, the key Trump ally shot at baseball practice?

Who is Steve Scalise? The Republican whip shot at baseball practice

Steve Scalise was shot in Virginia (Stock image)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Steve Scalise, the man who was shot at a baseball practice for congressional lawmakers on the outskirts of Washington, is a key ally of Donald Trump and is known for his conservative political outlook.

The shooting took place as Scalise and his fellow Republican lawmakers were taking part in a friendly game of baseball, a break from their rigorous political roles. His staff were also said to have been caught up in the attack.

A staunch Republican, Scalise currently serves as a whip for the party in the House of Representatives, meaning he is charged with enforcing party discipline and ensuring people vote in favour of policies propounded by the Trump administration.

The job appears a tough one, given many Republicans believe Trump is too hard-line and controversial, but Scalise is a staunch loyalist. This might explain why he was chosen by Trump in November last year to be part of the Second Amendment Coalition, which is a group of advisors on gun rights and the Supreme Court, The Adovocate reports.

Indeed Scalise is known for his passionate stance regarding gun rights. His own website confirms he is an ardent supporter of the second amendment of the US constutition, which enshrines the right to bear arms, and in 2013 he introduced the Firearms Interstate Commerce Reform Act, which means it is easier for US citizens to purchase firearms. He has also sponsored the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which means those entitled to have guns in a certain state can keep those rights in other states, the National Rifle Association says. Little wonder the NRA has given Scalise an A+ rating.

Before Trump was elected as President, Scalise expressed his support for him, saying "Donald Trump will do more to rebuild our middle class, get our economy moving again, strengthen our national defense, and appoint Supreme Court Justices who uphold our Constitution rather than rewrite it. Those are the reasons I’ve supported Donald Trump for President and that is why I will continue to do so.”

During a meeting with Trump and the US House Deputy Whip Team about Obamacare in March this year, Scalise thanked Trump for his commitment to "rescuing the American people from the failures of Obamacare," according to the White House press office. He has also said that Trump gave "one of the best speeches I’ve heard from a President," and expressed his support for the administration's travel ban, telling Fox 8: "We want to make sure that people who are coming into the United States aren't being infiltrated by terrorist organisations and until that can be done I think this freeze from certain countries, where we cannot vet, makes a lot of sense."

However Scalise hasn't always supported Trump. Indeed he called on the then-Republican election candidate to apologise after his remarks about groping came to light last year.

Prior to entering the national Congress, Scalise served as a regional lawmaker in Louisiana, his home state. He has previously made headlines as one of only three people to vote against Violence Against Women Act in 2013, which was supposed to protect women who had been victims of sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence, and it was reported in 2002 he admitted speaking to a group fronted by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. 

Scalise said he had spoken to the group to build support for legislation but now regretted doing so, saying: “One of the many groups that I spoke to regarding this critical legislation was a group whose views I wholeheartedly condemn.

“It was a mistake I regret, and I emphatically oppose the divisive racial and religious views groups like these hold.”