Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. wants members to know he’s doing just fine.
Scalise gave assurances this morning on Fox News that his health would not hamper his ability to serve as the next House speaker. The Republican majority leader, who’s in a toe-to-toe contest with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio for the gavel, is currently battling multiple myeloma, which he’s been characterizing as a “very treatable blood cancer.”
“My doctors weeks ago looked and said, ‘It’s going phenomenally well, you’re ready to go back to work and get in the fight,’” he said. “If the doctors didn’t sign off, I wouldn’t be doing this.”
While Scalise was originally expected to undergo six months of chemotherapy, his treatment time frame is expected to be reduced to three months, a person familiar with Scalise’s medical condition, but not authorized to speak about it, told Semafor. He’s already undergone one month of therapy.
Republicans have largely avoided talking publicly about worries regarding Scalise’s cancer, partly out of respect for a colleague many view as a hero for his recovery after being shot during a Congressional baseball game in 2017. But behind the scenes, members told Semafor it’s a subject of discussion. “People are concerned about Scalise’s health,” one lawmaker said.
One senior Republican aide said that, even privately, the issue is mostly being discussed in “hushed tones.” “Every single member who’s brought it up has been like, ‘I don’t want to be the one who says it.’ But you know, we have this major concern about his health,” the aide said.
Others, however, might not have been so subtle.
According to the Washington Examiner, Rep. Tom Emmer, the current whip who’s announced a bid for majority leader, has suggested that Scalise might only last a short stint as speaker due to his health — which could give Emmer himself a path to the gavel. (In a statement to Semafor, Emmer’s office denied that the majority whip made comments about Scalise’s health and noted that he immediately endorsed Scalise for Speaker.)
Joseph Zeballos-Roig contributed reporting.