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Tracking Minnesota’s political scene and keeping you up-to-date on those elected to serve you

Rep. Paulsen to friend, housemate Scalise: "Welcome back roomie"


We couldn't have bigger smiles on our faces - welcome back roomie @stevescalise #teamscalise

A post shared by Congressman Erik Paulsen (@reperikpaulsen) on

There were cheers and tears in Congress Thursday at the sight of Rep. Steve Scalise, back on his feet and back at work.

Three and a half months after he’d been gunned down at a congressional baseball practice, Scalise picked his way carefully across the House floor on crutches. Waiting for him with a big smile on his face was his friend and housemate, Minnesota Rep. Erik Paulsen.

It was, Paulsen said, “and emotional and really exciting day.” Scalise delivered a heartfelt 15-minute speech to his colleagues that served as a grace note at the end of a long and bitterly partisan September in Congress.

“He’s clearly on the mend and in a really good place,” Paulsen said afterward. “I think being on the floor today, that’s going to help speed up his rehabilitation, that emotional draw. It will encourage him to even push harder. And that’s just the way Steve is.”

Scalise will continue outpatient rehabilitation even as he resumes his congressional schedule next week. It might be a while, however, before he can return to the Washington quarters he’s shared for years with Paulsen and two other House Republicans.

The house’s steep narrow stairs for someone still recovering from a bullet that shattered his hip bones and femur – although Paulsen has a fix, whenever Scalise is ready to make the move.

“He knows I’ll move out of my room in a heartbeat,” he said. “If he wants to be on the ground floor…that’s easy to do. We’re just waiting for the word.”

Scalise did give his roomies a heads up about his return. The house phone rang Wednesday night.

“He said ‘You can’t tell anyone, it’s a secret,’” Paulsen said. “It was a little hard to sleep. We were excited. We knew it was going to be an exciting day, which it was -- lot of smiles, a lot of applause, a few tears too.”

Paulsen had been on the roster that June 14 morning, but skipped the practice so he could take some constituents on a White House tour.

“Having him on the floor, obviously, makes you think and relive what took place three and a half months ago,” he said. “But it also really draws the good in people. He’s receiving well-wishes and prayers from people around the world. There are so many Minnesotans, even last week, who were asking me, ‘Hey, I haven’t heard anything about Steve Scalise, how’s your roommate doing? It’s in people’s hearts [and] that just makes you feel good.”

Scalise, a high-ranking member of the House Republican leadership, plans to host a get-together with his colleagues next week to celebrate his return and get back to business, Paulsen said.

“That’ll really show people, I think, that things are back to normal,” he said.

Sen. Klobuchar talks politics on The Daily Show

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah gave Sen. Amy Klobuchar a gushing welcome Tuesday night.

"You're like a home run hitter when it comes to legislation in a town where they say nothing gets done --how do you get it done?" he asked Minnesota's senior senator.

Klobuchar said you have to believe you're there for a reason and find common --and higher--ground with people on tackling issues from opioid addiction to human trafficking. But it was her third point that drew applause from the audience.

"And then the last thing is - memo to the White House!- be civil."

"Just being nice," reiterated Noah.

"It works!"

Noah pointed out that she had been ranked as the most productive senator in the current Congress in terms of getting bills passed into law.

"Do you walk around the halls with a bit of, like, 'Yeah, that's me, that's me'?"

"I think it's a good time in politics to be humble," Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar touted one of her signature issues, the need to lower prescription drug prices, and noted that she had sponsored related legislation with GOP senators like John McCain and Chuck Grassley.

Democrats are struggling to craft a cohesive message during a time of turmoil in Republican-controlled Washington, as some members of the party want lawmakers to more forcefully push back against President Trump and others want Democrats to develop a more independent agenda that appeals to economically struggling voters. 

Klobuchar said that during the last election, Democrats didn't focus enough on the economy and what mattered in people's daily lives. But she said Midwestern Democratic senators spanning Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan "are leaving no stone unturned. They're reaching out to people in their state even if they don't agree with them - that's what you have to do." Those lawmakers all represent states that went for Trump.

Klobuchar insisted that the party was united, as evidenced by its opposition to Republicans' efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this year. The Senate legislation failed after GOP Sens. John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski bucked their party to vote against the measure with Democrats.

"Our party from Joe Manchin to Bernie Sanders stood together from the beginning to the end and that is why three courageous Republicans joined us,  and if we had not stood together that would not have happened," Klobuchar said.