Who is Steve Scalise, conservative congressman injured in Virginia shooting?

PHOTO: Rep. Steve Scalise speaks at President Trumps press conference with members of the GOP, on the passage of legislation to roll back the Affordable Care Act, in the Rose Garden of the White House, May 4, 2017. PlayCheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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The congressman who was shot during a baseball practice this morning has had a role in the Republican Party for years.

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Steve Scalise, R-La., is the majority whip in the House of Representatives. He won a special election in 2008 to serve in the House, announcing his run after then-Rep. Bobby Jindal won Louisiana's gubernatorial race in 2007.

Scalise, 51, is married and has two children.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said that he took Scalise's phone on the scene after the shooting and called Scalise's wife.

"I just didn't want her to wake up and hear the news and not know what's going on," Flake told a local affiliate from the scene of the shooting this morning.

Scalise is undergoing surgery. His injury is not believed to be life-threatening.

"Prior to entering surgery, the whip was in good spirits and spoke to his wife by phone," his office said. "He is grateful for the brave actions of U.S. Capitol Police, first responders and colleagues. We ask that you keep the whip and others harmed in this incident in your thoughts and prayers."

Rising in the political ranks

He was born in New Orleans, and he attended Louisiana State University. He served in the state's legislature before moving into national politics.

Scalise's biography on the Republican Party website describes him as "a strong conservative leader who upholds the Constitution, advocating for the principles of fiscal discipline, lower taxes, an all-of-the-above national energy strategy, a robust national defense and conservative values."

He was named the majority whip — currently the third-highest Republican position in the House — in June 2014.

Several months later, Scalise was criticized when it was revealed that in 2002 he delivered a speech to the European-American Unity and Rights Organization, a group associated with David Duke, a former wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

When the speech became public, he denied knowing the group's affiliations.

"I didn't know who all of these groups were, and I detest any kind of hate group. For anyone to suggest that I was involved with a group like that is insulting and ludicrous," he told The Times-Picayune in 2014.

PHOTO: Rep. Steve Scalise during a March 7, 2017 meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C.Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images, file
Rep. Steve Scalise during a March 7, 2017 meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, D.C.

Conservative stances and proud gun rights advocate

When it comes to policy issues, he touts his conservative record. Scalise received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association and is a member of the Congressional Second Amendment Task Force, according to his congressional website. It states that he "will continue fighting to protect every citizen's Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms."

Scalise endorsed Donald Trump in May 2016 and has been a supporter of a number of the president's policies, including his travel ban. When the first executive order barring people from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the U.S. was announced, Scalise said that it "makes a lot of sense" to "make sure that people who are coming into the United States aren't being infiltrated by terrorist organizations," he told WVUE Fox 8 on Jan. 29.

He is a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and its Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. His Republican Party biography says that as a result of his role on the Energy and Commerce Committee, "Scalise has emerged as one of the leaders in Congress in pushing for a strong national energy strategy that increases the supply of American oil and natural gas to lower gas prices at the pump while reducing our dependence on Middle Eastern oil."