Rooting for Scalise Through Hospital Ordeal: His 3 Capitol Roommates

In Nation
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All three of his roommates visited him in the hospital, and said they were worried to learn that his injuries were than they had initially thought. The bullet tore through bones and internal organs.

“The initial report about his injury was a little Pollyannaish,” Mr. Shimkus said. “It’s going to be a tough rest of the year for us.”

His roommates said the home they share, about a mile and a half from the Capitol in southwest Washington, had offered a bit of solace during a week marked by violence. Their living arrangement, complete with scuffed-up furniture, children’s toys and baseball photos on the wall, of lawmakers who have decided to split the bill on an affordable, collegelike crash pad where they can spend a few days a week with like-minded colleagues. (Mr. Shimkus bought the home 15 years ago, and they split the mortgage costs, an amount they would not disclose, four ways.)

Their shared politics help: Policy discussions tend to creep up amid viewings of the western movie “Tombstone” or of endless sports coverage on ESPN, Mr. Shimkus said. But a love of baseball is what has drawn these colleagues together.

Mr. Scalise, 51, district and has been a Trump supporter, has been known as the night owl of the group, still able to wake up for practice and be out the door within minutes.


Representative Kevin Brady of Texas taking a swing during the game on Thursday. Mr. Brady and two other lawmakers share a house with Mr. Scalise in Washington.

Al Drago/The New York Times

“You’ve got three boring guys and one guy who’s kind of lively,” Mr. Shimkus said. “It’s been really quiet.”

In the days since the shooting, they said, life has been a blur of hospital visits, phone calls and, of course, the bright lights of a ballgame, this city’s last best attempt at bipartisan showmanship. The game included a prayer at second base in honor of Mr. Scalise, and staff members wore T-shirts emblazoned with a photo of the four congressmen, taken at a game years ago.

“With my roomies @RepShimkus @RepKevinBrady supporting @SteveScalise at congressional baseball game & pray for his recovery,” Mr. Paulsen tweeted on Thursday, posting a photo of him and his housemates wearing mismatched jerseys and yellow Louisiana State University hats, a tribute to Mr. Scalise’s alma mater.

“It was bittersweet,” Mr. Brady said. “It was a great night to come together, and Steve would’ve loved every minute of it.”

The across-the-aisle camaraderie displayed at the game. Several partisan debates over issues including a tax overhaul, the budget and health care still loom large. Mr. Brady, the chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, said he spent his nights reading and reviewing policy from a battered green chair in the home the men share.

“The vitriol and the debate has gone so far to the extreme,” Mr. Shimkus said. “Compromise, which is the essence of public policy and passing laws, has been disparaged by extremes on both sides.”

None of the three congressmen said their roommate’s injury would change their stance on gun restrictions.

“I am even more adamant that we not politicize these tragedies,” said Mr. Brady, whose father was shot and killed in 1967, “and focus on the recovery of the victims.”

There has been discussion among the roommates about how to welcome Mr. Scalise home. Mr. Paulsen, who lives in the basement, said that he hoped Mr. Scalise would return eventually, and that the group had discussed rearranging bedrooms to make it easier on their friend, whose recovery is uncertain and is expected to be lengthy in any case.

“We’ll make any adjustments in the house that make it easy for him,” Mr. Paulsen said. “So if he needs to have accessibility downstairs, I’ll move my room in a heartbeat.”

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