WASHINGTON − As a fractured House Republican conference scrambles to unite behind their speaker nominee, House Majority Leader Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., amid deep divisions and infighting between GOP lawmakers, former President Donald Trump questioned Scalise’s health as the Louisiana Republican attempts to shore up support for his speaker bid.
Trump, who has already been stirring the pot on the speaker’s race, suggested that Scalise, who is currently battling a treatable form of blood cancer, may be too sick to serve.
While saying he liked Scalise personally, Trump told Fox News Radio in an interview that broadcasted Thursday that “Steve is a man that is in serious trouble from the standpoint of his cancer. I mean, he’s got to get better for himself. I’m not talking about even country now. I’m saying got to get better. And this is tremendous stress.”
Other GOP lawmakers against a Scalise speakership, including conservative firebrand Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., who said on X, formerly Twitter, she likes “Steve Scalise and I like him so much that I want to see him defeat cancer more than sacrifice his health in the most difficult position in Congress.”
Scalise, who also suffered a near-death experience in 2017 after being shot in a practice session for the annual Congressional Baseball Game is heavily revered by most of his colleagues as a giant in the House GOP conference. The Louisiana Republican has climbed the leadership ranks over his tenure in Congress and has contended his health is not an issue when it comes to his capacity to serve as speaker.
“If the doctors didn’t sign off, I wouldn’t be doing this,” Scalise said on Fox News last week. “They say you’re ready to go back in the fight. Look, I’ve been through tougher fights.”
Last week, Trump injected himself into the speaker’s race by endorsing House Judiciary Committee chair, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. He also said he would travel to Washington, D.C., and visit the Capitol to meet with House Republicans about replacing ousted House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Trump ended up not stopping by the Capitol and Jordan fell short in a secret ballot vote among House Republicans who favored House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., for the nomination.
It is not yet Scalise’s job. A number of House Republicans said they would continue to support Jordan, denying Scalise a necessary majority in a full House vote that includes Democrats, underscoring the deep divisions that has consumed GOP lawmakers since they took control of the lower chamber in January.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Donald Trump questions Scalise’s health during House speaker election
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