The House has hit yet another roadblock in its ability to appoint a new Speaker of the House after the unceremonious ousting of Kevin McCarthy last week.
Scalise Bows Out
Steve Scalise, the representative from Ohio who originally won the nomination earlier this week has bowed out of the contest to lead the House.
“I’m just shared with my colleagues that I’m withdrawing my name as a candidate for the speaker designee.”
Announcing his withdrawal, Scalise commented to the press, “I’ve had big challenges in my life. I’ve been tested in ways that really put perspective on life. Really, the 2017 shooting when I didn’t know if I was going to make it out alive, taught me what’s important in life and that’s my family, my faith, and I am blessed beyond belief.”
It’s a sad moment when a man like Rep. Scalise can’t seem to win the backing of his party. A man who seems to have his priorities straight, a solid moral compass, and the skill to unite his fractured party.
“I never came here for titles and it’s much bigger than me, and it’s much bigger than anyone else and no one is going to use me as an excuse to hold back our ability to get the House open again. So we need to get a speaker. It needs to happen soon, but I’m withdrawing my name and I appreciate the interest you all had along the way. We still have work to do, we have to get this done.”
That kind of humility and grace is rare in any human these days, but particularly in Washington. It says something about the kind of personality required to scramble to the top of the heap inside the beltway and maybe one not suited to a man like Scalise.
Scalise’s Health is An Issue
However, with the exception of a few representatives like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Scalise’s cancer didn’t seem to be a huge concern for many in Congress.
“I like 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,” Greene wrote on X.
Scalise has said it is a “very treatable blood cancer” and that he will “tackle this with the same strength and energy as I have tackled past challenges.” I have no doubt, particularly considering the fortitude he demonstrated after being shot at a congressional softball practice.
But the sad truth is, cancer is a killer. Yes, the latest in medical advancement offers reason for hope and we should always hold out for cures and miracles. About 60 percent of patients diagnosed with multiple myeloma in recent years survived the effects of their cancer for at least five years, though the survival rate depends on how far the cancer has spread.
The Cost of Survival
However, survival often comes with many trials and tribulations. Given the current disarray of House Republicans, they can’t stand any additional pressures and need a leader that can be fully dedicated to unifying the party and defeating Democrats.
A professor I loved and respected immensely passed away this year from multiple myeloma. He vowed the same thing Scalise did and fought with much perseverance and dignity. He would show up to class to lead our usual spirited discussions. He always gave 100% – likely more like 150% to overcome the exhaustion from his treatments – and never wallowed in pity or expressed one smidge of sadness. No one would have ever known he was sick.
One day, however, his resolve broke. He excused himself from the classroom when he began to show even a smidge of vulnerability. In that moment reality hit all of us, this small group of students privileged to be under his tutelage. He may not live. We prayed.
His decline came suddenly and swiftly. Within two months, he was gone.
Of course, this may not be the fate of Steve Scalise and I pray that it will not be. But a man should only have to face one battle at a time and I believe Scalise has a more important one on his hands than Speaker of the House.
Jennifer Galardi is the politics and culture editor and opinion writer for 19FortyFive.com. She has a Master’s in Public Policy from Pepperdine University and produces and hosts the podcast Connection with conversations that address health, culture, politics, and policy. In a previous life, she wrote for publications in the health, fitness, and nutrition space. In addition, her pieces have been published in the Epoch Times and Pepperdine Policy Review. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter.