PHOTO BY SARAH GAMARD
From left, House speaker Taylor Barras, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Senate president John Alario gather to pray for U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was shot in a Virginia park.
After news broke that U.S. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot in the hip early this morning
while practicing in a Virginia park for a charity baseball game later this week, the Louisiana Legislature and Gov. John Bel Edwards began their day gathered in prayer in the Capitol Rotunda.
Edwards, state Sen. President John Alario, R-Westwego, and House Speaker Taylor Barras, R-New Iberia, led a prayer for Louisiana House members, who retired last night expecting to dedicate their day to a handful of fiscal bills.
The House convened just before noon, two and a half hours behind the scheduled start.
"It is just alarming that we have to continue to gather like this," Barras said, referrring the to the shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which prompted a similar prayer circle at the legislature one year ago.
"It has to stop," Alario said about the regularity of attacks in the country.
Scalise is in stable condition following surgery in a D.C.-area hospital.
The attending politicians, many of whom know Scalise well, also prayed for the congressional aide and two Capitol police officers who were injured in the shooting, as well as Scalise’s chief of staff Charles Henry, whose brother, Rep. Cameron Henry, R-Metairie, was on his way to Washington D.C., to be with his uninjured older sibling.
Cameron Henry, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee that moved the latest draft of the state operating budget for next fiscal year, authored three of the six bills on the House agenda today and was an anticipated centerpiece for the debate. It is uncertain when Henry plans to return, The special session must have its business completed prior to adjournment Monday.
Finance Committee vice chairman, Rep. Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, now is expected to take his place in leading floor debate.