During Cancer Recovery, Scalise will miss February votes

 January 6, 2024

During the course of his treatment for cancer, Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), who serves as the House Majority Leader, will have a stem cell transplant.

As a result, his office has announced that he will not return to Washington until February, as Breitbart News reported.

On Friday, his office issued a statement that provided an update on his treatment for multiple myeloma, which includes the following:

Last month, Leader Scalise successfully completed induction chemotherapy and had a positive response. It has now been determined he is eligible for an autologous stem cell transplant.

He is currently undergoing the transplant process, marking a significant milestone in his battle against cancer. Once the procedure is completed, he will be recovering under the supervision of his medical team and will work remotely until returning to Washington next month.

He is incredibly grateful to have progressed so well, and is thankful to his entire medical team, family, friends, and colleagues for their prayers and support.

House Republicans Position

House Republicans are fighting on numerous fronts with razor-thin margins, and Scalise's absence couldn't come at a worse moment.

There are two government funding deadlines coming up on January 19 and February 2, and the House is trying to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas despite some uneasy Republicans. They are also continuing with their formal inquiry into Joe Biden's impeachment, with a possible vote in the House scheduled for sometime in February.

Furthermore, Senate negotiators are still trying to reach a deal on border security and foreign aid financing that could be acceptable to the House.

Despite the lack of another vote likely reducing his leverage, Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) said hours before Scalise's announcement that he would engage directly with the White House, avoiding the seemingly frozen Senate process.

Going Forward for the Speaker

Now that his majority has shrunk, Johnson faces an even greater challenge in his role as Speaker. Once outgoing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) leaves office at the end of 2023, the Republican Party will control 220 seats, while the Democratic Party will control 213 seats.

However, the Republican lead will be diluted to 219–213 when Representative Bill Johnson (R–OH) resigns on January 21. The date set for February 13 is the special election to succeed the ousted Republican from New York, George Santos.

Many, however, are betting on the reelection of popular Democrat Tom Suozzi, who served three terms before stepping down in 2023. If Suozzi were to win, the score would be 219–214. However, if Scalise is not included, the Republican lead would be 218 to 214.

In the second case, a united Democratic bloc could only lose by one vote against the Republicans. Aside from implying that Scalise will return to Washington "next month," the announcement from his office failed to provide a target date for his return.

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