With colleagues still in the hospital, Democrats and Republicans gathered on the House floor Wednesday in a rare moment of bipartisan unity, to reflect on the attack on congressional Republicans earlier Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, a single gunman opened fire on congressional Republicans and their staff at a practice session for the annual charity congressional baseball game, shooting House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) as well as congressional aides and Capitol police officers.
It was an emotional time as colleagues gathered.
“We are all giving our thoughts to those currently being treated for their injuries at this moment. And we are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish,” Speaker Paul Ryan said to the body of lawmakers. “An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us.”
Ryan, who has been leading the House through this heightened partisan time, highlighted the lawmakers from across the aisle, specifically a photograph of Democratic lawmakers practicing for the same charity baseball game at a pitch not too far away, praying for their Republican colleagues.
For months, Republicans and Democrats have been bitter rivals in impassioned debate over health care, tax reform, and government spending — partisan fighting that will likely continue with Republicans in control of the Senate, House, and White House. But leaders gathered on the floor to express their grief.
“You know, every day we come here to test and to challenge each other. We feel so deeply about the things that we fight for and the things that we believe in, at times our emotions can clearly get the best of us. We're all imperfect,” Ryan said. “But we do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family.”
But also they recognized their divisions.
“You have your constituents, we have ours, and we respect you and your constituents who sent you here,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said. “But we do have our differences. And so I pray; my prayer is that we can resolve our differences in a way that furthers the preamble to the Constitution.”
Here are Ryan’s remarks in full:
My colleagues, there are very strong emotions throughout this House today. We are all horrified by this dreadful attack on our friends and on our colleagues and those who serve and protect this Capitol.
We are all praying for those who were attacked and for their families. Steve Scalise, Zachary Barth, Matt Mika, Special Agent David Bailey, Special Agent Crystal Griner.
We are all giving our thoughts to those currently being treated for their injuries at this moment. And we are united. We are united in our shock. We are united in our anguish.
An attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. I know we want to give our thanks to the first responders and to the Alexandria Police Department who were on the scene in minutes. And I know this house wants to state unequivocally that we are, as ever, awed by the tremendous bravery of the Capitol Police.
I spoke with Special Agent Bailey and Special Agent Griner this morning. One was being treated, and one was about to go into surgery. I expressed our profound gratitude to them. It is clear to me, based on various eyewitness accounts, that without these two heroes, Agent Bailey and Agent Griner, many lives would have been lost.
I know that we all want to learn as much as we can about what happened. We just all received a briefing from the sergeant of arms. I have complete confidence in the investigation that's being conducted by the Capitol Police, the FBI, who are also working with local law enforcement.
I know we want to extend our gratitude for the outpouring of support that we've received from throughout the capital and from throughout the country. And now, knowing Steve Scalise as we all do, he's likely really frustrated that he's not going to be able to play in the baseball game.
I also know that Steve wants all of us to commend the bravery of those who came to the aid of the wounded. In the coming days, we will hear their stories. And we will have the chance to hold up their heroism.
My colleagues, there are so many memories from this day that we will want to forget. And there are so many images that we will not want to see again. But there is one image in particular that this House should keep. And that is a photo I saw this morning of our Democratic colleagues gathered in prayer this morning after hearing the news.
You know, every day we come here to test and to challenge each other. We feel so deeply about the things that we fight for and the things that we believe in, at times our emotions can clearly get the best of us. We're all imperfect. But we do not shed our humanity when we enter this chamber. For all the noise and all the fury, we are one family.
These were our brothers and sisters in the line of fire. These were our brothers and sisters who ran into danger and saved countless lives. So before this House returns to its business, let's just slow down and reflect. To think about how we're all being tested right now. Because we are being tested right now. I ask each of you to join me to resolve to come together, to lift each other up, and to show the country, to show the world, that we are one house, the people’s house, united in our humanity.
It is that humanity which will win the day, and it always will. God bless.