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Rep. Steve Scalise (R)

Louisiana | District 1

Leadership: House Majority Whip

N/A

scalise.house.gov

Biography

Elected: May 2008, 4th full term.

Born: October 6, 1965, New Orleans, LA

Home: Jefferson, LA

Education: LA St. U., B.S., 1989

Professional Career: Systems engineer, Diamond Data Systems, eVenture Technologies.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: Married (Jennifer Letulle) , 2 children

Republican Steve Scalise won a special election in May 2008 to succeed GOP Rep. Bobby Jindal, who became governor. Scalise in 2013 took over the helm of the Republican Study Committee, the group of the most conservative members in the House, then a year later vaulted to the position of majority whip through a blend of  staunch conservatism and Cajun charm.

A native of New Orleans, Scalise (sca-LEASE) grew up in Metairie. When his parents gave their son a battery-powered microphone, he played town crier on his neighborhood street, decorating his bicycle in red, white, and blue and calling people to the polls—the start of a political career. He majored in computer science at Louisiana State University, where he was speaker of the student assembly. After college, he settled in Jefferson Parish as a systems engineer. In 1995, when he was 30, he was elected to the state House, where he served 12 years before winning a state Senate seat in 2007. He pushed legislation to give incentives to the motion picture industry to produce films in Louisiana, and he helped pass a bill that made Louisiana the first state to bar cities from suing gun manufacturers for the actions of criminals. Scalise had considered running for the open seat in the 1st District in 1999 and 2004 but deferred first to David Vitter, now a U.S. senator, then to Jindal.

In the special election to replace Jindal, the key contest was the April 5 Republican runoff between Scalise and state Rep. Tim Burns of Mandeville in St. Tammany. Burns cited Scalise’s opposition to a bill banning smoking in restaurants and tried to tie him to special interests. Scalise called for limits on “out-of-control spending” and said he had “the experience to hit the ground running from Day One.” Scalise won 58%-42%, capturing 83% of the Jefferson Parish vote. The May 3 contest against Democrat Gilda Reed, a college instructor and political neophyte, was never in doubt. Scalise won 75%-23%.

The following November, when Scalise had to defend the seat in regularly scheduled congressional election, he faced a bigger challenge. Democrat Jim Harlan, a venture capitalist, sank $1.8 million of his own money into the race and was not shy about throwing mud. In one television ad, he tried to tie Scalise to a local scandal involving a federal investigation of the abuse of tax credits by the Louisiana Institute of Film Technology because Scalise had been a sponsor of the tax credit program in the legislature. Scalise cited his opponent’s support of presidential candidate Barack Obama as evidence that Harlan was too liberal for the district. Scalise coasted to a 66%-34% win for a full two-year term, taking 71% in Jefferson Parish and 68% in St. Tammany, which together accounted for 71% of the total vote. He coasted to reelection in 2010 with 79% and in 2012 with 67%.

Scalise is a down-the-line Republican whose rhetorical edge is sharper than that of his predecessors, Republicans Jindal and former Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston. He has railed against what he calls Obama’s “radical agenda” and backed Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s short-lived 2012 presidential bid. And his early work as whip was overshadowed in December 2014, when a Louisiana liberal blogger reported that Scalise had spoken to a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis in 2002, six years before he was elected to Congress. 

When the story first broke, Scalise didn't fully explain how he had been picked as a keynote speaker at the meeting of the European-American Unity and American Rights Organization. Two days later, after a storm of criticism, he expressed his regrets about the appearance and said he had been there to seek support for a tax proposal. He distanced himself from the group, saying he "wholeheartedly condemned" its views, and House GOP leaders as well as other Republicans backed him. As part of a damage-control effort, he spent the early months of 2015 meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus and civil rights leaders. But liberal groups seized on the issue as an opportunity to try to depict Republicans as racists.

Before becoming part of the leadership, he showed an occasional willingness to cross it. He opposed the 2011 compromise on raising the debt limit, and he joined most other Louisiana Republicans in refusing to support a relief bill for Hurricane Sandy in January 2013 because it didn’t have offsetting cuts in spending. The House in September 2012 passed his bill allowing people to pay extra at tax time to help reduce the deficit. In a dig at billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose call for having the wealthy pay more in taxes became a Democratic rallying cry, Scalise called his bill the “Buffett Rule Act.”

Scalise joined the Tea Party Caucus and served as the chief recruiter for the National Republican Congressional Committee during the 2012 election cycle. When Ohio Republican Jim Jordan stepped down as its chairman of the Republican Study Committee following the 2012 election, Georgia Republican Tom Graves was set to take his place, winning the endorsement of the group’s founders and past chairmen, which is the traditional means of ascent. But Scalise, who had been managing communications for the group, jumped in and demanded a more democratic means of choosing the leader. “From the beginning, I felt like this ought to be a member-driven organization, and the members should decide who’s the next chairman,” he told National Journal. He touted his record of “getting things done,” including enactment of his bill limiting the ability of a president to appoint “czars” without Senate approval. Scalise said he won the secret ballot “with votes to spare.”

Unlike new Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, whom Scalise has known since his days in the Louisiana Senate, Scalise opposed raising the federal debt ceiling. And he joined 80 other like-minded conservatives in signing a 2013 letter that urged de-funding the Affordable Care Act in appropriations bills. He was the House's fourth most-conservative member in 2013, according to National Journal rankings.

But Scalise is also known for his sense of humor and is friendly with many Democrats. He and liberal Henry Waxman of California regularly talk about their children and grandchildren, and he plays basketball with 2nd District Democrat Cedric Richmond, an old friend from their days in Baton Rouge. (At the annual congressional charity baseball game in 2012, Scalise also got a run-scoring hit off Richmond, who was pitching and who previously hadn’t allowed any hits.) “Steve is an example of how things used to work in Congress,” Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., told The Times-Picayune. “You’d battle it out and afterwards you can sit down and be friendly with one another.” After the House Appropriations Committee stripped out $17 million in Louisiana coastal restoration funds from the fiscal 2013 energy and water spending bill, Scalise and Richmond won bipartisan House approval of an amendment restoring $10 million.

In 2009, Scalise joined the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee, a useful assignment for this district. He called for more energy production, including offshore drilling. After the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf in 2010, he shepherded colleagues to the region to see the disaster for themselves and was incensed by Obama’s moratorium on offshore drilling, calling it “reckless.” He later guided through the House and into law the 2012 RESTORE Act, which calls for at least 80% of fines collected from BP and other parties to be sent directly to areas affected by the disaster.

A fierce skeptic of human-caused climate change, he succeeded in amending the House’s fiscal 2012 agriculture appropriations bill to bar the Agriculture Department from implementing its climate protection plan. He also was a staunch opponent of the Democrats’ cap-and-trade bill to allow industries to trade emissions credits in an effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Within hours of Virginia Republican Eric Cantor's shocking primary defeat in June 2014, Scalise began mobilizing his bid to join the leadership. It helped him that as Study Committee chairman, he already had a built-in base of support; it also helped that many Southern Republicans were anxious to see one of their own in a high-ranking post. But he left nothing to chance, lobbying many colleagues personally to eventually beat Illinois' Peter Roskam and Indiana's Marlin Stutzman for the job. "He's ... open and direct and he likes it when you're open and direct back to him," Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, with whom Scalise shares an apartment on Capitol Hill, told The Times-Picayune. "But he doesn't take stuff personally. He's friendly, engaging with everyone."

Yet Scalise also can be tough. At the Republican Study Committee, he threw representatives of the prominent Heritage Foundation think tank out of meetings in 2013 after the group caused an internal furor with its advocacy of splitting the farm bill into two parts: one dealing specifically with agriculture policy (called a "farm-only bill") and another legislating the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the food-stamp program known as SNAP whose budget conservatives have desperately sought to cut.

And when House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, balked at passing a flood-insurance bill in March 2014, an undaunted Scalise helped engineer enough GOP support for the measure to pass the House on a bipartisan basis -- an accomplishment viewed by many in Louisiana as a tryout for the whip's job. “We had to build a coalition, and we had to overcome a lot of obstacles,” he told The Advocate of Baton Rouge.

In the days before he was formally sworn in as whip, Scalise promised that Republicans would avoid a repeat of 2013's government shutdown and would fund the government at current levels. But he refused to rule out the possibility of impeaching Obama, a controversial idea that had galvanized the far right but one that Boehner had resolutely rejected. Then, in his first week on the job, he was faced with the task of attracting supporters for a bill to address the Central American refugee crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border. He and other House leaders had to pull their initial bill because of a lack of support, leading former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele to declare on MSNBC that Scalise and McCarthy "can't count."

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3015

(202) 226-0386

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2338
Washington, DC 20515-1801

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-3015

(202) 226-0386

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2338
Washington, DC 20515-1801

DISTRICT OFFICE

(504) 837-1259

(504) 837-4239

110 Veterans Memorial Boulevard Suite 500
Metairie, LA 70005-4970

DISTRICT OFFICE

(504) 837-1259

(504) 837-4239

110 Veterans Memorial Boulevard Suite 500
Metairie, LA 70005

DISTRICT OFFICE

(985) 879-2300

(985) 340-3122

8026 Main Street Suite 700
Houma, LA 70360-3407

DISTRICT OFFICE

(985) 879-2300

(985) 340-3122

8026 Main Street Suite 700
Houma, LA 70360

DISTRICT OFFICE

(985) 893-9064

(985) 893-9707

21454 Koop Drive Suite 2C
Mandeville, LA 70471-7513

DISTRICT OFFICE

(985) 893-9064

(985) 893-9707

21454 Koop Drive Suite 2C
Mandeville, LA 70471

DISTRICT OFFICE

(985) 340-2185

(985) 340-3122

1514 Martens Drive Suite 10
Hammond, LA 70401

DISTRICT OFFICE

(985) 340-2185

(985) 340-3122

1514 Martens Drive Suite 10
Hammond, LA 70401

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

234 Jefferson Heights Avenue
Jefferson, LA 70121

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(504) 831-3105

234 Jefferson Heights Avenue
Jefferson, LA 70121

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Aerospace

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Agriculture

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Appropriations

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Banking

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Budget

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Census

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Commerce

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Communication

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Disaster

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

Education

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Energy

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Environment

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Finance

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Govt Ops

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Health

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Homeland Security

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

Housing

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Human Rights

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Intelligence

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Internet

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Judiciary

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Labor

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Land Use

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

Medicare

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Military

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

Privacy

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Recreation

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Science

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Social Security

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

Tax

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Technology

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

Trade

Darren Achord
Deputy Chief of Staff; Legislative Director

John Seale
Legislative Counsel

john.seale@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-3015

Transportation

Geoffrey Green
Senior Legislative Assistant

Veterans

David Coffield
Legislative Assistant

** denotes a leadership staffer

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Steve Scalise
Votes: 193,496
Percent: 66.63%
M. V. Mendoza
Votes: 61,703
Percent: 21.25%
Gary King
Votes: 24,844
Percent: 8.55%
2010 GENERAL
Steve Scalise
Votes: 157,182
Percent: 78.52%
Myron Katz
Votes: 38,416
Percent: 19.19%
2010 PRIMARY
Steve Scalise
Unopposed
2008 GENERAL
Steve Scalise
Votes: 189,168
Percent: 65.68%
Jim Harlan
Votes: 98,839
Percent: 34.32%
2008 PRIMARY
Steve Scalise
Unopposed
2008 SPECIAL
Steve Scalise
Votes: 33,867
Percent: 75.0%
Gilda Reed
Votes: 10,142
Percent: 23.0%
2008 SPECIAL
Steve Scalise
Votes: 19,338
Percent: 58.0%
Tim Burns
Votes: 13,958
Percent: 42.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (79%), 2008 (66%), 2008 special (75%)

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