No. 2 House Republican Steve Scalise returns to the Capitol after his blood cancer diagnosis

FILE - House Majority Leader Steve Scalise, R-La., joined at right by Majority Whip Tom Emmer, R-Minn., arrives for a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Scalise has been diagnosed with blood cancer.(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 House Republican, returned to the U.S. Capitol on Thursday for the first time since being diagnosed with a blood cancer known as multiple myeloma and told reporters his chemotherapy treatment is underway.

“It's kind of a few months process. They don't know yet how long it's going to be — four months, six months — but they want to continue to evaluate and say, 'OK, how's he doing? How's the treatment?' The treatments are going well so far,” said Scalise, who was taking precautions to protect his immune system and wore a face mask and stood back from reporters as he entered the Capitol building.

The Louisiana congressman, 57, said he would be able to receive some of the chemotherapy treatment in Washington and continue his work in Congress, where he was limiting his in-person interactions. Later in the day, he traveled the Capitol halls in a motorized wheelchair.

Scalise's cancer diagnosis comes at a fraught moment for House Republicans, who are trying to avert a government shutdown while also launching an impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden.

“Obviously there’s a lot going on," Scalise said. “There always is. But, you know, the main focus is on my health.”

Scalise said his diagnosis came after his wife urged him to visit the doctor three weeks ago when his appetite dropped while he was traveling for political events. He said the diagnosis was made quickly and his wife and he decided they wanted to be “very aggressive” in treating the multiple myeloma.

Scalise was among those wounded in 2017 when a gunman attacked lawmakers at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. The congressman was shot in the hip and was hospitalized, and he underwent a painful rehabilitation.