National Guard member takes selfies with 100 senators during deployment

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Since the January 6 attack, thousands of national guard troops have been stationed at the U.S. Capitol. Their mission is to protect the building and those who work there. New York National Guard Sergeant First Class Vincent Scalise was among the group.

But Scalise picked up a side pursuit while there that would bring Republicans and Democrats together during a time where the division between the two parties was as evident as the fences surrounding the U.S. Capitol. Scalise would try to meet and take a selfie with all 100 U.S. senators before his tour of duty came to an end.

“I first ran into Susan Collins and then Amy Klobuchar and I took pictures with both of them. And when I was showing it to my operations officer, he was like, ‘Why don’t you try to get a picture with all 100 senators?'” he told CBS News’ Kris Van Cleave.

Over the next six weeks, Scalise became a fixture in these halls of democracy and his progress was tracked on social media as he used his off time to snag senator selfies. 

But it wasn’t always easy. Scalise said some senators required more work to get a picture.

“Who was the hardest senator to find?” Van Cleave asked.

“Senator Risch from Idaho. He doesn’t like getting his picture taken,” Scalise laughed. The Idaho Republican took three tries before stopping for a picture.

“Every senator I met was extremely nice. They would take a photo and before they ran off, they would ask, ‘Where are you from? How are you doing?'” he said.

As he was approaching the end of his tour in Washington, Scalise was nervous he wouldn’t be able to get all 100 photos before it was time to return to his wife and two children in Utica, New York.

So he got some help from Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy and Delaware Democrat Chris Coons. The two senators on different sides of the aisle teamed up together to help Scalise meet his goal.

“They were actually calling senators’ offices for me and setting up appointments for me to go meet with them,” Scalise recalled.

The two senators and Mississippi Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith helped track down the final dozen senators during the all-night debate over COVID relief.

“Going on the Senate floor and saying, ‘Look you’re coming with me. This guy out here has a uniform on. He wants a picture and you’re going to do it,'” Hyde-Smith said.

By 1 a.m. that Saturday morning, the mission was accomplished as Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley became number 100.

“It was like winning a race. It was like coming across the finish line,” Scalise said.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, Scalise’s photos tell a story of coming together just as so much is pulling the country apart. He said he believes there is hope for bipartisanship.

“Yeah, I do believe that. I believe there’s hope for the whole country, not just here,” he said. 

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