U.S. lawmakers to take time out from feuding to play ball

, U.S. lawmakers to take time out from feuding to play ball, The Evepost National News

Article content

WASHINGTON — As partisan standoffs in the U.S. Congress risk a government shutdown and debt default, lawmakers took a timeout on Wednesday for one of Washington’s few remaining bipartisan traditions: their annual baseball game.

The 2021 contest between the Democrats and Republicans, an event that typically raises over $1 million for charity, was played at the stadium normally used by Major League Baseball’s Washington Nationals.

In 1909, Democrats and Republicans began the tradition of donning gloves and playing each other once a year. Last year’s game was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also delayed this year’s game until near the end of baseball season.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

“This builds relationships, and creates a timeout from some of the harshest, I think, partisanship atmospheres I’ve seen in Congress. So I think in fact it’s probably needed now more than ever,” Republican Representative Kevin Brady said ahead of the game on Wednesday.

Brady, 66, said he would be playing second base and batting second, “which at my age is really exciting.”

President Joe Biden attended the game, arriving as his Democrats trailed 5-4 in the second inning, and he received a mix of cheers and boos from the bipartisan crowd. The game paused as Biden greeted players on the field and signed baseballs in the Democrats’ dugout.

The two sides are tied for past wins. The Democrats won’t have former Morehouse College pitcher Cedric Richmond on the mound as in recent years. He has left his old job as a Louisiana congressman to work at Biden’s White House.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

The Democrats’ pitcher this year, Representative Pete Aguilar, tried to lower expectations ahead of the game. “The last time I started on the mound I was 8 years old,” he said in an email.

, U.S. lawmakers to take time out from feuding to play ball, The Evepost National News

The lead batter and starting catcher for the Republicans was House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, who nearly died in 2017 after he was shot at a baseball practice for the game that year. Democrats offered an outpouring of goodwill after the attack but showed no mercy on Wednesday, stealing bases freely against Scalise’s poor throws from behind the plate.

There will also be some new players. The Democrats had high hopes for Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff, as he is just 34 years old, got rave reviews for his ultimate Frisbee performance in high school and played third base for the South London Pirates in the British Baseball Federation while he attended the London School of Economics. But Ossoff struck out and made an error in the first inning.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

A new player on the Republican side is Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a firebrand ally of former President Donald Trump and fan of the CrossFit training regimen who has sported a “Trump won” mask around Capitol Hill.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries, who was expected to take the field on Wednesday evening, was asked whether playing against people who don’t believe Biden won the presidential election would make it difficult to have a bipartisan moment.

He said he would keep the focus on the fact that the game was raising money for charity. “Hopefully people will leave the politics under the Capitol dome,” he said. (Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Steve Holland, Richard Cowan and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Scott Malone and Cynthia Osterman)

Advertisement

Story continues below

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.