Democratic and Republican members of Congress are going to bat for unity at their annual charity baseball game on Thursday, just one day after the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others at a GOP practice in Alexandria, Virginia.
The annual charity game, a tradition since 1909, was held this year at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.
The two Congressional Baseball Team managers, Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas and Democratic Rep. Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, told reporters on Wednesday that lawmakers would still host the game as planned.
“We’re playing the game tomorrow. We’re united not as Republicans and Democrats, but as United States representatives,” Barton said at a joint news conference.
Barton added that Scalise, who is in critical condition after being shot in the hip during the incident, would not play in the charity game.
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Scalise was one of five people shot early Wednesday morning when a gunman opened fire at a GOP baseball practice. The others were Capitol Police officers Crystal Griner and David Bailey; Zack Barth, a staffer for Texas Rep. Roger Williams; and Mike Mika, an activist and former congressional staffer.
The shooter, identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Illinois, was killed in an exchange of gunfire with police.
Williams, a Republican coach who injured his leg and ankle while diving for cover during the shooting, also said it was important to play ball as planned.
“We’re going to play, we need to play,” he said. “If we don’t play this baseball game and we go home, then they win.”
It seemed most if not all of his fellow congress members were in agreement. House Speaker Paul Ryan was met with a bipartisan standing ovation when he announced that the game was still on during a meeting on Wednesday.
Ryan delivered an emotional address in which he called on Republicans and Democrats 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,” he said.
Even President Trump suspended his typical “drain the swamp” rhetoric in the wake of the shooting. In a statement from the White House on Wednesday, he avoided politicizing the attack, which was carried out by an assailant who had expressed anti-Trump views, as well as support for Democratic candidates like Bernie Sanders.