Republican and Democratic lawmakers are set to play in their annual congressional charity baseball game Thursday, which falls on the first anniversary of a shooting spree at a practice last year that almost killed House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.
Scalise, who returned to work last fall, is expected to start at second base in what is expected to be an emotional game that will be played in Washington’s Nationals Park.
The coach of the Republican team, Congressman Roger Williams of Texas, said he asked President Donald Trump to attend the game. Williams said Trump, whose 72nd birthday is Thursday, agreed to attend, although the White House has not confirmed it.
Since Scalise and others were shot last year at a Republican practice in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, and after several subsequent mass shootings in the U.S., Republican lawmakers, including Scalise, have largely maintained their support for gun rights.
Scalise says the mass shooting in which he was severely wounded “deepened my appreciation for the Second Amendment because it was people with guns who saved my life and every other member out there.”
Special Agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey, members of Scalise’s security team credited by the congressman with saving his life, were wounded, as were congressional staffer Zack Barth and lobbyist Matt Mika.
The gunman was 66-year-old James Hodgkinson, who was killed in a shootout with police. Hodgkinson apparently had been in the Washington area for several months stalking his targets.
The contest is a summertime tradition in Washington dating to 1909, a time for friendly competition between Republicans and Democrats even in years when fractious political debates are the norm on Capitol Hill. The game typically raises hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity.