Congressional baseball team managers call for unity after shooting

Congressional baseball team managers call for unity after shooting
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The managers of the Republican and Democratic congressional baseball teams appeared together on Wednesday afternoon to call on lawmakers to ease tensions between the two parties after a shooter opened fire at a baseball practice for the GOP's team.

Reps. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), who manage their caucuses' respective baseball teams, told reporters on Capitol Hill that Congress's annual charity baseball game would continue as scheduled Thursday night, despite the shooting that injured five people, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.).

"Joe and I talked and we decided that we’re not going to let incidents like this change our way of life or daily routines," Doyle said at the news conference.

"It will be play ball tomorrow night at 7:05," Barton told reporters.

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Barton reassured members of Congress that Nationals Park, where the Congressional Baseball Game is played, would remain a secure setting amid heightened safety concerns.

The shooting at a park in Alexandria, Va., rattled lawmakers in the Capitol on Wednesday. Scalise and four others were taken to hospitals after the attack. The shooter, identified as 66-year-old James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill., was shot by law enforcement and later died of his injuries.

Hodgkinson was revealed to be a former volunteer for Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersMcConnell warns Biden not to 'outsource' Supreme Court pick to 'radical left' Briahna Joy Gray discusses Pelosi's 2022 re-election announcement Ocasio-Cortez: Supporting Sinema challenge by someone like Gallego would be easy decision MORE's (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign and a frequent critic of President Trump on social media. His political views have been looked at as a possible motive for the attack.

Both Barton and Doyle said the attack appeared to be politically motivated and urged lawmakers to begin de-escalating partisan tensions within their own ranks. 

"We’re united, not as Republicans and Democrats but as United States representatives," Barton said.

"It shouldn’t take an incident like this to bring us together," Doyle said. "When the leadership of this country is civil toward one another, maybe the public will start being civil toward one another too, and the news media will be civil towards members of Congress and the public and we can change the mood in this country so that people don't get filled up with this kind of hatred."

The news conference at times became emotional, with Doyle and Barton describing what they see as an eroding camaraderie among lawmakers, as well as an onslaught of increasingly personal criticisms from the public.

"Members are not looked out at people anymore," Barton said. "People think they can come to our town hall meetings and say just the most obnoxious things and not feel anything personally."

"It is a very different climate than in 1985 when I was elected," he added.