The congressional baseball coaches aren’t done talking about the positive outcomes of this year’s game: bipartisanship and support for the Capitol Police.
Reps. Joe L. Barton of Texas and Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, the respective Republican and Democratic coaches, introduced a bill Wednesday that would expand the Capitol Police Memorial Fund to allow donations to go to officers injured in the line of duty.
The original 1998 law creating the fund was established to raise money for the families of two Capitol Police officers killed in the line of duty that year.
“It became pretty obvious to us after the shooting that the new money that was coming in was coming in as a result of the incident and the people that were shot,” Doyle said.
Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner, both on House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s security detail, were wounded while protecting the Republican players after a shooter opened fire at their baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, on June 14.
“We just have an existing fund that received private donations and in this case, we have some fairly large donations we want to put into the fund that could be used for the two officers that were injured protecting us at the baseball practice,” Barton said.
This year’s game brought in nearly $1.7 million and sold almost 25,000 tickets. After the shooting, tickets were selling at a rate of 500 per hour.
The game’s proceeds benefited the Washington Nationals Dream Foundation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, the Washington Literary Center, and the Capitol Police Memorial Fund, a last-minute addition by the coaches.
Support from colleagues has been overwhelming. By the time it was introduced Wednesday, the bill had more than 105 co-sponsors.
“There wasn’t a single person who didn’t instantly say, ‘I want to be on that bill,’” Doyle said. “My biggest fear was that I was going to not reach somebody and they weren’t going to be on the bill.”
Barton joked, “If I had known it was a competition between Doyle and myself for the number of co-sponsors, I guarantee I would have had one more than he had.”
“We want to do this pretty quickly,” the Texas Republican added.
They are hopeful that the bill will reach the Senate by early next week. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a member of the Republican baseball team, talked to Barton about introducing it in his chamber and the coaches are also reaching out to other team members, GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona and Democratic Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Christopher S. Murphy of Connecticut.
“This may be one of those that moves real expeditiously, as it should,” Barton said. “We have two officers that were seriously injured and there are some expenses that they should be reimbursed for.”
He also mentioned a Capitol Police officer who was injured in a car crash on Monday.
“I said if there could be a silver lining from the whole incident, it’s been how both sides have come together to support one another and then to also support these people that were the real heroes that put their lives on the line,” Doyle said.
Bailey and Griner have been notified about the bill. Both have been released from the hospital. Bailey threw out the first pitch at the Congressional Baseball Game, while Griner did the same at the Congressional Women’s Softball Game last month.
“Good news travels quickly,” Barton said. “[This bill can] show America that it is possible to still get things done in Congress.”