Rep. David B. McKinley brought members of Congress out to the ballgame this week, seeking to promote camaraderie and raise money for injured soldiers in the process.
McKinley, R-W.Va., and Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., hosted the first-ever "Congressional Night" during the Washington Nationals-New York Mets game Wednesday at Nationals Park in Washington.
McKinley said 101 members of Congress turned out, as did 456 of their staffers. A total of $5 from each of their tickets was donated to Wounded Warriors, an organization assisting returning war veterans who have been injured. Some of the members purchased groups of tickets so that soldiers could also attend the game, and nearly $4,000 was raised, according to McKinley.
Washington Nationals Manager Davey Johnson, left, presents Reps. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., and Diana DeGette, D-Colo., with a bat during “Congressional Night” at Nationals Park on Wednesday.
His staff arranged the event after McKinley challenged them to find ways he could promote bipartisanship in Washington.
"When I was in the West Virginia Legislature, we often had events at night," McKinley said. "We don't have that in Washington. It's difficult to get 435 members of the House and another 100 from the Senate together into one hotel ballroom, and that's what has caused much of the rift in Washington - people not getting along and not understanding each other."
He pointed out that while tailgating and eating hot dogs Wednesday, the legislators started talking. They even began discussing some business as the bats cracked, McKinley said. He and DeGette talked about McKinley's energy-related legislation, and DeGatte told him she might want to co-sponsor some of his bills.
"It was very productive, and the numbers were astounding for a first-time effort," he said. "The Nationals have said they want to continue it, and we're all talking about doing this again next year."
Members' time at the ballpark was cut short Wednesday because they had to return to the Capitol for a scheduled 9 p.m. vote, McKinley added.
A bat and two bases used during the game were given to McKinley and DeGette to be auctioned off later for charity.
Jim Forbes, spokesman for McKinley, said it has not been determined yet what charity will benefit from the sale.