Congresswomen Seek Bipartisan Home Run To Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

BY Paula Rogo  June 20, 2012 at 10:12 AM EDT

It’s game on for female members of Congress and the women reporting on politics and Washington.

As the two teams prepare for battle — in the name of a good cause, of course — Wednesday night in Washington, the NewsHour was there, getting a sense from the players about the stakes for both the sport and breast cancer awareness.



When Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., comes up to bat, she makes it known she is all business.

“Move back!” she jokingly calls to the opposing scrimmage team indicating that she’ll be smacking the ball to the outer reaches of the field.

Her teammates, all female members of Congress, cheer her on and laugh as she steps to the plate.

It is an early seven a.m. practice for the congressional women’s softball team, their last before they face the Bad News Babes, a team of female reporters who cover Congress and politics, at the fourth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Watkins Recreation Center.

The congressional team, or the defending champions as they like to point out, is a healthy mix of Republicans and Democrats who manage to get along despite the often-deadlock Congress of late.

“Many times we disagree on the aisle about issues,” Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, told the NewsHour. “But we are here on the battlefield trying to beat the press corps, but most importantly to raise money to help women beat their disease of breast cancer.”

“That’s not a partisan issue, that’s a human issue,” she said.

The team, captained by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. and Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., is bipartisan and bicameral — made up of six Republicans and 11 Democrats, three from the Senate and 14 from the House.

“We’re letting people know that politics needs to work together to get things done,” Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-Calif., said. “We’re doing it at this level and so hopefully people will get the idea that no matter what, we have the same needs and we are able to concentrate on things that are critical for our young women today.”

Proceeds from the event go to the Young Survival Coalition, a nonprofit organization offering resources and outreach to young women affected by breast cancer.

“As a breast cancer survivor myself — and a young one at that — it is so personal and deeply meaningful to me that the congressional family is always so supportive of the women members,” Wasserman-Schultz, who started the event four years ago, announced on the House Floor on Tuesday when inviting other members to attend the game. And it wasn’t without smack-talk.

“Between our superior fielding, hitting and strategic approach to the game we look forward to continuing as the champions of the annual congressional softball game,” she added.



With the animus now aimed their way, the press team has also been holding early morning practices and weekend scrimmages in preparation. Photos of players Brianna Keilar of CNN and Shawna Thomas of NBC practicing from the beaches of Cabo, where they have been covering the G-20 summit, made the rounds on Tuesday.

“We really appreciate that they are using their position of authority and notoriety to also raise awareness for breast cancer,” Gillibrand said of her opponents before adding, “But they will lose.”