Lawmakers have been playing a lot of political hardball on Capitol Hill given the multiple crises consuming Washington, but it was actual hardball that drew Democrats and Republicans to Nationals Park on Wednesday night for the annual congressional baseball charity game.
The game provided a brief moment of camaraderie amid deep partisan division and high drama in Congress, as leaders rushed to try to head off a government shutdown and a potential federal default while Democrats toiled to bridge bitter rifts among them over a huge piece of social policy.
It also offered yet another venue for the Democrats to try to corral votes for a $1 trillion infrastructure bill slated for a House vote later Thursday, which currently appears far short of the support needed to pass given liberal defections.
President Biden — a former participant in his Senate days — made an extended appearance, even mingling in the Republican dugout with his political foes. Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also on hand to do what she usually does — exhort her fellow Democrats to deliver a win. They did not in this case, falling to the Republican lineup 13-12 in a close game that Ms. Pelosi must hope is not a harbinger for the tough votes she is facing.
The president drew a few boos from the Republican side of the stands, but was welcomed in the party’s dugout for photos and ribbing even though the red-uniformed G.O.P. lawmakers oppose almost everything on his legislative agenda. He handed out ice cream bars whose wrappers bore the presidential seal and took calls as he watched the game.
Ms. Pelosi could be seen on a telecast of the game feverishly working her own phone from the stands, with a crucial intramural Democratic showdown looming on the infrastructure measure, which progressives have threatened to sink until they get a vote on a $3.5 trillion social policy package that carries most of their priorities.
The play of the night, however, was an actual out-of-the-park home run by Republican Representative Greg Steube of Florida, an impressive feat in a game played by a bunch of amateurs well past their playing primes in most cases.
The big question after the game was how Ms. Pelosi and her party would fare when their moment at the legislative plate arrived.