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Members Of Congress Prepare For Charity Baseball Game After Shooting

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Tonight congressional Republicans and Democrats are facing off on the baseball field for their annual charity game. It's a tradition that dates back more than a hundred years. And of course this year is different. Yesterday a shooter attacked Republican lawmakers at their baseball practice. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot along with three other people. While the game is known for its fierce competition, lawmakers say this year they are all on Team Scalise.

NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis joins us now. And first, Sue, Congressman Scalise is still in the hospital. Will you update us on his condition?

SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: He remains in critical condition. He did have a third surgery this morning. A statement that the hospital released late last night did give us a little bit more detail into the extent of his injuries. That includes - when the bullet entered, it traveled across his pelvis. It fractured multiple bones, damaged internal organs. And he has needed several blood transfusions. It's pretty serious. He was visited Wednesday evening by the president and the first lady, and President Trump at the White House today was candid about the seriousness of his injuries. This is what he had to say.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It's been much more difficult than people even thought at the time. It's been - he's in some trouble. He's a great fighter, and he's going to be OK we hope.

DAVIS: You know, Scalise is a very popular member of the House Republican Conference. Republicans met this morning for what was described to me as a family meeting, just a chance to get together and talk about him. And they also signed cards for the other victims that include two Capitol Hill Police officers who are members of Scalise's security detail.

SHAPIRO: Have there been any further discussions today about immediate security changes on Capitol Hill or for lawmakers?

DAVIS: The sergeant at arms, Paul Irving, met again with Republicans at that meeting. You know, this is an active and ongoing discussion that the Capitol Police are having with lawmakers about how they can feel safe when they're off campus, not in the Capitol and when they're back at home. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi today did offer one suggestion. She called for increasing the budget for the Capitol Police force, so they'll just have a lot more resources to deal with threats as they arise. That's just one more issue. We're going to have to wait and see how it plays out in the budget fights later this year.

SHAPIRO: This shooting has obviously made tonight's baseball game far more meaningful to members of Congress. Talk about why this tradition is so important to lawmakers.

DAVIS: You know, it's just one of those last really bipartisan events that truly does bring lawmakers together. Obviously its purpose is to raise money for local D.C. charities. But I can tell you, members love playing in this game. When I talk to lawmakers who are on the teams, both the Democratic team and the Republican team yesterday, they talk about it as being one of the highlights of their year. And then it's one of those things that has really built long-lasting, personal friendships across the aisle.

I talked to Pennsylvania Republican Pat Meehan yesterday. He's a pitcher on the team. And he was reflecting on how he has this good-natured rivalry with Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan because he struck him out at the plate a couple years back. And he had this really emotional moment talking about the moment that they saw each other after the shooting. This is what he had to say.

PAT MEEHAN: I've struck him out on a curve ball a couple of years ago, and every time we see each other, we talk about that. And he just came up and gave me a hug. And it is - it tells you how much we share that's just something away from this.

DAVIS: There was a question yesterday of whether the game should go on tonight considering the events of the shooting, but members were unanimous that they believe that the game should go on, and that's exactly what Scalise would want to happen.

SHAPIRO: OK, so because this game is so important to members of Congress, I have to ask. Who is expected to win?

DAVIS: You know, it is not exactly Yankees-Red Sox, but it is the greatest rivalry in congressional sports. You know, Ari, C-SPAN is going to air the game live tonight. It's the first time they're doing that since the 1980s because of so much interest in the game.

Republicans and Democrats are tied. Historically they both have 39 wins, 39 losses, one tie. Republicans won last year after a seven-year losing streak. The odds on favorite are usually the Democrats because of Louisiana Democrat Cedric Richmond. He's a great ballplayer, and this is this very game that sparked a friendship with his home-state colleague Steve Scalise.

SHAPIRO: NPR's Susan Davis - thanks, Sue.

DAVIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.