Heard on the Hill

Senate Democrats Push GOP Baseball Team to Field Only 8 Players

Latest swipe over the Supreme Court vacancy

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid wants Democrats to play an 8-man GOP team on Thursday night. (Bill Clark/Roll Call file photo)

Led by Minority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Democrats are calling on the GOP baseball team to play a man down at Thursday night's Congressional Baseball Game .  

"If the Republicans believe the Supreme Court can consider some of the most important issues of our time without a full roster of justices, then they should have no problem competing without a full Republican squad of players on the field," the Nevada Democrat said in a statement provided to Roll Call.  

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, the manager of the Republican baseball team, responded to Reid with a Tweet about star Democratic pitcher Cederic Richmond, a member from Louisiana.

It's the latest gambit by Democrats to highlight the decision by Senate Republicans to not hold hearings or votes on President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland.  

There has been a vacant seat on the court since the February death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Senate Republicans have said that voters should be allowed to weigh in on filling the vacancy, declaring that the seat won't be filled in 2016.  

[ Meetings by No Movement on Garland Nomination ]  

Reid's leadership team joined him in the baseball game day push, including the senior senator from the home state of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  

"We know that they'll have far right field well-covered, but it's time for Republicans to make sure that the Supreme Court fields a full roster," said New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer.  

"We're not going to stop highlighting the fact that Republicans need to do their jobs and work with us to fill this vacancy," said Sen. Patty Murray of Washington. "If Republicans think that eight out of nine members is good enough for the Supreme Court, we’re happy to point out the other ways they should have to live up to that position."  

[ Scouting Report from Congressional Baseball Game Insiders ]  

And Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin also weighed in, though when it comes to baseball, the Illinois Democrat might be best remembered for a long-ago House floor tirade against the blasphemy of the aluminum bat.  

"I don't want to hear about saving trees, any tree in America would gladly give its life for a day of glory at home plate," Durbin said in the 1989 speech . "I don't know if it will take a constitutional amendment to keep the baseball traditions alive, but if we forsake the great Americana of broken-bat singles and pine tar, we certainly will have lost our way as a nation."  

[ Congressional Baseball Gallery Series ]  

On Thursday, Durbin said, "Senate Republicans have talked a good game in their obstruction of the president’s nominee, so let's see if they can walk the walk in a less serious venue. If Republicans think that eight justices is enough to field at our highest court, which position would they sacrifice on the baseball diamond?"  

Contact Lesniewski at NielsLesniewski@cqrollcall.com and follow him on Twitter @nielslesniewski.

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