On June 14, a potentially generation-defining incident was prevented.
Two U.S. Capitol Police officers named Crystal Griner and David Bailey were shot when stopping a would-be mass shooter, shortly after he opened fire at a congressional Republicans’ baseball practice.
The Wounded Officers Recovery Act was introduced shortly after by the managers of the Republican and Democratic baseball teams. It would expand an existing law — originally intended for the families of Capitol police officers killed — to include officers wounded on the job.
The Congressional Baseball Game has been an annual summer tradition for more than a century. At a Republican team practice the day before the game, a gunman opened fire on several dozen people at the field. Although several people were shot including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA1) and the two security officers, nobody except the perpetrator died.
“We are profoundly grateful for the heroism of the Capitol Police, whose bravery under fire undoubtedly saved countless lives. On days like today, there are no Democrats or Republicans,” House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA12) said in a statement shortly after the shooting. “Only Americans united in our hopes and prayers for the wounded.”
Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX6) and Mike Doyle (D-PA14), made good on that sentiment by coming together in a show of bipartisanship to provide more money for Capitol Police officers wounded while on the job.
What the bill does
The United States Capitol Police Memorial Fund was established in 1998, after a shooting incident at the U.S. Capitol Building resulted in the deaths of two officers. Current law allowed payments only to families of officers killed in the line of duty, but not for wounded officers as two security officials at the baseball practice were.
Labelled H.R. 3298 in the House, the legislation would allow payments from the existing Capitol Police Memorial Fund to “employees… sustaining serious line-of-duty injuries.” On an immediate level, that would mean the two officers shot and injured in the June shooting, Griner and Bailey.
What supporters say
Supporters say the bill fixes an unforeseen gap in the original 1998 law, one laid bare by the non-fatal shooting injuries incurred in June.
“Sometimes, even simple and caring gestures require an act of Congress,” cosponsor Rep. Barton, manger of the Republican team, said in a statement. “Officers Bailey and Griner saved my life along with those of my sons and of everyone out at that field.”
“Every member of the House and Senate understand the risks that are willingly taken by these officers every day to keep us, our staffs, and the Capitol’s many visitors safe,” agreed cosponsor Rep. Doyle, manager of the Democratic team. “The Capitol Police Memorial Fund was originally established with a specific limited purpose… We believe that the law should be amended to allow the Fund to provide similar support to US Capitol Police Officers seriously injured in the line of duty.”
The bill quickly attracted 128 House cosponsors, a bipartisan mix of 78 Democrats and 54 Republicans.
A mere five days after introduction, the bill was approved by the House on July 24 in a voice vote, meaning no record of individual votes were recorded — a tactic used if there is no serious opposition. Three days later on July 27, the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent, again with no individual votes recorded.
As of this writing, the bill has now been sent to President Trump. Trump appears almost certain to sign the bill into law, considering that earlier this week he awarded the Medal of Valor in a White House ceremony to the officers who stopped the shooting.
The Congressional Baseball Game took place as scheduled the day after the shooting, held at National Park, home of the MLB’s Washington Nationals. The game raised $1.5 million for charity with almost 24,959 in attendance. The Democratic team won 11–2.