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Bipartisanship is hard work; who knew it could be sweaty, too?

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, thanks the umpire after this week’s charity softball game, which supporters said has been a good tool for fostering bipartisanship in Congress. (Cronkite News Service photoy by Nela Lichtscheidl)

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, thanks the umpire after this week’s charity softball game, which supporters said has been a good tool for fostering bipartisanship in Congress. (Cronkite News Service photoy by Nela Lichtscheidl)

WASHINGTON – It’s one thing to claim that you can work across the congressional aisle in the spirit of bipartisanship.
It’s quite another to sweat with members of the other party.

But that’s what congressional women were doing on Wednesday as Republicans and Democrats joined forces to play women journalists in a charity softball game on a steamy Washington night.

“Over the course of the last few months I’ve made a lot of good friends with my Republican colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, of the team’s practice sessions. “It’s been great.”

Sinema – who was joined by Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, the only other woman in the state’s congressional delegation – high-fived and cheered on her fellow congresswomen as they battled the Bad News Babes at a Washington municipal ballfield.

She joked that the lawmakers did a lot of “hugging and sweating, which is very human and bipartisan.”

“Our team was bipartisan and bicameral,” Sinema said of the 23-player team that included three senators and seven Republicans.  “And that’s something you don’t see in Congress very often.”

Among the roughly 1,000 fans were House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner.

True to their chamber, Pelosi cheered on Democrats and Republicans and Boehner visited the media dugout for a little trash talk. One of the reporters tweeted a quote from Boehner: “Thanks for playing! I hope you lose!”

The lawmakers started hot in the first two innings, but the press caught up and wound up winning, 11-8.

It was the fifth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, a charity organized by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., a breast cancer survivor. Wednesday’s game raised more than $125,000 for the Young Survival Coalition, an outreach program that helps young women facing the disease.

Sinema said the cause was one of the best things about the game, followed by the bipartisan spirit evoked by the game. Kirkpatrick agreed that playing together helped the women lawmakers build camaraderie.

“This is such a good team,” Kirkpatrick said. “It’s really brought us together, and that makes a difference when we’re legislating.”

Such a good team that Kirkpatrick expressed surprise at being overtaken by the press after her team built an early lead.

“We could’ve won this,” said Kirkpatrick, who rode the bench for the game.

Sinema, one of the most enthusiastic congressional players, said she had fun. But you don’t get to Congress by not being competitive.

“It feels better when you win,” she said jokingly after the game.

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