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Climate activists plan to disrupt Congressional Baseball Game

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) waits to bat during the third inning of the Congressional Baseball Game at National’s Park in Washington in 2019. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)
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This article has been updated to more precisely reflect the activists’ goals for climate-related legislation.

The Congressional Baseball Game has long been trumpeted as an annual ritual of bipartisan comity. Since 1909, House Democrats and Republicans have faced off on the diamond to show that despite their differences, they can all enjoy a night under the lights in D.C. competing in America’s pastime.

Climate activists say the time for such games is over.

Members of several climate advocacy organizations are planning to disrupt this year’s game, scheduled for July 28, unless Democrats pass a climate bill through reconciliation. The legislation was in President Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which promised $555 billion in investments to address climate change.

The activists say they do not believe the whole package will pass the Senate, so they’re advocating for climate provisions to be included in a reconciliation bill, which could pass with a simple majority.

“We refuse to watch a member of Congress play baseball while the world burns,” said Jamie DeMarco, federal policy director for Chesapeake Climate Action Network.

The action, dubbed “Now or Never,” will be announced Wednesday morning and is being organized by groups who feel disillusioned by their canvassing and outreach work in the 2020 elections, which gave Democrats control of the presidency and both chambers of Congress. Organizers are keeping details under wraps for now but say there will be a component of direct action for activists who are willing to risk arrest.

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“What we want to make sure is if somebody fails, they’re held accountable,” Demarco said Tuesday, noting that two of the sponsors of this year’s game include oil companies BP and Chevron. “Either you deliver on your promise on climate or voters will hold you accountable.”

DeMarco and activist Michael Greenberg say that unless a bill is passed, this is just the first step in a series of planned actions that will take place, including in midterm-election battleground states such as Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

“This is not just a D.C. action,” DeMarco said. “This is a D.C. action showing Congress the energy that we’re going to show up with in their districts. When people see their neighbors taking dramatic risks of their own well-being, they may think, ‘Wow, this really matters,’ and that Democrats haven’t delivered on their promises.”

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