Bipartisan Agreement, at Least on Baseball and Hot Dogs

At least Congress can decide on two things: baseball and hot dogs.

As partisan tensions mount and the August recess fast approaches, Washington lawmakers and their staffers took a break from politics to celebrate National Hot Dog Day. Sure, the border crisis remains unsolved, the House leadership still plans to sue the president and the health plans of millions of American's may be in jeopardy. But hey, a lawmaker's got to eat, right?

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National Hot Dog Day, the pinnacle of National Hot Dog Month, is a self-designated holiday by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. While most Americans won't be getting the day off, it was a chance for lawmakers to sample the fare of hot dog vendors from around the country. And because nothing pairs better with a hot dog than the nation's pastime, baseball Hall of Famers Steve Carlton, Ken Griffey Sr. and Cecil Cooper were there to meet fans and sign autographs.

"There's nothing more quintessential America than a hot dog and a beer or a coke at the baseball game," said Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., who serves on the House agriculture committee.

The vendors included Dietz and Watson, Hillshire Brands, Hormel Foods Corp., Smithfield Foods and Tyson Foods.

For Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., it was all about the baseball.

"Baseball is America," said King, who just last week threw out the opening pitch at a minor league game in Brooklyn, N.Y. "I've been a baseball fan my whole life. To me, I'm sort of going back 60 years in time right now."

King got autographs from the Hall of Famers for his grandson and said he was most thrilled to meet Steve Carlton, a man he says "had all the ability that I never had and wanted to have."

There was no taking sides today - no politicking or finger-pointing. Republicans and Democrats alike reached for the mustard and ketchup, the sauerkraut and chili. But it's not clear whether that unity will extend past the lunch hour.

Former first baseman Cecil Cooper said he couldn't believe how many congressmen wanted his autograph. "It's great to have people remember you, remember the days when you played," he said.

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., who plays on the congressional baseball team, said today's event brought him back to his childhood days of watching these Hall of Famers play.

"We're all still kids when it comes to baseball," Fleischmann said.

More than 1,100 guests were at today's event.

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