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GOP grumbling over GAO look at Minor League Baseball

Some Republicans had qualms about having panel spend time on baseball when there were other more pressing items

Baseball has been a staple in Hagerstown, Md., for the better part of the past century. If Major League Baseball gets its way, that tradition will end.
Baseball has been a staple in Hagerstown, Md., for the better part of the past century. If Major League Baseball gets its way, that tradition will end. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Even a study on the contributions of Minor League Baseball by a nonpartisan government agency can’t escape congressional yapping.

The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Wednesday debated legislation that would require the Government Accountability Office to do an evaluation of the social, economic, and historic contributions that Minor League Baseball has made to American life and culture. The amended measure, which comes as Major League Baseball looks to cut dozens of the teams after the current season, was approved by voice vote.

A number of conservative Republicans had qualms about having the panel spend time on baseball when there were other more pressing items, such as coronavirus or the national debt, to be working on. “I find it outside of the parameters of reality” that the panel was holding a markup about a bill on baseball, said Louisiana Republican Clay Higgins.

“I see no purpose whatsover to be getting into the field, so to speak, of Minor League Baseball. It is far outside the jurisdiction of this committee … I really don’t think minor league baseball is going away if we don’t have a study,” said Jody B. Hice, R-Ga.

Hice initially asked for a recorded vote on committee approval but later withdrew his request and let the voice vote stand.

Another Republican, Wisconsin’s Glenn Grothman questioned why the federal government needed to be involved in the issue.”It’s just invariably around here that people just fall all over themselves to try to find things for the government to do,” he said.

Panel ranking Republican Jim Jordan of Ohio, a conservative himself, took the middle road. While he said that his party supports motherhood, apple pie and of course, baseball, he did question if a study was really needed.

Bill supporter Peter Welch, D-Vt. spoke about his state’s Lake Monsters, located in Burlington, one of the 42 minor league teams proposed to be eliminated by Major League Baseball after the 2020 season.

He noted that it’s not just the economic activity generated by the team that’s important to rural areas but minor league baseball creates a sense of community. “We should not let the major leagues stick it to our rural communities,” he added.

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