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On Capitol Hill, a Fibula Buster

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (in pink at Tuesday night's softball game), seen here with Marcia Stein of the Young Survival Coalition. (Photo courtesy of the Young Survival Coalition)

A burly guy carried Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the field after she wrenched her ankle Tuesday night. In the final innings of the Congressional Women's Softball game, the Florida Democrat was pushing her team to close a double-digit deficit when she slid into second base. At GW Hospital, doctors diagnosed a sprained ankle and a broken fibula.

And then ... it was back to being a congresswoman. Yesterday, in a soft cast and crutches, Schultz went to her usual 8:30 a.m. scheduling meeting. And she made it to 10 votes, skipping only an early-morning procedural vote.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sonia Sotomayor compare leg braces during a meeting on Capitol Hill last month. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

And you know why? Because that is how the ladies of Capitol Hill do it! The walking wounded women of Washington -- there are suddenly a lot of them, strangely -- have been carrying off their injuries with swagger. There's Sonia Sotomayor, whose broken ankle (she tripped at an airport last month) did not keep her from six meetings on the Hill that day; this week, for her Supreme Court nomination hearings, she got them to jack up her walking cast so she could walk smoothly with a spiked heel on her good foot.

Hillary Clinton's busted elbow (cracked in a fall at the State Department) kept her out of circulation for several days last month; but speaking at the U.S. Agency for International Development this week, she rocked a righteous sling with the State Department seal. Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) has one of the cooler stories: She broke her left leg last month while visiting Gitmo! (Just a fall, everyone says.) She's still making the rounds in a cast.

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton takes her seat at a State Department town hall meeting. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The pacesetter is Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who tore her ACL, MCL and her lateral meniscus when she tumbled on a mogul run at an Alaska ski slope in March. She took her gimpy leg onto a red-eye and made it back to D.C. for a vote the very next morning! Off crutches now but still in pain, said her spokesman. She's missed only one vote.

Jonathan Beeton, Schultz's communications director, said life as a limping congresswoman has been eye-opening. Two months ago, she chaired a committee looking at accessibility on the Hill. "It's one thing to read about in a report," he said, "it's another thing when you're on crutches and get to doors that can't be opened automatically."

Oh, and "she wants to stress that she was safe at second."

By The Reliable Source  |  July 16, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
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