The Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, my representative in the US House, didn't just participate in something historic today; she was quoted at length about it in this article from The Hill.
The story broke about an hour ago; Facebook friend and fellow Rice alum Heather Nodler, an attorney in Beltway Country, posted a link to it. As of this moment, we don't know how the whole shebang turned out.
SJL, a few members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and supporters like Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut strode right over to the Senate chamber to voice their disapproval of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell parliamentary bullying. You've probably read the stories and various commentaries of how McConnell used Senate rules to issue a "red card" to Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, when Warren tried to quote from Coretta Scott King's 1986 letter in opposition to Jeff Sessions's appointment to (yada-yada). These House members marched across the Rotunda in a demonstration of solidarity with the Democratic Senate colleagues and Warren in particular.
I'd like to believe that this is another symptom of Congressional Democrats rediscovering their collective spine, and that continued protests of this sort will be effective. While I don't often have much nice to say about Democrats in Washington, it encourages me to see them #Resist. They should take every opportunity to remind the Republican majority that, collectively, Congressional Democrats nearly as many votes last November as Congressional Republicans (48.7% to 47.9%), even though R's hold 55% of the seats thanks mostly to R's in state legislatures drawing fucked-up district maps.
While my initial response to this development is positive, on further reflection, I worry about the proverbial other shoe dropping. Yes, it is extremely unusual for House members to lead a protest in the Senate or vice versa. Representatives don't get an official voice in the Senate chamber. They can be literally tossed out for disrupting Senatorial proceedings, so it's a ballsy move by these House Democrats. Whatever sanctions they face for doing this is preferable to just sitting back and watching the shitstorm.
EDIT: (Oops, I forgot to include this part on first posting.) I also admire how SJL et al. have framed the Department of Justice as the Executive Branch's vanguard in protecting civil rights. By statute and through recent court cases, that has become DoJ's most visible function, though certainly not its only one. It has not always performed up to snuff in that role. But it's a framing the Democrats must continue to press in opposing an Attorney General–nominee with a record of hostility to civil and voting rights.
If you agree that we cannot normalize the current White House's BizarroWorld impression of a presidency, you might also agree that normalcy itself is out the window, and extraordinary tactics are required.
But even at their most evil, spiteful, and vindictive—even at the point of holding the entire government hostage—the Republicans have been careful to use the rules, or tailor them to their benefit, rather than violate them. It's not that I don't find encouragement in Democrats flouting parliamentary procedure; it's that I dread what Republicans might do if they feel similarly compelled.
The Republican spin machine will cluck its many tongues over such misbehavior, of course. There will likely be an insufferable, oft-repeated chorus of "Our side never resorted to such desperate measures, even when in the minority." And they'd be right. But circumstances were very different, in so many ways. I'm hard-pressed to think of a time when either major party posed such a grave threat to representative democracy in the USA.
And don't think I'm back-pedaling on holding the Democratic Party responsible, at least in part, for current circumstances. I'm just glad some Democratic Congressmembers are willing to help clean up some of the mess their party has left.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.