This has been a helluva week in our nation's capital, one that the Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress are unlikely to forget anytime soon. Democrats in the Senate pulled a Rand Paul maneuver and had themselves a filibuster - one in which they held the Senate floor for fifteen hours until the Republicans agreed to hold a vote on a couple of gun control bills. The Republicans were ultimately successful in voting down the bills and protecting terrorists' Second Amendment rights to buy guns without undue harassment - and kill Americans at their leisure.
God love the American flag, Ted Nugent, and Al Qaeda. Anybody who fears armed terrorists just doesn't own enough guns.
And then yesterday the show shifted over to the House of Representatives where a caucus of insurgent Democrats led by civil rights activist John Lewis of Georgia sat down on the House floor and began chanting "No bill, no break" in their demand to have gun control legislation voted on in the House.
Speaker Paul Ryan, who is quickly proving to be dumber than Trump, shut down the House in order to force C-Span to quit filming, had the Sergeant at Arms issue an order that was intended to prohibit House members from taking pictures with their own phones and cameras, and tried to have the House Wifi disabled. (Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth of Illinois reportedly hid her personal phone in one of her prosthetic legs to keep it from being confiscated.) If Ryan would have just acceded to the demands of the Democratic insurgents and held a vote, his people would have prevailed - as the Republicans did in the Senate - and the circus would have been over. Fortunately for us entertainment junkies, Ryan is not that smart.
A large group of on-lookers and protesters assembled outside of the Capitol Building during the evening hours and joined voices in chanting, "Do your job! Do your job!" Some protesters carrying signs that named victims of gun violence made their way into the House Gallery, staffers started bringing in food for the congresspeople sitting on the floor, and some senators came over from their chamber and joined in the commotion. Congressman Lewis at one point went outside and addressed the people who had gathered there in support of the congressional insurgents. The joint was jumping!
And their was singing right out of a 1960's songbook. "We Shall Overcome," was warbled from the floor of the House and the gallery. (And for the next number may I humbly recommend "If I had a Hammer," followed by "Where Have All the Flowers Gone." Also, a couple of choruses of "Alice's Restaurant" are always good for the soul!)
Speaker Ryan called the House back into session during the middle of the night and tried to get a vote to override a Presidential veto. In that vote, Republicans wanted to allow Wall Street to continue selling investment products based on what is good for the brokers - and not necessarily what is good for the consumer. Ryan was unable to muster enough votes for the override. During the vote the legislators on the floor shouted over the Speaker, "Shame, shame!" as did the observers in the gallery. Sometime later that night the Speaker dismissed the House for its Fourth of July break - eleven days before the actual holiday.
Congratulations to the maverick Democratic members of the House and Senate for finally standing up to the National Rifle Association, Republican obstructionists in Congress, and the abysmal GOP congressional leadership. You are doing your job, and I, for one, am damn proud of you!