U.S. House Republicans continue speaking after lights turn off

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Friday, August 1, 2008

The United States House of Representatives adjourned at 11:23AM today for its annual summer recess, but some of the members refused to go home.

Minutes after the House adjourned, John Shadegg (R-AZ) began typing in random access codes to the House speaker system until he found one that worked. He then began talking about the urgent need for a new energy policy. The microphones were turned off again, but Shadegg called other Republicans onto the floor to initiate what C-SPAN called a "post-adjournment session." Some representatives were already going home when they received notice of the "session" and returned to the floor to speak about an offshore drilling bill which Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) had blocked from the schedule. There was no Speaker of the House or parliamentary procedure for the "session"; Republican speakers were cheered on and Democrats were booed down, and Devin Nunes (R-CA) mocked the Democratic energy plan by parading an image of a Volkswagen Beetle with a sail on the top around the chambers. Republicans sent pages back to the House office buildings to look for a megaphone.

Democratic leaders expelled journalists from the Hall of the House, first from the Speaker's Lobby, then from the third floor press gallery in order to minimize coverage of the political theater. In response, Republican representatives walked into the quickly filling visitors' galleries, shaking hands and talking with tourists and interns. Democrats twice turned off the lights, eliciting cheers. The sound system and official cameras were also shut off early in the afternoon.

At 4:29PM Wikinews correspondent Shii arrived on the House floor but quickly discovered that no cameras were allowed inside the visitors' galleries, and the galleries were being closed by the Capitol Police. The scene was orderly but noisy, as scores of visitors cheered and applauded the Republicans before being escorted out of the galleries by the police. The only people remaining on the floor at that point were the Republicans, who left the room to speak to reporters, and the visitors and staff they had invited onto the floor as guests.

John Culberson (R-TX) circumvented the ban on cameras inside the House by using his Blackberry to send Twitter messages to his microblog and recording brief snippets of video with his digital camera. (One Twitter user noted that this was a violation of House communications rules.) At a press conference outside the House floor, Culberson showed off his Blackberry and camera, accompanied by brief, improvised speeches by other House Republicans.

"Nancy Pelosi, we want a vote!" demanded Wally Herger (R-CA). The Republicans then returned to the floor, even though all the galleries were closed.


This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.