Boston Tea Party 2008
By Eugene Delgaudio President Public Advocate
NOTE BOOKS, PENS, PAPER CONFISCATED BY ORDER OF THE SPEAKER
In response to an urgent email from the conservative House committee, I rushed to the U.S. Capitol to lend support to several dozen members of the group who had issued the call for help. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had cut the lights, turned off the microphones and expelled members of the public and media on Friday.
Last week, the leadership in both parties repeatedly refused to permit up-or-down votes on energy-related matters.
The situation was so bad that a group of about 50 Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to go home. With lights turned off and no microphone or camera permitted, this group shouted its opposition to adjournment without energy action and the refusal of the Speaker of the House to permit votes.
A group led by Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) continues to protest by going into the House each day at 10 a.m. and speaking all day on the darkened floor.
Members of the U.S. Capitol Police discourage us as we arrive. We state we are guests of the Minority Leader, Roy Blount and are going to Room 307 in the U.S. Capitol. The Capitol is divided. You can not get to the House side from the Senate side for no good reason. Arbitrary.
Capitol Police require the surrender of all electronic devices, cell phones, cameras, recorders, any thing with a battery.
Notebooks, pens, and any paper was collected and secured.
No pen was allowed. No paper. Taking notes was forbidden.
In the zeal to prevent freedom of expression, no shouting or cheering. But we were later instructed it was okay by members of Congress.
Here was the core of what is left of a band of freedom fighters. About 50 members of Congress huddled in the darkness of the House floor.
Staff members and Congressmen ushered in hundreds of visiting tourists from all across America. They sat on the floor of the House for the first time in the history of the Congress.
Speeches were given to hundreds of these citizens who sat on the floor and in the galleries as they filed in and out every 30 minutes after hearing half a dozen presentations.
Conservative leader Paul Weyrich observes "A gimmick, yes, but sometimes gimmicks are needed to draw the nation's attention." He should know, Public Advocate has been called many times, sometimes by top conservative leaders, to demonstrate the weakness in the liberal's arguements over the years with dramatic methods.
This is one of those rare times when unfair treatment requires an unorthodox response.
This is one time that Public Advocate came to support a rare dramatic effort. Public Advocate seeks to recognize and support this grass roots low budget style as an honest expression and genuine outbreak of common sense in the tradition of the Boston Tea Party.
Maybe the Republicans aren't trying to save the planet like Mrs. Pelosi (sic), but they are stubbornly trying to save America from an energy crisis. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently shot down a Republican attempt to comprehensively debate opening up ANWR and other domestic and offshore oil supplies. She and the other Democrats left Congress for their vacations sending the media home and turning off the lights on their way out. The Republican minority were still there debating and challenging Pelosi to vote on new proposals.
Never before has a group of House members stayed to debate without the rest of the House, this struck Public Advocate's curiosity greatly and we had responded to the call for help. Getting our passes at room 307, The Republican Study Committee, ran by Paul Teller, the man who notified us about this history making event, we headed to the House Gallery to observe the debate.
We now know directly what happened inside the Capitol even though liberal Speaker Pelosi tried to stop the Republican's speeches from reaching the public. When we arrived at the Capitol Building we were met with logistical obstacles. The security guard told us we were not allowed to pass at the very entrance of the building though it had the appearance of where everyone was supposed to go.
Officers had turned away citizens that were trying to get into our Nations capital, including us. This was due to construction, security concerns, and obscure reasons. Even clearly open areas where no construction was occurring of any kind were fenced off.
Since Friday, and every day this week Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, conservative Republicans will seek to get Congress to return to session instead of being in recess for five weeks.
Congressman Jim McCrery, the ranking member of the House Committee on Ways and Means began by announcing "We want Nancy Pelosi to allow us to represent the American people." America's energy supply is in trouble and the Democrats want to tax the companies supplying the oil instead of opening up future reserves. "The Republicans are part of the long term solution."
Congressman Pete Sessions said. "Those who opposed drilling in ANWR four years ago clamed that we wouldn't start seeing the results until years later, well now its years later and we still have the same problem."
People in the audience were cheering despite security's attempts at stopping us.
I was told to be quiet and not cheer. Public Advocate volunteers were told to be quiet.
Suddenly, Members of Congress encouraged the cheering, and a Congressman from Texas said "When we were debating on Friday, after Pelosi ended the session, a man in the crowd had cheered for us and we thought, now he is going to get kicked out, and then we thought wait no one can get kicked out for cheering because we are not actually in session!"
I returned to cheering and so did the volunteers and most citizens.
We weren't allowed to take notes in the House Gallery because security was coming into the isles and collecting our dangerous (sic) pens and notebooks. Notebooks and pens had been carried in but were not allowed to be used according to officers.
All because Speaker Pelosi has cut the microphones and electricity to forbid television or radio coverage or any recording of any kind by anybody.
Representative Duncan Hunter hammered home the point that even the assurance of future supplies would help the market prices fall. "If your selling apples, and you know these are the last of them available you're going to raise the price, but if you know you can get more, the price is going to be lower."
He also questioned the wisdom of depending on Mexico, Saudi Arabia, and Venezuela, for our energy needs given their reputation for instability or outright hostility to America.
Hunter and other members of Congress pleaded with the audience, tell others. Call your family and friends, tell them we are here trying to have an up or down vote on energy policy.
Public Advocate Family Advocate Awardee Representative Carolyn Musgrave recounted how it now costs here two hundred dollars to drive from her home in Colorado to see her parents in the same state. She made it a point to stop at a gas station to fill up her tank, and ask everyone what they were thinking about that day. The first thing they said was: "You mean besides the price of gas?" Truly, as Jim McCrery had said "This is not a Democratic issue, this is not a Republican issue, this is an American issue and we are all affected."
Conservative leader Paul Weyrich observes "The House presents a... problem. Members can sign a discharge petition and force an up-or-down vote. But Speaker Pelosi is very tough on discharge petitions. She threatens Members with loss of seniority or of committee assignments. An energy bill will be a tough sell for House Democrats afraid of losing their important positions."
Public Advocate volunteers will continue to protest this crackdown on freedom as a threat to all of our values: traditional moral values, traditional marriage, opposition to federal anti-family legislation like the Thought Control Bill.
This calaminity is caused by a corruption of power unseen in the history of Washington.
It is the custom of the House to allow members of Congress five minutes to speak on any topic after that day's or week's business is done. This Friday, 120 members of the Congress asked for five minutes each. Instead of allowing them that routine exercise, she gaveled them down and evacuated the building.
A band of shocked Congressmen decided if speaking was being prevented than they slowly resolved to take a stand. And speak like their right to speech was under threat. It is.
If liberals can shut down the House of Represenatives when 120 members of Congress are signed up to speak for five minutes each then ANYTHING can happen on our watch. Public Advocate will be in the U.S. Capitol as long as any minority member is there speaking in the well of the House.