The U. S. House of Representatives is admired and revered around the world. It is often referred to as the most deliberative body in the world, the ‘People’s House.’ At the end of each legislative day, every member of the House has the privilege and right to take to the well or podium and ratify with action and validate with deed one of the core dreams of our founding fathers: freedom of speech. Each member may speak for up to five minutes on the topic of their choosing, representing their constituents in the most unadulterated, pure manner — unfiltered First Amendment.
So when confronted with a misguided democrat majority party and Speaker Pelosi — from our perspective and that of the majority of the American people — who ignored the will of the people and adjourned the House for a five week vacation without addressing the most important issue of our day, the rising price of gasoline — we felt it important to organize a number of our colleagues to commit to take advantage of their right and speak for five minutes on this injustice on the final day of this Congressional session until September 8th.
Consequently, last Friday at about 10:45 a.m., with the House poised to adjourn, we had nearly 100 members of the Republican conference ready to speak — ready to give breath to our founding document – ready to advocate on behalf of the roughly 700,000 constituents who sent them to Washington. Once Speaker Pelosi and the Democrat leadership got wind of this, they would hear nothing of the sort. True to form, they passed an ultra-partisan adjournment motion, objected to by virtually every Republican member. Its passage would end the ability for anyone to officially speak. Republican leader John Boehner valiantly sought recognition to keep the floor open. But NO — not for this crowd in charge. Steny Hoyer, the Democrat majority leader — moved that the House adjourn, and it was so….
Except we weren’t ready to leave. We had members waiting to fulfill their duty, waiting to honor their oath, waiting to present their best vision of our future.
As the mace was taken down from the rostrum, signifying the end of business in the House, as aides were cleaning up the chamber for a five week vacation, as guards were preparing for an early day off, we decided that the best of America — her people — deserved attention and voice.
In spite of an official adjournment, we spontaneously agreed to demonstrate our passion for America and resolve of representation by beginning our comments to those gathered in the chamber.
Initially the public gallery had about 20 percent of the seats occupied, primarily with tourists. When Georgia Congressman Lynn Westmoreland began our efforts, we weren’t certain what would ensue — what we did know is that the American people expect more from their leaders than the, now routine, heavy-handed tactics of Speaker Pelosi and her liberal Democrat leadership.
Shortly after we started, Democrat aides came and removed the ‘official’ water cups, the lights were dimmed, the C-Span cameras turned off, and the microphones silenced.
These acts of arrogance by those in charge only increased our resolve. Arizona Congressman John Shadegg found the secret to getting the mics back on — which lasted for only a few minutes until a guard was ordered to come and turn them off again. More inspiration!
Of course the House chamber was first opened in the 1860s, prior to the advent of electronically amplified speech, so the acoustics are quite good. At one point the Speaker reportedly sent word to close the press gallery (so that there would be no reporting of this unusual occurrence to America). This necessitated keeping a member of Congress physically in the press area so that members of the Fourth Estate could serve as witnesses to history.
Each action meant to blunt our resolve and enthusiasm only strengthened each. The public gallery began to fill with excited citizens, knowing they were attending something special. Speech after speech after speech called our guests to action. We knew it was important for all in attendance to spread the word of delinquent Congressional inaction on energy being compounded by the majority muzzling members of the minority.
With each impassioned testimony, the audience became more enthused — the vast majority supporting our call for a vote on increasing American supply of fuel — often with chants of “Vote! Vote! Vote!”
The solidarity of action was heart-warming and inspiring — just like America. The goodness and greatness of our nation is there for all to see — some simply need their eyes opened. Our responsibility to ourselves, our constituents, our nation, our Founder and our posterity is to tirelessly pursue the expansion of that goodness and greatness.
Last Friday we started our forced vacation by rediscovering the heart of America — may it beat forever!
On Friday, August 1, 2008, the House adjourned at 11:23 a.m.; we left the floor at 5 p.m. — after a resounding chorus of ‘God Bless America!’
The following members of Congress lent their patriotism, talent, passion and presence to our effort:
Brian Bilbray, Gus Bilirakis, Rob Bishop, Roy Blunt, John Boehner, John Boozman, Kevin Brady, Paul Broun, Henry Brown, Michael Burgess, John Campbell, Eric Cantor, Shelly Moore Capito, John Carter, Tom Cole, Mike Conaway, John Culberson, Charlie Dent, Mary Fallin, Jeff Fortenberry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Wally Herger, Pete Hoekstra, Duncan Hunter, Steve King, Dan Lungren, Don Manzullo, Kevin McCarthy, Thaddeus McCotter, Devin Nunes, Mike Pence, Chip Pickering, Todd Platts, Ted Poe, Jon Porter, Tom Price, Adam Putnam, Bill Sali, John Shadegg, John Shimkus, Adrian Smith, Mike Turner, Tim Walberg, Greg Walden, and Lynn Westmoreland.
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