Washintgon: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi staged a record-breaking, eight-hour speech Wednesday in hopes of pressuring Republicans to allow a vote on protecting “Dreamer” immigrants — and to demonstrate to increasingly angry progressives and Democratic activists that she has done all she could.
Wearing four-inch heels and forgoing any breaks, Pelosi, 77, spent much of the rare talkathon reading personal letters from the young immigrants whose temporary protection from deportation is set to expire next month.
The California Democrat quoted from the Bible and Pope Francis, as Democrats took turns sitting behind her in support. The Office of the House Historian said it was the longest continuous speech in the chamber on record, AP reported.
“You see, these people are being deported,” Pelosi said around hour six. “We can do something today to at least make whole the children.”
Pelosi said she opposed the spending deal because it doesn't include a permanent solution for undocumented immigrants affected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, according to CNN.
Pelosi has been sharing statements from DACA recipients about themselves and their successes in the US.
"I have had the privilege of reading the testimony from Dreamers, I still have more," the California Democrat added, "I thank all of you."
At one point she interrupted herself to read a note from the House historian alerting her that she had delivered the chamber’s longest continuous speech, besting Rep. Champ Clark’s five-hour, 15-minute stem-winder about tariff reform in 1909. In the Senate, where unthinkably long orations are more common, South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond spoke against the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for a record 24 hours and 18 minutes.
When Pelosi finished, around 50 Democrats responded with a standing ovation, high-fives, hugs and kisses. The Republican side of the chamber was virtually empty.
“We achieved the recognition of what the Dreamers mean to America,” she told reporters afterward. “They are a reflection of all the immigrants that have come before.”
The federal government will shutter non-essential operations Thursday at midnight unless Congress passes a spending plan.
The Trump administration is phasing out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted temporary work permits for qualifying young immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.
Before Pelosi's speech, the longest floor remarks from a leader came from then-House GOP Leader John Boehner in 2009 speaking against the Democrats' cap and trade legislation.
Boehner's roughly one hour speech was dubbed a "fila-Boehner."
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