U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi conducted a rare “filibuster” speaking for more than seven hours in Congress on Wednesday to try to force Republicans to bring up an immigration bill in the chamber.
The California Democrat, who turns 78 next month, started talking shortly after 10 a.m., saying that Democrats would oppose any funding bill unless House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, agreed to bring a bipartisan immigration bill to the House floor for a vote.
A filibuster is a prolonged speech that obstructs progress in a legislative assembly while not technically contravening the required procedures. This case is not a classic filibuster since it is not obstructing the passage of specific legislation.
“There’s nothing partisan or political about protecting Dreamers,” Pelosi said, using the term commonly applied to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children. “If a Dream Act were brought to the floor, it would pass immediately, with strong bipartisan support.” She cited polling that showed 84 percent of Americans support a path to citizenship for the Dreamers.
“I commend my Republican colleagues for their courage in speaking out on this, yet our Dreamers hang in limbo with a cruel cloud of fear and uncertainty above them. The Republican moral cowardice must end,” she continued, referring to Republican leadership’s reluctance to bring a bill to the floor.
Eight hours and seven minutes later, at 6:11 p.m., Pelosi stopped, having spent an entire workday standing at her desk in 10-centimeter heels and consuming nothing but water, an aide said.
The House historian’s office said in a statement that Pelosi’s speech was the longest continuous one in the chamber that it was “able to find on short notice.”
What was thought to be the previous House record belonged to Missouri Democratic Representative Champ Clark, who in 1909 spoke for five hours and 15 minutes, the statement said, but he was repeatedly interrupted, unlike Pelosi.