Thursday, June 23, 2016

The History of Indecorous Events At The US Congress

To hear Speaker Ryan talk, the Democratic protest against gun violence on the floor of Congress is an unprecedented breach of decorum. That's a lie. 

Republicans Did It First
On August 1, 2008, Rep. Paul Ryan was one of the Republican members of Congress to do exactly the same thing. Republican leaders occupied the well of the House to protest the then Democratic majority's refusal to bring Republicans bills to a vote. They chanted, sang songs, and cheered when Speaker Pelosi had the lights turned out. The only difference is that Republicans lacked the stamina of Democrats, they could only last five hours.

But things have gotten much more indecorous than that in American history.

Strom Thurmond's Piss Pot
In 1957, Congress was considers a rather tepid Civil Rights Act that would set up a commission to investigate minority voting and allow blacks to serve on federal juries in Southern states. But it was more than enough to rile the segregationist from the not so great state of South Carolina. Strom took the floor and, with a brief respite provided by Barry Goldwater, talked non-stop for over 24 hours.

Buck Kilgore
The interesting thing about this still record-setting filibuster was that Strom had an aide standing by with a bucket in the event that Strom needed to take a piss so he could pee while remaining on the Senate floor and still talking.

Kicking Down the Doors
In 1900, Speaker Thomas Reed was having a hard time getting a quorum. The minority, led by Southern segregationists, were trying to prevent four new African-American congressmen from being seated. They would demand a quorum call and then race for the exits. No quorum, no business can be done. Speaker Reed decided to get a quorum by locking all the doors. Some congressmen tried to hide under their desks but one, Congressman Buck Kilgore of Texas tried to run only to find the doors locked. Kilgore proceeded to kick in the door like a drunken ex-boyfriend.

Congressional Brawlers
May 22, 1856 - Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina took exception to the fact that abolitionist senator Charles Sumner was still breathing. He walked over to the floor of the Senate, approached Sumner from behind, and began beating him with a cane. Congressman Laurence Keitt also of South Carolina drew a gun and threatened to shoot anyone who tried to stop Brooks beatdown of Sumner. Sumner spent two years in a hospital recovering and was reelected to Congress while bedridden.

Later, Brooks challenged another anti-slavery congressman to a duel. When it was accepted, Brooks chickened out.

Feb. 5, 1858 - Larry Keitt was at it again. He took exception to Congressman Galusha Grow wanting Kansas to be slave free. Keitt tried to choak Grow which triggered an all out brawl on the floor of the House.

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