House Rules, Or Rules for Radicals?
House Rules, Or Rules for Radicals?
Congressman Tom McClintock
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
July 5, 2016
On the afternoon of June 22nd, a large number of Democrats brought the deliberations of the House of Representatives to a standstill in one of the most disgraceful and childish breaches of decorum in the history of this institution. In complete contempt of this House and the rule of law, they shouted down all with whom they disagreed, they blocked access to the microphones as members sought to address the chair, and they illegally occupied the Hall of the House – forcing an early adjournment and costing this House three full days of legislative deliberations.
Abraham Lincoln said it best, “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.” What we saw was the mob law of Occupy Wall Street brought to the House Floor.
They are seeking to use the recent terrorist attacks as justification for making it harder for law-abiding Americans to defend themselves. A strange logic, but so be it. They certainly have a right to their opinions, a right to express those opinions on the House floor, and a right to use all of the procedures of the House to act on their opinions. What they do not have is the right to prevent those with different views from exercising the same rights. Yet that’s precisely what they did.
These Democratic members have many procedures and opportunities to bring their bills to the House for a vote. They could have executed a discharge petition to bring their bill immediately to the floor. They could have moved to have their bill inserted into any bill pending on the House Floor – a common motion that we routinely hear and vote upon several times a week.
The fact is, their proposals were considered in the Senate and voted down. Their proposals were considered in a House Committee and voted down. Their discharge petition is pending at this desk right now, awaiting enough signatures to execute it.
Their only problem is that they don’t have enough votes. Well sorry, that’s called “democracy.” The majority of their colleagues simply disagree with them – for some very good reasons.
Their rights were honored and protected by the Republican majority under the rule of law. Yet they denied those same rights to others by replacing the rule of law with the rule of the mob -- and they did so on the most sacred ground of our democratic republic – the Hall of the House of Representatives.
Instead of working within the time-honored rules of the House to convince the majority to their way of thinking, they decided to tear down the rules. This was the lawless Left on full display and I hope the American people took a long hard look at it, and understand the threat to our democratic traditions and institutions that this conduct reveals.
In recent days, we have seen other Leftist mobs assembled under a foreign flag violently attack American citizens who were merely trying to exercise their right to peaceably assemble in support their candidate for President. We have seen this administration attempt to criminalize political dissent, and use our government to intimidate people out of participating in our political process. And now we have watched this lawless behavior imported onto the floor of the House of Representatives.
The House leadership decided not to confront this unprecedented spectacle as it unfolded, and I do not gainsay their decision here. It was obvious the members involved were trying to provoke a physical confrontation.
But serious damage was done that day to our orderly process of government and it cannot go unchallenged. Doing so would establish a dangerous and corrosive precedent antithetical to everything which this institution – and our country – stands for.
The Constitution provides that the House may sanction members for disorderly behavior, and the members responsible for the events of June 22nd and 23rd must be called to account for their actions. If we fail to do so, we will have replaced the House Rules with “Rules for Radicals.”
# # #