August 1st, 2008
03:35 PM ET
15 years ago

Congress shuts down for the month, GOP refuses to leave

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Some House Republicans refused to leave once the congressional recess for August began on Friday afternoon."]

The microphones were off and the lights were dim, but more than a dozen House Republicans refused to go home Friday after the body adjourned for August recess.

The protesting conservatives gave impromptu speeches and nearly filled the seats of their powerful chamber with staffers, Boy Scouts and tourists, in an attempt to pressure Democrats to hold a vote on offshore drilling and other energy ideas. Republicans claim some 45 Congressmen took part.

Reporters scrambled to cover the extraordinary event, with no cameras permitted in the chamber. All sound systems had been turned off as soon as the House went into recess. But the noise was easy to hear from outside the chamber. The crowd on the floor chanted, "Vote! Vote! Vote!" after Congressmen Tom Price (R-Georgia) called for more action on energy and urged people to tell ten others to join the cause.

Listen: House Republicans and their guests chant "vote" in a dark House chamber.

Listen: Republicans and tourists applaud speeches in a shut-down House chamber.

Rep Kevin Brady, R-TX, said he was on a plane headed to Texas when he heard his GOP colleagues were still on the floor and he headed back to the Capitol. “The word went out that the people’s house is finally the people’s house again," he said.

Unsuspecting tourists were drafted to fill in seats. "I was surprised," said Becky Evans, a visitor from Michigan. "We were here for a tour and we were asked to come in and take a seat in the House."

Evans, a self-described Republican, supported the effort. "The fact that Democrats left before getting their work done is highly disappointing," she said.

A strange partisan divide evolved in the protest stump. Tourists who were signed up for tours with Republican congressmen and senators were frantically ushered in to fill seats on the chamber floor.

But tourists with passes from Democratic offices watched from above, in the balconies.

"I was not impressed at all," said Sue Miller from Memphis, Tennessee. "Democrats did not have a chance to defend themselves."

The chamber was half to two-thirds full during the speeches.

Filed under: Congress
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. Agnes

    How can an informed decision be made? Sen Obama simply is not experienced and has many unresolved questions about his past. Local community outreach and state senatorial voting record of present are not enough to say he is experienced. And, as the chairman of the Subcommittee on European Affairs with jurisdiction over NATO’s operations, he hasn’t called a meeting in the two years as it’s chair.
    “From CNN: But Biden, conveniently the Chairman of the full Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hit back at DeMint Thursday, writing in a letter to him that NATO's mission in Afghanistan has been dealt with at the full committee level. "Under my chairmanship the Foreign Relations Committee has addressed most Afghanistan issues at the Full Committee level," Biden wrote. "I believe that this is the best way of ensuring the most comprehensive examination of the complex issues involved, and of ensuring the highest-level Administration participation."”
    Little to no experience here. Even Biden seems to doubt Sen Obama’s executive abilities.

    August 1, 2008 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  2. jason, tx

    Republicans, go home. You're kindergarten tactics and hate mongering are over for a long time. Drilling is a stupid idea and won't solve anything but give the oil companies more and more money.

    August 1, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  3. Mad

    I was looking so forward to Democrat majorities and a new change in these messed up times. I realized now that its the Republicans who will have to clean up their messes and for the first time- Im voting Republican.

    August 1, 2008 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  4. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Nothing but a PR stunt to make themselves look good.

    August 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. Edward

    This is a shameful attempt by the republicans look like they really care about the American people. If it is was any other year ( not an election year), they would have been the first ones out of the capitol heading to their vacations. Republicans have had plenty of time to bring this issue to a vote way before they lost the house and senate last year.

    August 1, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  6. Rose

    This Congress is pitiful, they haven't accomplished anything and the leaders, Reid and Pelosi try to shift the blame on anyone they can, they will not take responsibility for their failures. We need to be sure that these people have term limits, too many of them have been around way too long. We should vote these people out of office, the people need to take charge.

    August 1, 2008 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  7. Gorbashov - Long Beach, Ca.

    This won't solve our energy problems!

    It's all politics all the time for the GOP – Grand Oil Party!!!

    August 1, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
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