Historic House Protest Is Actually Historic

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When a group of House Republicans decided to continue discussing offshore drilling on the floor of a darkened Congress after the August recess started, they said they were making history.

They're right, according to researcher Anthony Wallis, who works in the House Historian's office.

Wallis, who has been looking into the issue, said that he has not found any examples of members forgoing their summer break to continue debating. The closest anecdote he could find was a noisy sit-in, staged in November 1995 by Democrats who were protesting a government shut-down due to a disagreement between then Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and former President Bill Clinton.

In that case, it worked - the two agreed on an emergency spending bill, and the government was reopened that night.

The House Speaker has occasionally pulled a Nancy Pelosi and ordered the lights and cameras off even if members want to continue speaking. In 1984, the Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill ordered C-SPAN to move its cameras around the chamber so that filmers would record how few members were listening to Gingrich attack the Democratic Majority.

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