Nancy Pelosi joined her colleagues on the House floor early Wednesday and promptly decried Republican leaders for turning off the microphones and shutting down access to the galleries during the Democrats’ sit-in protesting the lack of a vote on gun-control legislation.
“Mr. Speaker, turn on this microphone,” she demanded.
The Republican majority had gaveled the House out of session when Democrats took over the floor, turning off the CSPAN cameras and the microphones. It’s the kind of response with which Pelosi, the House minority leader, is quite familiar: When Republicans staged a similar protest eight years ago, she went a step further and shut off the lights.
It was August of 2008, in the middle of another hotly-contested election, and Republicans—then in the minority—wanted to draw attention to the refusal of the Democratic majority to bring up “all-of-the-above” energy legislation at a time when gas prices were soaring to record highs. Pelosi was speaker then, and after Democrats gaveled the House out of session to begin Congress’s annual five-week summer recess, Republicans stayed on the floor to give speeches protesting Democratic inaction. Groups of lawmakers returned day after day for the length of the break, speaking into a dark and other empty House chamber.