Could you speak for eight hours, on the one topic, in front of the cameras?
What about standing the entire time, in four inch heels? With no food, and very little water?
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi just did, winding up a record eight-hour filibuster-style speech in the House, as a means to pressure the Republications to support the Democrats in legalising the status of young undocumented immigrants in the US, also known as the ‘dreamers’.
As the top Democrat in the House, Pelosi has the right to speak for as long as she wants.
Pelosi had been working to pressure the House Speaker Paul Ryan to hold a vote on immigration legislation, with the Republicans currently needing support from the Democrats to pass spending bills and prevent another government shutdown.
Pelosi kicked off the marathon speech just after 10am DC time, with the speech later being dubbed ‘DACA-Buster’ on social media. Almost six hours later, at 3:41pm, she said: “I have no intention of yielding back.” And more than eight hours after she started, she finally stopped.
Her efforts far surpassed that of the previous record set in 1909, when a Republican spoke for five hours and 15 minutes against a tariff overhaul.
While Pelosi had sips of water and was, at one point, offered an unwrapped mint, she did not eat the entire time.
Many of those seated around her were on their phones or going through documents/
She shared numerous stories of people who have been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is set to expire in March, following a deadline set by US President Donald Trump in September last year. Many of these stories were written on documents passed to her from an aide, and included testimonies from ‘Dreamers’ who has shared details of their lives, backgrounds and professions.
There are an estimated 690,000 Dreamers who are protected under DACA, according to the New York Times, with more than 1.1 million who are eligible but did not apply.
Already in the Senate, majority leader Mitch McConnell has committed to an open debate on immigration legislation if a deal can not be reached. Pelosi was pushing Ryan to offer the same promise.
“I commend my Republican colleagues for their courage in speaking out on this, yet our Dreamers hang in limbo with a cruel cloud of fear and uncertainty above them. The Republican moral cowardice must end,” she said.