Yesterday, Congressman Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) called the House sit-in to force gun control votes organized by Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), civil rights legend who was beaten for organizing nonviolent protests, a “disgrace to Woolworth’s.” But this afternoon, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) did Walker one better by straight up advocating for the police to just start arresting sitting members of Congress.
From Talking Points Memo:
“The business of the House is more important than the antics that we see going on there, and if it were my chamber, it would be cleared and people would be arrested, if that’s what’s necessary to get us back to the task at hand,” the North Carolina lawmaker said on the Senate floor. The protest, which prompted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to begin the body’s scheduled recess early, came to an end Thursday afternoon after 25 hours.
“Why people would use the pulpit of the House floor of the House chamber to advance their political agenda, to advance their fund-raising—go out to their political web sites and see how many of them have sent out an e-mail over the past week exploiting a political tragedy for their political purposes?” Tillis charged, shortly before the sit-in ended. “I think it is disgusting.”
It’s curious to see someone who serves in an institution that can be derailed for hours and even days via by a filibuster advocate for arresting sitting members of Congress, including Lewis, who has been arrested at least forty-five times for participating in nonviolent protests.
According to the Washington Post, this has happened at twice since the 1970s, in 1995 and 2008. The last time, the Republicans were the ones seizing the floor:
We’ve reached out to Tillis’ office to see if he’d have arrested the Republicans back then, and what his exact criteria is for arresting politicians who talk for a long time. We’ll update if we hear back.
In 1995, House Democrats spent a few hours on the floor in protest of a budget that House Republicans passed. In 2008, House Republicans seized the floor in August for the entire recess to demand Democrats let them vote on oil drilling to lower $4-a-gallon gas prices. They ended up getting a vote, but more because Democrats feared the sit-in would endanger Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.