The House Floor Just Broke Into Chaos After Congressman Tried to Play Audio of Detained Children

He refused to stop until the sergeant-at-arms was eventually called in.

Speaking from the House floor, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) on Friday protested the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy by playing a recording of migrant children inconsolably crying for their parents at the border.

“If the Statue of Liberty could cry, it would cry today,” Lieu said before turning to the devastating audio, which was first obtained by ProPublica Monday and has since been widely shared.

The California congressman continued, calling on his fellow lawmakers to try to imagine the horrors of what it would be like to have the government split their own families. “What must that sound like?” Lieu asked. 

Less than a minute into the recording, presiding officer Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.) interrupted to try and stop Lieu. “The gentleman will suspend,” Handel said. 

When asked for a reason, Handel accused Lieu of breaching decorum. 

“Cite the rule, madam speaker.” 

“Rule 17 of the House that prohibits the use of that device…the gentleman will suspend the use of the device,” she responded, growing visibly frustrated. “It is in violation of rule 17.”

The tense exchange continued until Lieu eventually yielded after Handel called in the sergeant-at-arms. 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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