Chuck Sweeny: Manzullo raises a fuss as Pelosi adjourns House

Chuck Sweeny

U.S. Rep. Don Manzullo, R-Egan, raised a ruckus Friday on the House floor.

According to Politico.com, in a play-by-play dispatch, Manzullo, “just gave a rousing speech, accusing Democrats of stifling dissent. He referenced President John Quincy Adams, who returned as a House member after being defeated in his bid for presidential reelection. Waving his arms and yelling, Manzullo brought the crowd (including a lot of staff shipped in by GOP leaders to fill up the place), to its feet, and he left the floor to hugs from his colleagues. You don’t see that up here every day.”

So, what was that all about? Seems that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, adjourned the House at 11:23 a.m. Friday without allowing a vote on a comprehensive energy bill that included opening more areas of the U.S. coast to offshore oil drilling, something she’s against. Some GOP members, sensing that a drilling bill would have passed with bipartisan support, staged a minirevolt, demanding a vote. They refused to leave the floor even after Pelosi’s forces shut the lights off, ordered the C-SPAN cameras to go dark, switched off the microphones and locked the press gallery. According to Politico, Republicans welcomed visitors to the floor, “including Boy Scouts, members of the German army, stray tourists and members in shorts and t-shirts.” GOP members dubbed reporters their guests, to keep them from being ejected from the chamber.

I quickly put in a call to Manzullo, who phoned me back while still on the House floor. “Don, what the heck is going on?” I asked.

“I just gave my second speech and I talked about my grandparents coming to America,” a hoarse Manzullo exclaimed. “I said that they came here from Sicily because the ‘Black Hand’ (the Mafia) were killing people. There was corruption, poverty, rampant criminal activity, and they got out because there was no freedom. And when they came here, my dad was born impoverished in Louisiana, and the family came to south Rockford and started a little grocery store.

“The point is that people come to America for freedom, and the American people have been denied the freedom to have their representatives speak. We want a comprehensive energy bill that includes more drilling. We believe there are numerous Democrats that want to drill, so that we can come up with more domestic oil. And the speaker adjourned for five weeks with no vote on energy. It’s wrong,” Manzullo said, noting that the Senate has agreed to vote in September on a compromise energy bill that includes new offshore drilling.

The GOP protest lasted about five hours, ending with the singing of “God Bless America.”

Chuck Sweeny can be reached at (815) 987-1372 or csweeny@rrstar.com.