House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., launched a filibuster of sorts in the House on Wednesday, by taking the floor to talk about the need to pass legislation to protect the Dreamers.
The House was set to start debating the Mortgage Choice Act, but Pelosi took the floor shortly after 10 a.m., and said she wanted to talk at length about immigration.
A filibuster is an action lawmakers can take in the Senate, not in the House. However, both Pelosi and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are both permitted to talk at length on the floor because of their leadership status. Both of them often request one minute to speak, but go on for several minutes, a privilege afforded to them because of their status.
Watch live: Nancy Pelosi on the House floor
She used most of her time to read letters about Dreamers from around the country, in order to stress the importance of passing a bill to protect them from deportation. But as she neared the end of her second hour, Pelosi said she considered asking the House to pray for Dreamers all day.
“During the night when I was thinking and praying so hard about our Dreamers, I thought, maybe we should just pray all day on the floor of Congress,” she said.
“Maybe I should bring my rosary blessed by the pope… his holiness, Pope Francis, or the one before that, Benedict,” she added. “I have the honor and privilege of receiving rosaries blessed by several popes in my lifetime.”
Nearly two hours into her remarks, it still wasn’t clear when she would stop, or whether Republicans would take any steps to end her remarks. It seemed likely Pelosi would be able to speak as long as she wanted.
Pelosi was protesting pending plans by Republicans to pass a government spending bill that doesn’t include any language to help younger immigrants who came to the country illegally as children. Lawmakers also appear to be close to a broader, two-year spending agreement that might also include language to lift the debt ceiling, all of which seems likely to be passed separate and apart from an agreement on immigration.
Republicans reacted to Pelosi’s move by noting that they are already deeply involved in negotiations with Democrats to find a way forward on immigration, but one that fits in with what President Trump is looking for. Trump has said that in addition to helping Dreamers, the deal must include funding for a border wall, and an end to chain migration and the diversity visa lottery.
“Speaker Ryan has already repeatedly stated we intend to do a DACA and immigration reform bill – one that the president supports,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong.