Nancy Pelosi ends record-breaking speech defending immigrants after more than eight hours

Democratic leader sought to highlight the plight of young immigrants called Dreamers

Jeremy B. White
San Francisco
Thursday 08 February 2018 00:34
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Nancy Pelosi says majority of America and Republicans support protecting DREAMers

After more than eight hours of continuous talking, Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi ended a marathon speech that shattered the previous House of Representatives record.

While House rules do not allow for filibusters, limitless speeches that Senators sometimes use to stall or block votes, there is no precedent for the Speaker of the House — who leads the majority party — shutting down the minority leader. Ms Pelosi spoke for eight hours and seven minutes, which the House historian said eclipsed a previous record set in 1909.

Other members rose to their feet and applauded after Ms Pelosi at last yielded the floor. The California Democrat embarked on the extended oratory to try and draw attention to young immigrants whose futures have been clouded by a political impasse.

Frustration among Democrats has mounted as Congress has failed to strike a deal to extend a programme, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that offers young unauthorised immigrants permission to work and protection from deportation. Mr Trump moved to let the Obama-era initiative expire and has tried to use its renewal as a bargaining chip for a larger immigration deal.

But a deal has continued to elude legislators, who have crafted multiple budget compromises without resolving the DACA issue. With Congress advancing another budget bill that does not address DACA, Ms Pelosi took the House floor to highlight the stories of so-called Dreamers who benefited from DACA.

“Let us thank and acknowledge the Dreamers for their courage, their optimism, their inspiration to make America more American,” Mr Pelosi said as she ended her speech.=

The gambit reflects Democrats’ determination to hammer away at an issue that resonates with their base. The budget shut down for three days in January after Senate Democrats blocked a budget measure in a bid to try and force progress on immigration.

Both parties have traded accusations of intransigence on the other side. Mr Trump has embraced the idea of an immigration package that offers Dreamers a path to citizenship but has consistently faulted Ms Pelosi and her Senate counterpart, New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, for thwarting a deal.

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