Today, we went to sit in on a session at the House of Representatives. It was early in the morning, and a chill, quiet atmosphere occupied the house. The room was mainly empty, excluding these cohorts of five gathered around microphones. It was hard to get my tired brain to crack into the stream of words spoken by the Speaker pro tempore, and the congressmen on the floor. Then Congressman McGovern, a Massachusetts representative, started speaking, disrupting the monotoned silence that pervaded the room.
He mentioned corruption. He mentioned President Trump and his early morning, counterfactual tweet about election meddling.Then he brought up that it had been the most closed Congress has ever been under Speaker Ryan, which means that “closed rule” has excluded most House members from fully participating in the legislative process, including asking for amendments; he mentioned that on certain occasions, Democrat members of the Congress are not even notified when these meetings take place.
He delivered the House Resolution 971, insisting that the Department of Justice fully comply to requests they had previously made relating to potential violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. At the heart of the issue was Peter Strzok, the 11-hour interview over his text messages during house’s oversight, marking one of the many bipartisan feuds regarding the FBI’s actions during the 2016 elections. A vote began — the Yeays and Nays — and members of the Congress came bursting in through the one by one until the house was full and bustling. Over their clamorous chitchat on the wall were gleaming projections of Y or N, next to each congressman and woman’s last name. Among some familiar faces, my roommate and I caught sight of Maxine Waters and Nancy Pelosi and were much enthused.
The whole time I was sitting up there in the gallery, looking at these women and men that represent this country, I was mulling over how surreal it was that I was there. An inquisitive foreigner, whose country’s democracy was formed after U.S. influence and the Peace Corps, sitting in on a proceeding in a shining example (now not so much) of American democracy. The closeness of how these processes took place around me, the deep, subjective immersion in the scene, and the whirlwind of mentioned issues and their history all started to persuade me that I may be as closest as I had ever been.