In what was widely seen as a deeply superficial motion to make February 29 of leap years a day to honor and celebrate civil discourse, Congressional members ended up in a tussle of words and, by some accounts, even blows.
Congress passes non-binding resolutions regularly creating national days of recognition for many causes including National Tree Day, National Walk Your Cat Day, and National Dishwasher Day in recent months. This was to have been another such resolution which, in the words of the bill’s preamble was to “recognize and honor the crucial role of civil discourse in our nation’s history and to seek ways to deepen our commitment to civil discourse, especially in the political sphere.” The bill began it’s life with some controversy.
The American Society of Scholars for History Objectives and Pedagogy [ASSHOP] noted that the bill seemed to overestimate the role of civil discourse in history. For example, Dr. Quadzillius Waxonflummel, the ASSHOP spokespoerson, noted the bill states “since the founding of our country, peaceful resolution of profound political differences has been the guiding principle of our political leaders, starting in 1776 with the founding fathers’ genius in writing the constitution.” The bill also advises Americans to learn about “how our 200 year history is filled with examples of how intractable differences between the USA and other nations, or even within our nation have been resolved through political discourse including the spat of 1812, the US-Mexico Texas disagreement, and the various labor and race ‘urban, outdoor discussions’.” Dr. Waxonflummel pointed out the bill also renamed the Civil War as the “prolonged, active discussion on the question of slavery.”
While many representatives and senators seemed to have not read the bill, this did not stop them from engaging in a vigorous floor debate. Representative Juan “Johnny” Gomez (D-NM) moved that the day should be made on Feb 28 so as to come more frequently. One of the bills 43 co-sponsors , Rep. Maximus Briberia (R-CA), argued against Gomez’ proposed amendment arguing that Feb 28 is National Lobbyist Day and it would be disrespectful to those brave American heroes to dilute this day by making room for such a liberal agenda as this represents.”
Matters turned uglier quickly as house Democrats began flying paper airplanes with pictures of pigs with dollar signs on them at their Republican colleagues. Some reports indicate that chants of “its all right, it’s ok, your commie children will work for ours one day” were heard from the Republican caucus’ side of the chamber. The disagreement added a dark stain to Congress’ lauded history as the best Democracy in the world when Rep Beauford Sanders (R-SC) and Rep Magnus Thorsteinfeldsen (D-MN) began wrestling, literally, over a minor point of house rules. Word spread like wildfire and soon a true, bench-clearing brawl erupted as at least 43 representatives ended up being treated for minor injuries. Debate was halted for the day while the Senate agrees to take up the bill tomorrow.