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Pelosi defends DACA with longest House speech ever

By
Daniel Uria
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered the longest continuous speech in House history as she defended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered the longest continuous speech in House history as she defended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Photo by Erin Schaff/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 7 (UPI) -- House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi delivered a record-breaking speech on the House Floor in defense of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program Wednesday.

Pelosi, D-Calif., exercised her right as a House leader to speak for as long as she wants to address the Senate bipartisan federal spending deal's lack of a solution for so-called Dreamers who benefit from the DACA program, set to expire on March 5.

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She began speaking at 10:04 a.m. and continued for more than seven hours

"I have no intention of yielding back," Pelosi said after being handed a note about five hours into her speech saying a vote would take place once she gave up the floor.

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The Office of the House Historian confirmed Wednesday that Pelosi was in the midst of giving the longest continuous speech in House history since 1909 when Rep. Champ Clark, D-Mo., spoke for five hours and 15 minutes.

She stood in four-inch heels and only sipped water as she told stories from Dreamers describing how the DACA policy helped them pursue their education or apply for jobs.

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"We want to be sure that the public record of the Congress of the United States forever more will reflect the stories of their great contribution to America in the hopes that those stories will move the Speaker of the House to give us a vote," Pelosi said.

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Her speech came as Senators prepare to vote on a budget agreement negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., that will increase federal spending by about $400 billion over two years.

Pelosi said she and a "large number" of House Democrats will oppose any deal unless House Speaker Paul Ryan commits to a future open immigration debate.

The House Tuesday passed a short-term spending deal funding domestic government programs through March 23 and giving the Pentagon a full-year budget with a $52 billion increase, which Pelosi dismissed as an attempt to slash funding for education, infrastructure and other domestic programs.

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Ryan's spokeswoman AshLee Strong said the speaker doesn't intend to address immigration reform.

"Speaker Ryan has already repeatedly stated we intend to do a DACA and immigration reform bill -- one that the president supports," she said.

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House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Pelosi should support the President's immigration plan and keep negotiations regarding DACA separate from any budget deal.

"I think we've made clear that the budget deal should be a budget deal, and that members of Congress, like Nancy Pelosi, should not hold our military hostage over a separate issue. We've laid out what we would like to see in immigration legislation, and I think it's something that Nancy Pelosi should support," Sanders said.

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