By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com December 05 2013 4:22 PM ET
Rep. Jared Polis, a gay Democrat from Colorado, arguably lost his cool on the House floor Wednesday night when the presiding officer chastised a colleague for daring to mention the undocumented immigrants sitting in the House gallery to hear the chamber debate the languishing immigration reform bill.
After Rep. Joe Garcia finished his floor speech in support of H.R. 15, the comprehensive immigration reform bill, Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), who was serving as Speaker Pro Tem, reminded the Florida Democrat that members of Congress are not allowed to address anyone sitting in the chamber's gallery.
That reminder incensed Polis, who took the opportunity to emphatically slam Republican leadership that continues to delay a vote on the bill, a version of which passed the Senate in June with every Democrat — and 14 Republican Senators — in support.
"Madame Speaker, the gentle people in the gallery… would not have to be in the gallery… advocating if this House simply took up the bill," Polis began. "Do you think they want to be spending their time here, Madame Speaker? Is that what you think?!"
"And you're saying we're addressing them, and that's what you're upset about Madame Speaker?" Polis continued, raising his voice to a pitched scream. "I want you, Madame Speaker, to address the reason that they are here! They are here because our government is tearing apart their families, Madame Speaker!"
When Walorski tried to point out that all members are forbidden from addressing guests in the gallery, Polis refused to relent.
"I want the Speaker to understand that the Speaker is obstructing H.R. 15 from coming to the floor! Will the Speaker understand that?" Polis shouted, repeating that question several times. "Will the Speaker understand that the Speaker is preventing HR 15 from coming to the floor, and that is why there are men and women in the gallery that are potentially facing deportation, and their families are being torn apart. It's very simple. Very simple, Madame Speaker."
Watch Polis' epic rant in the CSPAN video below, with the confrontation starting at the 2:45 mark.