Last Wednesday night, there was a conversation among Congressional reporters about wandering into a monocle for a drink. The Monocle is a classic Capitol watering hole located next to the U.S. Capitol Police Headquarters and across from the Dirksen Senate Building parking lot. Senators sometimes hang out there while they wait for organizations to begin operating in preparation for late-night votes.
As 9 p.m. last Wednesday approached, the Senate was mired in a vote that began at 2:26 p.m., with senators struggling to hammer out a deal to finish the job by Thanksgiving. The only reason reporters remained in the Capitol at that time was because the Senate was scheduled to vote at a later date to join the House and avoid a government shutdown. Just a few days ago there would have been drama over a potential government funding cliff. But not now. The question was not whether the Senate would pass the stopgap spending package, but when. And because there was no agreement on the pending defense policy bill, the Senate postponed the end of the roll call vote until everything was resolved.
That’s when we received word from the Capitol Police that all office buildings on the House side of the Capitol were placed on lockdown. No one could come and go.
A large pro-Palestinian demonstration descended on the Democratic National Committee headquarters, located just around the corner from the House of Representatives office building. House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D.Y.), Minority Leader Kathleen Clark (Mass.), Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar (California), and others. Democratic congressmen were at the DNC for an event. Democrats gathered throughout the day at the DNC, along with campaign workers and Democratic candidates, ahead of the 2024 election cycle.
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Demonstrators called for a ceasefire in the Middle East and surrounded the building, blocking people from entering and exiting the DNC.
Capitol Police sprung into action.
Jeffries and Clark have USCP security details because of their leadership positions. Protesters fired tear gas at Capitol Police. USCP then began clearing a path to evacuate members from the crowd. USCP arrested a man on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
The protesters injured a total of six police officers.
“The group last night was not peaceful,” USCP said in a statement the next day. “When demonstrations cross the line and become illegal, it is our responsibility to maintain order.”
Democrats barricaded themselves in the DNC and released the protesters.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), who is Jewish, characterized them as “pro-Hamas” and “pro-terrorists.” He added that protesters “want the Republican Party to win” in 2024.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who is Jewish, was also locked up in the DNC.
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“When you engage in tactics that are coercive and certainly block access to a building, I think that crosses a line,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It was a very alarming and disturbing situation.”
“We were rescued by armed police who were unaware of the protesters’ intentions,” Rep. Sean Kasten, D-Ill., said on Twitter.
Florida Republican Rep. Anna Paulina Luna tweeted that she was locked in her office in the Longworth House office building with her newborn baby during the raucous demonstration.
The Democratic Party has a problem.
There are rifts within their party over the Middle East. Progressive left-wing activists, fueled by anger on university campuses, are splitting the party over calls for a ceasefire and Israel’s defense of its homeland. That said, regarding controversial comments about the ceasefire and criticism of pro-Israel groups by squad members like Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minnesota, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Needless to say. Something like AIPAC (American Israel Political Action Committee).
“I don’t believe that Democratic Socialists of America, Justice Democrats, etc. are part of the Democratic coalition,” said Democratic Rep. Brad Schneider.
Mr. Schneider has long been associated with AIPAC. He voted in favor of sanctioning Tlaib in the full House for pushing the “river to sea” metaphor that calls for Israel’s annihilation.
“What we need is people with conscience and moral clarity to come together and say that Israel has been attacked by a terrorist organization bent on destroying the country,” Schneider said.
AIPAC is now prepared to field candidates against Democrats who oppose its goals.
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Progressive groups warned Jeffries and Democratic Congressional Committee Chairwoman Susan DelBene (D-Wash.) last week that AIPAC should be excluded from the Democratic primary.
There’s a lot of division on the Republican side between the “Reagan” Republicans, the MAGA crowd, the Freedom Caucus, and people who just want to set everything on fire. It’s radioactive material. However, political radioisotopes surrounding the Middle East are as serious a problem as any other.
That’s why some on the left are now calling President Biden “Genocide Joe.”
The New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America came under fire for including a watermelon on a flyer urging Mr. Jeffries to protest. Jeffries is black. Racists have long used watermelons to highlight their anti-Black views. The watermelon is also a symbol of Palestinians who see Israel as an occupier.
A reporter asked Jeffries last week about accusations by Rep. Summer Lee (D-Pennsylvania) that she shared a stage with the Rev. John Hagee at a pro-Israel rally on the National Mall. Lee called Hagy an “anti-Semitic bigot,” adding: “This is condemnable.”
Jeffries was on stage with House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-Louisiana), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D.N.Y.), and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). answered.
“I have no idea what she’s talking about,” Jeffries said in response to Lee’s accusation.
Republicans may not face as much internal sniping as Democrats over the Middle East conflict. Republicans are more united when it comes to supporting Israel and approving legislation that supports the Jewish state financially and militarily. But some Republicans are tired of U.S. involvement in “foreign wars” and the associated spending. Look at the rift in the Republican Party over Ukraine. The possibility of a split in the Republican Party over Israel has not yet materialized. But it’s something to watch.
Democratic lawmakers like Rep. Dan Goldman (DN.Y.) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (DN.M.) are currently victims of anti-Israel graffiti and vandalism at their district and state offices. It has become.
As last week’s protests at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) demonstrated, rifts over the Middle East are becoming more pronounced on the Democratic side. Republicans certainly have a special level of turmoil after the speaker’s debacle and their struggle to pass their own spending bill.
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But none is more volatile than the Middle East. That poses a special level of political problem for Democrats.
That’s why last week’s blockade of the House office building and tense protests outside the DNC were so important. It’s liberals who attack liberals. As I mentioned earlier on the Squad and elsewhere, there is a division among Democratic members. At a time when members of their own party are at odds over combustible issues like the Middle East, Democrats will have a hard time highlighting dissent within the Republican Party over government funding and even threats of violence among members. .