A Brief History of Congressional Sit-Ins


Yesterday Democrats staged a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives that ended today. While it’s a rare move, it does have a precedent.  Here’s an historical overview of Congressional sit-ins:  

2016: House Democrats hold a sit-in in favor of gun control. They sang “We Shall Overcome” and were treated to a (presumably taxpayer-funded) buffet dinner, reminding many of the Civil Rights-era restaurant sit-ins catered by Panera Bread.

2013: House Democrats plan a sit-in to protest the upcoming government shutdown but cancel it when they can’t decide whether to sit normal or Indian-style.

2008: This time it was Republicans taking a seat over rising gas prices. Ironic, since few Republican legislators actually drive cars but instead travel in rickshaws pulled by poor people.

2007: 10 congressmen sit on the floor for exactly 14 minutes to protest the troubling number of people now referring to Target as “Tar-Jay” and thinking they were clever for doing it.

2000: In protest of House bathroom conditions, the entire Congress held the first and only “shit-in.” To save you the mental image I’m not going to elaborate on that.

It was a bunch of congressmen taking a shit on the House floor.

1995: House Democrats protest when Speaker Newt Gingrich asks for a recess in the face of a government shutdown. Gingrich quickly backpedals, saying, “No no no you misunderstood, I meant recess like we had in school,” then unveiled a new House jungle gym.

1989: Texas representative Phil Gramm has his own personal sit-in on the House floor saying he was tired of standing so damn much. When told there were plenty of chairs he could sit in, he got angry and said, “Everybody told me those chairs were just for show!” before a bunch of snickering congressmen run out of the House chambers, flipping Gramm off as they did.

1966: As a piece of performance art, three congressmen hold the first “lay-in,” laying down on the House floor. The Speaker meant to ask them what the point of the piece was, but they got comfy and fell asleep.

1957: In a historic show of bipartisanship, both parties decide to have a sit-in. They weren’t protesting anything, it’s just this one congressman’s Dad brought in some patio furniture he got a sick deal on at Walmart.

1936: Democratic congressman Charles Dilfield sits directly on the Speaker’s podium after somebody dared him to fart on it. When asked why he later said, “No Dilfield ever backs down from a fart dare.”


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