There was talk of Congressional reporters wandering into The Monocle for a drink on Wednesday night. The Monocle is an old school Capitol Hill watering hole located next to the US Capitol Police Headquarters and across the parking lot from the Dirksen Senate Office Building. Senators sometimes hang out there while they wait for the body to get down to business for the night’s votes.
It pushed to 9 pm on Wednesday and the Senate was put to a vote that started at 2:26 pm The senators struggled to make an agreement to finish its work before Thanksgiving. The only reason the reporters were still in the Capitol at that time was that the Senate was scheduled to vote later to coordinate with the House and avoid a government shutdown. There was potential drama surrounding a potential government funding cliff just days ago. But not now. The question is not if the Senate will pass the stopgap spending package — but when. And because there was no agreement on a pending defense policy bill, the Senate held off on a roll call vote until everything was settled.
The news came from the Capitol Police that all the office buildings on the House side of the Congressional complex were closed. No one can go or go.
A large, pro-Palestinian demonstration descended on the Democratic National Committee Headquarters just steps from the House office buildings. House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., Minority Whip Kathleen Clark, D-Mass., Democratic Caucus Chairman Pete Aguilar, D-Calif., and other Democratic members were at the DNC for an event. Democrats gathered all day at the DNC with campaign operatives and Democratic candidates ahead of the 2024 election cycle.
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Protesters surrounded the building, demanding a ceasefire in the Middle East, blocking anyone from entering or leaving the DNC.
The Capitol Police moved.
Jeffries and Clark have USCP security details because of their leadership positions. Protesters fired tear gas at the Capitol in the Capitol. The USCP immediately began clearing the way to evacuate members from the crowd. USCP arrests one man for assaulting officers.
The protesters injured a total of six officers.
“The group last night was not peaceful,” the USCP said in a statement the next day. “When demonstrations cross the line into illegal activity, it is our responsibility to maintain order.”
Democrats covert the DNC and release the protesters.
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., who is Jewish, described them as “pro-Hamas” and “pro-terrorists.” He added that the demonstrators “want the Republicans” to win in 2024.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is also Jewish and is also trapped in the DNC.
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“When you engage in scare tactics and certainly block access or exit from a building, I think that crosses a line,” Wasserman Schultz said. “It’s a very troubling, disturbing situation.”
“We were saved by armed officers who did not know the intentions of the protesters,” said Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., on Twitter.
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., tweeted that she was stuck in her office at the Longworth House Office Building with her newborn baby during the demonstration.
Democrats have a problem.
There is a rift in their party in the Middle East. Progressive, left-wing activists — fueled by anger on college campuses — broke up the party over calls for a cease-fire and Israel’s assertion of self-defense. That’s to say nothing of the controversial comments by Squad members like Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y., for a ceasefire and criticism of pro-Israeli groups such as AIPAC (the American Israel Political Action Committee).
“I don’t think the Democratic Socialists of America, the Justice Democrats, etc., are part of the Democratic coalition,” said Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill.
Schneider has long been associated with AIPAC. He voted to approve Tlaib on the House floor for pushing the trope “from the river to the sea,” calling for the elimination of Israel.
“What we need are people with a good conscience and moral clarity to come together and say that Israel is under attack by a terrorist organization that seeks to destroy the country,” Schneider said.
AIPAC is now ready to run candidates against Democrats who oppose its goals.
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Progressive groups warned Jeffries last week that he and the Democratic Congressional Committee Chairwoman (DCCC) and Rep. Suzan DelBene, D-Wash., should keep AIPAC out of the Democratic primaries.
The Republicans have many schisms on their side – between the “Reagan” Republicans, the MAGA crowd, the Freedom Caucus and those who just want to put a blowtorch on everything. That is radioactive. But the political, radioisotopes of the Middle East cauterize like no other issue.
That’s why some on the left are now calling President Biden “Genocide Joe.”
The New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America faced criticism after it included a watermelon on a flyer pushing for a Jeffries protest. Jeffries is black. Racists have long used watermelon to promote anti-Black views. The watermelon is also an icon for Palestinians who view Israel as occupiers.
A reporter asked Jeffries last week about Rep. Summer Lee, D-Penn., that he shared the stage with Pastor John Hageee at a pro-Israel rally on the National Mall. Lee called Hagee “an antisemitic bigot,” adding “this must be condemned.”
Jeffries responded that he appeared on stage at the rally with House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa.
“I have no idea what she’s talking about,” Jeffries responded to Lee’s accusation.
Republicans may not face the same internecine sniping as Democrats on the Middle East conflict. The GOP is more united when it comes to standing behind Israel and passing legislation to help the Jewish state financially and militarily. But there are Republicans who are tired of US involvement in “foreign wars” and the spending that goes with that. Look no further than the GOP division in Ukraine. A potential Republican split has not yet occurred in Israel. But this is something to watch out for.
Democrats like Rep. Dan Goldman, DN.Y., and Sen. Martin Heinrich, DN.M., are now victims of anti-Israel graffiti and vandalism in their district and state offices.
The unrest in the Middle East is more pronounced on the Democratic side as evidenced by last week’s DNC protest. Republicans are sure to have their own special level of turmoil after the Speaker’s debacle and are struggling to pass their own spending bills.
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But nowhere is it as volatile as the Middle East. This presents a special level of political problems for the Democratic Party.
That’s why the lockdown of the House offices and the tense protest outside the DNC last week were so significant. It’s liberals attacking liberals. There is a division among the Democratic members as mentioned earlier in the Squad and others. Democrats will find it difficult to promote internal Republican opposition to government funding and even threats of violence between lawmakers when members of their own party are fighting over something as incendiary as the Middle East. .