Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) made history in four-inch heels on Feb. 4, starting at 10:04 a.m.
It was then that she began a "one-minute" speech. As the House Minority Leader, however, she was able to take advantage of a little-used loophole that allowed her to grant herself the "courtesy of extended and unfettered debate" per House rules — and extended, it was.
With news that bipartisan Senate leadership had agreed to a funding bill that didn't address undocumented immigrants covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, Pelosi used her platform to rally her House colleagues against agreeing to it. Her speech was intended to be a demand aimed at House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), urging him to bring up the DREAM Act for a vote.
A January poll found that 70% of Americans support the DREAM Act, meaning that this should be a no-brainer for Ryan, who once told a DACA recipient concerned about being deported, "Don't worry about that." To date, however, Ryan's been dodgy about DACA, refusing to bring it up as a standalone vote. Pelosi wanted to change that, and so she started talking.
On the House floor, Pelosi shared stories of DREAMers, making a powerful case for why we owe it to them to create a pathway to citizenship.
A common misconception is that undocumented immigrants have simply chosen not to use their time in the country to get their paperwork in order. The truth is that there is not currently a path for undocumented immigrants to establish legal permanent residency or citizenship. It's really messed up.
Many, whether they came here when they were 2 or 25, would have to leave the U.S. for 10 years before trying to return. That means some people are essentially exiled to a country they've never known because of a cruel system. Congress has the power to change that, and that's what led Pelosi to embark on what would eventually become an eight-hour speech.
Several of her House colleagues shared stories from the floor.
A little after 5 p.m. Eastern, she set the record for the longest continuous House speech since "at least 1909."
"I wonder what that was," Pelosi laughed to herself about eclipsing some unknown pre-suffrage-era speech.
Just an hour before then, she had tried to give her colleagues an excuse to leave the chamber for the day, pointing out that they were welcome to make their way over to see Joe Biden deliver a speech nearby. "We want to see you," they replied. A visibly proud, happy, emotional Pelosi continued.
A lot of people really wanted to talk about her footwear, which only made the accomplishment that much more impressive.
Standing on your feet for eight hours is hard enough, but standing on them in four-inch heels is borderline superhuman.
Democratic organizer Kaivan Shroff pointed out that there are probably other things a "77-year-old wealthy white woman" would rather be doing, chalking up the effort as a testament to Pelosi's dedication to the issue — even in the face of some intra-party criticism. "She is the best of the Democratic Party, no matter what some might say," Shroff said.
In all, Pelosi's speech was a major shot in the arm for Democrats and DACA advocates, bringing immigration to the forefront of people's minds and getting support from a robust #GoNancyGo hashtag.
Some compared it to Wendy Davis' famous 2013 abortion filibuster in Texas, and others just encouraged their friends and followers to tune in to watch history in the making.
You can't please everyone, though — as shown with the GOP's tweet twisting the hashtag's meaning.
From their position in the minority, there's not a lot Democrats can do besides trying to hold the line and bring attention to issues they care about.
Ryan can bring a bill to a vote whenever he wants, and if he's able to get his entire caucus on board, he can pass whatever he wants. Pelosi and Democrats aren't able to bring bills up for a vote, and they can't stop Ryan from doing what he likes. What they can do is what Pelosi did today: She put a big, bright spotlight on an issue supported by 70% of Americans.
Will Ryan make good on his comment about DREAMers not having to worry, or were those just empty words?