Dem lawmaker shut down after playing recording from detention center on House floor

Dem lawmaker shut down after playing recording from detention center on House floor
© Greg Nash

A Democratic lawmaker was shut down on the floor of the House on Friday after playing an audio recording of crying children who were separated from their families at the southern border.

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said the American people should hear the recording, which was obtained by ProPublica.

"Imagine being ripped away from your mother or father and not knowing if you're ever going to see them again, and then being placed in a detention facility with strangers. Imagine the horror you will see doing that. What must that sound like?" Lieu said before starting the recording.


After several seconds, Rep. Karen Handel (R-Ga.), the presiding officer at the time in the House, made several attempts to shut Lieu down, telling the California congressman that he was “in breach of decorum.”


“Why are you trying to prevent the American people from listening to what it sounds like in a detention facility?” Lieu asked Handel.

Handel argued the House rule on decorum, or Rule 17, “prohibits the use of an electronic device to make sounds in the chamber.”

After the audio plays uninterrupted for approximately 90 seconds, Handel again asked Lieu to suspend in accordance with the rule.

The audio features children crying, and one child can be heard repeatedly saying “Papa.”

Lieu yielded after Handel said the House Sergeant of Arms would “enforce the rules of decorum.”

Lieu's effort comes amid the fallout from the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy at the southern border, which caused the separation of children from their families.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE on Wednesday signed an executive order permitting families to remain together.

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Martin, Bobby and the will to change Overnight Health Care: Thousands more migrant children may have been separated | Senate rejects bill to permanently ban federal funds for abortion | Women's March to lobby for 'Medicare for All' MORE in April had directed the Justice Department to prioritize the criminal prosecution of individuals who try to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally.

That policy caused the removal and detention of children separately from their families while the adults faced prosecution.