In an attempt to force House Republicans to vote on a gun control bill, Democratic members of Congress spent an entire day sitting on the floor of the House of Representatives, ultimately leaving Thursday morning and vowing to return and keep fighting in July.
It would be easy to dismiss this sit-in tactic as merely a public relations ploy — if it weren’t for the fact that one of the leaders of the action was none other than Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who was a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement and led sit-ins at segregated lunch counters in the 1960s.
Other bizarre legislative tactics, though, haven’t had quite as much gravitas. Here are five other cases in which elected officials did more than just sit down and vote.
1. Wisconsin Democrats Hide Out of State
In 2011, Wisconsin Democrats wanted to avoid letting their Republican colleagues and Governor Scott Walker pass an anti-union bill — the same bill that caused massive protests that year in the Wisconsin capital of Madison. Since they couldn’t beat the bill, Democrats instead fled the Badger State, hiding out in neighboring states to deny the GOP the ability to reach a quorum and hold a vote.
2. UK Tories Crib a Plan From “The West Wing”
In an episode of the popular television drama “The West Wing,” presidential hopeful and Representative Matt Santos, played by Jimmy Smits, tricks the Republican-led congress into holding a vote after they think most Democrats have left DC for their districts — only to find the Democratic lawmakers had been hiding in an empty office. Leaders of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom saw the episode and thought it seemed liked a good idea, so they used it to beat a bill favored by the Labour Party and then-Prime Minister Tony Blair.
3. Ted Cruz Gets Seussy
Filibustering is an extreme, but relatively standard tactic in the Senate — the list of noteworthy filibusters runs pretty long, though Strom Thurmond’s famous stand against integration is probably the most infamous. But former Senator Ted Cruz’s speech in 2013 against Obamacare is probably the most bizarre, because his choice of reading material was none other than Green Eggs and Ham, by Dr. Seuss.
4. Charles Sumner Gets Caned
In 1856, slavery was a subject of intense, fiery debate in the U.S. Rep. Preston Brooks attacked abolitionist Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane in response to an anti-slavery speech Sumner delivered. Sumner suffered a traumatic brain injury. Brooks was removed from office but was quickly reinstated.
5. Republicans Chant
In 1994, first-term Democratic Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies voted with her fellow Democrats in favor of Bill Clinton’s 1993 budget, casting the deciding vote. Because she was from a relatively conservative district, her Republican colleagues chanted “Goodbye, Marjorie” while she voted. Those were prescient words; she was defeated in her election the next year.