Tea party firebrand Michele Bachmann suggested late Friday on the House floor that Congress should put handcuffs on the "lawless president's hands" — a remark that brought a rebuke from the chair and appears to violate House rules.
The Minnesota Republican made the figurative remark while speaking on the floor during debate on legislation ending the president's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program granting deportation relief and work permits to some children brought to the United States illegally by their parents. The legislation also would prohibit President Barack Obama from expanding the program to other illegal immigrants as the president reportedly is considering whether to expand the program to as many as 5 million people.
Bachmann said House passage of the bill would "put a handcuff on one of the president's hands" and said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., should bring the Senate back and pass the bill.
"He needs to put the other handcuff on this lawless president's hands," she said as she grabbed one of her wrists.
The chair admonished Bachmann immediately after she was finished speaking: "The chair wishes to remind members to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president." Later, Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I., sought to strike Bachmann's words.
"Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to strike from the congressional record the words of the gentlelady from Minnesota who described placing a handcuff on one hand of the president — point of order — may i finish my unanimous consent request? Thank you. Who in one moment described putting one handcuff on one hand of the president, a second handcuff on the second hand of the president, and handcuffing the lawless president of the United States. Those are words which are not appropriate in the Congressional Record. I ask unanimous consent that they be stricken impugning the character and integrity of the President of the United States (in) clear violation of the rules of this House."
The request was rejected by Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif.
"I object. The request is not timely," Royce said.
Cicilline pressed his case, noting that there is no requirement that a unanimous consent request be timely — unlike another House procedure, known as taking down someone's words. If Cicilline had promptly asked the chair to take down Bachmann's words and the chair had ruled her words out of line, she would have been banned from speaking on the floor the rest of the day.
Royce then objected again, and the House adjourned as Cicilline was gaveled down.
The House rules manual discussing Rule XVII, the rule for decorum, states, "Members should refrain from discussing the President’s personal character."
The manual gives numerous examples of comments ruled out of order on the House floor, including charging that the president is acting "above the law."
"Last weekend I think the nation was stunned when our president said that he would unilaterally use his power, raw power, to effectively grant amnesty to five million to six million foreign nationals here in the United States illegally. He said that he would do that with his power. and what happened this week is that this body came together and we decided to answer the president's unconstitutional call. So this bill effectively, this DACA bill, we'll put forward the strongest possible legislative response that this body could put forward. We say in this bill that the president has no power, no authority administratively to grant permits which would effectively grant amnesty to five million to six million foreign nationals illegally in the United States. in other words, Mr. Speaker, we will put a handcuff on one of the president's hands. Now we need to have — (Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va.): "I yield an additional minute." The Speaker Pro Tempore: "The gentlelady is recognized for an additional one minute." "Now in the United States Senate, the Majority Leader Harry Reid left town. He's left town. Not only did he fail to complete an immigration bill, but he knows full well that President Obama may illegally grant amnesty to five million to six million foreign nationals illegally in the United States. Without doing anything. What Harry Reid has the opportunity to do is come back and join us. We'll be here any time, any day, anywhere, any how. We'll join him here in August, September, whenever. He needs to put the other handcuff on this lawless president's hands. So that we can strain this president from granting amnesty. That's what the American people want us to do. We do that tonight with this bill. We invite Harry Reid to bring the Senate back and put the handcuff on the president's other hand so we can have sovereignty again on our southern border. And I yield back to the gentleman from Virginia." The Speaker Pro Tempore: "The chair wishes to remind members to refrain from engaging in personalities toward the president."