For those who believe watching Congress is always boring and monotonous, yesterday's developments -- followed by additional drama in the early hours of this morning -- offered powerful proof to the contrary.
Revolt in the House of Representatives turned raucous overnight, with protesting Democrats shouting down Speaker Paul Ryan's attempts to restore order during a gun-control protest that stretched into its 18th hour.
Earlier, Republicans branded the move as a publicity stunt before summarily adjourning the chamber until after the Fourth of July.
Note, the GOP-led House was supposed to be in session, doing actual work, today and four days next week ahead of the holiday break. But Republican leaders, unsure what to do about the Democratic sit-in and unwilling to schedule a vote on possible gun reforms, decided they no longer saw any point to sticking around.
Exasperated, House Speaker Paul Ryan took his House and went home. What will happen when the chamber reconvenes on July 6 is unclear, but Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who helped lead yesterday's protest, told the Washington Post, "We will continue to fight.... When we come back in July, we'll start all over again."
But to fully appreciate the scope of yesterday's drama, it's important to note how Republican leaders tried to end the Democratic protest.
House Democrats interrupt Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan by singing We Shall Overcome as the speaker attempts to hold a vote on a matter unrelated to the issue of gun safety, which is what Democrats are calling for. watch
Senator Cory Booker talks with Rachel Maddow about the historic protest held by House Democrats and the mounting political pressure for Congress to pass gun safety legislation even as Republicans continue to block new bills. watch
Rachel Maddow reports that while House Democrats stage a sit-in on the floor of the House, calling for new gun safety regulations, protesters are gathering outside as well to show their support for the action taking place inside. watch
Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Katherine Clark talk with Rachel Maddow about the genesis of the idea to stage a sit-in protest on the House floor to demand a vote on gun legislation, and where they see the action taking them. watch
* This is still ongoing: "Georgia congressman John Lewis deployed a strategy from his days as a civil rights activist and the viral nature of social media to stage a dramatic sit-in Wednesday on the House floor with his fellow Democrats to force a vote on gun control."
* And it's not limited to House members: several senators, including Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), joined their House colleagues.
* President Obama can't join them on the House floor, but it's worth noting that he's extended his support to the House Dems' efforts.
* "We are seeing a pickup in growth. There's been a sharp increase in consumer spending," [Fed Chair Janet Yellen] told the House Financial Services Committee. "I'm very hopeful that we will see a pickup in growth." So long as she doesn't raise rates anytime soon, I'll be hopeful, too.
* We've seen reports like these before, so keep expectations in check: "The Colombian government and the country's largest rebel group said Wednesday that they had agreed to a cease-fire, clearing a major hurdle in the effort to end one of the world's longest-running conflicts."
* That's quite a announcement: "The Justice Department announced Wednesday it had charged a record 301 people with schemes that defrauded government health programs by submitting $900 million in fraudulent health claims."
* A serial child molester starts his sentence: "Once two heartbeats from the most powerful office in the land, an ailing Dennis Hastert wheeled himself into a federal penitentiary Wednesday to begin serving a prison sentence for breaking the law while trying to conceal his past sexual abuse of teenage boys."
* This is at odds with a lot of conservative predictions: "Rates of marijuana use among Colorado's teenagers are essentially unchanged in the years since the state's voters legalized marijuana in 2012, new survey data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment shows."
Donald Trump's campaign, such as it is, has spent the past couple of weeks signaling the Republican's plan for a big anti-Hillary Clinton speech. There wasn't any other real point to the planned address -- there was never any pretense about a specific issue or policy area -- except the presumptive GOP nominee's intention to complain a whole lot about his Democratic rival.
And so, Trump did exactly that this morning. Addressing supporters at a Trump hotel in New York -- his campaign will no doubt pay a generous price for use of the venue owned by the candidate -- the Republican candidate relied on his trusted teleprompter to go on the offensive.
Donald Trump called Hillary Clinton "a world class liar" who thinks she is "entitled" to the presidency during a speech attacking his Democratic rival Wednesday.
"Hillary Clinton may be the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States," Trump said in a speech at one of his properties in New York. [...]
"Her campaign slogan is 'I'm with her,'" Trump said. "You know what my response to that is? I'm with you: the American people."
Right. Because if there's one thing that's obvious about Donald J. Trump, it's that he isn't a narcissist.
Most of the attacks were predictable and clumsily delivered, but the most striking thing about this morning's scripted address was its breathtaking dishonesty. In theory, if Clinton were as awful as Trump and Republicans claim, it should be fairly easy to deliver a speech condemning her using facts and real-world evidence.
Instead, as Slate's Jamelle Bouie put it, Trump leaned on "an avalanche of falsehoods."
When the Senate took up several gun reforms this week, there was a nagging concern hanging over the debate: even if one of these measures passed, the Republican-led House has made clear that the lower chamber will not consider any new firearm restrictions. It was a moot point -- the Senate measures were defeated -- but the fact that no votes are even possible in the House is deeply discouraging to reformers.
And so, this morning, House Democrats took a provocative step towards demanding change. NBC News reported:
House Democrats led by Civil Rights veteran Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, are in the midst of a sit-in on the chamber floor to try and force a vote on gun control.
"Now is the time for us to find a way to dramatize it, to make it real," Lewis said. "We have to occupy the floor of the House until there is action."
Then Lewis and roughly 40 House Democrats sat. They stood briefly to say the Pledge of Allegiance as a couple dozen visitors in the gallery looked on.
There are some pretty dramaticphotos available, but Americans hoping to see the dramatic protest on C-SPAN were disappointed. Though House proceedings are normally televised, NBC's report added that this protest was not shown because the House had not formally been gaveled into session.
At around 11:30 a.m. (ET), Lewis delivered remarks, explaining, "We have lost hundreds of thousands of innocent people to gun violence.... What has this body done? Mr. Speaker, not one thing." The sit-in began soon after.
Roll Callreported, "At about noon, Republican Rep. Ted Poe of Texas returned to gavel in the House.... Poe said he found that the House was not in a state of order due to the presence of members in the well who were not recognized. He asked members to leave the well. After that, he declared the House in recess subject to the call of the chair. "
Keep in mind, the Democrats participating in this protest aren't asking the House to pass anything, but rather, they want a debate and a vote on possible reforms.
Today's installment of campaign-related news items from across the country.
* In an odd tweet yesterday, Donald Trump declared, "I am 'the king of debt.' That has been great for me as a businessman, but is bad for the country. I made a fortune off of debt, will fix U.S." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but he repeated the claim this morning.
* Also this morning, Trump continued to question Hillary Clinton's religious beliefs.
* Ahead of Trump's anti-Clinton speech this morning, the Democratic candidate delivered a speech of her own yesterday blasting the presumptive Republican nominee's economic record and worldview.
* In Ohio's U.S. Senate race, a new Quinnipiac poll shows incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) tied with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) at 42% each.
* In Florida's U.S. Senate race, most recent polling shows Sen. Marco Rubio (R) roughly tied with Rep. Patrick Murphy (D), but Quinnipiac shows the incumbent up by seven, 47% to 40%.
* Perhaps the day's biggest surprise is Pennsylvania's U.S. Senate race, where Quinnipiac shows incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) with a surprisingly big lead over Katie McGinty (D), 49% to 40%.
* Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recorded a notable video this week for MoveOn.org about Trump.
* Reflecting on fights over defense spending next year, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said this week, "The next president, whoever he or she -- most likely she -- is going to be, needs to get these defense cuts set aside."
Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) boasted on Twitter yesterday, "You've asked for it and tomorrow, House Republicans will release our plan to replace Obamacare." Whether or not this actually constitutes a "plan," however, is open to some debate.
After six years of vague talk about a conservative alternative to the Affordable Care Act, House Republicans on Tuesday finally laid out the replacement for a repealed health law -- a package of proposals that they said would slow the growth of health spending and relax federal rules for health insurance. [...]
In finally presenting one, Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and his Republican team did not provide a cost estimate or legislative language. But they did issue a 20,000-word plan that provides the most extensive description of their health care alternative to date.
Perhaps, but let's not grade on a curve. It was seven years ago this month that House Republican leaders began promising to unveil a GOP health-care-reform plan, and for seven years, the party has done nothing except offer vague soundbites and vote several dozen times to repeal the Affordable Care Act, replacing it with nothing.
Or put another way, we've seen seven years of posturing on health care policy, but no actual governing.
The New York Times is correct that we now have an "extensive description" of the House Republican vision on the issue, but an "extensive description" does not a plan make. There's still no legislation; there are still no numbers; there's still no substance to score and scrutinize.
The Huffington Postsummarized the problem nicely: "Speaker Paul Ryan wants to replace 20 million people's health insurance with 37 pages of talking points."
As we recently discussed, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) launched his ill-fated presidential campaign, he made a bold and meaningful promise to the public: White House or bust. Rubio wouldn't treat a Senate seat as a consolation prize; he'd either win the 2016 presidential election or he'd be out of public office altogether. It was probably the most honorable moment of his career.
After his national campaign failed miserably, Rubio heard the speculation about him possibly breaking his word, and he dismissed the chatter as an irritating distraction. Just five weeks ago, the senator, annoyed by Beltway scuttlebutt, said on Twitter, "I have only said like 10,000 times I will be a private citizen in January."
But the political pressure started soon after. Republican officials, facing the prospect of a Democratic Senate, began urging Rubio to break his word. According to the Washington Post, he's going to do exactly that.
Sen. Marco Rubio will announce Wednesday he will seek re-election to the Senate, reversing a pledge he made a year ago to either assume the presidency or return to private life in Florida, instantly transforming an already competitive race and improving the chances that Republicans can maintain the Senate majority.
Rubio is set to announce the decision sometime Wednesday, according to three people familiar with the decision who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it before a formal announcement. One person said Rubio has started privately informing key Republicans he will run.
This reversal will surprise no one; the far-right senator has been telegraphing the move for weeks. It was largely a matter of when, not if, Rubio would go back on his promise to the public.
But that doesn't make the reversal any less ridiculous.
Launched in 2008, “The Rachel Maddow Show” follows the machinations of policy making in America, from local political activism to international diplomacy. Rachel Maddow looks past the distractions of political theater and stunts and focuses on the legislative proposals and policies that shape American life - as well as the people making and influencing those policies and their ultimate outcome, intended or otherwise.