That’s because Democrats have every right to be on the floor all night. In fact, that’s what they’re supposed to be doing.
The well-publicized act of midnight frustration is scheduled for the middle of preplanned debate on a budget bill that will lay the groundwork for Republicans to gut Obamacare. Lawmakers are encouraged to come to the Senate floor during that time to speak up on the bill. The C-SPAN cameras will be filming every minute but that isn’t stopping Schumer from trying to win some Internet love.
“Tonight, we are taking to the floor and social media to denounce this plan and warn the American people that the Democrats will be fighting tooth and nail against this potentially catastrophic move,” Schumer said in a news release announcing the plan.
Schumer didn’t say how long the decidedly low-stakes protest would last or which members would participate but the whole event will be streaming live on Facebook throughout the night.
In fact, the social media coordination is about the only true comparison to the all-nighter House Democrats pulled in June. Their gun-control push was organized by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.) as a way to try to force Republican leaders to allow a vote on a background check bill.
Dozens of members flooded the House floor that night, taking turns singing 1960s classics like “We Shall Overcome” and napping behind their desks. When Republican leaders shut off the cameras, Democrats picked up their phones and used a program called Periscope to film the whole event from their own perspective.
The event created a swell of support online and in Washington as energetic activists crowded the plaza and lawn around the East Front of the Capitol. People slept in tents and shared pizzas while the protest went on inside.
Senate Democrats may hope to mirror that spirit Monday when they start their dissent, but the sanctioned debate won’t replicate the repercussions their House counterparts faced. Last week House Republicans approved a new rule that would fine members $2,500 for filming on the House Floor, in part to block Democrats from another social media field day.