Rain in the House Part I

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 112TH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MORNING-HOUR DEBATE

The House met at 10 a.m. and was called to order by THE SPEAKER.

[Transcriber’s note: A steady drizzle peppered the desks, chairs, and Congresspersons assembled in the House of Representatives main chamber. A light grey rain cloud obscured the ceiling and gallery.]

THE SPEAKER. The House is called to order. Good morning, everyone. We are here to address a particularly vexing issue. As I am sure you’re all aware, it’s been raining nonstop inside our chamber for three days now. I’ve kept us in a recess to try and wait it out, but I’m afraid the American people expect us to get back to work.

There are dozens of pressing issues waiting to be addressed that have real, concrete effects on our constituents. We have much to do, and not much time to do it in. Debate is now open on the first item on our docket: this rain.

MR. TURKEY (VIRGINIA, R). Gobble gobble gobble! Gobble, sputter, garble, gobble, choke, cough, sputter.

THE SPEAKER. Will someone please distract that damned turkey? Everyone knows that whenever it rains the Congressman from Virginia is going to look up to see what’s hitting him on the head, and if someone doesn’t divert his attention he’ll drown in his own stupidity. The last thing we need right now is a special election.

MR. SOLOMON (COLORADO, R). I got it.

[Transcriber’s note: MR. SOLOMON (COLORADO, R) beamed MR. TURKEY (VIRGINIA, R) in the side with a tennis ball, distracting him from the rain, and ostensibly saving his life.]

THE SPEAKER. Thank you. I think that’s plenty idiocy for the day. Let’s get on with the business of this debate. Is the Keeper of the Sparrows present?

MR. MANOR. Right here, sir.

THE SPEAKER. Great. In line with Article 12, Section 4, Clause 8, a flock of sparrows will be released inside the chamber before the opening of debate. The party that shoots down the most sparrows wins the right to the opening statement.

Does everyone have his or her fowling piece?

[Transcriber’s note: A chorus of clacks and clicks answered THE SPEAKER as the Representatives locked and loaded their shotguns, rifles, and pistols.]

THE SPEAKER. I would like to remind the members of the House that, as a safety measure, buckshot has been expressly banned. We lost way too many Congresspersons last Tuesday.

Are we ready to begin, Mr. Manor?

MR. MANOR. Yes sir. We are.

THE SPEAKER. Very well. Release the sparrows.

[Transcriber’s note: A deafening roar engulfed the chamber as the Representatives discharged wildly into the air. Several people were shot by friendly fire as the terrified birds darted between the aisles, desperately trying to escape the erratically firing legislators. Six minutes passed before all the sparrows were downed.]

THE SPEAKER. Are the birds dead?

MR. MANOR. It seems so, sir.

THE SPEAKER. Are you ok, Manor?

MR. MANOR. I’ve been shot in the leg.

THE SPEAKER. Oh. Wow. Sorry about that.

Well, you knew what you were getting yourself into. Federal employment is dangerous stuff.

MR. MANOR. Indeed.

THE SPEAKER. How many birds has your party shot down, Ms. Hogan?

MS. HOGAN (SOUTH DAKOTA, D). 47, Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER. And how many has your party shot down, Mr. Doherty?

MR. DOHERTY (OHIO, R). 52, Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER. How many sparrows did you release, Mr. Manor?

MR. MANOR. 17.

THE SEAKER. Aha. Maybe you miscounted…?

MR. MANOR. No. There were 17.

THE SPEAKER. Maybe more of them hatched?

MR. MANOR. What? No. There were 17.

THE SPEAKER. I see.

I guess we can’t use the sparrows as a reliable metric.

We’re going to have to come up with something else. Ms Hogan?

MS. HOGAN (SOUTH DAKOTA, D). Yes, Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER. What’s the casualty list for your party?

MS. HOGAN (SOUTH DAKOTA, D). Eight wounded.

THE SPEAKER. And Mr. Doherty, what about yours?

MR DOHERTY (OHIO, R). Eleven wounded.

THE SPEAKER. Alright then. Since the Democrats seem to have lost the least number of members, they get to speak first.

[Transcriber’s note: A triumphant shout mixed in with agonizing groans rose from the Democratic side of the aisle.]

MS. HOGAN (SOUTH DAKOTA, D). I motion that we create a special committee to study the cause of the rain.

THE SPEAKER. Mr. Doherty, does your party have any objections to creating this special committee?

MR. DOHERTY (OHIO, R). Nope.

THE SPEAKER. Ok. Then let’s get a vote on… I see Ms. Prudence wishes to speak.

MS. PRUDENCE (IDAHO, I). Yes I do.

THE SPEAKER. Go ahead.

MS. PRUDENCE (IDAHO, I). Did we just hospitalize nineteen people?

THE SPEAKER. Yes we did.

MS. PRUDENCE (IDAHO, I). By following a pointlessly bureaucratic bylaw…

THE SPEAKER. Well… That’s all subjective…

MS. PRUDENCE (IDAHO, I). That in the end had absolutely no bearing on the form or outcome of a decision that both parties were going to agree to anyway?

THE SPEAKER. Yeah…

MS. PRUDENCE (IDAHO, I). Ok. I was hoping that I was trapped in some terribly dystopian nightmare.

THE SPEAKER. Nope. You’re living it.

Do I have unanimous consent for the creation of a special committee charged with discovering the origin of the rain?

[Translator’s note: Unanimous consent was given.]

THE SPEAKER. The House is adjourned until the committee reports its findings.

 

. . . . .

 

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON HOUSE ATMOSPHERIC PHENOMENA

ONE HUNDRED TWELFTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

PETER FERNANDEZ, Georgia, Chairman

WILLIAM ANDERSON, Missouri

HANK ALTMAN, Mississippi

ROLLAND NAPOLI, New Jersey

ALICE TORRANCE, Maryland

ALEXANDER MONITOR, Wisconsin

MONICA LAMBERT, California

WITNESSES

Mr. Terrence Pulaski, Director of Maintenance and Groundskeeping, U.S. Capitol Building

Mr. Jacob Aberforth PhD, Director, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

MR. FERNANDEZ. Good morning. The Special Committee on House Atmospheric Phenomena is called to order. We are here to discuss and ascertain the origin of the rain currently falling in House chamber. Before us is Mr. Pulaski, the Head Janitor of the Capitol…

MR. PULASKI. I’m not a janitor.

MR. FERNANDEZ. You’re not going to speak out of turn.

Before us is the Head Janitor of the Capitol Building and Dr. Jacob Aberforth, the Director of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Let’s begin with you, Mr. Pulaski.

MR. PULASKI. Thanks. As I was saying, I’m not a janitor. I’m the Director of Maintenance and Groundskeeping of the U.S. Capitol Building.

But anyway, I’ve had my men test out the structural integrity of the roof of the chamber. It’s perfectly sound. There’s no water coming in from the outside. Also, we’ve checked the blueprints of the House side of the Capitol. There are no pipes running through the ceiling or the gallery. That rules out any ruptured tubes or mains. Whatever’s going on in the chamber is totally self-contained.

MR. FERNANDEZ. I’d like to thank the janitor for his statement and move on to…

MR. PULASKI. I’m not a janitor.

MR. FERNANDEZ. I’d like to remind the janitor not to speak out of turn and move on to Dr. Aberforth—our next witness from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. Dr. Aberforth, if what the Head Janitor says is true…

MR. PULASKI. I have a Master’s Degree.

MR. FERNANDEZ. Sir, Mr. Pulaski, I don’t care if you’re Head Janitor of the Continental United States with a doctorate from Harvard. If you speak out of turn one more time I’m going to have you removed for impeding procedure.

Am I understood?

[Transcriber’s note: MR. PULASKI sat in stoic silence.]

MR. FERNANDEZ. Good.

Dr. Aberforth, if, as our janitor claims, this rain were completely self-contained within the chamber of the House, what could possibly be causing it?

DR. ABERFORTH. Well, the precipitation cycle is really a very simple process. Liquid water evaporates from sources such as the oceans, lakes, rivers, and plant transpiration. It rises into the atmosphere, cools and condenses into clouds, and then falls back to the earth as liquid water. What is occurring in the House chamber is a miniature model of this natural process.

MR. ALTMAN. What is the source of the rain, Dr. Aberforth? There are no oceans, rivers, lakes, or plants in the chamber.

DR. ABERFORTH. True. But there is a steady and constant source of water vapor.

MR. ALTMAN. Which is?

DR. ABERFORTH. The representatives themselves.

MR. FERNANDEZ. What do you mean?

DR. ABERFORTH. A healthy adult male can lose up to three liters of water a day in a temperate setting by simply participating in such normal activities as breathing, talking, and perspiring. The more he talks or exerts himself, the more water vapor is released. Females, of course, emit less water vapor, but since their numbers have historically contituted only a miniscule fraction of the House’s members, their impact hardly skews the figures.

Anyhow, studies have shown that Congresspersons are the marathon runners of speech. They can and do converse well past the point where most humans would die from lactic acid build-up and exhaustion.

The modern House chamber is an enclosed space that has been occupied by thousands of people for over 150 years. Each one of these individuals was a veritable talking machine—releasing gallons of water every day. It only makes sense that all that water vapor would rise, condense into a cloud around the ceiling and gallery, cool, and then fall back into the chamber as rain.

MR. FERNANDEZ. And this is your professional opinion, Dr. Aberforth?

DR. ABERFORTH. It is. I’m actually surprised that it’s taken this long to happen.

MR. FERNANDEZ. Very well. Let’s report our findings back to The Speaker. This concludes all committee business for the day.

 

. . . . .

CONGRESSIONAL RECORD

PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES OF THE 112TH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MORNING-HOUR DEBATE

The House met at 10 a.m. and was called to order by THE SPEAKER.

[Transcriber’s note: A light shower fell on the Representatives as they were gathered in the House chamber.]

THE SPEAKER. The House is called to order. Morning everyone. Welcome back from the weekend. We’ve got a lot of work that the American people demand we get through. So let’s get going.

The first and only item on the docket today is the Special Committee’s finding on the rain. Apparently, it’s not a leak or a broken pipe. Instead, it’s been caused by the accumulation of water vapor that’s escaped our mouths and the mouths of all the Representatives going back a century and a half.

Pretty gross. I know.

But let’s proceed to the debate.

In accordance with Article 12, Section 4, Clause 9, if and when the House of Representatives has depleted its inventories of sparrows, the Keeper of the Bees will release her swarm into the chamber. The party that kills the greatest number of bees—does everyone have their bee-killing instruments?

[Transcriber’s note: The Representatives raised their official Congressional wiffle bats to illustrate that they did.]

THE SPEAKER. Great. The party that kills the greatest number of bees will win the right to the opening statement of the debate. Is the Keeper of the Bees present?

MS. MORISON. Beekeeper’s fine.

THE SPEAKER. Is the Beekeeper present?

MS. MORISON. I am.

THE SPEAKER. Release the bees!

MS. MORISON. Um, I can’t exactly do that.

THE SPEAKER. Why not?

MS. MORISON. Because they’re all dead. They’ve been dying all over the United States. It’s a national tragedy.

THE SPEAKER. Oh. I see.

I remember reading something about that.

Well, do you have anything else you can release?

MS. MORISON. Actually I do.

THE SPEAKER. Great! What?

MS. MORISON. Paper wasps.

THE SPEAKER. Wonderful. Release the paper wasps!

MS. MORISON. That’s a really, really bad idea. They can be extremely aggressive when threatened. And if anyone in this room is allergic, they could go into anaphylactic shock. It would be massively irresponsible to expose anyone to these wasps without a stockpile of antihistamines and epipens ready just in case…

THE SPEAKER. Release the paper wasps!

MS. MORISON. You need to take precautions…

THE SPEAKER. Oh, they’ll just die the second they sting someone.

MS. MORISON. Wasps can sting multiple times without dying…

THE SPEAKER.  Release the damned wasps!

MS. MORISON. Alright. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

[Transcriber’s note: The wasps immediately and mercilessly set upon the Representatives as they desperately tried to swat them down with their wiffle bats. Panic quickly ensued when, noticing the futility of their efforts, they soon flung away the bats and starting running up and down the aisles, flailing their arms in the air, screaming at the tops of their lungs, falling on the wet carpet, stumbling back up, slipping again, crawling, crying, trying to find any refuge from their unforgiving assailants. Half an hour passed before the wasps finally grew weary of their attack. Unfortunately though, they did not deem it necessary to distinguish between Congresspersons and the innocent bystanders that just happened to be in the chamber at the time. As such, the transcriber was stung repeatedly and forced to type the rest of the minutes with worryingly swollen fingers.]

THE SPEAKER. Oh my God, is it over??

MS. MORISON. It seems so.

THE SPEAKER. Thank you, Jesus! Let’s get this tally done with.

Ms. Hogan, how many wasps did your party kill?

MS. HOGAN (SOUTH DAKOTA, D). We didn’t kill any, Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER. What about your party, Mr. Doherty?

MR. DOHERTY (OHIO, R). None, Mr. Speaker.

THE SPEAKER. You mean to tell me that every single wasp has escaped?

MS. MORISON. Not escaped. I think I see them building a nest under the gallery.

THE SPEAKER. Wonderful. Now we have rain and wasps in the chamber. I never could’ve seen this coming.

MS. MORISON. I tried to warn you…

THE SPEAKER. NEVER could’ve seen this coming. Alright. Let’s move on to the usual Plan B and figure out who gets to speak first. Ms. Hogan, how many casualties?

MS. HOGAN. 24 allergic reactions. Five very serious.

THE SPEAKER. Mr. Doherty?

MR. DOHERTY (OHIO, R). 18 allergic reactions. Four very serious.

THE SPEAKER. Republicans speak first.

[Transcriber’s note: A celebratory yell rose from the Republicans.]

MR. DOHERTY (OHIO, R). I motion that we reconvene the Special Committee and ask it to come up with a solution to the rain issue.

THE SPEAKER. Does your party object to this motion, Ms. Hogan?

MS. HOGAN (SOUTH DAKOTA, D). Nope.

THE SPEAKER. OK. Do I have unanimous consent to… Ms. Prudence, you wanted to say something?

MS. PRUDENCE (IDAHO, I). Changed my mind.

THE SPEAKER. I see. Anything else you want to add?

MS. PRUDENCE (IDAHO, D). Just that I’ve lost all faith in democracy.

THE SPEAKER. That’s nice.

Do I have unanimous consent to reconvene the Special Committee?

[Transcriber’s note: Unanimous consent was given.]

THE SPEAKER. Great. We are adjourned.