Sen. Janet Nguyen’s forcible removal from the California Senate floor may help her get reelected during the 2018 election, reports The Orange County Register. Nguyen (R-Fountain Valley) is being praised by the Vietnamese American community for speaking up during the Senate floor session on Feb. 23. In a Senate district where Democrats currently have a nine percent point lead, but where many Vietnamese are concentrated, Nguyen may now be able to close the gap.
The Senate floor session on March 9 involved a lengthy discussion of Nguyen’s removal from the floor two weeks prior. On Feb. 23, Nguyen was criticizing the late Democratic senator Tom Hayden for his heavy involvement in the anti-Vietnam War movement, when Democrat Majority Leader Bill Monning told her that she was speaking out of order. She was then removed by security, on presiding Democrat Sen. Ricardo Lara’s orders, after refusing to take her seat as Lara repeatedly told her to do so. Nguyen responded to the incident by claiming her freedom of speech was infringed upon.
Sen. Mike Morrell (R-Inland Empire) made a parliamentary inquiry at the beginning of the Senate floor session on March 9, claiming the grounds on which Nguyen was removed was not explicitly stated in the rules established prior. This resulted in some heated discussion amongst Morrell, Monning, Nguyen, and presiding Democrat Hannah-Beth Jackson.
After the Feb. 23 removal, Senate President Pro Tempore and Democrat Kevin de León had said the rules of the floor were explained to Nguyen prior and that he will be conducting an internal review of the situation.
Nguyen held a free speech rally in Little Saigon on March 4 and one in Sacramento on March 6, attracting hundreds. De León attended the Sacramento event, where he insisted he would apologize to Nguyen. However, Nguyen does not find his offer sincere. De León stated that Nguyen violated procedural rules, but he also vowed that such an incident “will never happen again.” “I think she enjoyed her 15 minutes of fame,” he followed up with. “And she doesn’t want it to disappear, obviously.” De León recently revealed that his father is Chinese from Guatemala.
Thank you for making your voice heard. Senate respects free speech & values our Vietnamese-American community. We are a state of immigrants pic.twitter.com/V62t6irhqH
— Kevin de Leόn (@kdeleon) March 6, 2017
Nguyen is the first Vietnamese woman to serve in a state legislature in the U.S. Her district includes a sizable portion of Little Saigon, home to the largest Vietnamese community outside of Vietnam. While it is no surprise that many Republicans were upset about Nguyen’s treatment, some Democrats also felt uneasy about the way the situation was handled and have offered her support.
“I commend Senator Janet Nguyen for standing up with great courage to express her deeply-held views born out of her personal experiences as a refugee fleeing communist Vietnam,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal, (D-Long Beach) representing a district that includes part of Little Saigon. “She spoke to the painful history and hardship that many of our shared constituents in the Vietnamese American community feel. Senator Nguyen’s removal from the Senate floor was uncalled for and it was wrong.”
Orange County’s Republican Congress members have been under pressure to speak up. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) faced a crowd of more than 500 largely Democratic voters on Saturday, March 11, at the town hall as they expressed their troubles concerning the Trump administration, reports NBC News. At the same time, anti-Trump activists are pressing for Orange County’s other three Republican Congress members to hold similar events.
Watch the Senate floor session from Thursday, March 9, during which members of the California Senate discuss whether Nguyen was out of order. The discussion begins at time 11:27, during which Sen. Mike Morrell, R-Inland Empire, makes a parliamentary inquiry. At 24:25, Nguyen begins speaking.
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