Rep. Ted Lieu of California violated House rules Friday by playing a recording of crying children who were separated from their parents at the border, ignoring a presiding officer who implored him to stop.
Mr. Lieu, a Democrat who frequently rails against President Trump online, refused from the lectern at the front of the chamber, which was empty except for dozens of tourists who looked down from the gallery.
“I think the American people need to hear this,” Mr. Lieu said, brushing off Rep. Karen Handel, Georgia Republican who happened to be presiding at the time.
The back-and-forth went on for a while before Ms. Handel stopped and looked for guidance from aides.
The audio recording that filled the chamber had been obtained by ProPublica amid the furor around Mr. Trump’s now-rescinded child separation policy at the border. It features separated children crying and talking about their parents.
Ms. Handel warned Mr. Lieu that the House sergeant-at-arms, who appeared several yards away from the congressman, was prepared to “enforce” a rule against playing electronic devices in the chamber.
Eventually, Mr. Lieu relented, saying, “I yield back.”
It was only the latest in a series of dramatic steps Democrats have taken to highlight the child-separation controversy on Capitol Hill.
Sen. Robert Melendez, New Jersey Democrat, played the same tape on his own chamber earlier this week, and House Democrats brought children onto the floor with them Wednesday to underscore the separations.
Mr. Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order saying migrant children at the border would no longer be separated from their parents and instead detained together, though Democrats want to know what will become of the roughly 2,300 children who’ve already been separated.
“There is still no real plan to reunite the children,” Mr. Lieu tweeted Friday. “This looks like kidnapping.”