Scores of House Democratic lawmakers took on the House floor Wednesday staging a sit-in to demand a vote on gun control legislation and have refused to let Republicans take back control. They have taken turns talking about gun violence, said they wouldn’t leave until House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., allowed a vote on measures to curb it, and chanted over and over “No bill, no break!” The House is scheduled to adjourn on Friday and be out of session until July 5.
“Where is our courage?” said Democratic Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, who organized the impromptu sit-in. “Those who pursue common-sense improvement are beaten down. Reason is put aside … What is the tipping point? Are we blind. Can we see? … Give us a vote! we came here to do our job!”
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, repeatedly banged his gavel to call the House into order, but the Democrats refused, and so he gaveled the House into recess.
House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., suggested that could be a marathon recess.
“Our people deserve to know where their representatives stand on this issue, just as they now do with their senators,” he said. “Led by civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis, we will be sitting-in until the House is allowed an opportunity to vote. This is an issue that ought to transcend party — it’s about saving lives and keeping our communities safe.”
Most of the demonstration, unlike last week’s filibuster in the Senate, was not broadcast on C-SPAN. The network carries feeds from cameras belonging to the House and the Republican controlled House leaders shut it down.
But many lawmakers took to social media to post photos and video of the protest.
“The cameras may have been shut down, but we’re still here,” Rep. Tony Cardenas, D-Calif., tweeted.
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Calif., went to the floor and called for a moment of silence as some held hands and continued chanting.
“We cannot let another moment of silence happen on the House floor without acting,” Pelosi said.
Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., led a prayer. Nine people were gunned down in a church in South Carolina last June.
“I am prepared to stay here until hell freezes over,’’ Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said. “We’re here because we can’t take it anymore…We can’t take burying our young people.”.
Congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas has begun streaming the sit-in on Facebook, giving people outside of the chamber another way to tune in as the House’s televisions, which are controlled by Republican Party leaders, remain turned off. It looks like Facebook does not allow users to embed videos while they’re still live, so go here to watch.