A congressman who learned protest tactics in the civil rights movement of the 1960s led a dramatic “sit-in” on the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday morning, using the surprise stratagem as a vehicle to force the House’s Republican leadership to allow a vote on gun restrictions.
— Rep. John Yarmuth (@RepJohnYarmuth) June 22, 2016
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in the civil rights protests of the 1960s, was joined by about 35 other Democratic lawmakers who entered the House chamber en masse and vowed to “occupy” the House floor until a vote is held on the so-called “no fly, no buy” bill, which would bar anyone on a “no-fly” list from buying guns.
“We have been too quiet for too long,” Lewis said. “There comes a time when you have to say something. You have to make a little noise. You have to move your feet. This is the time.”
“How many more mothers? How many more fathers need to shed tears of grief before we do something?” Lewis added. “Give us a vote. Let us vote. We came here to do our job. We came here to work.”
The House was immediately declared in recess, which meant C-SPAN cameras recording the event went dark. Although the session was briefly reconvened, the chamber was again put into recess, and as of early afternoon, the protesting Democrats remained in possession of the House floor as business ground to a halt.
Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., led a prayer as the protesting representatives held hands.
“No bill, no break,” Democrats chanted, repeating demands that an upcoming recess for the House be canceled to schedule the vote on the “no fly no buy” proposal. The proposal was among those Monday that failed to receive enough Senate votes to move forward in that chamber of Congress.
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement, “The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair.”
My colleagues & I have had enough. We are sitting-in on the House Floor until we get a vote to address gun violence. https://t.co/rTqrPifuUz
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) June 22, 2016