House Speaker Paul Ryan was barely audible amidst Democrats’ protesting over the GOP opting out of bringing a gun-restriction vote to the floor as he gaveled a vote to override the administration’s fiduciary rule late Wednesday evening.
As the Wisconsin Republican attempted to gain order in the chamber, Democrats held signs while chanting “no bill, no break” and pointed at the members of the GOP while loudly chanting “shame.” At one point, the party even broke out in song, singing in unison “We Shall Overcome” – a well-known protest song during the civil rights movement.
While some banter took place, Republicans largely remained calm during the vote series.
The sit-in, led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, began around 11 a.m. Members of the party sat on the floor – some with pillows and blankets – as members aired their grievances on the issue.
Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer told reporters several lawmakers were planning on staying on the House floor overnight in protest.
The bill Democrats are pushing for, dubbed “no fly, no buy,” would allow the attorney general to stop a prospective buyer on the FBI’s terror watch list from purchasing a weapon “if there is a reasonable belief that the weapon would be used in connection with terrorism.” An identical amendment was shot down in the Senate Monday.
Republicans argued the protest was more of a publicity stunt than productive push to stop terrorism.
“They didn’t have the votes in committee this morning and they lost in the Senate earlier this week and they can’t get enough support for their discharge petition,” Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida told The Daily Caller News Foundation after the vote. “There are a lot of legitimate questions that need to be answered and we need to figure out how to prevent holes to prevent us from being hit like they did in my backyard in Orlando.”
Georgia Democrat Rep. Gwen Moore told TheDCNF similar protests have not been ruled out for the future.
“I grew up in the ’60s and when things ain’t right, it can last forever,” she said. “Ya know what, it’s work – it’s what democracy looks like, it’s not always neat and pretty.
The vote on Rep. Phil Roe’s bill to overturn the president’s veto failed to meet the two-thirds threshold, failing in a 239-180 vote.
The House reconvened in the earliest morning hours to pass the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Zika Response Appropriations Act — which made it out of the House Committee on Rules following the late-night vote to overturn the fiduciary rule.
“The Senate has already defeated the measure they’re calling for. The House is focused on eliminating terrorists, not constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Strong said in a statement to reporters just before 4 a.m. “And no stunts on the floor will change that.”
Roughly a dozen Democrats remained on the House floor around 6:30 a.m.
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