House Leadership To Meet With Sergeant-At-Arms Over Dem Protest

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy will meet with the sergeant-at-arms Tuesday ahead of votes scheduled for Wednesday on a package of bills the Congressional Black Caucus has encouraged Democratic members to disrupt.

Democrats staged an unprecedented protest on the House floor in late June over Republicans opting against bringing a gun-control measure that failed in committee to a vote. The protest broke several House rules, which are currently being investigated. GOP leadership slammed the party for the move, saying they disrupted the democratic process and that similar demonstrations need to be prevented in the future.

McCarthy told reporters Tuesday he and Ryan are planning to ask the sergeant-at-arms about what went on at the protest and discuss how to best move forward. The California Republican blasted Democrats for illicitly streaming video of the protest using social media and sitting on the floor, adding he has heard reports of damage having been done to House furniture.

“The behavior that was put onto the floor, it was disrespectful to the rules – the actions I know, I read somewhere they had the outside entity looked at, which I was very appalled by the fundraising going on during this activity,” McCarthy said. “There’s also some looks into if there were any damages done, the behavior that was treated to the professional staff in some of the reports that were given to me by people around it and watched the actions take place. That is not the way the House should work.”

Ryan referred to the protest as a publicity stunt that can’t be repeated, with several Republican lawmakers echoing the sentiment, saying there are several procedures the minority party can bring a bill to the floor, such as getting enough signatures on a discharge petition, without causing mass chaos in the chamber.

McCarthy said Republicans have made an effort to always follow the rules, even when they were trying to get a point across while they were the minority party. Citing an instance in 2008 when Democrats turned the lights and microphones off on Republicans who continued to give speeches on gas prices, he said they continued observe the decorum expected of elected representatives.

“We were not disrespectful to any of the professional staff that runs the floor, we did not sit in places we weren’t supposed to sit, we did not take over microphones from other people, we did no fundraising off of it during that time – we did not break any decorum,” he said. “And the Republican leadership made sure rules were kept in tact. We policed from a standpoint of our own conference if we saw any behavior because emotions get high. I’m not seeing that on the Democratic side.”

The anti-terrorism package includes legislation ranging from a measure aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of terrorists without infringing on due process to a bill forcing the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize stoping the spread of radical Islamic terrorism.

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