Dems demand gun votes, loudly, in 2-minute House session
WASHINGTON (AP) -- House Democrats continued their disruptive demands for votes on gun control Tuesday, though this time the commotion lasted less than two minutes.
Less than a week after staging a near 26-hour sit-in on the House floor that garnered widespread attention, a half-dozen Democrats stood in the nearly empty chamber and loudly demanded recognition during a session held strictly for procedural business.
Despite their shouts, Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md., who was presiding, gaveled the session to a close two minutes after it began.
The choreographed, election-year outburst was designed to continue calling attention to Democrats' insistence on votes for bills barring people on the government's no-fly list from getting guns and tightening background checks required for many firearms purchases.
Democrats have focused on the issue since the June 12 mass shooting in Orlando in which 49 victims died and 53 others were wounded.
In an interview that appeared Monday on WisPolitics.com, a political news service, House Speaker Paul Ryan said "we are not going to handle it the same way" if Democrats continue disorderly tactics when the House returns next week from its July 4 recess.
Ryan, R-Wis., provided no details but said: "We will not tolerate this." He called the Democratic actions "a low moment for the people's house."
Last week, Ryan called the Democrats' action a "political stunt" and criticized them for using it in fundraising appeals.
Speaking to reporters, the Democratic lawmakers stopped short of saying they would resume their sit-in next week, but would not specify what they would do. Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said that if Ryan thinks the Democrats would drop their demands, "it's just not going to happen that way, Mr. Speaker."
Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., called the GOP's refusal to allow a vote "a spit in the face to the American people."
Last week, the Senate voted down four gun control measures, two from each party. It also stalled a compromise offered by moderates from both parties that would forbid guns from a modest list of terror suspects.
The chief author of that proposal, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, on Tuesday criticized the House Democrats' sit-in, saying, "It made the issue partisan, and that was not helpful to our effort in the Senate."
Democrats around the country were planning "Day of Action" events around the country on Wednesday to publicize their push, including a town hall meeting in Atlanta led by Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who led last week's House sit-in.
The Democrats' uproar occurred after the House chaplain, Father Patrick J. Conroy, opened the day's session with a prayer that included: "Let your spirit of peace descend upon this place, and those who work here."