House Dems stage a sit-in demanding vote on gun legislation
The sit in is being broadcast live via Periscope by lawmakers and their assistants after Republicans shut down cameras on the floor.
Over 40 House Democrats are taking part in the sit-in, led by John Lewis (D-Georgia).
“After the worst mass shooting in modern history, it's time for Speaker Ryan to bring a bill to the Floor,” said Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland). “House Democrats will continue to demand: no bill, no break.”
The sit-in began shortly before noon, involving two dozen Representatives.
Though the House went on recess at noon and the cameras were turned off, the Democrats said they would continue their protest until Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) allows a vote on the proposal to ban persons on the federal no-fly watch list from buying firearms.
With the official cameras off, the protesting lawmakers turned to live-streaming the sit-in on Facebook. Eric Swallwell (D-California) posted a video of his colleague Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois), speaking about the “absolutely horrific” epidemic of gun violence in Chicago.
“I am tired of seeing babies killed,” Duckworth said, pleading for outlawing “fully automatic assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.”
House rules prohibit streaming from inside the chambers, however, and the Sergeant-at-Arms has asked the lawmakers to stop, according to Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky).
Senate Democrats also joined their colleagues on the House floor throughout the day, and showed their support by sending snacks. Though he is an independent, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders showed up on Wednesday afternoon as well.
Ted Deutch (D-Florida) named every victim of the Orlando gay nightclub attack, as well as last year's terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California and the 2012 Sandy Hook elementary school shooting.
Meanwhile, other House Democrats held a press conference on the steps of the Capitol, explaining that they intend to block the floor until the GOP leadership agrees to vote on the gun control measures.
Four gun control proposals were put up for a vote in the Senate on Monday. All failed.
Around 1:30 p.m, a crowd gathered outside the Capitol building to show their support to the lawmakers.
Thank you John Lewis for leading on gun violence where we need it most. https://t.co/vctfqAH5Wt— President Obama (@POTUS) June 22, 2016
House Republicans chose to ignore the calls for action on gun legislation and instead pushed for their agenda with a healthcare bill to replace Obamacare.
Legislators' family members also expressed their support for the sit in. Rep. Keith Ellison's mother told the Minnesota Democrat to join his colleagues calling to his office.
Rep. Ellison is an obedient son.
Sitting in on House Floor against Gun violence & Majority's unwillingness to protect Americans from slaughter. pic.twitter.com/SvZ5cV45nn— Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) June 22, 2016
After nearly eight hours of the sit-in protest, the leader of the demonstration, Lewis commended his Democratic colleagues.
"You're still standing," he said. "By sitting down, by sitting in, you're standing up."
"This may be the House of Representatives, but it is the house of the people," Lewis continued, adding that "they have sent us here" and that "we have an obligation to never give up, never give in."
Lewis then introduced House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who seemed to be wrapping things up, offering the option for the Democrats to go back home. Without hesitation, chants broke out: "No bill! No break!"
Just after 8 p.m. local time, a congressional aide ran to Target to buy sleeping bags in case the sit-in turns into a sleep-in, a Democratic representative told NBC News’ Peter Alexander.
Spotted: food being taken into House Chamber during sit-in. pic.twitter.com/QmEguInOxh— CSPAN (@cspan) June 22, 2016
An hour and a half later, House Republicans announced their intent to reconvene at 10 p.m.
At least 129 members of Congress have participated in the sit-in.