UPDATE: Via CNN, the House Democrats staging a sit-in on the House floor aren't going anywhere until a vote on gun control is held.
The tension exploded onto the floor just after 10 p.m. ET when Republican Speaker Paul Ryan gaveled the chamber into order to hold a procedural vote on an unrelated matter. An extraordinary scene unfolded as throngs of Democrats -- some holding signs with the names of victims of gun violence -- remained in the House well chanting "no bill, no break" and "shame shame shame." They also sang the protest anthem "We Shall Overcome."
Such displays would normally be prohibited but Ryan, sensitive to the attention being paid to the sit-in, declined to enforce the traditional order in the House.
Numerous Democrats, asked repeatedly when they planned to leave, said they would stay in place until they got a vote on gun control. In a roundtable with reporters Wednesday afternoon, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi reiterated that point, saying Democrats would continue the sit-in "until we have a bill."
UPDATE II: Rep. Louie Rohnert (R-TX) confronted the sit-in Democrats, saying radical islam was responsible for the attack in Orlando.
As Cortney reported earlier today, House Democrats staged a sit-in to force a vote on gun control legislation, specifically the “no fly, no buy” bill that would bar people on terror watch lists from buying guns. They sat on the House floor for most of the day, reading the names of the victims of gun violence. In an ironic dinner choice, catered Chick-fil-A was spotted being wheeled into the Capitol Building for the hungry Democrats.
Some progressive heavyweights in the Senate joined their House colleagues in support for gun control. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts were spotted on the House floor. Rep. John Larson was the first to ask the House Parliamentarian what would happen if a dozen of his colleagues just took the floor (via Politico):
Connecticut Rep. John Larson skipped the rare session with his party’s presidential hopeful for a face-to-face with the House parliamentarian. Larson had an obscure question about House rules: What would happen if he and a bunch of his colleagues took to the House floor to stage a sit-in protest, effectively shutting down the House?
Larson was told that it was an “unprecedented instance that was hard to know what the response would be.” It was assumed the raucous Democratic protest would force Republicans to adjourn the House, which is exactly what happened.
If Republicans stuck together, Democrats would never be able to move their favored proposals, including blocking gun purchases by anyone on the federal “no fly” list, and expanded background checks for gun sales.
So Larson and Lewis and a handful of their colleagues decided to copy a GOP tactic from when Republicans were in the minority in 2008: Get dozens of members to go on the floor and refuse to leave. Demand action or say they won’t let the House adjourn in mid-July. Block the House from any business until Republicans give in.
Speaker Paul Ryan and Republican leaders could either yield and allow a vote — extremely unlikely — or House Democrats would bring new attention to the issue. It was the GOP tactic on steroids, this time in the era of widespread social media. And the passion of Democrats on guns far exceeded that of Republicans eight years ago, when the GOP was demanding more offshore oil drilling.
Hill Democrats had been itching for a political fight on guns since the Orlando shootings. In the Senate, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) last week had staged a successful filibuster that caught national attention and eventually led to a series of floor votes. Those measures failed, but there will be another vote on a proposal by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).
Katie took apart the Collins’ legislation, which is again another gross exercise in government overreach peppered with due process of law concerns.
Second, this isn’t going to be successful. Democrats want to bring attention to the issue, as if the likely terrorist attack in Orlando hasn’t already done that. Last point, the more they bring attention to gun control, the more Americans buy firearms across the country. So, keep it up. With more sit-ins like this, we may become even better armed than ever before.
Politico added that House Republicans are moving to end the siege (via The Hill):
House Republicans will attempt to wrest control of the House from Democrats staging a sit-in over gun control with a vote to override President Obama's fiduciary rule.
“It will be loud and probably be noisy,” Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.), part of Speaker Paul Ryan’s group of advisers, told reporters after House Republicans held a special meeting about how they should respond to the day-long Democratic sit-in.
“You might want to get in the gallery and watch the show,” Dent added.
Dozens of Democratic House and Senate lawmakers have been occupying the House floor since late Wednesday morning, calling on Ryan and other GOP leaders hold a vote on legislation to prevent terrorists from purchasing guns in the wake of the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
But GOP lawmakers and aides said no gun-related measures would be voted on Wednesday night. Instead, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) will call for a vote to overturn the Labor Department’s new rule requiring financial advisers to act in the best interest of their clients.
Then on Thursday, Republicans will push for a vote on a package that includes spending for military construction and the Department of Veterans' Affairs, as well as funding to combat the Zika virus.
It looks like the fireworks are about to begin. House Republicans cut the C-SPAN video feed, but the public affairs networks simply turned to Facebook live and Periscope to continue broadcasting the event.