Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, joined dozens of House Democrats in a rare “sit-in” on the House floor Wednesday to try and force a vote on gun background checks.
Democratic members essentially took over the House floor starting at midday to demand House action in the wake of the killings in Orlando.
“Why can’t we come together and vote on no fly/no buy?” Veasey asked when he spoke on the floor, referring to proposed legislation that would outlaw gun sales to suspected terrorists on the federal government’s “no fly” lists.
“That should be easy. That should be simple,” he said. “We ought to be able to do this and come together and not hide behind the special interests. The time is now to do something about this gun violence.”
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Republicans ruled the House to be out of order and called a recess when Democrats first congregated in the well of the House chamber. That meant that the C-SPAN cameras, which usually broadcast all House and Senate floor activity, were turned off and the microphones were also off.
House Speaker Paul Ryan’s, R-Wis., spokesperson, AshLee Strong, said in a statement to reporters, “The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair.”
Undeterred, Democrats continued their protest and broadcast their remarks themselves, using Periscope and other social media.
Chanting, “no bill, no break,” Democrats threatened to stay in the chamber indefinitely, even threatening to disrupt Congress’ upcoming weeklong break that leads up to the July 4th holiday.
In a statement, Veasey said, “Today I joined House Democrats in an unprecedented sit-in on the House floor, calling for immediate action on common-sense gun safety legislation to protect Americans nationwide. . . No one law or set of laws will end horrific acts of violence, but Congress has an obligation to take action and make sure that terrorists and bad guys don’t have easy access to guns in our country.”
“As a native Texan, I can assure my constituents that responsible gun owners are not the target of our actions,” he said. “Instead, we are urging House Republicans to come together with House Democrats to finally pass common-sense laws to protect Americans from senseless violence. ”