Floor fight! The Democrats staged a sit-in on the House Floor on Wednesday that lasted over 12 hours demanding stricter gun legislation. No doubt they acted on orders from President Obama who can’t say, or address the real problem – radical Islamic terrorists.
The Daily mail reported the antics which at one point nearly led to blows when Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas approached the Democrats jabbing his finger, screaming ‘Radical Islam killed those people!’ – in reference to the recent atrocity at the Pulse gay club in Orlando.
Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida started yelling back at him. The two came within inches of each other, both yelling. Lawmakers from both parties separated the pair.
Rebellious Democrats began an all-day sit-in on the House floor at 11.25 am on Wednesday to demand votes on gun-control bills in the wake of the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history, which left 49 people dead in Orlando on June 12.
They were still sitting on the floor at 3.13am when the House adjourned, and showed no signs of leaving.
Democrats and Republicans nearly came to blows on the House floor after Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (center) of Texas had approached the Democrats and yelled ‘Radical Islam!’
Democrats chanted and shouted over Speaker Paul Ryan (above) as he gaveled the House into session and tried to bring order
A bleary-eyed Gohmert appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday morning to explain what happened.
‘Well, this had been going on for hours. It should have been stopped hours before. Even some of the long term Democrats have said, “this is really getting out of hand, you guys need to take over and stop the chaos, this is a little scary,”‘ Gohmert explained.
‘Our rights are worth fighting for and some of us are going to keep doing that,’ the congressman continued, adding that he had stayed up all night to offer push back against what the Democrats were doing.
‘I’m still up, I didn’t have to get up,’ Gohmert said.
Angry Democrats chanted ‘No bill, no break!’ and waved pieces of paper with the names of gun victims, continuing their protest in the well of the House even as lawmakers voted on a previously scheduled and unrelated measure to overturn a veto by President Barack Obama.
Ryan attempted to ignore the outbursts and announce the business of the day, pounding down his gavel over shouting.
‘Shame! Shame! Shame!’ Democrats yelled, but Ryan left the lectern and the voting continued. Then Democrats began singing ‘We Shall Overcome,’ still holding up the names of gun victims.
The scene presented a radical, almost shocking departure from the normal orderly conduct of the House.
As the night stretched on Republicans signaled plans to push through a bill to deal with the Zika outbreak and then adjourn until after July 4 to shut Democrats down, a plan Democrats furiously denounced as ‘cowardly’.
The stunning and unruly scene was broadcast live to the world from Democrats’ cell phones, feeds picked up by C-SPAN after Republicans shut down the chamber’s cameras, which the cable channel utilizes for its broadcasts.
Democrats said they would stay until Republicans yielded to their demands to hold votes on bills to strengthen background checks and prevent people on the no fly list from getting guns in the wake of last week’s massacre in Orlando, Florida.
CONGRESSMAN CHARLES RANGEL GETS CALLED OUT FOR GUN CONTROL HYPOCRISY
Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat, got caught by the Daily Caller saying that ‘Law-abiding citizens just shouldn’t have to carry a gun.’ Rangel, part of the Democrats’ sit-in that has lasted through Wednesday and into Thursday morning, was called out for hypocrisy because he then said he deserved to be protected by the guns carried by the U.S. Capitol Police. ‘Well, that’s a little different,’ he said laughing when a reporter pointed to the armed office standing nearby. ‘I think we deserve – I think we need to be protected down here,’ he added.
‘Are they more afraid than the children at Sandy Hook?’ asked Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., referring to the 2012 shooting that killed 26 people, including 20 elementary school children, in Newtown, Connecticut. ‘What is so scary about having a vote?’
The sit-in was led by Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and a veteran of the civil rights movement, who shamed the Republicans for turning ‘deaf ears to the blood of the innocent’ before asking his Democratic colleagues to join him in the well of the House chamber.
The Republicans responded with Rep. Daniel Webster, R-Fla., acting as Speaker, gaveling out to let his peers head off to lunch.
After noon, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, now with the gavel, noted that ‘the House is currently not in a state of order due to the presence of members in the well who are not recognized.’
The customary prayer and Pledge of Allegiance went ahead, but Poe was forced to recess the House when dozens of Democrats refused to leave the well.
Ryan pounded the gavel several times, but Democrats were relentless in their chanting. Ryan called a vote
House Democrats, led by Rep. John Lewis (right), gathered in the well of the House chamber today to protest the fact that no gun control measures were being voted on post the Orlando massacre
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (right) of Texas had approached the Democrats and yelled ‘Radical Islam!’ a few times. Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown (not pictured) of Florida started yelling back at him
By evening, 168 House Democrats – out of 188 – and 34 Senate Democrats joined the protest, according to the House minority leader’s office. One after another, they spoke of the need for gun control and talked of constituents who had been killed.
Scattered around the House floor were signs reading ‘Disarm Hate.’ Visitors watched from the galleries.
Congress remains gridlocked over gun control, a divide even more pronounced in a presidential election year. The sit-in had the feel of a 1960s-style protest, as some lawmakers sat on the floor, others in their seats.
Meanwhile, lawmakers brought pillows and blankets to the House as the Democratic protest stretched past midnight.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut had a sleeping bag, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts brought Dunkin’ Donuts for her House colleagues who were staying awake.
Other lawmakers also brought snacks, including some who broke House rules to eat on the House floor.
Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, dressed in a pink suit, carried a pink-and-white striped pillow in his hand for several hours as he walked around the House chamber.
Cleaver, a Methodist minister, later was one of several peacemakers to break up a near-fight between a Republican and a Democratic lawmaker.
John Lewis speaks to the media after walking out of the US Capitol, where he organized a ‘sit-in’ with other Democratic members to demand a vote on gun restrictions
Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) speaks to supporters of House Democrats taking part in a sit-in on the House Chamber outside the U.S. Capitol
Meanwhile, several hundred protesters who back tougher gun control are outside the Capitol to show solidarity with House Democrats as the sit-in went into the early hours of Thursday.
Throughout the night, protesters heard from Democratic lawmakers who were staging a daylong sit-in on the House floor.
As the crowd grew, they shouted ‘hold the floor’ and ‘do your job’ to lawmakers.
The demonstration outside the Capitol was organized by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Rep.Scott Peters, of California, told Reuters that he downloaded Periscope from the House floor after it became clear that chamber cameras were not operating.
‘Thanks to them, the American people got to look in on and listen to what is taking place this floor,’ U.S. Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina said in praise of the platform.
‘The speaker (Paul Ryan) controls the cameras,’ Peters said. ‘We noticed that over lunch, he turned them off – allowed them to be turned off.’
Paul Ryan (left) walks off the House of Representatives chamber floor after trying unsuccessfully to break up the Democrats ‘sit-in’ to demand a vote on gun restrictions
John Lewis was joined by several dozen of his Democratic colleagues who sat on the floor or stood in the well. Republicans responded by first taking a lunch break and then with calling a recess
House cameras are turned off when it is not currently in formal session.
A spokesman for Twitter said that tweets from Peters’ account containing the Periscope footage had been viewed over 800,000 times as of Wednesday night.
Ryan’s spokesman, AshLee Strong, said in a statement: ‘The House cannot operate without members following the rules of the institution, so the House has recessed subject to the call of the chair.’
Cable news channel C-SPAN, which typically uses the House cameras to broadcast live footage of Congress, broadcast Peters’ Periscope and other lawmakers’ feeds.
Other news networks and cable news channels, including MSNBC, FOX and CNN, also ran parts of the footage.
C-SPAN communications director Howard Mortman said it was the first time the channel broadcast a live social media feed from the House floor.
‘The House controls the cameras and that means they control the camera angles, the audio, video, the whole thing,’ Mortman said. ‘We’re using social media platforms to show what’s happening.’
‘With official broadcasts suspended in the House, we’ve created a channel to follow #NoBillNoBreak on #Periscope live,’ Periscope said in a tweet.
Peters said about five or six Democratic House members had broadcast live video during the sit-in. Late Wednesday, lawmakers cheered their thanks during one of his feeds that aired on C-SPAN.
Eric Swalwell of California, and Beto O’Rourke, of Texas, both published live video from the House floor to Facebook.
It later emerged that Republican leaders have reportedly been attempting to shut off the Wi-Fi in an attempt to stop Democrats streaming on social media.
‘Gop leaders have attempted to shut down House wifi to cut off Democrats @periscopetv feeds. It’s about to get ugly in there,’ wrote Jason Johnson, politics editor for The Root, on Twitter.
Top Democrats including Steny Hoyer (bottom left), the House Minority whip, joined John Lewis and other outspoken progressives in today’s Capitol Hill sit-in
Senators like Al Franken (back left) showed up in the House chamber to show their support for the House Democrats’ effort to get a gun control legislation vote
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee – or DCCC for short – was raising money all night from the sit-in, calling the Republicans ‘AWFUL’
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) was admonished for using FaceTime in the chamber, the Post reported.
The House sergeant-at-arms requested Israel move to the Democratic cloakroom to continue using the app.
Israel then appeared on CNN, via a video stream interview from his phone.
Gohmert, making the point on Fox & Friends that he and his Republican peers were better behaved, talked about a conversation he had with the House’s Sergeant at Arms.
‘They were violating just a whole myriad of rules and it didn’t matter at all,’ Gohmert said.
‘And when I was getting on to the Sergeant at Arms [I said], “Hey, you enforce these rules, you can’t be using your cell phones to take pictures broadcast.” They said, “Yes, but when we tell you guys, you stop, we keep telling them to stop, but they won’t obey the rules”‘ Gohmert added.
#NoBillNoBreak became a rallying cry for gun control supporters on Twitter and quickly became the top-trending hashtag in the United States on the social media platform.
It also became a fundraising boon for Democrats with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which raises money specifically for House Democrats, sending out a number of pleas to supporters throughout the night.
‘We’re emailing you so early because we need to defeat these AWFUL Republicans – NOW,’ read one email from Lewis, asking folks to chip in anything from $1 to $250.
Gohmert blasted the Democrats for using their sit-in efforts, inspired by the Orlando massacre, to then raise money for the November elections.
‘And then they were fundraising, they were doing fundraising calls based on the deaths of these people and we’re standing up for it,’ Gohmert said.’It was just so outrageous what was going on and even Democrats were saying unprecedented.’
The Texas lawmaker, who created the most memorable kerfuffle of the protest so far, also said it was great to see Lewis in action – though didn’t support the cause.
A supporter of the sit-in paid $344 to deliver Domino’s pizzas to John Lewis, according to Jennifer Bendery
‘It was incredible to see real American folk heroes like John Lewis, who were brutalized and stood up for civil rights,’ Gohmert began.
‘Folks were there using the instruments to help gain civil rights to try and take away people’s civil rights,’ Gohmert said, pointing to the Second Amendment.
Lewis gave a barn burner of a speech to kick things off on Wednesday, with liberal congresswoman Donna Edwards playing the role of opening act.
‘This congress has no right to hold moments of silence anymore and then do nothing to prevent the next tragedy,’ she said.
‘This is a moment of truth for Congress,’ she continued. ‘We cannot have another moment of silence with action.’
Passing the baton to Lewis, who spoke at the March on Washington alongside Martin Luther King Jr., said he had had ‘an executive session with myself’ and decided to jump into action.
‘We have lost hundreds of thousands of innocent people to gun violence,’ he said.
‘Tiny little children, babies, students and teachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and son, friends and neighbors,’ he continued.
NRA’S RADIO SHOW BRANDS DEMOCRATS ‘CRIMINALS AND TERRORISTS’
The NRA’s radio show branded the actions of House Democrats taking part in a sit-in to push for a vote on gun control legislation akin to those of ‘criminals and terrorists.’
During Wednesday’s broadcast of Cam & Company – the official mouthpiece of the NRA – host Cam Edwards said the protesters were flouting House rules.
‘So, in order to push legislation that sponsors say would not have prevented the attacks in Orlando, Florida, they’re also going to flout the House rules,’ he said, according to Samuel-Warde.com.
‘Kind of like, you know, criminals and terrorists flout the rules that we have in place right now and will continue to do so?’
Some of the sit-in wasn’t captured on camera after the House feed was cut off as C-SPAN doesn’t have control of it and the House isn’t technically in session
House Speaker Paul Ryan blasted the protest in an appearance on CNN Wednesday afternoon, dismissing it as ‘nothing more than a publicity stunt.
‘This isn’t trying to come up with a solution to a problem,’ he said.
‘And what has this body done?’ Lewis asked. ‘Mr. Speaker, not one thing.’
Lewis then boomed, ‘where is our moral leadership? Where is our courage?’ noting that those who work on bipartisan solutions are pushed aside.
‘Reason is criticized, obstruction is praised,’ he said.
He brought up Newtown and Orlando.
‘What is the tipping point? Are we blind? Can we see?’ he asked.
‘Give us a vote. Let us vote. We came here to do our job. We came here to work,’ he said.
He then started gathering his colleagues on the floor.
‘So today we come to the well of the House of Representatives to dramatize the need for action. Not next month, not next year, but now, today,’ he said.
‘Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way,’ he continued.
OUT TO LUNCH: While the Democrats sat in protest, their Republican colleagues left the House Chambers as a lunch and then a recess were called
President Obama chimed in and supported his fellow Democrats engaged in a sit-in on the House floor over trying to get gun control votes in the House
Hillary Clinton was on Capitol Hill this morning meeting with House Democrats before heading back to the campaign trail to give a speech in Raleigh, North Carolina. She tweeted her approval of the sit-in as well
Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., briefly took to a podium and called Lewis ‘the soul of the United State Senate,’ before saying, ‘we will occupy this floor.’
With the cameras off, Democrats leading the protest periodically came off the floor to speak.
Lewis told CNN that, ‘We don’t have any intention of leaving anytime soon.’
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a ‘No Bill, No Break’ press conference outside the Capitol Building on the grounds.
President Obama soon chimed in with a tweet. ‘Thank you John Lewis for leading on gun violence where we need it most,’ the president wrote.
‘Time and again, we’ve observed moments of silence for victims of terror and gun violence,’ Obama said in a video released by the White House on Wednesday.
‘Too often, those moments have been followed by months of silence, by inaction that is simply inexcusable.
‘If we’re going to raise our kids in a safer, more loving world, we need to speak up for it.
‘We need out kids to hear us speak up about the risks guns pose to our communities and against the status quo that doesn’t make sense. They need to hear us say these things even when those who disagree are loud and are powerful.
‘We need out kids to hear from us why tolerance and equality matter, about the times their absence has scarred our history and how greater understanding will better the future they will inherit.
‘We need our kids to hear our words and also see us live our own lives with love.’
Rep. Peter DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, took his turn at the podium as the Democrats’ sit-in lasted for hours
Some Democrats sat, while others, like Rep. Rosa DeLauro (right) stood, in support of the effort to get gun control legislation passed
Democratic senators came in throughout the day to sit on the floor with their House counterparts, including Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and popular progressive senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who’s rumored to be on Hillary Clinton’s short list for vice president.
Sen. Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, was also spotted on the floor, another potential Clinton veep choice.
Their House colleague Rep. Xavier Becerra also took part. Becerra’s name has also been floated as someone Clinton might consider as a running mate.
Clinton, who was meeting with House Democrats before the sit-in prior to giving a speech in Raleigh, North Carolina, gave the sit-in a thumbs up.
‘This is what leadership looks like,’ Clinton tweeted.
Four hours in, embattled Democratic National Committee chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz gave an emotional speech on the floor.
‘Speaking is difficult for me, but I haven’t been silenced,’ she said, choking up. ‘And neither should the American people. Their representatives must vote to prevent gun violence.’
Democratic senators joining the protest included Minority Leader Harry Reid, Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who had waged a nearly 15-hour filibuster last week to force votes in the Senate on gun legislation.
Those votes failed Monday night.
Congressman John Lewis (center) started it all on Wednesday by shaming the Republicans for not wanting to vote on any gun control measures after 49 people were murdered in Orlando at a gay nightclub
Photo: Daily Mail