Democrats Stage Sit-In On House Floor Over Gun Bills – Huffington Post
Lewis’ effort was a dramatic attempt to force the hand of Republicans before the chamber adjourns later this week for a weeklong recess. But it’s not the only disruption House Democrats are planning. According to multiple aides and lawmakers, Democrats will try to essentially hijack the House floor both Wednesday and Thursday in an effort to get gun control measures a hearing.
The “No Bill, No Break” campaign centers on clever and repeated use of procedural rules. House Minority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) has already tried and failed, twice, to bring up legislation to deny people on the no-fly list the right to purchase a firearm.
But the extent of the party’s plans has been kept largely under wraps out of concern that Republicans would move to undermine the strategy. Several aides have described it as a “disruption” campaign. One Democratic lawmaker said the party was “devising a variety of parliamentary tactics to pressure the GOP in D.C. this week, then in individual districts next week during recess.”
“Watch the floor carefully this week,” the lawmaker added.
As the minority party, Democrats have virtually no power over which bills come up or don’t come up. The only thing they can do to derail a debate is shout in protest — not exactly proper decorum, but it happens — or get creative with procedural maneuvers. They plan to do both this week.
Ultimately, the goal is to force lawmakers to go on record on a bipartisan bill that would grant the FBI and the attorney general the authority to ban people on the no-fly list from buying firearms. There’s also another bill to expand background checks on gun sales. But with limited power to compel a vote, Democrats huddled this week to chart a path forward. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) devised the “No Bill, No Break” concept with Reps. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), one of the bill’s co-sponsors.
At a caucus meeting on Wednesday morning, Pelosi told members that a “great deal of planning is in the works” for the next few days and encouraged them to remain united in trying to force a vote. According to an aide who was present, she said she empathized with the desire of many lawmakers to show their constituents that they were not content with inaction.
“Many of you have said that we cannot have another moment of silence without action to follow. These moments of silence have almost become a moment of denial because it’s a denial of what we need to do,” Pelosi told members. “We have to turn it into a moment of truth and actions — where we go from here.”
In addition to the Lewis-led sit-in, aides said to expect lawmakers to file repeated motions to adjourn and parliamentary inquiries demanding votes. Pelosi will also lead a press event on Wednesday calling on Ryan to keep the House in session until they vote on the two gun-related bills.