NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016

HAPPENING NOW: U.S. House Democrats stage sit-in on House floor over gun violence

Fed up with inac­tion in Con­gress on gun safe­ty reform, Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of the Unit­ed States House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives have decid­ed to occu­py the well of the House until Speak­er Paul Ryan and his lead­er­ship team agree to hold a vote on leg­is­la­tion that would address the nation’s gun vio­lence epi­dem­ic.

The sit-in began with a speech from the great Con­gress­man John Lewis, who declared, “We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the inno­cent and the deaths in our nation.” He then pro­ceed­ed to ask: “Mr, Speak­er, where is the heart of this body? Where is our soul?” He and many Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues then sat down in the well of the House at 8:30 AM Pacif­ic Time — and they have not budged since.

When Repub­li­can U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ed Poe of Texas tried to order the Democ­rats out of the well in order to go back to the busi­ness Repub­li­cans had planned, the Democ­rats refused, break­ing out into cries of “No bill, no vote!”

Repub­li­can lead­er­ship then ordered the cam­eras in the House cham­ber turned off, and the mics cut off. Democ­rats prompt­ly coun­tered this move by start­ing up a livestream of their protest on Periscope, which C‑SPAN began broad­cast­ing.

Democ­rats have repeat­ed­ly vowed not to go any­where until their demands are met. Their ral­ly­ing cry is “No break, no bill.”

“I am will­ing to stay here until hell freezes over,” said a defi­ant Con­gress­woman Max­ine Waters of Cal­i­for­nia, as the protest picked up more par­tic­i­pants.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers are tak­ing turns giv­ing impromp­tu speech­es from the floor, explain­ing why they are done mere­ly pay­ing lip ser­vice to vic­tims of gun vio­lence and hold­ing mean­ing­less moments of silence.

We at NPI applaud this protest and we hope House Democ­rats have the sta­mi­na to con­tin­ue it for as long as is nec­es­sary to force House Repub­li­cans to agree to sched­ule a vote on leg­is­la­tion to address our nation’s gun vio­lence epi­dem­ic.

Repub­li­cans, who have for so long been the mas­ters of polit­i­cal the­ater in Con­gress, now find them­selves total­ly upstaged by fed up Democ­rats. If Democ­rats want to get back into the major­i­ty, this is pre­cise­ly what they need to be doing. We con­grat­u­late Con­gress­man John Lewis and his col­leagues for tak­ing this action.

Watch the sit-in on C‑SPAN.

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