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.