Democrats could stay on the House floor through the Fourth of July weekend as part of a sit-in trying to force a vote on gun control legislation.
Jorge Aguilar, a spokesman for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, told TIME Thursday morning that Democrats are determined to continue their #NoBillNoBreak sit-in until the House readjourns after the holiday weekend. “They plan to stay there as long as possible,” Aguilar said. Other Democrats reiterated Aguilar’s comments on Twitter.
The sit-in started Wednesday morning around 11:30 a.m. to protest a lack of votes on gun control legislation in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting. On Thursday morning, more than 22 hours later, at least a dozen Democrats were still on the House floor giving speeches in front of posters with the faces of victims of gun violence. They sat in chairs, not on the ground. Some cuddled blankets and pillows.
House Democrats want Speaker Paul Ryan to allow a vote on a #NoFlyNoBuy bill that would keep people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. Omar Mateen, the shooter who killed 49 people with a semi-automatic rifle at an Orlando nightclub, was previously on the watch list but not at the time he purchased the guns used in the shooting.
Watch the sit-in live below:
“The American people deserve to have the people’s House exercise a little bit of democracy around here,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, calling for a vote on the floor Thursday morning. “Let’s pass these measures and for God’s sake, let’s at least have a vote in the light of day.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan attempted late Wednesday night to take back control of the House, arguing that the bill Democrats want a vote on had already failed in the Senate.
Ryan said Thursday morning that the Democratic “stunt” was just a fundraising scheme. “I have a responsibility to protect this democracy,” Ryan said. He criticized Democrats for not following House rules. “When we see our democracy descend in this way, it is not a good sign.”
The Associated Press reported nearly all House Democrats and 34 Democratic Senators had joined the protest at various points by Wednesday evening.
With the House technically out of session, the cameras were turned off and C-SPAN lost its feed of the floor. Democrats used Twitter and Facebook to broadcast their sit-in across the Internet. When Republicans adjourned the House around 3:15 a.m., Democrats continued their sit-in. Republicans have said the House will remain adjourned until July 5.
Senate Democrats held a 15-hour filibuster last week that led to four votes on gun control bills, which all failed to pass. Republican Sen. Susan Collins is seeking bipartisan support for a new bill that would block suspected terrorists from buying guns.
“It’s always been assumed that there’s no real intensity for our side,” said Rep. Ted Deutch, a Democrat from Florida, around 8 a.m. on the House floor. “The only reason there’s not been a vote is because (Republicans) know where the American people are.”
The night was not without contentious moments. Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican, yelled “Radical Islam!” at Democrats holding posters that had the faces of gun shooting victims. He came within inches of a Democratic colleague.
Lissandra Villa contributed to this report. Reporting from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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