House Adjourns Early As Dem Sit-In Over Gun Control Continues

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June 23, 2016 6:27 a.m.

Updated at 7:36 a.m. ET

The House adjourned until July 5 early Thursday morning as Democrats refused to end their sit-in on the House floor over Republican leadership’s refusal to allow votes on gun control legislation in the wake of the deadly Orlando shooting.

Democrats began the sit-in on Wednesday morning in an attempt to compel House leaders to call votes on two measures before the chamber left for recess. Democrats are pushing for one amendment that would keep people on the no fly list from buying guns and another amendment that would expand background checks.

House Republicans managed to hold votes on Thursday morning, passing a bill to fund the effort to combat the Zika virus. After the legislation passed, the House adjourned a day early. Members will meet for a pro forma session Thursday morning, but will not hold any votes until July, according to The Hill.

In a Thursday morning statement, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained the decision to begin recess early and criticized Democrats’ efforts on the House floor.

“The must-pass item on the House floor this week was legislation to provide for additional resources to fight Zika. Despite the publicity stunt on the floor, House Republicans were intent on not allowing these tactics to stop us from completing this important business. So we have plowed ahead to do what is needed to responsibly address the crisis,” Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said. “With that tangible accomplishment, we will be moving on to the previously scheduled district work period.”

“Democrats can continue to talk, but the reality is that they have no end-game strategy,” she continued. “The Senate has already defeated the measure they’re calling for. The House is focused on eliminating terrorists, not constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens. And no stunts on the floor will change that.”

Although Republicans passed the Zika legislation, Democrats caused chaos on the House floor when Ryan gaveled the House back into session late Wednesday night, according to the Huffington Post.

After Ryan spoke to set up votes, Democrats chanted “Shame!” And then as Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) tried to address his Republican colleagues, GOP members shouted at him, according to the Huffington Post. Democrats continued to chant at Ryan, holding signs about gun violence victims, and also sang “We Shall Overcome.”

The House then held votes on the Zika legislation early Thursday morning despite Democrats’ continued protest.

Though Republicans largely stayed away from the House floor when votes were not occurring, some GOP members engaged with their Democratic colleagues.

“Radical Islam killed these people!” Gohmert yelled at one point and also participated in a shouting match with Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL), according to the Huffington Post.

It’s not clear what Democrats plan to do next. As of early Thursday morning, a handful of democratic lawmakers remained on the House floor despite Republicans’ decision to begin recess early.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) said that Democrats will discuss their next moves at 10 a.m. Thursday morning, according to USA Today.

“We will be back,” he said after 3 a.m. Thursday morning as he left the House floor, according to CNN. “The Republicans have left in the dead of night with business unfinished.”

Because House leadership controls the cameras trained on the house floor when it’s in session, C-SPAN was unable to show its typical feed of the House floor. But C-SPAN eventually picked up a Facebook live feed from Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX).

Around 7 a.m. Thursday morning, Capitol police reportedly asked Democrats to leave the floor for a security check, but they refused.

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