House Democrats frustrated over the lack of progress on a gun control measure staged a "sit-in" on the floor Wednesday.
House Democrats frustrated over the lack of progress on a gun control measure staged a "sit-in" on the floor Wednesday, saying they would refuse to yield unless GOP leaders allow a vote on a "no-fly, no buy" proposal.
The effort comes a week after Democrats launched a filibuster on the Senate floor in order to prompt a vote on similar legislation, which ultimately failed. Democrats have renewed their push for gun control measures in the wake of the Orlando night club shooting.
Led by Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, several dozen lawmakers sat on the floor of the House, which quickly went into recess -- a move that shuts off live coverage of the chamber by CSPAN.
Every Democratic member of Maryland's congressional delegation joined the sit in, including Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin.
"Congress has a basic duty to protect the American people, and that means putting in place commonsense gun safety laws that could help reduce the frequency and carnage of mass shootings in America," said Rep. John Sarbanes of Baltimore County.
"All we are asking for today is a vote," said Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger. "These are bipartisan reforms Americans overwhelmingly support as mass shootings continue to devastate our communities."
After the sit-in, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, tried to start the House's work at noon. The customary prayer and pledge of allegiance went ahead, but Poe was forced to recess the House when dozens of Democrats stood in the well of the House and refused to leave.
"We will not be shut up," said Rep. Steny Hoyer of Southern Maryland. "We will not be shut down."
House Speaker Paul Ryan dismissed the protest as "nothing more than a publicity stunt." In an interview with CNN, he said the House will not vote on a "bill that takes away a person's due process."
Republicans emerging from a closed-door meeting said they would hold votes on other legislation, but not the gun votes demanded by the Democrats.
"We are going to go about our business starting tonight," said Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo. Democrats were certain to challenge any move.
The protest began around 11:30 a.m. By late afternoon, 168 House Democrats — out of 188 — and 34 Senate Democrats joined the protest, according to the House minority leader's office, and there was no sign of quitting.
C-SPAN, a cable and satellite network that provides continual coverage of House and Senate floor proceedings, does not control the cameras. They're run on authorization by legislative leaders.
Although the cameras were turned off Wednesday, lawmakers relied on social media to transmit video, using Facebook, Twitter and Periscope. C-SPAN used Periscope and Facebook video supplied by lawmakers.