House Speaker Paul D. Ryan leveled a broadside Thursday at House Democrats saying their sit-in demanding action on gun control represented a “very dangerous precedent.”
“When we see our democracy descend in this way, it is not a good sign,” the Wisconsin Republican said at a morning news conference, as the Democratic protest passed the one-day mark on the House floor. “It is not a good precedent. And so yes, I do worry.”
Ryan continued to dismiss the sit-in as a “stunt,” saying that the no-fly bill Democrats are seeking a vote on received a vote in committee and failed. If they want a vote on the floor, they can get 218 signatures on a discharge petition, he added.
“They’re not trying to actually get this done through regular order,” Ryan said. “No, instead they’re staging protests. They’re trying to get on TV. They’re sending out fundraising solicitations.”
Ryan read from a fundraising email from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that sought to raise funds off the House floor sit-in.
The Democratic protest began at about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, with member after member taking the floor to demand action on bills that would keep terrorists from buying guns and would tighten background checks.
Republican leaders gaveled the House into recess, but Democrats continued speaking, using social media and live-streaming apps to project their message. Several House members slept on the floor and rose before 6 a.m. Thursday to begin speaking again.
Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut emerged from a House Democratic caucus meeting Thursday morning saying members were discussing closing the large-scale protest in the next hour or two, with some interest in keeping a “skeleton crew” in town.
The emphasis, Himes told reporters, will be on events in the districts. That was a point echoed by New York Rep. Joseph Crowley.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.