Rep. John Lewis closed out the Democrats sit-in at 1 p.m. Thursday, thanking members for the 25-hour siege and calling on them to keep fighting for gun control legislation.
“It is a struggle but we’re going to win the struggle,” the Georgia Democrat, told members gathered on the House floor. “We must never ever give up or give in. We must keep the faith. We must come back here on July 5 more determined than ever before.”
As House Democrats flooded out of the chamber and walked outside down the Capitol steps, they were greeted with thunderous applause and chants of “We’re with you” from several hundred gun control supporters gathered outside.
After Lewis, an icon of the Civil Rights era, addressed the crowd of supporters, pledging to continue the push for gun control, the crowd began singing “We Shall Overcome” and concluded the song by changing the lyrics slightly to sing, “We shall pass the bill someday.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday morning that Democrats are coming up with a plan on how to continue their push for a vote on gun control measures but suggested it won’t involve dozens of members continuing to sit on the House floor.
“Once we passed 24 hours, we had reached a certain goal that we had,” the California Democrat said.
Earlier Thursday, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan blasted Democrats for what he called a “dangerous precedent” and a “fundraising stunt.”
“They’re not trying to actually get this done through regular order,” the Wisconsin Republican said. “No, instead they’re staging protests. They’re trying to get on TV. They’re sending out fundraising solicitations.”
Pelosi said the goal of the Democrats’ sit-in was never to hold the floor continuously while the House was not in session. Republicans’ decision to recess early seemingly threw a wrench into Democrats’ plan.
“Now we have to take the actions which will enable us to reach our goal which is to win the vote,” Pelosi said.
Rep. Joe Courtney told Roll Call that he expected House Democrats would have a presence at each of the scheduled pro forma sessions over the Independence Day recess.
The Connecticut Democrat also said there was a lot of interest from members in holding events in their home districts between now and July 5.
“The grassroots folks out there are fired up and wanting to participate,” Courtney said. “This momentum is not going to just come to a stop because [the Republicans] did that at three o’clock in the morning.”
Courtney said the all-Democratic Connecticut delegation, including Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Christopher S. Murphy, were considering holding an event Friday at the Legislative Office Building in downtown Hartford.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.