4TH UPDATE, 10 AM: House Democrats’ sit-in is coming to a close. “John Lewis and I started out this journey on October 1960 seeking the right to vote,” Rep James Clyburn (D-SC) said in the hall. “Here we are today, asking for the right to vote. that’s all we want; we want the right to vote. We will bring to a conclusion in a few minutes our stay in this hall. But we’re going to go back to our congressional districts, we are going to engage our constituents on the subjects and we will not allow this body to ever feel as comfortable as they have in the past, silencing our voices.
“The time will come, on July 5, when we will return to this hallowed hall and at that time we will be operating under a new sense of purpose. I want to say to all of my constituents, ‘Somebody is listening.’ Clyburn blasted House Speaker Paul Ryan, who, earlier in the morning, had held a news conference once again dismissing the sit-in protest, demanding a House vote on a no-fly-no-buy gun bill in the wake of the Orlando nightclub murder of 49, as a “publicity stunt.”
“Social media told our story,” Rep. Lewis (D-GA) said as he called to an end the 25.5 hour sit-in. “We must never give up or give in and we must come back here on July the 5th more determined than ever before.” Closing the protest he’d hatched in the House, the civil rights icon, added, “Dr. King once said, ‘We have a right to protest for what is right’.”
3RD UPDATE, Thursday, 8:50 AM: That sit-in still is going on this morning, though Republicans, who control the House, thumbed their nose at the effort, declaring an early start to that holiday break, effective immediately. “We are not going to allow stunts like this to keep us from carrying on the peoples’ business,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters this morning in a news conference.
“This is the people’s House, the oldest democracy in the world and they’re descending it into chaos…This is not a proud moment for democracy,” Ryan scolded.
2ND UPDATE, Wednesday, 7:41 PM: House Speaker Paul Ryan attempted to take back the floor at around 7 PM PT as Democrats shouted “No Bill No Break!” over him and held up posters with the names or photos of victims of gun violence.
“The chair appreciates that members will differ on matters of policy and will seek to express those differences, but the chair would hope that the business of the House could be conducted in a fashion that respects positively on the dignity and….” Ryan began, but he was drowned out by the Dems. Despite the din, Ryan carried out a procedural vote on an attempt to override a President Obama veto, which failed, and a recess immediately was called again.
As of 7:40 PM PT, the sit-in, and C-SPAN’s end run around the Speaker of the House with its streaming, were going strong.
The GOP’s brief return to the House had interrupted Democrats as they read a letter of support from former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded by a gunman in 2011: “Fighting gun violence takes great courage,” she wrote. “I’ve seen great courage when my life was on the line. I see great courage in many of you right now.
“We must not accept the world that will be the product of inaction in Washington,” she continued. “We can do better. Some states have already made progress – they show us that when we put aside our incidental or momentary differences and stand shoulder to shoulder, we have enormous power.
“Speaking is difficult for me. But I haven’t been silenced. And neither should the American people. Their Representatives must vote to prevent gun violence,” Giffords concluded.
1st UPDATE: NBC News’ Peter Alexander says the Dems in the House are preparing to spend the night:
Those Democrats were told this evening that Speaker Paul Ryan would try to reclaim the floor this evening some time (originally thought to be around 8 PM ET) to hold a vote. That time came and went, and Dems continue to speak on the floor of the House, while Republications are MIA, the C-SPAN cameras are turned off, and the network is covering via Periscope video.
Shortly before 6 PM ET, Ryan had appeared, on CNN, to call the sit-in a “dilatory publicity stunt.”
“They know we will not bring a bill that takes away a person’s constitutional rights without due process,” he told Wolf Blitzer. “Wolf Blitzer could be on the no-fly list tomorrow, with no recourse, and your rights would be infringed upon.”
Ryan noted a similar measure already had failed to muster enough votes in the Senate.
“This is a publicity stunt. They’re not trying to come up with a solution to a problem; it’s trying to come up with attention.”
Asked if he was trying to censor the sit-in by calling for a recess and turning off the cameras,” Ryan smiled and replied, “No. This is the way the rules work in the House and have ever since we had TV.” Back when the GOP was in the minority, under a similar situation the Dems not only turned off the cameras, they turned off the lights, he said.
Ryan had been asked for camera access to cover the sit in. He turned down the request:
PREVIOUSLY: C-SPAN thumbed its nose at House Speaker Paul Ryan when he cut off TV cameras and microphones as Democratic members of Congress staged a sit-in demanding a vote on a gun-control proposal. The cable net turned to Facebook and Periscope to continue covering.
The Dems protest follows days in which GOP leadership refused to allow a vote on a measure to block anyone on the No Fly List from buying a gun, following the 49 murders at an Orlando nightclub.
#NoBillNoBreak has been trending on Twitter for hours, mostly topping the chart.
Led by civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Democratic members of Congress literally sat on the House floor to demand a vote on two measures. “We have lost hundreds of thousands of innocent people to gun violence,” Lewis said on the House floor during Wednesday’s morning session. “Tiny children, babies, students, teachers, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, friends and neighbors,” Lewis intoned. “And what has this body done?”
Not long after, surrounded by fellow Dems, Lewis sat down on the floor.
“What does the Republican leadership stand for? A moment of silence. It ain’t working, Mr. Speaker. We are tired of silence. We want action,” Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) chastized, to a room noticeably missing its GOP members.
“This was Paul Ryan’s day to roll out his health care bill!” roared Jim McDermott (D-WA), to his party colleagues. “You threw a bomb on his rolling out his health care bill. You want to know where he is now? He’s up in his office, crying. His thing was all set up, and we did this to him!”
“Cameras in chamber controlled by House”, “House cameras are not permitted to show sit-in,” C-SPAN said across the bottom of the screen as it switched to Facebook and Periscope video, from Rep. Scot Peters (D-CA), Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) and others.
Meanwhile, Ryan’s rep, Ashlee Strong did damage control via Twitter:
Most Democrats in the Senate stopped by, and were acknowledged, including presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren:
@speakerryan shut off the cameras to try to stop you from watching, but @repjohnlewis & @repkclark are leading a sit-in on the floor of the House for gun violence legislation. There is nowhere I'd rather spend my birthday than sitting by their side, in solidarity with the entire MA delegation. The House Republicans may think they can run from a vote for common-sense gun measures, but they can't hide. #nobillnobreak #goodtrouble #holdthefloor #disarmhate
A large contingent of visitors and tourists watching the House activities from the balcony, waved and cheered enthusiastically as they enjoyed their lively view of democracy in action:
“Mr. Speaker, where the hell are you?! Give us a vote!” screamed Rep. John Garamendi (D–CA).
“Where is the morality of this place!?” chimed in Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) “Who will give justice to the victims that are dying every day…Connecticut, Aurora, Virginia Tech, the soldiers in Ft. Hood. Do we have any morality in this place?” She called Republicans in the House “citizens of The United States of NRA” adding, “I will not be a citizen of The United States of NRA.”
Journalists with other outlets pitched in to help out C-SPAN. They phoned in information to the network, including The Hill’s Scott Wong who explained there was “growing frustration that Republicans were not bringing any gun-control legislation to the floor in the wake of the Orlando massacre.”
“Democrats have tried to frame this new fight as the next big battle in the civil rights battle, with John Lewis, who marched with Martin Luther King, leading this new gun-control effort, taking over the floor and demanding a vote on some sort of gun control legislation,” Wong phoned in.
They also tweeted out context, including NBC News producer Frank Thorp: