Democrats Sit-In at U.S. House for Gun Control: Everything You Need to Know About #NoBillNoBreak
Republican leaders adjourned early Thursday and began their scheduled recess early in an attempt to shut down the Democrats' protest
It’s been nearly 24 hours since Democrats filed into the floor of the U.S. House to demand a vote on gun control. The sit-in, which is unprecedented in the history of the legislative body, has been marked by heated exchanges with Republican Congressmen, surprise appearances from several members of the “upper house” and “birthday donuts.”
Democrats refused to give in early Thursday, even after Republican leaders sought to thwart the party’s efforts by voting on several bills – not including gun control – at 2:30 a.m. and sending lawmakers home until July 5.
The protest, led by civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, began at around noon on Wednesday with Democrats attempting to delay next month’s recess until members of both parties vote on gun control.
Democrats chanted “No bill, no break!” as the protest got underway, and supporters and celebrities alike joined the effort via social media, making the #NoBillNoBreak hashtag one of Twitter’s trending topics.
The early recess will deny Democrats a chance of votes on gun control legislation, Politico reports. But protesters vowed to keep fighting.
“When we come back in July, we will start all over again,” he said, according to CNN.
It is unclear how the protest will continue amid the break, but shortly after Republicans adjourned, Lewis called the effort a “major down payment on ending gun violence in America.”
Protesters Receive Support – and “Birthday Donuts”
“Proud to stand with my colleagues to demand action. #NoBillNoBreak,” Sanders tweeted on Wednesday.
California Rep. Adam Schiff snapped a shot of the presidential candidate – Sanders recently said it ““doesn’t appear”” he’ll be the Democratic nominee – and uploaded it to Twitter.
“.@SenSanders lends his support for the sit in #Enough #HoldTheFloor,” he wrote alongside the photo.
Sanders waved to colleagues and was met with loud applause before leaving, according to The Hill.
Sanders wasn’t the only one to head to the protest, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren – who is reportedly on Hillary Clinton’s vice-presidential short-list – opted for a brief visit – on her birthday!
Warren entered the chambers with donuts and sat with Democrats on the House floor.
“Massachusetts knows: America – and #NoBillNoBreak – runs on @DunkinDonuts. #birthdaydonuts #hold the floor,” she wrote alongside a Twitter photo of her entering the building with a few boxes of donuts.
Alongside another photo, Warren wrote, “Nowhere I’d rather spend my bday than the House floor w/ @repjohnlewis for gun control. #NoDealNoBreak #goodtrouble.”
A Heated Exchange
Hours before Republican leaders left the chambers, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Republican, confronted Democrats about their efforts, even coming just steps away from Democratic Rep. Brad Sherman as he stood at the podium.
“Radical Islam! Radical Islam killed these people!” Gohmert shouted as protesters held photos of victims of gun violence.
He was drowned out by protesters chanting, “No bill, no break!” and “No fly, no buy!”
Illinois Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee veteran who has two prosthetic legs after being wounded in Iraq, climbed out of her wheelchair on Wednesday to join her colleagues on the House floor.
Duckworth was seen in a photo sitting on the floor and holding a sign with the protests slogans.
“Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth who lost both of her legs fighting for our freedom as an Army Helicopter pilot in Iraq has gotten out of her wheelchair and is sitting in. #DisarmHate,” California’s Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom wrote alongside the photo.
Senator Warren snapped a picture with Duckworth, who a former U.S. Army helicopter pilot.
“Just happy to see my friend @RepDuckworth at #NoBillNoBreak,” Warren wrote alongside the Twitter picture.
Care Packages from Supporters – and Pizza!
Just hours after the protest was underway, it seems the protesters were already beginning to receive packages from supporters.
“Thanks for bringing us snacks, @SenSherrodBrown and @SenBlumenthal. #GoodTrouble #NoBillNoBreak,” Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth wrote alongside a Twitter photo of boxes of Pop Tarts, M&Ms and granola bars.
In a follow-up tweet, Yarmuth indicated that more food was on the way.
“My office says people back home are calling asking to send pizzas to the floor,” he wrote. “Louisville gets it. We’re in this together. #NoBillNoBreak.”
Breaking the Rules
Lewis, a Congressman from Georgia, encouraged supporters in a string of tweets on Wednesday.
“We have a mission, a mandate, and a moral obligation to speak up and speak out until the House votes to address gun violence #holdthefloor,” Lewis tweeted on Wednesday.
Republican leaders turned off C-Span cameras as protesters chanted and gave speeches. So, Democrats took matters into their own hands, breaking House rules to stream the protest on Periscope and Facebook Live.
“With official broadcast suspended in the House, we’ve created a channel to follow #NoBillNoBreak on #Periscope live,” Periscope officials wrote on Twitter.
The live stream, shown on Rep. Scott Peters’ Periscope account, has been going for several hours.
Party leaders spoke out about gun control at a podium on the House floor early Thursday, with many speaking about multiple tragic shootings including the Columbine High School massacre, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting and the recent Orlando nightclub shooting.
The protesters held photos of shooting victims as they gathered on the House floor, and vowed to stand strong.
“If we do not have a vote, we will not have a break!” one leader said.
The protest comes just weeks after 49 people were killed and 53 were injured when a gunman opened fire on gay-friendly nightclub, Pulse, on June 11 in Orlando, Florida.