Democrats drown out Paul Ryan with chants of "shame, shame" on House floor

Last Updated Jun 23, 2016 1:43 AM EDT

Democrats' sit-in in the U.S. House took a turn for the dramatic Wednesday night in the 10:00 p.m. hour, as Democrats shouted "shame, shame" at House Speaker Paul Ryan over the lack of votes on gun control measures.

The shouts of "shame, shame" resumed in the 1 a.m. hour as the House voted on adjourning for "the day," meaning that members would reconvene soon for what would technically be a new day. At that point, members would vote on the Zika conference report -- that vote is scheduled for 2:30 a.m., CBS News' Walt Cronkite reports.

Democratic leaders are urging members to vote no on the $1.1 billion Zika funding bill because of its anti-contraceptive provisions and because it doesn't fully fund the President's request, which is $1.9 billion. Sources told Cronkite they think the bill will still likely pass the House. It faces a steeper uphill climb in the Senate, though.

Starting shortly before noon Wednesday, dozens of Democratic lawmakers, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, staged a sit-in on the House floor to demand action on gun control proposals after a shooter killed 49 people in an Orlando nightclub a week and a half ago. The Senate voted on four gun control measures on Monday, all of which failed.

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Democrats in the House, including Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, hold sit-in on House floor to call for vote on gun legislation

Twitter account of Rep. John Yarmuth, D-Kentucky

While Democrats sat on the floor of the lower chamber, the House briefly returned for legislative business at noon.

But the Republican presiding over the chamber quickly ordered the House back into recess. Democrats were asked to leave the well of the House floor, but they refused to budge.

Cameras controlled by the House Recording Studio and typically trained on the House floor were shut off during the recess. Rules say the House Recording Studio cameras can only be on when the House is in session, and coverage operates at the direction of the House speaker.

A senior House GOP leadership aide told CBS News, "This rule of the House is being enforced, as it has been since TV cameras were first installed in the House."

The aide further noted that Democrats, back in 2008 when they had control of the House, had turned cameras, lights, and microphones off during one similar GOP attempt to push for a vote allowing offshore drilling.

In protest, members on the House floor Wednesday instead took to broadcasting the proceedings from livestreaming phone app Periscope.

Later Wednesday evening, House Republicans made it clear that there would be votes Wednesday night, but only on legislation that was not related to gun control proposals. Ryan dismissed the sit-in as no more than "a publicity stunt."

At around 10 p.m., Ryan entered the chamber and began presiding over a vote to override President Obama's veto of the House attempt to nullify the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule, an administration measure requiring retirement planners to put retirees' investment interests ahead of their profits. Ryan attempted to speak over the Democrats gathered in the chamber, but the Democrats--as well as some spectators in the gallery--began shouting and chanting over Ryan.

As Ryan spoke, he was barely audible over the chants of "No bill, no break." Democrats then began chanting "Shame, shame, shame," continuing to drown out Ryan's attempts to get the House in order, and then begun singing "We shall overcome."

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In this image from video provided by House Television, House Speaker Paul Ryan stands at the podium as he brings the House into session Wednesday night, June 22, 2016, in Washington.

House Television via AP

Still, Democrats were voting on the measure at hand, in to ensure that the Republicans attempt to override President Obama's veto did not pass.

Democrats appeared to be settling in for a long night. Asked by CBS News how long she was planning to stay Wednesday night, Rep. Katherine Clark, D-Massachusetts, replied: "Well, I brought a suitcase."

By Thursday evening, 168 House Democrats - out of 188 - and 34 Senate Democrats had joined the protest, the AP reported, citing the House minority leader's office.

Congress remains gridlocked over gun control. The sit-in had the feel of a 1960s-style protest, as some lawmakers sat on the floor, others in their seats.

About an hour into the chaos on the House floor Wednesday night, Democrats started repeating, "Why would you let terrorists buy a gun?"

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, came up to Democrats on the floor and began shouting, repeatedly saying that "radical Islam killed these people, ISIS killed these people."

Meanwhile, outside the U.S. Capitol building, several hundred protesters gathered during the vote. Many of them chanted, "Do your job, do your job."

CBS News' Walt Cronkite, Rebecca Kaplan and Louise Dufresne contributed to this report.

  • Emily Schultheis

    Emily Schultheis is a reporter/editor for CBS News Digital.