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Democrats Stage Sit-In On House Floor Over Gun Control, Plan For Long Night

WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) -- Rebellious Democrats shut down the House's legislative work on Wednesday, staging a sit-in on the House floor and refusing to leave until they secured a vote on gun control measures before lawmakers' weeklong break.

Exasperated Republicans were forced to recess while cutting off cameras that showed the protest. But in an unprecedented step, C-SPAN used live video feeds from one lawmaker's Periscope account and another's Facebook page to transmit words and images from the House chamber.

Proud to join House Democrats for an unprecedented sit-in on the House Floor demanding that Speaker Ryan keep the House...

Posted by Joe Crowley on Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Late Wednesday, the sit-in turned dramatic as Republicans returned to the House floor.

At around 10 p.m., Ryan entered the chamber and began presiding over a vote to override President Barack Obama's veto of the House attempt to nullify the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule. He 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."

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

Republicans then forced another recess and cut C-SPAN cameras again.

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."

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

As CBS2's Tony Aiello reported, civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Georgia) led the protest in the People's House, pushing for measures polls show post people want. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky), and Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Connecticut) also took part.

"We can no longer wait," Lewis said from the House floor. "We can no longer be patient. So today, we come to the well of the House to dramatize the need for action. Not next month, not next year, but now -- today. Sometimes you have to do something out of the ordinary. Sometimes you have to make a way out of no way."

"We have been too quiet for too long," he added. "There comes a time when you have to say something. You have to make a little noise. You have to move your feet. This is the time."

Among them is a "no fly, no buy" law, preventing people on the no-fly list from buying firearms.

"It is absolutely essential that we have a vote on two bills that will prevent the wrong people from getting guns," said U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), the House Minority Whip. "If you're on the no-fly list, you ought not be able to get a gun."

More than 200 Democrats demanded a vote on measures to block gun purchases by some suspected terrorists, as well as expand background checks, in the aftermath of last week's massacre in Orlando, Florida, that killed 49 people in a gay nightclub.

As CBS2's Dana Tyler reported, Democrats began the showdown chanting "no bill, no break." The unusual scene unfolded on Wednesday morning when dozens of lawmakers took over the house floor.

Republicans tried to begin the session, but Democrats took to the microphone to demand action.

They're calling on a vote to toughen background checks and block gun purchases to people on the terrorism watch list.

"I think there's a level of frustration that is here on the Democrat side of the aisle that I haven't seen in many, many years," Rep. Joe Crowley (D-New York) told WCBS 880's Steve Scott. "We do nothing more than stand for a moment of silence and then go sit down and do absolutely nothing. The American people are frustrated. We are frustrated."  

Crowley said the proposals would give law enforcement officials "the time they need to make sure that they are thoroughly looking at anyone trying to purchase a weapon."

Rep. John Larson (D-Connecticut) says lawmakers were "calling for the simple dignity of a vote'' in the House on measures to block gun purchases by some suspected terrorists.

Larson said, "Rise up Democrats, rise up Americans. We will occupy this chamber.''

Hoyer said, "We will not be shut up. We will not be shut down.''

Lewis said with mass shootings becoming more common the House must act.

"How many more mothers, how many more fathers need to shed tears of grief before we do something?" he said, "We were elected to lead Mr. Speaker. We must be headlights, and not taillights."

Republicans dismissed the protest as a publicity stunt, arguing "no fly, no buy" would deny Second Amendment rights to people wrongly put on the no-fly list.

"We will not bring a bill that takes away a person's constitutional guaranteed rights without their due process," said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin). "We don't agree with that."

A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns on Monday, eight days after the horror of Orlando's mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but knotted them in gridlock anyway — even over restricting firearms for terrorists.

In largely party-line votes, rejected were one proposal from each side to keep extremists from acquiring guns and another shoring up the government's existing system of required background checks for many firearms purchases.

With the chamber's visitors' galleries unusually crowded for a Monday evening — including people wearing orange T-shirts saying #ENOUGH gun violence — each measure fell short of the 60 votes needed to progress. Democrats called the GOP proposals unacceptably weak while Republicans said the Democratic plans were overly restrictive.

Because a recess was called, House Democrats were not technically blocking official proceedings Wednesday.

(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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