House Rules Committee Chair Says Democrats Should Be Investigated For Gun Control Sit-In

by KIRA LERNER –

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The Republican chair of the House Rules Committee is calling for an investigation into whether Democrats violated any House rules when they staged a 25-hour sit-in last week to demand that the body consider gun-related legislation after the Orlando shooting.

U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) said on a Texas news program Sunday that Democrats should be “held accountable” for the sit-in, which was led by Democratic Congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis (D-GA).

Lewis and close to 170 of his colleagues held the floor for most of Wednesday and into Thursday to demand a vote on legislation to ban people on the “terrorist watch list” from purchasing firearms. The House members took turns telling personal stories about gun violence, chanting and singing, and calling on their colleagues to hold a formal debate on the bill before the July 4 break.

“There was a complete lack of [respect] and I believe what they did is not only wrong but that they should be held accountable through an ethics process for that,” Sessions said.

“They should not have used that nor would we allow a bunch of people at a court room to take advantage of a courtroom,” Sessions said. “There are places that business is done where decorum is utilized and where we respect each other.”

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who left Congress in 2006 amid an indictment over alleged money laundering, also called last week for ethics charges against House Democrats holding the sit-in.

“I’m heartbroken. The destruction of dignity, decorum of the people’s House,” he told the Texas Tribune. “That House doesn’t belong to those members. It belongs to the people of the United States, and for them to desecrate it like they just did is beyond me.”

Though Ryan technically had the ability to clear the floor and end the sit-in, Republicans have used similar tactics in the past to demand a vote on legislation they favored. In 2008, Republicans, led by then-Minority Leader John Boehner, staged a sit-in in an attempt to draw attention to Democrats’ refusal to consider “all-of-the-above” energy legislation at a time of soaring gas prices.

Nonetheless, other Republicans were even more vocal about their opposition to the sit-in. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) approached Democrats on the House floor Wednesday night, shouting: “Radical Islam killed these people!” as he pointed at the Democrats’ placards with names of gun violence victims.

“They weren’t just standing up for rights. They were taking away rights,” Gohmert said of on Fox News Thursday morning.

And Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) suggested during a CNN interview that GOP lawmakers should stage a counter sit-in at the White House to insist that President Obama address “radical Islamic terror.”

Lewis and his Democrat colleagues ended their sit-in midday on Thursday, but vowed that their fight would continue when the House returns from the holiday break.

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress