WASHINGTON – Speaker Paul Ryan is considering options for punishing Democrats for last month’s House floor sit-in and hasn’t ruled out anything, the Wisconsin Republican said Thursday.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., mocked the GOP investigation of her party’s overnight protest to demand gun control votes, saying, “Make my day. Make my day.” She didn’t rule out another such tactic, saying, “I’ll do what my members want to do.”
The two leaders’ remarks, made in back-to-back news conferences, underscored that tensions remain high over the partisan election-year confrontation over guns prompted by last month’s mass shooting in Orlando. Ryan’s comments also highlight the pressure he is under from rank-and-file Republicans to discipline Democrats for their nearly 26-hour takeover of the chamber’s floor.
Democrats resumed a milder form of protest on Thursday, as scores of lawmakers trooped to the House microphone holding photographs of people killed by guns and asked the House to debate legislation tightening background checks for firearms buyers. Their requests were denied.
The Democrats read each gun victim’s name and said each was “a victim of gun violence who never received a moment of silence on the House floor.” That was a derisive reference to the moments of silence the House often conducts after mass shootings. Democrats say that the House should take concrete action by enacting gun restrictions.
In answer to a question, Ryan did not rule out a vote of censure or reprimand for sit-in participants.
“We’re looking at all of those things,” he said, adding that Republicans didn’t want to make a decision “in a rash, wrong way.”
Ryan said the House parliamentarian and sergeant at arms have provided recommendations for steps he might take. He said they have studied videotape of the sit-in and researched congressional rules.
“My big concern is that a bad trend happens where we throw the rule of law out the window, Congress doesn’t function, and there’s no hope for bipartisanship ever again,” Ryan said.
Pelosi said she is “very proud” of Democrats for demanding gun votes and scoffed at the threat of Republican action against them.
“What are they going to do, investigate John Lewis for sitting on the House floor?” she asked. Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia who helped lead the sit-in, was a prominent civil rights leader in the 1960s.
Meanwhile, Ryan’s effort to have the House debate a gun and anti-terrorism bill this week remained on hold, largely because GOP conservatives consider the GOP-written measure too restrictive on firearms and too lax on battling extremism.
“We’re trying to get this legislation right. We’re trying to reflect a consensus” among Republicans, Ryan said.
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